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A Frog's-eye view

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Thursday, April 03, 2003
 
MORE FROM THE BEEB

My thanks to reader Solomon for drawing my attention to the following article by Barbara Amiel on the BBC's Arabic reporting. I don't know whether Amiel knows Arabic, but from what I heard I would agree with her.

Out of interest, I decided to have a look at the BBC's Arabic website. The following article particularly attracted my attention: As-Sahaaf: The Invasion Forces Dropping Snare Bombs to Kill Civilians. The article reports in great detail two press conferences, one by Muhammed Said Assahaaf, Iraqi Minister of Information, and one by Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a U.S. Central Command spokesman. Both official's statements are reported at length, but there is no attempt to verify or falsify their claims.

If we are to believe Assahaaf, then:

* The Americans British and the are using ammunition banned by international law.

* The allied forces have been driven out of Najaf to the desert.

*The allies are deliberately destroying the holy Shi'ite tombs of Najaf, by bombardment and by breaking the sound barrier over the city, causing the ancient monuments to crack and crumble.

* The Saladin region suffered five injured, while the Nineveh region had 12 injured and one dead. Anbar: two injured; Babil: 58 injured and one dead; Mathna: 19 inured and 12 dead.

* The invasion forces were unable to cross the Tigris.

* The Iraqis, along with the Arab volunteer forces, have managed to destroy a considerable amount of allied military equipment.

* The Iraqi forces have gained experience in dealing with Cruise missiles, and managed to down a missile. He stressed that the effects of the aerial bombardment on the Iraqi forces were limited and marginal.

*When asked about the rescue of a POW [Lynch] from a hospital in An-Nasiriyya, he denied any knowledge of these developments.


You have to admire the man's nerve. The allied forces are now some 30km from Baghdad and he continues to deny that the allied attacks have had any effect. Not only that, he dares to accuse the allied forces of destroy the tombs of Imam Ali, al-Hussein and al-Abbaas. In fact, these Shi'ite monuments were severely damaged when Saddam crushed the Shi'ite rebellion and had them set alight, even though many of the rebels had sought refuge within them assuming that no Muslim, however cruel, would ever attack such holy sites.

What is disturbing is that the BBC's Arabic service presents us with this information without comment, as though some how, the lies pouring out of Baghdad can be taken in any way seriously, at least as seriously as the BBC journalists' own information on the ground. It is not without reason that the BBC has gained the reputation of being the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation.



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