print
memri
July 23, 2003 No.
541

Editorials from the New Iraqi Press : MEMRI Baghdad (2)

The following report is the second release from MEMRI's Baghdad office. It focuses on editorials which appeared in the Iraqi press regarding the new governing council of Iraq, the coalition provisional administration, attacks on coalition forces, economic concerns, and sermons delivered in Iraqi mosques.

I. The Governing Council

'No to the Blood Game'

The daily Al-Aswaq , which is an organ of the Iraqi Industry Federation, wrote: "It seems that no one has patience with the Governing Council and everyone is planting mines on its treacherous path. Criticism and mine-planting will continue as long as the Council does not have a general security and intelligence administration to carry out a dialogue with those who rush to criticism, who are impatient, and who cannot stay away from the game…"

"Until now the overwhelming majority of Iraqis, be [they] politicians, factions, or parties, prefer a peaceful political solution, and have been keeping the advocates of a bloody solution on a short leash; but who is to guarantee that all of them will keep to their commitments and will not be lured by a solution with murderous bullets? Will they be smart enough to avoid being swept into the blood game? We agree that the Governing Council is not perfect - and where can one find a perfect government? But the beginning is good… and though some criticism is justifiable… isn't it better to assist the Council in doing its job than looking for reasons and justifications to make it fail?..." [1]

'The Council of Conflicts'

A sarcastic editorial in the independent daily Al-'Alam Bayna Yadayka read: "Be cheerful and gay, all you Iraqis, fill your squares and streets until morning, perhaps until the mornings of the next year. Here are the fruits of 'democracy' which have come to you from across the high seas and the oceans, traversing thousands of miles under the banners of the army of knights, the army of your brothers the Americans [while] sacrificing life and limb for no reward other the chance for the Iraqi to smell the aroma of freedom…"

The editorial urged Iraqis to express their thanks and gratitude to Mr. Bremer for his selections for this council. "For they have all struggled and fought for the sake of this homeland. Some of them have even sat for many years at the gates of the White House begging the knights of freedom to save his country. Others may have acquired the rot from sleeping at the Intercontinental, Sheraton, Hilton, and other hotels waiting for this glorious day in which Mr. Bremer would tap on the shoulder of a frightened council, sorry, I mean governing council. But we Iraqis who have suffered a lot from the dictatorship of the previous regime have but a small scolding to Mr. Bremer. A true council should have been an elected council." [2]

'The Communist Party and the Governing Council'

Tareeq Al-Sha'b, which is the main publication of the Iraqi Communist Party, released an editorial in which it stated that Iraq's Communist Party has outlined a peaceful solution to the present crisis in the country. The proposed solution is "to convene an inclusive national conference that will establish an interim coalition government which will take upon itself to solve the nation's critical problems, and foremost among them, [restoring] security and stability…" The paper goes on to state that the idea of establishing an interim government clashed with UN resolution 1483 which assigned an advisory role to the Iraqis, but after a period of give and take, a compromise was reached that is "neither an interim government nor a 'political council' with an advisory role only."

After detailing the responsibilities of the Governing Council, the paper opined that the participation of the Communist Party is a direct contribution to the political process but it "does not mean that it [i.e. the party] has given up on its demand to expedite the establishment of an independent national government, and the creation of a democratic, united, federal Iraq…" [3]

'A Ray of Light'

An editorial in the daily Al-Rassed, which is published by the Islamic Education Center in Noor City, addressed the issue of the new Governing Council. It wrote: "This week will witness the first meeting of the Iraqi Advisory Council whose powers include the selection, direction and accountability of ministers but the long arm of Bremer will control the council however and whenever he wants to. He can veto any council's decision with no right of objection by anyone. This reflects the method by which the council was created - by appointment, not by election."

"The implementation of democracy by the American administration suffers from hypocrisy because of its reluctance to allow the Iraqi people to practice democracy by selecting its representatives even for the sake of experiment. In order for the Iraqis to practice democracy all that is required from the American administration is to give the [people the] right to nominate and to provide the ballot boxes. And this, we believe, does not require many efforts. If this small experiment in democracy is taken away, how is it possible to enter the bigger experiment of choosing a national government? And how [will] the people succeed without practicing democracy?" [4]

'Iraqis Criticize the Politicians in the New Governing Council'

The daily Al-Alam Bayna Yadayka wrote of the Governing Council that it is supported by America, and its members are those who lived abroad while the Iraqi people suffered under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Sabah Kadhem, who sells ice and earns $3 a day, was quoted as saying, "it is not possible that we support the council. America supports it. It will not change anything. America makes empty promises only. I was not in the habit of reading newspapers because I did not read about Saddam. Now I do not want to read about the Americans. Although the Iraqis are enjoying the taste of political freedom for the first time since the fall of Saddam, they want free democratic elections untainted by American influence or by the participation of Iraqi outsiders." [5]

'Al-Sadr: The Governing Council Does Not Represent Iraqi Aspirations'

