Divisive operations videos contain valuable lessons
The videos to divide the FARC insurgents in Colombia proved to be effective in prompting FARC combatants to desert, and in involving the national population in an uplifting manner. The operation empowered the ordinary Colombian to play a role against the FARC.
Further down the list are videos from Pakistan against the Taliban and more intolerant strains of Islamism (2008), an Israeli video to ridicule Qaddafi in Libya (2011), and clever Syrian finger puppet videos to ridicule the Assad regime (2012).
- Video: ‘Operation Christmas‘ (2010) – How a British PR agency designed a kinder, gentler divisive operation for the Colombian Army against the FARC, to take advantage of the loneliness FARC guerrillas felt during the Christmas season. Blue Christmas lights are customary in much of Colombia. This video was produced by the British company that developed the successful campaign to encourage hundreds of guerrillas to demobilize. (In English)
- Video: ‘Demobilize: This Christmas, Everything Is Possible‘ (2010) – A Colombian Ministry of Defense video and TV ad about its positive Christmastime divisive operation to encourage FARC guerrillas to demobilize. The purpose was to generate public support for the initiative and to encourage family members and friends of FARC insurgents to demobilize safely. Aired on Colombian television. (In Spanish)
- Video: ‘Faith in the Cause‘ (2010) – A 30 second Colombian Army television commercial to promote a warm public feeling about the military, and to accompany the new, innovative, Christmas-themed positive divisive operations against the FARC. This commercial is not a divisive operation in itself, but shows how Colombian PSYOPers accompanied a counterinsurgency divisive operation with Christmas cheer to identify the Army with the people. The use of fireworks in the commercial is a traditional Christmastime seasonal custom in Colombia. (In Spanish)
- Video: ‘Operation Rivers of Light‘ (2011) – A follow-on to Colombia’s successful 2010 Christmas divisive ops against the FARC, Operation Rivers of Light (Operacion Rios de Luz) was developed by the same PR firm that designed Operation Christmas. This time, the effort directly included families and friends of FARC members to use the country’s river system as a delivery vehicle for a positive Christmas message to encourage demoralized FARC guerrillas to demobilize. A 2:30 explanatory video and a 30-second TV commercial. (In Spanish, with English subtitles)
- Video: ‘Yeh Hum Naheen! (This Is Not Us!)‘ (2008) – Pakistan’s top popular music artists banded together for a Live Aid-style music video to take a stand against terrorism. Written by a Pakistani composer in Britain, this music video was a privately funded divisive operation to marginalize Pakistanis who support terrorism. Yeh Hum Naheen is a positive, gentle song saying that terrorism “is not us,” but unlike Islamist propaganda with similar themes, this music video flatly declares terrorism to be haram (forbidden and sinful), and strongly implies that the sponsors of terrorism in Pakistan are foreigners and, presumably, Arab. The performers are Western in their appearance and performance, yet the video shows Pakistanis from all walks of life – including those who are visibly Islamic fundamentalist – joining with the Westerners and taking a dig at the terrorists. The music video was not intended for an English-speaking audience. (In Urdu, with English subtitles)
- Video: Yeh Hum Naheen petition drive (2008) – A Pakistani TV ad encouraging the public to join top pop singers in a petition campaign to disavow terrorist violence. Designed to reinforce the Yeh Hum Naheen music video and related work. (In Urdu, with English subtitles)
Political resistance videos – This first selection of videos is made up of independent productions created by people in the Middle East. Not all are aimed at Islamist extremists, but each is an excellent example of effective divisive operations, done on a low budget.
- Videos: Masasit Mati, “Top Goon” puppet series (2012). This link goes to a YouTube channel for a Syrian opposition troupe of finger puppets that skewer the Ba’athist Assad regime. These short, comical puppet shows are popular in Syria and around the world, and reduced the regime to repressing puppets. The puppets themselves are an ideal format for underground video resistance. Easy and inexpensive to make, small enough to hide or discard in an emergency, and mercilessly funny caricatures of various Syrian regime figures, the puppets carry out a brilliant divisive operation to embolden the average Syrian and marginalize what’s left of the regime.
- Video: “Zenga Zenga” (2011). A clever, simple music video montage makes fun of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s vivid facial expressions and gestures in a bizarre but gripping portrayal of the military strongman in his last weeks in power. This is the original video, created by an Israeli, and complete with lovely women seductively gyrating on either side of Qaddafi. Islamists objected, and a version circulated on YouTube without the women. Interestingly, the fact that an Israeli created the video had no apparent negative effect on the video’s viral popularity among Arabs and among Islamists too prudish to handle images of women.