Last month, MEIB published an article [Continuing Detentions and Disappearances in Syria] highlighting the case of Hilal Ali, an Iraqi-born British citizen who had been detained in Damascus since July 2000 - a case which had been thoroughly ignored by the American media for the entire length of his detention. On June 27, just twenty-four hours after the MEIB article was published, Ali's London-based attorneys announced that he had been released.
Since its establishment two and a half years ago, MEIB has demonstrated the immense potential of Internet publishing to project information into the international public sphere that would otherwise be ignored or slanted by the commercial media.
There is a reason why no international media organization chose to cover Hilal Ali's imprisonment - the Syrian government simply bars the entry of journalists from newspapers, magazines, and television stations that cross arbitrarily-defined "red lines" in their coverage of Syria. Other governments in the region use similar tactics to influence the foreign media.
These tactics are effective because an international media organization, such as CNN, can't afford not to have a correspondent in Damascus . . . or Baghdad, Beirut, and Cairo for that matter. The commercial media sells information. A global media outlet cannot afford to be "out of the loop" as its rivals nail down exclusive interviews with Bashar Assad and Yasser Arafat.
As a nonprofit publication, MEIB is not driven by the need to boost readership. Online access to MEIB is provided free of charge and our publication does not accept commercial advertisements. In fact, we do not even solicit donations from our 12,000+ monthly readers.
Gary C. Gambill
Middle East Intelligence Bulletin