Media Matters: Media in Iraq then and now

Under Saddam Hussein there were no private television stations in Iraq. Today Iraq has more than 50. BBC's Newsnight commented in 2005 on Iraq's television revolution.

The people of Iraq can now choose from Al Iraqiya, a government sponsored station; Al Sharqiya, the first private station to operate in Iraq; Al Forat Network a Shi'a network; Alsumaria, a terrestrial station for those who may not have satellite dishes - something long prohibited by Saddam's regime. Ishtar serves the Chaldean population; Baghdad TV is not to be confused with the old government run station that was unofficially known by the same name. According to the CIA World Factbook, Iraq has 21 terrestrial stations from which to choose, and many more satellite channels.

There are at least 260 independent newspapers and magazines in Iraq, vs. none under Saddam.

Prior to the war there were approximately 800K telephones. Now there are 1.6 million landlines and over ten million mobile telephones with four providers from which to choose, probably with better terms than I have.

Iraqi people have uncensored Internet access, something more than a billion others lack.

Five years on and the Iraqi people have more freedom of the press, freedom to communicate, and freedom to read what they wish than two billion other global citizens.

Why is that not on the news tonight?

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A mom writes: A war zone to a school zone

It is nice to know that there are others interested in good news from Iraq. There is progress being made in Iraq and the people of Iraq are enjoying freedom that they never had before.

Today Mary Duty a teacher at George Washington Carver Middle School in Waco, Texas shared a story about her son Caleb and how his US Marine unit has seen remarkable transformations in the Al Anbar area.

The sounds of children laughing and shouting filled the air. Boys and girls were heard bragging about who was going to win the foot races. The sizzle and sweet smell of hamburgers grilling on an open fire brought back memories of backyard barbecues. Only this was happening thousands of miles from Texas. This play day was happening in a little town in the Al Anbar province in Iraq.

The entire article from today's Waco Tribune is very interesting.

I can report new successes every day. I can post information from mothers, teachers, soldiers, Library Directors, Physicians and Iraqi children. You can choose to believe them or you can choose to believe hyperbole, exaggeration, and prevarication from those determined to see failure, oppression, and overwhelming sorrow in Iraq.

To not support the progress made in Iraq and to not encourage the Iraqi people to govern themselves in a free society is simply unconscionable. Why so many wish to paint such a bleak picture amazes me. Some perverse schadenfreude perhaps, but I celebrate the success in Iraq; I don't look for lies to make the situation seem dire.

Glad to see this in LIS

Thank you for covering this in LIS. There is good news in Iraq and many don't want to see it because it might affect their worldview. Growing access to information is definitely a LIS topic.

re: how this relates to LIS

I appreciate you taking the time to provide links to all this information; I personally found your comments well-researched (and not too long).

It's good to see something positive coming out of the last five years. The grassroots library project reminded me why I'm glad to work in a field where people care enough to help rebuild communities. Libraries are community centers, and having access to information is vital to maintaining a sense of normalcy when your everyday life is chaotic.

To address "how is this related to LIS?" -- I'm from New Orleans, and I was at the ALA convention there in 2006. The ALA was the only major organization that didn't cancel their convention in N.O. that year, and that meant so much financially and emotionally for the city.

There were many librarians working side-by-side with us gutting houses and working to reopen our libraries. The people who came out -- even the vendors -- genuinely cared and tried to help in any way they could. This, when so many other organizations canceled and moved to other cities.

So I can speak personally to the generosity and hard work librarians contribute to help people rebuild their communities. I can't say enough how important that support is to the people living in chaos. When the doctor in one of the articles above said everyone felt "born again" when the library was re-established -- I completely understood that.

I'm glad you posted this story and the follow-up info. We're all aware of the human tragedy in Iraq, and public opinion polls have shown the majority of us agree this war has been a mess (regardless of political party affiliation). So I don't think we need to belabor that point. For the record, some people think New Orleans is still partially underwater. Just goes to show old images and statistics have a long shelf life.

