Monday, May 14, 2007

Don't mention the (civil) war!

For as long as there have been coalition forces in Iraq, the BBC and just about every other media organisation has been telling us that the country was on the verge of civil war or that it IS a civil war. I suppose it is, in the loosest possible sense, a civil war - in the same way as the "The Troubles" was/is a civil war.

And yet, by the same token, the BBC and the other media outlets seem determined to play down what is happening in Gaza as anything but civil war. The BBC describes it, disingenuously, as "factional clashes". I can't think of a more obvious "civil war" than one in which two opposing armed "factions" from the same societal group indulge in gun battles as they struggle for political control of a territory. As I understand the situation in Iraq, the "insurgents" aim is not to win political control, but to eject the occupying coalition troops. Not the same as a civil war, but I'm not a BBC editor.

This is how the BBC describes the events in Gaza.

Fighting has broken out in the Gaza Strip for a second day, with two people killed and at least 10 wounded as rival Palestinian factions exchanged fire.

"Fighting broke out" - what, all by itself?
""Rival Palestinian factions" - sounds like football supporters.
"exchanged fire" - a bit like exchanging phone numbers. Except people die.

That opening sentence is designed to play down the events as much as possible, but the report later reveals the true scale of the "factional clashes".

Up to 400 people have died in clashes between the two factions since the Islamist Hamas won last year's parliamentary elections.

How can that be anything other than a civil war?

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