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News, 19-26/03/03 (11) JOURNALS OF THE PLAGUE YEAR * Web logs offer up-close and uncensored views on the war * Al-Jazeera screens gruesome footage of battle casualties * Iraq displays dead and captured US soldiers * NYSE shows Al-Jazeera the door RADIO FREE EUROPE ARAB PRESS REVIEW 20th-26th March JOURNALS OF THE PLAGUE YEAR http://www.iht.com/articles/90796.html * WEB LOGS OFFER UP-CLOSE AND UNCENSORED VIEWS ON THE WAR by Lee Dembart International Herald Tribune, 24th March PARIS: One of the major technological advances between the first Gulf War and the current one has nothing to do with sophisticated weapons but a lot to do with information: the World Wide Web. It allows anyone, anywhere to post information, thoughts, pictures and opinions that can be viewed instantaneously around the globe, and several reporters have established Web logs on the war. These experiments in personal journalism are the latest developments in the gathering and dissemination of news that the Internet has sparked. Unlike traditional media, they operate without layers of decision makers and gatekeepers - editors - who select what readers and viewers will see and who also provide quality control. Most of the Web logs - or, simply, blogs - are coming from the war zone, so they provide firsthand reporting and not just more opinions. At their best, they provide a personal, low-level view of events that tends not to be the focus of the major media. On the war blogs, anyone can add comments, which further gives them a personal tone that distinguishes them from newspapers, television and radio. Nonetheless, a review of what has been posted in the past couple of weeks shows relatively few screeds. One of the war blogs is the work of Kevin Sites, a CNN reporter in northern Iraq who had been posting observations and photographs from there at www.kevinsites.net - and attracting a fair amount of comment from readers. His photographs in particular show a very human side to life in Iraq. Last Friday, Sites announced on the blog that CNN had told him to stop. "I don't want to let you down," Sites told his readers. "I'm chronicling the events of my war experiences, the same as I always have, and I hope to come to agreement with CNN in the near future to make them available to you in some shape or form, perhaps on this site." "Thanks for participating in this remarkable forum," he wrote. "It's been a remarkable experience to be your witness here." In response to an inquiry, CNN issued a statement that said, "Covering a war for CNN and its 35 international networks and services is a full-time job, so we asked Kevin to concentrate only on that for the time being." Sites did not respond to an e-mail request to discuss what had occurred or its implications. BBC reporters in the war zone have their own Web log under BBC auspices to record "their impressions and personal experiences as they watch events unfold," according to the site, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/$ 2866547.stm. On Thursday night, Ryan Dilley reported from Kuwait: "There can be few things as sickening as being woken from sleep by the banshee wail of a siren threatening an incoming missile. The air raid warnings, which come long after dark, seem all the more menacing. The all-clear comes only after anxious minutes of imagined explosions." Another American reporter's war blog is being run by Christopher Allbritton, a free-lance writer who formerly worked for The Associated Press and The New York Daily News. He is still in New York and is asking readers to contribute money so that he can get to Iraq. In the meantime, he gathers news and links on the war from many sources and posts them, with commentary, on his blog, www.back-to-iraq.com. He also provides many details of the equipment he is gathering to take to the war. Sometimes the absence of quality control shows. On Wednesday morning, Allbritton posted an item under the headline, "Tariq Aziz reportedly shot dead," that said: "Some conflicting reports here: Some rumors (from Al Jazeera) report that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has fled to Turkey and defected. (No links yet that I can find. Source is U.S. Army.) But another report on Al Bawaba reports that he was caught trying to enter Iraqi Kurdistan and shot dead." Three hours later, another item went up: "Aziz not dead," the headline said. "Rumors unfounded." Allbritton explained: "CNN and other media are reporting that Aziz has held a press conference saying he has not defected. And if he's holding press conference, it's doubtful he's dead." Also, www.dearraed.blogspot.com is a war blog run by an Iraqi in Baghdad who calls himself Salam Pax. On Thursday morning he reported on the city after the first night's bombing: "Today in the morning I went with my father for a ride around Baghdad and there was nothing different from yesterday. There is no curfew and cars can be seen speeding to places here and there. Shops are closed. Only some bakeries are open and of course the Ba'ath Party Centers. There are more Ba'ath people in the streets and they have more weapons. No army in the streets. We obviously still have electricity, phones are still working and we got to phone calls from abroad so the international lines are still working. Water is still running." On Friday he reported: "On BBC we are watching scenes of Iraqis surrendering. My youngest cousin was muttering 'what shame' to himself, yes it is better for them to do that but still seeing them carrying that white flag makes something deep inside you cringe." http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,920703,00.html * AL-JAZEERA SCREENS GRUESOME FOOTAGE OF BATTLE CASUALTIES by Brian Whitaker The Guardian, 24th March Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel which angered the United States with its coverage of the Afghan war, has caused a new furore by broadcasting blood-and-guts images from the invasion of Iraq. Millions of viewers throughout the Middle East saw pictures of Iraqi and American victims at the weekend which many western news organisations would consider too shocking to publish. One showed the head of a child, aged about 12, that had been split apart, reportedly in the assault on Basra. Others came from northern Iraq, where US missiles were fired at the Kurdish Islamist Ansar al-Islam organisation. Yesterday al-Jazeera relayed footage of Iraqi television's interviews with five captured US soldiers, which the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, denounced as a breach of the Geneva conventions. But the channel was unrepentant. "Look who's talking about international law and regulations," its spokesman, Jihad Ballout, said. "We didn't make the pictures - the pictures are there. It's a facet of the war. Our duty is to show the war from all angles." During the 1991 Gulf war the Middle East relied on CNN and other western broadcasters for breaking news. But since its launch in 1996 al-Jazeera's coverage has made it the most watched Arab channel. It made its name in the west during the war in Afghanistan and seems about to repeat the