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MediaWatch:TV
Daily Column
Iraq TV: Increased Talk of Militias in Basra
Tuesday Night News
03/18/2009 00:00 AM ET
By Daniel W. Smith and Yousif al-Timimi

Several different officials from the Interior Ministry, including Minister Jawad al-Bolani, continue to speak about the return of “militias” to Basra (as well as Baghdad and Maysan, to a lesser extent). Plans of bombings and assassinations are warned, and the term “special groups” is used, a term borrowed from the US military for small groups thought to be funded, trained, and armed by Iran. On most channels, this isn’t spelled out, but it is understood, as is the fact that the word “militia” used in reference to Basra undoubtedly means the Mahdi Army. 57 more arrests in Basra are reported.

In sectarian reporting, the leader of a gang which “specialized in kidnapping officials” was reported arrested in Diyala. Government-backed Al-Iraqiya made it sound like it was a Sunni kidnapper, while the Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic Party’s Baghdad TV used the word “militia” again, to imply that the man was Shi’a.

The Integrity Committee announced that 270 “forged personal certificates” (accreditation, educational degrees, etc.) were discovered, belonging to candidates who were victorious in the provincial election. Earlier, it was said that anyone caught submitting fraudulent certificates would be disqualified from their position, and could face criminal charges. 270 candidates would constitute more than half of them – whatever this will mean.

Many channels are talking about a 12 year old girl which is said to have been killed by the American army. Al-Rafadain was alone in reporting that the incident happened in Baghdad, but everyone else says it happened in Mosul.

In the wake of two Iraqi journalists being killed, and others wounded in a suicide bomb in Abu-Ghraib last week, UNESCO released a statement which demanded that the Iraqi government do more to protect Iraqi journalists. Baghdad TV reports three arrests, connected to the bombing.

While on a visit to Tehran, Iraq’s national security advisor Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said that Camp Ashraf (where over 3,000 members of Iranian dissident group MEK are holed up) will “be history” within two months. In recent months, Iran has stepped up pressure to have the camp close the camp. MP and Iraqi Front for National Dialogue leader Saleh Al-Mutlaq urged for the Iraqi government to “Hold tight to national programs, to counter the growing Iranian influence in Iraq.” Former Iranian president Rafsanjani is shown expressing that his last visit to Iraq wasn't welcomed by Iraqis (and he’s not kidding!).

Al-Hurra Iraq showed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki publicly urging the Arab League to continue to develop diplomatic representation in Iraq. League secretary Amer Moussa said, “The Iraq of 2009 is radically different than the Iraq of 2005”. Al-Sharqiya reported Moussa’s meetings with Iraqi officials like everyone else, but chose to keep the quote listed just above, to themselves.

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