A very interesting article from Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV today, suggesting that poor public relations efforts on the part of the Saudi and Qatari governments has led to a lack of general enthusiasm for taking action against Syria.
The article reports that the governments have spend billions of dollars in supporting the Free Syrian Army — just which factions they have supported is unreported — with little to show for it. Instead of arms, might those government have been more successful if they had lobbied both the publics and the legislatures of Western countries?
PR is a two-edged sword, as the article points out. Lobbying by the government of Kuwait in 1990-91 may have swayed a lot of public opinion, but when the lobbying efforts were exposed, many thought (and still think) that they were underhanded and less than honest. This has affected both the utility of this sort of PR campaign and damages the credibility of those who use it and those who end up agreeing with the message.
Nevertheless, more than 100K dead and over 2 million refugees ought to be a compelling story… as Stalin reputedly said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”
As things stand today, the US is preparing to take some sort of punitive action against Syria. The GCC and the Arab League are all in agreement that some sort of action is necessary. Other Western governments aren’t completely convinced and some have decided against it. The UN, through its Secretary General, are against it. And Russia? Russia is being ambiguous. It’s against it, but given irrefutable proof of Syrian government use of chemical weapons, might support a US attack.
Buying arms vs. ‘selling’ the strike: Do Gulf states need more PR on Syria?
Eman El-Shenawi – Al Arabiya
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have reportedly plugged billions of dollars in arms over the course of the Syrian conflict, emerging as the main foreign powers bankrolling the revolt.
But amid the West’s hesitation this week over launching a military strike to punish Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, indicators suggest the Gulf states have been shooting blanks.
Analysts now believe a portion of Gulf finances could have been better spent on a global anti-Assad/ pro-intervention public relations (PR) campaign.
Could such a PR drive have led us to see a different result in British parliament last week and more decisive moves on the Syrian conflict from the White House?
“If a Saudi-Qatari PR campaign had been running much earlier, say since six months ago, and had been well-executed, then yes,” Mudassar Ahmed, a political media analyst and chief executive of London-based PR agency Unitas, told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday.