“The Rock”, the new propaganda tool despite itself

One villainy shared by the two main Near Eastern deflagrations of the 21st century, namely the Iraqi the Syrian wars, is the fact that they are both filled with terrible surprises and changes that usually end up with a sordid counting of the human victims on the ground. But it appears that there might be another common point that comes together with a single question that would need some clarification. Does anyone intend to inform American movie director Michael Bay that his 90’s blockbuster, The Rock, is being used as a propaganda tool by several “actors” which have been mired into these despicable conflicts?

The 6th of July 2016, a seven years long investigation about the United Kingdom’s role in the Iraqi War was published. The Iraq Inquiry, or more widely known as the Chilcot Report, named after the chairman of committee of inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, is a massive 12 volumes with more than 2 million words document. While the report completely destroys all the arguments made by British Government then headed by Prime Minister Tony Blair in order to justify the British contribution to the US-led coalition invading Iraq, one word contained in the text seems utterly out of context: “Rock”. More precisely two, The Rock, with a capital R.

Chilcot (AFP)

The reference seems odd, yet the report states that the MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, back then), already feared by autumn 2002 that one source whose testimony led the authorities to build-up a case against Saddam, has actually been inspired by the Hollywood movie The Rock. The source who was believed to have “direct access” to the Iraqi chemical and biological warfare program (CBW), ensured the MI6 that the regime was actually dedicating itself to producing anthrax. Which would prove that Saddam Hussein did possess illegal weapons and was actually trying to enhance his stock despite fully violating the international law. Yet, it was a bad movie plot, or rather, a bad plot inherited from a good movie.

The MI6 knew that the testimony was a lie and thus informed Prime Minister Blair about it on the 11th and the 23rd of September 2002. Though, it failed to prevent the British to set boots on Iraqi soil sometimes in March 2003.

Excerpts of the Iraq Inquiry, volume 4, 4.3 Iraq’s WMD assessments, October 2002 to March 2003 :

130.
In early October, questions were raised with SIS about the mention of glass containers in the 23 September 2002 report.
It was pointed out that:
• Glass containers were not typically used in chemical munitions; and that a popular movie ( The Rock ) had inaccurately depicted nerve agents being carried in glass beads or spheres.
• Iraq had had difficulty in the 1980s obtaining a key precursor chemical for soman [a chemical agent].
131.
The questions about the use of glass containers for chemical agent and the similarity of the description to those portrayed in The Rock had been recognised by SIS. There were some precedents for the use of glass containers but the points would be pursued when further material became available. (page 313)

And a little bit further in the report:

However, it drew attention to the fact that the source’s description of the device and its spherical glass contents was “remarkably similar to the fictional chemical weapon portrayed in the film The Rock ”. It acknowledged that the similarity had been pointed out by one recipient when the report of 23 September was circulated. That significantly changed the context in which the details were subsequently presented in the reissued report. (page 383).
“Was anybody in the poison gas community would immediately know that this was total bullshit — such obvious bullshit” said David Weisberg, co-writer of the blockbuster in July 2016 to The Guardian. Before concluding: “it’s not a nice legacy for the film. It’s tragic that we went to war”.
The Rock by Michael Bay — Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage manipulating “the glass containers being used to carry nerve agents, a method the MI6 source suggested Saddam Hussein might consider” The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/06/movie-plot-the-rock-inspired-mi6-sources-iraqi-weapons-claim-chilcot-report

Nevertheless, despite being proved terribly wrong, the fake report by the very questionable and unnamed source was only withdrawn by the MI6 in the very end of July 2003, after the Invasion. Only to add yet another layer to the file of the many lies on which both the US and UK Governments based their pleas to invade Iraq. Like the famous mobile weapons laboratories fantasied by so-called Iraqi chemical engineer Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, code name Curveball, who innocently told the Guardian in February 2011 that he “admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war”.

Fast-forward to August 2013. At 2:30 AM inhabitants of Damascus suburb, Ghouta were pulled from their sleep by a widescale chemical attack made of deadly sarin gas. The number of the victims varies, yet the horror prevails. Follows an international and regional dispute aiming at finding the perpetrators of the horrendous act. Of course both sides accuse one another, and the topic is still, as of today, subjected to high controversy. Yet it wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last time chemical agents are used as a weapon on the Syrian field. The latest took place not ten days ago, on the 4th of April 2017 around 6 AM in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Province. The deadly attack also drove worldwide condemnation and outcry, and led Trump’s administration to fire 59 tomahawks missiles on the regime-held Shayrat air base the US authorities believed was the source of the attack.

Few years earlier, and just few days before the Ghouta tragedy, on the 5th of August 2013 appeared a YouTube channel claiming to be the “official YouTube Channel for the Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic”. On the 7th it publishes its first video of a President Assad’s interview with the German ARD television. It since continuously publishes various videos from, of course, a regime perspective. But one thing strikes the viewer. Each and every video begins with a very short clip on which the letters composing the words “Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic” appear in English and Arab languages. The interesting point is the music coming together with the short video clip.

Composed by World renown German composer Hans Zimmer, the music is no less than The Rock’s main theme. Epic and grandiose, the music is recognizable among all. But why this particular music?

The question is hardly answerable for sure, but considering the tremendous amount of propaganda that don’t fail to characterize the current Middle Eastern crisis and being promoted by all sides, could that choice of song be intentional?

Could it be possible that the YouTube channel’s manager would have been tempted to choose that particular song from that particular movie in order to draw a link between, the very unique story of the movie The Rock with the Iraqi war on one hand, and the Syrian war on the other? And therefore implying that the accusation against the Syrian Regime as the perpetrator of the chemical attacks are likewise fake and based on dubious testimonies?

If this should be the motive behind this peculiar pick, it would consist of yet another height in the very real information warfare. If not, just an interesting and strange coincidence…

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