The BBC’s Syrian Chemical Weapons Coverage: An Exercise in Imperial Deception By William Bowles (updated)

by William Bowles
Writer, Dandelion Salad
23 August 2013

Over the past three days, since the story first broke, the BBC’s news Website (I use the word news advisedly) has carried twelve stories on the alleged chemical weapons attack that took place in a suburb of Damascus. Today’s offerings include, Hague believes Assad behind attack (23/8/13), without offering a shred of proof that the Assad government is behind the alleged attack or even that it took place, takes foreign secretary Hague’s ‘belief’ as a given. The lead paragraph tells it all:

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says he believes President Assad was behind a chemical attack in Syria.

What Hague’s belief is based upon is not revealed, instead we get more of the same:

“I know that some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria,” said Mr Hague.

Now why does Hague feel compelled to bring in the issue of a conspiracy? Perhaps because it is a conspiracy? A conspiracy dreamed up to justify the overthrow of the sovereign government of Syria. Hague then makes the most astonishing statement:

“I think the chances of that are vanishingly small [that it was a conspiracy] and so we do believe that this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.”

‘So we do believe’ intones Hague but the BBC article offers not a shred of actual proof that one, gas was actually used and two, if gas was used who it was used by?

Now you have to ask why the BBC feels it necessary to propagandise on behalf of the UKUS governments? What’s in it for the BBC? Well if it was an independent organisation, there could be no justification for promoting an allegation as fact even when its main UK advocate, Hague himself, can only offer his “belief”. But given as the BBC is the de facto mouthpiece for the UK state, it clearly has to peddle the ‘party line’. The piece continues:

“Pressing for UN weapons inspectors to be given access to the site, the UK foreign secretary said: “It seems the Assad regime has something to hide.

Why else have they not allowed the UN team to go there?”

But who says the Syrian government have denied access to Ghouta? Given as firstly, the area in question is under the control of the rebels (isn’t that the reason why all we have to go on are the rebels presentations, which judging by the videos I’ve seen, look suspiciously staged?), at the point of writing, there’s nothing the Syrian government can do about it. Second, just a few miles away there’s the newly arrived UN inspection team, who given the chance, I’m sure will want to check out the situation for themselves.

Even Barack Obama says “the alleged used of chemical weapons” and doesn’t actually name the Assad government. Once burned, twice shy perhaps, considering that the last alleged Syrian government use of chemical weapons turned out to have been used by the rebels. Do I detect a pattern here?

But by the last section of the article we read:

He [Hague] added: “This is what we are focused on and we are working with countries all over the world to try to bring this about and to try to establish the truth to the satisfaction of the world about what is clearly a terrible atrocity.

Well at least now the man is admitting that he doesn’t actually know what really happened, and it makes a nonsense of the BBC’s title. But just how compelling the propaganda assault has been (it reminds me somewhat of the media’s coverage of the Boston Bombing), is that ‘progressive’ media outlet, Democracy Now! has just published a piece that’s pretty much in step with the BBC’s coverage, though it does at least entertain the idea that if the Syrian government had done it it had shot itself in the foot and opened the door to direct (as opposed to indirect) foreign intervention, which is what Hague is proposing we do. Thus proof is is crucial.

“The only possible explanation of what we have been able to see is that it was a chemical attack and clearly many, many hundreds of people have been killed, some of the estimates are well over 1,000.

“There is no other plausible explanation for casualties so intense in such a small area on this scale.” – Hague

There is nothing clear about anything at this point in time, not even that chemical weapons were actually used. We have only the conveniently supplied rebel footage, which when viewed objectively, tells us nothing much at all, except that some appeared to be dead but not how they died and in some of the footage it’s not even clear the people are actually dead. Another part of Democracy Now!’s footage shows people, young an old, walking around rather aimlessly and clearly very aware of the camera’s presence, too aware I think.

The entire event registers as false, as contrived and just too damn convenient and to have happened on the same day as the UN inspection team arrived? That’s a coincidence? At the end of the day, it’s the latest and the most elaborate provocation staged to try and justify direct, foreign intervention by the Imperialist powers, given that the ‘rebels’ appear to be on the run.

Yesterday, the 22rd August, the BBC put out another propaganda piece titled, Obama’s thick red line on Syria by the BBC’s North American Editor, Mark Mardell. The title tells it all doesn’t it. Obama is indecisive, unsure of what to do (the issue of the chemical weapons is not even mentioned directly, it’s just assumed that it was the Assad government that used them):

President Obama clearly has a problem, and will be accused of inaction and dithering.

Mardell gives the game away when he writes:

The president’s main military adviser has cancelled a planned news conference. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey was due to answer questions at the foreign press centre.

Perhaps he’s had to call it off because he is busy planning what happens next in Syria. [my emph.]

