The interview came in the wake of President Bush’s warlike speech of 28th August declaring the authorisation of the US military to “confront Tehran’s murderous activities” and amidst fresh and strongest yet accusations by the US military official against Iranian government’s role in killing coalition soldiers. The day before the interview, the senior US commander in Iraq, Gen Petraeus, spoke ominously of a “proxy war” waged by Iran inside Iraq that could spill across the border. This was then followed by the news, on the day of the interview that, on the request of the American military, the British soldiers are to guard the border with Iran against Tehran’s "Proxy War".
No-one can doubt that the presence of a few hundred British soldiers in what is clearly planned as a war zone would serve only one purpose, to lend legitimacy to the next phase of US’s imperial war by the US warmongers, yet again riding on the back of little Britain’s obedient alliance. This, despite the fierce opposition from the British public to the continued presence of British soldiers in Iraq in what is believed to be an illegitimate and bloody occupation, as well as the British Foreign Minister, Miliband’s own statement that there was “No evidence” of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq.
This, however, was not allowed to ‘spoil’ Jon Snow’s bombastic and successive questionings entirely focused on accusatory and outrageous ‘statement of facts’ regarding Iranian involvement in the killing of British soldiers. He moved on to the myth of “wiping Israel off the map” intentions and “holocaust denials”, and gave his verdict that Iran’s nuclear “secrecy” was evidence of its bomb-making. This interview by the veteran journalist, Jon Snow, and in the, so called, “lefty Channel 4”, seemed regrettably an alarming landmark in the new phase of propaganda war against Iran.
The opening question by Jon Snow, the succeeding three questions as well as the final question, that is five questions, implicated Iran in violence in Iraq and the killing of the coalition soldiers. Again British Foreign Minister’s own statement to the contrary did not deter Mr Snow starting the interview by: “Both the UK and the US have accused Iran of fighting a proxy war inside Iraq”. Was Mr Snow privy to some knowledge about Iranian violence given to him by British sources that were kept from the rest of the population?! The second question, “… do you regard it as a victory for Iran that the British left Basra?” and Ahmadi Nedjad’s reply “Does the English government think it has been defeated by Iran in Iraq or by the people of Iraq?”, prompted Jon Snow’s explicit accusation, “Well, by Iran. By formal forces - Revolutionary Guard - all sorts of people who are supporting the factions in southern Iraq”, that is, without any evidence and identical to the accusation, the day previously, of General Petraeus, that Iran is waging a “proxy War” inside Iraq.
Jon Snow ends his subsequent question about the extent of Iranian influence amongst the Shiia population by pronouncing “The British say they have troops killed by bombs made in Iran”, and ends his interview with the question “Can you reassure British parents and say that no Iranians are involved in the killing of British soldiers?”. He therefore places the onus on the accused (Ahmadi-Nedjad) to prove a negative, and remaining unconvinced, as is the idea. The principle of proving guilt has become outdated in the current political discourse of the Bush era, replaced by proving absence of guilt. Astonishing as it sounds, this Orwellian ‘principle’ is now shamelessly adopted as an effective tool in wars of propaganda and attrition.
Mr Ahamadi-Nedjaad’s response is made to fit, this time by Channel 4’s website. Ahamadi-Nejaad’s reply that “We are deeply sorry about the events in Iraq, we are also sorry about the Iraqi people being killed as well as that your soldiers are being killed” makes the headline, “AHMADI-NEDJAD …. APOLOGISED FOR BRITISH SOLDIERS KILLED IN IRAQ”. Here, “moteassefim”, the term used by Ahamdi Nejaad, means “We are saddened”. This can be translated as “We are sorry” but does not denote apology. Particularly the context that places Iraqi people and the British soldiers in the same category clearly and unmistakably defines the meaning, even for a non-Farsi speaker.
The interview then moves to a ‘bombardment’ over Iran’s nuclear programme. It starts with the question over Iran’s refusal to stop enriching uranium, with Jon Snow’s verdict that “Your secrecy indicates you do want a bomb. Many people would say you feel threatened by Israel, by Pakistan. You do want a bomb don't you?”, rounded up by his claim that for Iran to be believed Jon Snow should be given access to Natanz facility (!), adding, “That place no-one has been further than their front door. Would you take me there?”.
Jon Snow’s incredulous claim to his right to inspect Natanz to pass his verdict on Iran’s innocence and his disparaging disregard for the IAEA inspectors’ verdict who are apparently counted as “No one”, would have been cause for endless hilarity had it not been for the grim and dangerous reality facing us. His omission of any mention of the current IAEA-Iran Agreement aiming to clarify all outstanding issues of Iran’s nuclear energy programme, is sadly identical to the US’s belligerent disregard for the rulings of the IAEA (and all other international bodies) when they do not suit its agenda. IAEA inspectors cleared Iran’s plutonium programme – claimed by the US as evidence of Iran’s weaponisation programme – and verified the non-diversion into weaponisation and the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear facilities, including Natanz. This was lauded as a “significant step forward” by the head of the IAEA and the rest of the international community, except that lawless minority who are intent to unleash hell on earth.
Media war played a crucial role to enable the invasion of Iraq. Now with over a million dead in Iraq and with British troops dragged into another planned pre-emptive and illegal war, this regrettable journalism no longer escapes unnoticed from the wary and critical eyes of the anti war movement.
the author: Mehrnaz Shahabi is on the UK Board of the Campaign
Against Sanctions and Military Intervention In Iran (CASMII