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[casi] "MEMRI" <>: MEMRI Baghdad Dispatch (1)

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From: "MEMRI" <>
To: "MEMRI Subscribers" <>
Subject: MEMRI Baghdad Dispatch (1)
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 10:56:33 -0400
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Special Dispatch - Iraq
July 15, 2003
No. 537

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML format, please visit:

Editorials from the New Iraqi Press:
MEMRI Baghdad Dispatch (1)

Since the demise of Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime in Iraq, and with
it the state control of the media, dozens of new free and uncensored
daily and weekly newspapers are available to the Iraqi public. Some of
these dailies are independent, but most are organs of one of the
burgeoning political parties and groupings.

The following is the first in a series of reports issued by MEMRI's newly
established office in Baghdad.  The reports will provide a comprehensive
overview of the new Iraqi press.


'The Negatives of Liberty'

Under the title "The Negatives of Liberty," 'Alaa Fadhil Al-Tamimi wrote
in the daily Al-Iraq Al-Jadid that after the fall of the old regime "many
Iraqis expected the gates of heaven were about to open... [Some Iraqis]
have expected that the demise of the old regime will make liberty
possible but we hear about it only in news bulletins."

"Among most enthusiasts... [it was believed] that the liberated will each
receive some dollars that [were] stolen by Saddam Hussein, but they were
shocked to discover that the promised dollars do not come easily, even
for those retired individuals who have to stand under the hot June and
July sun for hours... They [enthusiasts] have sworn that the Americans
will start new projects for the reconstruction of Iraq after the end of
the war... It is hard to believe that all these projects are ink on paper
and were only granted to bankrupt American companies to revive the
American, not the Iraqi, economy."

"People were also disappointed to discover that the food rations
distributed by the Civil Administration are the same as those which were
distributed by the previous regime. The expectations for meats, eggs,
bananas, and nuts have not materialized."(1)

'An American Incongruity'

The Iraqi newspaper Al-'Adala published an editorial in which it said:

"It is a ridiculous incongruity that the occupiers celebrate their
independence day while occupying other countries."

"Last Friday, July 4th, American and other soldiers lighted hundreds of
candles and the music blared in their camps and in Saddam's palaces,
which they turned into their headquarters in celebration of American
independence from Britain in 1776."

"We congratulate the American people on their independence day, but we
question whether the Americans are concerned about [other] peoples'
freedom as much as they are concerned about theirs? Do they honor the
will of nations to be independent as much as they sanctify their own

"Reality shows that there is an incongruity and a double-standard in
American policy. America says something but does its opposite... During
the last 50 years, the American administration (Democratic and Republican
alike) dismissed, and was insolent in dealing with, the nations of the
world. It persisted in its disdain to the nations of the world by
appointing criminal rulers over them, and there are ample examples [of

"America's excuse in Iraq was its 'liberation' from a terrorist, corrupt,
and despotic ruler... and it was correct doing so. But it is a different
issue when it removes the despot but ignores the right of the Iraqi
people [to have] freedom and independence..."(2)

'Iran and the Iraqi Shi'a'

In an editorial titled "Iran and the Iraqi Shi'a," Al-Iraq Al-Jadid
stated that the Ba'ath authority in Iraq adopted a policy toward Iran
which was driven by anti-Shi'a considerations.  At the same time Iraq
Iraq was flirting with neighboring Turkey which was meddling in internal
Iraqi affairs, "the Iraqi Shi'a were committed to the defense of the
nation, and their loyalty to it has superceded any religious
considerations... The buried regime used concerted propaganda to distort
the reasons for its war with Iran but some Iraqis understood the game and
chose to surrender rather than fight. They considered their action as a
nationalist stand that is meant to weaken the regime.  As a result, there
is a large Iraqi community in Iran which includes prisoners of war, in
addition to refugees, and others who have been expelled by the regime."

