Tony Greenstein | 28 October 2015 | Post Views:

An interesting example of how the BBC does its best to promote the
foreign policy interests of British capitalism and the current government by
doctoring its news stories.  In this case
it is subscribing to the line that the ‘moderates’ that Saudi Arabia are
supplying are not in fact the Al Qaeda group, al-Nusra.  In this case they tripped over their own lies
in their efforts to cover up what the Saudi regime was doing.

Cameron fighting for human rights
 Unlike Jon Snow’s demolition job on David Cameron regarding US support
for Saudi membership of the UN Human Rights Council, the BBC does its best to
cover up the government’s support of this obnoxious regime.
Tony Greenstein 

BBC Protects U.K.’s Close Ally Saudi Arabia With Incredibly Dishonest and Biased Editing

Glenn Greenwald
October 26, 2015
Information Clearing House
– “The Intercept
– The BBC loves to boast about how “objective” and “neutral” it is. But a
recent article, which it was forced to change, illustrates the lengths to which
the British state-funded
media outlet
 will go to protect one of the
U.K. government’s closest allies
, Saudi Arabia, which also happens to be one
of the country’s largest arms purchasers
(just this morning, the Saudi
ambassador to the U.K. threatened in an
that any further criticism of the Riyadh regime by Jeremy
Corbyn could jeopardize the multi-layered U.K./Saudi alliance).
How the Chair of the UN Human Rights Council Defends Human Rights
this month, the BBC published an
describing the increase in weapons and money sent by Saudi
Arabia and other Gulf regimes to anti-Assad fighters in Syria. All of that
“reporting” was based on the claims of what the BBC called “a Saudi
government official,” who — because he works for a government closely allied with
the U.K. — was granted anonymity by the BBC and then had his claims mindlessly
and uncritically presented as fact (it is the
rare exception
when the BBC reports adversarially on the Saudis). This
anonymous “Saudi official” wasn’t whistleblowing or presenting information
contrary to the interests of the regime; to the contrary, he was disseminating
official information the regime wanted publicized. This was the key claim of
the anonymous Saudi official (emphasis added):
The Zionist and Saudi flags
well-placed official, who asked not to be named, said supplies of modern,
high-powered weaponry including guided anti-tank weapons would be increased to
the Arab- and western-backed rebel groups fighting the forces of Syria’s
President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies.
One of the quainter practices of this esteemed member of the UN Human Rights Council
said those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS)
or al-Nusra Front
, both of which are proscribed terrorist organizations.
Instead, he said the weapons would go to three rebel alliances — Jaish
al-Fatah (Army of Conquest)
, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Southern
the Saudis, says the anonymous official, are only arming groups such as
the “Army of Conquest,” but not the al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front.
What’s the problem with this claim? It’s obvious, though the BBC would not be
so impolite as to point it out: The Army of Conquest includes the Nusra
Front as one of its most potent components. This is not even in
remote dispute; the New York  Times’ elementary
on the Army of Conquest from three weeks ago states:

