The Arab Spring was not a gently-unfolding bud …

Update 1, August 10:

I stumbled upon a comment I made on another blog back on September 1st, 2012, which included Humphrys’ interview with Hague, probably at the end of August. I see I was wrong about Humphrys being upset about actual attacks by Israel on Iran; his complaint was that Israel was thinking about attacking Iran:

Humphrys ranted at William Hague like a juvenile delinquent denied his father’s car keys over Hague’s inability to commit the UK to an attack on Syria’s Assad along with his inability to denounce Israel for considering an attack on Iran.

It’s hard to believe that 7 years have since elapsed.

Original Post:

… but a coiled spring stretched to breaking point and then unleashed.

The Syrian ‘Arab Spring’ began in January 2011. So it must have been sometime between then and July 2014 that John Humphrys interviewed William Hague, Foreign Secretary at the time, on the springy question. I listened to that interview on the World Service. Humphrys was getting really hot under the collar. He was trying to push Hague to commit to Britain going in to topple Bashar al-Assad. (That would be quite a long way down since Assad is such a beanpole.)

Hague was being distinctly uncooperative, though quite polite about it. In the very same interview, Humphrys pushed Hague to condemn Israel for its attacks against Iran. I forget which ones, but I recall that Hague was having none of that either. I was amazed that Humphrys could insist on an attack by one country on another and then almost in the same breath condemn it because different countries were being discussed. In hindsight, it wasn’t that surprising since the BBC will always side with Israel’s enemies.

But Assad himself is a bitter and implacable enemy of Israel, so why would the BBC be so keen on his downfall? Here are some possible reasons:

*The BBC saw the Arab Spring through its romantic, rose-tinted lens: it emerged like a gently unfolding bud in danger of being crushed by the boot of the state. The budding revolutionaries were engaged in a noble, just struggle against overwhelming odds and it was to Britain’s eternal shame that it would not assist them.

*BBC hacks were looking forward to strutting around in Arab-Spring T-shirts. Ideally the design would be an Arafat lookalike with the typical chequered dishcloth around his head and clutching a rifle with ‘Arab Spring’ prominent in Arabic so the hacks could say, “Look, I speak the language!” This would not work as the revolution was turning into a chaotic, violence-ridden failure with various factions slaughtering one another with extraordinary brutality, with the state at the top of the heap.

*The Syrian Spring was probably started by the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a long history of strife between them and the Assad clan. They slaughtered scores of army recruits and tried to assassinate Bashar’s father, Hafez. He responded by ordering the army to surround the town of Hama, where they were based, and kill everyone in the town. The BBC is very fond of the Muslim Brotherhood, supported them against Mubarak and has nothing but love and admiration for Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood.

This impartial, most-trusted broadcaster will always filter its ‘news’ and ‘interviews’ through its prejudices.

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41 Responses to The Arab Spring was not a gently-unfolding bud …

  1. theleftwilleatitself says:

    First MartinW,
    What do you think about that ????
    ???? ???? ????


    • Up2snuff says:

      tlwei, yeah but what about TT’s OpEd? What is your opinion on that?


    • Fedup2 says:

      The left
      Speaking on behalf of Martin – can’t you simple minded inferior people with mothing better to do than proclaim being first – find something better to do –
      Like finding a website without such menial peccadilloes

      I’d love to be first ????

      His comment reallly cheesed me off and I felt like abusing my considerable editorial delete powers but thought – nah its the internet and it attracts all sorts …

      I like pedants less


      • Up2snuff says:

        Oi, Fed! I was only doing your job ‘cos you turned up late! 😉

        Slacker. 🙂


  2. Not Gwent says:

    Our State Broadcaster habitually campaigns which feeds into everything it does.


  3. andyjsnape says:

    Where would we be without the left

    All right, thanks

    Great reporting “ALLEGEDLY by a right-wing extremist”


  4. Fiat Lux says:

    I think the problem with the Arab Spring was that journalists saw what they wanted to see which was another Velvet Revolution. I have no doubt that many of the young people that took too the streets were wanting an end to the corruption and brutality of the ancient regime in their countries and looking to replace it with western liberal democracy. It was these clever English speaking young students with their internet memes that the BBC and other journalists were able to speak to and that formed their view of the protests. The journalists thought “these people are just like us and want the same things as us”. The problem is that the well educated English speaking people who are just like the BBC journalists and want the same thing are only about 10% of the population.


  5. Fiat Lux says:

    Under that visible 10% was the rest of the population. Ordinary socially conservative Muslims who wanted to remove the regime and bring the country back to a more Islamic direction. After decades of the regime clamping down on any dissent and executing opposition leaders there was no Nelson Mandela or Václav Havel waiting in the wings to direct the movement. The only opposition left was extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood.


  6. andyjsnape says:

    beeb reports
    US immigration: ICE arrests nearly 700 people in Mississippi raids

    “A child – daughter of one of the detained women – can be heard weeping uncontrollably as people are loaded onto a bus.”

    Weeping uncontrollably apparently

    I thought it was against the law and this is being upheld. beeb why oww why do you feel the need to undermine law & order. Guess if Saint Obama was still President this either wouldn’t get reported, or by acceptable!


  7. Up2snuff says:

    TT, I vaguely remember that Hague encounter with The Humph now that you mention it.

    I recognise your expertise in the area but I would challenge this “But Assad himself is a bitter and implacable enemy of Israel,”

    If I recall correctly, Assad allowed Jews, Christians and Muslims to live peacefully in Damascus especially but elsewhere in Syria alongside Alawite/Alhouite Muslims of the Sunni persuasion. Also, although Bashar al-Assad is, in theory, still wanting back the territory lost to Israel in the two wars, and although al-Assad’s father and now he, were much slower than the Jordanians to reach a settlement with Israel, there is something of an accord because of the greater threat to both from a disintegrating Lebanon.

    The other problem that al-Assad has is, that like Israel there is a large Palestinian population within Syria and also the presence of Hezbollah and other similar groups. So there is something of a mutual interest between Israel & Syria there in controlling possible problems. (These, I suspect, were largely behind the start of the Civil War. There are also some examples of friendly relations, I gather, between Israel and Syria over things like medical treatment.

    I suspect one of the reasons the BBC would be happy with the UK involved in attempt to depose Bashar al-Assad would be that such an involvement would require much BBC N&CA coverage and expense – and CO2 emissions but let the BBC conveniently forget them for now – and therefore justify further increases in the Licence Fee as well as perhaps increasing their audience figures. Cynical? Moi?

    I couldn’t possibly comment.

    I suspect another reason is the BBC’s increasing links to the Labour Party and its favourite causes, not least Palestinians, Hezbollah, and others. Then there would be the possibility of putting a Liberal/Left/Socialist nation (in the BBC’s view) up against a Fascist, Far Right, Nazi called Vladimir Putin. I think they would like that, especially if Uncle Sam led by Barak Obama joined in ‘the fun’.


  8. NCBBC says:


    *The Syrian Spring was probably started by the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a long history of strife between them and the Assad clan.

    Good to see the truth about Syria coming out. The Muslim Brotherhood was escalating violence, and consequently the response from the Syrian government, in a manner that would draw the USA on the side of the MB. This tactic has been used by Muslims to draw in America, many times before. What deterred America was that Syria was the last ally of Russia in the ME. Any act would have drawn Russia in direct confrontation. As it stood therefore, the MB and ISIS etc, were left on their own.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent of the Taleban and ISIS. If they had succeeded in Syria, with or without help from the West ( America really), the last refuge of Christians in ME would have been snuffed out.

    Assad was demonised by America, Obama and Clinton, as an evil dictator, and the West followed suit.

    But facts are stubborn, and will come out eventually, just as the non-existent WMDs of Iraq, or the brutal rapes of tens of thousands of English girls by Pakistani Muslims, up and down the Midlands and Yorkshire.

    Syria is, or should I now say, was the best moderate secular dictatorship in the ME, considering what is on offer in the rest of the ME, from Saudi Arabia, and the rest.

    Syria is/was a “beacon” of freedom of opportunity for religious minorities and women (comparatively). Christians can/could practice their faith publicly, and without fear. Women can/could get an education and job, drive cars, and do just about anything.

    Syria is the one country that has taken hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians when we “liberated” Iraq. It is one the few ME countries that has freedoms for religious minorities. America and Britain wanted to replace this by Saudi Arabia funded MB regime.

    All in all, Syrians- Sunnis, Shia, Christians of all sorts, Catholic and Maronite, and Druze too, didn’t abandon Assad. They joined the Syrian army and fought for the Syria they knew, rather then the Syria we were told about.

    That left the Muslim Brotherhood fighters, all those young men we see om our TV screens, no alternative but to run to the West, claiming persecution in Syria.

