Following Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish jet fighter which Ankara acknowledged had strayed briefly into Syrian airspace, Bashar al-Assad and his regime have been attempting to mend fences with their northern neighbour. Bad PR at a time of existential crisis, you understand.
As part of the fence mending exercise, Assad gave an interview to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, which helpfully provided an English translation.
Quoting the ever charming dictator…
“The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before. Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given.”
“Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane.”
CNN quoted from a similar interview given to Cumhuriyet…
“”The Turkish people are our brothers and something that would make them sad would never make me happy and it did not. If this was an Israeli plane, of course, I would have been happy.”
This was picked up by the Israeli press, as you might expect.
How about the UK media? With the BBC and Guardian there is considerable discussion about the downed plane’s flight path, together with the Turkish government reaction to the incident. But when it comes to the newspaper interviews the Brits have been selective, with no mention by the BBC or Guardian of Assad’s violent anti-Israel rhetoric.
The right-wing commentariat has a habit of accusing the BBC and Grauniad of anti-Israel bias, but anyone who closely follows British media coverage of Middle-East affairs will know that the charge does not stand up to scrutiny. So why in this case the failure to accurately reflect the nature of Bashar al-Assad’s bellicosity?
Hat tip: Simply Jews