Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Five years on (2)

E-mail to the Radio Times:
I suppose I should be used to the media's distortions on Iraq, but to describe Saddam Hussein's Iraq as "liberal" beggars belief (David Butcher's review of 'The Iraq war by numbers'). Try asking the Kurds, who are just seeing the 20th anniversary of the attack on Halabja and are still suffering from its long-term health consequences, as the BBC's Jim Muir reports; or the Shi'a in the south, who were massacred after their uprising in 1991.
The programme referred to was Rageh Omaar's on ITV1 on Monday, 17 Mar.

Channel 4 News (17 Mar) report on Iraq was reasonably balanced. They looked at Haifa Street. First, the US surge took on insurgents, with Iraqi army forces, which were mainly Shi'a and accused of human rights abuses. Then, the "awakening council" fought against al Qaeda. Now the street is quiet. (The views of their assistant foreign editor, Tim Lambon, could be found in the New Statesman, recently.)

Peter Oborne's 'Dispatches', though, was the usual stuff.
Jon Snow, in 'Hidden Iraq' (18 Mar), talked about the "positive spin" put on the surge. Does it never occur to him that he is determined to put on a negative spin? Thus, security measures equal "paranoia". He too talked of a "united, secular country" under Saddam. He manages to find a young boy vowing to fight against "the occupation".

Attacks on Sunday (23 Mar). The suicide attack using a fuel tanker on an army base in Mosul appears to be an al Qaeda operation, linked to the Sunni insurgency. Mortars and rockets fired into the "Green Zone" seem to have been carried out by Shi'a militia - David Petraeus told the BBC that they were by Iranian backed forces. One report is that the attack was triggered by the arrest of a member of Muqtada al-Sadr's militia. Another theory is that the upsurge in violence is an anti-Christian thing, timed to coincide with Easter.


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