11 January 2004
The latest reports to come out of Iraq reveal an ever growing level of resistance not only to US plans to create a puppet government for the country but to the occupation as a whole, not that you’d know it from Western news coverage aside that is from the (predictable) coverage of the statement by Ali Sistani, the leader of the Shi’ia Muslim community opposed to the July date for an interim ‘government’ and the massive rally in Basra, the supposedly ‘stable’ area of the country, ruled by the British.
Predictable because opposition to the occupation is always framed in the context of religious, ethnic or political groups, thus denying the Iraqi people a national identity that would enable firstly, for the Western reader to identify with them as a nation and secondly, it presents the opposition as something that originates from within ‘sectarian’ groupings, who have some kind of ‘hidden agenda’ not connected to national aspirations.
So by the subtle tactic of fragmenting opposition to the invasion and occupation, the corporate press achieve two objectives. Firstly, nobody can accuse them of actually lying about events in Iraq and secondly, it minimises the real level of opposition and the legitimacy of the opposition is denied to the Iraqi people as a whole.
So for example, in today’s (16/1/04, p. 30) Independent, we read “Iraq’s Shia Muslims march to demand early elections”. Hence opposition to the occupation is presented not as Iraqi opposition to the occupation but opposition from a particular religious sect within the population, albeit one that suffered under Saddam’s rule. And in any case generally, coverage is limited only to the largest (and most visible and most vocal) displays of resistance. The daily deaths, arrests and humiliations, just as in occupied Palestine, get passed over.
Moreover, the Independent’s story leads with the idea that oppposition is because under the US plan, the Shi’ia ‘majority’ would be “denied political power if a new assembly is selected indirectly by caucuses.” The story also claims as established fact, that the Shi’ia are 60% of the population, though where this number originates from has never been made clear to the Independent’s readers, it’s just assumed to be fact. In reality, there is no basis for this claim whatsoever, and I challenge the Independent to produce its evidence to back up this claim (a claim echoed by the BBC).
To ascertain the real nature of the resistance, one has to cast a wider net. GI Special for example, in just two issues (15 and 16/01/04) carried the following stories that give a much more accurate reflection of just how broad and deep not only the level of resistance is to the occupation, but the fact that the occupation forces are unable to deal with it:
Two Dead In Attack On U.S. Corporation Convoy AFP, From correspondents in Tikrit, Iraq, January 15, 2004
Car Bomb Devastates Occupation Police Station 14 Jan 2004 ITV.com January 14, 2004 & By Paul Garwood, Associated Press
Hand Grenades Thrown At U.S. Military Administrators Meeting Associated Press, 1/14/2004
Helicopter Crews Dread The Six O’clock Shadow; Iraqi Insurgents Take Deadly Aim At Aircraft From Behind (Washington Post, January 14, 2004, Pg. 14)
Crowds Chant “Bush You Coward;” Relative Of Arrested Bride Says:
They Know We Will Come To Them”
By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press January 13, 2004
Iraqi Cops Arrested For Aiding The
Resistance Iraqi Resistance Report for 14 January 2004. Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr, member, editorial board the Free Arab Voice.
“Curse The Americans, Curse Them” (Washington Post, January 13, 2004, Pg. 1)
Family Slaughtered At Checkpoint By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press January 13, 2004
First Hand Report: The Unemployed Soldiers Demonstrations In Basra
Occupation Watch report from Occupied Basra 1/11/04 Ewa Jasiewicz http://www.occupationwatch.org/
Resistance Shoots Down Another U.S. Chopper West of Baghdad
January 13, 2004 BAGHDAD (Reuters) & By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press January 13, 2004
Fallujah, Heart Of The Fight For National Independence: Increasingly Determined Resistance Meets “Increasingly Plummeting Soldier Morale;”
“There Are No Areas Where The Threat Is Low”
Peter Beaumont Sunday January 11, 2004, The Observer
The War In Fallujah Jan. 10, 2004 By Hannah Allam, Philadelphia INQUIRER FOREIGN STAFF
Demonstrations Demand Release Of Prisoners BBC Monitoring Middle East. London: Jan 9, 2004
Unemployed Shiites Fight Ukrainian Soldiers By Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press January 13, 2004
Iraqi Detainee Gets To Go Home–With Tale of Ordeal; Grocer Nabbed From Home Tells of Harsh Questioning; Burned With A Cigarette By Farnaz Fassihi Wall St. Journal 1.13.03
Sources: GI Special Issues 2.9 and 2.10
Fifteen stories in a couple of days of reporting that give I believe, an indication of just how widespread opposition to the occupation really is, yet where is the reflection of this reality in the Western media? It’s only by reading multiple sources of news, not something the ‘average’ person is going to do, that one gets something like the full picture.
Moreover, the same story in the Independent, on closer scrutiny actually reveals a very different view of events as it’s clear that opposition to the occupation consists of an entire spectrum of reasons, from the illigitimacy of the forthcoming ‘elections’, unemployment, the indiscriminate arrest and murder of the Iraqi people, denial of rights, ‘carpet-bagging’ and cronyism, that cut right through all the alleged ethnic and religious ‘divisions’ that are supposedly the main reasons for the opposition.
The story refers to a ‘riot’ earlier in the week in Kut over jobs and the resulting deaths as the police and the British and US armies fired on the demonstrators; the issue of relatives and friends getting jobs through bribes; the falling standard of living since the fall of Saddam; the failure of the interim Iraqi Governing Council to deal with the issues that confront the country.
Had the Independent’s headline said something like “Iraqi national resistance to the occupation spreads and deepens”, one would have more respect for its coverage, but as long as it continues to peddle the ethnic/religious line, one can only conclude that it’s the Western media that has the hidden agenda, namely to minimise and fragment the nature of the resistance in order to comply with the propaganda line that Iraq is not a ‘real’ country’ but a collection of ‘tribes’. That without the West’s ‘civilising’ power, the place will descend into anarchy as its ‘warring factions’ slug it out.
Meanwhile, the pirates in Washington DC, continue to be exposed for the bunch of gangsters, hypocrites and looters of Iraq that they really are, even as they lay down the law for their captive subjects:
Iraqi Threat To Kill US Broadcasting Deal By Nicolas Pelham in Amman and Joshua Chaffin in Washington FT.com site; Jan 09, 2004
Iraqi Minister Threatens To Quit If Money For Electricity Network Not Paid BBC Monitoring Middle East. London: Jan 10, 2004
Bush Disputes Ex-Official’s Claim That Iraq War Was Early Goal (New York Times, January 13, 2004)
Pentagon Auditor Requests Probe Of Bush Buddies At Halliburton; Vice-Presidents’ Corporation On The Hot Seat (Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2004)
Pentagon Officials Caught Faking Records; 47 Days’ Worth Of Criminal Fraud Done In Advance Of Review LARRY MARGASAK Associated Press Jan. 11, 2004
Military Lawyers Challenge Bush; President Claiming “Monarchial” Powers By Jess Bravin and ROBERT S. GREENBERGER Wall St. Journal 1.13.03