achievement. Al-Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, which is cooperating with the US in the invasion of Iraq, but its staff insist it has full editorial freedom. The station, whose main studio in the Qatari capital Doha is a few minutes' drive from General Tommy Franks's Centcom headquarters, was accused of irresponsibility during the Afghan war for broadcasting taped messages from Osama bin Laden. But as the only television station with a permanent base in Kabul it became the source of exclusive footage that other channels were eager to buy. The Kabul office was destroyed by US "smart" bombs two hours before the Northern Alliance took over the city, and many suspect it was no accident. In Iraq al-Jazeera is taking no chances: it has supplied the US with the geographical coordinates of its Baghdad office and the code of its signal to the satellite transponder. It has seven reporters and a back-up team of 20 working independently in Iraq, plus others "embedded" with the US and British forces. Before the war its executives predicted that their team would have an advantage over western journalists because of their familiarity with Iraq and fluency in Arabic. Yesterday it broadcast a long interview with an Iraqi general in Basra denying that coalition forces had taken the city, and filmed the search in Baghdad for two western pilots who had allegedly baled out over the city. "Our success is a factor of our people's networking in Iraq, and their ability to anticipate events through contacts on the ground," Mr Ballout said. To some this simply turns the channel into a mouthpiece for Iraqi propaganda. Yesterday's pictures of US corpses could affect morale - reviving the "body bag syndrome" that was a big factor in Vietnam - and images of Iraqi victims may fuel anti-war protests. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3251567&thesection=news&t hesubsection=world * IRAQ DISPLAYS DEAD AND CAPTURED US SOLDIERS New Zealand Herald, 24th March BAGHDAD (Reuters): Iraq has displayed five shaken US soldiers apparently captured in a battle near the southern city of Nassiriya and some bloodied bodies, in what US officials called a violation of the Geneva Convention. Iraqi television filmed the bodies and prisoners, saying they fell into Iraqi hands during a battle at the town of Souq al-Shuyukh, southeast of Nassiriya where US forces have encountered stiff resistance. The video showed two rooms each containing what appeared to be two separate groups of four bodies in uniform, at least two with wounds to the head and some lying in pools of blood. The film then showed interviews with five separate captured soldiers, two of whom appeared to be injured -- one a woman, the other a man lying on a rug on the floor. They were the first US prisoners known to have been taken by Iraq since US-led forces invaded four days ago to overthrow President Saddam Hussein. The prisoners gave their names and home towns and one provided his military identification number. Lieutenant General John Abizaid, second in command of the US invasion force, later said 12 US soldiers were missing. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the video was a violation of the Geneva Convention but added that the capture of Americans would not alter US war plans, saying display of such footage was "obviously part of Iraqi propaganda". The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) agreed the footage violated the convention, which says that prisoners of war must be protected "against insult and public curiosity", and said it would seek permission to visit the captives. Television footage of Iraqis surrendering to US and British forces, and still photographs of Iraqi prisoners, some showing the captives in humiliating positions, won wide play in the US media on Sunday. Iraq's Defence Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed said Iraq would respect the Geneva Convention in its treatment of prisoners. "Iraq will not harm the captured prisoners of war," he said. The bodies, mostly still fully clothed but some with their shirts pulled up, were shown strewn on the floor in pools of blood. In the first room, at least two had wounds to the head and another had a groin wound. In another room, a smiling Iraqi uncovered more bodies, some with blackened faces. The first prisoner shown, a nervous soldier in glasses, gave his name as Miller and said he was from Kansas. Asked why he had come to Iraq he replied: "Because I was told to come here. I was just under orders. I was told to shoot -- only if I'm shot at. I don't want to kill anybody." Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US defence official said the missing US personnel were probably members of a maintenance unit that was operating in southern Iraq. Two of the prisoners shown by Iraqi television said they were from the 507th Maintenance Company. The 507th Corps Support Group provides supplies, equipment, repairs and maintenance and would usually provide support as far forward as possible to the 82nd Airborne Division, the 3rd Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. US officers said Marines battling Iraqi guerrillas for Nassiriya, on the Euphrates river about 375 km southeast of Baghdad, had taken "significant" casualties in a fight to open a route north to the Iraqi capital. The second prisoner shown, who gave his name as Joseph Hudson, said he came from El Paso, Texas. Asked why he had come to Iraq, he said: "I follow orders". He was asked repeatedly whether he was greeted by guns or flowers by Iraqis, but appeared not to understand the question. A third man who appeared to have a broken arm, was lying on a red patterned rug, but was pulled into a sitting position to answer questions. He gave his name as Edgar from Texas and said only that he had entered Iraq from Kuwait. A fourth prisoner gave his name as Sergeant James Riley from New Jersey and said he was 31 years old. He appeared to be in shock, turning his head from side to side. The fifth, a woman who gave her name as Shawna, said she was 30 and had a bandaged ankle. Appearing on CBS television, Rumsfeld was shown the footage, which was relayed around the world by the Arabic network Al-Jazeera, and said it violated the Geneva Convention, which he said prohibited the photographing or interrogation by media of those captured in battle. Rumsfeld later criticised networks for airing such footage. Noting that the United States now had in custody more than 2000 Iraqis, he called on Baghdad to abide by international law and treat US captives "just as we treat Iraqi prisoners according to the Geneva Convention". http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030325.wnyse325/BNStory/Bu siness * NYSE SHOWS AL-JAZEERA THE DOOR by PAUL WALDIE Globe and Mail, 25th March When Ammar Al-Sankari arrived at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning to do his daily business report for the Al-Jazeera television network, he was ushered into a room and told to hand over his press badge. Mr. Al-Sankari had been doing reports from the NYSE on a freelance basis for Al-Jazeera since 1999 and had never received any complaints. "They told me, 'We are cutting