Iraqi Government Jumps on the YouTube Bandwagon

Iraq has joined the growing list of nations whose governments have made the move into online video, with the launch of the Iraqi Government channel on YouTube (s GOOG). In his first address on the new video channel, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the Iraqi government will use its YouTube presence to connect to various international communities and viewers interested in following issues that the government faces in rebuilding the country.

“In the interest of enabling the Iraqi government and the National Media Center to use technology and advanced methods of communications and to present our message to other peoples, and in particular with the Iraqi people at home and abroad, the National Media Center has created the Iraqi channel on YouTube, a new and advanced method of communication,” al-Maliki said.

The launch of the Iraqi YouTube channel comes a week after Google CEO Eric Schmidt traveled to the country to meet with government officials. In a video post on CitizenTube, Schmidt says that the officials he spoke with are committed to openness, and that the launch of the video channel will serve to increase that commitment. “There’s nothing more important than communications. There’s nothing more important than information. It’s great that the Iraqi government is introducing the IraqiGov YouTube channel so that we’ll discover even more what’s great about Iraq, this new country that’s being built, the resurgence of a new society, and the amazing things they have in store for all of us,” he says.

The channel follows a slew of similar initiatives from governments and heads of state all around the world, among them channels for the US, France, South Korea, and Estonia, as well as channels for the Pope, the British Royal Family and Queen Rania of Jordan.

Of course, not everyone likes the transparency that YouTube brings, and some governments have taken adversarial positions to the site and its users. Earlier this year, Google took the unprecedented step of disabling comments and uploads from users in North Korea, for example, to protect them from government scrutiny. And China went so far as to block YouTube as part of its censorship program, possibly due to videos of Chinese soldiers beating Tibetans showing up on the site.