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Supporting Assad – Opposing Saudi Arabia

The seasoned journalist for the Independent newspaper, Patrick Cockburn, has acquired a reputation for articles arguing in favour of support for Bashar al-Assad, Russia and Iran in Syria; as well as reports sympathetic to the pro-Iran Al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq - while attacking the GCC monarchies at every opportunity.

For example, see articles like “Ally with Assad if you’re serious about defeating ISIS”; “Let’s welcome Russia’s entry into this war”; and “Iran is not the monster it’s made out to be”.

So while Patrick Cockburn has consistently argued that the British and Americans climb into bed with the dictator responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands of his own people; he and the Independent newspaper have written numerous commentaries trying to convince the British Government to sever relations with GCC states like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

For example, in a recent article Cockburn questions the recent visit of the Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan to Bahrain, saying that the reason for his visit “remains something of a mystery” – as if a visit abroad by a Foreign Minister is something abnormal!

Likewise, the forthcoming visit of Prince Charles at a time when Britain is preparing to formally open its new permanent naval base in Bahrain, in Cockburn’s eyes becomes a matter for criticism and suspicion. Cockburn stuffs every human rights criticism he can find into his article without any mention of substantive reform efforts; many of which have happened with UK support.

In the same article, Cockburn then turns on Saudi Arabia; rehashing all the familiar attacks used by anti-Saudi and GCC voices. The title of the article once again demonstrates his partisan stance: “Saudi Arabia is the flagging horse of the Gulf – but Britain is still backing it as an answer to Brexit”.

With Syria and Iran by far two of the worst human rights abusing states in the world, if Patrick Cockburn and the Independent newspaper spent half as much time addressing human rights abuses by these regimes as they do concerning Saudi Arabia, then the flagrant editorial bias wouldn’t be so obvious.

Ignoring the terrible moral compromise that an alliance with Assad and Iran against ISIS would entail; the flaw in Cockburn’s argument is Assad’s continual reluctance and inability to consistently take on ISIS; particularly as his military would have collapsed years ago without massive support from Iran, Hezbollah and Russia.

As it is, the constant tendency to act as apologist for Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, Putin and the Islamic Republic; while taking every opportunity to attack Saudi Arabia and the GCC states speaks volumes about the ideological affiliation of this writer and the newspaper he works for.



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