back on broadcasting so you need to give us your badge and there won't be any more reporting for Al-Jazeera from the exchange,'" Mr. Al-Sankari said Tuesday in an interview from New York where he runs a financial news Web site. His colleague, Ramsey Shiber, another Al-Jazeera freelancer, was also told to hand over his credentials. Mr. Al-Sankari, the only Arab-language broadcaster at the NYSE, said he was stunned. For years, NYSE officials had told him how much they welcomed his coverage because it reached a huge untapped group of investors. But that all changed last weekend when Al-Jazeera, a satellite news service based in Qatar, began broadcasting pictures of dead and captured American soldiers in Iraq. The exchange's official position Tuesday was that Al-Jazeera's credentials had been revoked as part of a reorganization of media positions, even though it was the only media outlet dropped. "We've focused primarily on those [broadcasters] who investors look to for business and financial news and unfortunately at this point that means we can't accommodate Al Jazeera," said Ray Pellecchia, an exchange spokesman. "Over time we have had to limit the number of [reporters] broadcasting from here because of security precautions." Privately, an exchange official said the real reason was Al-Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war. "A factor in our consideration was Al-Jazeera's carrying of images of captured or downed allied troops," said the official who asked not to be identified. Mr. Al-Sankari said the NYSE's actions left him more sad than angry. "I enjoy the freedom and freedom of speech and all of the things that this country provides," he said, adding that he is a landed immigrant from Lebanon. "To hear that, it's just one more thing that we are not happy about as Arab Americans. I wonder who made this decision. It's just not very smart." Mr. Al-Sankari said his NYSE reports for Al-Jazeera consisted of one two-minute segment every morning. "We strictly report what happens in the stock market that day. We don't talk politics." Al-Jazeera said Tuesday that it regretted the NYSE's decision and defended its reporting from Iraq. "In its coverage of the war in Iraq, Al-Jazeera has broadcast footage of both Iraqi and U.S. casualties," the station said in a statement issued from its Washington bureau. "We urge the NYSE to reconsider its decision in the interests of upholding the values of the United States of America. We also sympathize deeply with the families of all victims of war." Seven-year-old Al-Jazeera has become a powerful media force and reaches approximately 40 million people, mainly in the Middle East. The station, financed by Qatar's ruling family, has become an influential source of news and has caught the attention of politicians in Washington. The U.S. military offered the news service choice "embedded" positions with U.S. troops and assigned it special media relations officers. But the station's recent showing of captured U.S. soldiers and its perceived anti-American reporting have been criticized by many Americans. Bob Steele, a director of the Florida-based Poynter Institute for Media Studies, said the NYSE's decision sets a dangerous precedent. "It says that journalists can be expelled or banned from coverage of important venues because of what their news organizations are broadcasting or publishing," Mr. Steele said Tuesday. "I understand their position in arguing that they are a private operation," he added. "But it still says that they can determine on a particular day that they don't like Al-Jazeera. Tomorrow they may not like The New York Times or The Globe and Mail. If they in some way are punishing particular journalists for their coverage, that is obviously a real challenge to freedom of the press." The NYSE's move wasn't the only problem facing Al-Jazeera Tuesday. The news service said hackers attacked its English language Web site making it unavailable. The Web site began operating Monday. Ayman Arrashid, Internet system administrator at the Horizons Media and Information Services, the site's Web host, said the attack began Tuesday morning. Another Web site, YellowTimes.org, said it was shut down briefly on Sunday after showing pictures of captured American soldiers. Erich Marquadt, editor of YellowTimes, told Reuters that the Orlando, Fla.-based Web hosting company Vortech Inc. had first grounded the site on Sunday night after he posted six photos of American POWs plucked from news footage first aired by Qatar-based Al Jazeera television. Mr. Marquadt said Vortech cited viewer complaints and argued that the images constituted a breach of the company's usage agreements. "They said we violated the adult content clause," he said. Vortech was unavailable for comment. http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=focusIraqNews&storyID=245453 1 * NASDAQ STOCK MARKET TURNS AWAY AL JAZEERA by Nicole Maestri Reuters, 26th March NEW YORK (Reuters) - Arabic-language television network al Jazeera, banned this week from airing live market reports from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, has also been turned down by the Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. Al Jazeera asked Nasdaq on Tuesday for permission to broadcast live reports from its building in Times Square, Nasdaq spokeswoman Silvia Davi said, but the request was denied. She would not expand on why the Nasdaq refused. The NYSE this week revoked credentials that allowed two al Jazeera reporters to broadcast from its fabled trading floor on Wall Street, saying its credentials were for networks that provided "responsible" coverage. Some in the news business said the ban violated freedom of the press and set a bad precedent. "This is ridiculous," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a media watchdog group in Washington, D.C. "Clearly, it is a violation of press freedom." Al Jazeera has been criticized in the United States for broadcasting Iraqi television footage of U.S. prisoners of war and Iraqi casualties. Al Jazeera had been reporting from the NYSE for four or five years, said NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia. He said the NYSE has a finite number of broadcast slots available, and wants to give priority to networks that "investors look to find out what's going on in the market." Of the 25 or so networks that broadcast from the NYSE trading floor, al Jazeera is the only network to lose its credentials. Al Jazeera said on Tuesday it regretted the NYSE decision. "We urge the NYSE to reconsider its decision in the interest of upholding the values of the United States of America," the network said in a statement. The NYSE is not reconsidering, Pellecchia said on Wednesday. Al Jazeera could not immediately be reached for further comment. RADIO FREE EUROPE ARAB PRESS REVIEW http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2003.