Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Saturday, March 29, 2003

Iraqi Leader Saddam is Winning the Propaganda War

While the Iraq war is being played out in the air and on the ground, another form of war concerning media reports is also taking place around the world.


While the Iraq war is being played out in the air and on the ground, another form of war concerning media reports is also taking place around the world.

South Africa's news website "News 24" claims Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is winning the propaganda war.

It says in an article that the Iraqi leadership has been able to use the first week of the war to mobilize Arab public opinion in favour of Baghdad. Officials have so far been able to play down the losses suffered by Iraqi troops and the significance of damage to the government's military installations.

The US and Britain, on the other hand, made a crucial mistake on the propaganda front in the early days of the war when a US soldier was filmed hoisting the American flag on the Iraqi-Kuwait border. The image, broadcast around the world, served only to confirm the views of those who fear that the Americans are nothing more than an occupation force.

A similar judgment was made by British newspaper Daily Telegraph, which says Arab media are giving the impression that Iraq has already won the war and the mood is triumphant.

But it also notes that in the Arab media, little attention is being given to the progress of US-British forces towards Baghdad.

In its analysis on the reasons behind why Arabs and Americans are interpreting the war in vastly different ways, an article in the Washington Post concludes it is media which helps shape people's perspective.

It says just as Americans produce moving stories about missing and wounded US soldiers, their Arab counterparts run in-depth stories on the victims of US and British attacks.

It quotes an observer as saying "If this is a war to win Arab hearts and minds, then the US is in deep denial of the reality."

Another interesting development has been the questioning of how objective western media is in covering the Iraq war.

A story by China's Xinhua questions the true nature of "press freedom" in western countries.

It points out the US central command in Qatar has told reporters that three types of questions are off-limits: questions about US and British military casualties, military operations, and future military plans.

The report says that all the banned questions deal with things that people want to know.

It also cites the example of the New York Stock Exchange no longer giving interviews to reporters from the Arabic-language TV network al-Jazeera, after it broadcast pictures of captured US soldiers.

A report in the British newspaper the Guardian strengthens this impression, saying that in America, democracy is under threat, and that people against the war are not allowed to express themselves.

In another article, the newspaper says that as a result, al-Jazeera has seen its European subscriber numbers double since the start of the war amid huge demand for an alternative to western media coverage.

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