Foreign and Commonwealth Office to BBC on coverage of Syria

Dear BBC

 

Tarquin Braun-Nez OBE, MA (Oxon)

Chief Media Relations Officer

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

London SW1A 2AH

Direct line 0201 352 8231

Email: t.braun.nez@f.off.gov.uk

 

18th December 2012

Sir Guy Chiffemolle

BBC Head of Foreign Affairs

Bush House

London WC2B 4PA

 

Dear Guy,

Ref: KOA-AS_USUAL/2012:            Your coverage of the UK and US programme of regime change in Syria

As you know, Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) is currently assisting the US Government and certain other allies such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar with a  programme of regime change in Syria. The aims are to further isolate Iran, remove an enemy of Israel and an ally of Russia which also happens to be one of the last remaining nominally socialist countries in the Middle East. Of course the removal of the present regime in Syria will also consolidate Western power in the Middle East and thus further enhance our strategic control of the region’s oil reserves.

We want to thank you for your sympathetic coverage of our efforts over the last 18 months or so and the presentation of the conflict as a ‘revolution’ or ‘humanitarian crises’. We would just like to clarify the key points for you to consider for future coverage of the ‘conflict’ in Syria.

1.         Please keep referring to the collection of Muslim extremists and mercenaries who we are funding and training as ‘rebels’ or ‘opposition’. We prefer to reserve the less heroic and more sinister term ‘insurgent’ for those opposing western government forces in Afghanistan, Iraq etc.

 

2.         Please continue to ignore the fact that the ‘rebels’ (a.k.a. Syrian Free Army) are created, funded and trained by the West and a majority are of non-Syrian origin.

 

3.         On no account mention that the ‘rebels’ have refused to engage in a dialogue or negotiation of any kind with President Assad. If we were not funding and arming the ‘rebels’ then it is likely that they would have to reach a negotiated settlement but as they know that they have the Western powers behind them, and that we are determined that Assad should go, then naturally there is no reason for them to negotiate. Thus the intervention of HMG, the US etc  could be seen as the main reason for the conflict and it would be very politically inconvenient if the general public in the UK or the US were to become aware of this.

4.         Please continue to emphasise that Assad’s forces (i.e. the Syrian Army) are responsible for the civilians killed in, or displaced by, the conflict. Please continue to mention the (admittedly arbitrary) figure of 40,000 deaths in relation to the Syrian conflict but do not mention that this includes those killed by the ‘rebels’ as well as those killed by the forces of the Syrian government.

5.         Please do not mention the many atrocities committed by the ‘rebels’ of which we are aware.

6.         Please do not engage with the issue of whether President Assad has more popular support than the ‘rebels’. HMG is well aware that a majority of the population sup[port Assad or at least would prefer to a political negotiated solution rather than having their country torn apart through armed conflict but the policy of her HMG is to force the fall of the Assad government and this cannot be achieved through negotiation.

7.         Equally, please do not give any airtime to ‘peaceniks’ at home in the UK who are calling for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Syria and who are strongly opposed to yet another unnecessary (as they would see it) war in the Middle East which will results in thousands of civilian deaths. Similarly, we would like to minimise coverage of the Russian government’s support for  a negotiated settlement and that this position is supported by many other major countries who we usually ignore (China, Brazil, India etc).

8.         Perhaps most importantly of all, we need to avoid drawing attention to the fact that the sponsored regime change of the Syrian government is part of a wider programme of regime change which the US government decided on in 2001. This plan, described in detail by General Wesley Clarke and which is widely available on the internet, You tube etc, involves invasion and / or regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and finally Iran. As you can see we are making good progress but this is only possible by minimising opposition amongst the UK and US general publics to these seemingly endless wars by presenting each conflict as necessary either because of a ‘humanitarian crises’ or as a response to a threat of WMD (or possibly a combination of the two!).

Finally, I would just like to thank you again for your continuing support for the important strategic goal of eliminating the current Iranian regime (regime change in Syria is an important milestone towards that end) thus ensuring Western control of the Middle East and so the larger part of the world’s available oil reserves, as well as further strengthening the security of the state of Israel.

I and my colleagues at the F& CO appreciate that it is usually possible to agree the nature of your coverage of the conflict through this sort of sensible discussion between decent Eton/Oxbridge chaps like us. Of course we also have the regular ‘D Notice’ meetings where we formally request the BBC and other media not to cover certain events or facts and we greatly appreciate that there has been 100% compliance to date and on no occasion has any censorship request been refused.

Season’s greetings to you and your family and I look forward to working with you in 2013.

 

Yours, etc.

 

Tarquin

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