“Much has changed in Iraq a year after the US invasion, but one constant survives: the ignorance of US news networks when it comes to the Iraqi people. That lack of understanding was on clear display Monday, when ABC’s “World News Tonight” ran a short piece on the loyalties Iraqi Shia feel to Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani and Moqtada Al Sadr. The very premise of the report was absurd. Sistani is one of the most important figures in Shia Islam… but it’s Sadr who, in Peter Jennings’ imagination, “is wildly popular with the poorest Shiites. He taps into the resentment in the underclass.” Never mind that, when Sadr proclaimed a government last October, no one paid any attention.”
— The New Republic, March 29, 1994, three days before al-Sadr led an Iraqi uprising against the US occupation, thanks largely to the Shi’ite underclass that TNR sneered at.
To be fair, al-Sadr’s popularity took a huge leap when he opportunistically grabbed hold of the Arab public’s fury at Israel by declaring himself a virtual member of Hamas after Yassin’s “liquidation”. After all, it’s not fair to expect the US news media to connect the dots between the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Arab irritation with the West in general. That would require actual analysis. And stuff. Easier to be snarky about your competition.