Syrians Debate U.S. Intervention on Facebook and Twitter

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Social Media Buzz: Syrians Debate U.S. Intervention

By Alison Tahmizian Meuse (@alitahmizian)  –  September 02, 2013 on Syria Deeply

Millions of Syrians are using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Skype to disseminate and discuss the conflict. Each week Syria Deeply monitors the online conversation in English and Arabic, pulling out the highlights in a feature called the Social Media Buzz.Syrians are engaged in fierce debates via social media over a proposed U.S. intervention. Some are dead-set against Western interference or skeptical of America’s motives, while others say it is the only way to eventually end the stalemate.Many activists, regardless of their political views, have poked fun at what they viewed as a spineless response by President Barack Obama to the chemical weapons attacks on August 21 in the Damascus suburbs.The Facebook page Lens Young Silly, known for a sarcastic and somewhat dark photographic take on the conflict, posted this photo:

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The caption reads “U.S. Tomahawk” in English and “Turtle” in Arabic, making fun of the slow pace of the U.S.’s deliberation.

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Protesters in Kafranbel, a small town in Idlib province whose residents have become famous for producing viral caricatures and slogans, weighed in:

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The anti-intervention movement has garnered a sizable following on social media.

The Facebook group Hands Off Syria, with over 6,000 likes, has been planning rallies around the world in opposition to a strike.

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One of the group’s photos shows a U.S. soldier holding a sign that reads “Obama, I will not deploy to fight for your al-Qaida rebels in Syria. Wake up people!”

Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street group shared an image reading: “No to military intervention in Syria,” which has nearly 4,000 likes and 6,000 shares.

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That post elicited a flood of pro-regime and anti-U.S. comments, with Arabs and Westerners alike labeling Obama a terrorist and expressing faith that Assad will prevail.

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Many activists expressed outrage at the anti-interventionists, arguing that the same regime supporters had turned a blind eye to the violence perpetrated by the Syrian government:

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In one meme, an Assad loyalist is unfazed by of gruesome images from the conflict. “Normal,” he says in response to bodies lying in debris in Hama, in the wake of an alleged regime strike on a line of people outside a bakery. “Very normal,” he says, looking at another photo, this one of dead children after the recent chemical attack.

At the sight of Obama announcing a strike on Syria, he begins to sing a patriotic Arab anthem and profess his loyalty to his nation.

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On Twitter, a user named Syrian Sunny Boy made fun of Muslim and Christian leaders who cried out about the proposed strike:

Muslim Brothers #MB in #Jordan against US strike in #Syria. They believe that #Assad‘s chemicals are Halal, but US Tomahawk are not.

#Pope of #Vatican says that US strike against #Syria not Christian, but no idea what Jesus says about use of chemicals on Syrians by #Assad

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Syrian activists are conscious that the regime line of “a war against extremists” has gained significant traction in the war-weary U.S. Some are working to explain their version of events to Westerners.

The Facebook group We Are All Hamza al-Khateeb published a post in English aimed at reaching U.S. audiences and dispelling fears that the revolution is dominated by radical jihadists:

“Will the US do it, will the congress approve action against Assad, why would they interfere??, isn’t it better for the West to let the Syrians sort out their own problems by themselves????. They say “we are not sure who used chemical weapons !!! it could be the Assad regime, and it could be the rebels, especially since they have Alqaeda and other terrorist groups with them All these are legitimate questions to ordinary people living in the West; especially since the media does not cover the whole story…

The regime has conducted a clever PR campaign claiming that they are fighting Islamic terrorists, and that the Western media is not telling the full story. The Syrian people are determined to fight to get their freedom back. The regime will collapse sooner or later as the people are more determined than ever to get rid of Assad regime, with or without the help of world powers.”

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Attention was focused on the White House on Saturday, for Obama’s speech on Syria. He was 30 minutes late, prompting sarcasm:

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Obama’s announcement that he would not strike Syria without Congressional approval elicited a range of disappointment, outrage and jeers.

The significance of the event, he inferred, was that unlike Assad, a president had listened to the desire of his people:

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