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Arab Spring helps BBC Arabic audience to grow

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Liliane Landor | 12:00 UK time, Monday, 5 December 2011

The past 12 months have not been easy for BBC World Service. Following a significant cut in funding from the Foreign Office in October last year, it has involved painful decisions to close five language services, make stringent savings across the board and lose highly valued colleagues.

Protesters in Tahrir Square

Protesters celebrated in Tahrir Square after President Mubarak stood down

Yet despite the tight financial environment, we have continued to raise the bar on quality and creativity in our services. Today, impressive new figures are published which demonstrate that the BBC's international journalism is as valued, vibrant and relevant as it has ever been.

New independent research shows that people across the Middle East have increasingly turned to the BBC during the Arab uprising with an unprecedented rise in audiences. Overall audiences to the BBC's Arabic services have climbed by more than 50% to a record high of 33.4 million adults weekly - up from 21.6 million before the Arab Spring.

BBC Arabic TV's audience has risen to 24.5 million from 13.5 million - up by more than 80%. Weekly reach across Egypt, Iraq, Saudi, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco has nearly doubled to a weekly reach of 18.4% from 9.8%.*

The biggest increases were seen in Egypt, where the BBC Arabic TV audience quadrupled to a weekly reach of 16.2%, reaching 9.3 million people.

BBC Arabic TV also saw its weekly audience increase by almost a quarter in Iraq to a weekly reach of 26.6% (from 21.5%) reaching 4.9 million people. In addition, its weekly audience more than doubled in Jordan (weekly reach of 22.4% from 8.8%) and in Saudi Arabia (weekly reach of 24.6% from 12.2%).

These figures show that, in turbulent times, the BBC's aim to provide trusted news and impartial information is as valued as ever. International audiences in the Middle East are turning to us for independent, dependable and unvarnished news that they can trust.

Behind the numbers, and in an increasingly competitive media market, this is proof that there will always be space for high-quality journalism that seeks to inform all, even-handedly.

I am proud of our journalists and staff for never losing sight of the BBC's core purpose and hope our journalism makes a practical difference to people living through fragile times and sometimes frightening change.

* Weekly audience estimates are based on independent studies that were carried out by the Broadcasting Board of Governors' International Audience Research Program (IARP) in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency responsible for all US government-supported, civilian international broadcasting.

Liliane Landor is languages controller of BBC Global News.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Liliane, those of us that live abroad still remember the nasty start to this year with the BBC World Service cuts. Glad to see though that the BBC hasn't tanked in the rankings internationally, and that they have continued to upgrade the site design and features.. no doubt that helped in boosting the viewership.

    For me, one of the best elements of the site redesign has been the better incorporation of social media into BBC news posts... in fact, I think that was one of the news site design basics that BBC got spot on. Given the importance of social media in actually creating the Arab Spring, it is no wonder that it helped the BBC rankings.

    Now if only some of that additional viewership number boost could be turned into revenue to fund some of the WS services that were cut...

    Craig

  • Comment number 2.

    I would value accurate and perceptive over "valued, vibrant and relevant". How, for instance can you tell if a report is relevant until history is played out?

    Take, for example, the focus of BBC reporting in the Arab world over the past year. A year ago, the focus was almost entirely on Gaza. How relevant does that look today? Then we get the "Arab Spring" - a singularly inauspicious term based on the 1968 Prague Spring - remember what happened to that? The BBC (and, to be fair, most of the Western MSM) then move their focus to people camped out in a small square in Egypt's capital, inhabited by the sort of people the BBC likes - young, liberal English-speaking secularists - and get euphoric about how these people were going to change the world, like Obama and the Iranian Socialists who campaigned against the Shah. Now we see Islamists getting 60% of the vote (and possibly more). The aspirations of those in Tahrir Square has proved to be a liberal pipe dream, and BBC coverage again proves to be irrelevant. And, of course, we must not mention the virulent anti-semitism that permeates the entire Arab world. We wouldn't want Arab audience figures to drop, would we? Why is that so important to you?

    What about what is next going to happen in Egypt? What's the next big story? I know, but I did not get it from the BBC. Egypt has about 3 months of foreign exchange left, and imports half its food. The Generals have hijacked Egypt's banking system and are busy seeing that they will not suffer the consequences of the catastrophe that will hit Egypt when the money runs out.