    And that is why so many of these young men are now found engaging in Jihad in Europe.


    • StewGreen says:

      Sounds like tosh to me
      I was in Tunisia during the entire revolution and had been in Assad’s Syria 20 years previously
      The general feeling of the Syrian population was they were in a Stalinesque state and they’d like to overthrow the Assad family.
      Just like most Islamic countries want to overthrow the corrupt rich families
      Sadly people also thought life in the west is like a porno movie.
      It is a coincidence that orgs like Muslim Brotherhood want even purer Islamic government.


      • Up2snuff says:

        I don’t think so, Stew. I cannot go into too many details (for safety reasons until the conflict fully ends) but I have a contact in Damascus at one remove.

        Some among the Syrian population wanted to overthrow al-Assad. But not everyone. I had reliable info that the truth about Syria and the al-Assad regime was very different to that provided by the BBC.

        From that bit of your background in the M-East & on the Med, Stew, you ought to know how these democratic dictatorships (remember Bashar al-Assad was ‘elected’) have layers and levels of power and autocracy. I would not be surprised if there were some real thugs and extremely nasty people operating at sub-President (sub-B a-A) levels. We know this happens from our knowledge of Iraq, Iran and Egypt.

        But that doesn’t mean that the man at the top was totally evil or wrong in the direction that he was taking his country in. As I pointed out in my post above, Jews & Christians and Muslims lived alongside each other, quite well under B a-A. The same was true in Lebanon fifty years ago until the troublemakers inside and outside the country drove their spokes into the wheels of Lebanese life.


  9. NCBBC says:

    It is interesting to note that among all the millions of Muslims that have crashed into Europe, there are very few Christians. How come, as one would expect a far larger number of Christians fleeing Syria to “Christian” Europe.

    Well, Christians in the ME have realised, that getting out from the protection of Assad, was likely to be fraught with danger for them. Also the boat ride to Greece , was likely to be a swimming marathon (getting thrown out of the boat, once Muslims realised they were Christians). Then the position of Christians in the refugee camps of Europe, was very very dangerous for Christians. All in all, much safer to be in Assad controlled Syria. They made the right decision as we now know.

    If Assad was such a brutal dictator as Obama claimed, how is it that Syrian bishops even exist, and havn’t been murdered. How come they are allowed to travel abroad? How come they do not apply for refugee status in the UK? How come they go back to Syria without any trouble?

    Here is Eva Bartlett, a free lance Canadian journalist.
    Post-credulous audience hears evidence of fake news broadcast by post-truth BBC

    The video link provided by a commentor in the post below is a scorcher. At a UN press conference, independent Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett demolishes the credibility of the fake news from Aleppo promulgated by, amongst others, the Guardian and the BBC.
    “..what you hear in the corporate media, and I will name them – BBC, Guardian, the New York Times etc. – on Aleppo is also the opposite of reality”
    In a devastating surgical dissection, Bartlett dismisses the BBC’s main source of news in Aleppo – one man in Coventry, with an agenda, who calls himself ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’. She points out that there are NO international humanitarian organisations in rebel-held Aleppo and NO credible independent sources of news from there. The White Helmets are exposed as an armed partisan force funded by $100m from the US / EU / UK who fake news footage (documented) and are, I strongly suspect, a thin cover for arms shipments to the rebels and for western intelligence organisations.


  10. Thoughtful says:

    Wrong on all counts here Truetoo.

    The culprit behind every war in the Middle East we have been involved in is always the same – Saudi Arabia.

    Many times I have posted here the evidence that they have bought nearly all the Western politicians and plenty more in the East as well.

    It was Saudi who sponsored ISIS and Saudi who ordered our politicians to intervene against Assad when he looked like wiping them out. The BBC assisted with ridiculous biased programs about the Al Qaeda ‘white helmets’ who May the Marxist has been funding.
    And who can forget the faked ‘chemical’ attack which was supposedly perpetrated by Assad, and the journalists who exposed this sacked never to work again?

    Saudi saw Assads Alawites as heretical, to them what the BBC should have been championing as a diverse and harmonious mekting pot of religions was too much to bear.

    Don’t forget also that the biggest funder of our universities after the UK government is, yes you guessed it Saudi Arabia and that sponsorship comes at a price – the promotion and uncritical acceptance of Wahabbist Islam.

    The Saudi Royal family are worth an eye watering estimated $74 trillion you can buy an awful lot of politicians for that including Donald Trump!


  11. Annunaki says:

    plenty of leaflets and collection tins in Bury Park Luton at the time also , all with a Bri h ish passport innit bruv


  12. TrueToo says:

    Thanks for the many interesting responses here. I’m no expert on the Arab Spring, just trying to make 4 out of 2+2 when reflecting on the chaos and complexity of it. No time now but I’ll add some thoughts later.


  13. Annunaki says:

    Luton Spring



  14. Annunaki says:



  15. Annunaki says:



  16. Sluff says:

    Democracy presumes that the losers will accept the result.
    But where this is not so the result is factional fighting and in the worst case civil war. Tunisia has just about held on but there are consequences. People are less fearful and more Islamic now. One result is there is no downside to flytipping. The country looks like a big rubbish dump with endless blue plastic bags stuck on the prickly pears as you drive through the countryside.

    In Libya the joy of ousting Gaddaffi has proved very short lived.

    There is a parallel with Brexit of course. Look what happens when a faction refuses to accept the result of a democratic vote.

    I feel sorry for Syria. We’ve all but forgotten that at the start there were peaceful protests often after Friday prayers and the government forces opened fire on the protestors. So the protestors felt the need to arm themselves and the rest is history.
    Conclusion? There is merit in keeping tyrannical dictators in power if they maintain some sort of stability – and a change to another system needs to be one or more of orderly, gradual, negotiated, plural, and agreed between parties,


    • Doublethinker says:

      Completely agree with your conclusion. Reagan bombed Gaddafi’s homes and killed at least one of his family and made it clear that if Gaddafi indulged in any more sponsorship of anti US or Western terrorism the US would kill him. Gaddafi became a docile poodle opposite the West and Israel after that.
      As long as the Arab strong men know that if they interfere , directly or indirectly, beyond their borders they are dead men but they can do as they like inside their fiefdoms, the West is safe and spared dealing with the chaos caused by these springs. What happens to the Arabs in the countries involved is not our concern unless it threatens our interests or those of our allies.


  17. andyjsnape says:

    Festival of the Sacrifice, is approaching

    Dont like the sound of that!


  18. andyjsnape says:

    Rainbow Caravan: The long journey to LGBT freedom

    More quality reporting

    OMG Where will this end, the journey i mean 🙂


  19. andyjsnape says:

    its due to Brexit stockpilling, apparently

    Going all out to stop Brexit. Dont foget sandwiches are due to run out, Cows might, maybe, might not have to be slaughtered


    • john in cheshire says:

      Have you seen this? I like this guy’s reports and the language he uses to insult the racist far-left bbc presenters and their remoaning guests:

      I hope they are watched by the racist far-left bbc collective.

      While I was watching this three thoughts occurred to me:
      Does this talking heads need glasses because the lenses look like plain glass to me?
      Why is she showing so much cleavage – it’s not a good look and it’s distracting but not in a pleasant way?
      Why has she got so much hair – it doesn’t look natural?


  20. john in cheshire says:

    I see the disgusting muslims living in the land known as palestine have been up to their murderous activities again:

    Has the racist far-left bbc collective reported on it?


    • TrueToo says:

      John in Cheshire,

      People in Israel are extremely angry about this callous terrorist murder of an innocent young student. I searched on Google for a BBC report on it, but found nothing. Surprisingly, when I included the Guardian in the search, I found an article that was factual and free of bias.

      Come to think of it, though the Guardian is a disgusting far-left rag it was always more open than the BBC to news that doesn’t fit a far-left agenda. BBC ‘news gatherers’ are vile propagandists.


      • john in cheshire says:

        Some of us know what the muslims are planning for us; first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.
        The atheists, by refusing to acknowledge what their allies are planning, are signing their own death warrant because atheists and pagans are even lower in the hierarchy than Christians and Jews.


        • TrueToo says:

          john in Cheshire,

          You reminded me of Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian. He wrote this article yesterday for the Jewish Chronicle bemoaning the support Jews give to Rod Liddle and Katie Hopkins, scoffs at ‘Islamophobia’ and comes to the bizarre conclusion that Jews should rather be standing together with Muslims to fight “the murderous white supremacist far right.”

          I suppose Freedland will ignore the Arab terrorist murder of Dvir Sorek, or if he does report on it will find a way to portray it as a departure from the Palestinian norm. But of course it is very much the norm, as the post by the island below demonstrates.


