Political Debate in the New Iraq
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Marashi
February 2, 2006
Examining Media in Iraq
“bubble of identity”- coterminous with the
boundaries of the state
State seeks to regulate images within the bubble
New Iraq – “bubbles within a bubble”
Restrict what images come into the bubble from
(Iran, the US, insurgency)
Media intervention vs. media assistance
US did both in Iraq
Identity of the state
What is the identity of the Iraqi state
Does it exist at this point
Critics argue it is Shia-Kurdish alliance of
The leaders want to hide this fact
What role does the state media play in
forming this identity?
Media in Iraq as of Today
Media Spheres in Iraq
Iraqi political factions use Al-Iraqiyya to
send their message
At the same time they have their own
partisan sat channel and newspaper
Those who don‟t have access to al-Iraqiyya
use al-Sharqiyya or al-Jazira
Eventually formed their own channel
Iraqi Political Factions
Sunni Shia Miscellaneous*
Front For Iraqi National Iraq
United Iraqi Coalition
Conciliation (Liberal Secular)
Front for Iraqi Dialogue Independent Karbala
Peace and Brotherhood
In Kirkuk Alliance
Unified Iraqi Front Nationalists Human Rights Justice and Future
National Liberation National Mesopotamia List
Hizb Dawa and Popular Base
National Unity List Allegiance Grouping of Basra
Alusi List for the People
The Arab List
Sun of Iraq
The Iraqi National Conference
1) Shia Political Parties/UIA
dominated by two Islamist parties
1. the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq (SCIRI), led by „Abd al-„Aziz al-Hakim
2. the Da‟wa Party led by Ibrahim al-Ja‟fari.
Ja‟fari served as Iraq‟s interim Prime Minister
after the January 2005 vote.
The two parties have sought a role for Islam in
the state, and aim to ensure Iraq‟s Islamic identity
The young cleric Muqtada Sadr joined the
Alliance prior to the December 2005 elections.
2) Kurdish Political Parties/KCL
KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) led by Masud
Barazani and the PUK (Patriotic Unions of
Kurdistan) led by Jalal Talabani are the two most
dominant factions within the Kurdish Coalition List
Talabani became Iraq‟s President, while the
KDP‟s Zebari served as Iraq‟s Foreign Minister.
Expands the de-facto autonomy they have
enjoyed since 1991, and aim to formally enshrine
this autonomy within a new Iraqi state
3) Sunni Political Parties/ Tawafuq
A number of parties, competing to serve as the united
voice of the Sunnis.
Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP, led by Muhsin „Abd al-Hamid)
the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS, led by
Muthanna and Harith al-Dari)
the National Dialogue Council (NDC, led by Salih al-
General Dialogue Conference (GDC, by „Adnan al-
Dulaymi). prevent the disintegration of Iraq
fear a federal entity in the north and south could lead to
the dismembering of the nation, leaving the Sunnis in a
landlocked rump state, with no access to the oil
4) Non-Aligned Factions
Non sectarian, non ethnic
Secular groups, such as the Iraqi National
Accord led by Iyad „Allawi
the Iraqi Communist Party,
Why Study Satellite Channels?
Opposed to terrestrial channels can reach
a wider audience
2. Iraqi diaspora (UK, US, Jordan, Iran)
3. Arab world
4. “Kurdish world”
Al-Iraqiyya – “Iraqiness,” “of Iraq”
Al-Iraqiyya television, formerly known as Iraqi
Media Network [IMN] television began
transmission on 13 May 2003
Official discourse of the state
tries to display the bright side of Iraq rather than
the destruction, blood shed, or killings
highlights issues of "national unity"
Both Arabic and Kurdish programs
Friday sermons feature both Shiite and Sunni
preacher disregard sectarian differences.
Al-Iraqiyya – Security Operations
crackdowns, arrests, and "heroics" of Iraqi security
forces in their showdown with the "terrorists" in Iraq.
