Saturday, November 28, 2009

Media crackdown, militias returning, it's Iraq

Like millions of Muslims around the world, Iraqis are celebrating the religious festival of Eid al-Adha, but it is rather common for Iraqis after the U.S.-led invasion to reflect mixed feelings of hope for better life and bitter disappointment from the troubled political process.
The four-day annual festival falls on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar. The Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the end of the spiritual peak of the annual pilgrimage or Hajj in Arabic, when pilgrims descend from the hill of Arafat to the nearby holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Muslims marked the end of the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia on Friday by sacrificing a sheep for the feast in symbolic recall of Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's orders.

The above is from Jamal Hashim's "Iraqis celebrate Eid al-Adha amid growing bitterness of wrangling political process" (Xinhua) and, yes, there is reporting out of Iraq . . . if you ignore so many of the lazy ass Western outlets. On Thursday, Waleed Ibrahim, Michael Christie and Myra MacDonald (Reuters) reported on the media crackdown in Iraq noting the multitude of suits "filed or threatened against both foreign and local media outlets critical of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim-led government, which will seek re-election in national polls due in early 2010," the recent 'judicial' finding against the Guardian and that "the department for communications and media has issued rules under which it can close down any media company that encourages 'terrorism, violence and tensions'." In related news, Oliver August (Times of London) reports on the return of the militia to Basra and notes:

The Basra police and army units, who can now be seen at checkpoints throughout the city, deny that they have a problem with returning militants. At the Basra mortuary, however, officials told The Times that they were seeing the bodies of victims from political killings every week. Naeem Hassan, a hearse driver, said: "I just drove the bodies of two Iraqis back to their home in Baghdad. They were working here for a foreign company with a foreign engineer. He was kidnapped and the two Iraqis were killed."
Few such killings are reported in the local media, which has complained about official intimidation in the past. "Don’t believe it when you hear from the police that Basra is safe," Mr Rady said. "Parts of the police are, and always were, part of the militia. They are infiltrated through and through."

When will Iraq learn? You crackdown on the media by cozying up to them. That's how you get the press you want. Ask any White House administration.

A current example: where's the US outlet covering the Iraq Inquiry?

NPR can only post an AP story? Really? They have no London correspondents? Really? That's the lie they want to stick to? Or you can look at the attack on the Guardian by the Iraqi 'judicial' 'system' and note the refusal of the Western press to call it out. (McClatchy Newspapers was the only western outlet covering it.)

The Iraq inquiry continues next week with public testimony but, in the US, we appear to have already seen that the bulk of the press has decided that anything revealed will not make it to US newsconsumers via their US outlets.

We'll close this entry out with Norman Kember's "Iraqis' stories must be heard" (Guardian):

Four years ago this week I was kidnapped in Baghdad. My trip to Iraq had been motivated by frustration at the government's deafness to all voices of reasoned opposition to the war in Iraq. I went to meet Iraqis to reassure them that most people in Britain did not regard them as enemies. Today, the lead-up to that war is back in the spotlight with the Chilcot inquiry. This is more than just an academic exercise to many. Anyone – in Britain, Iraq or elsewhere – who had a relative killed in the conflict will feel an intense personal need to discover the truth. They will be listening to testimony that appears to gravely undermine the official justification for going to war. They will want to learn the reaction by the then government to the advice of Middle East diplomats who knew about the conflicts within Iraqi society, conflicts that Saddam had suppressed but were always likely to explode on his removal. If you are going to war, ignorance of the probable effects on the country in the aftermath is inexcusable. Why else do you have a large diplomatic and intelligence force in the area?
I witnessed how much resentment was created by the revenge attacks of coalition forces on Iraqi towns and their apparent disregard for civilian lives. All our captors had suffered the loss of relatives, homes or jobs in the onslaught on Falluja. And, as they asked Jim Loney, the Canadian peaceworker who was also held hostage, "If the Americans had invaded and occupied your country, would you not have resisted them by all means at your disposal?" I am almost surprised that we were treated so moderately by our captors – apart, that is, from the tragic, largely unexplained, decision to kill Tom Fox, the American Quaker. Their opinion was that the coalition forces had deliberately stirred up the antipathies between Shia, Sunni and Kurd peoples.

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