Viewing cable 02ABUJA2793
Title: NIGERIAN MEDIA REACTION TO BUSH UNGA SPEECH,

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
02ABUJA27932002-10-03 21:39:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002793 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
FOR AF/PD and EUR/ERA KATHY ALLEGRONE 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO PTER NI UNGA
SUBJECT:  NIGERIAN MEDIA REACTION TO BUSH UNGA SPEECH, 
USG POLICY TOWARD IRAQ 
 
REFTEL:  A) State 184783  B) State 177841 
C) State 169974 
 
 
¶1.  Summary.  Nigerian press coverage surrounding 
President Bush's September 12 speech to the UN General 
Assembly and ongoing debate over U.S. policy towards 
Iraq has been largely overshadowed by domestic 
political news and the ongoing impeachment battle 
between President Obasanjo and the legislature. 
Northern media outlets whose audiences are 
predominantly Muslim have been more sharply critical of 
potential U.S. action against Iraq than those based in 
the South, with strong skepticism expressed at USG 
arguments on the need to remove the Iraqi President. 
However, even Southern media generally voiced 
criticism.  End Summary. 
 
 
Nigerian Media Reaction to Bush UNGA Speech, Iraq 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
 
¶2.  Nigerian press coverage of President Bush's 
September 12 address to the UN General Assembly was 
spotty and largely confined to the international news 
sections rather than the front page.  Radio and 
television coverage of the international debate over 
Iraq has been light.  Nigeria news outlets are far more 
focused on domestic issues such as the ongoing 
political battle between President Obasanjo and the 
legislative branch over possible impeachment, upcoming 
elections and the aftermath of voter registration, and 
economic stories of interest to the average Nigerian. 
 
 
¶3.  Reporting on the Bush speech, subsequent remarks, 
and USG policy towards Iraq in the southern newspapers 
has been straightforward, relying on wire service 
material and direct quotes from world leaders but no 
editorial or analytical pieces.  Coverage has focused 
on European and international resistance to any USG 
unilateral action against Iraq.  Coverage in the 
Northern papers, while still confined to the 
international news sections, has given greater play to 
USG policy towards Iraq and has been more critical. 
Northern papers such as the "New Nigerian," the "Weekly 
Trust," and "The Triumph" have also provided strongly 
worded editorials denouncing USG policy towards Iraq. 
Post notes that some of the material published in these 
news organs is coming from web sites (e.g., 
IslamOnline.net) geared towards Muslim audiences. 
 
 
¶4.  Criticisms and observations of USG policy have 
centered on the following themes: 
 
 
--  USG policy on Iraq represents anti-Islamic bias of 
USG since 1970s when U.S. hostages taken in Iran; in 
post-Cold War period, U.S. sees Islam as greatest 
threat to U.S. domination of world political and 
economic life and USG Middle East policy geared towards 
containment/weakening of Muslim states.  " . . . with 
the collapse of socialism in the former Soviet Union, 
the U.S. finds Islam and Muslim nations as her greatest 
enemy, looking for a slight opportunity to unleash 
terror on them . . . ' "The Triumph,"  September 15-16, 
2002; an article entitled, "Before America's Second 
Crusade." 
 
 
--  U.S. "set up" (i.e., encouraged) Saddam Hussein to 
invade Kuwait so that they could destroy Iraqi ability 
to develop a strong, independent Iraq that would not 
bend to USG policies in the Middle East.  "  It was 
decided, therefore, that the USA, backed up by Israel, 
should attack and destroy the military capabilities of 
Iraq, thereby forcing the capitulation of Islamic 
radicalism; . . . the female American Ambassador to 
Baghdad at the time misled Saddam Hussein into 
believing that American would not raise a finger, 
should the Iraqi Army invade the disputed territories 
in Kuwait,"  "New Nigerian," September 13, 2002; an 
article entitled, "Bush's Obsession." 
 
 
--  WMD argument lacks substance, adequate proof and 
relies more on suspected intentions of Iraq rather than 
hard evidence; is also a double standard in that USG is 
not applying same policy of regime change to other 
states holding WMD (e.g., North Korea, Israel, etc.); 
USG is also a possessor of WMD.  " . . . America is 
looking the other way over Israel's nuclear weapons." 
"The Comet," September 23, 2002; an article entitled 
"Iraq and the Future of the UN." 
 
 
--  U.S. military used depleted uranium in bombs 
dropped during Gulf War; depleted uranium did far more 
damage to Iraqi people and U.S. soldiers than Iraqi use 
of bio/chem. weapons.  " . . .  these shells, besides 
being extremely destructive, were found in many cases 
to cause cancer and other severe illnesses, not among 
Iraqi troops but also among U.S. soldiers who were 
around the areas where they were dumped or used . . . 
Iraqi rates of cancer in the aftermath of the Gulf War 
have gone up over 50 percent is some regions.  This, 
combined with US-led efforts to keep medicine out of 
Iraq has exacerbated the situation and overwhelmed 
doctors in Baghdad, Mosul and Basra," "Weekly Trust," 
September 13-19, 2002; an article entitled, "US vs. 
Iraq:  Whose war is it anyway?" 
 
 
--  Argument that Iraq has ignored UN resolutions also 
represents a double standard in that Israel has ignored 
UN resolutions but the USG has not made similar demands 
of Tel Aviv.  " . . . why should the US continue to 
turn its searchlight on Muslim nations as those 
harboring terrorists while the biggest terror of the 
world, Israel, who defies every bit of UN resolution in 
the Middle East peace process carries on with its 
ruthless, bloodsucking campaign against the harpless 
(sic) Palestinians?"  "The Triumph," September 13, 
2002; an article entitled, "September 11, US and 
Muslims." 
 
 
--  President Bush is carrying on family vendetta 
against Saddam Hussein and the USG policy towards Iraq 
has not evolved since 1991.  "  . . . the Bush family 
would never be contented unless the Iraqi President is 
disgraced out of office through defeat in a war with 
America."  "Sunday Vanguard," September 15, 2002; an 
article entitled, "The Wars of the Bushmen." 
 
 
--  Iraq's neighbors (other than Israel) have not 
voiced concern over any danger posed by Iraq; USG 
showing its pro-Israel bias vis-`-vis rest of Middle 
East.  "Many Arab nations have flocked to Baghdad to 
show solidarity with Saddam Hussein."  "Weekend 
Triumph," September 28, 2002; an article entitled, 
"Opening the Gates of Hell." 
 
 
¶5.  USG public diplomacy strategy on Iraq could 
usefully address the foregoing criticisms by focusing 
on themes such as USG support and assistance levels for 
Middle Eastern countries, USG past practice/willingness 
to work multilaterally on Mideast problems, Iraq's use 
of WMD on its own people, neighbors, how use of WMD has 
affected the environment/health of Iraqi people/what 
their use by Iraq today could mean, rationale for 
following differing policy on Iraq as opposed to other 
WMD holders, balance between Israeli and Palestinian 
interests, differences in the USG approach to Iraq 
between 1991 and today, and more specific information 
linking the Iraq leadership with terrorist 
organizations. 
 
 
JETER