‘Busy planning what happens next in Syria’ says it all really. Syria is just another place to go blow up and decide if it has a future.  The BBC speaks with an Imperialist tongue, that’s why the BBC is so gung ho about invading Syria to the point that it’s entire coverage of the events in Ghouta are based on nothing more than supposition and allegation? This outrageous piece of out and out warmongering ends thus:

In either case, Mr Obama is likely to insist on going the full UN route to gather the maximum possible support for any action – and that means waiting for the inspector’s report on earlier incidents at the very least.

I could be very wrong. The bombers could be in the air by this afternoon.

But at the moment all Mr Obama plans for today is a talk about the cost of college education and “a better deal for the middle classes”.

I suspect his red line is very thick indeed.

Obviously too thick for the BBC aka the state.

In another, later Mardell piece, quoting from Obama’s speech on the subject we read (just in case we didn’t get it with the earlier piece):

[Obama] calls the attack “troublesome” and says it touches on core national interests of the US, but quickly adds: “Sometimes what we’ve seen is that folks will call for immediate action, jumping into stuff, that does not turn out well, gets us mired in very difficult situations, can result in us being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region.”

Damn these dithering imperialists, Mardell seems to be telling us! Get on with it and bomb the crap out of Assad! Mardell continues:

You might think a private punishment is not much of a deterrent and anything that happens now will have to be a lot more public.


It does not sound like a man gung ho for military action. It sounds like the pleading of man being dragged, pushed and pulled by allies and world opinion to do something but who wants to be certain it doesn’t end up in a new war.

Mardell is pissed off because Obama doesn’t want to start bombing another country (yet)! What is going on here when a journalist, paid for out of the public purse and purportedly working for a media outfit that is bound by law to be objective and impartial, can act as point man for the Empire and its fucking wars?!


[DS added the video.]

Syrian army finds chemical agents as US navy expands presence in region

RussiaToday on Aug 24, 2013

Syrian army soldiers have found chemical agents when they entered rebel tunnels in Damascus suburb of Jobar, Syrian TV reports, adding that some of them started suffocating. The US Navy’s expanding its presence in the Mediterranean with a 4th cruise-missile armed warship. The move’s a response to the escalating conflict in Syria. For more on this RT is joined by Paula Slier.

Read More:


Updated: August 24, 2013

Syria chemical weapons claim: The BBC just doesn’t give up

by William Bowles
Writer, Dandelion Salad
24 August 2013

Evidently, the BBC was not satisfied with the propaganda pieces I referred to in yesterday’s article, so it’s come out with another, equally audacious piece of fiction that reiterates, again without any proof, the same drivel it peddled to us yesterday (and the day before). But what ‘UN’s Angela Kane in Syria urges chemical weapons probe‘ (24/8/13) does is communicate a sense that it (the BBC’s) wishes might yet come true; that the Empire would once again unleash the dogs of war this time on poor, destroyed Syria.

The BBC really is a war junkie. What is really galling is that aside from a single reference to the Russian assertion (and itself a qualified reference), “Russia, Syria’s main ally, said earlier there was evidence rebels were behind Wednesday’s attack“, the views of scientists and experts assembled on WashingtonsBlog (‘Experts Doubt Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims‘) for example, are nowhere to be found. It’s one, big cry for war.

Yet assembling and deferring to informed and reliable opinion and analysis, instead of ‘belief’, is journalism one-o-one; talk to the experts, the media analysts, use some common sense for Christ’s sake! The BBC is always using ‘experts’ but can’t seem to find a single one when it comes to adding any fact to Hague’s ‘belief’.

Why the hell would the Syrian government, on the very day the UN inspection team arrived, gas hundreds of people just a stone’s throw away from the location of the UN inspectors? Why doesn’t the BBC piece even entertain, in the words of William Hague, the “vanishingly small” chance that it would be ‘an own goal’ for the Syrian government to do something so stupid?

Instead the BBC again quoted Hague that the Assad regime was so brutal, and hence of course stupid–everyone knows that brutal and stupid go together–that it would do something stupid like invite the Empire to finish off the job started by its proxies, by murdering hundreds of its own citizens and thus signing its own death sentence. It’s the Reichstag Fire all over again!

Again, I keep coming back to the point that the BBC’s ‘news’ coverage of events in Syria is in reality war propaganda for the government, a government that seems hellbent on killing some more ‘rag heads’, do a little more of the Western version of ‘civilising’ Syria, the cradle of civilisation. It really is disgusting. And to think we are all paying for it.

The US, meanwhile, is facing rising pressure to intervene.

Where is this ‘pressure to intervene’ coming from, aside from the BBC, that is? Well there’s France, just as gung ho to kill some more people of colour as the Brits are and of course, the usual assemblage of right-wing psychos and so-called liberals, and then there’s the BBC.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday that “all the information at our disposal converge to indicate that there was a chemical massacre near Damascus and that the [regime of Bashar al-Assad] is responsible”.

