Syria’s Extremist Opposition: How Western Media Have Whitewashed the Rebels’ Record
by Max Abrahms, Foreign Affairs
As with any multi-sided conflict, backing any stakeholder in Syria’s ongoing civil war is much more complex than choosing between right and wrong. Western media outlets, however, have successfully influenced public opinion on the conflict to make western audiences more sympathetic to rebel groups opposing the oppressive Assad regime. Although they have consistently broadcast violence inflicted by the regime, these outlets have also tended to whitewash the rebels to sell the case for regime change. A growing body of political science research emphasizes that terrorist groups are not internally homogenous actors but instead consist of members with different incentives often at odds with the official political goals of the group. This helps to indicate that while many rebels are fighting for liberation of Syrian people, there are large factions that have no interest in legitimate regime change.