- By Catherine A. TraywickCatherine A. Traywick is a fellow at Foreign Policy.
Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba tweeted a disturbing photo Friday morning that purportedly depicts an orphaned Syrian boy sleeping between the graves of parents. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, he made sure to finger Assad as the culprit behind the pictured boy’s sad fate, tweeting:
The photo has been making the rounds on Twitter, where it has stirred up fresh outrage about the human toll of the conflict in Syria.
Too bad it’s totally fake.
Far from being a chronicle of war, the photo was actually part of an art project by Saudi Arabian photographer, Abdul Aziz Al-Otaibi. Journalist Harald Doornbos was perhaps the first to point out the gaffe. He reached out to a “pretty annoyed” Otaibi, who said, “Look, it’s not true at all that my picture has anything to do with Syria… I am really shocked how people have twisted my picture.”
Otaibi noted that the graves are not actually graves, and the boy is his nephew — and a very good sport:
Jarba deleted the photo about 30 minutes after posting it but, as we all must learn the hard way, nothing on the internet is ever really dead.
Was the unvetted photo an ill-advised attempt to turn public opinion against Assad ahead of Wednesday’s Geneva talks? It’s no secret that some members of the opposition coalition believe Assad’s willingness to relinquish his chemical weapons cache has undeservedly helped him rebuild credibility in the eyes of the international community. Reminding the world of his victims might have taken him down a notch or two. Unfortunately, the whole fiasco sends a rather different message: The opposition is getting a little desperate and its P.R. apparatus needs some work.
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |