Where does Assad's online army come from?

Syria's brutal Assad regime has damned few allies left in the world, but one of them, Russia, is governed by a dirty-tricking ruling elite who've made a science out of manipulating Internet opinion. This may explain the weird, stilted pro-Assad astroturf army who appear in any discussion of the regime's atrocities to explain that it's all a Jewish conspiracy.

And on like that. SyriaTribune maintains a YouTube channel stocked with clips from — surprise — Vladimir Putin’s Russia Today portraying Assad as the victim of a bloody-minded western conspiracy. A self-described French intellectual named Thierry Meyssan — author of 9/11 The Big Lie — reveals that TV images purporting to show Assad’s massacres of civilians were prepared by the CIA, along with White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, and “aims at demoralizing the Syrians in order to pave the way for a coup d’etat.” The #FakeRevolution hashtag on Instagram provides pictorial, meme-filled boosterism for Bashar, like a screengrab from Time’ app kindly telling user mybubb1e to stop voting for Assad for Person of the Year or Hillary Clinton with flames shooting out of her eyes and ear, courtesy of Bashar4Ever.

Meet the Assadosphere, the Online Defenders of Syria’s Butcher [Spencer Ackerman/Wired]


  1. That’s actually Hillary’s superpower.  Seriously, don’t fuck with her or she’ll fry you like a strip of bacon.

    I’m always amused when Putin’s Army shows up at the Daily Mail and pretends to be Brits talking about the importance of a strong Russia.  Because you just know that Daily Mail readers really, really want a strong Russia.

  2. How come there is never any discussion of the CIA’s legacy of dirty tricks and overthrowing governments (including Libya) on Boing Boing? Or their role in funding the Syrian rebels and a western PR campaign that is pro-regime change? Or the fact that you are/were a citizen of a country that has killed 100x as many Middle Easterners than Syria has in the last 10 years. Or the fact that the plucky Syrian rebels are religious zealots who have committed plenty of war crimes already as well? Not saying Assad and Putin are good guys, but Boing Boing’s coverage is sadly pro-violence when it comes to US/Western policy…as long as Democrats are in charge at least.

    1. How come all your sentences end with question marks? And make broad, sweeping and inaccurate generalizations about BB’s coverage? And try to hijack the thread away from the subject of links between two dictators? And bring up the Democrats? Never mind, I have the answer to the last one; you always bring up the Democrats when you’re threadjacking.

      1. I never saw a single nice post about all of Bush’s evil wars the whole time he was in office. Now that it’s Hillary and plucky rebels, you post their “cool military tech”, but I don’t see much about all the beheadings of prisoners, bombing of crowds, etc, etc. 

        I asked you questions because as someone who’s staunchly antiwar, it is disappointing to see you pull the wool over your eyes about exactly how much Western governments are involved in these “spontaneous” regime changes, and because I was giving you a chance to defend yourself. I see you have not taken it.

        Russia funds Syria the same way the US funds Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and on and on…and by the way, if you hadn’t noticed, there are people trying to start a war in Syria. Pretending that timely, inflammatory, and one-sided coverage of a country’s leadership is somehow unrelated to the process of warmongering is, to say the least, unworthy of intelligence of the BB crowd.

        P.S. Our social networks are just as compromised. Military propagandists buy spoof accounts for Twitter, Facebook, reddit, etc. More pot calling kettle black.

        1. There’s a reason no one talked nicely of Bush and that’s because he was a fucking dick. Afghanistan was the only vaguely justifiable war and he put that on hold to settle old scores, giving the taliban an opportunity to regain influence. Everything the guy did was inept and disastrous.

          but I don’t see much about all the beheadings of prisoners, bombing of crowds, etc, etc.
          ^See how you just typed that? Instead of crapping on indignantly, how about talking about these situations you allege – providing links. Find me ONE reliable source confirming the things you are claiming. You won’t find one.

          as someone who’s staunchly antiwar
          ^I am opposed to war, but am actually anti-military. Wars are gonna happen until all the despot assholes out there are dealt with. al Assad’s forces are killing, torturing and raping civilians – women, children, men – and the international community has a duty to not let innocent people be slaughtered by the thousands.

          No one is pulling any wool over any eyes. There have been PLENTY of articles on BB about Obama’s unconstitutional drone bombings of US citizens so I don’t think your point is valid. I’m also sure BB editors are not interested in defending themselves to you.

          Good point on Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia. When their leaders start killing their civilians on the scale of the al Assad regime do you really think the world would stay silent? I have PERSONALLY bitched about Bahrain and Israel on BB so you can’t claim these ideas aren’t represented.

