Monday, January 03, 2005

Iraqi Insurgent Attacks and the Election

CNN and Fox reported on four separate attacks by insurgents today. Fox ran an AP story and CNN did their own. CNN’s headline was “Car bomb explodes near Allawi party headquarters.” That attack got the headline and the first part of the article. The Fox headline was more general with “Bombs Kill 16 in Iraq.” Both articles describe the attacks; the group that claimed responsibility, Jaish Ansar al-Sunna (Fox uses the term “Ansar al-Sunnah Army”); and the effect on the timing of the Iraqi elections. There are some key differences with regard to what was said about the effect of the attacks on the elections. I apologize for a long post today but I wanted to show what each said. I have provided the links to the articles so you can check for the complete context. What I noticed, as shown below, is that CNN only mentions problems and calls for delays in the elections while Fox/AP predominantly provides information supportive of the election timetable. I believe both stories to be accurate but also incomplete due to some bias.

CNN:

* Insurgent attacks have prompted calls from many Iraqis to delay the January vote. Iraq's interim government and the United States appear determined to leave the date unchanged.

* Goran [Kahsro Goran, deputy governor of Nineveh province] said Sunday that the election outlook for his region had "significant problems." "We have to have elections, but the security situation is deteriorating," Goran said. "So there will not be real and fair participation." Particularly problematic, Goran said, is the lack of a police force in Mosul.

* Last week, the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading voice of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslims, announced it was pulling out of -- but not boycotting -- the elections. In a statement, party director Tariq al-Hashimy said one reason for the withdrawal was "the need to provide the proper security conditions in order to hold an honest and free elections."

Fox/AP:

* "This is another example of how the criminals and terrorists — attempting to thwart Iraq's efforts to conduct free and fair elections — have no regard for their fellow countrymen," the government said.

* On Sunday, prominent Shiite leaders belonging to the Unified Iraqi Alliance — a mainstream Shiite coalition running in the election — called for unity with Sunni Arabs wanting to delay the vote but insisted it be held despite the violence.

* Shaalan [Iraqi Defense Minister] said during a visit to Cairo, Egypt, that he asked Egypt to try to persuade Sunni Muslims to participate in the vote. "We could postpone the date to let all Iraqis go to the polls in one day" if that would accommodate Sunnis, Shaalan said. Other Iraqi and U.S. officials, including President Bush, have insisted the vote will be held as planned. Shaalan is known for taking an independent line, at one point prompting Allawi to publicly distance his interim government from Shaalan's statements.

The Shiite leaders, who are backed by Iraq's most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said postponing the vote would only create more chaos. They rejected comments purportedly made by Usama bin Laden in a tape released Dec. 27 in which the Al Qaeda leader urged Muslims not to vote, calling the election illegitimate.

* A spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq, Fareed Ayar, refused to comment on Shaalan's statements, saying the body was functioning according to the electoral schedule. "The commission is still working on holding the elections as scheduled and according to the timetable we have," Ayar said.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/01/03/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,143131,00.html

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