Bahrain closes pan-Arab TV news channel

Updated 10 February 2015

Bahrain closes pan-Arab TV news channel

DUBAI: Bahrain on Monday announced the closure of a new pan-Arab news channel, owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
The Alarab News Channel, launched on February 1, was on air for only a few hours before reverting to promotional material while trying to resolve “technical and administrative” issues.
“It has been decided to halt the activities of Alarab, the channel not having received the necessary permits,” a statement from the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority said on Monday.
Shortly after its launch on February 1, programming was interrupted after Alarab broadcast an interview with an opposition politician in Bahrain.
The interview with a Shiite opponent of the Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers sparked criticism in the pro-government Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khaleej.
The newspaper said it learned that Alarab was taken off the air for “not adhering to the norms prevalent in Gulf countries.”
The head of media at Bahrain’s information ministry, Yusuf Mohammed, said last week that “cooperation with Alarab’s administration is ongoing, in order to resume its broadcasts and complete necessary measures as soon as possible.”
Jamal Khashoggi, Alarab’s general manager, could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.
Prior to the launch of Alarab, Khashoggi told AFP the channel was “not going to take sides.”
Khashoggi said “a news channel should not have a political agenda... We should just be a news channel that provides accurate, objective information.”
Although its news programs stopped within hours of the launch, Alarab continued to show promotional material.
Until just after 1200 GMT on Monday, it was broadcasting a message that programming had been interrupted for “technical and administrative reasons, and we’ll be back soon, God willing.”
But at about 1204 GMT the promotional material stopped and the screen displayed only Alarab’s green and white logo.
Alarab was the latest player in the Arabic-language television market, after Qatar-subsidised Al-Jazeera became the first regional news broadcaster 19 years ago.
It also aimed to be a rival for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, established in 2003 and owned by Sheikh Waleed Al-Ibrahim.
Critics have accused the established broadcasters of reflecting their owners’ political views, especially during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.
Both long-running channels deny any slant in their coverage.
Khashoggi had earlier said the channel would have about 280 staff, including correspondents in 30 countries.
Riyadh would be the largest bureau with around 20 employees.

Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018

Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

Meanwhile, coalition fighter jets on Sunday carried out a series of strikes targeting Houthi positions west of Marib. The strikes, which were accompanied by shelling, came after the Iranian-supported militia launched ballistic missiles toward the city of Marib. Coalition forces successfully intercepted the missiles, Yemeni army media said.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.