Al Jazeera under fire for Houthi bias after KSA missile attack

Damage created by debris is seen, after ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi militia fell at a house in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 March 2018
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Al Jazeera under fire for Houthi bias after KSA missile attack

JEDDAH: The Qatari news network Al Jazeera has prompted a Twitter storm over its coverage of a ballistic missile attack targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia that was launched by Houthi militias in Yemen.
Seven ballistic missiles were fired targeting several cities in Saudi Arabia, three of which were intercepted by the Saudi Defense Patriot systems over the capital Riyadh. The rest were shot down in the skies of Jazan, Najran and Khamis Mushait. The missiles were fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen on Sunday night, the Arab coalition said, leaving one Egyptian civilian dead and two others injured.
The attack prompted widespread condemnation from the UN, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Pakistan and others.
Al Jazeera was, however, accused of providing a “platform” for the Houthi militias, having aired comments by the group just “minutes” after the attack.
The network’s breaking news service claimed that the missiles fired at Saudi Arabia hit their targets, despite statements by the Kingdom confirming that the missiles were destroyed by Saudi air defenses.
Al Jazeera also carried statements by Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, in footage shot before the attack, in which he threatened to use advanced missile systems and aircraft against Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, a spokesman for the Houthis, told Al Jazeera that the attack was in “response to the bombing of Yemeni cities, and siege of the Yemeni people.”
Al-Bukhaiti called on the Yemeni people to mobilize against “the Saudi aggression.”
Many Twitter users were critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the attack, with an Arabic hashtag, translating as “Qatar media support Houthi,” trending.
“The coordination between the Houthis and Al Jazeera is clear and revealing, and the role of Qatar in funding the Houthis is known. So, their betrayal of the alliance in Yemen is remarkable and their days are numbered,” wrote one.
Another Twitter user said that Al Jazeera and the Qatari media in general “has become an integral part of the Iranian media, but this is not surprising, as they are known to provoke sedition and host terrorists on its channels."
It is not the first time that Al Jazeera Arabic has been accused of providing a platform for militant and terror groups.
Earlier this month it came under fire for “normalizing terrorism” in its coverage of an attack on the French Embassy in Burkina Faso.
Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global, a management consultancy focused on the Middle East, claimed Al Jazeera reporting on the Burkina Faso terrorist attack was skewed.
“Al Jazeera Arabic . . . refuses to call Al-Qaeda ‘terrorists,’ instead says ‘whom authorities describe as terrorists,’” he tweeted. “Common with Al Jazeera normalizing terrorism in eyes of its readers.”
Al Jazeera declined to comment when contacted by Arab News.


Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

Updated 20 March 2019
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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.