The killing of the Iranian general Soleimani in Iraq was widely covered by Bulgarian media in January. And, of course, everything connected to that made the news.
Putin’s spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova qualified the US attack on Iraq as a “peak of cynicism” whereas the supreme Shia cleric in Iraq Ali al-Sistani described the US strike as “causeless” and a “gross violation of Iraq’s sovereignty”.
As some were of the opinion that the US drone strike might lead to WWIII, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, said that “the US strikes risk unleashing a devastating war”.
Trump’s decision to take Soleimani out was met with criticism in the US too, especially amongst the Democrats that came out with a statement according to which American president seem to trigger another ferocious war in the Middle East which can result in countless victims and trillions of dollars spent.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, also strongly condemned the military operation that ended up with the killing of Soleimani.
Not only politicians chose to oppose Trump’s decision of eliminating the chief of Al-Quds forces: anti-war rallies were held in some US cities following the assassination of the Iranian general.
Some European leaders expressed disapproval towards the US supreme commander’s actions: German politicians warned that this may increase the risk not only of terrorist attacks in Europe but also of a worldly conflagration; the former president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, criticized Trump’s actions, described them as “risky” and added that “there is no clarity in his decisions”.
Other rallies were held on the streets of Tehran and tens of thousands of Iranians could be heard shouting “Death to America!”. Far from being impressed, though, the US decided to deploy more troops in the region, Dnevnik reported.
At the same time, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, threatened United States with “strategic revenge” following general Qasem Soleimani’s “martyrdom”.
Iran even issued an official statement which read that Trump was a “terrorist in a suit” and comparable to the Islamic State, to Hitler and to Genghis Khan.
Focus-news.net mentioned the foreign affairs expert Mehmed Ali Tugtan who said that “nobody expected such a drastic response from the US, Iraq is a ticking bomb and politically insecure”.
New York Times urged the members of the Congress to prevent the president from finalizing his plan and published an opinion by the Editorial Board under the title “Congress, stop president Trump’s rush to war with Iran”
The Bulgarian National Radio interviewed foreign affairs analyst Mohammed Ibrahim which said that Washington was the aggressor in that situation and that there was no going back.
Apparently, all analysts delivering comments on the matter were pretty optimistic when it came to Iran and Boyan Chukov, interviewed by dnes.bg, warned the US not to underestimate Iran neither in terms of military capacity nor of financial aspects.
Clubz.bg republished an opinion by Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times which reads as follows: “The reality of Donald Trump — an amoral narcissist with no capacity for reflection or personal growth — is evident from his decades in public life. But rather than face this, too many people have rejected the facts in front of them, choosing an illusion instead of the disturbing truth”.
Europe, shaken by Brexit
Brexit and the economy are big challenges for the future of the European Union, given that the last day of January was also UK’s last day as a member of the Union.
Investor.bg republished an article initially published by the Spanish newspaper Expansion with the headline “Which will be the six big challenges for the biggest European banks this year?” and give comments on the upcoming risks, the inevitable consolidation and the decrease of the revenues.
The same media outlet also republished parts of an interview that the Nobel economist Paul Krugman gave to the German magazine Handelsblatt, according to which, right, now, in terms of economy, Europe is as weak as Japan was 20 years ago and recession might not be that far away.
Things don’t look good for AP either which makes an analysis (mentioned by dnevnik.bg) with a very relevant headline: “Between global ambitions and internal strife: the EU touchstone in 2020”.
The Western Balkans are also an issue that EU countries do not manage to agree on. But there might be hope, as Hungarian MEP Andor Deli thinks: “the European Union has recently been treating the Western Balkans as an evil stepmother, but nonetheless citizens in the region continue to like and support the European idea”.
Hope is not enough, though: the Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak predicts that the next months are crucial for the relations between the European Union and the Western Balkans and warns of the risks the EU would face if it did not send a clear signal to the region.
The French weekly Le Point expects 2030 to possibly be the end of the EU. “Disagreements on European values are much more complex. Hungary and Poland question the traditional values of the EU, which Britain has never done” – this is the quote published by pogled.info.
When it comes to money, it appears that the EU is rather in a position to give than to get. Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, for example, reminded the European Union that it failed to deliver the promised EUR six billion to Ankara as part of the agreement to deal with the refugee flow following the civil war in Syria.
An amount of money twice as big, EUR 12 billions, is the hole in the EU budget made by Brexit, according to AFP, cited by dnes.bg, and this is another difficulty in defining the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027).
As Bulgaria is just a step away from entering the Eurozone, population worry more and more: despite the government’s assurances that changing the currency will not cause an increase in everyday expenses, half of the Bulgarians do oppose the introduction of the euro.
NATO, too tight for Trump
NATO’s internal issues keep troubling the alliance, mostly due to Turkey’s tight relation with Russia. The latter, however, focuses on its new military equipment, the Iskander-M missiles, and their deployment is not NATO’s business – as Russia replied to the military alliance.
NATO, at least according to the US president, Donald Trump, shouldn’t even be just NATO anymore, but NATOME – where ME stands for Middle East, an alliance with a more active role in that region. For now, though, as Anadolu Agency commented, NATO has reservations on the matter.
In January, the authors of this report examined 19 Bulgarian media outlets, the most relevant in terms of readership.
Most of the articles (68) were provided by pogled.info, for the fifth month in a row.
Focus-news.net is ranked second (44 articles), for the sixth month in a row.
On the third place – 24chasa.bg (15 articles).
75 of the collected articles could be classified as “neutral”. 26 of those are news, the other 49 – analyses.
103 articles are labeled “biased” (30 of them are news, 73 are analyses).
* The authors of this analysis/study divided the media articles into two categories (news and analysis), each classified as biased or neutral. A geographical criterion was also used to link the media articles to the EU and the US. According to this study, a piece of news is nothing more but a short article covering a fact or a statement whereas an “analysis” may be a column, an investigative piece or any other type of article that is based on several facts and statements that are premises for the conclusion that the author of the article wishes to make public. The neutral characteristic is attributed to those news and analyses that use actual quotes (and not made up or out of context ones), rely on fact checking and logical syllogisms, provide side relevant data (context) in order for the public to get the bigger picture. News and analyses are labelled as biased when, on the contrary, the journalist’s work is not compliant with all of the above: quotes are partial and/or manipulated/manipulative, there’s no vetting process, neutral context is not added (and when there’s some context provided, facts are selected to match the conclusion – which, in this sort of cases, is pre-set – and not the other way round).