Back in Mark Mardell’s piece of the 22 August, ‘Obama’s thick red line on Syria‘, Mardell lets the reader know that with his and his master’s help, he’ll get his way; war, war, war, not jaw, jaw, jaw:

There may be a tipping point when moral outrage grows too strong.

Whose ‘moral outrage’ is Mardell referring to? His own? The BBC’s? It’s outrageous but there’s worse. In the same piece, we get the ‘insider dope’ on the war to come (salivating, but spiked with a dollop of moral outrage):

I am certain there are plans for the discreet use of special forces to secure chemical weapons – but it is not clear what the trigger would be.

Ever so discreet is Mardell. Mardell writes as though it’s him that’s involved in planning the invasion (which in a perverted kind of way, he is) but he just hasn’t assembled all his resources yet. And once more, Obama is a dithering fool, who wants to go through the tedious and time-consuming process of making the destruction to come, ‘legal’ (he pants breathlessly):

In either case, Mr Obama is likely to insist on going the full UN route to gather the maximum possible support for any action – and that means waiting for the inspector’s report on earlier incidents at the very least.

Then, at almost the very end of today’s article on Kane’s UN visit, reluctantly included as it were, we read the following:

Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow had urged President Assad to co-operate with UN inspectors, but questioned the opposition’s willingness to provide “secure, safe access of the [UN] mission to the location of the incident”.

It also said there was evidence that “this criminal act was clearly provocative”, referring to unsubstantiated internet reports that allegations were being made hours before the attack was supposed to have happened.

It’s interesting how the Internet reports are “unsubstantiated” as opposed the BBC’s elevation of “belief” to that of fact. But be sure, the BBC, with its billions, will not be investigating any such ‘unsubstantiated reports’ anytime soon.

Are we really going to let them get away with yet another war on the innocents made possible by the likes of Mark Mardell and his bloodthirsty crew? What the fuck is going on! The fate of millions is effectively played out in the editorial rooms of the major media, and if they say yay, we wage war on the defenceless once again.


Saudi Arabia Sponsoring Terrorists Who Kill Muslims by Finian Cunningham

Rick Rozoff: Syria is in a Toe-To-Toe Conflict Between Russia and U.S. + U.S.-Russia Conflict Over Syria: Diplomacy Versus Infantilism

Western Governments and Their Propaganda Machine, aka MSM Ignoring Latest Massacres in Syria by Finian Cunningham

Rick Rozoff: Military Buildup Around Syria Points To Another Invasion

British Govt. Encourages Chemical Weapons Use In Bahrain, Syria by Finian Cunningham

Stay Out of Syria! by Leah Bolger and David Swanson

18 thoughts on “The BBC’s Syrian Chemical Weapons Coverage: An Exercise in Imperial Deception By William Bowles (updated)

  1. Could not believe bbc coverage yrsterday – Friday. It was so loaded towards showing parliament’s sanity as weakness. The ommissions in their selective reporting was truly disgraceful. This bloated self aggrandising organisation has surley come to the end of its useful life.

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  8. This, from Yahoo! News no less. Maybe – just maybe – the tide is turning on what is getting out? (Fingers crossed)

    US ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria, blame it on Assad govt’: Report

    “A new report, that contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence, showed a scheme ‘approved by Washington’.

    As per the scheme ‘Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons,’ the Daily Mail reports.

    Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that the U.S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

    According to, the December 25 email was sent from Britam’s Business Development Director David Goulding to company founder Philip Doughty.

    The emails were released by a Malaysian hacker who also obtained senior executives resumes and copies of passports via an unprotected company server, according to Cyber War News.”

    edited [See

    • If this can be verified it will erupt into a devastating indictment.

      The BBC does not always sing from the same sheet, and one has to be extremely cautious in condemning the entire reportage/analysis infrastructure.

      Mardell is an idiot. Not everyone in the BBC peddles the Home Office line, although many will always do so. You have to listen to the wide range of coverage and debate broadcast, the best is on Radio 4.

      Hague is in deep trouble today after Paddy Ashdown rebuked him for rattling his sword too much in thin French air. Ashdown’s position is far wiser and more politically adept ~ and realistic.

      My view following the defection of a former Syrian minister is that his advice (and Ashdown’s) is correct. An escalation of violence is insane.

      We have the opportunity to get right what went so wrong when the US invaded Iraq with the criminal collusion of the UK under Blair.

      If you look at the map it is obvious that simpletons in the NATO/Washington alliance want to see Syria painted red, white and blue to make a perfect picture for their geopolitical jigsaw, but it can’t happen. It will be the worst sectarian anarchy imaginable.

      The whole region should be locked down under security council rules, until negotiation is possible and a permanent war-crimes tribunal for the entire Middle-east is established.

      Saudi Arabia and “Israel” must be brought to heel. Assad must be held accountable. The US/UK/France must be full signatories to international law and fulfill their obligations under all existing treaties and conventions. Russia must participate fully, and China has to be willing to cooperate.

      There is no alternative, when the risks are so lethally grave.

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