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US tries to silence Al Jazeera, urging Qatar to reduce coverage of Israeli war in Gaza

US tries to silence Al Jazeera, urging Qatar to reduce coverage of Israeli war in Gaza

Doha: The reported urging of the US for Qatar to pressure the Al Jazeera news network to scale down its reporting of Israeli atrocities in Gaza further exposes its double standard.

While remaining silent on the barrage of content promoting pro-Israel narratives in Western media—often neglecting the plight of Palestinians and disseminating fake and doctored news—on the other side, the US wants to silence Al Jazeera, which brings the truth and the plight of Palestinians in the ongoing Israel war in Gaza.

It is reported that the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, urged Qatar to moderate Al Jazeera's coverage, expressing the Biden administration’s concern over Al Jazeera’s perceived influence in the Arab world, which the US anticipates will further fuel tension and heighten the risks of a wider conflict.

Blinken discussed the matter with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani during a visit to Doha on October 13, as part of diplomatic efforts aimed at mitigating the fallout from Hamas's deadly attacks on Israel, according to a report published in The Guardian.

The specific concerns raised by Blinken revolve around what he perceives as anti-Israel incitement in Al Jazeera's coverage. Although no specific examples were cited, it is believed that Blinken was referring to the network's Arabic-language channels rather than its English-language broadcasts.

The U.S. Secretary of State highlighted Al Jazeera's coverage as an example of how Qatar could alter its friendly public posture towards Hamas.

Al Jazeera, funded by the Qatari royal family, asserts its editorial independence, but it is widely seen by foreign governments as a soft-power tool for the Gulf monarchy. The network's extensive coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has garnered respect in the Arab world, where it is considered an authoritative source on the ongoing war.

Footage appearing on Al-Jazeera has vividly shown the effects of Israel’s devastating bombing campaign on Gaza, which has destroyed entire neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools and markets. Israeli bombing has killed 6,546 Palestinians, including 2,360 children, in the three weeks since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on 7 October.

Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft noted that Al Jazeera's continuous focus on the conflict, while other Arab media outlets scaled back, has solidified its position as a trusted news source in the region.

The situation is delicate as Qatar plays a crucial role in negotiations to release hostages seized by Hamas during the recent attack on Israel. Additionally, the Gulf kingdom hosts two senior exiled Hamas leaders, Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal, adding complexity to the diplomatic dynamics.

In a related development, the Israeli government has taken measures to close Al Jazeera's office in Israel, alleging that its broadcasts promote Hamas and amount to incitement. This move, awaiting final approval by the security cabinet, underscores the broader international implications of the media outlet's coverage.

While both the U.S. State Department and the Qatari Foreign Ministry have refrained from public comments on Blinken's request, the incident highlights the intricate web of diplomatic relationships in the Middle East. Blinken emphasized during a press conference with Sheikh Mohammed that there could be "no more business as usual with Hamas," signalling a shift in the U.S. approach to the Palestinian group.

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TAGS:Al JazeeraIsrael Palestine ConflictAntony Blinken
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