In Focus | What is behind the changes in the Syrian regime media policy on the Corona virus crisis?
The Syrian regime has altered its media policy regarding the Corona virus crisis since the start of July 2020. The shift comes after efforts to deny and hide the presence of any cases of infection in Syria for many months.
The most salient changes observed in the Syrian regime’s media policy regarding the crisis is that the regime allowed some figures, who are closely related to the intelligence services, to appear on television or social media and talk comfortably about the topic. For example, Shadi Helwa broadcasted a video on his Facebook page at the beginning of August about the virus. Similarly, the pro-regime actress, Amal Arafa, posted on her Facebook page, announcing she is infected with the Corona virus and confirming that the virus will inevitably spread to the majority of the population. She subsequently published a post in which she said that a second examination resulted in a negative testing for the virus.
It seems that the Syrian regime has several motives for this shift in its handling of this crisis given its security policy, often based on the rejection and denial of crises. It is possible that this shift is based on recommendations from countries supporting the regime, especially Russia. These motives can be summarized as follows:
1. Investing in the global Corona crisis with the aim of putting pressure on the international community, especially the United States of America, to reduce the severity of the sanctions against Syria, especially after the implementation of new package of sanctions under the Caesar Law; although, the sanctions do not target the medical sector. Russia may later seek to raise this issue in an International Security Council meeting with the aim of calling for the easing of sanctions against the regime to allow it to face the pandemic.
2. Working to distract the population from the economic conditions in Syria, including the collapse of the local currency to an unprecedented level, by preoccupying public opinion with the life-threatening Corona virus pandemic.
3. Exploiting the health crisis to evade the upcoming political entitlements, specifically the upcoming constitutional committee meetings. The crisis was brought to the lime light shortly after the parliamentary elections were held and before the constitutional committee began its work.
Unit of Analysis and Thinking - Jusoor for Studies
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