Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Radio Tikrit

One of my favorite historical topics is radio propaganda. It plays into my own personal beliefs on bias and the nature of truth. It's not news to anyone that America funds radio propaganda today or yesterday or in 1966.  While the popularity of radio is on the wane at home, it still comprises the core of media delivery in most 2nd and 3rd world countries and especially among the rural illiterate. While the Voice of America programming is out-of-the-closet so to speak, most of our propaganda efforts are not. Take for example Radio Tikrit.

In 2003 the United States infiltrated Iraq with radio propaganda hostile to Saddam Hussein via a shortwave station called Radio Tikrit. Its transmissions were first logged outside Iraq by Bjorn Fransson in Sweden on February 3rd. That Spring, numerous news outlets identified it as "Black Propaganda." This means only that it comes from a covert source. Even though in this case the source was obvious, it never identified itself.  The distinction rapidly became moot as the US invaded Iraq the following March. Not only was that not covert, it received 24/7 news coverage on all five networks. More here.

Programming on Radio Tikrit began as very friendly to Saddam, very similar to programming on Ba'ath party regime-run oulets. Tikrit is the city of his birth so it is assumed that was a deliberate link to establish credibility. Then gradually it's programs became critical of the dictator. It fixated on the poverty of Iraqis and eventually it even called on the Republican Guard members to be insubordinate and desert. More here.

Radio Tikrit broadcast on 1584 kHz from 1900-2100 GMT. BBC news described their signal as patchy because of "co-channel interference." I don't think that's what was causing the interference. The nearest big station on that frequency is the 1-Kw station MAKU in Iran.  Only days later the Australian paper "The Age quoted a source describing the signal as "...so strong that it dominates the frequency, even in parts of Europe." Despite massive radio infrastructure losses in the Gulf War, Iraq did have jamming capabilities... and in fact with some irony did operate one out of Tikrit. I believe it was being jammed.

Radio Tikrit was almost certainly run by the same group that funded and ran the Iraqi National Accord. The group is assumed to have received CIA funding. It broadcast two propaganda stations Two Rivers Radio at 1566 kHz and Radio Al Mustaqbal at 1575 kHz. Notice how close those two are to Radio Tikrit. Tikrit also broadcast only while the other two stations were off air. Most sources assume all three transmit from the same 50kW array in Kuwait. More here.