Monday, April 16, 2007



Time magazine still has on its website the article "Al-Qaeda Sends a Message", which puffs up a personal chat-board posting on a jihadi forum to concoct a story to the effect the Green Zone bombing was motivated by AQ's desire to chill negotiations between the government and a faction of the insurgency. (See the prior post called "Questions version 2.0" and the comments there). The message in question was posted by an individual who addressed the Islamic Army in Iraq and warned them that "we will find you wherever you are", but if you click on that poster's name and peruse the list of his other postings, as anyone visiting the site can do, you will immediately see that he is not an official spokesman for anything, but simply a fired-up partisan. One of his posts shows twisted bodies and so on, and asks the leader of the Islamic Army what he is going to say to his God; in other cases he relays news posted elsewhere: that kind of thing. There is no rational basis at all for a conclusion that what he posted re the Green Zone attack was an AQ or ISI statement.

The only possible conclusion to be drawn is Time has decided to do what it takes to dramatize and exaggerate the split between the foreign jihadis and the domestic resistance. The split exists, but like any political issue, it is a complex thing. For instance, as Abu Aardvark has been preaching, it's wrong to assume that the Islamic Army has suddenly become a patsy for the Americans just because they disagree with AQ tactics. I have put the magnifying glass on this Time Magazine story because it appears to be a step in the direction of incorporating this issue into the simple cartoon-like representational style that makes US public opinion so easy to manipulate.


I think a similar lesson can be drawn from big-blogs' treatment yesterday of the LA Times story called "Divided Iraq has two Spy Agencies". Spencer Ackerman linked to it with some comments of his own; then Matt Yglesias linked to Spencer and quoted one of Spencer's comments. Which went like this: "[The parallel Shiite intel agency] serves as a manifestation of the fears that led the U.S. to install Shehwani [head of the original CIA-funded intel agency] in the first place: the return to a mukhabarat-style security structure, this one loyal to the Shiites instead of Saddam." And that reflects the major theme of these comments: Shiite sectarian intel agency bad.

As it happens, the Baghdad paper Azzaman reported this past November that John Negroponte, then ex-ambassador, met with Maliki and told him there was a need for a "new" Iraqi intelligence agency, adding that there was nothing against the idea of hiring experienced ex-Saddam people for this. This was in the context of the run-up to the Amman meeting between Bush and Maliki, and the US pressure to crack down on the Shiite militias. (There is obviously a lot about the Iraqi intel-agency issue that is obscure: for instance, other reports at the time said the CIA person Shehwani had to be airlifted to Amman because of an assasination threat, and in any event his term was up. Another report said Shehwani was a candidate to be one of the military leaders in a future Baghdad coup. You could punch in Shehwani or Shahwani in the search box at the top of this page.) But my only point here is that any familiarity at all with any of the Arab-language coverage of this would immediately clue a reader into the Arab reading of this, which is that the US, having funded and supported Shiites to go after Sunnis in the post-invasion period, were now changing course and looking for Sunnis to help go after the Shiites. This would have given the bloggers a second theme to modify their echo-chamber "partisan Shiite intel-agency bad" idea, namely this one: "Partisan ebb and flow reflects US policy".


Blogger Eric Martin said...

This would have given the bloggers a second theme to modify their echo-chamber "partisan Shiite intel-agency bad" idea, namely this one: "Partisan ebb and flow reflects US policy".

Actually, I thought the angle that Matt and Spencer were taking was that the split was indicative of the division in Iraq, and the confused objectives of the US.

Neither seemed to be particularly supportive of the US-funded, CIA tainted, Sunni led intelligence service either.

But maybe I'm missing something.

3:25 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I don't know, was that their "angle"? My point was that it seems this group habitually relies on non-Arab corporate-media reports only, as the basis for issuing sweeping opinions on events in the Arab world, and this is reflected in the echo-chamber quality of what they produce.

On the other hand, I realize maybe you only stopped by to push you latest Action Comics installment.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Eric Martin said...

On the other hand, I realize maybe you only stopped by to push you latest Action Comics installment.

That's classy.

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