    You keep missing the story. Valued, vibrant and relevant - give me a break.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Glad to talk to the editors. Can I make a suggestion as a website designer? When you have a news article and allow comments couldn't you put a link so we can view all the comments made by a single person on that article - that way we can see if they are valid, antagonistic or consistant. I have always read the BBC first or watched BBC news before any other but in the modern world of rapidly available information..(information highway etc) it seems the bbc don't adapt quickly to the methods of social networks. Add a button that says simply "View this persons remarks today" (on this subject) and later simply "Today" would bring a viewer up to speed rapidly on what has been said by that person. They can then get a measure of the person and ignore, reply, deride or more importantly argue with. In my opinion it would lead to better, more informed debate and also to more controversy (occasionally) which obviously would lead to keeping higher numbers of readers engaged or just reading. It may also aid a more intelligent debate on subjects and show Britain as a"force for good" if it were possible to eventually ban anyone who simply wants to provoke without furthering that debate.

    I leave it to you

    sincerely

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    The "valued, vibrant and relevant" obviously doesn't apply to Scotland.
    The political and economic comentaries are reduced to a part-time basis
    and responses are either severely limited or not allowed.
    The expression "relevent" does not apply here.

  • Comment number 6.

    Arab Spring helped BBC audience to grow...and what does the Arabic audience have to say about Iran - the sanctions, potential attack? Why do I read no feedback in this regard; surely, Arabians have opinions, especially Iran.
    (1) Have we so easily forgotten the devastating effect of sanctions on civil society, especially children, before Iraq was reduced to rubble?
    (2) Would the Foreign Secretary kindly explain the reasons for his hostility towards Iran?
    (3) What concrete proof is there of Iran’s military application of nuclear technology - the equivalent to proof against Iraq?
    (4) Why is Mr. Hague not more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the threat it poses to the region & beyond?
    (5) Why are sanctions not being sought against Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other WMD Programs, not to mention its repeated defiance of international and humanitarian laws in the Israel?
    (6) Britain’s abominable conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative government, in cahoots with the USA, snuffed out Iran’s democracy & reinstated a cruel dictator, the Shah, was largely responsible for bringing about the Islamic Revolution & setting pattern of future relationships. Is it not shameful that this Conservative government is spoiling for another fight?
    (7) Iran’s administration, like many others, may not be to our liking but nor was Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 60 years ago. In any event, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why is Mr Hague so pugilistic regarding Iran?
    (8) By pulling our people out of Tehran & booting Iran’s people out of London, Mr Hague has shut the door on diplomacy. How can he now communicate effectively with a nation he seems determined to blacklist?
    It is difficult to understand how this escalation against Iran is in the British national interest. Do the British people want it? If Mr Hague’s purpose is to help preserve the "balance of power" in the Middle East so that Israel remains dominant, he should be asked to explain the wisdom of this.
    Hague & Cameron both voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, a supremely irresponsible decision that eventually revealed a foundation of lies. It has cost well over a million lives and caused utter ruin for the survivors and the destruction of much of their heritage. What possessed us to go to war on shoddy intelligence and inflict ‘shock and awe’ on good people?

  • Comment number 7.

