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Cablegate: Iraq Media Silent On Afghan Cremations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 004371

SIPDIS

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC PREL MOPS KPAO IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQ MEDIA SILENT ON AFGHAN CREMATIONS

REF: SECSTATE 193560

1. Iraqi media monitored by the coalition forces, FBIS, and
U.S. Embassy offices in Iraq devoted practically zero
coverage to the reported burning of two Taliban fighters'
bodies by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

2. Iraqi media, instead, are closely following expected
results of the recent constitutional referendum, and the
first "Saddam trial," including the assassination of the
defense lawyer of one of Saddam's co-defendants. In the
four days since the Taliban story broke in the Australian
media, Iraqi media have also covered the UN report on
Lebanese PM Hariri's assassination and the visit to Iraq of
Arab League chairman Amre Mousa. No major Iraqi newspaper,
however, had commented on the body burning incident as of
October 23. UK consulate coverage of Kurdish media outlets
noted similar disinterest. Political contacts have not
raised the issue with the embassy either.

3. Comment: Iraqi media generally reflect the views of
associated political parties, and their reporting is
generally a good barometer of their current relations with
coalition forces. Stories critical of the U.S. or
highlighting the presence of U.S. forces outside Iraq are
rare in media outlets of the major Shia and Kurdish parties.
News seekers in predominantly Sunni areas are believed to be
more likely to turn to pan-Arab satellite TV for
international and political news. Pan-Arab Al-Jazeera, and
Al-Arabiya, according to FBIS, did cover the Afghan story on
their respective websites. According to U.S. military
monitors, Al Jazeera carried balanced factual reporting,
including U.S. military comments that such actions were
repugnant and that they would be investigated. Based the
low visibility of this issue in Iraq so far, post does not
plan to divert PD resources from its ongoing engagement on
Iraqi issues.

SATTERFIELD

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