A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Good Morning Syria: Diane Sawyer

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 7, 2007

Josh Landis has posted the article-cum-transcript of Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bashar al-Assad on Syria Comment:

Syria’s President Says He Needs Iran’s Support

ABC’s choice of title is interesting – the interview covers numerous other issues (the Hariri tribunal, events in Iraq, the Israeli peace process) – all equally substantive, if less headline-worthy.

Syria Comment’s focus is politics, but I think Josh has missed something by only posting this article. The politics of the Assad interview vastly exceed the interview itself.

Diane Sawyer did not merely have one, politically focused interview with Assad. She interviewed his wife, spoke with young Damascenes about their views of the world, and toured around. ABC’s website is filled with links to videos, articles, and interviews relating to her trip – including a list of Syrian (well, except for the mujaddara) recipes.

Here are some of them:

Syria’s First Lady Wants New Conversation with the West

Syrian Youth: ‘Let’s Build a Bridge’ to U.S.

Savory Syria: Recipes from Diane Sawyer’s Trip

In Damascus, Religions, Worlds, and Cultures Collide

The site includes video links with such titles as:

Object of Assad’s Affection: Syria’s First Lady

Democracy is the Goal in Syria

Ancient Hatreds Flare Up in Syria

A Syrian Feast

a much lampooned one titled

Bashar al-Assad: What’s on his IPod?

and even a viewer response video:

You Asked Diane Sawyer About Syria

as well as a poll:

Vote: Is Syria the Answer to Iraq?

There are a number of ways to read this explosion of content.

One is that Diane Sawyer and ABC are making the most of her trip, breaking it into bits to capture as much viewer interest as possible.

Another is that the Assads have taken to heart David Lesch’s recommendation in New Lion of Damascus – that they take Jordan’s King Abdullah and Queen Rania as models, and make themselves as media-friendly as possible.

Four years of silence from the Presidential Palace have done nothing to create a positive image for either Bashar or Syria in the minds of most Americans. One set of warm, humanizing interviews on a major US network might signal the start of a new approach.



My favorite sign from the Crac des Chevaliers


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