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 20th March Jordan's "Al-Dustour": Basim Sakajha fears that war may well begin by the time his words make their way to readers, and wonders how that war will end. "We write without knowing whether people will read this while they watch missiles rain down on Iraq and tanks tear into its soil, or whether this spectacle will be delayed by a few hours. We write this on local time, but the world around us lives on the Eastern Standard Time of North America. The whole world can change in the seven hours' difference between us. "The world, and all of us as well, can only remain glued to the television screen, following the military operation American-style -- with missiles striking targets accurately, tanks easily occupying ground, and, of course, organized scenes of joy at the entrance of the invading forces, fabricated demonstrations tearing apart pictures of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, destroying his statues. We will have to watch all of this. It is an important part of the psychological battle that began almost an entire year ago. We write this without knowing whether the morning will bring with it the beginning of war. But as we write, we know in advance how it will start, just as the Americans do. Yet no one knows how it will develop in the next week, or how Washington will win the peace at the end of the struggle, especially if the war drags on, if resistance sets in, if the victims run into the tens, or hundreds, of thousands...." Britain's "Al-Hayat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Columnist Abd al-Wahhab Badr Khan claims that the United States is following Israel's example in its war on Iraq. "America will begin its program of preemptive war with Iraq. In the future, no one will be able to prevent it from targeting any other country merely because it fails to follow American dictates. Future wars will not necessarily follow the same plan. Yet the war against Iraq, with its calamities, destruction, and victims, will be instructive. This may be the first war of its kind, but it surely copies, on a greater scale, what the Israelis did a year ago when they reoccupied the Palestinian territories. The style, pretext, and results are the same. The destruction, claim of combating terrorism, and occupation are the same. The only difference is that now the world's only superpower is the occupying country." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Columnist Khalid al-Qashtini writes that the Iraqi regime will end in a bitter farce. "Several days ago, a group of suicide attackers paraded down the street [in Baghdad] with explosive belts worn above clean, white clothes. Suicide attackers are supposed to hide their belts under their shirts, but in Baghdad they show them to the enemy. When the war becomes a reality, this suicide division will be the first act in the comedy. The authorities will not be able to find one of them who is ready to sacrifice his life for the "victorious" leader. The first act in the comedy will come when battle begins and the troops raise white handkerchiefs instead of rifles. The second act will come when Iraqi cities rise up against those who have tormented them for years. The third act will come when the masses come out to shower American and English soldiers with roses and sweet basil. The curtain of liberation will fall. I remember reports on the war in Kuwait. The announcer said that the Americans came with 8,000 body bags. I said to my friends, "The Americans are naive and wasteful. They won't need those bags. No one will fight them." My prediction soon came true. And my latest prediction will soon come true as well." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): The editors attempt to identify what is clear, and what remains unclear, about the war. "The clarity of the United States' determination to wage war on Iraq is matched by the fog that has enveloped the region and its concerns. It is clear that there will be a war, but unclear what sort of war it will be and how far it will go. It is clear that the target is Baghdad and the leadership of the Iraqi regime, but unclear how many victims there will be and how much destruction. It is clear that the aim is military domination and occupation, but unclear what kind of regime will emerge and how it will rule the country and its citizens. It is clear that the theater of war is Iraq, but unclear where postwar policy will unfold and how many countries it will encompass. It is clear that Israel will not participate in the war, but unclear whether it will take part in collecting and distributing the spoils of war." Egypt's "Al-Gomhuria": Samir Rajab looks ahead to what might follow an American victory in Iraq. "Let us be honest with ourselves and admit that America is now the sole, unrivaled great power and that it will retain this status for a long time to come. It will score a decisive victory in its battle against Iraq. "Yet the positive and negative aspects of the stage to follow will depend on Washington's goodwill and conduct, and whether it keeps the promises it has made -- to establish a democratic government in Iraq that provides for greater popular participation, to refrain from plundering Iraq's natural wealth, namely its oil. The situation could stabilize and chaos could be kept to a minimum, especially if Washington moves quickly to establish a Palestinian state in the Middle East. "But if greed prevents Washington from keeping its promises, equilibrium will be lost and chaos will ensue. Acts of violence and reprisal will shake many regions of the planet." Syria's "Tishreen": The editors predict that U.S. President George W. Bush will be called to account for a war on Iraq. "President Bush's administration is directly responsible for the blood of each child killed in Iraq, for the blood of each man and woman killed by American missiles and bombs. History records, and it does not forgive. The peoples of the world do not merely observe. They also call to account. [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair, America's closest ally in this unjust war, has begun to pay the price to his people, his ministers, and the members of his parliament. "The bill is certainly steep -- morally, humanly, historically. The triumvirate of this American war will pay the price to their people sooner or later. At stake are the lives of millions, and the future of a country with a 5,000-year history that has originated five cultures and once formed the sovereign center of the world." http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2103.