Monday, April 26, 2004
I closely followed the beginning of the war in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2002) on Al-Jazerah simple because it was the only channel allowed to operate at the beginning of the two wars. Al-Jazerah’s reporter in Afghanistan was Taysir Allouni who ran with the Taliban out of Kabul when the Northern Alliance marched through the city. He made headlines last year after his arrest in Spain for aiding Al-Qaeda. At the end of the Iraq war, the relationship between Al-Jazerah’s manager and Saddam’s intelligence agency became known and the ruler of Qatar (who finances Al-Jazerah with $30 million annually) had to fire him.
However, Al-Jazerah’s covering tactics in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be compared to what it did in Fallujah. The level of biases and lies propagated during the first two wars would pale in comparison with the coverage of the Fallujah war. I personally have not seen such hate and incitement as I have seen in its coverage of Fallujah. They dispatched their Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Ahmed Mansour who writes in one of Egypt’s top conspiracy theory tabloids. They were so smart; Taysir was busted in Spain, now they can send Mansour. The level of unconfirmed lies that Mansour spilled out forced the CPA to post a matrix where they countered his claims on a daily basis. Why was Fallujah different? Why did Al-Jazerah forsake any rules they might have learned in Journalism 101 when they were covering Al-Jazerah? The answer is quite simple: Iraqis are now watching.
Al-Jazerah knows very well that Iraqis are the US’ main allies in Iraq! Al-Jazerah knows very well that the vast majority of Iraqis did welcome the US occupation in the hope that it might result in a better life. Al-Jazerah knows very well that on April 9, 2003 US troops were walking side by side with Iraqi men who were armed to the teeth. Also, Al-Jazerah knows very well that the occupation is becoming unpopular not because it is an occupation (over 70% of Iraqis not want the coalition to leave Iraq now), but because this occupation failed to deliver security, jobs, and cheese. I love what New York Times columnists Thomas L. Friedman said in an article right after the end of the war, he said: now you own Iraq, make Iraqis feel as if they won the lottery ticket. The coalition failed in doing so. We cannot put all blame on the coalition because it is trying to build while fighting a war; however, it did some serious mistakes that were avoidable. Al-Jazerah wanted to increase the rift between the coalition and Iraqis. I do not differentiate Al-Jazerah’s dirty tactic to those who blow up oil pipelines and other infrastructure to increase the rift as well.
I have done some research on Al-Jazerah and its Qatari sponsorship and would post my views later. Why did Qatar, a nation that is perceived to be a stanch ally of the west, a host of the largest US base, and a nation that has considerable warm economic relations with Israel choose to finance such a propaganda outlet? The answer will be in my next posting.