It's good to hear about progress in Iraq. When a community comes together to share information, stability follows.

mdoneil

Can you please limit the length of your comments so we don't have to spend so much time reading them?

What you meant to say ...

I don't like what you said, please stay quiet.

Certainly

Don't read them if you don't like them for any reason including their length. I don't see anyone forcing you to read them.

That better?

What does this have to do with LIS?

I see no purpose in this post other than to spread a right-wing political meme. If that's the goal, I'd say it's major OT.

I should put you down as against freedom in Iraq?

What does Bezos and the Kindle, or Borders, purloined Harry Potter books, IE 8, or any of the other topics posted recently have to do with LIS. The information needs of the Iraqi people have been discussed on LISNews before, and noting the successes thus far is most assuredly as related to LIS.

If that is not clear enough for you I can certainly cite specific examples of improvements to libraries.

  • The Central Library in Kut has been rehabilitated by USAID, a USAID partner and most importantly the community of Kut.
  • The law library at Baghdad University in Iraq has been restored with assistance from the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI) at DePaul University
  • USAID and the Agriculture Reconstruction and Development Program for Iraq have established an apicultural library for those Iraqi beekeepers.
  • "Thanks to donations from several non-government organizations and the Czech Republic, much of the national library has been restored," said Saad Eskander, director of the Iraqi National Library and Archives in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor.
  • The Iraqi Virtual Science Library has been created. The IVSL is a free resource for scientists and educators in Iraq. A partnership with publishers, computer firms, universities, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Government has made this project possible. In the future, IVSL will be transferred and owned by the Iraqi Government.
  • The Tikrit University College of Medicine (TUCOM) Library as built from the efforts of Dr. David Gifford, a physician retired Army Colonel and Susan Yox RN, from Orchard Park, NY. This grass roots project has been a resounding success and the library now contains over 100,000 items. Dr. Thamer Al Hilfi remarked: "Everyone here — doctors and students — feel like they are born again." (Conflict of interest note- I personally contributed two reference books to this project.) The project has now assisted medical, nursing and veterinary school libraries.

    I hope this makes it clear to you. There is an I in LIS, but that I does not mean you or I, it means information. The free dissemination of information and the freedom of access to information are principles upon which the profession of librarianship is based. The media outlets I mentioned earlier demonstrate that there is indeed more freedom of access to information and freedom to speak, read, and write freely in Iraq as contrasted with that under the previous murderous dictator.

    Right-wing political meme, I don't think so. While I am a librarian I am not a twopointopian and I can't authoritatively speak to what might or might not be a meme; I am no expert on the neologism.

    I am however certainly well versed on the concept of authority, and these facts certainly authoritatively illustrate the progress that has been made in Iraq since the start of the war. The fact that Iraq is now one of the freest nations in the Arab world is another fact that shows the improvements in the last few years.

    You may not think it is off topic, but I disagree. You may think that there has not been progress. The progress made by leaps and bounds, in LIS - libraries, information availability, and freedom - in Iraq is remarkably evident. If you want to disagree with facts enjoy the fantasy world in which you live.

  • Last time I checked, the

    Last time I checked, the pathetic lack of electricity and raw sewage in the streets of Iraq didn't get too much news time either. But I guess as long as they don't want to actually watch those stations or read those papers at night, it's all to the good.

    Really?

    When were you last in Iraq?
    Perhaps you were thinking that:

    Baghdad's three sewage plants, comprising three quarters of the nation's total sewage treatment capacity, were not treating waste for more than six years before the conflict, allowing raw waste to flow into the Tigris River.