Neglects the losses of the Iraqi security services,
average Iraqis commend the traits and operations of
Iraqi security forces against terrorists and suppresses
footage of Iraqi civilian and military casualties.
extensive reporting on "Operation Lightning" on 1
through 7 June, the station's correspondents are
observed to air interviews with Iraqi citizens, updates on
toll of captured "terrorists"
Terrorism in the Hand of Justice: A daily program,
1705, "confession" to their "crimes and acts of
To prove the insurgency is not some kind of
"noble struggle for freedom", rather the work of
criminals working for personal gain.
questioning the voracity of the confessions it airs.
similar program "The Real Terrorism", which airs
on the Kurdistan Democratic Party-run channel
Al-Iraqiyya - Religion
Shari'ah: Questions and Answers: A live
phone-in program at 1215 on Fridays.
Imam Abdallah Abu-al-Harith, discuss
"tolerance of Islam" in Iraq.
The station carries the "Shiite" call to
Al-Iraqiyya - PSAs
Special ads to denounce killing of doctors
Promos to encourage voting and joining the
Al-Furat – “The Euphrates”
4 Nov 2004 started broadcasting
Supplements the paper al-Adalah
Furat – SCIRI influences
songs celebrate the trial of the "tyrant
ruler and his regime"
footage of mass graves
national songs celebrate the constitution
Furat – Security Issues
Channel Defends Government Actions
“achievements of the Iraqi Government”
implementation of development projects and the
improvement of the state of security.
video reports highlights operations conducted
by Iraqi/multinational forces.
restore security and "wipe out" Al-Qa'ida in Iraq
Iraqi Interior Ministry's underground prison was
not a lead news item
Furat - Terrorism
song condemns the "silence" of some Arab
states regarding the crimes committed by
"terrorists" in Iraq.
Amman bombings in Nov 2005, Al-Furat: "Why
is terrorism in Iraq not duly condemned?"
"Terrorism is promoted by most preachers in
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and what
happened in Amman is one of the results of
such irresponsible support for terrorism."
Furat – SCIRI Agenda
highlights the statements of SCIRI head
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
songs promote unity among the various
Glorify the late M. Baqir al-Hakim and al-
ads promote UIC in the December
elections, not other coalitions
Furat - Shows
"With the National Assembly“
"Al-Furat and the People," phone-in
"Fiqh Imam Al-Mustafa“
Friday Sermons – Shi‟a Imams
Islamic cartoon show, "The Most Virtuous
People on Earth."
began in August 2005
Arab Sunni Islamist
“The truth. . .In detail.”
Supplements the papers Al-Itisam and Basair
Affiliated with the Iraqi al -Tawafuq Front
carries live Al-Tawafuq press conferences
Baghdad - Islamist Leanings
music videos are religious in nature some
secular nationalist songs, but no
entertainment songs like Al-Sharqiyya
begins ands end with Quranic recitations
news anchorwomen wear the hijab
Baghdad – linked to Sunni Arab
phone-in programs callers are virtually all
Sunni Arabs who voice their opinions on
political, religious, or social issues
Sunni call for prayer
Friday sermons from Sunni mosques
Baghdad – links to AMS
Praised by the AMS‟ Basa‟ir news: "the launching of
the Baghdad Satellite Channel is an important step
in the right direction, particularly in view of the
influential role that media can play, and which we
have missed over the past two years, in uncovering
the facts that have been obliterated and wiped out
by the US-politicized forces“
Baghdad – Security Issues
refers to "the occupation forces" (quwwat
highlights US troop losses and the attacks
that caused them
refers to insurgents as "armed men“
(musalihin) but avoids the term "terrorists“
Baghdad – Socio-Political Programs
"Your Place is Empty" -- on Iraqi prisoners,
features interviews with families about who
arrested them, how they were treated.
"Baghdad Daily" -- A Daily program at 1815
BST, asking the common man on the street
about issues of political concern.
Baghdad - Religious Programs
"Explaining the Holy Koran“
"In the Shadows of the Shari'ah“
"Fatwas on Air"
Kurdistan Satellite Channel operated by the
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
KurdSat, operated by the Patriotic Union of
Supplements Ittihad and Kurdistan Nuwe
Kurdistan Satellite TV
began in 1999
Karawan Aqrawi-Station manager :
“acquainting the world with a true picture of
the civil society we are trying to implant in
Kurdistan, which can become the model for
an independent Iraq, and to assert our
desire to coexist with other Iraqi tribal
groupings and ethnicities."
