How predictions for Iraq came true
is the headline for John Simpson’s column on the BBC website.
It was a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq, three years ago. I was interviewing the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in the ballroom of a big hotel in Cairo.
Shrewd, amusing, bulky in his superb white robes, he described to me all the disasters he was certain would follow the invasion.
The US and British troops would be bogged down in Iraq for years. There would be civil war between Sunnis and Shias. The real beneficiary would be the government in Iran.
Yeah? Is this part of the interview actually published anywhere, or we just going to have to take your word for it John? Trouble is, I think you’re talking shite. Take your next sentence for example:
Over the last three years, from a ringside seat here in Baghdad, I have watched his predictions come true, stage by stage.
Yeah? Knew it all along, eh? Then how come in March last year you wrote:
Iraq is not splitting up, and does not seem to be heading that way. When a government is finally agreed, it should cement the union further.
So, from a ringside seat in Baghdad you watch the predictions of the Saudi Foreign Minister come true, but chose to report the opposite? Or is the prediction itself a figment of your imagination?
Thanks to Google, we can find plenty of articles on this interview, but alas no transcript. But interestingly, not one of the articles actually reports Saud al-Faisal predicting a civil war in Iraq, nor him saying anything about Iran. The BBC’s own initial report reveals the Saudis to be more concerned about their own safety than anything else:
“If change of regime comes with the destruction of Iraq, then you are solving one problem and creating five more problems.
That is the consideration that we have to make, because we are living in the region. We will suffer the consequences of any military action.”
Sure, he mentions the possibility of Iraq destructing into five (five?) separate entities. But it is worth pointing out that this is nowhere near happening, and the statement itself is somewhat different from Saud al-Faisal telling John Simpson that “there would be civil war between Sunnis and Shias”. Tellingly, there is also no mention of Iran.
Given Simpson’s fawning over Saud al-Faisal (“shrewd, amusing, bulky in his superb white robes” – FFS!) I’m not content to give Simpson the benefit of the doubt here. It looks to me as though Saud al-Faisal made no such explicit prediction, and Simpson is simply making it up in order to sensationalise a column which contains little by way of news or analysis.