Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Sunday, June 21, 2009

  Spot the omission: WaPo on Iranian allegations

The Washington Post has a report on the official Iranian media's demonization of Mousavi and its allegations that the protesters are "terrorists". Buried deep in the article are a few details about the terrorism allegation. These are curiously circumscribed, however. The Post evidently didn't think it worthwhile to tell its readers that the Iranians were in effect accusing the US of orchestrating the street protests.

Here's what the Post did have to say:

Scenes from Saturday's violent protests were shown frequently on Iranian state television and in a special broadcast the rioters were said to be members of the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, an Islamist Marxist group that the United States has labeled a terrorist organization. The group, which sided with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and conducted a series of terrorist attacks, has little support among most Iranians.

Audio clips were played of alleged recordings of telephone calls in which people said to be members of the organization urged others to pass on information about the protests to Western news organizations. But the group's involvement seems highly unlikely because its supporters are rare in Iran.

The MEK's supporters are not however so rare in Iraq, where for years they've been protected by the US military in their massive headquarters outside Baghdad. The Bush administration decided that the MEK, weird and violent and mad and repulsive though they are, were assets to promote in Iraq in order to undermine Iran. The Mujaheddin-e Khalq are loathed by both the Iranians and by the Iraqi government, and US support for these terrorists is highly resented throughout the region. The US media, generally, has ignored the US sponsorship of MEK terrorists; the rare American news report on the MEK has tended to downplay the scandalous nature of the US relationship with this group, and if anything play up the fact that the State Department (ineffectually) put the MEK down on its list of terrorists.

I described the American media's blind-spot toward US relations with the MEK here two years ago. In the comments on a crosspost at unbossed, I remarked that the MEK are "absolutely notorious in Iraq and Iran, but virtually unknown to the American public."

So, back to the Washington Post and its failure to mention the US backing for the MEK. A critical omission, given that the Iranian media is trying to tar the street protesters as pawns of US-backed terrorists. What's the likelihood that the Post simply assumed that its readers could figure that out on their own? Because the alternative seems to be that the Post's coverage of Iran is obtuse in the extreme, perhaps intentionally.

crossposted at

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