Weekend long read

1) Jonathan Spyer shares ‘Some Further Thoughts on the Situation in Northern Syria’.

“The fate of the 60,000 ISIS prisoners currently held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, should also be considered.  The Kurdish-led SDF was holding these captives as part of their alliance with the US. That alliance has just been pronounced dead. The SDF looks set to be about to fight an advancing Turkish army – a project for which, it may be presumed, it will be in need of all available personnel.

Can Turkey, whose own relationship in recent years with ISIS  included verified episodes of collusion, be trusted with the task of holding these individuals in continued captivity, pending some future legal process?  The record would suggest otherwise.”

2) At The Hill, Behnam Ben Taleblu is ‘Making sense of Iran’s nuclear moves’.

“Things are about to get worse on the Iran nuclear front. That’s essentially what Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei promised in a speech on Wednesday before commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s most infamous military force. Per Khamenei, Iran is slated to continue reducing its adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), until “the desired result” is achieved.

Khamenei’s comments help frame recent technical developments, confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, about Iran’s latest nuclear violations. The country is now using advanced centrifuges, fragile machines that spin at high speeds, to enrich uranium. […]  Earlier in September, an Iranian government spokesman had warned that Iran would grow its nuclear research and development aptitudes by installing and testing a series of advanced centrifuges.”

3) At the INSS Ofir Winter and Orit Perlov analyse recent events in Egypt.

“Over recent weeks, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was confronted was with his gravest public crisis since taking office. Mohamed Ali, a former Egyptian military contractor, posted videos on social media accusing the top military and political echelons of a range of corruption offenses and encouraged the public to protest against the President. Despite the wide dissemination of the videos, only a few thousand people responded to Ali’s call and took to the streets. But the regime’s success in containing the protests is no cause for nonchalance on its part, as the fundamental economic and political problems that sparked the public anger remain in place. Many of the regime’s supporters see in the protests a wake-up call and an opportunity to embark on measured policy amendments from a position of strength, hoping to prevent another wave of protests. Initial announcements on behalf of regime spokesmen promised economic, political, and media reforms, but these have yet to be translated into action on the ground.” 

4) Seth Frantzman takes a look at ‘Smoke signals in the next Middle East war’ for Tablet Magazine.

“Taken all together, the Israeli strikes in Lebanon last month and in Syria and possibly Iraq as well, the attack in Saudi Arabia, and the statements from Iranian and Hezbollah officials form part of a larger pattern in which Israel and Iran are locked in an escalating conflict playing out across the region. In the long term, Iran’s land bridge strategy connecting Tehran to the Mediterranean coast through a chain of contiguous client states in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, points directly at Israel.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned about this Iranian encirclement and “entrenchment,” but the warnings have not been enough to stop the advance. The Abqaiq attack, like the Israeli airstrikes that preceded it, was both another salvo in this war and a challenge to the U.S. and the Gulf Arab states, testing their reactions as Iran ramps up its next phase in the war against Israel.”

Looking beyond BBC Two’s portrayal of the Gaza Strip

As recorded here last week, the recent BBC Two film ‘One Day in Gaza’ told viewers that:

“…Israel tightened its blockade on the region citing security concerns and strictly controlling all movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip. Today the economy is in freefall. More than half of Gaza’s two million inhabitants live in poverty and rely on aid. And they’re prevented from leaving what is one of the most densely populated regions on earth.” [emphasis added]

That misleading claim is of course not novel to BBC content and neither is the related and not infrequently seen politicised framing of the Gaza Strip as an ‘open-air prison’ – see examples here, here and here.

At the Erez crossing into Israel:

“Every day an average of 1,000 Gazan residents enter Israel through Erez Crossing. The vast majority of these people are those in need of medical treatment, but it also includes businessmen, industry professionals, students, individuals going to pray on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and others.”

