The Big Pharaoh
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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Before posting the second part of my article on Al-Jazerah, I would like to address some of the comments I got in the column.

I think the Iraqis UNDERSTAND better than we Americans about how to deal with their own people.

You’re right. However, we have to pray day and night that Ayatollah Sistani endorses the interim government on June 30. I have doubts that he will do that and he will use his I-hate-it-with-all-my-heart-but-I-will-keep-my-mouth-shut-for-the-time-being attitude. I really really hope Sistani doesn’t undermine the coming interim government because Iraq needs such an entity to usher it to elections in 2005. An interim government backed by Sistani will be nightmare to Muqty and other trouble makers. However, as I said, I doubt he will throw his weight on an “unelected” body. Let’s hope he does more good than damage.

Aljazeera is systematically criticised by the US, but it's also often banned by Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, the PLO, etc... and was even described by Bahrein as being "pro-zionist".

True, Al-Jazerah is a tool in the hands of Qatar to bug other Arab nations. That was the main reason behind Saudi’s launch of Al-Arabiyah. A Jordanian official put it so well when he said “Al Jazerah is a lion with Arab nations but a lamb with Qatar”. More on that point in my upcoming article.

Aljazeera is probably the only arab channel to regularly interview and debate with western officials including Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair and even Ariel Sharon.

Not true. Other channels are doing the same thing. However, what would a couple of interviews do with the completely biased structure and philosophy of the channel?

True, Aljazeera combative talk-shows are largely anti-american, but it is reflecting the anti-american feeling among 99% of the arab world.

I agree, it does reflect the feeling on the Arab street, however, it doesn’t reflect the feeling among 99% of Iraq! However, Allah forbids, the recent fiasco coverage in Fallujah indicated that the Qatar financed channel is trying to reach that percentage in Iraq. Iraqi people need to be reminded of the channel’s past everyday because as Zeyad (an Iraqi blogger) told me, Iraqis forget easily (just like everybody else I guess).

Besides what about the other satellite channels competing with Aljazeera (Dubai, AlArabya,..)?

They all reflect the feelings of the Arab world, however, I pointed Al Jazerah since it is their mother! Besides, it’s the only channel with good solid relations with Saddam’s Mukhabarat!

To me, Aljazeera is becoming more like the arab Fox News

That is a very misleading comment. I agree, Fox News is overly patriotic and biased towards the US government, but I would like to present the following differences:

Fox: Independent, owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, can kick government butt if it wants to.
Al-Jazerah: Not independent, receives $30 million from the ruler of Qatar and it will kiss Doha goodbye if it kicked Qatar butt.

F: Does not incite violence nor call for murder
AJ: Incites violence and indirectly calls for murder of Iraqi officials and coalition members (80% of Iraqis are against that)

F: Did not take bribes from Saddam nor collaborated with his intelligence agency
AJ: Took bribes from Saddam and collaborated with his intelligence agency

F: Twists some truth
AJ: Twists the truth and nothing but the truth

F: Most importantly, wants Iraq to be a decent nation and a beacon of decency in the region
AJ: Doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Iraq being a decent nation and a deacon of decency in the region as long as the coalition is in trouble.

Still, it's a little bit ridiculous to blame all the US failings in Iraq on it

I didn’t. Read my post again and you’ll discover that I said that the coalition did some serious avoidable mistakes.

Is Al Hurra making any inroads into the market?

I have loads and loads of criticism towards Al Hurra and their performance so far. I think the current management should be fired as soon as possible. It broke my heart to read that a couple of my fellow Iraqi bloggers complained that they tried watching Al Hurra for more sensible news yet were dismayed at its failure to provide adequate coverage of the recent events. I am planning to write a very harsh worded email to them. However, I noticed only one good thing in Al Hurra: it is surprisingly very balanced. When they have a show, they always have someone presenting the anti-america/anti-israel and pro-america/pro-israel views. I think Al Hurra has a lot of potential in the region but it needs to get its acts together.

RSN, BBC, Reuters etc are not the same. These organizations do add left-wing spin, and they stick in left-wing opinions into the news, but nothing is fabricated.

Very true. BBC has a clear preset political agenda and I hate it when broadcasters have such an agenda of their own, however, they are angels when compared to Al-Jazerah for example. I thank Lord Hutton for kicking their butts. Don’t think that I don’t consider Fox and Sky to lack such a preset political agenda. The only channel that I really respect and accept most of what it says without taking a grain of salt is CNN International (Please do not email/comment telling me that I am wrong because I really made my mind). Even though I hate Ted Turner, I think CNN International (I don’t know about CNN USA) takes great pain in presenting both views. I trusted CNN Int’l when both the Israelis and Arabs shouted “CNN LIES”!

Is there a stream in this wadi?

Yes, there are small lakes in the region I was camping in.

also GM just a curious question why do so many people hate the US in countries like egypt when egypt is the second largest receiver of US cash after isreal. same with jordan.

I have been getting this question over and over again. I will answer it after I post Part 2 of my article.


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