March 31, 2003
How the Arab media reports on the war

After reading Mamoun Fandy's Washington Post column on the Arab media that I linked to yesterday, I was curious to see how the Arab media actually does report on the Iraq war. So I hunkered down with my Arabic-English Dictionary and slogged through the translation of an entire article from the Al-Jazeera website.

16:48 Mecca Time, March 30, 2003
Baghdad: Four Thousand Arabs to Carry Out Martyrdom Operations

An American soldier injured in Iraq upon arrival at a base in Germany yesterday

Iraqi Army spokesman General Hazem Ar-Rawi said that more than four thousand Arab volunteers from every single Arab country have arrived in Iraq to carry out "martyrdom" operations against the invasion forces in the days ahead.

Answering a question at a Baghdad news conference about the legitimacy of the regular army engaging in suicide operations, Ar-Rawi said: "It is our duty to drive out the invaders no matter what the price". And he said that an Iraqi officer named Ali Ja'afar Hamadi An-Nu'mani carried out a suicide operation on Saturday near the city of Najaf, which resulted in the deaths of eleven American soldiers, not the mere four that the Americans claimed.

Ar-Rawi stressed that in the eleven days since the beginning of the war, the invasion forces along the battle front lost their balance after the military operations ended in devastating failure to accomplish their planned objectives. And he indicated that one of the most marked signs of the loss of balance is the weak performance of the American and British soldiers and the fact that they abandoned the corpses of their dead on the battlefield.

The Iraqi spokesman mentioned Iraqi successes at arresting the advance of the invasion forces and maintaining a presence deep behind the invaders' lines. He explained that American and British losses numbered hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries along with the destruction of more than 130 tanks and armored vehicles in addition to the airplanes that were shot down.

Answering a question about the missile that fell on a Kuwait shopping mall yesterday, Ar-Rawi said "A missile was fired from the Faw [peninsula] at the invaders who defiled Kuwaiti soil". He added that firing the missile from the Faw was proof it was still in the hands of the Iraqi people.

The article is fascinating for several reasons. It reports the Iraqi general's fantastic claims ("hundreds of American and British deaths"; "eleven casualties" of the suicide bombing instead of four) as unchallenged fact. There is no mention of the number of Iraqi casualties. There is no indication that anybody questioned the general about the potential harm to Kuwaiti civilians from Iraqi missiles that land near shopping malls. And to add weight to the general's claims about inflicting great damage on American soldiers, there is the photograph of the injured GI on a stretcher.

Yes, this would support Fandy's dismissal of Al Jazeera's credibility, and his characterization that it is "political pornography"

Many thanks to the Ribbity Frog for proof-reading and correcting the above translation. The Frog is an Israeli with a strong command of the Arabic language who follows the Arabic press. Be sure to check out the Ribbity Frog blog for more translations of Arab media items which give a fascinating and important view of how the Arab world talks to itself.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at March 31, 2003 07:10 AM

Got no social graces
Never known my place
One thing I am sure of
You can't judge a man by his race
Birth don't come easy
Freedom doesn't come cheap
Rules and worlds get swept away
While you waste your time in sleep

There's music in the forest
Children laugh in the school yard
On the skid row of the spirit
Hear the ranting of the Western Guard
Why don't you cool out
Can it be so hard
to love yourself without thinking
someone else holds a lower card

Wired to the switchboard
Always on the move
Things we love to cling to
But there's nothing we can prove
You can only deal with
What's before your face
And the life you're given is no use at all
If you burn it up in hate

Grow up you
Grow up me
Grown together
Free to be

-B. Cockburn

Posted by: ipsofacto on March 31, 2003 08:00 PM

LOL!!! Do you even know how to use an Arabic dictionary? Have you ever seen one?

Posted by: Serrano on April 4, 2003 02:17 PM

As you rightfully asked during a conversation on an other website: My apologies for the insulting comment here above.

Posted by: Serrano on April 4, 2003 10:53 PM
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