[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Media scepticism at UK Iraq probe
By Sebastian Usher
BBC world media correspondent

Lord Butler
Arab TV stations were sceptical of the Lord Butler's probe

The main Arab satellite news channels have given considerable coverage to the Butler report and the British Prime Minister's subsequent statement.

Al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya and al-Alam all went live to cover Lord Butler's news conference and then Tony Blair's statement in the House of Commons.

Correspondents and commentators concluded that Mr Blair had come out of the report relatively free of blame.

But they suggested that the report itself was something of a whitewash.

'Protecting establishment'

The Butler report had been long anticipated, not just in Britain but around the world - and nowhere more so, perhaps, than in the Middle East.

Blair was convincing for those who wanted to be convinced
Khayrallah Khayrallah
The TV stations, which have in the past few years become such a key source for providing information and shaping opinion in the Arab world, went big on the story, giving their bulletins over to live coverage for more than an hour.

At the end of Lord Butler's news conference, the conclusion on these channels was that Mr Blair's political survival was assured.

But the al-Jazeera correspondent noted with an edge of sarcasm that - according to Lord Butler - everyone seemed to be innocent.

He said the report seemed aimed more at protecting the British establishment than discovering the truth.

A similar note of scepticism was sounded by an analyst on al-Arabiya after Mr Blair's statement.

Blair's war justification

Asked his reaction to the prime minister's comments, the Lebanese journalist, Khayrallah Khayrallah, said that Mr Blair was convincing for those who wanted to be convinced.

He said that despite what Mr Blair said, a clear majority in Britain still did not believe the war in Iraq had been justified.

Al-Jazeera's correspondent in London, Mustapha Souak, said that what had struck him in Mr Blair's statement was the weight he gave to a justification for the war that he'd only alluded to briefly in the past.

This justification, Mr Souak explained, was to teach other countries a lesson; the success of this strategy, according to Mr Blair, being shown in the case of Libya and its decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programme.

For the most part then, the immediate reaction from the Arab media to the Butler report seems to be a feeling that it did not go far enough and was too willing to absolve the British establishment.

The BBC's James Robbins
"The decision to go to war remains as controversial as ever"

Prime Minister Tony Blair
"For any mistakes made in good faith I take responsibility"


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific