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Egyptian TV network al-Tahrir stirred the Arab conspiracy theory pot this week, suggesting in a news segment that a 2001 episode of The Simpsons indicates that the U.S. might have incited the Syrian Civil War as part of a broader plot to destabilize the Arab world.
In the episode, titled New Kids on the Blecch, the always mischievous Bart Simpson, Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph are recruited to form a boy band, whose first single “Drop Da Bomb” is actually part of a subliminal recruitment campaign orchestrated by the Navy. In the video, the boys pilot war planes and drop bombs on an unnamed Arab country, where they also teach the local women to wear bikinis and play tether ball.
The episode was uncomfortably prescient in some sense, given its broadcast just months before 9/11 (later repeat broadcasts of the same episode excised a few segments because it was believed they could be upsetting, given what was then transpiring in the world).
But it’s a key detail that the Egyptian TV network has seized on as a possible sign of more elaborate conspiracy at work.
In a brief section of the video, a jeep bears the exact same flag currently used by the Syrian opposition.
Before showing the segment on air, al-Tahrir’s anchor told viewers: “The video you are about to see shows animated figures dancing, flying airplanes and dropping bombs on what must be Syria because there are other animated figures below in Arab garb and the Syrian [opposition] flag appears on one of the vehicles.”
She then alleges that the video “suggests that what is happening in Syria today was premeditated” and that U.S. likely played a role, adding, “This was from 2001, before there was such a thing as the Syrian opposition.” She then notes how such theories have been trending among local Facebook users.
The flag in the episode does indeed closely resemble that of Syrian rebel groups, but as The Times of Israel has pointed out, it has been used previously in the country, prior to 1963, when the Ba’ath party took over.
Watch the segment below, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute.
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Thomas Brodie Sangster