Sunday, May 15, 2005

BBC destroying a town in order to save its spin 

In western Iraq, Operation Matador has ended with 125 members of Al Zarqawi's network dead, many more wounded, and another 39 people of "intelligence value" detained.

Fortunately, BBC is there to remind us that every seemingly good-for-America cloud has a silver lining:
The BBC's Jim Muir, in Baghdad, says the operation appears to have exacerbated tribal tensions in the area.
In case you didn't quite get it, BBC is quite keen to let you know that the offensive against the terrorists has also done a lot of collateral damage, hence a handy video-report, tagged "See the damage caused by Operation Matador", linked to in the upper right hand corner of the above mentioned-story.

"The city of Qaim lies destroyed," intones BBC's Fergal Parkinson over the close-up footage of a bombed-out house, an otherwise brave statement considering that Operation Matador lasted a mere few days, involved only 1,000 American troops backed by helicopters, and Qaim wasn't even the main target of operations. In any case, Qaim is not a little village that can be easily flattened in a skirmish, but a town of 50,000. Parkinson mentions that some of the residents whose houses were destroyed in the fighting are now staying inside a sports stadium of a nearby town. The original BBC report quoted before captions a photo of a tent "Many people have fled to the desert as a result of the US campaign", while the story itself says only that "About 250 people fled Qaim into the desert as a result of the fighting and are currently receiving assistance from the Iraqi Red Crescent." Not wanting to take anything from the suffering of the displaced, and every human tragedy is one too many, but it's hardly another Stalingrad, or even another Fallujah.

Plus, as the indispensable Bill Roggio notes, fighting seems to have been taking place in Qaim between Al Qaeda forces and the local Sunni tribe. It begun even before Operation Matador, and the American forces are said to have been invited into the city by the elders to help mop up Al Zarqawi's men - all facts reported in the American media, but which seemed to have escaped BBC, as it salivated over the destruction of Qaim.


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