2 thoughts on “Qatar vs. the four, one year on”

  1. After the Arab Spring the relationship between Al Jazeera’s output and Qatari foreign policy certainly became much clearer and the network’s Islamist tendencies came (once again) under scrutiny. Today, despite the best efforts of the “Gang of Four”, Islamism remains a central pillar of Qatar’s foreign policy and AJ still has the lead role shaping intellectual discourse in the region.
    It is worth remembering however that AJ is not uniform in the voices it entertains and Islamism is not the only ideology on the network. Many Arab nationalist and liberal voices are represented too, and behind the scenes supporters of different ideologies are said to compete and sometimes clash.
    Three groups are said to compete for control of AJ, each with a slightly different outlook. The first is dominated by the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamad Ben Jassem bin Jaber al-Thani and other economic liberals/social conservatives, including former diplomats and journalists etc. They are Wahhabis but favorable to normalization with Israel.
    The second group is affiliated with Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser al-Misnad, second wife of the Emir, and Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Qatar’s main religious thinker. This group represents the Muslim Brotherhood in the Wasatiyyah, it controls educational policy and much of the media. It supports social liberalism, the liberation of women and reform of the education system mainly through the Qatar Foundation.
    The third group is under Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer al-Thani, a Wahhabi conservative and distant cousin of the emir who with help from other former Ministry of Information officials  has played a decisive role in shaping the Qatari media landscape. Like the first group, this group is antipathetic to Al Qaradawi and the MB.
    Each of these groups has a different idea about Qatar’s position vis-a-vis other Arab countries, the USA, Israel, and Islamist movements esp. Hamas, as well as Al Jazeera. Tension between them is said to effect appointments and reorganizations at the network, as well as the editorial line.

  2. When you say that as a result of the stand-off between Qatar and its neighbours “Al Jazeera has lost much of its objectivity”, I beg to differ. In the months and years after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled, Al Jazeera was openly backing the Nahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi against those opposed to his policies in the new democratic country: the channel sounded more like a propaganda machine than a news outlet. In the months before the assassination of Muammar Qadhafi, Al Jazeera was a strong cheerleader for his demise. Al Jazeera brought a fresh angle to reporting Arab countries before 2011 but since the “Arab Spring”, it has acted as a good footsoldier to Qatari interests, no more no less.

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