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22 Mar, 2017 12:49

Western MSM ignoring 'unworthy civilian victims' of US-led Mosul attacks

Western MSM ignoring 'unworthy civilian victims' of US-led Mosul attacks

In Aleppo there was a tendency among Western reporters, certainly in the US, to point out Russia was leading the operation, so any civilian casualties and damage could be blamed on it, explains retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski.

Iraqi forces, backed by the US military, are pushing deeper into western Mosul to rid the city of Islamic State terrorists.

The UN says more than 150,000 residents have fled as the latest offensive enters its second month. As the battle for Mosul intensifies, more reports of civilian causalities are emerging.

However, the plight of the civilian population caught in the crossfire seems to be under-reported in much of the mainstream media.

RT: The human tragedy in Mosul is not getting anything like the same amount of media attention as last year's operation in Aleppo. Why is that, do you think?

Karen Kwiatkowski: In Aleppo, there was a tendency, or a desire among the Western reporters, certainly in the US, to point out that Russia was leading this and so any civilian casualties and damage done, destruction from missiles could be blamed; it had a political usefulness in the US, at least in terms of Washington pointing the finger at another country. I don’t think it makes the US look good, but I guess from their perspective somebody else was doing something that was causing a lot of humanitarian disasters.

When the US is leading and organizing, to think that the Iraqi Army that we have trained, that we have funded that we put in place is somehow taking the initiative here, that is simply not the case. That is the US taking the initiative, and they don’t want to talk about the damage that is done. They don’t want to talk about the obvious lack of readiness for the humanitarian crisis that they must have known was going to happen.

There is a selective outreach - not all civilians are equal. The plight of the civilians in Aleppo drew huge amount of attention in the West. It forced one of the newscasters on CNN to cry and it was just a major news story. However, the plight of civilians elsewhere - in Mosul and Yemen – their plights don’t get nearly as much media attention. And the reason why is because attention is not dictated strictly in terms of the humanitarian basis for concern, but rather there is a politicized component. The Aleppo carnage was depicted at length in order to cast Assad and Putin in a negative light. The same is not true in Mosul and Yemen, and that’s why the Western media doesn’t have nearly as much interest - Max Abrahms, Professor at North Eastern University

RT: Swathes of Mosul are in ruins. Once this is over, how hard is it going to be for Iraq to rebuild or for those thousands of displaced residents to get their lives back?

KK: When your city is destroyed, I imagine the infrastructure is destroyed. There is no water. The basics haven’t been done. A decade ago, when we invaded Iraq for the second time, we destroyed the water system. In fact, we did it the first time, in 1991. And we never did, we the US, who had the responsibility, who had technically succeeded in what our objective was, we the US and all our resources still never got the water running and the sanitation systems that had been in place before. So, quite frankly I can’t imagine how they are going to put Mosul back together again. I just have no idea.

‘Western ideology of worthy & unworthy victims’

RT: What's your reading of why the mainstream media is downplaying the civilian casualties in Mosul, when Aleppo made many headlines?

Michael Raddie, co-Editor of BSNews: In the West, the media have an ideology and it all boils down to worthy victims and unworthy victims. The victims of US bombs and British airstrikes are not worthy. Because we don’t do that kind of things. Our killing of civilians is mistake, collateral damage. The Syrian air force killing of civilians if it happens – even if it is alleged to have happened without evidence or the Russian air strikes – that is atrocities. And that is the ideology that Western media portray all the time.

Even if you look at the Iraq war, news anchors, lots of journalists and print media as well still call the Iraq war “a mistake” rather than “a crime.” It is the crime of the century. But it is still classified that way. And it is because they have this mentality that we are the good guys in the West. And we are benign liberators.

You only have to look at the coverage of Aleppo. Aleppo was a tale of two cities for six months, we didn’t hear anything of West Aleppo, we heard about the plight of those in East Aleppo. But we didn’t hear why they were suffering. They were suffering not because of Syrian Arab Army or Russian airstrikes. They were suffering because they were held captive by Al-Qaeda effectively, Al-Nusra Front and other armed groups who were actually firing missiles, hell-fire cannon into West Aleppo. West Aleppo civilians were unworthy because the bombs that were being rained down were part of the regime change program that we’ve instilled in Syria. It is not surprising to me that we have such distortion in the media in coverage of West Aleppo, East Aleppo and Aleppo in general and Mosul.

Obviously in Mosul, we are not going to hear much about the civilian casualties, we are not going to hear much about the plight. We hear about the fleeing. But we are told that they are fleeing ISIS. But most of them are actually fleeing American airstrikes. They understand what is at stake here…Yes, if they stay they’ll probably fall under the captivity of ISIS, but if they stay they’ll probably be bombed by American B-52s as well, so they understand why they are fleeing.

In Mosul, they are unwilling victims, because they are victims of the West, and it will stay that way for some time, I think. In the Western media we shouldn’t be surprised that we see such little coverage.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.