And So, It Begins

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 26, 2011

One of the key takeaway lessons for totalitarian and authoritarian governments who witnessed the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissidents in the wake of the stolen presidential election in 2009 was that if a regime is to survive a popular revolt, it must expel the free foreign press from its country. Otherwise, protesters will get media coverage, the world will tune in, the world’s sympathy will be aroused, and the totalitarian or authoritarian government in question will be on the defensive. And of course, expelling the press is especially useful before a crackdown takes place.

With that premise established, this story is chilling:

Syria has withdrawn the accreditation of a Reuters correspondent, saying he had filed “unprofessional and false” coverage of events in Syria.

Reuters said it stood by its coverage from Syria, where a week of protests in southern towns have presented President Bashar al-Assad with the deepest crisis of his 11-year rule.

Senior Correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis, who had been based in Damascus since February 2006, was told to leave Syria late on Friday.

A senior Information Ministry official told him: “Your accreditation has been withdrawn and you are being expelled because of your unprofessional and false news. You have to leave immediately.”

Unless an international ruckus is immediately raised concerning this and other instances of expulsion, we can expect blood to flow in Syria. And even if an international ruckus is immediately raised, blood will likely flow. If people are not concerned about this development, they should be.

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