Home Middle East & Turkey Middle East Qatar responds to threats aimed at Al Jazeera

Qatar responds to threats aimed at Al Jazeera

Qatar's National Human Rights Committee has condemned the threatening statements made by the former director of Al Arabiya, Khaled al-Matrafi via twitter. Talking to QNA, Al-Marri has stated that the threats to attack Al Jazeera's headquarter in Doha will not go unanswered. Al Jazeera is known to be a major bone of contention between Qatar and its former allies due to its policy of transparency and independent journalism.

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News Desk |

Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar (NHRC), on Monday has commented that the Committee will not allow any country to direct threats on Qatari media outlets and employees.

Responding to threats made by the boycotting Countries, Al-Marri in his statements to Qatar News Agency (QNA) said that countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have “explicitly” targeted Al-Jazeera since the economic and political blockade in 2017.

His statements came after a high-ranking Saudi journalist, Khaled al-Matrafi, tweeted that the Al-Jazeera’s headquarters could be a “legitimate and logical” target for the Saudi-dominated bloc.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Doha in 2002 after the network aired a panel discussion featuring dissenters from the kingdom to discuss and criticize the Saudi elites. 

Al-Matrafi is the former director of Al-Arabiya news network owned by the ruling elites of the Kingdom. Also known for his closeness to the elites, he is an influential figure in the Saudi-dominated bloc.

Al-Marri also raised his concerns regarding the protracted Gulf Crisis, stating that the crisis had reached its peak and was resulting in an increased fear amongst the Gulf citizens. Referring to the immediate expulsion and detention of Qatari nationals since the 2017 blockade, Al Marri said:

”The siege crisis has caused the social ties of families in the Gulf region to be torn down. Thus, any threat to the stability of the region would have implications for the security and stability of the world as a whole. The UAE is still carrying on its strategy based on intransigence, and violating as well as to disregarding the resolutions issued by the International Court of Justice… the US administration, like other Western governments, will bear responsibility if it does not act immediately to prevent the Boycotting countries from deliberately prolonging the crisis and protect human rights in the Gulf region, in the same way, it is intervening in other parts of the world.”

Qatar Diplomatic Crisis

The anti-Qatar quartet in June 2017 had imposed a severe land, airspace and maritime blockade on the tiny Peninsula that aimed at coercing Qatar into fulfilling the demands of its former Gulf allies.

Read more: Qatar Blockade: A Human Rights violation

The demands of the quartet included Qatar’s immediate withdrawal from its support to terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIL, Taliban and others.

In addition to various demands of the Saudi-led quartet in its 13-point list, one of them required the Peninsula state to completely close the operations of Al Jazeera Media Network and its affiliate station.

The controversy surrounding Al Jazeera was mainly on its freewheeling policy of open debate and criticism of the authoritarians in the region which primarily disturbed Saudi Arabia’s House of Al-Saud, the ruling elite of the dominant Gulf state.

A Soft-power Tool for the State of Qatar

The Al-Jazeera news network in Arabic and English language is known to have shaken the media discourse in the Middle East since 1996.

The anti-Qatar quartet in June 2017 had imposed a severe land, airspace and maritime blockade on the tiny Peninsula that aimed at coercing Qatar into fulfilling the demands of its former Gulf allies. 

Middle East has been known for its hostility towards free media and freedom of expression under tyrant rulers, Al Jazeera, on the other hand, has managed to transform the conservative practices of reporting in favor of the powerful rulers and has greatly contributed to the freedom of expression and open criticism wherever needed.

Also described as “contemptible dogs” by Libya’s Gaddafi and Bashar al Assad of Syria, the network has been largely discredited by tyrants in the region.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Doha in 2002 after the network aired a panel discussion featuring dissenters from the kingdom to discuss and criticize the Saudi elites.

Other countries have occasionally expelled Al Jazeera journalists and tried to block its satellite signals; Egypt arrested three staffers in 2013 on sham charges of reporting false news and terrorism and held them in custody for more than a year.

During the Arab spring, Al Jazeera initially backed the uprisings, and then narrowed its focus, throwing their support behind the Islamist groups that tried to fill the power vacuum.

Read more: Is Qatar defying the Gulf blockade?

Its neutral approach towards Islamist groups and regional states alike has been in fact quite transformative, as it provided a safe space for all state and non-state actors to negotiate and talk out the differences.

Most regional peace agreements were hosted by Qatar including the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal, an agreement 18-month standoff in Beirut, and support to Sudanese rebels against the oppressive regime.

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