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 21st March Britain's "Al-Quds al-Arabi" (pan-Arab, Palestinian expatriate): The editors denounce the war and the Arab inaction that abets it. "The American massacre began last night in Baghdad, Mosul, Nasiriyah, and most other Iraqi cities. Smoke and tongues of flame rose from residential neighborhoods. The news was of thousands burned to death or crushed beneath the rubble. American weapons of mass destruction are pounding Iraq's children and destroying its infrastructure in a genocidal war with no historical precedent. "Shame on the Arab nation that stands watching this crime. Shame on the nation that stands by and watches as steadfast Baghdad is burned and destroyed. "Shame on the Arab leaders who are content to blame the Iraqi regime and hold it responsible for what has happened. It listened to their advice, did their bidding, and cooperated with inspectors and the resolutions of the United Nations. "No words can describe how the Arabs have betrayed this fraternal country and its people. Nor can they describe the destructive American hate for this nation. Pictures speak louder than words, yet their eloquence has brought no blush of shame to the faces of Arab leaders." Britain's "Al-Quds al-Arabi" (pan-Arab, Palestinian expatriate): Abd al-Bari Atwan condemns the war and foresees bitter resistance. "To write in the language of analysis and reason becomes a form of collaboration as fires blaze in Baghdad's buildings and mosques, incinerating its innocent inhabitants, its children. It is a sin no less than the sin of masking this aggression by laying blame on the Iraqi leadership. It is a flight from the moral responsibility of standing at the side of a fraternal country that faces the greatest massacres in history. "Iraq will become a base for resistance, as was the case in Afghanistan and Beirut. The resistance to come will be a greater danger to the west and the United States than Al-Qaeda and the ruling Ba'ath regime." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Samir Atallah writes that the war is Saddam Hussein's attempt to engineer his own exit into history. "The Iraqi president, who took refuge in poetry and a bunker to avoid America's avowed pursuit of the entire Iraqi leadership, knows that this is a war in which heads will roll. He knows that never before has a country announced that it is bombing with the aim of assassinating a specific person. This is why he has decided to enter history. This is the final stop in his long, hard journey into the world of politics, leadership, and war...." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): The editors predict that the changes to come after the war in Iraq will affect the very fabric of Arab and Islamic societies. "The world changed after the attacks of 11 September. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that, even by the standards of the post-11 September world, the world that emerges after the war in Iraq will be different. International relations, with their alliances and oppositions, are only one part of this. Many expect that the world to come will also differ in the fabric of internal relations within many societies, and primary among them Arab and Islamic societies." Egypt's "Al-Ahram": The editors hope against hope that the United States will "listen to reason" and give international inspectors a final chance to effect a peaceful resolution. "Each passing day brings to light new details of the United States' secret agenda and the extent of the tragedy that the world will suffer because of the decision to opt for a military solution. Everyone will pay the price -- the international community, the American people, the United Nations, and, of course, the Iraqi people. "The international community needs to take effective, concerted action, and the Arab world must be at the forefront of these forces. They must seize the initiative to save the region from this destructive war and to preserve the consciousness and understanding that can eliminate the potential fallout from this catastrophic war. "Everyone hopes that the United States will listen to the voice of the world's conscience, which rejects war, and to the voice of reason, which calls for peace. These voices stress the need to give international inspectors a full opportunity to complete their task in Iraq for the sake of peace and stability for everyone, not only the Iraqi people. "This hope is neither difficult nor impossible. The roar of cannons in many an armed conflict has been silenced when courageous wisdom triumphed over mad rage." The United Arab Emirates' "Al-Bayan": The editors mourn the eclipse of the United Nations and lament a dark day in Arab history. "The danger of American aggression against fraternal Iraq is that there is no longer any respect for international law. America told the world yesterday that it has renounced all international customs and accords. It holds the world under its fist and will do with it what it wishes. We do not exaggerate when we say that what America did yesterday was to put an exclusively American seal on the death certificate of the United Nations. "American military aggression is destroying the system of international security, not threatening it. No one will stop America. Even the voices of the masses all over the world carry no weight in the White House. "The world is dismayed at what America has done. Yesterday was a sad day for all Arabs, yet another dark day in our history. We stood by powerless and resigned, as though we approve of what is happening." Britain's "Al-Hayat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Walid Shuqayr describes the uniqueness of the American endeavor in Iraq, and the mistakes that may undermine it. "It does not matter whether it takes days or weeks -- George W. Bush will become the first American president of an Arab country.... "...For the first time in history, or at least since the end of the wars of independence, one country will put an end to another country's independence 70 years after it gained that independence. "For the first time since the Second World War, the United States will undertake the full scale, long-term occupation of another country. "For the first time in history, the United States will undertake an occupation in the Arab world. Even Israel (although it is not a state, since it arose through theft and colonization) never occupied the entire territory of an Arab country. "The tremendous capabilities of 'first time' weaponry will validate many of America's plans, first among them George Bush's 'presidency' in Iraq. "Just as some of America's calculations are correct -- first among them that Iraqi President Saddam is hated by his people, who have suffered so much at his hands -- experience shows that Washington was often mistaken as it prepared for war. It didn't expect that France, Russia, Germany, and China, as well as the small African, Latin [American], and Asian would act as they did. It didn't expect that millions of people would take to the streets in America itself. It was wrong in its evaluation of the Iraqi opposition, its reading of the internal situation in Iraq, and its influence there. And there might be other mistakes in the future...." Britain's "Al-Hayat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Raghida Dargham warns that success in Iraq could encourage dangerous illusions in Washington. "Iraq might be better off in American hands than under Saddam Hussein's despotic regime and the Security Council sanctions that have broken the back of ordinary Iraqis and torn apart the social fabric of Iraq. Theoretically, the American occupation could succeed in moving Iraq to a new threshold of vitality and democracy, making it a model to be emulated in the region. In reality, however, we need to scrutinize the organizations that will dominate Iraq and reshape it. We need to know what their aims and goals are both in Iraq and in the Middle East. "The war could be short. It might not cause many civilian casualties. Iraqis might leave their homes to greet the American forces of 'liberation.' But if this happens, it will only increase the intoxicating delusions that afflict the group of extremists in Washington, making them more frightening and dangerous. http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2203.