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Qatar's dangerous game

Qatar's dangerous game Author: Kobi Michael & Yoel Guzansky Categories: Gulf states, Middle East    

Qatar's support for Hamas and the vehement opposition by Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to the US attempt to let Qatar play a role in the efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip have stirred the debate about Qatar's conduct in the regional and international arenas and its position, influence, and ambition. The longstanding support by the tiny and very wealthy emirate for rogue elements in the Middle East and the use it makes of al-Jazeera, its popular and influential broadcasting station, reveal its negative, even dangerous effect on the region's stability and security.

Memo to ABC, SBS: Al-Jazeera has a conflict of interest

Memo to ABC, SBS: Al-Jazeera has a conflict of interest Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Gulf states, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

The integrity of coverage of the current fighting between Hamas and Israel by Australia's national broadcaster, ABC, and its sister organisation SBS, has been compromised by their problematic and repeated use of reports by al-Jazeera, an organisation owned by the government of Qatar.

Biased against Israel in its coverage even at the best of times, al-Jazeera must be seen as having an egregious conflict of interest when it comes to the Israel-Hamas conflict, because Qatar is currently the biggest funding source for Hamas, and, together with Turkey, had been actively shilling a ceasefire plan that transparently serves Hamas' interests.

Al-Jazeera biases spark backlash in Egypt

Al-Jazeera biases spark backlash in Egypt Author: Jeni Willenzik Categories: Egypt, Gulf states, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Updates    

Al-Jazeera has been subject to a significant backlash as a result of its alleged favouring of the Muslim Brotherhood in its reporting on Egypt's recent crisis. Since Egyptian Army Commander Abdul Fatah al-Sisi declared that the Egyptian constitution was being suspended on July 3, 22 of al-Jazeera's staff members have resigned in response to what they consider to be its "biased editorial policy" in covering the events.

Additionally, al-Jazeera reporters were forced out of an Egyptian news conference to the sound of chanting by other journalists, while threatening leaflets were dropped near the al-Jazeera offices in Cairo displaying graphic images and slogans such as, "A bullet may kill a man, but a lying camera kills a nation." 

AIR
Egypt on the Edge/Qatar's New Emir

Egypt on the Edge/Qatar's New Emir Categories: Egypt, Gulf states, Updates    

This Update features two pieces on the increasingly volatile situation in Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt, with a breakdown of state authority, a worsening economic crisis, and a major uptick in mass opposition protests scheduled for June 30 - and perhaps the possibility of military intervention looming. And it also includes some analysis of the succession of a new Emir in Qatar - a country which has played an increasingly important role in much of the Middle East upheaval of the past two and a half years.

More questions about al-Jazeera as it purchases a network to create US subsidiary

More questions about al-Jazeera as it purchases a network to create US subsidiary Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Gulf states, Media/ Academia, Updates    

Al Jazeera TV, located in and financed by Qatar and owned by Qatar's ruling al-Thani family, has just bought the struggling US left leaning channel Current TV, founded by Al Gore in 2005. This will allow al-Jazeera to have access to millions more US homes.  Al-Jazeera reportedly plans to create a new channel, "Aljazeera America," instead of using its existing English-language channel.  However, this announcement has called attention to growing claims that al-Jazeera is being used a propaganda tool for Qatari foreign policy interests.

Hamas and the latest rocket barrage

Hamas and the latest rocket barrage Categories: Gulf states, Palestinians, Updates    

Southern Israel suffered through an intense rocket barrage from Gaza earlier this week, with more than 80 rockets fired in a 24-hour period, before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took hold yesterday. Hamas has been itself taking credit for many of the rocket launches, a break with its behaviour over most of the past year. This Update explores why, and whether the visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, the first by any Arab leader since Hamas took power there in 2007, had anything to do with it.

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Bahrain's unrest - One year on

Bahrain's unrest - One year on Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Gulf states, Middle East, Updates    

The first anniversary of the outbreak of demonstrations in Bahrain has moved the international spotlight back to the situation in the tiny Persian Gulf island-kingdom this week.

The so-called February 14 Revolution claimed the lives of several dozen civilians over the past year as a result of a brutal government crackdown. Sporadic demonstrations have continued into this year, with an uptick in activity in recent days leading up to the anniversary milestone...