    Arab Spring helped BBC audience to grow...and what does the Arabic audience have to say about Iran - the sanctions, potential attack? Why do I read no feedback in this regard; surely, Arabians have opinions, especially Iran.
    (1) Have we forgotten devastating effect of sanctions on civilians, especially children, before Iraq was reduced to rubble?
    (2) Would Foreign Secretary, Mr. Hague, explain the reasons for his hostility towards Iran?
    (3) What proof is there of Iran’s military application of nuclear technology - the equivalent to proof against Iraq?
    (4) Why is Mr. Hague not more concerned about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the threat it poses to the region & beyond? Why are sanctions not being sought against Israel for its refusal to sign up to the NPT or engage constructively on the issue of its nuclear and other WMD Programs, not to mention its repeated defiance of international & humanitarian laws in the Israel?
    (5) Britain’s conduct towards the Iranians in 1951-53 when a previous Conservative Govt, working with US, snuffed out Iran’s democracy & reinstated the cruel dictator, the Shah, was largely responsible for bringing about the Islamic Revolution & setting pattern of future relationships. Is it not shameful that this Conservative Govt is now spoiling for another fight?
    (6) Iran’s administration, like many others, may not represent our values, nor did Dr Mossadeq’s democracy 60 years ago. In any event, what threat is Iran to Britain? And why is Mr Hague so pugilistic regarding Iran?
    (7) By pulling our people out of Tehran & booting Iran’s people out of London, Mr Hague has slammed the door on diplomacy. How does that help the situation?
    It is difficult to understand how this escalation against Iran is in the British National interest at all. Do the British people want it? If Mr Hague’s purpose is to help preserve the "balance of power" in the Middle East so that Israel is dominant, he should be asked to explain what inspires him.
    Hague & Cameron both voted enthusiastically for the Iraq war, a supremely irresponsible decision that eventually revealed a foundation of lies. It has cost well over a million lives & caused utter ruin for survivors, destruction of much of their heritage. What possessed us to go to war on such shoddy intelligence & inflict "shock & awe" on good people?

  • Comment number 8.

    People,
    Reading some comments I realized some people are becoming "lost in the forest" Keep it simple . Focus on he positive things around world , keep it silent , too much noise are distracting us , confusing us. We must go to the essence . Breaking artificial barriers . We must start friom within , from us.

  • Comment number 9.

    And the exact same thing will happen from your BBC coverage of the events just beginning to unfold in Russia. Naturally enough, in the land of snow, it would have to be in Winter, wouldn't it?

  • Comment number 10.

    Firstly, I would like to offer some appreciation for your overall service. Although I am based in Switzerland, I nearly always choose the BBC as my first point of reference for world news.

    However I found your coverage of the Libyan conflict extremely biased. The majority of reporters seems to have been embedded with the so called `rebels`. It was clear from the outset that despite an overwhelming support for Gadaffi, the country was going to be invaded for regime change & western access to its oil reserves. The brutal murder of Gadaffi is a war crime that will be judged by history. The UK, in particular, was largely responsible from changing what was a country with the highest education, health care & living standards in Africa to an Islamic fundamentalist state with values more associated with the 17th century. All this seems to have been missed by the BBC. History will judge the UK. Without a proper balancing of the facts, history will also judge the BBC

  • Comment number 11.

    '2. At 23:24 5th Dec 2011, Alcuin wrote:
    I would value accurate and perceptive over "valued, vibrant and relevant".'

    That will fit on twitter. Repost there and it will be 'reported' before you can say 'opinion becomes news', vibrantly if not necessarily checked for accuracy.

    Trust me in saying this, impartially. It must be true, as it is written here on the BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Arab Spring must be turning into a BBC nightmare. It seems that democracy in Egypt, for example, began in the spring and will end with the completion of the current elections. Adoring coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood as a benign and moderate organization must be hard to sustain. Selective reporting on Islamic violence, not to mention the BBC's well recognised stance on Israel. Reading reports of the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt from non BBC sources indicate the limits of BBC impartiality. Hopefully, the Government will see an end to the BBC World Service in a future wave of cuts.

  • Comment number 13.

    I would like to comment, thankfully without interruption, on your so called news readers.When a guest is invited to appear to give an opinion on a particular subject and is then asked for that opinion, the news reader should ask the question and then shut up and listen. So often the news reader is determined to get his or her own opinion across to the intense annoyance of the viewer, who would like to hear the answer to the question, and I am sure of the guest, who would like to answer the question.

    Malcolm Tribick

  • Comment number 14.

    No. 10, the_Sluiceterer, Surely you don't regret that the Gad did not have an extra six months to kill an additional 50 000 Libyans with an utterly unnecessary civil war?

    Considering the resources at the Gads' (all of them as a clan) disposal, it was a good thing the ragtag band of resolute rebels who chose to stare him down had at least a bit of support from some sympathetic journalists, including a few who work for BBC, a few from CNN, some French, etc.

    Helping even out the playing field a bit is not such a bad thing, is it?

    Here's a big protest building for Saturday in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Voronezh and a few other cities in Russia.

