Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Blinkered Views

Mainstream media coverage of the situation in Iraq after the elections seems to be verging on the schizophrenic.

Demonstrations against the provisional/expected results have been given a fair bit of coverage.

MSNBC (A.P.) 24/12 :
On Friday [23/12], large demonstrations broke out across the country amid charges that the election was rigged in favor of the main religious Shiite coalition. Several hundred thousand people demonstrated after noon prayers in southern Baghdad Friday, many carrying banners decrying last week’s elections.
USA Today 26/12 :
Over the weekend, thousands of Sunni Arabs staged street demonstrations in Baghdad and other cities with large Sunni populations, claiming that the elections were tainted by fraud and calling for a new vote under international supervision. In a counterdemonstration, Shiites in the capital on Sunday demanded acceptance of the Dec. 15 results...

"We will resort to peaceful options, including protests, civil disobedience and a boycott of the national process until our demands are met," said Hassan Zaidan al-Lahaibi, member of the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Front for National Dialogue.
BBC 27/12 :
Thousands of Iraqis have staged a protest in Baghdad about results from the recent parliamentary elections, which they say were tainted by fraud. Demonstrators chanted slogans alleging the polls were rigged in favour of the governing Shia religious bloc.
The secular and Sunni protests against what they see as religious Shiite manipulation of the election results have not been ignored.* The renewed violence has also been getting the standard low level coverage.

ABC (A.P.) 26/12 :
Violence increased across Iraq after a lull following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, with at least two dozen people including a U.S. soldier killed Monday in shootings and bombings mostly targeting the Shiite-dominated security services.
CNN 26/12 :
Violence claimed the lives of 21 people in Iraq, including a U.S. soldier, a university lecturer and a member of the Diyala provincial council, officials said Monday. More than 50 people were wounded, including a provincial governor.
Reports like these are sadly all too familiar.

The western MSM does not appear to be even slightly interested in providing coverage of the significance of the provisional/expected results of the election though.** For that, you need to go elsewhere.

Asia Times 20/12 :
Iran wins big in Iraq's elections
The prognosis that Sunnis would flock to Allawi or that Shi'ite constituents were disillusioned with the "fundamentalist" UIA and would be drawn to Allawi's secular platform has also proved to be highly faulty...

Iran has, therefore, every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the election. Tehran sees that Iraq is now irreversibly on the verge of profound change, and transition is already in the air.
Inter Press Service 26/12 :
Before last January's elections, Allawi's defence minister, Hazim al-Shaalan, publicly referred to the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance slate as the "Iranian list"....

For Shiite party leaders, U.S. pressure to share state power with secular or Sunni representatives -- especially on internal security -- touches a raw nerve. They regard control over the organs of state repression as the key to maintaining a Shiite regime in power.

If Abdul Aziz al-Hakin and other SCIRI leaders feel they have to choose between relying on U.S. military protection and the security of their regime, they are likely to choose the latter. They could counter U.S. pressures by warning they will demand a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops if the United States continues to interfere in such politically sensitive matters.
These issues seem to be entirely missing from most of the media's coverage of the current situation in Iraq. Is there a rule about this? Don't mention Iran. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it... What's the story? I thought the western media was supposed to be run by wishy washy liberals desperate for Bush's Iraq project to fail. Shouldn't they be gloating gleefully about this? Apparently not.

The sad truth is that the invasion of Iraq has empowered Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq and Iran. When the dust settles the "Iranian list" is going to be the largest party in Iraq with 120 - 130 seats out of a total of 275.

This post isn't about gloating. This is about the truth. News reporting is supposed to be about that too.

* It is certainly possible, likely even, that religious parties have suppressed the secular vote in various ways. Their militias have considerable power at the local level. It surprises me that so many people are happy to declare these elections "free and fair". Maybe they were but it's hard to see how anyone could be sure of that at this stage.

** The Financial Times is the only western media source I found who did cover Rafsanjani's comments but it's behind a firewall so who knows what they actually said.

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