"...[T]here is no evidence, today or yesterday, that there is a single
Iraqi Shi'ite who would take pride in accepting and publicizing such
[Iranian] influence. The Iraqi Shi'a are proud of their nationality, and
there is ample historical evidence to prove it."(3)

'Present Circumstances and the Anticipated Constitution'

An editorial in the daily Al-Bayan read:

"The constitution is still the foundation for building a country... and
if a country goes through unusual circumstances such as Iraq is going
through today, there is still no justification to ignore the
constitution. And there is no justification [either] in imposing it on
the nation, because of Iraqi or foreign pretexts... National unity
urgently calls for an Iraqi national constitution that reflects the will
of various political forces within the Iraqi people..."(4)

'False Slogans'

 A column published in the daily Baghdad stated:

"Months before the war, Jordanians popularized the slogan 'Jordan First.'
An amusing story is told about one stupid person who participated in a
demonstration in Amman against the war carrying a placard with the
inscription 'we oppose the attack on Iraq.  Jordan first.' A similar
slogan is heard in Iraq today. This slogan which may cause comfort to
many Iraqis, and particularly to some media people who bet on the
occurrence of many disasters in Iraq akin to those that had occurred in
Lebanon during the civil war. They are using the same deplorable slogans
that Saddam used in the nationalism market about the common Arab destiny.
They are the same slogans used after the nationalization of Iraqi oil
when graffiti was written on school walls about 'Iraqi oil for the Iraqi
people.'  But who were the people who benefited from this oil? These are
false slogans."(5)

'The Return of Saddam: The Devil's Nest in Heaven'

In another column in the same daily relating to Saddam's purported speech
broadcast in Al-Jazeera TV, the daily Baghdad wrote:

"The provoking speech by Saddam Hussein which was broadcast on Arabic TV
stations represents Saddam's style of arrogance, bravado and braggadocio
[for] which he was famous.  In the speech, Saddam said that the military
operations against American forces were  carried out by the supporters of
the defunct regime, admitting that he was behind what harm was done to
the electric and water installations in the wake of these operations."

"We have said more than once that these operations have not expedited,
nor will they expedite, the departure of the allied forces from Iraq.
Logic and good sense demand that we consider the subject from a different
perspective to put the interest of the people and the nation as a
priority.  It is illogical that he who allegedly seeks to rebuild his
country will destroy for the second time electric and water installations
or will kill and injure innocent Iraqis. If Saddam's speech is genuine,
then it appears that he hasn't benefited from the profound lesson of his
mistakes committed throughout his regime in Iraq."

"Saddam has lost all his cards following his defeat, and everyone in
Iraq, young and old, now understands the truth.  Therefore, whoever
dreams of the return of Saddam for the second time is likely to believe
that the devil will build his nest in heaven..."(6)

'The Counter Attacks'

In an editorial titled "The Counter Attacks: Are They Organized or Do
They Reflect a Private Perspective?!"  Faris Al-Kateb, the
editor-in-chief of the daily Al-Yawm Al-Aakhar, wrote:

"From what we see and observe we are led to say firmly and objectively
that there is nothing that can be called  organized guerrilla warfare as
some are inclined to conclude based on confrontations with American
forces stationed across the Iraqi provinces. In fact, what is happening
are private efforts by zealous youths who refuse to accept the presence
of American forces in the residential areas of the capital and the
provinces. Guerrilla warfare is carried out daily and in organized
fashion and with premeditated planning... what is really happening [here]
are small skirmishes..."(7)

'A Letter to General [sic.] Paul Bremer '

In a separate column, also appearing in Al-Yawm Al-Aakher, Abd Al-Sattar
Al-Haj wrote to Paul Bremer:

"Given the harsh conditions under which the Iraqis live nowadays, we call
on General [sic] Bremer to answer these questions:"

"The entire Iraqi people are aware of what you have recently acknowledged
in the Security Council that you are an occupation [force], not a
liberating force as you alleged. The occupation authority is required
under international law to provide security, food, medication,
electricity, and other basic services. The Iraqi citizen cannot agree
with your shirking of responsibility or that you are placing the blame on
others.  You are a great nation and there is nothing too difficult for it
to accomplish in the field of technology."