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 22nd March Britain's "Al-Hayat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Dawud al-Shiryan warns that a lengthy campaign in Iraq could present a danger to regional stability. "The cautious beginning of the American campaign indicates that it will be lengthy. Despite the seemingly slow pursuit of military objectives, coming days will witness a tragic escalation as American and British forces draw near Iraqi cities. The intensive aerial bombardment will begin, paving the way for an entrance into those cities and the siege of Baghdad. Unless Washington succeeds in eliminating Saddam, this will not be an easy task.... "...The extension of the war's time frame is an attempt to avoid increased civilian casualties. It helps Washington's image and furthers its goals in this war. It is harmful, however, in terms of growing anger in the region and changes in the positions of those countries that are going along with the American campaign in hopes of a short, clean war. This hope, it seems, has virtually no chance." Syria's "Tishreen": The editors assert that the U.S. campaign against Iraq furthers Zionists ambitions. "The American aggression against Iraq has begun. The United States has embarked on a policy of challenging international laws and systems, plunging the entire world into chaos and undermining the false democratic slogans that Washington is so quick to market. The United States is fighting a war of premeditated murder to eliminate a people and a country. It is using the most powerful and destructive missiles and bombs in the genocidal arsenal of the American war machine. "As everyone has realized, the war against Iraq is equal parts American and Israeli. Without a doubt, Zionists were the warmongers. When [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon urges [U.S. George W.] Bush to keep on and states that "Israel" wants the destruction of Iraq, he is indicating where he wants this war to go. For [Sharon], the war creates conditions conducive to the completion of his Zionist plan in Palestine and the rest of the occupied Arab territories even as the United States redraws the map to match its interests and those of Israel, its strategic partner." Egypt's "Al-Hayat": The editors see a connection between the resolution of potential refugee crises and the chances for a successfully rebuilt Iraq. "A refugee problem might be one of the first consequences of this war. According to available information, the United Nations expects that approximately 2 million people will leave their homes because of the war. The world body will begin a campaign to collect $1.5 billion to spend on the refugees. "Resolving the refugee problem by returning them to the cities and villages they have fled will be an indispensable part of rebuilding Iraq, restoring its infrastructure, and stabilizing the political and economic situation." Kuwait's "Al-Ray al-Aam": Kuwaiti writer Nabil al-Fadl believes that Kuwaitis have a right to a certain amount of schadenfreude at the fall of the Ba'ath regime and the destruction of its symbols. "We have a right to gloat as we watch the beginning of the end -- the collapse of the Ba'ath Party, the end of Baghdad's oppression and crimes, the destruction of its key figures. We will gloat as we watch the Iraqis hang [Revolutionary Command Council Vice Chairman] Izzat Ibrahim by his vile mustache from the highest lamppost in Baghdad. "What a joy it will be when they collect all the portraits and miserable murals of Saddam Hussein from the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. The Iraqi people can then put the corpse of 'Abu Uday' [Uday's father] atop this ash heap of history, light a match, and set the filthy pile on fire." Algeria's "Liberte" (Francophone): Chekri Sa'id writes that a successful conclusion to the war in Iraq should not be allowed to obscure the damage that has already been done to the international system. "Let us not forget that the declared motivation for this campaign was, and is, to rid Baghdad of Saddam the tyrant, liberate the Iraqi people from the dictatorship that has oppressed them for a quarter of a century, and seize the weapons of mass destruction that make Iraq a threat to the world's security. If, on the day after the war ends, these noble aims have been achieved, the world, and the Iraqis more than anyone else, will be tempted to forget the methods the Americans and British employed. Bush and [British Prime Minister Tony] Blair will be able to rejoice at having resisted widespread disapproval to lead what became an operation of international healing. Yet it will have stripped the United Nations of all pretence -- incapable of preventing war, powerless to enforce international disarmament conventions without war. This will discredit the UN and work to shift legitimacy from that organization to military and economic powers. It is here that the war threatens to create a grave precedent." Morocco's "Al-Sabah": In a caustically satirical letter to U.S. President Bush, Rashid Nini ponders the fate of the Arab world. Although the letter never mentions Iraq, it opens by changing the common greeting "al-salam alaykum" (peace be upon you) to "al-harb alaykum" (war be upon you). "We hate you even as we dream of immigrating. We think of how to destroy you even as we scheme to get a green card. We get our salaries in our worthless national currencies even as we imagine them in dollars. "Forgive us, Mr. George. Forgive us, sir, our misfortune, our long-winded leaders in the Arab League. They are old and their memory is playing tricks on them. They no longer remember how you protected them from more than one coup, how many popular revolutions against them you put down, how you created the conditions for them to implement the far-sighted policies that have led us to this vast Arab swamp. "Don't be angry, sir, at our writers, who hurl their daily columns in your face and attack your policies. Most of them are charlatans who sell their articles behind our backs and get paid in dollars. Don't turn away from us. We don't know what we'd do with ourselves without you. You are the lighthouse that guides our ships in this black Arab night." http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2303.