Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Conspiracy theorists, Sarah Abdallah and Syria.

with 13 comments

Tweet by @sahouraxo: "Nobody is happier about Trump's illegal attack on #Syria than Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu. McCain and Hillary too. #SyriaHoax"

‘Sarah Abdallah’. Followed by “supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.”

Anybody with a Facebook or a Twitter account who’s got an interest in politics, let alone the Middle East and Syria itself, has seen conspiracy theorists posting in abundance over the last weeks.

There is a constant drip drip of  claims that the reports of chemical warfare come from doubtful sources, “jihadist groups” and the “white helmets” “funded by countries committed to regime change”. Opponents of Assad are, apparently, not to believed. They have an axe to grind. Unlike those reporting at length on the crimes of the jihadists, Western intervention and the misdeeds of all those who wish to get rid of the Baathist regime.

The Morning Star published this yesterday,

Inspectors unable to investigate alleged chemical attack due to Western missile strikes.

EXTERNAL inspectors visited the site of an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma today.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in the capital Damascus on Saturday but were unable to carry out investigations in Douma due to that morning’s missile strike by the US, Britain and France.

Syrian state media agency Sana reported the investigation team entered Douma last night.

France said it is “highly likely” that evidence disappeared from the site before the inspectors arrived in the area.

Britain, France and the US continue to say that they have evidence of a chemical attack which they insist was carried out by the Syrian government.

Their sources include jihadist groups and the White Helmets, founded by a former British military intelligence officer and funded by countries committed to regime change.

President Bashar al-Assad denies his forces have used chemical weapons and Russia has stated that it has “incontrovertible evidence” that British intelligence staged the attack to justify military intervention.

There are more systematic efforts to tie these threads together.

The ‘conspis’ (as French handily shortens this expression) have now got the attention of the BBC.

Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories

As the investigation continues into another alleged chemical attack in Syria, one group of influential online activists is busy spreading their version of events.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are attempting to access the previously rebel-held town of Douma, where medical organisations and rescue workers say President Bashar al-Assad’s forces dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals in an attack on 7 April, killing more than 40 people.

The Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, say the incident was staged. But the US, UK and France – who support the opposition to Mr Assad – say they are confident that chlorine and possibly a nerve agent were used.

Despite the uncertainty about what happened in Douma, a cluster of influential social media activists is certain that it knows what occurred on 7 April.

They’ve seized on a theory being floated by Russian officials and state-owned media outlets that the attacks were “staged” or were a “false flag” operation, carried out by jihadist groups or spies in order to put the blame on the Assad government and provide a justification for Western intervention.

The group includes activists and people who call themselves “independent journalists”, and several have Twitter followings reaching into the tens or hundreds of thousands.

..

The network of activists includes people like Vanessa Beeley. She has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and writes for a news outlet that the website Media Bias/Fact Check calls a “conspiracy and conjecture site” that has “an extreme right bias”.

In response to a list of questions, she called BBC Trending’s story a “blatant attempt” to “silence independent journalism” and repeated unsubstantiated claims about alleged chemical weapons attacks.

But in the online conversation about Syria there are more influential activists, about whom much less is known.

Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo on Twitter) has more than 125,000 followers, among them more than 250 journalists from mainstream media outlets. Her follower count is comparable to BBC journalists who regularly report on Syria, such as BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen (167,000) and BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet (142,000).

In addition to pictures of herself, Sarah Abdallah tweets constant pro-Russia and pro-Assad messages, with a dollop of retweeting mostly aimed at attacking Barack Obama, other US Democrats and Saudi Arabia.

In her Twitter profile she describes herself as an “Independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator” but she has almost no online presence or published stories or writing away from social media platforms. A personal blog linked to by her account has no posts.

Her tweets have been quoted by mainstream news outlets, but a Google News search indicates that she has not written any articles in either English or Arabic.

She refused to comment several times when approached by BBC Trending and did not respond to specific requests to comment on this story in particular.

The BBC goes onto to underline this point:

The Sarah Abdallah account is, according to a recent study by the online research firm Graphika, one of the most influential social media accounts in the online conversation about Syria, and specifically in pushing misinformation about a 2017 chemical weapons attack and the Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the “White Helmets”.

They go on to observe,

Graphika found 20 million messages about the White Helmets, split between tweets in support and in opposition. Among the opponents, Kelly says, Sarah Abdallah was “by far the most influential”, followed by Vanessa Beeley.

