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Review of website launched by senior outgoing Iraqi Kurd leader

BBC Monitoring

The much-awaited launch of the former Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, PUK, deputy secretary-general's media organization became a reality with the recent launch of Sbay website Nawshirwan Mustafa, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's deputy in the PUK for over two decades, is the architect of a new media organization, Wisha, of which the website is the first outlet.

    

Website structure

    Sbay, or "tomorrow" in English, has specific sections on Kurdistan, Iraq, the Middle-East and the world, as well as other sections such as reports, articles, special portfolios, social, economic, art and sports.

    Under the special portfolios' section, the website hosts dedicated sections on education, oil and a section entitled "Possible scenarios of post-US withdrawal from Iraq".

    Pictures of writers are often posted with their articles. The website has an archive going back over a month and a rolling headline at the top of the page.

    The website has links to newspaper, radio, TV and research centre pages, presumably the potential outlets of the organization, which are not active. On average, the website has carried some 30 reports and articles every day since its launch.

    

Content

    Some of the reports and articles are specifically written for the website, while others are translated from news agencies. Contributors to the website include known Kurdish writers and journalists, including Mustafa himself.

    The social section contains reports from Iraqi Kurdistan mainly on conditions of women and children, while the sport section carries international and local sport news, mainly football. Most of the reports are accompanied by pictures.

    The website has recently featured an article by Mustafa criticizing the Iraqi Kurdistan Region parliament, which led to a series of articles on the same issue. The website runs editorials, one of which was dedicated to the ongoing debate in the Iraqi parliament on constitutional changes.

    

Objective

    The website carries an elaborate and ambitious statement spelling out the goals of the organization, including:

    - Promotion of democracy, free elections, power transfer, tolerance, social justice and co-existence between ethnic and religious groups;

    - Provision of accurate information on government budgets and its distribution across the various sections; Kurdish political authorities' political, financial, military talks and reconstruction projects.

    The statement says the only "red line" of the organization is the national Kurdish aspirations.

    Prior to his resignation from the PUK, Mustafa was leading a pro-reform wing inside the party which did not win as many votes as expected in the internal party elections.

    In his statements to the media, Mustafa stressed that his media organization would not be affiliated with any political party and that the organization was not funded by the PUK. However, there were some reports saying Mustafa had asked Iraqi Kurdistan Region President and Kurdistan Democratic Party head Mas'ud Barzani to financially support his media organization, presumably to shake off the PUK tag associated with the project by some people.

    Source: BBC Monitoring research in Sorani Kurdish 26 May 07

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