Sunday, December 16, 2012

Editorial: How did they miss that?

Iraq is an oil-rich country of approximately 30 million people and there are many stories to cover.  The US press has long seemed to be hung up chiefly on the oil -- reflecting the US government's own interest in Iraq.  But they have managed to cover other stories out of Iraq.

So how is it that a major protest -- one that lasted days -- which took place last week didn't get coverage?

Oh, it must not have been in Baghdad, right?

Because so many of the non-Iraqi reporters are little more than human veal and Baghdad acts as their cage.  So if it doesn't happen in Baghdad, it didn't happen.

But, thing is, Baghdad was one of the places it did take place in.

On Monday, Nouri al-Maliki supposedly gave a speech on human rights but the speech was really Nouri blasting people for talking about the abuse of women in Iraqi prisons and to trash cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

Moqtada's supporters did not take kindly to this.  Here's Baghdad on Tuesday.

dar addustour

kitabat 2

al mada

 all iraq news

See all those protesters?  The protests were noted in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot":

In Basra and Baghdad today, protests took place against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  Al Mada reports photos of Nouri were burned and he was denounced loudly.  As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Nouri used a Monday speech allegedly about human rights to attack Moqtada al-Sadr -- cleric and movement leader.  Dar Addustour adds "thousands" poured into the streets in Baghdad at two o'clock in the afternoon.  As they marched to a central location, Muzaffar Square, they chanted slogans.  Nouri can take comfort in that his wasn't the only photo burned -- there were also a few photos of former leader Saddam Hussein that were set on fire.   All Iraq News notes that as the protests took place, Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement noting that the Iraqi army must be armed but not via corrupt deals (like the Russian deal Nouri signed and then called off) and that all arms must be to defend Iraq and not used to attack Iraqis.  Please note that all three previous links have a photo of the turnout in Baghdad, it was huge.  Just how large it was may be best captured in the photo Kitabat runs.  At the Basra protest, Sheikh Khalid al-Issawi tells Al Mada that the protest is to convey the outrage over Nouri's verbal attack on Moqtada while, in Baghdad, Sheikh Taha Altablawbawi explains that the people of Sadr City, elders, intellectuals, children, all, are serving notice that attacks on Moqtada al-Sadr will not go unnoticed and will result in a response. Protester Sam Abdul-Mahdi tells Alsumaria that this is the start of protests in Basra and that Nouri should retract his attack on Moqtada.  The Iraq Times reports that Nouri ordered helicopters to fly overhead during the Baghdad protest and that some Sadrists saw that as an attempt at intimidation.
Al Mada reports that Iraqiya is warning that if changes do not take place in Iraq quickly, popular uprisings will take to the streets.  Protests were taking place around Iraq in January.  Demonstrators were calling out the disappearance of their loved ones into the 'justice system,' they were calling out the lack of jobs and the lack of basic services.  This swelled into the massive protests that took place across Iraq February 25th.  Iraqis took to the streets and, in Baghdad, Nouri sent his forces to attack.  Iraqi reporters were kidnapped by the police after covering the protests, they were then tortured and forced to sign statements saying they had not been tortured.  Haidi al-Mahdi was one of those reporters.  It was after the protests, he and some other reporters were ordering lunch and seated a table when Nouri's forces barged over, used the butt of their guns to strike people and rounded up Haidi and the other reporters.

And the protests didn't end the day they started.  As noted in Friday's "Iraq snapshot," "Al Mada notes that protesters also showed their support for Moqtada on Wednesday in Baghdad, Najaf, Basra and Maysan and that they called out Nouri and burned photos of Nouri.  Al Mada reports that the protests continued in Baghdad and Najaf today for the fourth consecutive day.  If you're not aware of those protests, it's because the non-Iraqi media hasn't been reporting them."

So where was the coverage?

Massive protests against a sitting leader, he is denounced at the protests, his pictures are burned at the protests -- where are the US reports of this happening?

The US installed Saddam Hussein.  He's the tyrant they would turn on.  But for many years, the US government was more than happy to do business with him.  In the eighties, for example, he and Donald Rumsfeld (who would become US Secretary of Defense in 2001) were very tight.  But as tight as Rumsfeld and other US officials were with Hussein, even tighter was the US press.  In fact, Eason Jordan would take to The New York Times after the start of the Iraq War to whine about how CNN wasn't able to report the truth about Saddam Hussein.

It appears the US 'news' industry is yet again censoring itself.  In 2019 or so, when the world is going on about what a tyrant Nouri al-Maliki is (and he is, he shut down another TV station in Baghdad on Saturday and is threatening a newspaper editor currently) and wondering how it happened and where were the reporters, remember, they knew what was happening.

They just didn't report it.

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