Sunday, May 11, 2008

Can The NYT Spin A Major Victory In Iraq? Yes, Yes They Can


On Friday, I wrote the post "A Startling Turn Around In Fortunes For Maliki." The post was about the Sadrist’s surrender of their last major stronghold, Sadr City to Iraqi government control. The title of the post was actually a quotation from a McClatchy news article reporting this event and fairly discussing its ramifications. Quite foolishly, I was moved to ponder, "how much longer can the pro-Sadr, anti-Maliki narrative survive in the MSM?" I could not envision how anyone could spin this as anything other than another huge step forward for Iraq. Enter the NYT, who, by ignoring the facts and reporting from the Sadrist viewpoint, manage to do just that. Compare it with the reporting from the Long War Journal posted below.
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Sadr has agreed to surrender Sadr City to Iraqi government control. Sadr and his forces made this decision after suffering high casualties in six weeks of battle and in the foreknowledge of an impending major offensive. As in Basra, Sadr went belly up. This is huge news. This is not simply a reversal for Sadr, it ends his control over his last major base in Iraq where he exercised complete control.

This is the Long War Journal’s reporting of the event:

After over six weeks of heavy fighting in and around the Mahdi Army stronghold Sadr City, where Mahdi Army forces took lopsided casualties in the fighting, the government and the Sadrist political bloc have signed an agreement to end the fighting. The agreement will allow for the Iraqi military to operate freely inside Sadr City while the Mahdi Army must halt its fighting.

The negotiations, which took place over the course of the last several days, culminated in the signing of a 14-point agreement. . . . The full details of the agreement are not public. According to several press reports, the Mahdi Army has made major concessions to the Iraqi government, including allowing the Army to enter Sadr City. . . .

The major points of the agreement, based on press reports, are as follows:

• The Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army would observe a four-day cease-fire.

• At the end of the cease-fire, Iraqi forces would be allowed to enter Sadr City and conduct arrests if warrants have been issued, or if the Mahdi Army is in possession of medium or heavy weapons (rocket-propelled grenades, rockets, mortars).

• The Mahdi Army and the Sadrist bloc must recognize the Iraqi government has control over the security situation and has the authority to move security forces to impose the law.

• The Mahdi Army would end all attacks, including mortar and rockets strikes against the International Zone.

• The Mahdi Army must clear Sadr City of roadside bombs.

• The Mahdi Army must close all "illegal courthouses."

• The Iraqi government would reopen the entrances to Sadr City.

• The Iraqi government would provide humanitarian aid to the residents of Sadr City.

The Sadrist said the US military would not be allowed to operate inside Sadr City; yet there is no confirmation of this from the Iraqi government or the US military.

. . . There is no word on the status of the concrete barrier that is being built that will partition the southern third of Sadr City from the northern neighborhood. In an inquiry to Multinational Division Baghdad, the US command that is working with the Iraqi military to build the barrier in Sadr City, does not expect the construction will stop as the Mahdi Army has not obeyed Sadr's past calls to cease the fighting.

. . . The Mahdi Army has taken heavy casualties in Sadr City and the surrounding neighborhoods since the fighting began on March 25. A total of 562 Mahdi Army fighters have been confirmed killed in and around Sadr City since March 25, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Multinational Division Baghdad recently began to announce that US Special Operations Forces are openly operating on the ground in support of the building of the barrier. The Iraqi government has also pressured the Mahdi Army in Basrah, where 70 percent of the city is now reported as cleared, and the wider South.

Read the entire post. Clearly this is a huge step forward for the Iraqi government. Yet compare and contrast that report with the NYT in an article long on spin but woefully short on facts.

The NYT treatment of this is an atrocity. They portray this as being a truce between militias – maintaining the canard that Maliki is acting on his own political interests rather than as the head of a government taking on what amounts to a foreign led and armed mafia. Want to see what happens when an Iranian funded militia is allowed to go unchecked? Just read the reports from Bierut today. That aside, the NYT also portray the hostilities in Sadr City as a draw that the government and U.S. could not win.

. . . The deal would allow both sides to stand down from what was becoming a messy and unpopular showdown in the months leading up to crucial provincial elections. It is not clear who won or how long the truce would last, but at least for now it would end the internecine warfare among Shiite factions.

. . . The decision to negotiate a cease-fire came as both parties realized that they were losing ground. Civilians in Sadr City blame both sides for their suffering.

Read the entire article. This is insane. Go to Long War Journal and read the daily reports on fighting in Sadr City. The Sadrists were having their clocks cleaned, suffering heavy casualties and a major offensive was about to be launched. Sadr has never allowed government control of Sadr City. So now he rolls over because the government was "losing ground?" Where is the justification for that characterization? This is spinning like a top.

I won't bother to fisk the rest of the story. It gets no better. That said, an honorable mention has to go to this NYT statement designed to show the Iraq and the U.S. in a bad light and the Sadrists as victims:

The Iraqi government has done little to ease the crisis and allow medical and humanitarian aid to reach people. There has been almost no effort to repair the shattered area, where burned-out cars and piles of bricks from bombed or damaged houses are common sights.

Could it possibly be that every time a U.S. or Iraqi patrol enters Sadr City, they have come under fire during the six weeks of fighting? Are we supposed to resupply our enemies and rebuild their city while RPG's are being tossed at our troops. What sheer sophistry. There should be a national holiday declared when the stock value of this fifth column far left rag finally falls below a dollar a share.


1 comment:

MK said...

They have to spin it in a bad way, it is after all Bush's war and they must screw him all the way. What he did was unthinkable to the left, he actually kicked out a tyrant and did what they cry and whine should be done around the world but as we know they don't really want done.