    Should the BBC stand aside and let the pro-Putin state media of the 'Russian Federation' (even the name is a misnomer; in fact, Putin only actually governs Moscow & St. P., and that weakly if you look at the realities on the ground) spin the story any which way they wish?

    Should the BBC, mindful of so many Putin cronies in big houses all over the UK, refrain from making any of these folks uncomfortable? Or should the BBC (CNN, French media, etc) run the true story, which is that emboldened by the success even of Libyans, where Putin's tent-pal (whom he defended) has been routed, Russians are finally in 2011 attempting to follow the example of the Czechs and Slovaks who took to the streets of Prague from 17 November to 29 December of 1989, and peaceful, with candles and prayers, transformed their society forever?

    A problem of life in the rather Free West is that, with all of today's troubles, so many of us forget what life is like in countries where the gap between a bloated set of fatcats and the average family is an even more, far more, obscenely vast chasm -- a veritable gulf! -- than anything we find ourselves unhappy with in our own relatively safe cities.

    Yes, we should be very simply encouraging and supporting the idea that people can elect their leaders, that one adult gets one vote and each vote is tallied faithfully. That is all that was at issue in Libya.

    That is all that is at issue in Russia, this week.

    It is not a complicated idea.

    Ninety-four years and eleven months since the voluntary abdication of the last Russian emperor is a sufficiently long interval to finally warrant an honest vote, respecting the laws of logic and applying basic arithmetic computation.

    And the Russians like to take pride in their mathematicians. Let them count their votes, in that case, properly!

    Is it easier to launch Mars missions and satellites than to just count up some votes? Accurately?

  • Comment number 15.

    Glad to see that the coverage in other countries is on the increase.
    Could we possibly get back our "right to comment" on the Scottish
    political news site or is it just a "big brother" monologue site now ?

  • Comment number 16.

    Vladimir Putin has shown how seriously threatened he feels by the unrest in Moscow by going on television and making ominous statements that indicate he intends to assume outright dictatorial powers and embrace the tactics of the Communist totalitarians who first recruited him, trained him and gave him all his chances in life, in exchange for his loyalty to the system founded by Lenin, Trotsky, Dzerzhinsky and Stalin -- a system of brutal intimidation and suppression of dissent, under which only a handful of Bolshevik clans thrived, distributing favours and privileges to their most faithful retainers -- thereby building the Soviet monolith that finally collapsed in 1991.

    Vladimir Putin has gone on the record deploring the collapse of the Soviet totalitarian state as the greatest catastrophe in history. He is now announcing that he is on the verge of reverting to its ugliest methods.

    Some of that paranoid overreaction may be a sign of advancing old age, since men born under the Soviet system age much more rapidly than men who have spent their lives in normal societies.

    The media of the world, beginning with the BBC, have a vital role to play in reminding the leaders of all the other powers, especially the pre-eminent global powers: the UK, EU, China, USA, the Vatican, Brazil, the Commonwealth states, as well as Russia's most important closest neighbour, Ukraine, that any actions by the current leadership in Moscow to crush dissent -- to deploy, for example, water cannon in the Russian winter against peaceful protestors or political opponents -- will constitute an utterly unacceptable breach of Russia's declared intentions and claims, placing into question the validity and legitimacy of many existing agreements, as well as ongoing discussions.

    Vladimir Putin has daughters who live abroad (and a wife who fled from his oppressive presence). The German media can easily locate his daughters, who have been well known to socialise with the Berlusconis, and ask them how they feel, living lives of privilege in the West, about their father's obsession with supreme power. As Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin enjoys enormous influence, not to mention a luxurious lifestyle, complete with a newly-built palace in the Crimea that would put Potyomkin's to shame: it is far from clear what exactly he needs to 'return to the Presidency' for. Better living quarters?

  • Comment number 17.

    Vladimir Putin is said to have bank accounts in Europe. I am sure he understands, as do his supporters, that such accounts might be frozen -- not to mention brought into even higher relief -- if a single hair falls from any head of any leader or detainee of the just coalescing movement to call him to account for violations of basic electoral norms, including those enshrined in the Constitution that he himself has so frequently invoked as his supreme authority.

