Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The American Media’s New Burning Hoop for Maliki: Arrest Muqtada

Wolf cries wolf, that’s basically it. Wolf Blitzer, in his interview today with VP Cheney on CNN’s The Situation Room, has revealed that the next burning hoop that the media is artificially putting in PM Maliki’s path is going to be the arrest of Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr: Blitzer is implicitly saying that if Maliki doesn’t put Muqtada behind bars, then it’s as if nothing has improved in Iraq.

Shameless. Simply shameless.

CNN, and other media outlets, have become so entrenched in the ‘Iraq-is-a-Disaster’ storyline that any positive developments in Baghdad will be matched by the media raising the bar on what counts for success, just to save face and tarnish Bush and Maliki.

Sure, Muqtada should be behind bars. But folks did you forget about the other priorities that you’ve been harping about? Like putting out the sectarian wildfire? Like going after the death squads? Like securing Baghdad? Like restoring basic services? Like fighting corruption?

And speaking about corruption, Mr. Blitzer, what was that piece of sloppy reporting done by that mediocre reporter, CNN’s ‘senior’ national correspondent John Roberts, on the Aiham al-Samarrai story supposed to be, huh? It was a total whitewash of someone who could turn out to be the most corrupt swindler in Iraq's history if the charges hold, while the Iraqi government’s version of events was disdainfully given by Mr. Roberts as he sarcastically talked out of the side of his mouth! Why wasn’t someone brought on to counter Samarrai’s charges and to explain why he is being prosecuted for corruption, and how corruption has enabled the insurgents? [The relevant transcript from the January 17 show is posted in full in the comments section—try to read it without smashing the screen]

And speaking of reporting, does CNN’s Michael Ware, who is constantly featured on Blitzer’s show, ever say something new? I mean, what is he actually saying? It all sounds so neat and ornate, especially with that Australian accent, but where is the actual reporting in what he says? It seems Mr. Ware is big on hyperbole, but thin on the facts. I’d like to know what his sources are saying about Haifa Street. I’d like to know what his sources are saying about the alleged arrest of Juba the Sniper. But we don’t hear that at all; we just hear blah-blah-blah, Iraq-is-a-Disaster.

Now, so as not to concede any measure of success to Bush or Maliki, Blitzer & Co. are pushing for the near-impossible-at-the-current-time political and logistical feat of arresting Muqtada. Sure, it is the business of the media to keep pushing those in power on getting right, and certainly, Muqtada answering charges would be a good thing.

But when the media’s refrain of ‘Iraq-is-a-Disaster’ continues to give heart to the hold-outs of the insurgency, who will be fortified in the illusion that the Americans cannot salvage Iraq (…believe me, the insurgents watch CNN all the time), and that encourages them to go out and kill more Iraqis and Americans in their murderous quest, then yeah, I’ll get angry at Wolf Blitzer for artificially creating a new and impossible task for Maliki just so that he—as well as Messrs. Roberts and Ware—can save face over getting the story wrong.

Here’s the transcript of the relevant segment:

BLITZER: Do you trust Nouri al-Maliki?

CHENEY: I do. At this point, I don't have any reason not to trust him.

BLITZER: Is he going to go after Muqtada al Sadr...

CHENEY: I think...

BLITZER: ... this anti-American Shiite cleric who...

CHENEY: I think he has demonstrated...

BLITZER: ... controls the Mahdi Army?

CHENEY: I think he has demonstrated a willingness to take on any elements that violate the law. He has been...

BLITZER: Do you want him to arrest Muqtada al Sadr?

CHENEY: He has been active, just in recent weeks, in going after the Mahdi Army. There have been some 600 of them arrested within the last several days.

BLITZER: Should he be arrested, Muqtada al Sadr?

CHENEY: That's a decision that's got to be made...

BLITZER: Because, as you know, the first U.S. general there, Roberto Sanchez, said this guy killed Americans, he has blood on his hands, he was wanted, basically, dead or alive. Whatever happened to that?