"A spokesman for the Shi'a Al-Sadr Organization, which is very influential in Al-Sadr City [a Shi'a neighborhood in Baghdad previously called Saddam City], stated that the establishment of the transitional governing council is a step in the right direction, but it does not represent the Iraqi aspirations… He added that the Shi'a were not quite satisfied yet, because the U.S. is still afraid of establishing a Shi'a state, and is trying to prevent that. As of today, we have no qualms with the members of the council, but they should remember that they are to serve Iraq's interests... and not their own. He expressed his hope that there would be no conflicts concerning the ministerial appointments, and stressed the importance of such a step." [6]

II. The Coalition Provisional Administration (CPA)

'End of the Road'

An editorial by the editor-in-chief of Al-Mustaqilla likened the problem of dealing with U.S. forces to "having a bite of hot food in one's mouth: unable to swallow it, but also unwilling to spit it out, so he keeps turning it over and over…" He went on to say that "people have started to doubt the ability of [the U.S.], which claims to be an international leader… to the point that some of them are asking jokingly whether the U.S. had leased or sold [the management of] Iraq to another country that lacks the experience and administrative know-how… Today's announcements are nullified by tomorrow's decisions. Today the electricity will come back, and tomorrow the outages get longer… Today a council is established, and tomorrow a representative who has been elected the American way is fired or arrested… These American political indecisions and contradictions… have become the subject of mockery because of the damage they are inflicting on citizens… We have no idea whether the occupation forces' insistence on disregarding international laws on how to deal with occupied countries is the result of ignorance or intentional foot-dragging [meant to attain] certain goals." The editorial also stated that since it is impossible to believe that ignorance is the cause, the obvious conclusion is that the Americans have specific goals; otherwise, "the road is clear, namely to give the Iraqi people their right to govern themselves and to allow the devoted citizens to establish an interim government that will deliver basic services and re-establish the state's institutions…" [7]

'To General John Abizaid, with Best Regards'

Tareeq Al-Sha'b published an open letter to General Abizaid. In it, the paper complained that the International Food Program has been a target of constant theft and looting and that most of these incidents occurred after the withdrawal of the American forces that previously protected storage and distribution centers. The paper stated that looting occurred in the port city of Um-Qasr as soon as the Spanish contingency withdrew from it. However, security was re-established when the British forces and Iraqi guards returned to the port city. "So why don't your forces do the same in other areas of Iraq…? Why don't you redeploy them in areas from where they withdrew in order to put an end to looting food intended for millions of Iraqis?" [8]

III. Resistance to the Presence of Allied Forces in Iraq

'The Resistance is Iraqi and is Patriotic'

An op-ed published in Al-Mustaqilla and authored by Dhari Al-Duleimi , suggested that "the escalation of resistance operations is due to the mistakes of the occupying government [which] provoke peoples' feelings and dignity, and disregard their sacred [values] and unique social and cultural tenets..." The article goes on to say that in the face of an escalating wave of popular resistance, [the occupying forces] thought that "they were smart enough to distort the… legitimacy of this resistance and to empty it from its content and patriotic traits..." The article cites examples of such attempts, including "the fabrication of a broadcast audiotape by Saddam, which insinuated that the resistance operations had ties with the collapsed regime..." Al-Duleimi stated that "the resistance is purely patriotic, and has no links to any regime, person, or organization and no one has the right to speak for it." [9]

'Head of Al-Azhar: An Iraqi who Blows Himself Up is not a Shaheed'

"In an interview with the Saudi Al-Arabiyya TV, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the head of Al-Azhar [University commented on] the 'Fedayeen' [martyrdom] operations in Palestine and said that whoever blew himself up [fighting] against the oppressor and the unjust, is a Shaheed [martyr]. But as far as the 'martyrdom operations' in Iraq, he said that he was not going to issue a Fatwa [religious edict] permitting it since the Iraqis should decide their fate by themselves." Sheikh Tantawi added: "But I am not saying that the Iraqi who explodes himself in the face of Americans is a martyr." [10]

'Assassinating Traitors and Spies is a Religious and Patriotic Duty'

" Al-Mustaqilla found out that some perfidious elements, which sold out their honor and their country and betrayed their nation, got embroiled in spying for the Zionist entity and the occupying American forces, which led a number of Islamic clerics [to call for] their assassination… The same sources said that spilling the blood of spies is a religious and patriotic requirement, because of their cooperation with the occupying forces and the Zionists… Al-Mustaqilla will publish the names of those whose involvement has been proven, so that the people can issue their verdict on them." [11]

IV. Economic Concerns

'Demanding the Closure of Iraq 's Borders'

An article in Al-Yawm Al-Akher, an independent daily issued by Al-Munajjed Publications, which was written under the pseudonym 'Son of Mesopotamia,' states that: "A large number of Iraqis, in an overwhelming deluge of letters to our newspaper [there is presently no mail service in Iraq]… demanded the closing of Iraq's international borders except for humanitarian aid, until the establishment of an interim Iraqi government. This was in reaction to the huge numbers of destructive elements that arrived from abroad. They are congregating in the holy shrines and in some of Baghdad's posh areas. Is this permissible? And who is being served by this flow, which made our streets look as if they were the streets of Communist China!!?" The writer also stated that his patriotic feelings make it his duty to declare: "This has gone beyond reason, and those involved should remember that too much of anything can produce opposite outcomes, and Allah knows the reasons [behind the deeds]." [12]