    The year is 2011, not 1917. And the Russian taxpayer, long-suffering under a regime of constant extortions and bribe-demands, has every right to expect a better Constitution than the one that currently provides no guarantees of income or shelter in a country which as everyone knows has the worst climate of any inhabited place on earth.

    Under Vladimir Putin's system of "capitalism" -- borrowed without the least critical thinking from outdated American models, back in the 1990s, without any though for the fact that applying US-style eviction policies to indigent families with young children, pushing them out into the elements (as is routinely done in today's Russia) amounts to a death sentence -- people who are unwilling to steal, demand bribes or prostitute themselves or their daughters, or flee the country outright, routinely starve unless they drink themselves to death first. The overlooked truth is that this harsh, unnaturally perverted form of capitalism that resembles nothing I have ever endured myself in 54 years lived entirely in the West, criminality and extreme vice becomes a form of survival for the millions of ordinary families who do not fall within the narrow circle of privilege. And this is not a secret: your journalists have written about it at length.

    However, as history shows us, even this year, cruel, illogical and unresponsive systems can be changed.

    To improve laws, people have to vote in representatives they trust, who serve the beliefs they cherish. How can they vote them in, when votes are stolen, suppressed or diverted? In order to ensure a single political club gets to keep manipulating the economy to advance the fortunes of its own membership?

    I congratulate the brave, forthright leaders and honest citizens of Russia who are simply asking for what is already inalienably theirs -- their Basic Human Rights -- and I promise them that the day is not far off when they will have a proper, 'normal' (as they like to say in Russia), non-dysfunctional, transparent, honest, fully accountable democratic system, 'like other people have,' in which rights are guaranteed, essential safety nets are in place, and the government serves the people and performs according to its contract with their employer (the honest taxpayer), instead of narcissistically indulging in self-aggrandising hedonistic fantasies and lining their own pockets and their family's pockets with looted, extorted millions.

    BBC, this is exactly how you meet your own core purpose, stated above, to ensure that "journalism makes a practical difference to people living through fragile times and sometimes frightening change." Truer words were never spoken. Thank you. Kudos! And again!

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Good luck, Bee-curator! We need bees. BBC does an excellent job reporting on the environment and climate.

  • Comment number 20.

    Actually the is something odd about the BBC World Service and associated broadcasts. (but not BBC Worldwide.) The UK Government stopped financing it and transferred the services wholly to the BBC where they are paid for by a tax on premises whose occupants own a TV set etc which can receive live broadcasts. I do not understand how the World Service can be lawfully offered by the BBC who is according to its Charter and associated documents is for ALL THOSE IN THE UK who use the BBC services or who might use them. Clearly the audiences mentioned are not in the UK, yet the output is aimed at the and in part not available to those people the UK. Other conditions set by an associate document, agreed with the UK Government, requires it promotes democracy. But it is not clear how that notion is carried forward in every circumstance.

  • Comment number 21.

    Congatulations on growing your Arabic market share, but as a Brit I find myself increasingly watching Al Jazeera for Arabic news. I find the BBC coverage much too biased to the liberal side of every argument, and as soon as the post-rebellion situation no longer matches the liberal ideal (eg Tripoli factional violence) the BBC coverage simply stops. I honestly don't think I've heard any vox populi on the Beeb from Egyptians who support the current regime, but clearly these people do exist. In the meantime there is a stream of well educated liberals queuing at the microphone to give the BBC what they want to hear.

  • Comment number 22.

    '21. At 14:54 9th Dec 2011, injected'

    So... the most trusted national treasure claim may need a qualifier?

  • Comment number 23.

    Arab Spring: Syria:
    It is important to remember that the armed insurrection against the Syrian government – financed and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan – has been confined to smaller cities and towns along the borders with Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The overwhelming majority of Syrians support President Bashar al-Assad, particularly in major population centres, such as Damascus, Latakia and Aleppo. Recent pro-government demonstrations in these major cities have attracted MILLIONS of al-Assad supporters.
    In fact, it would be very difficult to name a single dictator that was not put in power, financed & armed by the U.S. & its allies. Furthermore, US agencies and think-tanks, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) & several more are directly involved in financing opposition groups in the Arab world. NY Times (April 14, 2011) revealed a number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the Middle east, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, activists like Entsar Qadhi (youth leader in Yemen) received training & financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House - based in US. In Syria, NED is directly involved in financing the armed insurrection in Syria through its partner, the Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies, an anti-Syrian Govt organisation. Let me leave you with thoughts about colorful "revolutions": Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya & coming soon - Syria.

