Saturday, October 9, 2010

Badael بدائل

In Badael yesterday I wrote about the freedom of the western press and its treatment of the droughts in Syria and Iraq. Maya Yaghi wrote about the women's coop in Kfarseer in South Lebanon and about their wonderful new ways of preserving olives.,19222

And here is a very rapid translation of my editorial

It looks like the chronic Arab food crisis has become the focus of international interest. Every morning, we receive news of a conference, a seminar or a study addressing the issue of Arab food security and its geopolitical dimensions in light of the expected impacts of climate change and of the droughts which have been recurring for the 4th year in a row. The issue has gone beyond the specialized arenas and is now being addressed by the mainstream media, sometimes with dubious political agendas. Lets take for instance the coverage of the drought that is affecting northern Syria and that has resulted in very poor harvests this year, which has in turn led hundreds of thousands of poor farmers to leave their villages and seek jobs or relief in the cities. These are real truths, and the events have really taken place. But why does some of the mainstream western press insist on reporting them as if this was a conspiracy by the Syrian government to punish its citizen. There are lots of criticisms that can be made about the Syrian regime, but this does not mean that it conspires with the climate to punish its people. Lets look also at the coverage of the drought that is affecting large areas of Iraq, and which has only come to compound the impacts of 20 years of US blockade and war. Readers of the western mainstream press could easily believe that there is no relation between the war and what is going on in Iraq. Quite the contrary, it looks as if the press is peddling the notion that Iraq will be saved by putting the farm sector in the hands of US-based multinational corporations, these same corporations that Paul Bremer invited to come and control the food of the Iraqi people.
No doubt that the situation of the press in the Arab World is disastrous. But many here look at the mainstream western press as an example of freedom of opinion, while in reality it is just a mouth piece for the powerful and the rich to express their all freedom.

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