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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Spinning Iraq for Iraqis. Sorry for the trouble.

Spinning Iraq for Iraqis

Saturday, November 20, 2004

For the past two weeks, the Friday khutba (sermon) at my mosque has been about the American assault on Falluja. Yesterday at the end of his khutba the imam dedicated all of the du'a (prayer) to the residents of Falluja, and prayed for the "ground beneath the invader's feet to quake". While leaving the mosque there were several people collecting money to aid the Fallujans, and flyers like the one pictured above were being handed out. There were also two separate protests held yesterday in Manama and Muharraq against the occupation of Iraq, and in support of the insurgents of Falluja.

It's hard for me to take a strong stand on either side. On the one hand, the (possibly foreign) terrorists who are beheading people need to be dealt with. On the other hand, it's not entirely clear who the insurgents in Falluja are, and I don't think that bombing an entire city is much of a solution.

What is clear however is that the Americans have once again done a terrible job of their PR. With the stories and pictures coming out of Falluja about ordinary residents and refugees, and especially the video footage of the wounded insurgent that was shot in the head point-blank by a US marine, this operation is turning in to another Abu Ghraib. The Americans are just terrible with PR, and it seems to be a defining policy of the Bush administration to specifically not care about how they are perceived by others. The reality however is that in the short term, PR will be as important (or more) as the actual operations that take place on the ground. While the US forces have done many good and bad things for Iraqis, they don't seem to see the strategic value of highlighting the good things. Whenever the Americans hold a press conference the generals look so very smug and proud of themselves when describing how they demolished building with their huge bombs. But when it comes to describing the reconstruction efforts they are bland. It's strange that they haven't tried to spin things in Iraq for Iraqis, even though we saw them do a great job of spinning things in Iraq for Americans during the recent elections.

This lack of good PR is obvious to me sitting here in Bahrain, the home of the US Navy Fifth Fleet. Most of the major embassies on the island make a significant effort to get people to understand the states they represent through frequent cultural, musical and artistic events, such as the Leonard Eto performance on Thursday night that was arranged by the Japanese embassy. The British Embassy arranges events through the British Council, and the French Embassy has the Alliance Francaise. The events are well publicized so many Bahrainis show up. The American Embassy however rarely holds such events, and when they do they don't do enough to publicize it among Bahrainis. The result is that their events are attended mostly by American nationals and other expats. These events might seem trivial, but I believe that it makes a big difference as it allows us to look beyond the portrayal of Americans in camouflage on Al-Jazeera.

In the way that the passive attitude of most Muslims is ultimately to blame for our negative portrayal in the US, so is America ultimately to blame for its negative portrayal in our parts. It's sad. Everyday I see how more and more of my friends and family are rejecting anything American, because they don't have the means to interact with real Americans and the values they stand for.

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4 Responses to 'Spinning Iraq for Iraqis'

Blogger sume says:

I saw this yesterday in Al Jazeera. I can't speak for it's accuracy, but it's hard to tell with any of the news coming out of Iraq these days.

"However, al-Thawra publication said on Thursday: "The question of foreign fighters crossing Iraqi [borders] has been exaggerated, given that only 24 of the 1000 men captured in Falluja are foreign." "


It could also be that the foreigners are just harder to catch than the Iraqis. I hope you're detecting the sarcasm here.    

Blogger shawarmaboy says:

My sources tells me is is more like 240 IRAQIS per 1000 insurgants on average. As far Al Jazeera, well I don't know how anyone can trust an organization who some how almost always seems to be right there when a car bomb goes off, or when other such mayhem happens. Fact is Al Jazeera gets tipped off that things are going to happen and where they will happen and they make NO ATTEMPT to do anything to stop it. God forbid if they helped save some lives and catch some bad guys.. Novel thought HUH? But wait Al Jazeera seems to think it is ok to car bomb Iraqi civilians in line looking for a job. I think we will all agree car bombers are "BAD GUYS". One thing to REPORT the NEWS another thing to be in bed with the news makers. This was part of the reason Al Jazeera was banned from Iraq for a period of time.

I find it hard to believe ANYTHING they say without some back up from other sources. As well as one should look at several sources for the news and then make a rational logical opinion about the events.    

Blogger sume says:

I have looked at many sources and the number still doesn't seem all that high. The U.S. did exaggerate the numbers and that's sited in several sources as well. I take most of the news with a grain of salt. I have yet to find an unbiased news organization.

I don't pay all that much attention to Al Jazeera, either but the U.S. would would ban anyone who's reporting things that would make them look bad. There's even talk of throwing out their own embedded reporters.    

Blogger BD says:
11/22/2004 09:14:00 am

"The American Embassy however rarely holds such events, and when they do they don't do enough to publicize it among Bahrainis. The result is that their events are attended mostly by American nationals and other expats."

Chan'ad, I think you'll understand when I say that we're a little uneasy about advertising large, conspicuous gatherings of Americans in one location. We're also uneasy about just throwing open the doors to a facility to all comers.    

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