  • Comment number 24.

    Arab Spring: Syria:
    It is important to remember that the armed insurrection against the Syrian government – financed and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Jordan – has been confined to smaller cities and towns along the borders with Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The overwhelming majority of Syrians support President Bashar al-Assad, particularly in major population centres, such as Damascus, Latakia and Aleppo. Recent pro-government demonstrations in these major cities have attracted MILLIONS of al-Assad supporters.
    In fact, it would be very difficult to name a single dictator that was not put in power, financed & armed by the U.S. & its allies. Furthermore, US agencies and think-tanks, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) & several more are directly involved in financing opposition groups in the Arab world. NY Times (April 14, 2011) revealed a number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the Middle east, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, activists like Entsar Qadhi (youth leader in Yemen) received training & financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House - based in US. In Syria, NED is directly involved in financing the armed insurrection in Syria through its partner, the Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies, an anti-Syrian Govt organisation. Let me leave you with thoughts about colorful "revolutions": Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya & coming soon - Syria:
    Libyan model is being repeated in Syria. On Nov 28th, the UN - right arm of US imperialism - accused Syrian forces of "crimes against humanity" in their defence of Syria nation against Western-sponsored armed gangs & terrorists. The so-called ‘UN Human Rights Council’ Report is based on unproven (fabricated?) tales from expatriates in London, Paris & Washington. While the report accuses the govt of “committed atrocities”, it completely omits death & torture of thousands of Syrians - soldiers and police - by armed thugs.
    This unproven "facts" were disseminated by Western media - BBC, CNN, Fox News, Al-Jazeera & print media led by the Murdoch Press. The report was practically a carbon copy of the UN reports on Iraq & Libya before they were invaded & devastated by US/NATO SHOCK & AWE. The report is a prelude to a US-NATO aggression a

  • Comment number 25.

    Arab Spring: Syria:
    US & its allies are preparing for aggression against Syria as part of US-Israel destabilisation in the region. The pretext is, as usual, the “protection of civilians” and installing of Western-style “democracy”. The reality: topple current Syrian Govt, replace it with puppet govt subservient to US-Israel interests.
    Because of Syria’s support for Palestinian & Lebanese, because of Syria’s ties with Iran, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad is ”threat” to US & Israel.
    The ongoing foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs reminds us of recent foreign interference in Libya, which began with the imposition of a “no-fly” zone over Libya. Media reports have shown the US & Israel have hired Saudi & Lebanese elements to foment unrest in Syria, to create a rift between Syrian Govt & Syrian people using the sectarian divide.
    Campaign of US & its allies to delegitimize Syrian government is similar to the demonization campaign that was carried out in Libya. On 25 November 2011, the Arab League – a collection of despots controlled by Saudi Arabia & other Gulf oil fiefdoms – suspended Syria’s membership in Arab League & called for economic and diplomatic sanctions. Like Libya, the suspension of Syria from the Arab league provides the US & its allies with a fig-leaf coverage to attack Syria - wage war against yet another Muslim nation.

  • Comment number 26.

    Arab Spring: Syria
    Libyan model is being repeated in Syria. On Nov 28th, the UN - right arm of US imperialism - accused Syrian forces of "crimes against humanity" in their defence of Syria nation against Western-sponsored armed gangs & terrorists. The so-called ‘UN Human Rights Council’ Report is based on unproven (fabricated?) tales from expatriates in London, Paris & Washington. While the report accuses the govt of “committed atrocities”, it completely omits death & torture of thousands of Syrians - soldiers and police - by armed thugs.
    This unproven "facts" were disseminated by Western media - BBC, CNN, Fox News, Al-Jazeera & print media led by the Murdoch Press. The report was practically a carbon copy of the UN reports on Iraq & Libya before they were invaded & devastated by US/NATO SHOCK & AWE. The report is a prelude to a US-NATO aggression against Syria. It's evident that the UN is playing the role of a facilitator of Western-perpetrated war crimes. Disinformation is important; it is effective.
    David Cameron and the Qatari Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani have pledged to support (ship arms & money) to Syrian “opposition groups” in an attempt to shore up “democracy”. Today, Libya is a mirror image of Iraq - looted, ruined, mired in violence. Tens of thousands of Libyans (and Africans) have been murdered; thousands are languishing in torturous prisons & 1/3 of population is displaced.
    Still, Sarkozy has called for the creation of a secure “humanitarian zone” to protect civilians similar to the Libyan “humanitarian zone” where thousands of innocent civilians were murdered by US-NATO.