The firm found that Sarah Abdallah’s account was primarily followed by a number of different interest clusters: supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.

These groups were instrumental in making the hashtag #SyriaHoax trend after the chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

That hashtag, pushed by Sarah Abdallah and influential American conservative activists, became a worldwide trend on Twitter. Many of those tweeting it claimed that the chemical weapons attack was faked or a hoax.

Here is a sample of ‘her’ work.

She admires Robert Fisk,

Some are a lot blunter than the BBC about this creature,

The real Sarah Abdallah – Part I

Meanwhile:

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

13 Responses

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  1. Good post: it’s time the rational left hit back at these conspiracy theorists and pro-Assad/Putin stooges, who are especially active on social media.

    Eg:

    1. Cardiologist alleges White Helmets faked photos because EEG pads are misplaced: 12,000 retweets.
    2. Cardiologist admits he was mistaken & the EEG pads are placed correctly: 22 retweets.

    Jim Denham

    April 19, 2018 at 2:21 pm

  2. To be honest, I’m doubtful ‘Sarah Abdullah’ is. Even a woman at all. I expect she is a fifty-five year old man working for one of the Middle Eastern spy agencies. The photo of her showing her cleavage is a dead giveaway. (on the BBC)

    Suer

    April 19, 2018 at 2:43 pm

  3. The BBC spotted that ‘her’ claim to be based in the Middle East went with very US looking pictures of ‘her’ locations.

    Andrew Coates

    April 19, 2018 at 4:07 pm

  4. There are plenty od Middle Eastern ‘sleepers’ living in the USA.

    Suer

    April 19, 2018 at 5:15 pm

  5. You could be correct Suer. Unless there is independent proof of her existence take it all with a pinch od salt. From the first paragraph above she certainly gets around on the allegiance front.

    Dave Roberts

    April 20, 2018 at 10:29 am

  6. Don’t know anything about this ‘Sarah Abdallah’ character but can certainly vouch for Vanessa Beeley
    being real. Vanessa Beeley being a personal friend and all.

    Toffee

    April 20, 2018 at 3:22 pm


  7. REAL or FAKE? C’mon!

    Toffee

    April 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm

  8. ‘Sarah Abdallah’ is an original image though. Not to be found anywhere on the internet… not on Fakebook, doesn’t show up as a Lebanese model/singer/actress… as if Mossad would be that stupid 😀

    Toffee

    April 20, 2018 at 3:35 pm

  9. Wow, they would have got away with it if it hadn’t of been for those pesky Jews!

    Sue R

    April 20, 2018 at 3:58 pm

  10. Rational left? Surely a contradiction in terms!
    Turn to the WW and see the letter from the Rugby TUSC. They don’t think there was a gas attack, but even if there was, there is no proof, they say, that if was carried out by Assad.

    Steven Johnston

    April 20, 2018 at 4:11 pm

  11. Why Are Some on the Left Falling for Fake News on Syria? Sonali Kolhatkar.

    “Many are citing Robert Fisk’s reporting this week from Syria on a doctor who was not a witness to the attack and yet claimed that the dozens of Syrians who died were asphyxiated by dust rather than poisoned by chemicals. Fisk made no attempt to explain the many reports of a chemical smell and of white foam at the mouths of victims. His report directly contradicts that of Associated Press and Guardian newspaper journalists who were also on the ground where Fisk was and managed to corroborate with multiple sources including survivors that there had been a chemical attack from the sky. Earlier investigations by Al-Jazeera and The New York Times also concluded that the claims by survivors of the attack were accurate. Are we to believe that The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, AP and The Guardian are all part of some grand conspiracy to push the U.S. to bomb targets important to Assad?

    Apparently, acknowledging the reality of the chemical attacks by Assad is akin to inviting the U.S. to expand its Syria war to Assad’s targets. And so in order to oppose that, are we to deny the real suffering of Syrians? Are we to bend reality to suit our desire?”!

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/why-are-some-on-the-left-falling-for-fake-news-on-syria/

    Andrew Coates

    April 20, 2018 at 4:21 pm

  12. Reblogged this on MEA – Middle East Studies and commented:
    Sarah Abdallah @sahouraxo exposed as Hezbollah terrorist based on the years of researches by Joumana Gebara

    Joumana Gebara

    April 21, 2018 at 10:11 am

  13. […] NB3: Comrade Coatesey, who’s been on the case, here and here. […]


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