Katie Grant writing in the Scotsman takes issue with the phenomenon of ‘hotel journalism’ which she says is based rather too much on reporters prejudices as opposed than what’s actually happening outside of the Baghdad Hilton:
The truth is that hatred for George Bush and all he stands for is so entrenched in the eyes of bien pensant western commentators, that using the word “success” about Iraq would choke them. If word ever slips out, in relation, for example, to the highly influential Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s rejection of an Iranian-style theocracy, or that both Sunni and Shia openly state that they must get on together and not destroy the country through civil war, it comes hedged with such portentous and lugubrious caveats that it sounds more like a distasteful disease.
Most reporters “on the spot” couldn’t raise even the tiniest hint of joy when followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiercely anti-United States young cleric, poured out to vote, clearly with their leader’s blessing, or when it became clear that al-Sadr had decided to send representatives to the new national assembly.
Grant – unlike many conservatives with a small c masquerading as something else – manages to pick up on the wider implications of regime change in Iraq too:
Listen to Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community in Lebanon. He has stated publicly that, although he is cynical of the US invasion of Iraq, the election has turned out to be, “the start of a new Arab world”. He went on: “The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”
The times are certainly changing in the Middle East – and will continue to change whether Western journalists are able to recognise it or not.