Suddenly, a previously unknown Iraqi group, the “Soldiers of Heaven”, topped satellite channels news broadcasts and newspapers headlines.
Without any prior indications or background, it was announced that more than 200 members of this unknown group were killed in clashes with US and Iraqi troops.
There has been a lot of contradictory information about the group and its goals and the identity of its leader, who was killed in the confrontation.
It’s almost as if the story took place in another country instead of Iraq. It is clear that the materialization of such groups that are shrouded with mystery, took place away from the public eye and without the media being able to offer accurate and definite information about them.
To be more precise; the majority of information about the “Soldiers of Heaven” was only accessible to the media in Iraq after the announcement that clash was over and that lives had been lost.
Of course, there are those who question the entire story and regard it as just a fabrication by US and Iraqi intelligence.
The “Soldiers of Heaven” story is not the first incident that shows how the deteriorated security situation in Iraq obstructs access to information about the changes in social and political life in the country.
Our knowledge of the truth of what is going on in the heart of and around the underworld of Iraqi life is poor and general. It is evident that the Iraqi internal agitation has begun to create worlds that are inaccessible and difficult to reveal in light of the present situation.
This current state of affairs is similar to that of Saddam Hussein’s regime, when access to domestic Iraqi life was difficult, and sometimes even impossible.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime 2003, Muqtada al Sadr and his group suddenly emerged. Those who lived outside Iraq had no idea about them because of the inactive role of the media and the press during that era; we were poorly informed of what was happening there.
Today, we in a situation similar to that of the Baath era, where many things taking place in Iraq that are not being covered by the media, and therefore they are not present in the modern history that is being reshaped in Iraq today.
In Iraq the role of the press is inactive, and all the rhetoric about Iraq’s satellite TV channels and the over 150 newspapers and satellite channels has become statistical trivia rather then and institution with actual roles and functions.
Trading accusations and blaming one another looks easy from afar. It is really regrettable to continue to live on the fringe of Iraqi events rather than in the middle of them.