Kurdistan Satellite TV - headlines
KDP, leader Barzani meets Iran's Supreme Security
Council Secretary Hasan Rohani; stability in Iraq,
bilateral ties discussed
The head of the KDP-led Kurdistan regional government
Nechirvan Barzani meets Yezidi delegation residing in
KDP Political Bureau Secretary Fadhil Mirani briefs
party officials in Branch-2 in Arbil
US forces reportedly bombards few sites in Al-Fallujah
where Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi supporters said hiding
People in Zakho held a peaceful demonstration to
condemn recent beheading of three men from the town
and killing of 12 Kurdish police officers in Khanaqin
Launched in 2000
Arabic broadcasts 5 to 6 hours
Awat Najm El Din, director, "we enjoy complete
independence regarding the message we adopt in
our live open-mike talk shows. Our listeners say
everything and often cross the boundaries to
express views opposing the policies of the
Patriotic Union. This affirms the breadth of
freedom granted to our political programs."
KurdSat – headlines news items
PUK-led forces held a military parade in Saray
Subhanagha area in the presence of leader
Jalal Talabani and other party officials.
The head of PUK-led Kurdistan regional
government Umar Fattah meets group of
Egyptian journalists; Fattah said Kurds
appreciate being part of federal and democratic
One killed and several others injured as a rocket
hit Karradah District in Baghdad.
South Korean forces delegation visits Kurdistan
parliament, bilateral relations discussed.
addressing the Arab
Kurdish cause to the
reach the Kurdish
“The duration of the Kurdish programs prevails
over the Turkomani programs.”
“The employees in the organization are not
independent and do not work to the procedure
and objectives sought by the coalition forces in
the city, but follow the approach of the Kurdish
broadcasts terrestrially in Arabic and Turkoman
Recently started broadcasting via satellite
Shariqiyya – Of The East
Al-Sharqiyya: new TV station of Sa'd al-Bazzaz
Began in March 2004
addresses "the plight of Iraq's majority,"
“women's issues” and "differences of opinion."
"Al-Sharqiyya - the truth television," and "Al-
Sharqiyya - We are not afraid of telling the truth
though we might be blamed."
No religious programs
All shows are in Iraqi dialect
Depends of advertising revenues
Election Coverage Dec 15 2005, 300 -
300 BST a 15-min newscast reviewing the course of the
electoral process since the early morning hours and
broadcasting excerpts of Iraqi high-ranking officials
including Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, SCIRI
leader Al-Hakim, Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi
At 415 BST, Al-Ta'i interviews Interior Minister Baqir al-
Zubaydi who says the security measures taken in these
elections are better than those taken in the referendum
because the performance of the security forces has
significantly improved as well as their large-scale
deployment all over Iraq.
Election Coverage Dec 15 2005
355 BST screen caption: "His eminence Al-Hakim visits
the IECI offices to follow up on the complications that
have prevented Iraqis from casting their votes in many
420 BST interview National Security Advisor, Dr
Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i, who describes grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani as a "godsend" to the Iraqi people in a very
critical time in their history. Al-Rubay'i praises Al-Sistani
and his efforts, which, according to him, prevent a break
out of a "civil war" in Iraq.
Election Coverage Dec 15 2005
At 300 BST, elections summary then songs that
glorify Arab unity and the Islamic spirit of Arabs.
At 315 BST, clip on the "US occupation of Iraq."
The announcer-read report over video provides a
briefing on the main political events that Iraq has
seen since April 2003. The report criticizes the US
practices in Iraq while it hails "resistance.“
At 322 BST, songs urge the Iraqis to participate in
the elections. The songs are aired over clips of
Iraqis heading for ballot centers.
Election Coverage Dec 15 2005
KurdSat TV Iraqi President Talabani's media address
after casting his vote in Sulaymaniyah. He called for a
parliament representing all Iraqis and urged the Iraq
people to vote. Recently-turned 18 year olds youths
could not vote for some technical failures in the city of
Sulaymaniyah. The station appealed to the relevant
authorities to resolve the problem during the day.
Kurdistan Satellite TV President of Iraqi Kurdistan
Region Mas'ud Barzani's media address after casting
his vote in Irbil. Nechirvan Barzani's address after
casting his vote. The two leaders were optimistic about
the turnout and described the day as historic.
The media in Iraq serve as a reflection of
the development of the state
Is there an Iraqi state?
States within a weak state
Credits and further information
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