          You need to understand that, while the FSA (not rebels, thanks) is a new group about which little is known, every NGO and the UN comes down on their side morally in this situation – based on their track record. Though considering the theme of your previous points I’d guess you think NGOs and the UN are also suckling at the teat of Western cultural imperialism.

        2. I never saw a single nice post about all of Bush’s evil wars the whole time he was in office. Now that it’s Hillary and plucky rebels, you post their “cool military tech”…

          Yes, all those Boing Boing posts about drone strikes and ever-expanding surveillance technology are always going on about how awesome they are and not a threat to our civil liberties at all. Enough already!

          I, for one, am FED UP with Cory constantly spewing pro-surveillance-state propaganda, and Xeni talking about how cool Obama’s drone strikes are, and Boing Boing in general talking about how evil the Electronic Frontier Foundation is and how copyright law needs to be tightened to protect Democrat-supporting lobbyists from the entertainment industry.

        3.  If you have such a huge problem with boingboing’s political coverage may I suggest starting your own wordpress account?

    2.  Sorry to break it to you, but there is plenty of that discussion. But we’ve hidden it because we didn’t want to invite you. You’re not really very popular right now? And so we thought it would be best to not be seen with you.

      1. Oh sure, tip him to the BB/CIA/Dem conspiracy when it just happens to be my night to follow him around.  Thanks Hugh.

          1. Give ‘im a break. I think he’s just shilling his new band “plucky rebels.”

            Who will get way more gigs once those nefarious meddling Democrats are out of the way!

    3. Old conversation points are old.

      America does fucked up shit but I’d take US fucked up shit over Russian, Chinese or Syrian fucked up shit any day – and I’m Australian!

    1.  Actually we do. I just heard on NPR that the State Department has taken the unusual position of labeling one of the groups that is fighting alongside the Syrian rebels a terrorist group affiliated with what’s left of Al Qaeda even as we generally support the rebellion.

    2. Except al qaeda is actually a thing that represents a particular theology and most if not all of the rebels (including the Islamist ones) have stated that they’re not AQ and have no interest in reflecting AQ positions.

      There is also PLENTY of information out there on them. This war didn’t just start yesterday.

  3. You can mock the Syrian disinfo campaign for being so ham handed and failing basic plausibility, but be aware that they do this because it works. 

  4. Putin fancies himself a counter weight to the Anglo/American hegemon. Someone needs to do it. Thus the enemy of my enemy is my friend. RT being an example of his good works.

    1. I was somewhat pro-Putin a few years back because I think that someone needs to slap the US around occasionally. But he’s headed straight into ‘fascist dictator for life’ territory.

    2. Yes except it’s more like the guys who buy millions of dollars of crap from us are our friends. This is about le $$ and related military cooperation.

    3. If you have to buddy up with Bashar al Assad to counter American hegemony, you wind up making a damn good case for leaving American hegemony un-checked.

  5. Certainly Russia’s armies of disinformation have their counterparts in the U.S, U.K and Israel. The fact that CD notices the Russian effort may speak to his bias or to their ineptitude.

    In any case, the U.S. and its allies/clients attack Assad now, not because Assad is a bad man, but rather because they aim to undermine Iran.

    1. And that’s exactly the problem: It’s about money (warmachine, ressources etc.), but not about the people. If it was about the Syrians, there would have been action sooner and in different ways.
      All those great western nations constantly holler about how morally and what-not superior they are, but really it’s never about the people.
      If you look at how they act and what they aim for, making a distinction between nations like Russia or the USA gets increasingly difficult.
      Just think of Stratfor and what techniques they advise and/or use.

      Makes you want to vomit until the world drowns…

    2. The US might have a disinfo campaign ready to go, but when truth is on your side, you can give your disinfo people a vacation.

  6. Man, those Jews, they’re behind everything.  Just yesterday, I couldn’t find my gloves – I had to go out with one old barely-insulated glove and one wool mitten.  Jews!

    1.  I bought a Persian rug from an Iranian Jewish guy — “We have to be everywhere to run the world,” he said.  Then he said he wanted to print out some of the conspiracy theory stuff so that he can go to the bank to get a loan and be like “Don’t you know who I am?  You work for me!”

    2. Let me note that the cartoon Ackerman claims shows the pro-Assaders are saying ‘Jews controll the Syrian rebellion or something’ shows a soldier with a Mogen David on his helmet & blood dripping from his hand, while the US media camera transforms him into a smiling soldier presenting an olive branch. 
      Isn’t this just a criticism of Israel rather than Jews?  Or is any criticism of Israel antisemitic?  Let me tell Mr. Ackerman, it isn’t.

  7. OK, so you read some weird stuff, you wonder how people can be so stupid, you wonder about their motivations, then these words pop up: “Jewish conspiracy” – and you need read no further, that’s an easy one.

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