US embassy cable - 04BAGHDAD137

USEB 072: THE IRAQI INTERIM GOVERNMENT AND AL- JAZEERA

Identifier: 04BAGHDAD137
Wikileaks: View 04BAGHDAD137 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2004-07-14 20:25:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: KPAO PGOV IZ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 142025Z JUL 04 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0192
INFO WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000137 
 
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/PA, AND NEA/I 
DOD FOR OASD/PA 
NSC FOR PA 
EMBASSIES/CONSULATES FOR PA AND POL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2014 
TAGS: KPAO, PGOV, IZ 
SUBJECT: USEB 072: THE IRAQI INTERIM GOVERNMENT AND AL- 
JAZEERA 
 
CLASSIFIED BY DCM JAMES JEFFREY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  On July 10, Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. 
Ayad Allawi met with the chief of the news room from Al- 
Jazeera's Doha headquarters, Mr. Sadi Al-Shouly (who is 
also responsible for all worldwide Al-Jazeera 
correspondents), along with Al-Jazeera's Baghdad Bureau 
Chief, Mr. Hamid Hadeed.  The meeting, originally 
scheduled to last one-half hour, was extended to an hour 
and a half as PM Allawi effectively read the riot act to 
his two visitors.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) A witness to the session reports the following 
highlights.  Prime Minister Allawi opened his meeting 
with the two visitors from Al-Jazeera with a question: 
"So what are your plans for harming the Iraqi people 
these days?"  The deflated Al-Jazeera guests were then 
treated to a thorough dressing-down, with Allawi accusing 
Al-Jazeera of having a political agenda, and then 
assuring his visitors that their agenda "will fail" and 
that the Iraqi people will be victorious regardless of 
Al-Jazeera's efforts to undermine stability in the 
region. 
 
3. (C) Among the specific accusations that Allawi leveled 
against Al-Jazeera were the following: 
 
-- the lack of accurate and factual reporting by Al- 
Jazeera correspondents on the ground in Iraq; 
 
-- the station acting as a mouthpiece for terrorists by 
airing their audio and video tapes; 
 
-- and broadcasting videos of masked men trying to 
intimidate him and the Iraqi people. 
 
The PM stressed that Al-Jazeera will fail in its goal, as 
he and his people "have been through too much hardship to 
be threatened by a group of masked men". 
 
4. (C) The PM also stated that he is going to approach 
the Qatari government to discuss the impact that a state- 
run broadcaster such as Al-Jazeera has on IraqiQQatari 
bilateral relations. 
 
5. (C) Allawi continued, that regardless of its efforts, 
99% of the Iraqi people reject Al-Jazeera and its agenda, 
and are aware that Al-Jazeera never covers any positive 
news stories; rather, Iraqis understand that Al-Jazeera's 
sole interest is incitement to discontent, even violence. 
The PM also informed his visitors that there is now an 
independent Iraqi media commission that will hold media 
organizations accountable for malpractice and 
provocation.  Further, he conveyed that neither he, nor 
any members of his staff, will cooperate with Al-Jazeera 
until they adjust their coverage.  The PM did mention, 
however, that he will send a representative to Doha next 
week to represent Iraq in a conference which Al-Jazeera 
is holding with key political figures, in order to 
reiterate these points.  He concluded by acknowledging 
that "it is acceptable, even welcome, to criticize the 
Interim Government; however, do not dare harm the people 
of Iraq". 
 
6. (C) The Al-Jazeera representatives got the message. 
For their part, they claimed that the shortfalls in Al- 
Jazeera coverage of Iraq cited by the PM were often due 
to an inability to obtain information and clarification 
from official sources concerning breaking news events, a 
lack of government spokesmen and an Iraqi Interim 
Government public affairs infrastructure. 
 
7. (C) Comment: Shortly after the transfer of sovereignty 
to his government, PM Allawi told us that he was thinking 
of closing the Al-Jazeera bureau in Baghdad and banning 
Al-Jazeera correspondents from Iraq.  Our counsel was to 
take another approach;  to inform Al-Jazeera that their 
reporting is under scrutiny, and that the government 
intends to monitor media coverage through an independent 
commission.  PM Allawi did exactly that in his meeting 
with these representatives from Al-Jazeera.  End comment. 
 
 
NEGROPONTE 

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