    However since 2003 USAID has restored or provided new water treatment to over 2.3 million Iraqis and sewage treatment to over 5.1 million nationwide in Iraq. Also USAID expanded Sharq Dijlah water plant by 50 MGD and rehabilitated three sewage plants, which serve 80 percent of Baghdad's population, thus eliminating dumping raw sewage into the Tigris.
    The Kerkh wastewater treatment plant (WTP) began operating on May 19, 2004, the first major Iraqi plant to operate at full capacity in more than 12 years.

    In Karbala a 5.6MM USD sewage system upgrade will be completed in six months.

    So tell me again about this raw sewagre running in the streets? It seems you have no idea what you are talking about. I wonder why these successes aren't on the news.

    "In 2002 Baghdad had access to electricity on a near continuous basis while the rest of Iraq was limited to 3 to 6 hours daily." Is that the electricity problem about which you write? That was of course before the war, you know when the benevolent Hussein - he who murders only 50000 a yaer- was in charge.

    Now the U.S. government has made significant progress in improving electricity supply in Iraq and distributing it more equitably throughout the country. USAID recently completed its three-year, $2.3 billion Iraq Infrastructure Reconstruction Program. Through its overall program, USAID has added 1,292 megawatts of electric generating capacity to Iraq's power grid, serving over 7 million Iraqis.

    Successes include:

  • Repaired thermal units, replaced/ added turbines, rehabilitated the transmission network, and installed and restored generators.
  • USAID has rehabilitated or added 1,292 MW of generation capacity, through new generation, maintenance and rehabilitation work, to the grid through 42 projects, supplying power to approx 8.5 million people.

    Even Canadian officers posted to Iraq see progress as one senior Canadian officer noted "I've seen three years of the good that's been done, helping the Iraqis".

    More amazing is that the Los Angeles Times has positive things to say.

    You may not like it, you may have wanted the democratization of Iraq to fail, but it will not. The people of Iraq long for freedom and it is freedom that they shall have.

    It seems things have changed since last time you checked. When was that by the way 2002?

  • Oh, yeah; let's hear it for Big Daddy Amerika

    . . . you know when the benevolent Hussein - he who murders only 50000 a yaer- was in charge.

    As opposed to the less than benevolent George Bush jr who murdered one million Iraqis over four years. That would have been only 200,000 for Hussein, making Bush more bloody-handed by a ratio of five to one. Then too, lets not forget that Hussein, like Osama bin Laden, was an American puppet before he decided on free agency. Plus the fact that the U.S. government sold Hussein the chemicals he needed to make the gas he used against the Iranian army and his own civilians.

    Oddly enough, things were more stable under Hussein, because, after all, there is only room for one dictator in a dictatorship, and the religious fanatics were kept in check just as much as dissidents were. He certainly couldn't allow anyone to develop a power structure that might threaten his, could he? Under the so-called benevolence of the illegal invasion and occupation of a country that posed no threat whatever to the U.S., however, the fanatics are enslaving women and anybody they can disfranchise under their misinterpretations of the Koran.

    There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

    Where do you get your statistics

    Is it not uncomfortable for you to sit down after you produce statistics such as one million Iraqis killed in four years?

    While some fringe sites do indeed list 1MM as the number of deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war, that number is remarkably out of line. Where are they if there are a million dead?

    Sites with some authority show all cvilian casualties from armed combat, paramilitary action, and criminal violence show a much lower number. It today approaches 90K. You can see those figures at Iraq Body Count, the BBC had a higher estimate of 151K based upon a survey conducted by the World Health Organization.

    As of today it has been 1830 days since the beginning of the war. If you peform simple calculations you will find that you allege that there are 546 violent deaths a day in Iraq - over and above the natural deaths that occured prior to and will continue to occur. Where are these people?

    The death estimate in the oft quoted Lancet survey has been widely discredity by such right wing sources as Slate noting: "This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board." Relying on data such as this is simply unreliable.

    So I'll put you down in the anti-freedom for Iraq column too. It seem you would rather debate armed with wildly inaccurate extrapolations than assessing the true facts.