"Oh General Bremer: many people hold you responsible for not providing
the assistance in the manner and type that you heralded when you entered
Iraq... Now that three months have elapsed since your occupation you are
still incapable of providing security and services to the people. In
these circumstances, what is your response for not establishing an Iraqi
government and taking the initiative in the reconstruction of Iraq in a
serious manner."(8)

'The Rehabilitation of Souls'

Ali Baban, editor-in-chief of Dar Al-Salam, wrote in an editorial: "...
In this new phase, and based on the 'reconstruction' slogan, there is a
need to rehabilitate the values, behaviors and souls [of the Iraqis]. In
other words, the parties and politicians in our country are all
responsible for creating a [new] political awareness within the Iraqi
individual, because the previous phase with its catastrophic outcomes
cannot be attributed only to the errant behaviors of one individual, i.e.
Saddam Hussein, no matter how despotic he was... We should realize the
dangers inherent in the absence of awareness within the nation. The Iraqi
individual should understand today - as is the case in many countries -
that the head of the state is an employee who is supposed to serve the
nation and to oversee all service sectors, and that [his position] is not
a status or an honor that allows any human being to dominate people and
to exploit their resources..."(9)

'Governing Council, a Step in the Right Direction'

Al-'Adala expressed its support of the establishment of the new Iraqi
Governing Council and stated: "As we stand on the threshold of a new
phase in the political rehabilitation of Iraq, after the fall of the
dictatorial and despotic regime... the Iraqi people should rise to any
level that will pave the way to the dominance of the national will, and
the establishment of an interim Iraqi government that has the capability,
authority, and responsibility to carry out successful plans that will,
first and foremost, benefit the people..."(10)

'Three Months after the Fall of the Despot: a Plea for Reason, before the
Opportunity is Gone'

Reflecting the moderate statements of Ayatollah Baqir Al-Haqim, the
leader of SCIRI, Al-Adala wrote: "Three months have passed since the
demise of the despot Saddam Hussein and his terrorist regime... and in
the case of the Iraqi people, they seem like years, because... the strife
that we have been experiencing curtailed any positive progress that was
expected following the collapse of the Ba'ath regime..." The paper goes
on to say that although the Iraqi people did not actually participate in
the final battles that led to the coalition's victory, the U.S. and
Britain should realize that the weakness of Saddam's regime was the
result of thirty years of isolation imposed on it by the Iraqi
opposition. "Therefore, the Americans - in their victory against Saddam -
had a partner, the Iraqi people. America, while celebrating its victory,
ignored this fact intentionally or unintentionally. This may have been
the U.S.'s biggest mistake, which undermined her steps today and put her
 in an unenviable position."(11)

'Arab Fighters'

An editorial in the business daily Al-Aswaq takes issue with an interview
broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV in which a young Lebanese declared that he
would not visit Iraq "before its liberation" from the Americans because
he was afraid of how the coalition forces would treat him. The article
reacts to this statement by saying that this young man, and his Arab
colleagues who hailed and supported the former regime, were really afraid
of something else, i.e. no longer receiving preferential treatment, the
money and the chauffeured limousines that they used to receive from
Saddam at the government's expense. The article goes on to state: "The
Arab 'fighter' who is afraid of being frisked by the coalition forces
does not know, or is forgetting, that the coalition forces do not treat
the Iraqis with a fraction of [the harshness] used against them by the
Saddam occupation, with its Mukhabart, general security, military
intelligence, police intelligence, Saddam's Fedayeens, and Party Comr!

