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The Arab Discourse and the International Role

The Arab Discourse and the International Role

This video was recorded at MIT World Series: The Politics of Reconstructing Iraq. Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arab news network, isn't the Bush Administration's favorite media outlet. But Hafez Mirazi states that his network's motto is "both sides of the story," and that it provides an indispensable service by sharing Arab perspectives with the entire world. Today, says Mirazi, there is widespread outrage at the U.S. occupation of Iraq. "If you don't say, 'We made a mistake and there were no WMDS (Weapons of Mass Destruction)', but instead switch to saying 'We did it for democracy, reform and the region,' you're giving ammunition to people who question anything coming out of Washington." Another issue for Arabs is Washington's fight against terrorism. Says Mirazi, "It doesn't look nice that you want to battle in Arab backyards rather than your own." Mirazi says that many Arabs believe the U.S. is occupying Iraq "because of a desire for hegemony on Arab oil," and that the U.S. will next target Iran and Syria. He describes a scornful attitude toward the stated American agenda of establishing a democratic model in the Middle East. Arabs believe that the U.S. has instead created anarchy in Iraq by dissolving the Iraqi Army, which "helped in protection and law and order of the country." They also view the U.S. shaping Iraq along sectarian lines -- the "Lebanonization of Iraq, by design and intention." Why not, Arabs wonder, be pragmatic and "deal with political Islam" to stitch the country's factions together? While the U.S. projects a success story about democracy, Arab media like Al-Jazeera describe "lessons about the severe limits of power….When it comes to the end game, you will have a problem controlling 10 miles of highway between the green zone in Baghdad and the airport."

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