Tuesday 25 March 2003

Allies not telling truth - things are going wrong

by Robert Fisk

click here to visit his website So far, the Anglo-American armies are handing their propaganda to the Iraqis on a plate.

First, on Sunday, we were told - courtesy of the BBC - that Umm Qasr, the tiny Iraqi seaport on the Gulf, had "fallen". Why cities have to "fall" on the BBC is a mystery to me; the phrase comes from the Middle Ages when city walls literally collapsed under siege.

Then we were told - again on the BBC - that Nasiriyah had been captured. Then its "embedded" correspondent informed us - and here my old journalistic suspicions were alerted - that it had been "secured".

Why the BBC should use the military expression "secured" is also a mystery to me. "Secured" is meant to sound like "captured" but almost invariably means that a city has been bypassed or half-surrounded or, at the most, that an invading Army has merely entered its suburbs.

And sure enough, within 24 hours, the Shia Muslim city west of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigress Rivers proved to be very much unsecured, indeed had not been entered in any form - because at least 500 Iraqi troops, supported by tanks, were still fighting there.

With what joy did Taha Yassin Ramadan, the Iraqi Vice-President, inform us all that "they claimed they had captured Umm Qasr but now you know this is a lie". With what happiness did Mohamed Said al-Sahaff, the Iraqi Information Minister, boast that Basra was still "in Iraqi hands", that "our forces" in Nasiriyah were still fighting.

And well could they boast because, despite all the claptrap put out by the Americans and British in Qatar, what the Iraqis said on this score was true.

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