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December 11, 2005

Iraqi Poster Wars: Horse Of A Different Color



Is Ayad Allawi running a campaign with two faces?

In general, Ayad Allawi’s campaign posters bear a decidedly Western-style design and a modern, professional look.  For that reason, there is a marked discrepancy between the graphics produced for Allawi himself, and for his slate.  Allawi is running as part of  the Iraqi National List, which is made up of secular Sunnis and Shi’ites, and includes the well known senior Sunni politician Adnan al-Pachachi (right, above) and Hameed Majeed (left above) representing the Communist party.


As compared to these slick Allawi posters that have blanketed the country, however, notice how much simpler and homegrown the lists’ logo is.

One question worth asking is why there isn’t more integration between Allawi’s visuals and those of the slate?  Perhaps the slick "western" version is designed as much for foreign consumption, whereas the "in-country" logo is intended to code as more crude and muscular.  (Might the top photo subliminally reflect this theme with Allawi the tool between two big balls — or breasts, even?)
On the campaign operations and finance front, there was some interesting information regarding the Allawi campaign in today’s election update in the NYT.

The first curious element was the fact the man they interviewed, the
co-director of Mr. Allawi’s campaign, indicated that he had no prior
campaign experience. In spite of that fact, he somehow oversees 80
campaign workers (including offices in every province) with a budget of
$2.5 million.
In terms of strategy, the co-director, a civil engineer named
Azzam Alwash, said that the campaign decided to emphasize TV, radio and
newspaper ads following widespread vandalism of their posters.
According to the article:

Mr. Allawi’s has its own newspaper and enough money to pay for
plenty of television and radio time…. Rates for political spots on
the larger Baghdad stations run as high as $3,000 per minute.

As usual, I have a couple questions.  First, are we to believe that the actual co-director of the Allawi campaign has no campaign experience after Allawi conducted a major, Western-style campaign for the parliamentary election in January?

Then there’s the question of,where is all the money is coming from. If
a political spot costs $3,000 per minute and the campaign has been
buying heavily, it sounds like the $2.5 million number could be low –
especially if some number of those 80 workers are paid.

And lastly, It’s interesting how the report suggests how
plentiful the money is. I can’t remember reading about any campaign –
domestically or abroad — where money wasn’t of constant concern.

(revised 12/11/05 1:34 pm PST)

(image 1: Karim Sahib/EPA. December 15,
2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews. image 2: Samir Mizban/Reuters. December
15, 2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews. image 3: Hadi Mizban/A.P. December 2,
2005. Baghdad. Via YahooNews.)

  • Mad_nVT

    What’s with the horse? Why is it in the bulls-eye? I wouldn’t automatically have associated a horse with the modern Iraq.
    Regarding Allawi and money. Well, he has “investors”. There should be plenty of people willing to pony up some money for a future leader of an oil-rich nation- American oil companies, security contractors, Haliburton, the armaments industry, European oil, your American government. Money to be made in Iraq, you just have to make the right investment.
    Didn’t the US government make some “investments” in the Ukrainian election? I believe that they (we) are “investing” in several other former Soviet states.

  • ummabdulla

    The horse seems like a macho symbol to remind Iraqis that only a “strongman” like Saddam can control the different factions – which is something that a lot of people in the region believe anyway. The messages are about a strong leader and a safe nation; it’s like Allawi is selling himself as a secular dictator who can stomp on the various factions. Geez, maybe we should have just saved all the trouble and kept Saddam in power.
    Another New York Times article that might be relevant is Military’s Information War Is Vast and Often Secretive. Maybe I’m too suspicious, but I’m skeptical of some of the Iraqi blogs – written in excellent English – which seem to basically support the American line. Who are they for, since the first lamguage of Iraqis is Arabic (or Kurdish)? And who are they by?

  • jt from B.C.

    umballa, of all animals the horse is given the most attributes, so Allawi’s American PR guys have covered all the bases !!!
    Horse – Stamina, mobility, strength and power, coping under difficult circumstances, love, devotion,loyalty, the land, travel. Life and death symbol, intellect, wisdom, power, nobility, energy, freedom, wildness, divination, prophecy, fertility.
    In China its macho for sure:
    HORSE: strong and powerful, usually vain if a woman, warlike and chivalrous.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Maybe the horse is the ExxonMobile’s new Iraq corporate logo (sans the Pegasus wings):
    From the NYT article linked by The BAG: ” ‘They have made it impossible for us to compete,’ said Mr. Kifai, a stocky, talkative Shiite candidate who spent his entire $50,000 war chest on the posters and has nothing left. ‘This is not democracy.’ ”
    Um, actually that’s exactly how it works in the United $tate$.
    Later, the writer says: “Still, these campaigns could never be mistaken for American ones. The sheer number of political groups and competing messages make it hard for Iraqis to distinguish one party from another.”
    Sheer number does not a difference make. Except for the murders, they sound just like American campaigns (going by the reporter’s own descriptions), and the American public is often uninformed, confused, or unable to distinguish between candidates or party platforms. The late Senator Eugene McCarthy said there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats.
    Where does The Times FIND these reporters?
    The article that ummabdulla linked to depresses me beyond my wildest dreams. From it is this quote: “The American message makers who are wary of identifying their role can cite findings by the Pentagon, pollsters and others underscoring the United States’ fundamental problems of credibility abroad.”
    What credibility does the U.S. have at this point? I would think credibility has died of extinction by now.
    Then there’s this: “For an expanded stealth persuasion effort into neighboring countries, Lincoln presented plans, since rejected, for an underground newspaper, television news shows and an anti-terrorist comedy based on ‘The Three Stooges.’ ”
    Stooges indeed.

  • ummabdulla

    “Um, actually that’s exactly how it works in the United $tate$”
    I’m always amused to read those kinds of comments, which are very common. The ones where people complain about something in their countries and assume that it would never happen in the U.S.
    The other day, I saw a news report about Iran’s President Ahmedinejad, who’s causing some controversy by claiming that when he spoke to the UN, there was a light around him, sort of implying that this had a connection to the “12th Iman”, a very important figure in Shia beliefs. One Iranian said, “It’s as if the American President said he was getting messages from Jesus. The American people would never accept that!” No, never…

  • fotonique

    The horse, naturally, is an Arabian: here’s a history of the breed. All of the attributes mentioned by JTFBC certainly apply (at least to the horse), and maybe Allawi hopes a few of those rub off in the audience’s mind.
    Perhaps MSNBC has it right in their June 7, 2005 article, Betting on an Old Horse:

    The CIA finally scores a coup in Iraq—even if it wasn’t planned—when the Governing Council agrees on a new leader.

    Allawi had been a Baathist until he defected in the’70s and became secretary-general of the Iraqi National Accord (INA)—barely surviving an assassination attempt along the way. The INA was an anti-Saddam group that began receiving support from the CIA and Britain’s M.I.6 after the agency broke with Allawi’s rival exile leader (and cousin by marriage) Ahmad Chalabi. “Allawi is more acceptable to the Iraqi people,” said a Western diplomat in Baghdad. “Though whenever I see him, I have to force myself not to think of Tony Soprano.”

    Have the Iraqis received an offer they can’t refuse?

  • hmmm

    where’s the jesus horse?

  • eh….?

    Eh, where’s the horse? I looked horses up on Google and saw the image– what does this have to do with it? o.o
    ‘_’ …

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