News / Middle East

Hezbollah Supportive of Egyptian, Tunisian Uprisings But Not Syria's

A female demonstrator holds a flag of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah during a sit-in protest against the Saudi, Bahraini and Yemeni leaders' crackdown on their opposition in Tehran, Iran, April 22, 2011 (file photo).
A female demonstrator holds a flag of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah during a sit-in protest against the Saudi, Bahraini and Yemeni leaders' crackdown on their opposition in Tehran, Iran, April 22, 2011 (file photo).
Margaret Besheer

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia group and political movement, used its al-Manar television channel to broadcast images supportive of anti-government protesters in Egypt and Tunisia. But analysts say the Shi'ite group's attitude toward the popular uprising in neighboring Syria has been very different, reflecting its close ties to the Syrian government.

As protesters demanded the ouster of authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, Hezbollah's TV station, al-Manar, broadcast images and reports supportive of the demonstrators. But as one of the few media outlets allowed inside Syria to cover its uprising during the last two months, al-Manar has portrayed protesters there in a very different light.

Yasmine Dabbous, assistant professor of journalism and media studies at the Lebanese American University (LAU) says this apparent double standard has to do with the organization's relationship with the governments in these countries.

"In Egypt, it is very well known that Hezbollah had problems with the Egyptian government, so they supported the uprising against it - against Mubarak," noted Dabbous.  "In Syria, on the other hand, they are supportive of the Assad regime, and so the coverage of the events is framed differently."

Professor Dabbous says there are several ways to portray an event and biases can show through, for example, through who reporters interview, how they edit video and by leaving out some facts and emphasizing others.

Imad Salamey, a political science professor at LAU, described some of al-Manar's recent coverage in Syria.

"They were going around in Syria and interviewing people and having people speak in favor of the regime and saying, it is normal life; there is nothing wrong; there is nothing going on; there are a few troublemakers - Israel and U.S. agents trying to stir trouble here and there, but now thank God, Assad has brought stability to the country," said Salamey.

Salamey said the Hezbollah channel also focused on stories that supported the Syrian government's claim that protesters are receiving support from outside the country, broadcasting pictures of what it described as confiscated weapons that had been smuggled from Lebanon, through Jordan and even the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Al-Manar's coverage also emphasized pictures of dead Syrian soldiers and their funerals, while depicting the protesters as destructive and without legitimate grievances.

Professor Salamey notes that while the opposition movement in Syria is essentially secular, the government has tried to portray it as having extremist Islamic roots. He points out that if that were really the case, it would be an incentive for Hezbollah and its mouthpiece to support the demonstrators.

"You would assume that Hezbollah will be, if it was really true to its Islamic principles, to be supporting Islamists against the seculars. But no, strangely enough, you - and this is what exposed the claims of these organizations - we see them standing with the secular regime against supposedly some Islamists coming out of Syria," Salamey noted.

Repeated requests to al-Manar to discuss the channel’s coverage of the uprising in Syria were unsuccessful.

Hezbollah, whose name means "Party of God," styles itself as a resistance movement against Israel, Lebanon's southern neighbor. The group's two patrons are Iran and Syria.

Mohammad Chattah is a senior adviser to Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He says Hezbollah's close links with the Syrian government have taken shaped the content of news coverage by al-Manar.

"Syria was a close ally, in this case, because it was supportive of Iran and Hezbollah. And that is paramount," Chattah explained.

Chattah says that al-Manar’s stance is clear - it is backing its benefactor, the Syrian government.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs