BBC Persian’s misinformation about Soleimani exposed by Italian diplomat

March 18, 2019 - 21:45

A former Italian ambassador to Iraq has laid flat BBC Persian’s “lie” about IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, according to a review by the Young Journalists’ Club.

The review refers to Marco Carnelos’ March 15 commentary for the Middle East Eye titled “Qassem Soleimani is a master strategist, not a cartoon villain”.

“The U.S. officials interviewed by the BBC portray their Iranian nemesis as having been keen to establish a relationship with them, while they systematically rebuffed him. From my modest experience on the ground in Iraq, it was just the opposite,” Carnelos wrote.

“The storytelling mirrors some of the limits of U.S. and Western policy towards Iran and, more generally, the Middle East: oversimplification and unnecessary Manichaeism,” the diplomat added.

“The documentary does not provide new information, and much of the backstory it tells was reported years ago. Its main problem is that it offers a panorama of events almost exclusively from a Western perspective. Not a single member of the IRGC, or any Iranian official, is quoted.”

Carnelos goes on to note that “this approach betrays the irrepressible Western necessity to have an enemy - an ‘other’ - a bearer of different, evil values to mobilize against.”

The Western narrative on Iran and Soleimani is overwhelmingly produced by Israeli sources, without significant fact-checking, he adds.

“There is no doubt that Soleimani is a brilliant military commander. People who have dealt with him repeatedly, such as Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Maliki's former national security adviser, have summarized his three main characteristics: ‘frighteningly intelligent, ideologically driven and, most of all, with the quite rare [possession of] both tactical and strategic capabilities’.”

Carnelos adds that “Soleimani is not a fanatic. He has courage, humility, revolutionary commitment, and empathy towards his men. He is a strong motivator and a patient listener, facilitating dialogue with a huge network of interlocutors on the ground - qualities that his U.S., Israeli and Arab foes sometimes lack. The main source of his success is his unique ability to capitalize on the countless errors made by these same foes.”

“The main enablers of Soleimani's ‘heroic gestures,’ and the best propagandists of his now apparently widespread and growing popular following - which could also open a political future for him in Iran - are his supposed enemies, who quite frequently turn out to be his main, and unforgivably unaware, allies.”