Iraqi Television on Bush’s State of the Union
It is odd that US media seem completely uninterested in how Bush’s State of the Union speech was received in Iraq, where half of it would be implemented. The Open Source Center of the US Government did a report on this issue, below. Note that former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari says that Iraq does not need the 21,500 US troops Bush is planning to send. Jaafari worked closely with the Americans as prime minister and his views should be considered. The report follows:
Iraqi TVs’ Treatment of President Bush’s State of the Union Address
Iraq — OSC Report
Thursday, January 25, 2007 T01:06:19Z . . .
Cairo Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel in Arabic — Pro-Sunni, anti-US Iraqi channel believed to be affiliated with the Association of Muslim Scholars;
Baghdad Al-Iraqiyah Television in Arabic — government-sponsored television station, run by the Iraqi Media Network;
Cairo Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television in Arabic — Private Iraqi television known for its opposition to the US presence in Iraq;
Baghdad Al-Sharqiyah Television in Arabic — Independent, private news and entertainment channel focusing on Iraq, run by Sa’d al-Bazzaz, publisher of the Arabic-language daily Al-Zaman; and
Baghdad Baghdad Satellite Television in Arabic — television channel believed to be sponsored by the Iraqi Islamic Party
– are observed on 24 January to report and react to President Bush’s State of the Union Address as follows:
Al-Rafidayn TV: During its 1600 GMT news summary, following a six-minute security roundup, Al-Rafidayn Satellite Channel carries the following report: “Democrats in Congress have accused US President George Bush of demonstrating recklessness by involving the United States in the war in Iraq. In a harsh response to his State of the Union address, they called for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. In his address, Bush urged the Americans to give a chance for what he called his new strategy in Iraq. Bush deemed early withdrawal from Iraq a nightmare for the United States, as he put it, claiming that such a step would serve Washington’s enemies. The US president affirmed his determination to continue with his strategy of promoting what he called democracy in the Middle East, considering it a critical element in the war on what he calls terror.”
Al-Iraqiyah TV: Following a security roundup and other local news, Al-Iraqiyah Television at 1713 GMT carries the following report: “In his State of the Union address, US President George Bush reiterated his support for the national unity government and his willingness to support it in all areas. He also urged the Senate leaders to back his Iraq plan, particularly the part of the plan pertaining to Baghdad, to protect it from terrorists.”
This is followed by a report by Ali Shakkur, Al-Iraqiyah TV correspondent in Washington, who says: “For its part, the Democratic Party expressed its view toward the US president’s speech in a statement read by Senator James Webb, Congressman for the Democratic Party. In the statement, the party members expressed their concern over the president’s new policy on Iraq, saying that this war hurt the reputation of the United States and squandered many opportunities to defeat world terror.”
Shakkur continues: “The latest opinion polls published in US newspapers indicated a decline in the approval ratings of the US president, as 64 percent of the American people do not support the way the Bush administration is managing the country’s affairs.”
Immediately afterward, Al-Iraqiyah TV newsreader Thamir al-Shammari reads the following report: “The reactions of Iraqi politicians to the address of US President George Bush have varied. A member of the Council of Representatives affirmed that Iraq needs support for its troops as well as intelligence information more than it needs an increase in the number of (US) troops in Iraq.”
Then, former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’fari is shown saying: “In my assessment, we do not necessarily need an increase in the strength (of US forces). We are not engaged in a conventional war against an invading army or something of the sort. We are facing terrorist actions which can be handled by precise security operations, by upgrading the security performance, and by getting the necessary information and intelligence data.”
Al-Shammari adds: “Another member of the Council of Representatives affirmed that Iraq is not suffering from religious extremism. However, there are parties that seek to make gains using the Iraq question.
Then, Iraqi MP Jalal-al-Din al-Saghir is shown saying: “What I would like to say is that victory against terror cannot be achieved by sloganeering; rather, certain mechanisms and policies that are indicative of a proper diagnosis of terror must be adopted. The war on terror must be waged based on this diagnosis and knowledge. Unfortunately, US policies have been driven by what it knows about terrorism, not by what is happening in Iraq.”
At 1726 GMT, Al-Iraqiyah TV carries a live satellite interview with Alberto Fernandez, director of the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near East Affairs at the US Department of State, in Washington, speaking in Arabic, on President Bush’s State of the Union address. Fernandez says that “there is a sort of consensus on the importance of Iraq, and the importance of making progress in Iraq.” He plays down reports on “differences between the US Administration and the Iraqi Government.”
Al-Baghdadiyah TV: At 1513 GMT, following a few reports on security developments and local news items, Al-Baghdadiyah Satellite Television carries the following report: “US President George Bush has urged the American people and his adversaries in Congress to give his plan to dispatch 21,500 additional troops a chance for success. In his annual State of the Union address at a joint session of both houses of the US Congress, Bush said that the United States is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq. He called for giving this strategy a chance for success.”
In a follow-up report, the TV channel says: “Bush affirmed that Al-Maliki’s government should honor the undertakings it has taken upon itself, warning it that the US commitment to Iraq is not open-ended.”
Al-Sharqiyah Channel: During its 1400 GMT, 1600 GMT, and 1900 GMT newscasts, Al-Sharqiyah was observed to repeat the same factual report that was carried in earlier newscasts. No commentaries or reactions were carried.
Baghdad Channel: Baghdad Channel was observed at 1628 GMT to carry an announcer-read report over video on the comments of Abbas al-Bayyati, representative of the Unified Iraqi Coalition in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, on the State of the Union address.
The report says: “Member of the Iraqi Coalition Abbas Al-Bayyati has said that there was nothing new in Bush’s speech which was delivered yesterday. He noted the importance of providing the Iraqi Government with the needed support to enable it achieve stability.
(Begin Al-Bayyati recording) There is nothing much in Bush’s speech; the US strategy was announced prior to this speech. Perhaps the speech was primarily meant to address the domestic audience, because it has the tone and marks of the democrats, whose voices have begun to grow louder.
We believe that supporting the current national unity government will enable it to carry out its duties and mission. Therefore, we cannot be pressured to do certain actions. We need support to do them.” (end recording)
This report was followed by a repeat of the factual report that was carried in earlier newscasts . . .