By Bob Michael
LAPD Police Detective Capt. (Ret)
Al-Jazeera is a name which made its entry into American recognition with its support (all in the name of journalism) of the Taliban/al-Qaeda and the feeds to Western news outlets. Al-Jazeera was born in November 1996 by the royal family which gave birth to it in Doha, Qatar. The Emir of Qatar provided a loan of QAR 500 million or $137 million to sustain Al-Jazeera through its first five years. It has grown exponentially, thanks to oil money, and is a world player and influencer on behalf of Islam; at least certain kinds of Islam.
Hillary Clinton has an impression as quoted by ABC News in 2011:
“Al Jazeera has been the leader in that (sic) are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective…
In fact, viewership of al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”
And this statement preceded the opening of Al-Jazeera America (AJAM), which went on air August 20, 2013. Kate O’Brian is the President of AJAM and will lead the editorial team. Ms. O’Brian is a 30-year ABC News veteran so we can expect a left-Islamist approach. However, since the control is Islamist, Islam will prevail with its good guy reporting that Muslim Brotherhood members are good guys.
Let’s look at who is behind Al-Jazeera. Qatar is Sunni Islam, as are the Emirates of which they once had united but subsequently separated. Qatar has been, and is, a dictatorship ruled as an absolute and hereditary emirate by the Al-Thani family since the mid-19th century. Even though its Constitution calls for elected bodies to advise the Emir, it does not have them.
The Arab citizen population of Qatar is 250,000 and the non-Arab non-citizen foreign-worker population is 1,750,000. Forbes magazine and the UN are impressed with Qatar. Qatar tops the list of the world’s richest countries by Forbes, and has the highest human development in the Arab World. This, of course, is a rather low bar of a different kind. Remember this human development is referring only to the native population, not to guests.
Qatar has no wage standards, nor rights for its immigrant labor. Under the provisions of Qatar’s sponsorship law, sponsors have the unilateral power to cancel workers’ residency permits, to deny workers’ ability to change employers, to report to police authorities a worker as “absconded”, and deny permission to leave the country. As a result, sponsors undoubtedly restrict workers’ movements and workers may be afraid to report abuses or claim their rights. They are imprisoned for life, or worse, at the whim of the employer; it’s worse for females.
Shari’a courts were abolished in 2003. Shari’a (Islamic law) is one of the sources of Qatari legislation, and is applied to aspects of family law, inheritance, and certain criminal acts. In some cases in family courts, a female’s testimony is worth half a man’s and in some cases a female witness is not accepted at all (from the Quran which is the basis for Shari’a law).
Foreign nationals may obtain a permit to purchase alcohol for personal consumption. The Qatar Distribution Company (a subsidiary of Qatar Airways) is permitted to import alcohol and pork; it operates the one and only liquor store in the country, which also sells pork to holders of liquor licenses. Qatar Airways is owned by the government of Qatar which is the Emir.
In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became Emir when he deposed his father, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a peaceful coup d’état. He is a nice guy. Doesn’t everyone do a coup d’état takeover of their dad’s house, business, and wealth as long as it is peaceful.
On 25 June 2013, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the Emir of Qatar after his father handed over power in a televised speech. One might wonder if he anticipated a peaceful coup by his son as he had done his dad.
It is also currently a major funder of weapons for rebel groups in the Syrian civil war according to a 16 May 2013 Financial Times article by Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding Smith “Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms”.
The question is what America can expect, and is Al-Jazeera independent of the positions of the Emir of Qatar, the absolute authority on all matters involving Qatar and Al-Jazeera? Will we get a pig in a poke?
In 2008, Israel imposed sanctions on Al-Jazeera, accusing it of slanted coverage favoring Hamas. The deputy foreign minister said that Israel would deny entry visas to Al-Jazeera employees, and that Israeli officials would not be available for interviews with the network. According to the minister:
“We have seen that Al Jazeera has become a part of Hamas … taking sides and cooperating with people who are enemies of the State of Israel. The moment a station like Al Jazeera gives unreliable reports, represents only one side, and doesn’t present the positions of the other side, why should we cooperate?”
In August 2011, Samer Allawi, Al-Jazeera’s Afghanistan bureau chief, was arrested by Israeli authorities on charges of being a member of Hamas. Walied Al-Omary, Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in Israel and the Palestinian territories, said the military court accused Allawi of making contact with members of Hamas’s armed wing.
In 2003 Al-Jazeera was removed from the floors of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq for security reasons and showing graphic footage in Al-Jazeera broadcasts.
During the 2011 Egyptian protests, on 30 January, the Egyptian government ordered the TV channel to close its offices. A day after, on 31 January, Egyptian security forces arrested six Al Jazeera journalists for several hours and seized their camera equipment. There were also reports of disruption in Al-Jazeera Mubasher’s Broadcast to Egypt. The channel was also criticized for being sympathetic to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Jazeera claims that it is editorially independent, though much of its funding comes from the Qatar government. In 2010, United States Department of State internal communications, released by WikiLeaks as part of the 2010 diplomatic cables leak, claim that the Qatar government manipulates Al-Jazeera coverage to suit political interests.
