Thursday, September 19, 2013

Syria’s Assad: "‘I’m Westernized, I’m quiet spoken, I’m not screaming jihad..."

"... At every opportunity, Assad drove home the fact that the rebel movement is dominated by Islamist militants who’ve carried out beheadings, car bombings and other terrorist acts the regime knows will strike a chord with an American audience. Assad, as he did in the earlier CBS interview, pointedly mentioned an incident where a rebel leader was captured on video cutting an organ from a dead Syrian soldier’s body and taking a bite from it.
At another point in the Fox interview, Assad referred to the United States as “the greatest country in the world.”
“He’s saying, ‘I’m Westernized, I’m quiet spoken, I’m not screaming jihad, and I’m the devil you can work with,’” said Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University and a former CBS News correspondent in the Middle East. “And that’s what American foreign policy has been about for decades – working with the devil you can to keep out the ones you don’t want.”
Pintak, who’s interviewed the late Saddam Hussein, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and several other dictators, said Assad’s understated persona and background as an eye doctor who was educated in England are benefits to his media campaign. His clean-shaven, business-suited image makes for a stark juxtaposition with bearded, gun-toting rebels waving the black flag of militant Islamists....
The political and armed opposition sides have yet to master the art of public relations, in large part because they’re made up of notoriously divided figures who’ve failed to form a united front with one message. Spokespeople are often difficult to reach, opposition leaders contradict one another. Among the rebels, media coordination is also spotty, and it’s often the extremist fighters who boast the most sophisticated media wings...."

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