Monday, May 23, 2005

The same network that assured us Arab opinion uniformly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq also apparently served as a paid shill for Saddam's regime

Iraq tried to compensate former French interior minister Charles Pasqua in the late 1990s with millions of barrels of oil for his helpful attitude toward Baghdad
writes the AFP.

But not only Western leaders, VIPs, and other bigwigs were targeted as recipients for Saddam's largesse, Messieurs Galloway and Pasqua will be happy to learn.

On January 6, 2005, the U.S.-funded Arabic satellite network Al Hurra broadcast an explosive exposé detailing the financial links between Saddam Hussein's regime and the Arab press. Al Hurra’s documentary—so far overlooked in the West—aired previously unseen video footage, recorded by Saddam Hussein’s regime during its murderous heyday, of Saddam’s son Uday meeting with several Arab media figures and referring to the bribes they had received
writes Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.
Al Hurra alleges that Saddam’s regime would hand out two types of oil coupons to Arab media figures: silver coupons that entitled their holders to a maximum of 9 million barrels of oil, and gold coupons that were good for even more. … What had been pro-Saddam reporting before the U.S. invasion soon became pro-insurgency. Notes Walid Phares, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and one of Al Hurra’s “review experts” for the January documentary, “Al Jazeera cooperated with the regime, which was the target of the international coalition. Even after the regime was gone, they continued to support the jihadists.”

Given the continuing anti-U.S. slant to Al Jazeera’s coverage, Phares believes the exposure of the kind of backroom dealings in which the network has been engaged ought to mark a “watershed” in understanding behind-the-scenes corruption at the network. The tapes might also prompt reflection on the representations of the “Arab street” seen on Al Jazeera and other media in the region. We now know that the same network that assured us Arab opinion uniformly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq also apparently served as a paid shill for Saddam's regime.

Moreover, Phares intimates that the dealings captured by the Al Hurra tapes may be only the tip of the iceberg. “How many other regimes have been paying these media?” he asks. [Mouafac Harb, Al Hurra’s director of network news and executive vice president,] agrees, noting that it is a “widespread practice” for Arab leaders to intimidate or bribe leaders of media outlets, or even individual journalists.

So when America-bashers, citing Saddam's news outlets and other Arab media, make a huff and a puff about, say, the embargo that produced all those millions of dead babies, they leave out all the oil money paid to the America-bashers in question that perhaps, just perhaps, could have gone towards buying food and medicine (assuming, of course, that the aforementioned media were not using inflated figures and bogus statistics), had the principled America-bashers not been on the take.

But subjects such as this were not those that George Galloway touched upon during his Senate "testimony". Were they, Mr Galloway?

Update: as a professional observer of Washington politics, [I] want to thank the Hon. George Galloway, the offbeat member of Parliament, for traveling all the way to Washington from London to provide us with a comic interlude

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