Arab editors denounce Iraq abuse

Arab editors have strongly criticised the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US occupation authorities in Iraq, describing the release of the pictures as a media wake up call.

CBS pictures prove allegations constantly made by Iraqis
CBS pictures prove allegations constantly made by Iraqis

They accuse the US of being aware of such violations for months and claim that the Bush administration made great efforts to prevent the US media from making the shocking images public.

Wake up call

Abd al-Barri Atwan editor-in-chief of the London based Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi believes the publishing of the photographs of abused Iraqi prisoners is a media wake up call.

“The western media has been feeling guilty. I have been sensing a feeling of regret by media organisations and individuals” he said.

Atwan is convinced that the journalists and broadcasters now realise that they played an important role in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

“The western media believes it was one of the contributors that guaranteed the success of the invasion of Iraq.

But after recent developments in Falluja, Najaf and other Iraqi cities, and the slower than expected reconstruction, western media has realised that US-UK intentions were not as straightforward as they were told.” he said.  

“They released the pictures to say that the honeymoon with governments that back the occupation of Iraq has ended.”

However, Basim al-Shaikh, editor-in-chief of the Iraqi newspaper al-Dostour (The Constitution) does not agree with Atwan, and says western media is driven by selfish rather than emotional motives.

Most recent images of US torturing Iraqi victims

Most recent images of US
torturing Iraqi victims

“The western media has nothing to do with emotion. It is driven by the laws of the market.” al-Shaikh said. 

Internal US politics

Another leading Arab journalist links the release of the pictures to internal US conflict. Mustafa Bakri, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian weekly newspaper al-Usbua (The Week) believes that certain US political groups are behind the release of the controversial pictures.

“No doubt those awful pictures were published against the will of the Bush administration. I strongly believe that there are some internal US factions interested in discrediting President George Bush.”

“The western media  believes it was one of the contributors that guaranteed the success of the invasion of Iraq.”

Abd al-Barri Atwan
Editor-in-chief Al-Quds Al-Arabi

“There is an ongoing conflict between democrats who want to stoop the US blood loss in Iraq, and republicans who insist on finishing the Iraq project, hoping to renew Bush’s presidency” Bakri said.

Covering the defeat

Dr Muthana Harith al-Dhari, editor-in-chief of the Iraqi weekly al-Basaer (Visions) believes the US released the pictures to cover its defeat in Falluja. 

“Obviously the Iraqi resistance fighters in Falluja, succeeded in forcing their terms on the US occupation forces, who failed to capture Falluja and wipe out the Mujahideen.” 

He believes that the US wanted to divert attention from Falluja where it is suffering a real defeat. 

“If we look at the pictures, what’s new in them? … Nothing.. we know that such savage acts have been going on, and have protested against them to US occupation authorities.

But of course the American people did not know, so they released the pictures to divert their people’s attention from the Falluja defeat.” 

Basim al-Shaikh backs al-Dhari, “I think the pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners were released to draw the attention of the western audience away from the situation in Falluja, where the US has witnessed a sort of setback.

If we look at the media coverage of Iraq, we see that Falluja has retreated to second place.”

Systematic Violations

Iraqi and Arab sources agree that human rights violations have been taking place in Iraq since the start of the occupation last year and that the pictures released by the US broadcaster CBS represent just one incident.

“Human rights violations have been systematic in Iraq, which I am sure the US administration will not be able to hide forever. I believe that honourable journalists will stand up to it.” Atwan of al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper said.

“We would like to know now, what they did to Saddam’s guard? Goodness knows how he was tortured until he agreed to lead them to the president Saddam’s hideout!”

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