Ten years after Iraq was declared as liberated, many are reflecting on how Iraq presents itself to the world today. Our mediatised view of the country is one rife with renewed sectarian divide, and as previously written, any economic good news is overshadowed by the rise violence. One aspect given much attention in the efforts to build a new Iraq was the media sector. A decade later the Iraqi government announced their decision to ban Al-Jazeera and nine Iraqi television channels, eight of which are Sunni. They claim the channels were fuelling sectarian divide.
On the same day as the media ban and the anniversary of “liberation”, Dr Al-Safi quietly launched his academic study of Iraqi media. His research for “Iraqi Media” lasted three years and earned him a PhD from City University, London. The book offers a fascinating chronological juxtaposition of dictatorship and occupation and this thorough, academic study of Iraqi media pre and post Saddam also has its “shock and awe” moments. Saddam Hussein’s persecution of the journalist tallies with the popular narrative on his reign, but the fact that Uday Hussein’s paranoid actions may have been perversely good for Iraqi journalists is a new story. Through his interviews with hundreds, Al Safi also reveals complexities and challenges in a frank and detailed account of the post Saddam attempt to build a “free” media. He claims, the largest media-building project ever attempted.