Amy Goodman asks Patrick Cockburn about Idrees Ahmad's criticism and receives waffle:
AMY GOODMAN: Patrick, last month The Daily Beast featured an article criticizing your Syria reporting. The author, Muhammad Idrees Ahmad alleges you discount any Syrian nationalist opposition to the al-Assad regime and that your position is, "Bashar al-Assad is at war with jihadi terrorism; the West has erred in supporting his opponents; and to support the opposition is to support ISIS." Ahmad goes on to say, "For Cockburn, the situation in Syria is stark: you are with the regime or you are with the terrorists. He is an enthusiast for the war on terror—Bashar al-Assad’s war on terror. He criticizes the U.S. for excluding from its anti-ISIS coalition 'almost all those actually fighting ISIS, including Iran, the Syrian army, the Syrian Kurds and the Shia militias in Iraq.'" Ahmad later accuses you of "turning a blind eye to the regime’s ongoing slaughter of civilians." He says, "He is helped in this by the obtrusive barbarism of ISIS, which uses spectacle in the place of scale to force media attention. ISIS has been a godsend for the regime. It has helped divert attention from its crimes — and regime-friendly journalists have obliged in the deflection." Patrick Cockburn, your response?
PATRICK COCKBURN: Oh, I get a lot of this. Anybody who’s gonna report the Syrian civil war, or the Iraqi civil war is going to be accused by one side or the other of being partisan. And what happens in the Middle East has always happened, but is happening worse now, is when you analyze something and you say this is the situation, that I don’t think Assad is going to go down, both sides are incredibly brutal in this Civil War, then people think you’re justifying it. They mistake analysis for justification. I have had that, really, since 2011. I remember a rather nice Syrian I knew in Lebanon. I had just been in Syria and I had reported that Assad, for various reasons, was not going to collapse as a lot of media was saying. And as I came back into Syria, I switched on my telephone and there was the same guy shouting at me, shouting, shame on The Independent, shame on you. It was just that I had reported the situation as I saw it. Objectively. But he sort of wished that reality was different, and that’s why he was shouting at me. And this is the same sort of stuff. I can understand the passions involved, that both sides commit appalling atrocities using maximum violence, whatever they have against civilians. This is true of the Assad government dropping barrel bombs on civilians. It’s true of the Islamic State; 500, 600 members of another tribe in Syria were massacred. So I can understand how people feel like that. It’s part of the war, so I get attacked like that. I’m sure I will be attacked again. And there’s nothing much I can really do about that.