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When the Media Became Silent - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Recently, much effort was exerted in explaining the comments made by former Syrian vice-president, Abdul Halim Khaddam on the television channel, Al-Arabiya concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Al-Hariri and revealing intricate details of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. Syria’s second most important official for three decades referred to the decision making process, reactions and the hastened decisions of the Syrian regime.

Some considered his talk a political earthquake, whereas others described his comments as more of a tsunami or hurricane. Many responses insinuated that Khaddam’s dangerous talk was media material that organizations would compete for as it relates one of the Arab world’s most difficult and darkest of political periods and its impact upon Syria, Lebanon and the Arab political system in its entirety.

Less than two weeks after Khaddam’s controversial comments were made, the Arab media’s interest in his explanations has dropped and it is only now through western media (French, Italian and British) that we hear more about Khaddam’s viewpoint. It is as if there is no Arab interest in such a key character involved and informed about numerous crucial events and matters. It is as if there is no Arab interest in learning more about Khaddam, Syria’s second most powerful man only six months ago. Many of the scheduled interviews with Khaddam were cancelled allowing the absence of discussion to become a political issue in itself. It is as if Khaddam’s controversial talk never took place. It is almost as if there was a deliberate plan to contain the consequences of Khaddam’s comments.

The media reservation towards Khaddam’s talk is a position that will allow his words to be considered untrue or inaccurate. Similarly, the cancellation of interviews will not cause us to forget, as the reality faced by the Lebanese and the Syrians that has scarred them for life needs no evidence. However, these cases do need to be documented and recorded.

Regrettably, the media has failed the test of credibility after not showing the necessary concerns and interest for Khaddam’s comments and this has not been the first of such failures. Politically, Syria, Lebanon and the Arab world are experiencing dangerous times, perhaps so dangerous that the leaders of the Arab media have chosen to ignore and forget them.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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