In a series of ten tweets, Faisal Edroos, a Journalist at AJENews revealed the ten conditions Saudi Arabia has set for a return to normal relations between Qatar and the seven Arab countries who have severed all ties.
Immediate severance of diplomatic relations with Iran,
Expulsion of all members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas from Qatar,
Freezing all bank accounts of Hamas members and refraining from any dealings with them,
Expulsion of all Muslim Brotherhood members from Qatar,
Expulsion of anti-[P]GCC elements,
Ending support for ‘terrorist organizations,
Stopping interference in Egyptian affairs,
Ceasing the broadcast of the Al Jazeera news channel,
Apologizing to all Gulf governments for ‘abuses’ by Al Jazeera,
Pledging that it (Qatar) will not carry out any actions that contradict the policies of the [P]GCC and adhering to its charter.
Please note #8 and #9.
Al Jazeera is a huge news network and I’ve actually found them fairly unbiased. Shutting down Al Jazeera is almost non-negotiable for Qatar, and I hadn’t heard about problems before, so I went “in search of”…
Al Jazeera, owned by the government of Qatar, is currently one of the largest news organizations in the world, with 80 bureaus around the globe, which produce extensive news coverage online and via TV channels in a number of languages, including Arabic and English. Al Jazeera also produces in-depth documentaries on current issues around the world.
While Al Jazeera has a large audience around the world and especially in the Middle East, the organization and the original Arabic channel in particular have sometimes been criticized and have been involved in several controversies.
A look through “Al Jazeera controversies and criticism” on Wikipedia, reveals numerous complaints by almost every country in the GCC, mostly caused by what may be broadcasting of inhumane practices a particular country. There were a few examples of ‘fake news’ cited. Al Jazeera has been accused of being pro-Iranian, anti-US, pro-Israeli, anti-Semitic, and every other accusation I can imagine.
Qatar can easily do at least 8 of the ten conditions. I cannot imagine them shutting down Al Jazeera and I do not see it possible to apologize for specific broadcasts that may offend some and not others. If Qatar does shut down Al Jazeera, and this is why I included this blog, it is censorship of the highest order and defies freedom of the press. Every news outlet makes mistakes, Al Jazeera is no different. That it is sponsored by the government of Qatar should make no difference.
Full Disclosure. I spent a lot of time in Qatar in 2002 and passed by Al Jazeera almost every day when I went to the US Embassy.
The United States has some hefty thinking to do now. In other tweets, Faisal Edroos said Qatar must now be declared a terrorist supporting state. The US must consider that. They also should object to anything to do with shutting down Al Jazeera, but should support the apology (but ask for specifics offline).
A point of caution. If Qatar is accused of being a terrorist supporting state, it stands to reason that Russia, Syria, and others might be considered in the same category.
Dang it, words mean things. What the US says and does about this issue really matters, perhaps more than the President is willing to consider.