Author: Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent scholar residing in İstanbul, with a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. He tweets at @theerimtanangle
Syria’s not-so-civil war has been going strong for more than three years now and recently the news agency Reuters reported that “[a]t least 150,000 people have been killed” in that time span.
The figure cited by Reuters is based on data provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In spite of the fact that this source has been popping up all over the news media throughout the past three years, in the process receiving a veneer of academic impartiality and respectability, Reuters’ Mohammed Abbas disclosed at the end of 2011, that the organization is basically run by one man, Rami Abdulrahman, from his “two bedroom terraced home in Coventry”. Abbas describes Abdulrahman as “a Sunni Muslim” opposed to the Assad regime in Damascus. In fact, Abdulrahman explained his position in the following terms: “I came to Britain the day Hafez al-Assad died, and I’ll return when Bashar al-Assad goes”. Hence, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights can hardly be seen as an impartial source providing accurate data. Instead, it appears it is a propaganda outfit frantically feeding anti-Assad messages into the global news stream.