'We are All Thieves, Your Excellency'

A column by Dr. Hashem Hussein in Al-Sa'a(13) addressed to Paul Bremer
says that the worst mistake that Saddam had made was considering Iraq a
personal inheritance given to him by "those who created him... Therefore,
he started to bestow [on others] to his heart's desire... [he gave] to
liars and hypocrites... but not to the disparately impoverished in the
heart of Baghdad. This man has broken every principle and tenet of
safeguarding public resources, as decreed by our honorable Prophets and
Caliphs... Saddam's chapter is over, but the alarming fact is that some
Iraqis started to act as if they are Saddam Hussein, and started to
squander public monies in a criminal way... They have been salivating at
bundles of dollars stolen from banks, and sold stolen properties and
cars... and when confronted, they bury their heads in the sand or answer
you boastfully, 'all of us participated in the looting' and we took what
belonged to the people, not to a private person."(14)

'The American Crisis in Iraq'

An editorial by the independent daily Al-Shira described aspects of the
security conditions in Iraq and said that "these crises will not be
solved by replacing the Marines with Army forces, then replacing those
with military police, and maybe in the future with the new Iraqi army,
because the problem is psychological emanating from the feeling of
American soldiers that they are standing on usurped grounds and walking
on a mine-field that is legally justified to explode under their feet at
any time." The editorial adds: "The American administration is trying now
to shift the responsibility of maintaining security in Iraq to NATO,
which will not only help her get rid of the security crisis in Iraq, but
more importantly it will embroil the two main opponents to its war
against Iraq, i.e. France and Germany."(15)

'Replacing Dictatorship with Colonialism is Unacceptable'

An editorial in Al-Da'wa, says that dictatorships and despotism
throughout ancient and recent history, no matter how much they oppressed
their nations and misled their peoples were eventually vanquished because
oppression brings out the power of nations and their ability to affect

"And now Iraq. When the Iraqis removed the regime of the despot, and left
him and his band of corrupt and tyrannical Ba'athists to face in terror
their dark fate... there were those among the Iraqis and the political
movements in Iraq who believed in the sincerity of the American claims
prior, during, and after the war, that focused on a pivotal issue, namely
to help the Iraqis rebuild their country and establish an independent
state and a pluralistic democratic regime. However, the political and
military realities in Iraq revealed the fallacy and lies of these

The editorial goes on to explain that all the measures taken by the
American administration lead to the conclusion that the U.S. wants "to
control Iraq's resources and to replace internal despotism with
occupation, colonization and subjugation, which the free sons of Iraq
cannot accept."(16)

Special News Reports

Iraqi Intelligence Services Reorganize

Al-Aswaq writes that a secret report by the European intelligence
services has revealed that "the Iraqi intelligence [services] have
succeeded in secretly reorganize[ing] and have incorporated elements of
the military professions as well as experts in the fields of psychology,
sociology, propaganda, and media. Their objective is to carry out
military and psychological warfare against the American and British
forces." The intelligence plan calls upon Saddam's loyalists to:

* Adopt the style of hit and run

* Confiscate weapons of killed occupation soldiers

* Avoid the experience of the Palestinians which entailed many casualties

* Use explosives to cause the highest number of casualties among soldiers

* Misguide American soldiers into areas where alleged individuals are on
the wanted list and ambush them

* Publicize photographs showing American soldiers raping Iraqi women to
antagonize public opinion both domestic and foreign

* Disseminate conflicting stories about Saddam Hussein still being alive
to put fear in the hearts of his former loyalists

* Utilize stories involving violations committed by the occupation
soldiers. Exaggerate these stories to influence public opinion at home
and abroad

* Use a policy of incitement to arouse nationalistic feelings

* Use continuous publicity about the availability of weapons to those who
wish to join the resistance

* Disseminate propaganda against American control of public services and,
in particular, the power sector. Spread the word that America is using a
policy of penalizing Iraqis by cutting off their electricity.(17)