  • Comment number 27.

    Arab Spring Syria:
    According to the Turkish daily newspaper, Milliyet (November 28, 2011): France sent its military training forces to Turkey and Lebanon to coach the so-called Free Syrian] Army — a group of defectors operating out of Turkey and Lebanon. Foreign mercenaries have been pouring through the border with Lebanon. They are armed and financed by the CIA, Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. US-backed Arab despots are led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Are these despots really motivated by concern for human rights & democracy in Syria. Despite their wealth, these countries remain backwards, rich indulging in Western decadence & turning away from Islam as a way of life. They are not elected rulers; they do not tolerate opposition to their tyrannical rule.
    Saudi Arabia, of course, is the world’s most repressive regime. It is also the US’s closest Arab ally. It is an absolute monarchy - seeing human rights as a threat to the corrupt ruling class. Ordinary Saudi women are excluded from employment, which is very high (40%) among young men & women. Saudi Arabia’s so-called anti-terror” law criminalises dissent as “terrorist crimes” & imposes long detention of people without charge. Dissent in Saudi Arabia is dealt with brutally. e.g. Nov. 21, 2011, Saudi troops opened fire on a peaceful demonstration in Qatif in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, killing 4 demonstrators and injuring several.
    In March 2011, Saudi forces invaded Bahrain and brutally crushed pro-democracy protesters. The invasion was encouraged, supported by the US Administration. The recent report by the King of Bahrain’s appointed commission, Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), was not worth the paper upon which it was written; nevertheless the report found “systematic abuses of human rights” during the govt attacks on pro-democracy protests. The 500-page report outlines various abuses committed by King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa’s despotic regime. According to the report, detainees - including medical staff whose only crimes were to treat injured -were tortured & sexually abused. Headlines in western media? No, the report was immediately buried by Western media.

  • Comment number 28.

    This subject has attracted much blog response as expected. I am hopeful that it will indeed provoke Arab comment which has been in short supply in recent months. We have had much "rubbishing" of the Arab Spring by opponents of Arab democracy in the West and Israel, and we now look forward to hearing from the Arab perople themselves.

  • Comment number 29.

    In Daniel 11:40-43, the Jewish prophet revealed the activities of all three Israeli neighbors: Syria, Jordan, and Egypt for the last days. Syria, referred to as the King of the North in verse 40, will make the first move against Israel. Jordan, mentioned as Ammon, Moab, and Edom in verse 41, will provide protection for the Jewish people, Isaiah 63.

    Egypt, found in Daniel 11:42-43, will join Syria to try and destroy the Jewish state. Truly, unrest in the Middle East is setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled.

  • Comment number 30.

    At 13:47 26th Oct 2011, You wrote:
    Part 1 of 2
    I`ve listened to a BBC World Service programme from 21st October re:Gadaffi

    I am quite astounded by the apalling lack of objective argument from John Simpson, whom I had formerly admired. It seems he has had his memory banks wiped clean of intellect & just gave an intellectually light-weighted response that you would expect from a member of the NTC, Hilary Clinton, Liam Fox, David Cameron or some equally poorly advised commentator. The fact is that Libya was the country with highest standard of living, highest education & highest healthcare in Africa. The oil wealth was distributed amongst the people & the state. Education was free, food & energy cheap.

  • Comment number 31.

    • Comment number 100.
    At 13:50 26th Oct 2011, You wrote:
    Part 2 of 2
    In the past few months, International law has been cast asside (it no longer exists) & the UK-USA-France were given free range to bomb the country, resulting in the death of 1000`s of civilians. They also seem to have sanctioned (& certainly not condemned) the summary execution of Libya`s legitimate leader, Gadaffi.
    WHY? - The NTC is now imposing Sharia law & has executed hundreds of prisoners. The country has been bombed back to the dark ages and is now run by wild gangs. At last the UN has demanded an investigation.