    You too may not want progress in Iraq, but the people of Iraq do and there is little your posturing and spouting off in the great white north can do to change the will of a people determined to have democracy and freedom.

    You did see the link about to the quote from the Canadian troops stationed in Iraq didn't you.

    Uncomfortable is as uncomfortable does

    Is it not uncomfortable for you to sit down after you produce statistics such as one million Iraqis killed in four years?

    No less uncomfortable than is for you when you parrot the state propaganda machine. Completely ignoring the fact that the Bush regime lied from start to finish about the threat posed by Iraq. Where are those Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons by the way? Anybody ever find them? Your regime had a vested interest in lieing then, it has a vested interest in lieing now, and you are merely their willing dupe and useful idiot.

    While some fringe sites do indeed list 1MM as the number of deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war, that number is remarkably out of line.

    That number derives from work done using the same methodology used by the U.S. government. Furthermore, it was done by an an authoritative, international, medical authority which does not participate in national political agendas. At the time they published the work, the number had not reached one million, but the rate of deaths of Iraqis by warfare made attaining that number a foregone conclusion.

    Oh, and you do know that the number of Armed Forces servicemen from the illegal invasion and occupation is now four thousand, don't you? And that as Commander-in-Chief Bush is responsible for everyone of them?

    So I'll put you down in the anti-freedom for Iraq column too.

    Of course you will. And I'll put you down as a bloody-handed, nazi murderer of children and non-whites and non-christians, in the same spirit.

    In reality, I know you are no such thing, that you just sound like one. For myself, although I know you will make no effort to understand this, I believe in freedom for everyone, not just for me, and that includes freedom from meddling by the American bully for the people of Iraq and all other countries. I believe that all people should live in freedom, it's just that the beknighted States of 'Murca should not be committing crimes against humanity to force it's fanaticist world-view of what constitutes freedom on the rest of humanity.

    Oh, and one more thing. I was saying from the very beginning that whatever the Bush regime was going to do was going to be exactly the wrong thing. See, there's two ways of getting something done: the right way, and the wrong way. I simple demanded then and demand now that the Bush regime not do something that was and is so obviously wrong from the moment it was conceived.

    There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

    Your argument is baseless and childish

    Is it not uncomfortable for you to sit down after you produce statistics such as one million Iraqis killed in four years?

    No less uncomfortable than is for you when you parrot the state propaganda machine.
    Slate, the WHO, heck Wikipedia, you consider those the state propaganda machine?

    Completely ignoring the fact that the Bush regime lied from start to finish about the threat posed by Iraq.

    No lies are when people purposefully mislead others - you know like Hillary Clinton and her running from sniper fire anecdote. Basing decisions on the best available information and intelligence is not lying.

    Where are those Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons by the way? Anybody ever find them?

    Why yes they did find prohibited weapons. Perhaps you don't recall the NGIC report that noted

    "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

    You may also wish to read a report Iraq and After: Taking the Right Lessons for Combating Weapons
    of Mass Destruction
    which notes

    No Western or Middle Eastern intelligence service is known to
    have dissented from Washington’s assessment of Iraq’s WMD capabilities
    and potential before the war.(24) One explanation is that there in fact were
    (and perhaps still are) small quantities of chemical and biological weapons
    hidden in Iraq.

    Your regime had a vested interest in lieing then, it has a vested interest in lieing now, and you are merely their willing dupe and useful idiot.

    I don't have a regime, the United States of America has an executive branch headed by the President, I believe that is what you mean. Nor did they lie (n.b. present participle form is lying) I am no ones dupe or willing idiot. I simply assess the reliable facts and draw my own conclusions without resorting to childish name calling, and hyperbole and nonsensical conclusions to further an opinion.

    While some fringe sites do indeed list 1MM as the number of deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war, that number is remarkably out of line.

    That number derives from work done using the same methodology used by the U.S. government.
    No, obviously it does not or the US Government would have the same figures.