are its members?
Reagan & Saudi Ambassador
alliance consists of a number of mostly Islamist factions, including the Nusra
Front, al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate; Ahrar al-Sham, another large group; and
more moderate rebel factions that have received covert arms support from the
intelligence services of the United States and its allies.
Israeli & Saudi Spy Chiefs
, in an
early October article
complaining that Russia was bombing “non-ISIL
rebels,” similarly noted that the Army of Conquest (bombed by Russia) “includes
a number of Islamist groups, most powerful among them Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat
al-Nusra. Jabhat al-Nusra is the local affiliate of al-Qaeda.” Even the Voice
of America
that “Russia’s main target has been the Army of
Conquest, an alliance of insurgent groups that includes the al-Nusra Front,
al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, and the hard-line Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham,
as well as some less extreme Islamist groups.”
other words, the claim from the anonymous Saudi official that the BBC
uncritically regurgitated — that the Saudis are only arming the Army of
Conquest but no groups that “include” the Nusra Front — is self-negating. A BBC
reader, Ricardo Vaz, brought this contradiction to the BBC’s attention. As he
told The Intercept: “The problem is that the Nusra Front is the
most important faction inside the Army of Conquest. So either the Saudi
official expected the BBC journalist not to know this, or he expects us to
believe they can deliver weapons to factions fighting side by side with an al
Qaeda affiliate and that those weapons will not make their way into Nusra’s
hands. In any case, this is very close to an official admission that the Saudis
(along with Qataris and Turkish) are supplying weapons to an al Qaeda
affiliate. This of course is not a secret to anyone who’s paying attention.”
Charles & Camilla Royally Defending Human Rights  
response to Vaz’s complaint, the BBC did not tell its readers about this vital
admission. Instead, it simply edited that Saudi admission out of its article.
In doing so, it made the already-misleading article so much worse, as the
BBC went even further out of its way to protect the Saudis. This is
what that passage now states on the current version of
the article
on the BBC’s site (emphasis added):
said those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS) or
al-Nusra Front, both of which are proscribed terrorist organizations. Instead,
he said the weapons would go to the Free Syrian Army and other small rebel groups.
Bush & a Saudi Prince
originally, the BBC stated that the “Saudi official” announced that the
regime was arming the Army of Conquest. Once it was brought to
the BBC’s attention that the Army of Conquest includes the al Qaeda
affiliate Nusra Front — a direct contradiction of the Saudi
official’s other claim that the Saudis are not arming Nusra — the BBC
literally changed the Saudi official’s own statement, whitewashed it, to
eliminate his admission that they were arming Army of Conquest. Instead, the
BBC now states that the Saudis are arming “the Free Syrian Army and other
small rebel groups.” The BBC simply deleted the key admission that the Saudis
are arming al Qaeda. As Vaz told The Intercept:
is an incredible whitewashing effort! Before they were directly quoting the
Saudi official, and he explicitly referred to “three rebel alliances,”
including “Jaish al-Fatah” [Army of Conquest]. There is no way a journalist was
told “other small rebel groups” and understood what was written before. In
their reply to my complaint they said the mistake was an “editorial oversight,”
which is truly laughable. What we saw was a prestigious western media outlet
surrendering the floor to an anonymous official from the most medieval of
regimes, the official pretty much saying that they were going to supply (more)
weapons to an al Qaeda affiliate, and instead of pointing this out, the BBC
chose to blur the picture and cover the terrorist-arming/funding activities of
the Saudis/Qataris/Turkish.
Kerry & King Salman
personally don’t view the presence of al Qaeda “affiliated” fighters as a
convincing argument against supporting Syrian rebels. It’s understandable
that people fighting against an oppressive regime — one backed by
powerful foreign factions — will align with anyone willing and capable of
fighting with them. Moreover, the long-standing U.S./U.K. template of branding
anyone they fight and kill as “terrorists” or “al Qaeda” is no more persuasive
or noble when used in Syria by Assad and the Russians, particularly
when used to obscure
civilian casualties
. And regarding the anti-Assad forces as monolithically
composed of religious extremists ignores the anti-tyranny sentiment among
ordinary Syrians motivating much of the anti-regime protests, with its
genesis in the Arab Spring.
what this does highlight is just how ludicrous — how beyond parody — the
14-year-old war on terror has become, how little it has to do with its original
ostensible justification. The regime with the
greatest plausible proximity
to the
9/11 attack
 — Saudi
— is the closest U.S. ally in the region next to Israel. The
country that had absolutely nothing to do with that attack, and which is at
least as threatened as the U.S. by the religious ideology that spurred it —
Iran — is the U.S.’s greatest war-on-terror adversary. Now we have a virtual
admission from the Saudis that they are arming a group that centrally includes al
, while the U.S. itself has at least indirectly done
the same
 (just as was
true in Libya
). And we’re actually at the point where western media outlets
are vehemently denouncing Russia for bombing al Qaeda elements, which those
outlets are  manipulatively referring
as “non-ISIS groups.”
not a stretch to say that the faction that provides the greatest material
support to al Qaeda at this point is the U.S. and its closest allies. That is
true even as al Qaeda continues to be paraded around as the prime need for the
ongoing war.
whatever one’s views are on Syria, it’s telling indeed to watch the BBC
desperately protect Saudi officials, not only by granting them anonymity to
spout official propaganda, but worse, by using blatant editing games to
whitewash the Saudis’ own damaging admissions, ones the BBC
unwittingly published. There are many adjectives one can apply to the BBC’s
behavior here: “Objective” and “neutral” are most assuredly not among them.

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Tony Greenstein

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