On Wednesday 17th January, in BBC 2’s Newsnight, Mark Urban, the BBC’s senior political commentator, while speaking to Jeremy Paxman, UK’s top news presenter, referred to the Iranians arrested in the US raid on the Iranian consulate in Arbil last week as "hard line elements in the revolutionary guards" who "allegedly steer up the trouble" in Iraq.
It is only the US government which has accused the staff at the Iranian consulate in Arbil of being extreme elements involved in organising attacks on US soldiers in Iraq.. No evidence for these accusations has been provided by the US government.
In fact, immediately after the raid, the Kurdish autonomous government angrily protested against the US action and announced that they had invited the Iranian government to set up the place for facilitating consular services. The Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has pledged to Iran that Iraq will ensure the release of five Iranians the US is holding. In an interview with the BBC, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the most powerful Shiite figures in the country, has also condemned the US action as violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
Nor has the US government provided any evidence whatsoever that Iran has any thing to do with the so-called Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), or road side bombs, which have killed US and UK soldiers in Iraq in the past 18 months. Initially, in June 2005, General John Vines, the senior US commander in Iraq, stated that the IED’s were probably produced by the specialists of the ex-Iraqi regime, an assertion which was also made by a Pentagon official. Some six weeks later though, without providing any evidence, the US conveniently accused Iran of involvement in the production and of the road side bombs.
The British government in early October 2005 made a similar accusation which implicated Iran but three months later early in January 2006, the propaganda was dropped and the Independent reported that the UK government has privately admitted they have no evidence for their accusation.
Mark Urban did not report on these facts. Instead, by referring to the arrested Iranians as hard line elements of the revolutionary guards, he blatantly supported the completely unfounded US accusation against the arrested Iranians and has thus aided the US propaganda against Iran. Later, Paxman also conceded to the US accusation and referred to the arrested Iranians as “so-called diplomats".
At the time that the US is whipping up hysteria against Iran and is mobilizing a huge fire power in place in the Persian Gulf, such clearly biased views by Urban and Paxman in support of US accusations against Iran is a serious breach of BBC's code of practice for fair reporting.
Given the reputation of the BBC in many parts of the world for balanced reporting, it is imperative for all peace loving people to stand up against the BBC’s pro US bias in reporting the events in Iraq by complaining to the BBC. We demand that BBC’s Newsnight provide a chance for the truth to be told by allowing the British public and the international community to hear campaigners who are working to expose the malicious war propaganda of the US. Otherwise, with its present coverage of the events, the BBC will remain complicit in paving the public opinion for a US war of aggression on Iran.