In September 2012, The Guardian reported that Al-Jazeera’s editorial independence came into question when the channel’s director of news, Salah Negm, stepped in at the last minute to order that a two minute video covering a UN debate over the Syrian civil war include a speech by the leader of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Staff members protested that the speech was not the most important aspect of the debate, and that it was a repetition of previous calls for Arab intervention.
The Guardian also claimed in September 2012 that Qatar has taken steps in recent years to consolidate control of Al-Jazeera English.
An article in the American Journalism Review noted that critics of Al-Jazeera have “assailed what they see as anti-Semitic, anti-American bias in the channel’s news content.” An example cited from earlier years was a report in Al-Jazeera that Jews had been informed in advance not to go to work on the day of the September 11 attacks, which was criticized by an October 2001 editorial in the New York Times. A more recent example given by the article is the weekly show “Sharia and Life” by Yusuf Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric who, according to a February 2011 article in The Atlantic, “argues clearly and consistently that hatred of Israel and Jews is Islamically sanctioned.”
Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly has criticized Al-Jazeera for being “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American”. In response, Dave Marash, a veteran correspondent for ABC’s Nightline who resigned from his position as Washington anchor for Al-Jazeera English in 2008 due to a perception of anti-American bias, appeared on the O’Reilly Factor and asserted:
“They certainly aren’t anti-Semitic, but they are anti-Netanyahu and anti-Lieberman and anti-Israeli.”
According to Erik Nisbet, an Ohio State University professor who studies Arab media and anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism is woven into the fabric of Al-Jazeera’s Arabic reporting.
Al-Jazeera’s Shia Beirut correspondent Ali Hashem resigned from Al-Jazeera after leaked e-mails showed his discontent over the outlet’s “unprofessional” and biased coverage of the Syrian civil war in light of the Bahraini uprising, which was not given the prominence of the Syrian conflict on the network. The Muslim Brotherhood side of the conflict (the Syrian rebels) was partly funded by the state of Qatar, who also funds Al-Jazeera.
During his visit to Egypt in November 2011, Nabeel Rajab, the president of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, criticized Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the Bahraini uprising, saying that it represents an Arabic double standard. Rajab commented:
“Al Jazeera’s intentional ignoring for coverage of Bahrain protests makes me strongly believe that we need channels that are sponsored by people rather than by regimes.”
Little more than two weeks ago, on July 8, 2013, 22 members of staff of Al-Jazeera’s Egyptian bureau announced their resignation, citing biased coverage, of the ongoing Egyptian power redistribution, in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Walid released new information on August 23, 2013, which just ties another knot in Qatari and U.S. conspiracies to manipulate a Muslim Brotherhood victory in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere around the globe. The bribes, wages, gifts or whatever name is attached to tens of millions of dollars paid by Qatar (“Direction of Grants and Gifts for 2013,” submitted by HE Sheikh/ Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabor Al Thani (May God protect him), Prime Minister – Minister of Foreign Affairs” showing U.S. dollar amounts, recipients, and their signatures) were funneled through the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. This is the ownership of Al-Jazeera.
The Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, opposed Libya’s government and supported Libya’s armed revolt in 2011, providing the rebels with significant military support and funding. Qatar’s emir ordered Al-Jazeera to emphasize Libya’s conflict in the channel’s coverage, which contributed to the spread of the insurgency and influenced the Arab world’s views on Libya. Within a week of the start of the rebellion in Libya against the Libyan Government, Al-Jazeera started using the rebels’ tricolor flag to mark its coverage.
Although Al-Jazeera reported on 22 February 2011 that Libya’s government carried out airstrikes on Benghazi and Tripoli, observers concluded that the airstrikes did not take place.
Al-Jazeera has been criticized over unfair coverage of the Syrian civil war. The channel’s reporting has been described as largely supportive of the rebels, while demonizing the Syrian government. The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir cited outtakes of interviews showing that the channel’s staff coached Syrian eyewitnesses and fabricated reports of oppression by Syria’s government. It refers to leaked internal e-mails suggesting that Al-Jazeera has become subordinated to the Qatari emir’s assertive foreign policy, which supports Syria’s rebels and advocates military intervention in the country.
In March 2012, Al-Jazeera correspondents Ali Hashim and two others resigned from their jobs because of objections over the reporting on the conflict. They reported that Al-Jazeera paid $50,000 for smuggling phones and satellite communication tools to Syria’s rebels. Hashim concluded:
“The channel was taking a certain stance. It was meddling with each and every detail of reports on the Syrian revolution.”
Ahmad Ibrahim, who is in charge of the Al-Jazeera’s coverage on Syria, is the brother of a leading member of the rebels’ “Syrian National Council”. Al-Jazeera reportedly put pressure on its journalists to use the term “martyr” for slain Syrian rebels, but not pro-government forces.
Al-Jazeera is our new “news” station in 48 million American homes and hoping to double that, it is said. Are you as excited about their real reporting as Hillary is?