Nov
06
2008

Why Are Only Pro-Occupation Iraqi Voices Newsworthy?

As FAIR's magazine Extra! has noted (9-10/08, 11-12/07), it's often hard to tell from reading the U.S. press that polls have consistently shown a clear majority of Iraqis favor a withdrawal of American troops from their country.

Today the New York Times published two articles offering Iraqi perspectives on the significance of Obama's electoral victory. A report about a recent election party at the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad noted that the the fortress-like embassy, which cost over half a billion dollars, "suggested a degree of permanence to the American presence here that at least some of the Iraqi guests seemed to find comforting." The article went on to quote a member of the U.S. backed al-Maliki government:

"The size of this embassy and the number of employees who will occupy it are a sign of the American government's commitment to democracy in Iraq," said Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister. He did not remember the details of the original lease agreement for the land, he said, "but it was a very long lease."

The only Iraqi perspectives included in today's Times feature on responses to the U.S. presidential election from around the world were similarly unrepresentative:

In the normally querulous Union of Iraqi Writers club in Baghdad, there was a rare unanimity among the secular, the religious, Shiites, Sunnis and former regime loyalists: While the election of the first black man to the highest office in the United States was admirable, Mr. Obamaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s promise to start withdrawing troops from Iraq was a cause for great concern.

At the club's restaurant and bar, which has survived the wrath of religious extremists over the past few years, Daoud al-Rahmani, a self-styled poet, writer and satirist, gathered at one table with two of his colleagues for an early lunch. They drank beer and nibbled from little bowls filled with marinated fava beans served as hors d'oeuvres

"There will be chaos if they leave," Mr. Rahmani said. "We are still in disagreement. Sectarianism is ingrained in us now."

No one in either article represented the viewpoint of the vast majority of Iraqis who want an end to the foreign occupation of their nation.