23:56 GMT28 November 2020
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    In 1990 Robert Fisk published Pity The Nation: Lebanon At War, one of the most detailed descriptions of the 1975–1990 conflict in that country. Critics claim his journalistic reputation was tarnished by his later reporting from Syria.

    Politicians and journalists have been paying tribute on Twitter to Robert Fisk, the veteran Middle East correspondent, who has died of a stroke, aged 74.

    Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Australian journalist John Pilger and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis all tweeted tributes to Fisk, who spent most of his career working for The Independent newspaper.

    Fisk was born in England but later took Irish citizenship.

    ​Irish President, Michael D. Higgins said: "I have learned with great sadness of the death of Robert Fisk. With his passing, the world of journalism and informed commentary on the Middle East has lost one of its finest commentators."
    Higgins said: "Generations…relied on him for a critical and informed view of what was taking place in the conflict zones of the world and, even more important, the influences that were perhaps the source of the conflict."

    ​But among the tributes there was also harsh criticism of him on social media by some who claimed his reputation had been tarnished by his allegedly naive coverage of al-Qaeda - he interviewed Osama bin Laden twice - and of the Syrian conflict.

    Journalist Neil Hauer tweeted: "Robert Fisk is dead. He was a good journalist once. Then he spent his last years lying about and mocking the victims of chemical gas attacks and smearing civilian aid workers as Al Qaeda. F*** him."

    ​Fisk, who moved to The Independent from The Times in 1979, lived in Beirut for many years and became the western world’s most trusted source regarding the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli invasion of 1982.

    In the aftermath of the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 he travelled to the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and was beaten up by Afghan refugees.

    ​He wrote: "I realised - there were all the Afghan men and boys who had attacked me who should never have done so but whose brutality was entirely the product of others, of us - of we who had armed their struggle against the Russians and ignored their pain and laughed at their civil war and then armed and paid them again for the 'War for Civilisation' just a few miles away and then bombed their homes and ripped up their families and called them 'collateral damage'."

    ​The Independent’s managing editor Christian Broughton said: "Fearless, uncompromising, determined and utterly committed to uncovering the truth and reality at all costs, Robert Fisk was the greatest journalist of his generation."

    ​Fisk frequently criticised Israeli and American policy in the Middle East and in 2003 he wrote a damning article about US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN in which he made the case for the invasion of Iraq, based on the infamous dossier of evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which turned out to be false.

    As well as Pity the Nation, Fisk also wrote The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, and completed at PhD at Trinity College in Dublin.

    Tags:
    Osama bin Laden, Ireland, Israel, 1982 Lebanon War, Lebanon
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