      • theisland says:

        @COLRICHARDKEMP has tweeted about this murder several times and pointed out that “Unless his murderers are killed they will receive salaries paid by British taxpayers via @DFID_UK. If they are killed then his families will receive compensation & life-long pensions, also paid by British taxpayers via @DFID_UK.”

        And this


  21. TrueToo says:

    I suppose the Spring was originally driven partly by youth keen on Western-style democracy and freedoms, but that faded fast. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt stood back while the would-be revolutionaries took a beating from Mubarak and then hijacked the revolution with a massive rally in Cairo. Many of those who had initially opposed Mubarak had paid a heavy price. But their leaders were then shoved aside and not allowed to address the crowd.

    I have heard that Bashar is (or was) tolerant of the various group in Syria but that can’t include Jews as he would have trouble finding any. By means of oppression reminiscent of Germany in the thirties, the Jewish population of 30 000 prior to 1947 was reduced to virtually nil today. Hafez al-Assad oversaw much of this oppression during his decades in power.

    A remarkable Canadian woman, Judy Feld Carr, smuggled thousands of Jews out of Syria to Israel and the West during Hafez’s reign. Jews who tried to leave on their own were often tortured and even killed when caught.

    The only medical ‘cooperation’ I know of is Israeli medics treating wounded Syrians smuggled in over the border. Once healed, they are smuggled back into Syria. Those discovered to have accepted treatment from the hated Israelis are almost certain to be killed.

    I couldn’t grasp the concept of Syria and Israel working together for mutual benefit as Lebanon deteriorates. Syria acts as a conduit for arms from Iran to Hezbollah, to be used against Israel. Syria was, is and remains an implacable enemy of Israel. And the Russians are of course in bed with both Syria and Iran, while professing friendship with Israel.

    Yes, Saudi Arabia buys a lot of influence but it looks like they haven’t succeeded in getting the West too deeply involved in Syria, if that was indeed their aim. The reason seems pretty obvious: with major powers pulling in different directions and the Israelis defending themselves by taking out Iranian installations, it has all the makings of a major conflict, if not total war.

    I doubt Donald Trump needs or wants Saudi money. And he certainly would not allow the Saudis to dictate US foreign policy.


  22. Calon lan says:

    Heard a BBCite interviewing a minister from Pakistan (think it was culture and science – an oxymoron surely) over Kashmir. Trying to get him to say military or WAR. Put me in mind of the Day Today WAR skit. I quote ‘the fragile twig of peace is in danger of melting’. Also txs to Up2snuff for posting Baltimore photographer, one of the many gems that come up on this site, such as Trevor duncan’s ‘March’ the other day. Brilliant !!!!!! Love to all the regulars from sunny Wales.


  23. StewGreen says:

    @TT Your ideas about Syria seem romantic
    It’s widely quoted that Assad’s father killed 20,000 people in a single day in Hama
    and when I was there 9 years later the town was full of bullet holes.
    The elections are not free, and there is a massive secret police.
    Assad did a massacre in Homs in 2012 killing 200


  24. TrueToo says:


    I think you are mixing me up with Up2snuff, who really does appear to have a romantic view of Syria. Here’s what I wrote in the ATL post:

    The Syrian Spring was probably started by the Muslim Brotherhood. There is a long history of strife between them and the Assad clan. They slaughtered scores of army recruits and tried to assassinate Bashar’s father, Hafez. He responded by ordering the army to surround the town of Hama, where they were based, and kill everyone in the town.

    Estimates of the numbers killed vary, but it’s almost certainly in the tens of thousands.

    And here’s what I wrote two comments above yours:

    Syria acts as a conduit for arms from Iran to Hezbollah, to be used against Israel. Syria was, is and remains an implacable enemy of Israel.

    And here’s what the eminent Up2snuff wrote:

    If I recall correctly, Assad allowed Jews, Christians and Muslims to live peacefully in Damascus especially but elsewhere in Syria alongside Alawite/Alhouite Muslims of the Sunni persuasion. Also, although Bashar al-Assad is, in theory, still wanting back the territory lost to Israel in the two wars, and although al-Assad’s father and now he, were much slower than the Jordanians to reach a settlement with Israel, there is something of an accord because of the greater threat to both from a disintegrating Lebanon.

    I would agree that is a fairly romantic perception of Syria’s leader.

    If I were a lefty, I would be pounding my chest in anguish and demanding that you apologise profusely for the your attack upon my integrity, otherwise I would report you to the cyber nerds in California for disciplinary action.

    But I think it was just a simple error and you meant to write @Up2 rather than @TT.