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 23rd March Lebanon's "Al-Nahar": Ghassan Tueni praises antiwar world leaders, and calls for a summit of intellectuals to advance the cause of freedom in the Arab world. "Hundreds of statues of [French President Jacques] Chirac and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin should go up in the streets of Washington and New York and London before Paris and Moscow,... and hundreds of shrines to the saintly pope, for they tried to save America from its predicament. They tried to save the entire world, including our Arab world -- our poor Arab world -- from this historic tragedy, and to save Iraq (the Iraq of the people and of history, not the Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his mad regime) from the furnace of sulfur and oil that is consuming it before our eyes, hour after hour. "We need a summit. The summit that should be held would gather all Arab intellectuals who dared to sign manifestos and statements demanding democracy, human growth, and freedom...from Rabat to Damascus, Yemen, Lebanon. They realize that the 'hour of truth' we face is not the hour of truth that [U.S. President George W.] Bush's imperial arrogance has declared. These intellectuals will not limit themselves to demanding freedom from their overlords. They will practice it, with heroic courage, in fact and in action, whatever the price." Saudi Arabia's "Okaz": Abdallah Abu al-Samh blames Iraqi President Hussein for failing to listen to the voice of reason. "President Saddam [Hussein] has wasted a thousand and one opportunities to restore and reform what has been broken, to make amends for the crime of invading Kuwait and the shame of the mother of all defeats. In the 10 years after that defeat, after his misjudgment and misrule were clear even to the blind, he could have sought peace. He could have listened to the voice of reason and conscience. He could have changed the way he rules the country. He could have adopted a new philosophy, one founded on peace, growth, [and] good relations with his neighbors and the world.... "...If Saddam had listened to the voice of reason, the Arab peoples would not have endured these woes. Instead, he has subjected all of us to this ordeal. We can only pray for God to spare our country its evils and make Saddam its only victim...." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat": Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid asks whether the Americans realize the dangers of the situation they have created. "The Americans are entirely responsible, legally and morally, for protecting Iraq from division and violation. Iraq today, and in coming weeks and months, will be a bit of enticing prey for the region's ravens circling above it. "Voices, especially in the Arab world, have gone hoarse explaining to the Americans that their rejection of war is not a defense of Saddam Hussein's regime, the most hated regime in the region. They did not reject the idea of removing him, but feared that a war against him would turn into a war of open fronts that the world would not be able to control. The Americans have an inexplicable faith in their ability to contain the crisis and control the struggle. "The possibility of intervention raises many questions. Will the United States be able to contain Turkey, which the Iraqis believe has designs on their northern oil for its energy needs? Will they be able to prevent Kurdish-Turkish clashes? The Turks feel that the Kurds want to establish a state that will threaten the unity of their country, and they will resist it with all their might. Will American power be able to prevent the expected Iraqi infiltration into Iran? Will they be able to prevent Iran's certain infiltrations into Iraq? Will they be able to stop revolutionary groups like Ansar al-Islam, and will they be able to prevent civil wars and internal disintegration?" http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2403.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 24th March Qatar's "Al-Sharq": The editors compare the pictures of American POW's with images from the Vietnam War and predict that a long war filled with such surprises awaits U.S. and British forces. "Yesterday evening, Arab satellite networks showed pictures of American solders in Iraqi captivity. We hope that American television stations dared to introduce them to American public opinion. Together with the pictures of American and British troops killed in combat with the Iraqi Army around Al-Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, they bring to mind the images transmitted by the media during the Vietnam War in the 1970s that were so influential in turning American public opinion against the war against that Asian country. "The Bush administration has done great harm to the moral and human standards in which the American people believe, at the same time damaging that people's interests, reputation, and ties with the Arab and Islamic world. We do not believe that this administration will be able to conceal the truth of the image that television channels showed -- American prisoners of war and the bodies of those killed in combat. With slogans of combating terrorism, the administration thrust the army into the furnace of a war to annihilate the Iraqi people. Will this administration be able to conceal the coffins of more American dead? What will it say to American families? "It does not seem as though the Anglo-American war against Iraq will end in days, or weeks, or even months. More surprises lie ahead for the invading forces." Britain's "Al-Hayat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Salama Ni'mat muses that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be delighted at America's current isolation, and sees a link between the current crisis and the plight of the Palestinians. "The Iraqi leader, if he is still alive, must be overjoyed at what he surely considers his most important achievement: pitting America against the world, even if this was the last thing that he did before exiting, or being driven off, the stage. "How are we to heal the despair that leads to extremism? By America's 'Israelizing' its government through an ideology of preemptive strikes as pioneered by Israel? What if America were to work to end the Israeli occupation that has led to extremism and the vortex of violence in the Middle East? "Can one heal the despair in the Middle East by closing ranks and suppressing freedoms? Or with openness, diversity, and the release of creative forces in society? "Israel might not be solely responsible for the curse that has pursued the Middle East since the mid-20th century, but it, and its allies in perpetuating injustice, bear the bulk of the responsibility for the catastrophe in Palestine, which preceded the catastrophe in New York. We are now experiencing the consequences of that disaster, and we will continue to experience them in Iraq, and in what comes after." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): The editors forecast a difficult war. "If events follow the pattern set by the first four days of the American-British war against Iraq, the war will not be easy. Units of the Iraqi Army have up to now exhibited some resistance and cohesion, repelling attacks, and then re-forming to fight and defend their gains. In the clashes we have seen, Iraqis have been killed and wounded just as the attacking forces have been killed and wounded, even if the losses have been asymmetrical. The mere fact of these losses means something, especially after the Americans spoke so much of a quick war and of weapons that would paralyze Iraqi forces without causing civilian casualties. "It is noteworthy that those regions where there are American and British forces have not yet witnessed any popular uprisings against the Iraqi regime, despite assertions that these were a foregone conclusion. If this continues, it will undoubtedly have a significant influence on the outcome of the war." http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2503.