BBC Newsnight Discusses Middle East Turmoil; Ignores UK Foreign Policy


The Editors, 3 August 2014

Categories: Middle East | Iraq | Syria | Libya | BBC News |


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Newsnight on 30 July 2014 covered the ongoing situation in the Middle East and opened with a short film by BBC journalist Mark Urban which discussed 5 reasons that the "Middle East is in Turmoil" (video and full transcript is below). The discourse is worth noting, particularly as it fails to address entire episodes of contemporary history. The film is made for a British audience yet fails to inform viewers about British Foreign Policy which has undeniably influenced recent developments in the Middle East. References are made to the creating of states in the Middle East by European Colonial powers, however more recent history (including the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the bombing of Libya), is all but ignored.

It does not even enter the discussion that UK policy towards Iraq, Libya, Syria and Israel can be partly to blame for today's violence in those countries. Instead, Urban credits the west with a supposed attempt to bring liberal democracy to the Middle East:

Mark Urban: There is another thing that's become clear too, that trying to drop another western construct - liberal democracy - into the current cauldron of the Middle East simply isn't going to work.

The five reasons for the turmoil (the last of which, "Be worried", is not a reason) given by Urban are:

1. New ideology (the rise of political Islam)
2. Collapse of the Arab Spring (fragmentation of states; violence and turmoil)
3. New borders (ISIS, Syria/Iraq, Libya, Israel)
4. New alliances (Shia alliances and Sunni alliances)
5. Be worried

The final point, "Be worried", focuses on the threat that Europe and the US might face (Urban: "Should we in the west be worried? Yes and deeply. [...] whether or not we want to get involved, we will be affected."). Noting that parts of the Middle East could become a "home for piracy, extremism and perhaps even the next 9/11", Urban's film does not attempt to contextualise any reasons that this may be linked to western foreign policy.

Given that the BBC is tasked with serving the public interest, we might hope that such a film would at the very least incorporate publicly available factual information about the UK's role in the modern Middle East. Instead, the nave understanding of the supposed role of western power well-meaning but prone to mistakes is upheld in this Newsnight short film.



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Categories in which this article appears: Middle East | Iraq | Syria | Libya | BBC News |

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