Cablegate: Media Play: Iraq
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS COLOMBO 000535
DEPT FOR INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS (FOR JWALLER); SA/PD (LJIRWIN, LSCENSNY,
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY: IRAQ
1. Sri Lanka's English front pages found room for only two
war-related headlines: "US-led forces destroy Iraqi
column" and "US-led troops poised to enter Baghdad as week
two begins." The vernacular dailies, by contrast, splashed
the war across all front pages with headlines such as "Iraq
`Republican' military force equipped with 1,000 tanks is
moving south ... to counter attack coalition forces coming
to invade Baghdad," "1,000 US paratroopers occupy Iraqi air
force camp ... largest operation in ten years," and
"Saddam's special task force to protect Baghdad" (Sinhala
dailies); and "Special forces under Saddam's son move to
protect Baghdad," "30,000 more US forces rush to the Gulf,"
and "New war front in Northern Iraq" as "1,000 U.S.
soldiers land by parachute."
2. Under the headline "What's the role of the UN?" the
ISLAND (opposition English daily, islandwide circulation)
discusses a "basic question that is being asked amongst
western powers ...: who rules Iraq if the Saddam Hussein
regime is eliminated?. The ISLAND hopes -- but doubts --
that the "UN has to step in at some stage. The sooner, the
"With the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of one
superpower, the prospects of the UN playing a more
significant role in world affairs was much greater. Indeed
President George Bush (Sr.) played according to UN rules
when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait by putting together a
coalition of nations in accordance with UN resolutions and
driving the invader out of Kuwait. But the son has acted
like a bull in a china shop. Whereas even radical, usually
anti-American Arab states, joined the father's coalition
... Saddam, who has been hated in many Arab countries, is
being cheered and volunteers queuing up to fight for him.
"The war in the past few days has amply demonstrated
American power to win it but President Bush has failed to
convince the world that it is a just war even though he is
attempting to rid Iraq of a bloody dreaded dictator.
"The UN has to step in at some stage. The sooner, the
3. Under "Tears and sorrow as a result of war" VIRAKESARI
(independent Tamil daily, islandwide circulation) laments
the impact of the war, here in Sri Lanka and there in Iraq.
"While the U.S. war on Iraq has brought hardship to Iraqis,
effects of war are being experienced in Sri Lanka now.
"While a sad situation is being created for the hundreds of
thousands of Sri Lankan workers in the Middle East to
return to Sri Lanka owing to losing their jobs, the prices
of the essential items will go up in price because of the
price hike of the petroleum products.
"With the fall of job opportunities in Middle East, which
brings most of the foreign exchange, Sri Lanka will be
further affected the fall in tea exports. 70 percent of
the tea recently offered in auction remained unsold. This
is a big blow to our economy....
"After killing ... attacking with the latest weapons and
... and destroying buildings, villages, and cities,
President Bush says with a smile that freedom for Iraqis is
dawning.... Bush, building castles upon the lives of
innocent Iraqi people and against the opposition of the
people world all over, has requested the Congress to
allocate $75 billion for the war.
"Another sorrowful chapter in the history of the sufferings
of the century is being written today."