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« The Observer Gets With The Program . . . | Main | Shattered Lens: Part 2 - Abusing Sport for Propaganda »

Monday, December 6 2010

Wikileaks: Al Jazeera a 'Bargaining Tool' of Qatari Foreign Policy

Aljazeera Here's a State Dept cable in The Guardian suggesting that Al Jazeera is a tool of the Qatari government.

We expect the trend in favor of using Al Jazeera as an informal tool of GOQ foreign policy to continue undiminished . . .

Over the coming 36 months - in a trend that has held steady over the past three off-sites - the regional Al Jazeera Arabic news channel will continue to be an instrument of Qatari influence, and continue to be an expression, however uncoordinated, of the nation's foreign policy. Qatar will continue to use Al Jazeera as a bargaining tool to repair relationships with other countries, particularly those soured by Al Jazeera's broadcasts, including the United States.

In a separate cable, US ambassador, Joseph LeBaron assesses:

Al-Jazeera's ability to influence public opinion throughout the region is a substantial source of leverage for Qatar, one which it is unlikely to relinquish. Moreover, the network can also be used as a chip to improve relations. For example, al-Jazeera's more favourable coverage of Saudi Arabia's royal family has facilitated Qatari-Saudi reconciliation over the past year . . .

Despite GOQ protestations to the contrary, al-Jazeera remains one of Qatar's most valuable political and diplomatic tools.

See further coverage here.

The network's credibility requires an outraged denial, so Al Jazeera has already rejected the cable.

Compared to other Arab state-controlled news agencies, Al Jazeera's product is more polished, its relationship with the ruling elites more sophisticated. But when you get right down to it, the Arab world has zero history of free press and in that regard, Al Jazeera is no different. A government leash is still a leash.



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