Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saudi man on the BBC Arabic: "Have you at all noticed, my dear man, that you give yourself more time to ask the question than you give me to answer it?"

Yemen has seen a lot of fighting lately. This is a small Middle-Eastern country. It is very poor.

Some rebels over-ran the capital, so Saudi Arabia waged a bombing campaign. Many deaths and a lot of hunger has resulted. 

So the BBC Arabic interviewed a Saudi man called Mr. Ibrahim. He is an expert on military and strategic policies. He's honestly also kind of stupid and full of himself, as I think his interview makes abundantly clear. 

Thus begins Mr. Ibrahim:

I was watching the program, and I see that you interviewed six Yemenis, and three of them said our bombing campaign had worked, and three said that it had not. I would just like to say: there is no doubt at all that our bombing campaign worked, and anyone who says otherwise has a lack of understanding in strategic planning. Let me try to explain things so that the dear audience will properly understand. Our bombing campaign was a strategic military action, and it was just one part of a broader strategy that includes: Diplomacy, Information, Military, Economy...

Just as Mr. Ibrahim was getting his full bluster on, the BBC Arabic moderator stopped him:

BBC Arabic moderator: Please sir, we don't need to lose the audience with a long-winded explanation of your policies and strategies. Let's keep it simple. What I asked you was that the aims that Saudi Arabia claimed as their end-goal in this bombing campaign have not materialized. When the bombing campaign finished, the stated goals had been left behind entirely. How? And be concise in your answer, if you please. 

Mr. Ibrahim: You are not giving me a chance to finish what I was trying to say ...

BBC Arabic Moderator: I'm afraid that your responses to my questions will have to be concise so that I can give a chance to other people to respond to what you say... and there are many others waiting. We don't have time for background information.

Mr. Ibrahim starts getting out of joint:

Mr. Ibrahim: I am not giving you background information. I am getting to the heart of the matter. You, my dear man, and others like you, don't understand how military campaigns work and that is why they say that the bombing campaign did not reach its goals. But I am here to say, that this is how we do things in strategy. So the bombing campaign is just one element. Our bombing campaign was meant to destroy the rockets and weapons of the Houthi rebels that might have threatened all of us neighboring countries. We needed to destroy all their heavy weapons. So yes, the Houthi rebels are still in control of large parts of Yemen, but they can no longer continue with their aggression. 

So now the next steps are to return the Yemeni president to his rightful post, and to get the Houthi rebels out of control, and to make sure only the state has weapons, and to release political prisoners, and to ...

BBC Arabic moderator: Ok, but how are you going to do all this? Through military means, political means, or what?

Mr. Ibrahim: My dear brother! Sometimes, when you have a goal, you use military means. Then, three days ago, we decided that the military means had done their job, and we needed to use diplomacy. So people who say that we failed just don't understand how you approach things strategically!

BBC Arabic moderator: Alright, Mr. Ibrahim, but one problem is that the day after you announced the end of your bombing campaign, or actually, on the same day of the announcement, the bombing campaign actually continued. So why was there an announcement that the bombing campaign was finished at a time when you still had rockets blasting, and at a time that we heard the Houthi rebels were consolidating and actually expanding their positions? We hear that they are now in some parts of Taiz.

Mr. Ibrahim: (takes a deep breath) my dear man, the report that the Houthi rebels have taken over some parts of Taiz is a faulty report. What actually happened was that the military personnel in Taiz had left their headquarters to go out on the streets. While they were doing that, the Houthi rebels took advantage of the situation and took over the headquarters. So the military bombed the Houthis at the headquarters; and in retaliation, the Houthis bombed the town itself, people and rooms and such. So the facts really need to be kept accurate.

The BBC Arabic moderator then said he was going to hear responses from other guests, but Mr. Ibrahim begged him and begged him for ten more seconds to say one last thing.

Mr. Ibrahim: Just ten seconds! Our bombing campaign has been completely for the sake of protecting civilians and to deny the Houthi rebels the chance of carrying out their plans. These are the aims that we have. And what the Yemeni people understand is that we Saudis are not going to forsake our responsibility to them. And what the Houthi rebels don't understand is that we will not allow them to continue controlling the country, nor to expand their control, over our neighbors in Yemen.

So it was then finally time to talk to some other people. A Yemeni man called Hameed, living now in Britain, was on the phone.

Hameed: Let me just say: Mr. Ibrahim says he is helping the Yemeni people get rid of the Houthis. My dear man, the Houthis are 70% of the Yemeni people. And at the same time ...

BBC Arabic moderator: Please don't get into percents, because we have no one of knowing what is accurate and which side has the majority backing it.