    H.Clinton, D. Cameron, L.Fox, & N.Sarkozy should be indicted for war crimes. A civilised society, with decent values, would demand a long jail term for each of them. This would be a fairer justice than each of them sanctioned against the vast majority Libyan people. Gadaffi wanted equality & what was good for Africa.

  • Comment number 32.

    ' the BBC's aim to provide trusted news and impartial information'. Oh dear. Do people believe this? Bowen, singing the praises of the Muslim Brotherhood despite their stated objectives, Mardell campaigning for Obama. The list could continue and BBC bias is overwhelming. Bringing comfort to Islamic dictatorships founded on petro dollars the BBC is careful to sanitise accounts of Islamic violence, and regularly revises cause and effect when it comes to attacks on Israel. Selective reporting is a feature of BBC international news which requires that one has to look elsewhere for information. Thus there is convenient silence over the ethnic cleansing in Libya now that the democratic regime is in power.

    The BBC might feel as if it is trusted in the middle east, but it has long since lost impartiality and objectivity. A state owned organization can be accepted if it strives for truth but not if it has an obvious agenda. Time to go your own way BBC and surrender the hefty licence fee you collect from the people of this country.

  • Comment number 33.

    Growth in audience figures may be seen by some, and indeed claimed by them as an impressive demonstration of fondly held notions.

    Or, in reality, they may not.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8978228/EastEnders-beats-Downton-Abbey-in-Christmas-ratings-battle.html

    Doubtless more fee-payer funded Champers bottles in the corridors as the bonuses are assessed.

    Shame Ms. Boaden's blog was pulled before it hit an embarrassing watershed; it could have been discussed there too.

  • Comment number 34.

    Of all the closed for comments 'news' discussions from most senior editor blogs, this was about all I could find...

    @BBCRBlack via Twitter
    Thanks to all who have taken me over 5,000 followers... Best Xmas present? Could be!


    Quantity can be a consequence of quality. Or simply a target in spite of it.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Liliane, I believe the events of 2011 were just the springboard for BBC's growth in terms of the Arabic audience. Much of the work that needs to be done in the region - in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt in particular, requires international input. In my view, the blossoms from the Arab Spring I anticipate will be one of the true highlights in the 2012 World News. The regional audience there will no doubt be counting on the likes of BBC and other media houses to provide some transparency as local governance processes are put in place.

    Nayna

  • Comment number 37.

    14. At 18:30 7th Dec 2011, Maria Ashot wrote: concerning Russian Policies and the BBC Worldservice (see above).
    Quote:
    That is all that is at issue in Russia, this week.
    Unquote:
    A hefty, major problem has been introduced by President Medvedev, in that families, workers and schoolchildren all over the Federation are being imposed upon by having Winter under an almost previously unknown condition of one hour of "summertime" - not only during Summer!
    In fact, the President faces severe disruptions in the country between about this date (20th January) and the end of February - as a result of the severity of the extremely early hour in the wee hours for commuting being made worse by the natural phenomenon of a further plunging down of morning times by "The Equation of Time" (which acts everywhere at this season, but is less obvious without extra hours on clocks). One well-known precursor of the phenomenon of commuting in the wee hours in Russia has been a difficulty to start up vehicles before commuting to work.
    All has been inaugurated by changing the working Time Zone of Moscow to zone 4 instead of 3 - although there is no real physical difference - except at the whim of the President, which is open to reversal! (Incidentally, a fairly full summary of a similar situation in Portugal - very likely in Russia - is seen today in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16538229 in the Comments section).

  • Comment number 38.

    Its great to be able to blog on this site, bit unfortunate in the debate going on in my own country the powers that be in BBC Scotland are not allowing me to blog, the facility isn't available on Brian Taylor or the economic editors blogs. Free speech has to be upheld and where there are disagreements we have to discuss them openly and fairly without fear. That's democracy after all we're "aw Jock Tamson's Bairns" and the democracy we have needs to be looked after and not abused.

 

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