Why are Syria and Ukraine conspiracy theorists defending Russell Brand?
Tamara Himani in The New Arab
Among Brand’s defenders are figures often associated with the Alt-Right - such as Elon Musk, Tucker Carlson, Andrew Tate, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Alex Jones and several journalists from GB News, a right-wing British news channel. Alongside them are commentators linked to the left, such as Glenn Greenwald, George Galloway and Anya Parampil (who have segments on Russian Television International and Grayzone, respectively - both channels accused of being Russian-backed). Russell Brand has engaged extensively with both groups, including discussions with Tucker Carlson, Jordan Peterson, Alex Jones, Glenn Greenwald, and Grayzone journalist Aaron Maté.
Many of these figures have suggested that they (and their followers) are victims to powerful, malign forces working through the Western government and media establishment. According to them, the hostility of ‘the deep state’ is active at home and abroad - against anti-Western governments like Russia, Iran and Syria, against whom the state seeks to wage forever wars. These commentators are often accused of softening or denying the wrongdoing of such governments purely owing to their anti-Western orientation.
For example, Parampil reposted a tweet claiming there was ‘zero evidence’ Mahsa Amini - a Kurdish-Iranian woman killed while in Iranian police custody last year for improperly wearing her hijab - had been tortured by Iranian officials on the anniversary of her death. Galloway suggested Israel could have given chemical arms to al-Qaeda following the Assad regime’s infamous chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, Syria; the former MP also told Cambridge students at a speaker’s event that Uighur Muslims faced no discrimination in Xinjiang and the only Muslims incarcerated were “Al-Qaeda and ISIS fanatics”, despite a 2021 Amnesty Report to the contrary.
Meanwhile, right-wing figures such as Peterson, Carlson and Jones have intimated sympathy for Russia during its war against Ukraine, characterised as a proxy war provoked by a malignant West. At the same time, Maté has attempted to downplay President Assad’s culpability for chemical weapons attacks on Syrian civilians, notably in Ghouta and Douma. Brand has made a name for himself among such figures, collectively self-identifying as the ‘independent media’ or voices of truth.