CHENEY: Wolf, you've got to let Nouri Al-Maliki deal with the situation as he sees fit, and I think he will.

BLITZER: You think he's going to go after the Mahdi Army?

CHENEY: I think he will go after all of those elements in Iraq that are violating the law, that are contributing to sectarian violence. There are criminal elements, there are Baathists -- former regime elements -- all of them have to be the target of the effort. He'll have a lot of help, because he'll have 160,000 U.S. forces there to work alongside the Iraqis to get the job done.

But Cheney calls out Blitzer on his bias later in the interview:


CHENEY: Just think for a minute -- think for a minute, Wolf, in terms of what policy is being suggested here. What you're recommending -- or at least what you seem to believe the right course is -- is to bail out...

BLITZER: I'm just asking a question.

CHENEY: No, you're not asking a question.

BLITZER: Yes, I am. I'm just asking...

CHENEY: Implicit...

BLITZER: ... the questions...

CHENEY: Implicit in the critics...

BLITZER: ... that your critics are asking.

CHENEY: Implicit in what the critics are suggesting, I think, is an obligation to say well, here's what we need to do or we're not going to do anything else, we're going to accept defeat. Defeat is not an answer. We can, in fact, prevail here and we need to prevail. And the consequences of not doing so are enormous.


Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...


January 17, 2007 Wednesday


I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Turning now to the tale of an American who took an important post to the Iraqi government but then ran into some very serious trouble in Baghdad. He's back home after some hair-raising adventures. And that's raising a lot of controversy.

Let's turn to our senior national correspondent John Roberts. He has an amazing story -- John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NAT'L CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a story of intrigue that's remarkable even by Iraqi standards. It involves the former Iraqi electricity minister, an American citizen, charges of corruption and a daring prison break.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)ROBERTS (voice-over): Iraqi officials say he is a fugitive. But Aiham Alsammarae was back at work in his Chicago area engineering firm today.

AIHAM ALSAMMARAE, FORMER IRAQI ELECTRICITY MIN.: For the sake of myself and sake of my family, I have to do it. If you are in my place, or any other American, official or not, in my place, he would do what I did.

ROBERTS: What Alsammarae did was break out of an Iraqi jail in Baghdad's green zone, then flee the country. He had been the electricity minister in Iraq's interim government, even met President Bush in the Oval Office. Last October, he was convicted on corruption charges and sent to prison. He appealed and won. The conviction was overturned in December and Alsammarae claims he was ordered released. But when officials said he would be transferred to another jail for processing, Alsammarae, a Sunni and a U.S. citizen, bolted.

AIHAM ALSAMMARAE, FORMER IRAQI ELECTRICITY MIN.: They said to follow the procedure, you have to go outside the Green Zone and we have to do the fingerprints for you. I said this is impossible because I would get killed.

ROBERTS: The escape, however, had been long planned. Alsammarae fled to the Baghdad Airport, changing cars three times, then took a private jet that had been waiting for him for a week there from Jordan. There, he got a new U.S. passport from the embassy, and after doing some business in Dubai, flew back to Chicago.

The State Department was well aware of his escape. But because DHS didn't know of any outstanding warrants against him, he was allowed back into the country. Alsammarae admits he has five more cases pending against him in Iraq, but claims he made bail and that a judge who wants him returned to Baghdad has sectarian motives.

ALSAMMARAE: All of these accusations are coming from him. He's politically motivated and he's working with militia right now. And before, he was working a Ahmad Chalabi, and both of those guys are my political enemies.

ROBERTS: The escape is an embarrassment for the State Department, which was quick to insist U.S. officials did nothing to help Alsammarae leave Iraq. The Iraqi government has not yet asked for him to be extradited, and it's not clear if the U.S. would even hand him over.For his part, Alsammarae is proclaiming innocence and vows he will voluntarily go back to Iraq to face both the remaining charges and fight a government, he says, is increasingly hostile to Sunni Muslims.