Qatar, al-Jazeera and the Arab Spring

Qatar, al-Jazeera and the Arab Spring Author: Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi Categories: Gulf states, Media/ Academia, Middle East    

How could Qatar's foreign policy best be defined during the Arab Spring? In the midst of the conflict between Gaddafi's forces and the rebels in the Libyan civil war, Qatar was hailed by US President Barack Obama in April for building a broad coalition of international support for the NATO campaign against Gaddafi. Obama also hailed the Emir of Qatar for supposedly being a pragmatic mediator and negotiator in the wider region.

Scribblings: Al-Jazeera in Australia Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: Gulf states, Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East    

This month's AIR cover story deals with the myths and realities of al-Jazeera televison, the Qatari network that undoubtedly helped to bring about the "Arab Spring" and re-shape the Middle East political and media environment over the past decade. And in its English language incarnation, it has been moving out of the Middle East into the wider world for a number of years now.

As the cover story demonstrates, while it's clear that the English language version of the channel does not contain the blatant radical political agenda that the channel often features in its Arabic incarnation, it is also apparent that, even in English, it is not simply another public broadcaster.

"Pinkwashing" pejorative wiping tolerance away

"Pinkwashing" pejorative wiping tolerance away Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Anti-Zionism, Gulf states, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Multimedia, Palestinians, Updates    

Fast becoming a viral sensation, a new YouTube video (below) shows two Spanish men "photobombing" an al-Jazeera broadcast by engaging in a long, passionate kiss in frame as the reporter is talking. 

The irony of the video is that while the two were supposedly making a point about marriage equality in Spain, they happened to do so on a state-owned network from a country in which homosexuality is punishable by lashings and imprisonment. Indeed, a report from the UN High Commission for Refugees has this to say on homosexuality in Qatar:

Homosexual behavior is illegal [in Qatar]. Islamic laws against homosexuality are applied. [In Qatari society], homosexuality is taboo. There is no visible social support for gay and lesbian rights.

On the topic of homosexuality in the Middle East, Sarah Shulman has written in the New York Times on the prominence of the gay community in Israel and Israeli officials speaking out against the intolerance shown to homosexuals in...

In the workplace? In a car? Middle East grapples over women's whereabouts

In the workplace? In a car? Middle East grapples over women's whereabouts Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Afghanistan/ Pakistan, Gulf states, Islamic Extremism, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Updates    

As I wrote earlier this year, a great deal of the problems facing the Arab world as it stumbles towards democracy stem from a conservative culture that is inhibiting female participation in society. Some very illuminative data on this issue is provided by Sara Hamdan in today's International Herald Tribune. As Hamdan explains, initiatives to develop an entrepreneurial culture in the public-sector dominated Arab states only address a small part of the issue; a much greater problem facing the Arab states is the absence of a great deal of their population from the workforce, this segment being overwhelmingly female.

Encouraging entrepreneurs to start new companies is one way to tackle this problem and promote job creation ... Analysts say these efforts will not make a big difference, however, if social attitudes do not change in societies that traditionally embrace culturally enforced gender roles and the social traditions of a patriarchal hierarchy - particularly in the Gulf countries...

Arab States Increase Pressure on Syria, Syria Blames American Conspiracy

Arab States Increase Pressure on Syria, Syria Blames American Conspiracy Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Updates    

As yesterday's post noted, condemnation of Syria seems to have reached a tipping point - with more and more world leaders finally criticising the Assad regime, well into the fifth month of violence. Even "hacktivist" collective Anonymous have jumped on the bandwagon, hacking into the Syrian Ministry of Defence website and leaving photographs of mutilated protestors as long as a message of support in both English and Arabic...

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Bahrain, Iran and US Policy

Bahrain, Iran and US Policy Author: Simon Henderson Categories: Gulf states, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia    

Neither Saudi Arabia - which bankrolls much in Bahrain, from items on the national budget to King Hamad's personal Boeing 747-400 aircraft - nor the UAE seem amenable to the notion of Bahrain being a test case for the Obama Administration's policy of promoting universal freedoms of political expression.

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