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Abu Muqawama attacks Fisk 9, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
Tags: , , , , ,

Robert Fisk made headlines earlier this week with a shocking story suggesting that Middle Eastern governments along with Russia and China were conspiring or at least discussing dropping the Dollar as their back-up currency of choice. This would lead to a dramatic and pervasive shift in world financial markets and would hammer the American economy. However, Fisk’s sources on this story leave a lot to be desired: having anonymous sources is understandable to some degree, but for a story of such significance (world markets plunged and soared on this story) it is simply not good enough.

Abu Muqawama, one of the most knowledgeable and highly respected bloggers on things Middle Eastern, launched something of an unbridled attack on Fisk on his blog, now hosted by the Centre for a New American Security. He slated Fisk for essentially becoming lazy in his work in the last few years, for not properly backing up his controversial stories only referring to a few anonymous sources and for believing his role to be the preeminent speaker of ‘The Truth’ in his columns in The Independent.

Whilst the attack is really rather vitriolic, I unfortunately agree that there is some truth to in what it said. Unfortunate because, as Abu Muqawama mentions, Fisk used to be such a fastidious reporter whose word carried significant weight. Read his latest book, however, and the errors leap out in their droves.

The book contains a deplorable number of mistakes. Some are amusing: my favourite is when King Hussein’s stallion unexpectedly “reared up on her hind legs”. Christ was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Napoleon’s army did not burn Moscow, the Russians did. French: meurt means dies, not blooms. Russian: goodbye is do svidanya, not dos vidanya. Farsi: laleh means tulip, not rose. Arabic: catastrophe is nakba not nakhba (which means elite), and many more.

Other mistakes undermine the reader’s confidence. Muhammad’s nephew Ali was murdered in the 7th century, not the 8th century. Baghdad was never an Ummayad city. The Hashemites are not a Gulf tribe but a Hijaz tribe, as far as you can get from the Gulf and still be in Arabia. The US forward base for the Kuwait war, Dhahran, is not “scarcely 400 miles” from Medina and the Muslim holy places, it is about 700 miles. Britain during the Palestine mandate did not support a Jewish state. The 1939 white paper on Palestine did not “abandon Balfour’s promise” (and he was not “Lord Balfour” when he made it). The Iraq revolution of 1958 was not Baathist. Britain did not pour military hardware into Saddam’s Iraq for 15 years, or call for an uprising against Saddam in 1991. These last two “mistakes” occasion lengthy Philippics against British policy; others may deserve them, we do not.

Overall, as the Angry Arab says, perhaps it is time for Fisk to sail off into the sunset.


1. zaydoun - 9, October 2009

Fisk’s tone sometimes reminds me of an outraged Home Counties matron whose dog just got run over

2. davidbroberts - 9, October 2009

Mabrouk for an imaginative simile there.

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