June 18, 2014

As ISIS Nears Baghdad, US Press Snoozes, But AFP, UK Telly Are Covering

At roughly 8 a.m. Eastern Time Tuesday morning, the wire service AFP (Agence France-Presse) had a story entitled “Fighting nears Baghdad as UN warns crisis ‘life-threatening.’” AFP reported that “Militants pushed a weeklong offensive that has overrun swathes of Iraq to within 60 kilometres (37 miles) of Baghdad Tuesday.” A Skynet video found at Gateway Pundit tells us that “ISIS Terrorists Surround Baghdad From Three Sides.”

Meanwhile, as of 12:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday only one of the three Iraq-related stores (here, here and here) at the Associated Press refers — and even then only in a very late paragraph — to how ISIS (or ISIL, using AP’s preferred acronym) “overran Mosul then stormed toward Baghdad.”

There is a news outlet which has been liveblogging from Baghdad for at least the past four days. No, it’s not AP, even though it has a bureau in Baghdad. It’s the UK Telegraph. Its lengthy and enlightening June 16 liveblog is here; June 17 is here). Bloomberg News, in a story which seems completely invisible (I only stumbled upon it in the course of doing another post) has a sobering interview with someone who is there (bolds are mine):

BloombergBaghdadTweet061614

Dodging Militias, Stockpiling Food: Life in Baghdad Today

Sinan Al Dulaimi, 43, works for the United Nations in Baghdad, where he has lived in the eastern Zayouna area since he was 14.

In a telephone interview on June 16, he described life in a 1,300-year-old capital with about 7 million people that has fallen from being one of the Arab world’s cultural hubs to a ghettoized city marred by bomb blasts and sectarian killings.

fighters from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant are about 50 miles from Baghdad after taking Mosul and Tikrit in the north. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani have called for Shiites to arm themselves to counter the radical Sunni group.

“The situation in Baghdad is very bad. The entrance to the city closes at 10 p.m.; it used to close at 1 a.m. Curfew starts at midnight and ends at 5 a.m.”

… “This is the beginning of more sectarian violence and there’s nothing Maliki can do. He’s the problem.”

“It started two years ago with peaceful protests in Sunni areas like Ramadi. They had demands and there were solutions. But he called them extremists when it wasn’t the case and sent security forces to attack them. That happened several times. Then they picked up guns and there were weekly clashes between security forces and the tribes. He doesn’t know anything about politics.”

“This country used to be secular. Religion was private, for the home, the mosque, not the street.”

“I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I remember my childhood clearly. It was a glorious age for me. I had so many friends — boys and girls — we used to play outside, we went to theaters, cinemas, parties, up north in the summer. Boys of 14 ask me what I was doing at their age and they’re shocked it could have been like that. They’re living in a different time. We don’t hear laughter in the streets anymore.

“We never imagined that one day we’d reach this point. I think this is the end. This country has collapsed.”

Perhaps Al Dulaimi’s perspective is overwrought, but, though the interview was done over the phone, at least it’s from someone who’s there — and we’d have a better idea of what’s really happening if more news organizations were actually there.

Am I really to believe that no U.S. wire service, newspaper or network is interested in devoting meaningful real-time resources to monitoring the situation in Baghdad? If not, why not? Or is the answer to that question too obvious?

(The only exception I have found is the Los Angeles Times, currently running a story claiming that “Iraq says it stopped Islamic militants 35 miles from Baghdad.”)

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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