Iraq: November 3, 2004


Public opinion in the Arab world is catching up with the attitudes of average Iraqis. The terror campaign by Iraqi Sunni Arabs against other Iraqis, especially the suicide bombs, kidnappings and assassinations, is seen for what it is inside Iraq; an attempt by a minority to re-establish a dictatorship. But the rest of the Arab world has, until recently, glorified the Sunni Arab terror campaign as the Iraqi "resistance" to "brutal American occupation." But week after week of suicide bombings that kill only Iraqis, thousands of Iraqis kidnapped and murdered by Sunni Arab gangs, and even the slow learners in the Arab world have awakened to a more honest, and less palatable, version of reality. Moreover, government sponsored terror is a tactic familiar to most people in the Arab world. What is happening in Iraq, an attempt by the pro-Saddam Sunni minority to regain control of the country through a terror campaign, is getting harder for most Arabs to avoid. This, however, brings another ugly reality into view. Sunni Islam is hostile to the other forms of Islam, like the Shia of Iraq and Iran. And Arabs are hostile to non-Arab Moslems, like the Iraqi Kurds and most Iranians. The Arab world doesn't really want to confront their own problems with Iraq. That for decades it was a tyranny run by the Sunni Arab minority. This Iraq was acceptable to the Arab world, because Iraqi served as a bulwark against the non-Arab (and non-Sunni) Iranians. Saddam was also admired for how he hammered the Kurds, even using chemical weapons against these rebellious Indo-European people who dared to challenge Sunni Arab rule.

What happened in Iraq during Saddam's rule, and what is happening their now at the hands of Saddam's diehard supporters, is a dark secret in the Arab world. But it is a secret that is increasing difficult to keep hidden. For months, Iraqis have been protesting the distorted reporting, by the Arab media, of the Sunni terror campaign inside Iraq. Even Sunni Arabs who went to Iraq to join the fight, and returned, told of how what was really happening in Iraq did not match what the Arab media was reporting. Then, over the Summer, some of the Arab media began to report stories that most Iraqis could agree with. The interim Iraqi government began to openly denounce the distorted reporting, and point out that this news fantasy only helped the enemies of Iraq who wanted to reinstate dictatorship. 

And then there's pride. The Arab media has staked its tattered reputation on its version of the "tragedy in Iraq." Admitting that they've got it all wrong is not an option. So the reporting has been shifting. Just add a new bunch of bad guys to the existing "foreign occupiers" and spread the blame around. Accuracy has never been a major objective in the Arab media. But sensationalism and righteousness are still important. Jumping on the Sunni Arab terror campaign provides plenty of opportunities. And on a slow news day, you can always go back to American atrocities. 


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