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Even you! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Revelations by the Los Angeles Times newspaper that the US military paid Iraqi newspapers to carry positive news about the US efforts in Iraq is an indication of what I call a polluted democracy.

What is the difference in this case between US troops and the agents of the tyrant Saddam Hussein? Saddam used to repress and frighten those inside Iraq to glorify his name in the local media and pay those outside the country to enhance his image, not to mention the coupon scandal where Saddam was discovered to have bribed reporters, which remained suppressed until now.

Maj. General Rick Lynch, US army spokesman in Iraq, was correct to say that al Qaeda believed that half the battlefield is the battlefield of the media, as Ayman al Zawahiri had stated. But did al Qaeda, and before it Saddam, draw the Americans to use the same methods they fought against?

Of course, the battle is a battle of the media! Why lie?

The trouble with our media can be summarized by the prevalence of bribery and those who love to eulogize. We have enough liars to export to the world and ruin its media; we have enough of those who write for the sake of writing and those who see the media as a circus for brokers. We also have some who consider the media as a sacred jihad as much as others believe it is the best method to show-off.

The media which supports al Qaeda is not really a media but an army battalion or a collection of ideologically driven individuals lead by slogans. Opportunistic supporters preceded al Qaeda and will undoubtedly follow it; they are not the main problem.

American attempts to buy a column, or a journalist, or a newspaper, or a radio station in order to improve their image resembles someone dumping radioactive rubbish in our region. We have enough faults as it is. There is no need for the Americans to make matters worse. In order for the US to improve its image in the eyes of Iraqis, it needs to avoid committing mistakes in Iraq and to stop simplifying matters, especially its focus on popularity and enhancing the general of image of Americans in Iraq.

I say to the Americans: do not spoil the democracy you have spread so far and the activity you have created in previously dormant waters across the Middle East which used to prefer stillness over change. Improving the image of America should not be achieved by paying for news but by adopting transparency and supporting free media- and freedom is also relative- with information and assisting it to report on reality by not intervening, negatively, or positively, in its work. If the Americans want a dilapidated media full of half truths, we say to them: even you!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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