Al Jazeera’s Inside Iraq presenter has condemned Iraq’s indigenous media as 90 per cent propaganda.
Jasim Al-Azzawi told Press Gazette that some of Iraq’s newspapers and TV stations are little more than propaganda machines for militia.
“Judged by western standards they would be closed down immediately, their editors would be questioned, taken to court. They spew nothing but hatred.
Even the Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki warned them several times to desist because he is not in full command of everything.
Those powerful people behind him – it is in their vested interest to keep these TV stations going on.”
Al-Azzawi called on the Iraqi government to clamp down on the media. He believed that at least 90 per cent “shouldn’t be reporting” unless they could be brought up to the standard of Al Jazeera and Western journalists.
He said that despite evidence that Iraq is one of the most corrupt countries globally, the Iraqi press fails to report it.
And he said that despite the Iraqi government admitting that it was involved in what he termed “torture”, the only reports of this have been in the Western media and Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera Arabic does not have a permanent presence in Iraq. It has been barred from covering Iraq from inside the country since 2004. Then its Baghdad offices were shut and corre- spondents and crew removed from the country. Inside Iraq is a weekly news programme broadcast on Al Jazeera English, which was launched in November last year.
Al-Azzawi said that the government appeared to be “in two minds about Al Jazeera”. “The prime minister, for instance, is quite adamant, as well the president, that they would not appear on Al Jazeera,” he said. “However, his national security adviser, his foreign minister, as well as most of their advisers, are on Al Jazeera all the time.”
He added: “The Iraqi government, since its inception has taken a very hostile attitude towards Al Jazeera.
With that we are a little hamstrung; Al Jazeera Arabic does not have correspondents, so they have been relying on fixers, Iraqi journalists, and as much as possible we are just inventing creative ways to cover.”
Despite the constraints, Al-Jazeera English was able to send its correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid into Iraq for six weeks.
Al-Azzawi said that the US administration and military were cooperative with the station and that “it was only a matter of time” before both President Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared on the channel.