Since its establishment in 2012 under the banner "the pulse of the Middle East," Al-Monitor has garnered attention in the field of foreign affairs publishing. However, a closer examination of their professed impartiality uncovers a disconcerting bias, especially when dissecting their coverage of the ongoing Syrian revolution.
Amid this intricate landscape, one cannot ignore Jamal Daniel, the driving force behind Al-Monitor. His 2011 investment in As-Safir, a newspaper aligned with the Assad regime, raises eyebrows. This curiosity deepens with Daniel's close ties to the former Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem.
A thorough scrutiny of Al-Monitor's "Lebanon Pulse" section, spanning until June 19, 2013, reveals a disquieting tendency to echo the narrative of the Assad regime.
This unsettling trend is exacerbated by the fact that many of these articles are authored by journalists associated with pro-Assad, pro-Hezbollah media outlets.
Prominent contributors to the "Lebanon Pulse" section, including names like Ali Hashem, Jean Aziz, and Nasser Chararah, have affiliations with outlets aligned with Hezbollah or Assad. Take Ali Hashem, for instance, who penned a laudatory account on his Twitter page, recounting his encounter with Hezbollah Secretary Hassan Nasrallah in Qusayr—a site where Hezbollah was implicated in grave acts against Syrian civilians: "I had the good fortune to see you, in between the rubble, in the heart of Qusayr, without a turban. I had the good fortune of a greeting smile from the leader whose smile alone petrifies enemies! That day in Qusayr I will never forget so long as I live."
Media platforms endorsing such individuals inevitably cast doubt on their journalistic integrity and credibility. Their assertions invite scepticism, particularly due to their unsettling affiliations.
As we peel back the layers, the picture sharpens. When addressing Idlib, Al-Monitor consistently distorts reality. A recurring pattern emerges—one where the reputation of Syria's Idlib province is consistently denigrated. This is often achieved by relying on dubious eyewitness accounts, possibly concocted by the writers themselves.
Consider a recent article that distorts human trafficking, specifically involving women.
Born and raised in Idlib, Syria, I've witnessed firsthand Al-Monitor's distortions, which become evident upon closer examination.
The report alleges that a doctor examined a woman without kidneys. It claims that a woman named Najla was reportedly sold to a 37-year-old Saudi man for $3,000 under the guise of a 'mutah.' Those familiar with Islam understand that mutah is accepted within Shia Islam but rejected within Sunni Islam, a relevant detail considering the population of Idlib. Other bizarre suggestions include Saudis moving freely between Idlib and Damascus, an unlikely romance between an ISIS member and a coerced prostitute being transported to Idlib, and a male-authored narrative of sexual slavery in a conflict zone—ignoring a fundamental rule of conflict journalism against male journalists interviewing female survivors of sexual assault. It is evident that the editor's diligence in fact-checking was sorely lacking.
The author, Essam Sabry Hafez, is an Egyptian journalist (allegedly) who became a subject of ridicule among Syrians when his existence and previous work came to light.
Consider some of his past articles:
'Gog and Magog, where will they emerge from and when? And what is their description?'
'Al-Masih al-Dajjal, or the False Messiah, who is he?'
'A cryptic message in 8 languages sent by an unknown person to the inhabitants of the Earth!'
'The story of the two kings who spread magic throughout the land.'
Inexplicably, Al-Monitor considers this individual an expert on Syrian affairs. He's also the same person who, in response to a comment critical of his writing, wrote: 'Come to Egypt and I’ll exclusively show you Idlibi women who are for sale.'
Speaking from my perspective in Idlib, I firmly assert that Al-Monitor's deceptive practices and so-called writers consistently misrepresent our region. Our unwavering commitment to revealing the truth remains steadfast, as we pledge to expose any publication, individual, or entity that attempts to defame our region and the noble cause for which we stand.