Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today

By Marc Lynch | Go to book overview

5
Baghdad Falls

During the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the performance of the Arab media became the subject of intense debate. Whereas it had already been singled out as a source of anti-Americanism and political radicalism after 9/11, now it seemed to pose a major and direct obstacle to the American military campaign. The protests over the Israeli-Palestinian issue had made Americans and Arab regimes alike painfully aware of its mobilizing potentional and its influence on Arab public opinion. The Arab media therefore itself became a central front of political conflict during and after the war.

Al-Jazeera in particular was accused of actively supporting the Iraqi regime with its skeptical reporting on the case for war and its heavy coverage of the conflicts human impact. The complexities of al-Jazeera's coverage of Iraq (see chapter 4), and the diversity of opinions found on its talk shows, faded away in the eyes of many observers in the harsh light of war. Almost every aspect of its coverage came under criticism: the word choices of news presenters who used terms such as "invasion" rather than "liberation"; the guests on the talk shows, many of whom were fiercely critical of the war; the broadcasting of footage of Iraqi civilians in agony or of American prisoners of war. After the war, al-Jazeera came under even more intense scrutiny, accused of aiding and abetting the Iraqi insurgency and of undermining the transition to Iraqi democracy.

The Arab public sphere did play a major role in shaping the political and normative environment, but in more complex and ambiguous

-171-

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Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: Iraq and the New Arab Public 1
  • 2: The Structural Transformation of the Arab Public Sphere 29
  • 3: The Iraqi Challenge and the Old Arab Public 89
  • 4: The Al-Jazeera Era 125
  • 5: Baghdad Falls 171
  • 6: New Iraq, New Arab Public 213
  • Notes 253
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 287
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