In today's tour of state-sponsored terrorism: Syria's media takes a rare jab at an ally, a Chinese propaganda film enters the U.S. 2012 race, and Iran cracks down on the media. We begin in Damascus.
Frenemies of the State
The Syrian government and the Palestinian militant group Hamas are supposed to be besties. In fact, they even have their own club: "the axis of resistance," the self-styled rat pack of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. countries including Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. That's why a Syrian state TV editorial attacking Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal Monday raised eyebrows. The segment accused Mashaal, who moved Hamas' headquarters out of Damascus, of abandoning the resistance movement, suffering from a "romantic emotional crisis," and betraying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The editorial reminded Mashaal of the time he was stranded after getting kicked out of Jordan in 1999 for "illicit and harmful" activities. "Remember when you were a refugee aboard planes. Damascus came and gave you mercy," the editorial said. "No one wanted to shake your hand then as if you had rabies."
The New York Times says the editorial was issued by a newscaster "in alternatively stern and mocking tones." According to the Associated Press, "The regime's verbal attack appeared to be prompted by Mashaal's decision to take part in a major conference Sunday of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party. Erdogan has been one of Assad's sharpest critics." The editorial is the latest sign that the 18-month long civil conflict has torn the relationship between Hamas and Syria asunder. Hamas initially stayed on the sidelines during the initial unrest, but after Palestinians grew enraged by the increased violence, the relationship frayed.