'The Croaking of Frogs and the Cawing of Ravens'

An editorial in Al-Yawm Al-Akher quoted the "Jewish [Israeli] daily Yedi'ot Aharonot" as reporting that Israel and Jordan have been negotiating the building of two oil pipelines between Kirkuk and Haifa, across Jordanian territory, and that Israeli companies would participate in the reconstruction of Iraq under the cover of Egyptian and Jordanian companies. The Iraqi daily wrote: "Political and propaganda circles - just like the croaking of frogs - have started to propagate such prejudiced reports… hoping to get at least one drop of oil from Kirkuk's refineries. Behold little frogs!!! The decision to build pipelines across other countries is a matter of sovereignty, it is the prerogative of the sons of Iraq, and no one else's… the issue has nothing to do with cost (a billion dollars), but has to do with human values, and we should never forget that we are Muslims." The article then commends Ayatollah Kadhim Al-Hairi for issuing a "Fatwa against the Jews." The article goes on to argue that the current oil markets are in Asia and North America, therefore Iraq's oil should be exported through the Gulf and not through the Mediterranean. It addresses "Hosni [Mubarak], [King] Abdallah, and Netanyahu" and declares: "We don't blame the last one since he is a Jew, but we blame those who lost their Arab identity. Who are you who make declarations like the croaking of frogs and the cawing of ravens and make deals with the Jews?" [13]

'Jews are Coming but the Politicians are Sleeping'

The daily Al-Rassed addressed rumors about Jews returning to Iraq: "The Iraqi society is focusing on the attempts of Jews to purchase real estate like hotels and residential properties in the capital after Iraq has become wide open by virtue of the liberation granted us by the occupational forces. The most recent news is the granting of a contract for the sum of $83 million to Israel to supply the allied forces currently in Iraq with food. The Zionist Minister of Agriculture declared that the contract 'has saved Israeli agriculture from its problems.'

"Discussions have also focused on some Iraqis inside the country, the Kurds, and the Jordanians helping the Jews obtain these suspicious deals whose end results are unknown."

"It is no secret that Iraqi oil is reaching Israel whether through a direct pipeline or through 'honest' Jordanian merchants who still raise the picture of Saddam Hussein and broadcast songs that talk about the heroism [of Saddam]. The strange thing about the subject is that the Iraqi politicians and their 150 political parties have maintained silence because they were competing with each other feverishly to occupy the offices and bureaus of the previous regime and fill the streets and walls of Baghdad with slogans."

"Notwithstanding these slogans we want to know what is the position of the politicians regarding the sale of our homes to Israel and regarding the occupation army accepting only Israeli fruit." [14]

V. Friday Sermons at Mosques

MEMRI's branch in Baghdad reported on July 19, 2003: "Most of the Friday sermons in Baghdad focused on criticizing the Governing Council which was established a few days earlier. For example, in the Friday sermon on July 18 in Hai Al-Qudhat in Baghdad the speaker, Sheikh As'ad Al-Hadithi, considered the members of the council as a group nurtured in the laps of the Americans and the Jews, meaning a group of people sheltered by the United States and Israel. According to the speaker they do not represent the Iraqi people and work for the benefits of America and the Jews."

VI. News Reports from Baghdad

'The Lawsuit against Uday'

"An Iraqi lawyer initiated the first lawsuit against Uday Saddam Hussein… [dealing with] a house that Uday appropriated without paying any compensations. It is known that several of Saddam's relatives, especially his two sons Uday and Qusay, had taken advantage of their powerful status and their proximity to the former President to usurp properties belonging to the citizens." [15]

'Caretakers of the Presidential Palaces and the Peugeot Cars'

"A source at the Iraqi General Automobile Marketing Company said that the deposed president Saddam gave away Peugeot automobiles to caretakers of the presidential palaces. The company asked those people to pay off the balance due on cars that have been delivered. During the last year, the deposed dictator had distributed cars to the caretakers of all his palaces, which had been built at the expense of the dispossessed Iraqi people and at a time when university professors were destitute and had no presidential privileges whatsoever." [16]


[1] Al-Aswaq, July 26, 2003.

[2] Al-'Alam Bayna Yadaika, July 16, 2003.

[3] Tareeq Al-Sha'b, July 20-26, 2003.

[4] Al-Rassed, July 17, 2003.

[5] Al-'Alam Bayna Yadayka, July 16, 2003.

[6] Al-Aswaq, July 17, 2003.

[7] Al-Mustaqilla, July 13, 2003.

[8] Tareeq Al-Sha'b, July 20-26, 2003.

[9] Al-Mustaqilla, July 13, 2003.

[10] Al-Aswaq , July 14, 2003.

[11] Al-Mustaqilla, July 13, 2003.

[12] Al-Yawm Al-Akher, July 14, 2003.

[13] Al-Yam Al-Adhere, July 14, 2003.

[14] Al-Rassed, July 17, 2003.

[15] Al-Khaled, July 19, 2003.

[16] Al-Khaled, July 19,2003 .