Taking Advantage of Iraqis' Suffering

An article by Al-Sa'a said that the newspaper monitored news reports
broadcasted by Al-Jazeera TV, on a daily basis for a full month, and
concluded that "most of these reports were exaggerated, sensational and
tended to generalize isolated events." The newspaper goes on to say that
it found out that Al-Jazeera correspondents "are instructed to take a
predetermined position of inciting the citizens against the American
forces... One of the leaders in the city of Al-Fallouja told Al-Sa'a that
[an] Al-Jazeera correspondent in the city keeps asking the citizens 'when
are you going to start the suicide operation?' - which contains clear

The paper goes on to say that its study showed that Al-Jazeera was trying
to gain "journalistic coups from the misery of 22 million Iraqis, by
focusing on isolated situations and then generalizing them. For example,
the murder of British soldiers in Al-Majar... which turned [by
Al-Jazeera] into a general resistance [movement] sweeping southern

According to Al-Sa'a, Al-Jazeera believes that 'media savvy' means
turning isolated events into a sensation even at the price of curtailing
the return of security to Iraqi cities.(18)

(1) Al-Iraq Al-Jadid, July 7, 2003. The paper's title means "The New
Iraq," and is associated with Ayatollah Ali Husseini Al-Sistani, a
leading Shi'a leader in the holy city of Najaf.
(2) Al-'Adala, July 7, 2003. The paper is published by the Supreme
Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) headed by Ayatollah
Muhammad Baqir Al-Hakim, a Shi'a senior cleric who has been generally
cautious in his statements with regard to U.S.
(3) Al-Iraq Al-Jadid, July 7, 2003.
(4) Al-Bayan, July 8, 2003. Al-Bayan is an organ of Hizb Al-Da'wa
Al-Islami, or The Islamic Missionary Party.
(5) Baghdad, authored by Muhammad Ghazi Al-Akhras, July 9, 2003. Baghdad
is published by Harakat Al-Wifaq Al-Watani, or  National Reconciliation
(6) Baghdad, authored by Abd Al-Hamid Al-Omari, July 9, 2003.
(7) Al-Yawm Al-Aakher, July 10, 2003. Al-Yawm Al-Aakhar is an independent
political daily published by the Al-Munnajed Publishing House.
(8) Al-Yawm Al-Aakher, July 7, 2003.
(9) Dar Al-Salam, July 10, 2003. Dar-Al-Salam means "The House of Peace,"
and is published by The Iraqi Islamic Party.
(10) Al-'Adala, July 10, 2003. Al-'Adala is published by the Supreme
Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
(11) Al-'Adala, July 10, 2003.
(12) Al-Aswaq, July 10, 2003. Al-Aswaq means "The Markets," and is
published by the Association of Iraqi Industries.
(13) According to the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat the
newspaper Al-Sa'a, meaning "The Clock," has split into "two clocks." The
first "clock" presented itself as a general political newspaper, an organ
of the United National Front, whose editorial board is headed by Sheikh
Ahmad Al-Qubaisi, a firebrand preacher in Qatar who recently returned to
Iraq with a moderate and even conciliatory voice. The newspaper is
published on Saturday and Wednesday. The second "clock" presents itself
as an independent political newspaper speaking for all the Iraqis and
issued by a group of journalists.  The original Al-Sa'a ran into a
problem with the occupation authorities after publishing in June a story
about a gang rape by American soldiers of two Iraqi girls (Al-Sharq
Al-Awsat, July 10, 2003).
(14) Al-Sa'a , July 12, 2003.
(15) Al-Shira', July 12, 2003. The Chief Editor of Al-Shira is D. Sattar
(16) Al-Da'wa, July 12, 2003. Al-Dawa is an organ of  the Islamic
Missionary Party.
(17) Al-Aswaq, July 7, 2003. Ihsan Abd Al-Razzaq Abd Al-Ghafour is the
(18) Al-Sa'a, July 9, 2003.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent,
non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the
Middle East.  Copies of articles
and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077

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