The BBC Two film made no mention whatsoever of the fact that the Gaza Strip also has a border with Egypt and that the territory’s other pedestrian crossing into a neighbouring country is located on that border. The Rafah crossing into Egypt has been mostly open since November 2017 and Ha’aretz recently reported that:

“According to data compiled by aid agencies affiliated with the United Nations, 60,907 Palestinians left Gaza via Egypt in 2018…”

That data of course refutes the BBC’s claim that inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are “prevented from leaving”. However, the Ha’aretz report goes on to state that:

“…only 37,075 returned, a net exodus of around 23,800. But other sources provide different numbers, and Israel’s estimate is that around 35,000 Gazans left for good. […]

Hamas initially viewed Rafah’s opening as a source of income, since anyone who leaves must pay it to obtain a passport, visa and other documents. Additionally, an industry of bribes soon developed, in which anyone who sought to obtain the documents quickly had to pay Gazan government officials hundreds of dollars.

But in recent months, Hamas realized that Rafah’s opening had allowed educated members of the younger generation to leave and sought to stem the brain drain. In particular, due to Gaza’s collapsing health system, it decided to bar doctors from leaving.” [emphasis added]

It remains to be seen whether or not the BBC will tell its audiences about those particular restrictions on movement for Gaza Strip inhabitants – and who is enforcing them.

Related Articles:

BBC’s ‘Life in the Gaza Strip’ backgrounder not fit for purpose

 

 

 

 

 

Superficial BBC News reporting on Muslim Brotherhood

On April 30th the BBC News website published a remarkably superficial report titled “White House to designate Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organisation”.

Despite that headline’s clear suggestion that the issue is already cut and dried, that not the case. The report opens by telling readers that:

“The Trump administration is working to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organisation, the White House said on Tuesday.”

Readers are also told why that is purportedly the case.

“The decision follows a White House visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in April.

Mr Sisi asked US President Donald Trump to make the move, US media said.”

Two paragraphs later, that messaging is reinforced.

“The Trump administration first directed security and diplomatic officials to find a way to impose sanctions on the Brotherhood after a meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Sisi on 9 April, US media report.” [emphasis added]

In fact, as noted by two authors in January 2017 (a week after Donald Trump became president and over two years before Mr Sisi’s April 9th visit):

“The idea of designating the Brotherhood has been kicking around a long time…” 

The article states: [emphasis added]

“On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the administration is pushing for the designation.

“The President has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” Ms Sanders said in a statement.”

However, BBC audiences were told nothing of what that “internal process” entails or how long it might take.

They were nevertheless informed of opposition to a process which has yet to be completed, beginning – unsurprisingly – with the Muslim Brotherhood itself.

“In a statement on its website, the Muslim Brotherhood said it would remain committed to its work, regardless of the White House’s decision, Reuters reports.” […]

Readers then heard of domestic opposition:

“The decision has caused a rift between White House officials and Pentagon staff, according to the New York Times.

Though US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both purportedly support the move, career national security staff, government lawyers and diplomatic officials have raised legal and policy objections.” 

Next came foreign opposition:

“A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party said on Tuesday that the designation would hinder democratisation efforts in the Middle East and provide a boost to other militant groups in the region, according to US media.”

The BBC did not bother to inform readers of the obviously relevant fact that the AKP is, as the FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer testified before a congressional committee in July 2018, strongly supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) is effectively the Turkish arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkish President and AKP founder Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly supports the movement. That support was most evident during the height of the Arab Spring, when Erdogan apparently believed he could harness the growing political power of the movement under his leadership.

Erdogan dispatched Turkish campaign strategist Erol Olcok to Egypt to help with Morsi’s campaign. Olcok helped Erdogan’s AKP party win eleven elections in Turkey. On September 30, 2012, after Morsi’s victory was secured, Erdogan invited the Egyptian president, along with the Brotherhood-linked Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to the AKP convention in Ankara. After Morsi delivered a speech at the convention praising Erdogan and the AKP, he announced a $1 billion loan from Turkey to Egypt. In February 2013, Turkey’s then-President Abdullah Gul became the first foreign leader to visit Egypt under Morsi’s government. In 2015, Erdogan further admitted that he provided $2 billion to Morsi at a time when no one else was helping Egypt. Turkey’s support became increasingly strident after the collapse of Brotherhood rule in Egypt. The AKP organized public demonstrations in Turkey in support of Morsi following the coup, and at least 1,500 members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood found refuge in Turkey.”

The BBC’s report goes on to promote and link to a video put out by the Brookings Institution.

The BBC however refrained from informing its audiences of the relevant fact that the Brookings Institution has for years been funded by Qatar and has a branch there. Qatar is of course the country which has long provided the Muslim Brotherhood with both refuge and cash, as also noted by Jonathan Schanzer.

“Qatar is undeniably the world’s most welcoming and generous jurisdiction for the Muslim Brotherhood. The relationship began in the early 1950s when the tiny emirate “provided a lucrative, stable and welcoming platform where Brotherhood members could safely base themselves, recruit fellow members and prosper.” In the 1960s, the Brotherhood began to use Qatar as a “launching pad” for expansions into other jurisdictions, like the United Arab Emirates. Qatar tacitly approved those activities, so long as the Brotherhood continued to be “outward-facing” and did not pose a threat to Doha. […]

As of July 2013, when the Morsi regime collapsed, Qatar had pumped $8 billion in financial aid to Egypt, according to the Financial Times. Qatar today serves as a safe haven for many Egyptian Brotherhood figures. It hosts the Brotherhood’s de facto spiritual guide, Yusuf al Qaradawi, along with other figures like Asim Abd-al-Majid, Wagdy Ghoneim, Ehab Shiha, Ashraf Badr al-Din, and Hamzah Zawbaa. The fact that Doha hosts these figures became one of the main complaints against Qatar from its Gulf neighbors.”

The BBC’s report closes with a typically sanitised cameo of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

“The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.

The movement was initially intended to spread Islamic morals and good works, but soon became involved in politics, particularly the fight to rid Egypt of British colonial control and cleanse it of all Western influence.

In the first parliamentary elections after President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011, the political party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to power, winning nearly half the seats in Egypt’s parliament.

Since Mr Morsi’s ousting, thousands of Brotherhood members have been arrested.”

Notably, BBC audiences were told nothing at all about the Muslim Brotherhood’s numerous offshoots outside Egypt – including some already designated by the US such as Hamas.

Whether or not the US administration will eventually designate all or parts of the Muslim Brotherhood remains to be seen but as we see, despite its public purpose obligation “to help people understand…the world around them” the BBC has managed to condense a complex issue into yet another trite item in its ‘Trump behaving badly’ genre. 

 

BBC News report on Rafah crossing omits information

On the afternoon of January 7th a report titled “Palestinian Authority removes staff from Gaza-Egypt crossing” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Relating to an announcement made by the Palestinian Authority the previous day, the article was illustrated with a photograph attributed to AFP which the BBC presented with the caption “It is unclear whether Hamas will be allowed to retake control of the Rafah crossing”. Exactly which body would or would not ‘allow’ such a move was left unclear.

The same photograph appeared in a report published by the Times of Israel but with a caption that quotes most of the original description of the image:

“Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas (R) stand guard outside the Rafah border crossing with Egypt just minutes before the Palestinian Authority withdraws its staff (L) from the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on January 7, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)”

The ToI went on to report that:

“Hamas members retook control of the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Monday after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its own staff, an AFP journalist and Hamas officials said. […]

An AFP journalist saw officials from Hamas, a terror group that is the de facto ruler of the Strip, at the border crossing’s main gate and inside accompanying offices in southern Gaza on Monday.

A Hamas border official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the terror group that rules the Strip had taken control “to avoid a vacuum.””

However, later on in the BBC’s own report readers found a paragraph that contradicts its photo caption:

“The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that the Hamas-run interior ministry had assumed responsibility for managing the crossing on Monday, but it was not clear whether Egypt would allow it to continue operating.”

Other foreign and local media outlets were able to report on the same day that:

“Egypt will keep its crossing with the Gaza Strip closed to departures from the Palestinian enclave after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its officials amid disagreements with Hamas.

Gaza’s Interior Ministry, controlled by the Hamas terror group, said Monday that Egyptian officials notified them that the crossing would only be open to those entering the Gaza Strip.”

The BBC has to date not bothered to update its article to reflect that development.

In the article’s opening paragraph BBC audiences were told that the Rafah crossing is the “main exit point” from the Gaza Strip.

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it is pulling its staff out of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, effectively closing the main exit point from the coastal territory.”

While the Rafah crossing has been open since mid-May 2018, the BBC’s description does not reflect the situation before that when severe restrictions were imposed for over three and a half years. According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

“The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing, the only crossing for passengers between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, has been open continuously since May 2018, except for holidays and special occasions. This is the longest period of continuous opening since September 2014 when the crossing was closed. Prior to May 2018, the crossing opened for only a few days a year, reportedly due to concerns about security in the Sinai. Despite the improved access since May 2018, over 23,000 people are still registered on a waiting list (that numbered approximately 30,000 previously) according to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in Gaza. […]

During the sporadic openings of the Rafah crossing prior to May 2018, an average of some 650 people per day were allowed to exit, but in recent months the daily average has fallen to 343.”

According to UNOCHA figures the average number of monthly entries and exits via the Rafah crossing was 2,393 in 2015, 3,521 in 2016 and 2,930 in 2017. The same agency reports that the average number of monthly exits (only) of Palestinians via the Erez crossing was 15,027 in 2015, 13,187 in 2016 and 6,900 in 2017.

Readers were also told that;

“Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank have been ruled separately since deadly clashes between Hamas and Fatah broke out in 2007.

Hamas won parliamentary elections in the occupied territories the previous year, and reinforced its power in Gaza after ousting Fatah from the enclave.

Israel and Egypt tightened their blockades of Gaza in response to the Hamas takeover and in an attempt to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants.”

Notably the BBC did not inform its audiences that the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to declare the Gaza Strip ‘hostile territory’ in September 2007 came after an increase in terror attacks and rocket fire at Israeli communities near the border.

However, this BBC report did include a mention of the first rocket attack from the Gaza Strip of 2019 which took place in the early hours of January 7th.  

Related Articles:

Laconic BBC reporting on Egypt’s closure of Rafah crossing

BBC News report contradicts BBC backgrounder

 

 

 

Background again absent in BBC’s Sinai terrorism story

The lead item on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on January 5th was a report titled “Abdul Fattah al-Sisi: Why did Egypt want CBS interview pulled?” which opened by telling readers that:

“The CBS television network says it has rejected a request by Egypt’s envoy to the US not to broadcast an interview with President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

The 60 Minutes programme cited Mr Sisi as confirming the Egyptian military was working with Israel to combat jihadist militants in the Sinai peninsula.”

The latter part of the report stated:

“CBS said the president also “confirmed his military was working with Israel against terrorists in North Sinai”, where attacks by an affiliate of the jihadist group Islamic State has left hundreds of security personnel and civilians dead.

Asked if the co-operation with Israel was the “closest ever”, Mr Sisi reportedly responded: “That is correct… We have a wide range of co-operation with the Israelis.” […]

Mr Sisi’s reported confirmation of military co-operation with Israel over North Sinai might also be controversial in Egypt. The two countries fought four wars before signing a peace treaty in 1979.

In February, the New York Times reported that the president had approved a covert Israeli air campaign in North Sinai that had resulted in more than 100 strikes by unmarked drones, helicopters and jets.

However, Egypt’s military insisted at the time that only Egyptian security forces were confronting militants in the region and warned local media not to report “unreliable information”.

When asked about Mr Sisi’s interview with CBS on Friday, an Israeli military spokesperson told the BBC: “We do not comment on foreign reports.””

Those who rely on the BBC for their news of course lack the background information necessary to understand the topic of any cooperation between Israel and Egypt in efforts to contain the branch of ISIS operating in the Sinai Peninsula.

In 2017 the BBC News website completely ignored no fewer than five separate missile attacks carried out by that group against Israel and the topic of relations between Hamas and Wilayat Sinai has not been the subject of any serious BBC reporting. BBC Monitoring’s profile of the Sinai Province (Wilayat Sinai) group still includes inaccurate information.

Despite mentioning the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, the BBC’s report fails to clarify to readers that what “might also be controversial in Egypt” includes the fact that Egypt’s campaign against the ISIS terrorists has repeatedly included securing Israel’s agreement to increases in troop numbers and weapons deployment in the Sinai Peninsula beyond those permitted under the terms of the 1979 treaty.

Once again the BBC has passed up on the opportunity to provide audiences with background necessary for full understanding of that story.

Related Articles:

Egyptian news site notices BBC’s terror terminology double standards

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) At the JNS Yaakov Lappin takes a look at a story which long since dropped off the BBC’s radar – Egypt’s campaign against the ISIS branch in Sinai.

“With security threats to Israel from Iran and Hezbollah along the northern borders, and Hamas and other terror elements in the Gaza Strip to the south often receiving the lion’s share of public attention, the activities of the Islamic State-affiliated terror group state in the large Sinai Peninsula are often overlooked.

However, efforts by Egypt, along with quiet reported Israeli support, to crack down on the group appear to be making significant progress. Although a large-scale counter-terrorism operation has not eliminated the threat, it has greatly reduced it, a senior Israeli defense analyst told JNS.”

2) The ITIC provides a “Profile of Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the New Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader“.

“On September 28, 2018, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) spokesman Da’ud Shehab announced the election of Ziyad al-Nakhalah as secretary general. Al-Nakhalah, the organization’s third leader, replaced Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, who has been in a coma for the past six months (following a series of strokes). The PIJ is Iran’s preferred proxy in the internal Palestinian arena. Ziyad al-Nakhalah, who has strong connections with Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, plays a central role in foster and promoting the PIJ’s collaboration with Iran. Therefore it can be expected that under al-Nakhalah’s leadership the PIJ will continue to promote Iran’s interests in the Gaza Strip and in the internal Palestinian arena in general; and in return the PIJ will profit from generous Iranian financial and military support, which will help it preserve its status as the second most important terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip (after Hamas).”

3) At the INSS Gilead Sher and Mor Ben-Kalifa discuss the “Challenge to the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty“.

“One year prior to the automatic renewal of the annex to the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, King Abdullah announced that Jordan would not renew the special regime governing the areas of Naharayim and Zofar for another twenty-five years. Jordan, he said, will impose its sovereignty fully over these areas. The dire socio-economic and demographic situation in Jordan, coupled with the intensifying grass-roots protests throughout the Hashemite kingdom and the political deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, has heightened public pressure on King Abdullah to cancel the peace treaty, whether in part or in its entirety. Over the years, Israeli-Jordanian relations have weathered ups and downs, but the parties succeeded in overcoming even the most extreme crises. The profound common interests that Jordan and Israel have shared for decades may help in overcoming the current challenge – provided that the crisis is handled promptly through covert dialogue, far from the spotlight.”

4) Jonathan Spyer takes a look at “The Return of ISIS“.

“So IS as an organization has survived the successful US-led destruction of the quasi-state it created in 2014.  It has a leadership structure, money, fighters, weaponry and it is currently constructing a network of support in Sunni Arab areas of Iraq and Syria. These areas take in territory under the nominal control of the government of Iraq, the US-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces and the Assad regime.  Small scale attacks have already begun in some areas. The return of the Islamic State in the dimensions it reached in the summer of 2014 does not look likely or imminent.  But the prospects of an IS-led ongoing Sunni insurgency, with roots deep in the Sunni Arab outlying areas of Syria, Iraq and the border between them is an increasingly likely prospect.  The Caliphate may be in ruins.  But Islamic State is back.”

Superficial BBC WS reporting on Gaza truce discussions

The August 17th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 48:46 here) which was introduced by presenter Rebecca Kesby using the standard sanitised BBC portrayal of the ‘Great Return March‘ violent rioting and with the firing of hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians by terror factions erased from audience view.

