Sunday, January 24, 2016

She'll say anything





News?  Mustafa Habib (NIQASH) addresses news in Iraq:

This kind of “news” is common on Iraqi social media. And it’s dangerous because for many Iraqis, social media websites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to a lesser degree, have become a major source of political and security-related news. They do not trust mainstream media in Iraq, which is mostly considered to be partisan with much of it funded by political parties, religious bodies or other organizations pushing their own agenda. Many Iraqis say their most trusted source is word-of-mouth – relatives, friends, neighbours – so it makes sense that they would turn to social media, basically an expanded network of the latter, to get information they believe they can trust.

The media is highly partisan in Iraq -- and elsewhere -- but on Iraq, if this is news to you, refer to Deborah Amos' paper "Confusion, Contradiction and Irony: The Iraqi Media in 2010" which documented the way so much of the media is controlled in Iraq.

Mustafa Habib examines several stories that became popular on social media and influenced events in Iraq.

We'll note one:

Once a certain story gets picked up on Iraqi social media it is often rapidly disseminated further. The story about Sheikh Nimr’s execution was a prime example of this. It’s hard to know who posted the videos originally but it seems clear that the original user had an agenda.
Under the guidance of advisors from open source verification experts at the investigative network, Bellingcat, a team of bloggers from the Iraqi Network for Social Media who are also the founders of a Facebook page called Fake Posts, as well as journalists from NIQASH, took a closer look at some of these falsified reports on social media.
Using open source verification techniques like geolocation and reverse image search, the team quickly found that the first video, the one allegedly showing al-Nimr’s execution, had nothing to do with the Saudi cleric. The clip, watched by thousands of Iraqis, was actually the video of the execution of an Indonesian maid in Saudi Arabia and it was four years old.
The other video that supposedly showed al-Nimr’s body being thrown out of a helicopter after his execution was also something else: It was a video showing a member of Saudi police force falling out of a helicopter, most likely to his death, in 2013.

The original user had an agenda?


But let's not confine coverage to Iraq.

FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS and other ridiculous outlets -- front groups posing as news outlets -- certainly had an agenda as they suddenly discovered executions.

As was noted on Arabic media, FPIF was silent when the Iraqi government was killing the LGBT community members, when the Interior Ministry went into schools calling for violence against LGBTs, but suddenly it was interested in fairness.

It was noted that FPIF was silent when Sunni women and girls were wrongly imprisoned in Iraq and then beaten and/or raped in prison.

It was silent as Iraqi forces terrorized and killed Sunnis.

But FPIF and others were wetting their panties in public and beating themselves with chains over the execution of one Shi'ite cleric -- while ignoring the others executed in the same batch of executions.

Let's never pretend that some elements of the Iraqi media are the only ones with an agenda.

Tuesday, the United Nations issued a report on violence in Iraq. As we documented in that day's snapshot, many news outlets and 'news' outlets were pushing an agenda and not actually reporting.  As we pointed out:

The Islamic State is a terrorist organization.
Documenting their abuses should be easy and something anyone can do without any great ethical challenge.
The United Nations report notes consistent patterns of abuse by the Iraqi government.
That needs to be spotlighted, it needs to be front and center.
You do not excuse away a government committing crimes against its own civilians.
You do not act as though that's nothing or that it's a sidebar.
It is the prime story.
Again, the Islamic State is a terrorist organization.
As such it commits crimes against people -- that's what makes it a terrorist organization.
The Iraqi government is supposed to serve (and protect) all the Iraqi people.
When it instead targets its own people, that is news.
The failure to properly report this goes a long way towards the growing divide between Arabs and others.  Arabs watched from 2010 on forward as the Iraqi government openly targeted Sunnis.  They saw little to no objection to this persecution.
The United Nations puts out a report that documents crimes by a terrorist organization (ISIS) and crimes against Sunnis by the Iraqi government and the western media again ignores the crimes of the Iraqi government or offers a brief sotto voice aside.
This is not acceptable.
It is silencing those suffering at the hands of the Iraqi government.
It is saying that Arabs are disposable and crimes against them can be ignored.

Friday, Aisha Maniar covered the report at TRUTHOUT:

The assault on the Iraqi people comes from all sides: ISIS, the Iraqi government and its security forces and related militias, coalition airstrikes and armed gangs cashing in on the prevailing state of anarchy. The UN report concedes that "The violence suffered by civilians in Iraq remains staggering," but with more than half of the report dedicated to atrocities carried out by ISIS, the Iraqi government gets off lightly.
A number of the human rights abuses ascribed to ISIS could equally be attributed to government security forces or related militias. For example, both ISIS and the government's popular mobilization units - mainly Shiite militias drafted into the fight against ISIS - have been open about their recruitment and use of child soldiers. In the latter case, not mentioned in the report, the use of child combatants could have serious implications for the United States, as these militias fall under the umbrella of an army that is trained and supported by the US. UNICEF expressed its concerns in June 2015, and called for "urgent measures" to be taken by the Iraqi government to protect children, including criminalizing the recruitment of children, and "the association of children with the Popular Mobilization Forces."

The report states that "systematic and widespread violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law" committed by ISIS could amount to "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide." Others, including Human Rights Watch, have suggested that Iraqi government-backed militias in the fight against ISIS may have also committed war crimes. Kurds too have been accused of potential war crimes. Indeed, all parties to the conflict have committed crimes against humanity against the Iraqi people, and there must be no impunity for any of them. A report focused on human rights and the protection of civilians should not be politically biased toward any party.

Good for TRUTHOUT but let's not pretend that this is the dominant view the press is taking.  Even now, the UN reports is covered as 'agenda reporting' with outlets using it for war propaganda.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Haider's failing? Who's signing the report card?"
"SHADES OF BLUE shocker"
"let them eat cake?"
"Jonathan Demme, stop talking s**t"
"Live in a glass closet, don't throw stones"
"He writes books?"
"NPR's vicious attack on Stacy Dash"
"Thoughts worth amplifying"
"The selling of war"
"Clinton doesn't like transparency any more than she likes accountability"


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