Con Coughlin at It Again!

Reporter Con Coughlin wrote a piece on September 14, 2010, in the British Daily Telegraph alleging that the party of the Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan received $25 million from Iran.


Coughlin provides absolutely no proof to support his claim. He just keeps invoking the ambiguous phrase “Western diplomats” as the “source” of his allegations. At the top of the article is a photo of smiling Erdogan and Ahmadinejad shaking hands, while the caption reads “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hand with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” with no explanations as to when and for what purpose the meeting of the two leaders took place. The implication for the unsuspecting reader would be as if the photo was taken at the occasion of that alleged $25 million donation.


Both the Turkish as well as Iranian officials vehemently rejected the claims. The Turkish government requested the Telegraph to remove this piece from its website, and further said that they are going to file a lawsuit against the paper.


It is a known practice for reporters to keep the identity of their sources anonymous. But does that mean that they are not expected to offer any proof whatsoever --other than, “my diplomatic sources said this”-- of what they are claiming? Then how are we going to know that the claimant is not fabricating what he or she claims?


As someone coming from a science background, I know how meticulous the scientific community is about “verification” of scientific claims, and how sensitive it is when it comes to scientific fraud. This is in large part due to the responsibility the scientific community feels toward the public, as it is the public which reaps the benefits as well as the ills of scientific research, not to mention the tax-payers’ money that largely funds that research.


Now, why shouldn’t the journalistic reports be subjected to some levels of rigorousness, especially the ones with precarious potential implications for people?


What is the safety valve of the public against potential black propaganda and disinformation stemming from a covert collaboration between intelligence services and journalists?


After all, we witnessed, and know all too well, how unsubstantiated intelligence backed by dubious journalism garnered public support for a war that has been causing needless death and destruction to many Iraqis and Americans to this day, just to give one example. Those unfounded claims, together with the claims of the-now-bogus “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,” were used as justification to declare war on Iraq.


Guess who was one of those journalists who produced dubious claims about the alleged links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda? You got it! It was none other than Con Coughlin!


Coughlin’s recent piece on the alleged Iranian donation to Erdogan’s ruling party (AKP), while it is at it, does not ignore to kill a second bird with his ambiguous journalistic “stone.” He finishes his piece with: “Apart from transferring funds to the AKP, diplomats say Iran has also agreed to provide financial support for the IHH, the Turkish Islamic charity IHH which supported last May's aid flotilla which ended in disaster when it was intercepted by Israeli commandos, which resulted in the deaths of nine activists” (emphasis is mine).


It is this same Coughlin who penned a piece titled “Turkey's role in the Gaza flotilla affair should worry us all in the West,” in the aftermath of the now infamous Gaza flotilla debacle. The title speaks for itself as to where Coughlin is coming from.


Why does all this make me think that this is all part of ongoing neocon efforts to discredit Erdogan --after his bold and scrupulous stance against the recent Israeli wrongs in the region, and his “audacity” to come darn close to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue with Brazil’s da Silva-- in the eyes of the West by trying to organically link him and his party to Iran and other extremist Islamic elements? (See Jim Lobe’ s report on how the neocons had already declared “war” on Erdogan early in the summer of 2010, following the Gaza flotilla incidence).


Alas, it is to no avail as Erdogan and his party are marching forward ever more relentlessly, after winning –-yet again-- a decisive victory in the recent 12 September 2010 referendum for a more democratic constitution in Turkey, and with record economic growth rates among G20 nations, second only to China.

Serkan Zorba