First Published: 2017-09-25

The Kurdish Media and the Referendum on Independence
As is the case everywhere, the strategies adopted by the media in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI) are formulated to serve the political interests rather than the societal ambitions, writes Diyari Salih.
Middle East Online

Media channels play an important role in shaping public opinion. They can control hearts and minds, and they can manipulate human emotion as well.

As is the case everywhere, the strategies adopted by the media in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI) are formulated to serve the political interests rather than the societal ambitions. Hence, the Kurdish parties highly depend on the media to support their political project, the referendum on independence.

Through such media, these parties can mobilize the Kurdish young people. The various nationalist programs have affected the view of the inhabitants in KRI towards the vote on the Kurdish Geopolitical future.

Besides, the Kurdish electronic newspapers and Social Media, such as Facebook or Tweeter have also a significant function in this context. They always display the foreign essays only sympathizing with the Kurds of Iraq. In this way, they can convince the Kurdish people that they are internationally supported in their quest of separation from Iraq.

In short, the mass media can contribute to producing many fabricated views to deceive people. For example, the Kurdish media urgently reiterate that if the Kurds do not politically exploit the current weakness of the central government in Baghdad, the opportunity of creating the Kurdish independent state will never be available again. On the other hand, such media do not talk about the unexpected results in case this dream fails or turns into a nightmare.

In fact, the Kurdish media do not like to shed light on the scenario of the local conflicts among the Kurdish parties in the wake of the independence. For instance, They do not want the youth to know anything about what happened in 1996. At that time, the Kurdish parties waged a bloody war against each other to take over the largest share of the influence, the power, and the fortune. This fight can happen again as long as the same political parties and leaders still dominate the political scene of the KRI.

The Kurdistan Democratic party driving the campaign for independence has taken advantage of the Kurdish media to show that the Iraqi Kurdish people are entirely on the side of independence.

These media are trying to provoke the Kurdish separatism. Thus, the international community might wrongly think that there is no domestic fear or opposition to the Kurdish project of independence. As a result, the western popular opinion has not given enough importance to the Kurdish campaign "NO for Now".

The other anti independence Kurdish media constantly suffer from restrictions on their discourse. A week ago, the office of NRT TV Chanel in Duhok was assaulted and destroyed by faceless persons. The Kurdish police did not react to protect the Chanel or its personnel. Therefore, the observers declared that those armed men belonged to the political party calling for independence.

Once society loses the role of the constructive opposition, tyrannical authority appears. Such a regime looks forward to deciding the lifestyle of its people and to imposing the arbitrary standards in the governmental and private institutions.

We still remember the policy that Ba'ath regime implemented to govern Iraq. There was no possibility for the resistance groups to express their opinions. Saddam Hussien, the former Iraqi president 1979-2003, controlled all media in the country and gave the bribes to the foreign media for glorifying his achievements, no matter their inhuman outcomes. He believed that he was right in every decision he took. This led him to face many political setbacks. Having been ousted by the American invasion in 2003, he left behind a divided country suffering from social and racial tensions.

In case the Kurdish leaders do not take the concerns of this opposition into account, the Kurdistan region or what might be the new Kurdish state will suffer from the same Iraqi troubles. Then, This new Kurdish state will face a threat of division into two other parts, one in Erbil and the other in Al Sulaymaniyah. No need to mention the tremendous human and economic cost of this expected scenario and how it will affect the community interaction.

The Kurdish media aim to focus on the short-term objectives, while they have no answer to the long-term problems that will definitely emerge in Post-referendum Kurdistan. The population in the KRI cannot trust in Such media to create a safe future for themselves. These media are conspiring with the others to put the innocent citizens in the KRI at risk. People must know that media use the nationalistic sentiments for the sake of the interests of political parties nothing more.

Diyari Salih


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