The Western media and governments fail to realise that the rebellion in Syria - one of the most liberal Arab nations - is being largely fomented by foreign-backed extremists whose goal is a far cry from democracy, says veteran TV journalist Waiel Awwad, South Asia bureau chief, Alarabiya News Channel, who has covered several conflicts
For months, while the international media has uncritically published lurid stories of Syrian police and auxiliary forces gunning down protesters demanding democratic reform, Syrians have been trying to tell the world an entirely different story.
This is - that it is not just the Assad regime, but the entire secular, stable and prosperous Syrian state that is under relentless attack. But till very, very recently, no one has been listening. Instead the media's one-sided coverage has helped to legitimise the imposition of sanctions upon the Assad government just when it needed the help of the rest of the world most urgently.
This disregard for the most fundamental tenet of good journalism pains me deeply. I am a Syrian national and have been the correspondent of TV channel Al Arabiya for the past two decades. These have been decades of turmoil in my part of the world. I have therefore perforce spent most of this time covering wars and insurgencies.
I have covered the first Gulf war and the second US invasion of Iraq (during which I was embedded with the US troops). I have covered wars in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Kargil India-Pakistan), and the unrest in Kashmir.
In all this time I have never knowingly violated the cardinal rule of good journalism, which is to verify my information before airing it - check and counter-check it with as many colleagues as possible and do my best not to mislead viewers.
To me therefore it is all the more distressing to see these principles being treated so casually by so many of my long-time colleagues. There have been honourable exceptions, but these have reported mostly for the print journals.