Predictable messaging in BBC’s Syrian civil war feature

On March 12th a feature article titled “Why has the Syrian war lasted 10 years?” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Under the sub-heading “Who’s involved?” readers find the following: 

“Iran is believed to have deployed hundreds of troops and spent billions of dollars to help Mr Assad.

Thousands of Shia Muslim militiamen armed, trained and financed by Iran – mostly from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, but also Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen – have also fought alongside the Syrian army.” [emphasis added]

Anyone familiar with the scale of the Iranian military intervention in Syria will surely raise an eyebrow at that highlighted unnecessary qualification. Those who have followed BBC coverage of the civil war in Syria would be somewhat less surprised, seeing as the corporation has serially downplayed Iran’s activities there over the years:

IRANIAN MILITARY ACTIVITY IN SOUTHERN SYRIA UNDER-REPORTED BY BBC

THE BBC, IRAN AND FAUX OBJECTIVITY

BBC NEWS FRAMING OF IRANIAN FORCES IN SYRIA

BBC NEWS FRAMING OF IRANIAN ACTIVITY IN SYRIA CONTINUES

A map appearing later in the feature under the title “Who controls what in Syria?” makes no mention of areas and border crossings under the control of Iran, Hizballah or other Iranian proxy Shia militias.

Long-time BBC watchers would likewise be unsurprised by the BBC’s inclusion of Israel under the same sub-heading “Who’s involved?”.

“Israel, meanwhile, has been so concerned by what it calls Iran’s “military entrenchment” in Syria and shipments of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah and other Shia militias that it has conducted air strikes with increasing frequency in an attempt to thwart them.” [emphasis added]

The erroneous portrayal of Israel as being “involved” in the civil war in Syria is also not novel.

BBC PRESENTATION OF ISRAELI VIEW ON SYRIA INTERVENTION REPLETE WITH INACCURACIES

BBC NEWS AGAIN CLAIMS ISRAELI INVOLVEMENT IN SYRIA’S WAR

BBC SYRIA WAR BACKGROUNDER RECYCLES INACCURATE CLAIM

As we have noted on several occasions in the past:

“The corporation’s journalists appear to be incapable of understanding that Israeli strikes on Iranian weapons bound for Hizballah or Israeli responses to cross-border fire from Syria do not make Israel a ‘player’ in the Syrian civil war but are in fact related to the Iranian and Hizballah aggression against Israel that long predates that conflict.”

Although the BBC’s feature includes references to injured civilians and the need for humanitarian assistance, readers see no mention of the medical treatment and humanitarian aid provided by Israel for over five of the war’s ten years.

The BBC initially largely ignored that story but later produced a handful of related reports.

BBC THROWS MUD OVER REPATRIATION OF SYRIANS

BBC ARABIC REPORTS ON SYRIAN PATIENTS IN ISRAELI HOSPITALS – BUT NOT IN ARABIC

AT LAST: AN ACCURATE AND IMPARTIAL BBC REPORT ON SYRIAN PATIENTS IN ISRAEL

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: BBC DRIVING DIRECTIONS SHOW BASIC ME GEOGRAPHY FAIL

BBC RADIO 4 DOCUMENTARY ON SYRIAN PATIENTS IN ISRAEL

BBC NEWS IGNORES ISRAELI AID TO DISPLACED SYRIANS

This BBC feature about the civil war in Syria demonstrates how the corporation continues to adhere to the often unhelpful framing that it has been promoting for a decade.  

More from Hadar Sela
Weekend long read
Our weekly round-up of Middle East related background reading.
Read More
One reply on “Predictable messaging in BBC’s Syrian civil war feature”
  1. says: Neil C

    If the BBC had their way they would be announcing that Israel should just roll over and accept Iranian rule as a done deal. Ruhani needs a short sharp shock especially after the attacks on Israeli shipping and the dumping of millions of tons of crude oil in the Mediterranean Sea. Iran has no respect for the earth, the environment or indeed human life, their troops are mere cannon fodder, dispensible and disposable, but like cancer, they infiltrate society in almost all countries of the world.

Comments are closed.