    Furthermore, it was done by an authoritative, international, medical authority which does not participate in national political agendas.
    Who might that be? Please cite a reliable source.

    At the time they published the work, the number had not reached one million, but the rate of deaths of Iraqis by warfare made attaining that number a foregone conclusion.
    Simply nonsense, even Amnesty International does not list a figure anywhere close to what you suggest.
    Where are the bodies? One million dead? That would be pretty hard to bury that quickly. You think someone other than your ersatz statisticians would have made mention of it.

    Oh, and you do know that the number of Armed Forces servicemen from the illegal invasion and occupation is now four thousand, don't you? And that as Commander-in-Chief Bush is responsible for everyone of them?

    Yes I do know that more than four thousand service men have died bringing freedom from oppression and tyranny to the Iraqi people. It is indeed quite sad that war takes from us the best young men and women in our nation, it is sad that their families lose these brave souls. War extracts a terrible price for freedom. However it seems you wish to demean their service by negating the successes and the freedoms that have been gained for the Iraqi people. It seems you want to cloud these accomplishments with fabricated statistics, prevarications and word games. To do that does a disservice to all of the troops, both those serving and those who have lost their lives. To besmirch these brave men and women with your nonsensical rhetoric disgusts me. It is fitting to honor them by showing the true successes in Iraq, by demonstrating how truly free the people of Iraq can be, and by supporting their mission at home - and yes there are Canadian troops in Iraq so you too can support your troops at home.

    It is indeed a tragedy that war takes from us our children, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. These fine troops were aware of the dangers and they felt it was worth their personal risk to bring freedom to others. It is not how these men and women died that shows their character and strength, but how they lived.

    So I'll put you down in the anti-freedom for Iraq column too.

    Each post you make demonstrates your character, and I can see no other choice but to list you as against freedom in Iraq. You certainly have not demonstrated that you support the emancipation of the Iraqi people from the brutal dictator under which they suffered for years and now their emancipation from state sponsored terrorism and the criminal elements who wish to use the suffering of Iraqis to their own advantage. Either you are for freedom in Iraq or you are against it.

    Of course you will. And I'll put you down as a bloody-handed, nazi murderer of children and non-whites and non-christians, in the same spirit.

    When discussions degrade into a comparison to Nazism it is obvious that you have no facts, no cogent argument on which to base your rebuttal. Invoking the memory of the Shoah to make a point is repulsive.

    In reality, I know you are no such thing, that you just sound like one. For myself, although I know you will make no effort to understand this, I believe in freedom for everyone, not just for me, and that includes freedom from meddling by the American bully for the people of Iraq and all other countries. I believe that all people should live in freedom, it's just that the beknighted States of 'Murca should not be committing crimes against humanity to force it's fanaticist world-view of what constitutes freedom on the rest of humanity.

    How nice of you to wish everyone freedom. If it were simply that easy.

    Oh, and one more thing. I was saying from the very beginning that whatever the Bush regime was going to do was going to be exactly the wrong thing. See, there's two ways of getting something done: the right way, and the wrong way. I simple demanded then and demand now that the Bush regime not do something that was and is so obviously wrong from the moment it was conceived.

    How prescient of you. Other than political dichotomy and you simply not liking the elected leader of the United States of America, do you have any basis for you wisdom, or are you just like all of the other fact denying Internet prevaricators who pick and choose bits of inflammatory rhetoric to bolster your personal views?

    It does not matter if you like the war or not, and frankly I don't like the war and I don't like the way it was prosecuted. I would have done many things differently were I President, but for my own good, and for the good of the country I am not the commander in chief.

    However we are in a war that has brought freedom to the Iraqi people, which has brought them a Constitution, and the ability to self govern. Every day small successes are made, these little steps are rapidly becoming major advances as noted in my previous posts about the restoration of infrastructure - water, libraries, television and radio. To not support the Iraqi people in their continued success is simply inhumane.

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