Kesby: “Egypt has taken on a big task, apparently organising and implementing a truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The agreement is reportedly aimed at calming weeks of border clashes between the Gaza Strip and Israel and is planned ahead of the Muslim Adha feast which starts next week.”

On the same day, however, Israeli media outlets reported that Hamas officials had stated that no agreement would be reached before Eid al Adha.

“A member of the Hamas terror group’s political bureau said Friday that internal Palestinian talks on a long-term ceasefire agreement with Israel were put on pause until the conclusion of a Muslim holiday later this month.

“Today we finished a round of consultations in Cairo with the Palestinian factions regarding the calm [ceasefire deal] and the reconciliation” between Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, Izzat al-Rishq wrote on his Twitter account, according to Channel 10 news.

“We made clear that we insist that all steps be in a national framework. We presented our vision regarding the calm and we heard ideas and comments from the brothers in the factions,” added al-Rishq, one of the Gaza-based terror group’s top leaders abroad.

“God willing the efforts will renew after the holiday” of Eid al-Adha, a Muslim feast that begins on Tuesday and lasts until the end of next week.”

Kesby then went on to introduce Anshel Pfeffer of Ha’aretz and BBC audiences were told that the potential truce includes several factors.

Pfeffer: “The main component of the deal – which is an unofficial understanding, not a written treaty that either side is signing – is that Hamas is committed to a complete ceasefire.”

Listeners were not told that Hamas’ interpretation of “a complete ceasefire” does not – as the Times of Israel explains – in fact include what Kesby euphemistically described as “border clashes” in her introduction.

“Hamas does not view the ongoing “popular protests” along the border, or the kite and balloon arson attacks that have burned over 7,000 acres of southern Israeli land, as a violation of any such agreement. As far as Hamas is concerned, those attacks are part of the popular Palestinian struggle against Israel. If Hamas does reach a long-term ceasefire deal with Israel, the terror group insists it will be obligated to cease rocket and mortar fire, but nothing more. […]

Conversely, Hamas says it will not agree to such a truce unless Israel stops bombings its facilities in the Gaza Strip, which have caused considerable damage to its infrastructure in recent weeks. […]

Israel has carried out such strikes in response to arson attacks and particularly egregious violence at the protests, and is unlikely to accept an arrangement in which it would agree to halt such responses while Gazans remain free to riot and burn Israeli farmland.”

Pfeffer went on:

Pfeffer: “The next elements are that both Israel and Egypt will reopen the crossings into Gaza, both for people coming in and out – that’s the Egyptian crossing at Rafah – and for cargo which goes in from the Israeli side at the Kerem Shalom crossing. Another component is that the fishermen of Gaza will be able to put out to sea to a much wider area and what is perhaps most problematic – and that’s something which is going to be in the future – opening further negotiations through the Egyptians on prisoner exchanges and the larger plan of infrastructure building in Gaza.”

While BBC audiences have in the past heard plenty about border crossings, fishing zones and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, listeners may well have been confused by the reference to “prisoner exchanges” because – as noted here previously – the corporation has produced no reporting concerning the Israeli civilians held by Hamas in the three years that their imprisonment has been publicly known.

Later on Pfeffer mentioned the Palestinian Authority “who don’t really like to see all this happening without them being involved” but listeners were not told that the day before this report was aired, Mahmoud Abbas had refused to meet the Egyptian intelligence chief to discuss the issue.

Kesby then came up with a totally irrelevant question:

Kesby: “Yeah, you mention Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. We don’t think they’ve been part of these talks at all, do we? And that may not be the only stumbling block: will all this get through the Israeli parliament?

Pfeffer: “Well the parliament doesn’t have to vote on it. It’s not a formal peace treaty; it’s just a ceasefire agreement.”