ALSAMMARAE: I will go to Iraq, hopefully in two months, to fight this government and make them go. Those are sectarian governments and we have to work hard to take them out from there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)ROBERTS: So how much risk did Alsammarae really face while he was in Iraq? A U.S. official told me that he spent four months in jail without incident, though he protested almost daily that his life was in danger. That said, however, Iraq has changed a lot in the last five months, Wolf.

BLITZER: It does underscore the enormous tension between Iraqi Sunnis, of which he was one, and Iraqi Shia.

ROBERTS: He believed that he was going to be taken from the Green Zone to a jail in a Shiite neighborhood and that he was either going to be killed on the way, or killed once he got to that jail. Now, Iraqi officials tells you no, it was just standard procedure. But Alsammarae really believes his life was in danger.

BLITZER: And the tragedies. He went back originally to Iraq because he wanted to help the country and look what happened. Good reporting. Thanks very much, John.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Wolf.

6:38 PM, January 24, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nibras,

Thought I'd run this NYT article past you in case you haven't already read it. The article basically reports on the attempts by some of Moqtada's representatives to reach a peace deal with coalition forces.


What's your analysis regarding this report?

9:30 PM, January 24, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nibras, a superb blog and pronouncements of exactly what this administration has had to endure. Succinctly, the world community allowed hegemony and systematic genocide and human rights violations of the Iraqi people for over three decades, and our media has turned this into a carnival at the expense of their soldiers and the Iraqi people caught in the breech. Vice President Cheney conducted himself in a dignified and conrolled manner despite several disrespectful, seditious and provocative lures of a man who knows better. After being in Baghdad, and watching CNN while there, I no longer watch CNN.

The insulated affluence, distance and surfeit of the puppet media and the coward politic shows that they are in this for themselves, the usual leftists and Hollywood coward elite, far removed from any sacrifice or discomfort. As of late through Robert Redford told us we-as in you and I-are due for one huge apology. I suppose the apology is for not staying the course of almost ten years of not responding to the bloodletting of Americans and the systematic dismantling and compromise of the Intelligence Community under the previous administration. The crowd of the "Free Tibet: bumper stickers gave tacit approval to the gemocide of the Iraqi people under Sadaam for over thirty years; comfort and wuarter to those who are slaughtering Iraqi people this day, and war crimes committed against the American fighting man.

I served in and around Baghdad, and I have served my country for some 30 years. There was no hue and cry from anyone during the bloodletting and unspeakable hegemony of Hussein and the former regime or their supporters. They were also silent as the bloodletting of Americans during the last presidency alone to terrorism ripped the human and constitution rights from American’s souls. The Hollywood crew, Democrats and human rights largesse was silent.

The Iraqi people are wonderful and loving, and suffer from victimization the likes we have not seen since the Third Reich's victims. I adore their unmitigated courage and their sad balance of what generations has had visited upon them at the complete indifference of the world, whose main focus was siphoning money to include food from Iraqi children's mouths at the supposed intellectual contemplation of the coward elite in my country as they sipped expensive latte's and appeared on Bill Maher, while insurgent blew up Iraqi children who wanted to play soccer. And George Bush owes the apology? Nibras, keep writing strong and profound and clear.

Most Americans want to fit in and ne cool and live life like it is a Survivor episode "it's all about me". If they keep this up, they will lose this nation. Robert Redford and his pals need to vist Iraqi children in the hospital, and gravesites of Americans who put their lives on hold and lived for something larger than their own selfishness which has been pandered to for decacdes?

1:43 AM, January 26, 2007

Blogger das411 said...

Keep it up Nibras, but notice it is not only the media over here in the USA who are trying to declare defeat prematurely. Notice how thier favorite political party (yknow the one that is only still remotely successful because of the MSM) is desperately trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again, before the Petraeus reorganization takes effect and solidifies a victory even the blindest liberal will be unable to ignore.

8:33 PM, January 28, 2007

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