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In Defense Of The "Arabs"

It has become commonplace these days to equate the performance of the American Media Machine with that of the newly founded Arabic Satellite Channels (ASC). The background of such postulates is the proposition that both sides have become politically charged in the "American War on Iraq".

Almost all have conceded that the American media is operating on the assumption that any Iraqi claims must be false considering the source is the "Regime of Saddam Hussein". Moreover, they have accepted that the embedded corespondents must realize that the security of the American forces necessitate that they refrain from revealing most of what they see, unless otherwise authorized by the Central Command if they wish to stay on the front lines of the War. Furthermore, almost all of the stories and outlook on the War as put out by the American forces are taken to be "Just the Facts Mam"(1).

Our concern here is not whether or not the Iraqi side is telling the whole truth nothing but. Rather it is the evaluation of how the so-called Arab Media, with one exception(2), have portrayed the War on their TV screens. Let's examine the facts. The first shot was on the Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi Channels for showing the American POWs. The contention is that the Geneva Convention prohibits the exhibition of enemy prisoners for public showings or to make them give statements without their un-coerced permission. The above two channels had already showed pictures of Iraqi civilians who the American forces have taken as POWs in situations that can not be any better than those of the American POWs held by the Iraqis and then shown on their TV. Remember that these pictures were taken by American Media and their allies. Moreover, when the Iraqis claimed that they had killed and taken prisoners American soldiers, the Central Command denied these reports.

Also, keep in mind that the Arabic viewer has grown skeptical over the past few decades of the Official Arab Media's unsubstantiated claims. One can make the argument that the Iraqis had no choice but to release the video of the incident with all of its gory details. As far as the ASCs, they had to balance what they had reported about Iraqi POWs and deaths. Not to mention, these channels have the delicate task of pacifying their public since their governments are part, at least as far as the Arab public is concerned, of the aggression on their neighbor.

In the American media, there were two cases where reporters were sacked. MSNBC and the National Geographic fired Peter Arnet for, I suppose, giving aid and comfort to the enemy. This was done after being made to apologize on the Air. The reason is that he gave his recount of the results of the American bombing on Baghdad and reminiscing on the embarrassing incidents of the milk factory and the al-Ameriya shelter's bombing from the 1991 American War on Iraq with an Iraqi TV Reporter. Heraldo Rivera was fired by Fox News for making a drawing in the sand with a stick he had as how the battles are going in the south of Iraq.

Yet, Alex Gardner, who works with Abu Dhabi TV, made such statements as: The Iraqis use civilians as human shields, there is an uprising in Basra, the Iraqis are not allowing civilians out of Basra, Um Qasar is under control, etc. All of his claims were proven wrong since we all saw later reports and admission by the British and Americans to the contrary. In point of fact, Um Qasar did not come under a semblance of Occupation forces control until a week later; the British were not allowing civilians back into Basra for five days, and the reports of the uprising "were highly exaggerated". The source that allowed the viewers to make their own minds was the professional reporting of the ASCs. Every claim they made, they had a picture to prove it and testimonies of the affected Iraqis. While Alex Gardner and the American Media were making all of the above assertion, the Arabic Channels reported them as only assertions and reported the Iraqi side of the story. It just happened that the Iraqi side was true while the other side had fallen short of that mark.

Does this mean that the Iraqi side told only the truth? Aside of the body count, they have and this has giving them a measure of credibility. We only know this because the ASCs kept the viewer informed by showing all of the Iraqi and the American briefings uncensored. Did the Iraqi side benefit from this? Of course. Is it a crime for the Iraqis to benefit!!! You make your own judgment.

Usama Endar
(1) A Phrase that was popularized by the American TV series "Dragnet".
(2) The Kuwaiti Media.

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