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 25th March Britain's "Al-Hayat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Jihad al-Khazin argues that Iraqi resistance will only stiffen as the fight moves deeper into the country, and hopes that the Iraqi people will teach the invader a lesson. "If there is this much resistance in [southern] regions opposed to the regime, how much resistance will there be in the middle of the country among the groups that are the source of the regime's strength? I want the American aggression against Iraq to be the last of its kind. The lesson that the aggressor will receive will make him think twice before attacking another Arab country. "In this regard, the Iraqi people and army today are defending the larger Arab nation in Iraq. The obligation of that nation is to help the Iraqis help themselves. If the aggression against Iraq is the last of its kind, then Saddam Hussein will have unintentionally performed for his nation a great service that erases many of his evil deeds." Saudi Arabia's "Okaz": Abid Khazindar warns of a renewed colonialist campaign that threatens the entire Arab world. "Despite the claims that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant, dictator, and murderer, and that his regime is at the very least iron-handed and despotic, this is not our concern. We will not shed a single tear when he meets his fate, but the issue for us is not Saddam Hussein and his regime. The issue is the occupation of an Arab country by an brutal foreign force. Moreover, Iraq will not be the only victim of this unjustified aggression. The entire Arab world is targeted. The leaders of the American war machine have stated this loud and clear, first among them [U.S. Secretary of State] Colin Powell. The aim is to change a way of life. According to the hawks in the American administration, the aim is to change the geography of the region, its maps and borders, just as Britain and France did after World War I." Oman's "Oman": Ibrahim bin Abdallah al-Ma'mari argues that American coverage of the war for the home front is merely an extension of the American media's distorted portrayal of the region. "The 500 American journalists who are reporting from the front are obligated to follow 12 pages of instructions from the Pentagon on how to cover the conflict. "It seems that the horrifying coverage and revolting footage from this war that we are seeing in the Middle East is not available to the average American. "The pictures of the war that Americans see show no blood and tears. This is the American people's problem in the Middle East -- they see in this region only what their media and politicians show them." http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/press_review_2603.asp * Arab Press Review by Daniel Kimmage Radio Free Europe, 26th March Qatar's "Al-Sharq": Dr. Ahmad al-Qadidi sees in opposition to the war in Iraq a chance for an Arab intellectual renewal. "This intellect, which conquered the world's cities with astronomy, medicine, chemistry, engineering, translation, and law, was pillaged by imperialism, imprisoned by despotism, and weakened by poverty. This intellect fed on freedom, faith, and trust. It erected citadels of knowledge and religious tolerance, eliminated racism, established justice, and sided with the oppressed. We see the intellect rising like a genie from a bottle. It is putting a terrible, miserable reality beneath an analytical microscope as explosions ring out in Baghdad. It is for today's Arabs to put their intellectual talents to use as they exercise their lawful and natural right to think, seek justice, and partake in the historical process. "New Arab generations will not accept what we accepted. They will not fall into line behind deceptive slogans. This generation has awoken from the delusion that 'no voice carries above the voice of battle' -- there was no battle for the mind, no victory for consciousness. We entered the struggles of 1967, 1973, and 1982 with hollow official institutions devoid of popular creativity. And we lost." Egypt's "Al-Ahram": Ahmad Abd al-Mu'ti Hijazi compares recent events in Iraq to the Mongol (or Tatar) invasion that culminated in the sack of Baghdad in 1258. "The new Tatars are now sinking their fangs and daggers into the bloodied body of Iraq, swarming to attack it from all directions, striking it with the very weapons they claim it possesses.... "...We watch this filthy, degenerate war and yet we cannot stop it. We do not know what we should do.... We do not know how to face our enemies, or even how to face ourselves. "Saddam Hussein has turned the lives of Iraqis into a hell from which no one emerges unscathed. This is especially true of intellectuals, whom he has slaughtered and imprisoned. Thousands of them have chosen life in exile over life in Iraq. One of these exiles was Fu'ad al-Tikirli, a lawyer and widely read novelist. He first went to Paris before settling in Tunisia for the last 10 years. But when the new Mongols decided to invade Iraq, Fu'ad al-Tikirli raced back to his country to share the fate of his countrymen so that no one would accuse him of choosing safety and leaving his people to the Mongols." Britain's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" (pan-Arab, Saudi-owned): Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid writes that no one can be sure of the real loyalties of Iraqi officials. "The zeal of an official such as Vice Chairman Izzat Ibrahim or [Information Minister Muhammad Sa'id] al-Sahhaf is not necessarily an expression of sincere belief or emotion. We know the difficult conditions of those who work under a regime that shows no mercy for any error or dereliction of duty. Officials are forced to exaggerate their statements of loyalty. Even if they are truly and honestly loyal to their leader, they remain in constant fear of an accusation." Algeria's "Al-Khabar": The rhetorical flourishes of Iraqi Information Minister al-Sahhaf spur Algerians to call the Iraqi Embassy for lexical assistance. "Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf has become very popular on the Algerian street, which eagerly awaits his daily appearances. In his press conferences, he does not limit himself to providing the Arab and international public with the latest news of the invasion. He also rises to rhetorical heights in describing the U.S. president, British prime minister, and their secretaries of defense. His descriptions have included 'heedless,' 'base,' 'canine,' and 'wretched.' But his greatest effort to enrich the Arabic lexicon came when he used the term 'ilj.' The word sent many scrambling for their dictionaries. Some people even turned for assistance to the Iraqi Embassy, which informed them that the word means 'lout.'" _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk