Arab TV's critical views
Al Jazeera is seen as inciting
viewers to violence in Iraq. The U.S. is mad and is not going to
take it any longer.
The Bush administration is stepping up its campaign to counter what
it considers incendiary coverage of Iraq.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was sent to Qatar, headquarters
of Al Jazeera, to discuss the concern of
the American government. Powell met with Qatar’s Foreign Minister
for “intense discussions” about the government funded Al Jazeera
satellite TV station.
Powell said that after his meeting with Sheik Hamad Jassim ibn Jaber
al Thani that news coverage by the world’s most popular
Arabic-language satellite television station has “intruded” on
relations between the United States and the tiny Persian Gulf nation
state. In diplomatic terms, it is a veiled warning
that the U.S. is telling Qatar not to step on its toes in the America
led international “War on Terrorism”!!!
Although Powell declined to discuss specific remedies, he stated he
expected the discussions to last several days with the Qatari's,
among the most important U.S. military strategic allies in the gulf
region right now.
The Bush administration has become increasingly incensed at Al
Jazeera’s coverage, which it contends incites Arab audiences to
violence against U.S. troops and their allies in the Iraqi
The U.S. led coalition has begun systematically monitoring the
station and compiling its objections to
the reporting, which Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has
denounced as vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.”
Last week, Deputy Secretary of State
Richard L. Armitage conveyed U.S. unhappiness to Qatari officials
during a visit.
The effort to curb Al Jazeera is evidence of the increasing
importance the Bush administration attaches to influencing the flow
of information in the Middle East at a time when anti-American
sentiment is soaring. The U.S. government launched an Arabic
language satellite radio and television program, Al Hurrah: The Free
One, to try to win influence over Arabs.
The move against Al Jazeera also comes as the administration has
struggled with other information and media issues, some posing
serious problems for its Middle East strategy.
The U.S. led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq has faced
criticism for closing down a newspaper published by the radical
Shiite Muslim Muqtada Sadr last month, a move that set off an armed
confrontation with Sadr’s militia.
The Bush Administration has been on the defensive at home and forced
to def end its decision to bar the media from photographing coffins
carrying the remains of deceased troops back to the U.S.
U.S. officials contend that Al Jazeera has falsely reported that
American troops are attacking civilians and are using controversial
weapons, such as anti-cluster bombs that disperse deadly pellets
across a large area.
Richard Boucher, the chief State Department spokesman, told
reporters that Al Jazeera had incorrectly reported on April 9 that
“children are being killed, and women cut to pieces in Fallouja.”
“We have very deep concerns about Al Jazeera’s broadcasts, because
again and again we find inaccurate, false,
wrong reports that are, we think, designed to be inflammatory…that
makes the situation more tense, more inflamed, and even more
dangerous,” Boucher said.
U.S. officials have complained that Al Jazeera has repeatedly
broadcast unedited tapes by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda deputies at
length, so that the broadcasts become propaganda.
Al Jazeera officials have countered by saying their reports simply
reflect the attitudes in the region. Some officials of the TV
station have contend ed that their broadcasts are no more charged
than some U.S. news shows with strong points of view.
“We continue to cover all viewpoints with objective integrity and
balance,” says the website of the station, which was launched in
1996 by journalists who formerly worked on the Arabic language
service of the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC).
Qatari officials have said that although their government subsidizes
the station, they have no control over it, because it is run by an
Qatar was asked by reporters what it could do to influence Al
Jazeera. Foreign Minister Hamad Jassim declined to comment or
respond. An official at Qatar’s embassy in Washington said diplomats
were unable to comment.
The issue at stake is not media freedom, U.S. officials stated. Al
Jazeera has crossed the line from reporting the news to “screaming
‘Fire! In a crowded theatre,” Boucher said.
Nevertheless, some analysts said it was awkward for the U.S. to be
campaigning against the station that has been cited in U.N. reports
as an example of the new generation of Middle Eastern media that are
“I’m not saying [the Bush administration] shouldn’t be doing this –
there’s some appalling stuff on there,” said Edward S. Walker Jr.,
president of the Middle East Institute. Nevertheless, it was
“awkward” he stated at a time when the Bush administration has been
declaring its interest to spreading freedom to the region.
The U.S. effort may be influenced to
some degree by the fact that “this is a very thin-skinned
administration, especially over at the Pentagon,” Walker
Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the Bush
administration would probably find it difficult to influence Al
Jazeera in any case.
Alterman said, “Although the station’s management may respond to its
audience or those it considers its peers, public criticism by the
U.S. government , in a way may give them more credibility with an
audience that’s hostile to the United states…It’s hard to use
diplomatic means to get Al Jazeera todo what you want.”
Al Jazeera is not interested in accurate news media coverage but
promoting bias, hatred, incitement, terrorism, and violence against
America and all democracy and freedom loving nation states in
Western civilization. Al Jazeera serves as the catalyst of mass
destruction and the perpetuation of lies , myths, and political
propaganda as the mouthpiece for corrupt dictatorships, ruthless
repressive regimes, and state supporters of terrorism in the