An injured supporter of ousted President Mohammed Morsi at a field hospital in Cairo. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based, Qatar-founded and Qatar-controlled mouthpiece for one the Arab kleptocracies of the Persian Gulf, has suffered a mass resignation. Twenty-two journalists who worked for Al Jazeera quit in protest after being told by their Qatari masters to support Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The Qatari-owned media company Al-Jazeera saw 22 members of its staff in Egypt resign on Monday over what they allege was “biased coverage” of the events that unfolded in Cairo last week.
Al-Jazeera correspondent Haggag Salama was among those who resigned, accusing the station of “airing lies and misleading viewers,” Gulf News reported Monday….
Journalist Abdel Latif el-Menawy, who was head of the Egypt News Center under ex-president Hosni Mubarak, said that Al-Jazeera was a “propaganda channel” for the Brotherhood.
“Al Jazeera turned itself into a channel for the Muslim Brotherhood group,” el-Menawy told Al Arabiya. “They are far away from being professional. When the Muslim Brotherhood collapsed, they continued to play the role.”
According to The Gulf News, Anchor Karem Mahmoud said that Al Jazeera was explicitly ordered to support the Brotherhood:
Mahmoud added that the management used to instruct each staff member to favor the Muslim Brotherhood. He said that “there are instructions to us to telecast certain news.”
A few days ago, the new Egyptian government, installed by Egypt’s military, shut down an Al Jazeera office in Cairo.
Two years ago, even the semi-independence of Al Jazeera wasn’t good enough for the Qatari rulers, who installed a member of the kleptocratic ruling family, the al-Thanis, as the network’s director-general.
Al-Jazeera’s top executive, Wadah Khanfar announced he was resigning today. The network announced that it had appointed Sheikh Ahmad bin Jasem al-Thani, a member of the Qatari ruling family, which owns Al-Jazeera, as its new director general.
Last week, the sheikh resigned at Al Jazeera, not to protest anything but to take up a government post in the regime of the new emir.
Back in 2011, reporting on Khanfar’s resignation, The Guardian noted that there was a great deal of unhappiness over Al Jazeera’s biased coverage of the Arab Spring–related uprising in Bahrain, where the Shiite majority rose up against a Sunni king, and it noted that other Al Jazeera officials had quit, too:
It is thought that Khanfar had become too independent a figure for the Qataris, and that he had come under pressure from them. Recently Al-Jazeera has been accused of pulling its punches over the uprising in Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia dominates regional policy. Al-Jazeera’s Lebanon chief, Ghassan Bin Jiddo, resigned in April, apparently in disagreement over coverage of some of the revolts.
As The New York Times reports, Qatar is engaged in a high-stakes game of influence against Saudi Arabia across the region, including in Syria, where Qatar backs hard-core Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda–linked fighters, and Saudi Arabia supports the supposedly moderate rebels against Bashar al-Assad’s government. Says the Times:
Qatar, in alliance with Turkey, has given strong financial and diplomatic support to the Muslim Brotherhood, but also to other Islamists operating on the battlefields of Syria and, before that, Libya. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, by comparison, have sought to restore the old, authoritarian order, fearful that Islamist movements and calls for democracy would destabilize their own nations.
In the Times piece, it’s reported that Saudi Arabia is tilting the balance in its favor, with Qatar having second thought about its aggressive support for the Muslim Brothers and other regional players.
Robert Scheer calls out the US for its hypocrisy in Egypt.