Pfeffer went on to say that most Israeli cabinet ministers “have agreed in principle to the plan” and that “the real stumbling blocks” are “some minority within Hamas leadership who are reported to be against” before stating that this is the test which will determine the chances of “something more comprehensive” that will “allow people in Gaza to finally begin enjoying a better level of infrastructure and some kind of freedom of movement in and out of the Gaza Strip.”

As we see, BBC World Service listeners were given inaccurate information about the timing of this potential truce and misled with regard to its terms. Audiences heard nothing about the Palestinian Authority’s stance which would enhance their understanding of factors liable to prevent any significant agreement from coming about, including the fact that PA officials have said that “if any deal were reached, the Ramallah government would stop all financial assistance it provides to the Strip”. And once again, the subject of Israeli civilians held prisoner by Hamas was ignored by the BBC.

Related Articles:

The glaring omission in the BBC’s portrayal of Gaza truce negotiations

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has published a compilation of lectures on “The Decline of the Islamic State”.

“The Islamic State had perpetrated egregious crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing from the time it stormed onto the world stage in 2014, but by 2016 the international anti-IS coalition was taking its toll on the terrorist group. As it lost territory, IS lost not only the ability to make money from natural resources but also its massive taxation (extortion) of the local population. As IS faced battlefield defeat at the hands of coalition forces, undermining the group’s self-declared territorial goal of “remaining and expanding,” attacks abroad took on greater significance as a way to remain relevant and demonstrate that the group could still inflict pain on its adversaries—but now in their home countries. A review of IS-related attacks in 2016 includes multiple attacks in Turkey, the Brussels bombings, and attacks and plots in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, United States, and Yemen.”

2) At the Times of Israel David Horovitz discusses “Hamas, the murderous neighbor that demands Israel give it the gun“.

“…Hamas has made life as hellish for Israel as it possibly can — firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israel, digging attack tunnels under the border, killing and wounding soldiers at the border fence, carrying out suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism, and most recently flying arson devices — kites and balloons — across the border to burn our lands.

All the while, in its guiding charter and in the speeches and propaganda of its leaders, it’s told anybody who’ll listen that it is bent on destroying Israel, that the Jews have no right to be here — or anywhere else for that matter — and that, sooner or later, it will wipe us out.

It’s also been complaining to anyone who’ll listen about the blockade that Israel (and Egypt) impose on the territory it controls. If we don’t lift that blockade, it threatens, it’ll keep on attacking us.

If we do lift that blockade, it is patently obvious, Hamas will immediately bring in more of the weaponry it needs in order to pursue its declared goal of destroying us.” 

3) The JCPA reports on Hizballah’s ‘air force’.

“Unmanned drones (“RPAV” is the term today – Remotely Piloted Air Vehicle) are being used throughout the Middle East for surveillance, combat, targeting, platforms for bombs and missiles, and as “suicide” drones (in effect, cruise missiles). RPAVs’ endurance and range can reach many hours and hundreds of kilometers. Iranian-made drones are now flying in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Over the last decade, they have attempted to enter Israeli airspace from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza.”

4) MEMRI takes a look at the record of an Egyptian cleric who visited the UK in July.

“During his visit to the U.K. this month for the first Emerging Peacemakers Forum, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Sheikh of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution, met with Queen Elizabeth II as well as with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Windsor Castle, on July 12, 2018. Al-Tayyeb reportedly stayed at the archbishop’s Lambeth Palace, one of the forum’s venues, during his U.K. visit. […] During his visit, Al-Tayyeb also met with U.K. Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister of State at the Department for International Development the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP.”

Weekend long read

1) The IDC has a podcast in which Dr Amichai Magen holds a fascinating conversation with Dr Jonathan Spyer about the background to his book ‘Days of the Fall: A Reporter’s Journey in the Syria and Iraq Wars’. 

2) At the Algemeiner, Zvi Mazel discusses the significance of a story the BBC has so far ignored – the signing of a major gas deal between Israeli and Egyptian companies.

“A deal just concluded between Nobel Energy from Texas and Israeli Delek group on one side — and Egyptian private company Dolphinus on the other — to provide Egypt with 64 billion cubic meters of gas for a total of $15 billion over a period of 10 years may turn out to be the first sign that the Mediterranean is about to become a world hub of gas trade.

