The President of Syria has a new outlet for showing just how great everything in his country supposedly is, despite the ongoing civil war that the United Nations says has killed 100,000 of his citizens: Instagram.
If you want to see how the three-year long conflict has affected the average Syrian, you’re going to want to look elsewhere. Instead, the photos show a smiling President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma meeting with soldiers, wiping away the tears of small children, and throngs of Syrians cheering the government. Nearly 30,000 users are currently following the “syrianpresidency” account, though just how many of them fully support the depiction of Syria being presented — given the intensity of the comments on some of the pictures — is debatable.
The U.S. State Department has already condemned the account as “nothing more than a despicable PR stunt.” The charge seems accurate, as only three of the photos uploaded so far even remotely show the devastation that the country has seen since the beginning of the conflict. Even then, the fighting is relegated to bombed out buildings in the background, meetings with the families of “martyrs,” and a visit with Syrian soldiers in military hospitals, with no depictions of the suffering Assad’s people are currently going through. There’s no indication that diseases like measles, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, and leishmaniasis, informally called the “Aleppo boil,” have proliferated due to the fighting. No sign is given that more than 1.6 million Syrians have fled the country, with tens of thousands more displaced throughout the state.
“To see what’s really happening right now in Syria, to see the horrific atrocities in Homs and elsewhere, we would encourage people to take a look at unfiltered photos of what’s actually happening on the ground,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf implored on Wednesday. Taking that to heart, the following are some comparisons of the sunny life in Syria that the presidential account attempts to depict with the reality of the ongoing fighting:
Assad recently said in an interview that he’s “sure of victory” in the end against the rebel forces. Efforts to bring the two sides together for talks to end the conflict have been been complicated by a number of factors, including disagreements between the United States and Russia and clashes among the rebels themselves.