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Panorama
Iraq: The Arab media view
Arab media
Frank Gardner

In the newsrooms of London and Washington there is a daily debate. How much should we show our viewers and readers of the war in Iraq?

Should we spare them the sight of a blooded corpse, a mangled body, a severed limb? In the surprisingly small newsroom of the Arab world's most influential news channel, Al-Jazeera, a decision has clearly been taken to show every shocking detail.


Last week viewers were treated to a lingering close-up of an Iraqi boy with half his head missing, the result, they were told, of US and British bombing. On Wednesday they were shown more bodies, some burnt, some caked in blood - the victims of an explosion in a residential district widely blamed on the US Air force.

Showing so much horror up close to millions of viewers across the Middle East is not an oversight by some insensitive duty editor. Al-Jazeera is playing to the gallery. This war was deeply unpopular with most Arabs before it even started.

US-British aggression

Even those Arab countries that are actively supporting the US-British war effort, by providing bases and airspace, call publicly for the war to stop

Frank Gardner

Now the images they are being shown daily, repeated hourly, confirm the suspicions of many. America targets innocent women and children. Together with its colonialist ally Britain, it is out to terrorise the Arab world, to subdue and conquer Muslims, to steal their oil, and all at the behest of Israel.

That's certainly the view held by much of the Arab press.

Take Thursday's headlines. 'The US-British aggression against Iraq results in the killing of a child before that of a combatant, and the destruction of a house before that of a military establishment' said Syria's state-owned Tishrin.

Egypt's pro-government paper Al-Jumhuriyah went further. 'The war has been characterised by all the components and tactics of Nazism followed by Hitler during his liquidation and extermination of the European people.. while trying to draw a new map for Europe according to his whims and beliefs. This is very like what Washington is now implementing in Iraq'.

US arrogance

Arab newspapers
The view from Arab newspapers is the same: anti-war
Even those Arab countries that are actively supporting the US-British war effort, by providing bases and airspace, call publicly for the war to stop.

'It is our role, as individuals and groups, to initiate ways of exerting pressure to restrain the US-British administrations which are playing with the destiny of international peace' says Qatar's Al-Watan. (Qatar is home to the Coalition HQ which is running the war).

In Jordan, which is quietly hosting a major deployment of US and British special forces on its border with Iraq, the pro-government paper Al-Dustur talks of 'countering the US arrogance and the British rejection of all diplomatic efforts and initiatives'.

And this is just the public media. The anger and hatred directed against America and Britain for starting this war is magnified several times in cyberspace. Arab online chat rooms and websites are seething.

The relative calm of the Arab streets is deceptive. It will not be long before there is talk of revenge for all the perceived injustices done to the Iraqi people.

Panorama: Iraq War: What the world thinks


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