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Iraqi Official to American Press: Report More Good

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 20, 2004 – Iraq's deputy prime minister implored the American press to provide more balanced coverage of operations in Iraq.

Barham Salih, a prominent leader from Kurdish northern Iraq, made his plea June 19 to American reporters traveling in Iraq with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

"I hope you from the American press will be able to tell people back home that (through) this mission you are giving an entire nation an opportunity to be rid of their challenges," he said.

"These soldiers are helping renovate schools and so on, and very, very little of that is reported," Salih continued. "We have to be grateful to those young men and women who have come from afar, sacrificing their lives to defend our security and our freedom."

He said context is important, and many American papers don't put things in the proper context. For instance, he said, "Many of the op-ed writers before the war predicted that Kirkuk would become the scene of the most vicious civil war," he said, referring to the northern Iraqi city that has been the site of problems between Kurds and Arabs.

"There are tensions in Kirkuk," he said, "but no civil war."

New Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer explained his belief that 90 percent of what's happening in Iraq is good news, and 10 percent in bad. "The media is magnifying the 10 percent, ignoring the 90 percent," Yawer said.

He said the scandal surrounding detainee abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison is a perfect example. The issue is clearer to people like him who have lived in the United States and understand American values, he said.

"I know this is outrageous to the American public (and) to the American administration as much as it is outrageous to the Iraqis," Yawer said.

But, he added, regular Iraqis "have been breastfed hatred to the United States and Great Britain for 45 years."

Yawer said he and other Iraqi leaders are working to acquaint the Iraqi people "with the real values of the American Bill of Rights and other great things you have in your constitution."

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