Spooky AssadLeaks: The Nir Rosen Connection

Something curious has happened in the last few days while I’ve been traveling. The Guardian and Al Arabiya have been publishing leaked emails from Bashar al-Assad and his wife, showing both to be callous assholes but not otherwise producing a smoking gun (though I do hope to return to what they show about how they evaded sanctions).

In the last day or so, attention has shifted to two emails (here’s a translation of the first) between Assad aides and Assad, mentioning the journalist Nir Rosen. A number of people read them to suggest Rosen was an agent of Assad’s, perhaps even exposing other Western journalists who were sneaking into Syria.

Rosen responded to the allegations here, saying in part,

I believe the trove of leaked emails from the Syrian government are indeed all real. The emails which contain my name are certainly real, I don’t mind saying. They are from people who were introduced to me and other western journalists as media and public relations advisers to the Syrian government or the president himself. They are the same people who arranged for the ABC News interview with Barbara Walters, for the Sunday Times interview with Bashar al Assad, for Agence France Presse, and for others to enter Syria. This is normal. How else does a journalist enter a country such as Syria?

In November 2011 after al Jazeera conducted a live interview with Iran’s president Ahmedinajad, I tried to persuade media advisers to the Syrian president that they should grant a similar one to al Jazeera’s English network. I sent them several emails trying to persuade them it was a good idea, including an email with my CV and biography. I also met with these media officials to try to persuade them.

And as this November email also shows, I forwarded them a link to a BBC program on Syria done by the heroic Paul Wood in order to try to persuade them that journalists are coming in anyway and they might as well let al Jazeera in formally.

Importantly, the fact that I had to send my resume and biography to establish my credentials for an interview bid with Assad and the very need for sending these things shows I was not an agent for them.

I suspect all sorts of people will continue to focus on Rosen.

If you haven’t been following his work, a number of people have pointed to Rosen as one of the very few people giving a nuanced picture of what is going on in Syria right now. As an example, in this Q&A he talks about the stalemate-degrading-into-civil-war Syria is in right now.

Only a “Hama” could change the equation. Nobody can say exactly what that would entail, because “Hama” has become an epithet, a symbol, it just means for something terrible to happen. So, until now there is no Hama-type event that the opposition or international media could use to give leaders in Turkey or the West a pretext for humanitarian intervention or to delegitimise the country’s leadership. Such an incident would have to be so grave that international opponents would use it to obliterate the Russian and Chinese veto in the United Nations, and to criminalise those two countries for their backing of the Syrian regime.

In any case, that’s the Nir Rosen background to the emails.

All of which led me to ask where the emails came from. I have no doubt they’re real (or at least most of them)–Rosen has confirmed the emails mentioning him appear to be real. Here’s the Guardian’s description of who did and did not confirm the authenticity of emails involving them.

But having the entire contents of one or two email inboxes is not the same as reliably understanding how they came to be obtained and published. That’s the question I’d like to look at in more detail in a follow-up post.

Tweet about this on Twitter1Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

One Response to Spooky AssadLeaks: The Nir Rosen Connection

  • 1

Emptywheel Twitterverse
JimWhiteGNV A true hero! RT @DougWilliams85: The Rev. Dr. William Barber is the second from left. http://t.co/h3YCzgcvc5
JimWhiteGNV RT @DougWilliams85: The Alabama State Capitol. IT IS ON THE STEPS WHERE WE SHALL BE MORAL http://t.co/3trFwZ0sm0
JimWhiteGNV And Al Haig is President. RT @dpleasant: I thought Ted Cruz was Speaker.
emptywheel Country that gave HSBC wrist slap for helping make $$ available to terrorists wants to stop people fr moving like $$. http://t.co/8KyF9Z2nW9
JimWhiteGNV RT @MiaFarrow: I don't read ALL the sections of the NyTimes but they're useful anyway http://t.co/ZSFVodVdUF
emptywheel @astepanovich Oh wait. Betting @RepMikeRogers forgot to mention that bit, huh? @Politico @KCollierWrites
emptywheel @astepanovich "Of course they got those 1s and 0s bc we had to leave them accessible to NSA." @RepMikeRogers @Politico @KCollierWrites
emptywheel Saudis hired contractor that fucked up 2012 Olympics security to protect the Haj. http://t.co/0Cp9Ma3E94
bmaz At least it wasn't a Chicago Bear RT @dmataconis Bear Suspected of Killing Man, 22, Hiking With Friends in New Jersey http://t.co/HWNDW0yM3T
emptywheel @AdnanSadiq68 Arguably they're trying to set up a swap for Iran, as the US did in 1976 in reverse. But ... yes.
emptywheel @AdnanSadiq68 Agree. Wouldn't it be nice to have full transparency on who thought this was good idea?
JimWhiteGNV RT @emptywheel: The Covert Operation Undermining US Credibility against ISIS http://t.co/5jgJhgIHKp