According to United States Geological Survey estimates, huge reserves of gas can be found in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: some 325 trillion cubic feet, or 9.2 trillion cubic meters — more than all known US reserves.

Regional disputes, however, are likely to hinder exploration and exploitation of these areas.”

3) The FDD has produced a useful profile some of the Iranian-backed militias operating in the Middle East.

“Iran has built a network of Shiite militias, now fighting across the Middle East, whose fighters number in the tens of thousands. These militias include battle-hardened fighters as well as poorly trained recruits. They hail from countries across the Muslim world and have varying motivations and interests, but they have one thing in common: they project the Islamic Republic’s power and promote its revolutionary ideology. Iran’s Shiite foreign legion has played an indispensable role in preserving the Assad regime in Syria, but all the groups have expressed a readiness to wage war against all enemies of the Islamic Republic.

One of the earliest militias, whose success spawned others, is Lebanese Hezbollah. Hezbollah is now a household name because of the terror attacks it has carried out against American and Israeli targets, from Lebanon to Argentina. The next generation of Shiite militias is less well known.”

4) On J-TV, Baroness Ruth Deech discusses the anti-Israel boycott campaign.

BBC reports on designation of a terror group it previously ignored

On January 31st the BBC News website published a report titled “Ismail Haniya: US designates Hamas leader as terrorist“.

“The United States has designated the political leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as a terrorist and imposed sanctions on him.

The state department said Ismail Haniya had “close links with Hamas’ military wing” and been a “proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians”.”

That presentation failed to inform BBC audiences that the US announcement concerning the man described last year by the BBC as “a pragmatist” also included the following:

“Haniyeh has close links with Hamas’ military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians. He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.” [emphasis added]

The report went on:

“Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, is already designated a terrorist group by the US, Israel, the EU and UK.

It denounced as “worthless” the blacklisting of Mr Haniya.

A statement from the group said the decision would “not dissuade us from continuing to hold fast to the option of resisting and expelling the [Israeli] occupation”.”

BBC audiences were not informed that the term “resisting” is a euphemism for terrorism against Israelis or that as far as Hamas is concerned “the occupation” means Israel in its entirety.

Neither were they told that additional reactions from Hamas officials described the US announcement as “a violation of international laws” and “a reflection of the domination by a gang of Zionists of the American decision” and the BBC’s article was not updated to reflect the fact that the PLO also later condemned the designation.

The article continued:

“The state department also designated three militant groups as terrorist entities:

  • Harakat al-Sabireen, an Iranian-backed group that operates primarily in the Gaza and the West Bank and is led by Hisham Salem, the former leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It is accused of planning and executing attacks, including firing rockets from Gaza into Israel
  • Liwa al-Thawra, a group active in Egypt’s Qalyubia and Menoufia provinces that has said it was behind the assassination of an Egyptian army commander in Cairo in 2016 and the bombing of a police training centre in Tanta in 2017
  • HASM, another Egyptian group that has claimed it assassinated an officer from Egypt’s National Security Agency and carried out an attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo”

BBC audiences reading this report would no doubt have been surprised to learn of the existence of the first organisation on that list given that – as noted here over two years ago – the corporation has failed to produce any reporting whatsoever on Harakat al-Sabireen.

Readers were also not told that the other two groups on the list are suspected of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hence when they read at the end of the report that the US Secretary of State said that “[t]hese designations target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran” [emphasis added], BBC audiences would not understand that, in addition to Harakat al-Sabireen, he was referring to Hamas.

As regular readers know, the BBC has long refrained from producing any meaningful reporting on the topic of Iranian funding of Hamas terror.  

Related Articles:

The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of

The news the BBC has to omit in order to keep up its narrative

BBC audiences in the dark on Iranian terror financing yet again

Filling in the blanks in BBC reports on Hamas, Qatar and Iran

BBC News website plays along with the ‘softer’ Hamas spin