Monday, February 28, 2005

Iraqi PM on the Big Responsibility of the Media, in Iraq… and Elsewhere

We have a better chance of getting [Iraq's political process] right if the constitutional debate is as broad and public as possible
writes Ayad Allawi in the Wall Street Journal (while Arthur Chrenkoff gives a roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq). In his intelligent editorial, the prime minister whom many dismissed as nothing but Bush's puppet goes on to say
The whole of Iraqi society needs to be engaged in both the debate and the reconciliation which it should bring. This places a big responsibility on the new, free media in Iraq.

But the pan-Arab media has a big role to play as well—something it already appeared to relish during the election campaign. Arabic satellite TV stations such as Al Arabiya were obviously excited and inspired by the sight of real democracy in the heart of the Arab world. By reporting fairly on the elections, they in turn inspired their Arab audience across the Middle East and beyond. Iraqis were proud to see their country dominating the region's airwaves, and indeed the media of the world, for reasons not of war or conflict, but for the fascinating sight of real democracy at work.

The elections were a big turning point—not just in Iraq but also internationally. In Iraq, we are relieved that the much-needed reconciliation between pro-war and antiwar powers has now been achieved. Now that the differences about the past have been confined to history, we can all focus on the needs of the future. I am delighted to see that more European countries and others are now coming forward to help us in the huge task of rebuilding our country.

… The period ahead will be no less fascinating than the last 20 months in Iraq. The pace and the extent of change will be no less rapid or far-reaching. Some of the focus of the international community—at least the non-Arab community—may shift away now that we have reached and passed as critical a milestone as January's elections. And that will, frankly, be welcome: The unremitting glare of the world's spotlights all trained on Iraq has made our job at times even harder than it otherwise would have been.

But our enthusiasm, and my enthusiasm, for the job ahead is no less today than it was in April 2003. In Iraq, as we build our future, we make history. The support of our allies, who have already given so much, will remain crucial to our success. But that future first and foremost depends on our own commitment and efforts. I can assure you that no one wants to see a successful Iraq more than the Iraqis themselves. And I am confident that we have both the ability and the determination to succeed.

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