US Withdrawing as Media Retreat from Iraq - 03.03.2009

Last week, President Barack Obama fulfilled one of his campaign promises to the US electorate when he laid out his public plan to have the US military withdraw from Iraq by 2010. While some have bristled at Obama’s decision to leave 50,000 troops stationed in Iraq for support and advisory roles, the reaction from Iraqi citizens has been for the most part positive. Even the Mujahideen Central Command of Rafidain, an Iraqi resistance group based in Baghdad, released a statement warmly congratulating Obama for his plan.

If you were to judge only from the press coverage in Europe or the United States, you might gather that the conflict in Iraq is all but over and done with. Newspapers, broadcasters, and even wealthy satellite news agencies are all cutting back on their foreign reporters, and the Iraqi bureaus full of producers, editors, and reporters are first on the chopping block.

Alive in Baghdad isn’t leaving. And this week, as a sign of how far we’ve come, and how far left we have yet to go, we bring you this classic episode from the archives on the sectarian walls in Baghdad’s Adhamiya neighborhood.

While the walls of Adhamiya and elsewhere in Baghdad have been credited as a component of the improved security situation in Iraq, the divisions they create are physically indicative of the broader ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraqi society. While the violence has dropped to its lowest levels since the American invasion in 2003, there are still rivalries between ethnic, religious and political groups, simmering just below the surface, rivalries which have a habit of filtering down and embroiling the local population.

With the complete drop-off of reporting, there is yet another wall being constructed in Iraq. This wall, however, is not between neighborhoods in Baghdad, but rather between citizens of the world and the citizens of Iraq. The global financial meltdown along with western media’s sensationalist attention span threaten to sever entirely the communication links between Iraq and the rest of the world, although the fate of both are inextricably linked. To put it plainly, just because the Americans are leaving doesn’t mean Iraq ceases to matter anymore.

Despite the crisis in the mainstream media industry, Small World News and Alive in Baghdad are now well into their fourth year of operation, and we have absolutely no thoughts of stopping. However, we are not immune from the current financial woes. The good news is that we have a plan to deal with it.

The first part of our plan is simple – in order to alleviate the workload on our reporters and translators, we’ll be running a Classic AiB from our archives, including previously unreleased tapes, to supplement all the brand new episodes of Alive in Baghdad, which we’ll still be releasing often. This won’t last for long, only until we regain our financial momentum in the midst of industry turmoil.

But here’s the most exciting part – unlike our compatriots in the television or print business, Alive in Baghdad is in no danger of becoming extinct. Rather, we only need a boost to help alleviate the “Crisis of Confidence” affecting our industry, that is to say, the fear of investment.

That’s where you come in.

We’re asking all of you, our faithful supporters and subscribers, to shoot a quick video of yourself explaining why people should support Alive in Baghdad, particularly in light of the American military – and media – withdrawal from Iraq. Why is an accurate portrayal of Iraq important to you? What issues are still relevant to you, or still yet to cover? Tell us, and help us tell the world.

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