Then Hameed talked some more. He wasn't happy with the Saudis, but I didn't really understand all that he was saying. So I skipped the phone callers, all of whom were on the side of the Houthi rebels, and we went back to Mr. Ibrahim.

Mr. Ibrahim: Your callers Hameed and Ahmed speak for the Houthis.

BBC Arabic moderator: Yes, and this is a voice that is present on the streets of Yemen.

Mr. Ibrahim: Sure, their voice is present. But, my brother, if the Houthis were just acting on their own, then we would call them a political movement in Yemen. But the truth is that they are taking orders and help from Iran. The Houthi strategy was written in Iran and studied in Iran and then carried out in Yemen.

BBC Arabic moderator: Yes, but the leader of the Houthis (the old Yemeni dictator called Ali Abdullah Saleh) is Yemeni. They are being led by a Yemeni. Why is that forgotten and we always say that they get instructions from Tehran. You have Ali Abdullah Saleh on the ground and he is Yemeni.

Mr. Ibrahim: My dear man, there is outside support from Iran; and there's traitors inside the Yemeni military ...

BBC Arabic moderator: Please, without such slanders, without slandering anyone like that.

Mr. Ibrahim: No! I'm not slandering, these are facts!

BBC Arabic moderator: You might think they are facts but I cannot allow anyone to be described as a traitor.

Mr. Ibrahim: No, no, Ali Abdullah Saleh is a traitor.

BBC Arabic moderator: in your opinion.

Mr. Ibrahim: And when he has stolen from the Yemeni people and stolen $60 billion dollars, he is not just a traitor but a thief, too. And by the way, this applies to his family, too! And of the Yemeni people, 95% of them are good pure sorts of people. And -

BBC Arabic moderator: Okay, I'm not sure where you're getting these percentages from ... are they from you, or from others? Where did you get the percent that 95% of the Yemeni people are against the Houthis? If it was only 5% of the population supporting the Houthis, we wouldn't have seen everything we've been seeing on TV.

Mr. Ibrahim: Have you at all noticed, my dear man, that you give yourself more time to ask the question than you give me to answer it?

BBC Arabic moderator (losing his patience): yes, really, because you're giving answers that are totally unrelated to what I'm asking. From what source are your percents coming? That was my question. Where did you get 95% from?

Mr. Ibrahim: that percent came from one of the leaders of the Yemeni government. And, the BBC invited me here. Do you want to hear from me or should I leave?

BBC Arabic moderator: No, of course we want to hear from you, go on.

Mr. Ibrahim: Great. Then you ask me questions and give me time to answer.

BBC Arabic moderator: Well, Mr. Ibrahim, we only have a limited amount of time. I'll give you all the time you want, but in context of the time we have for the program.

Mr. Ibrahim: And I, too, I also have limited time! So please don't (something something) with everything that I say.

BBC Arabic moderator: Not at all!

Mr. Ibrahim: So what I was saying was: 95% of the Yemeni people, a figure given by a high official in the Yemeni government, are with the legitimate government, and are with our campaign. The Yemeni people reject the Iranian meddling, and the traitors. This is clear. And this is reflected in the figures!

BBC Arabic moderator: Alright, then, how do you explain the fact, if what you say is true about 95% being against the Houthis, that the Houthis are still out in the streets? Isn't that strange if they only comprise 5% of the population?

Mr. Ibrahim: Beautiful. That is a beautiful question. The aim of our bombing campaign is not the genocide of the Houthis. [!] Instead, we want to make their political voice to reflect their actual numbers, and we don't want them to have weapons with which they threaten all the other political parties. And if they want to be part of political dialogue, then they can come and do that without weapons. My dear man, they've occupied all these cities in Yemen. They want to enforce their political will on the Yemeni people through their weapons. And what the united bombing campaign aims for is not the genocide of the Houthis, for they are of the Yemeni people; but we want them to have a political party that comes to sit at the political table. That's all we want.

Well, this is so far only half the interview. The rest had a lot of people speaking out against Mr. Ibrahim; and some in support of Mr. Ibrahim; and a lot of very emotional voices, but I don't have time to translate it all right now. I just really got a kick out of Mr. Ibrahim.

Oh, and you'll want to know the story behind this sleazy, evil smile:

That was Mr. Ibrahim's grin as an Arab caller living in Britain tells him: your bombs are ruining the country, and you didn't even give the Yemenis a chance to flee to the borders before you started your military campaign.

If you want to watch the full interview, you can do so here: 


Just as a parting note, I'd like to include the full picture of the moderator:

He looks way better with a beard than he did without!

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