Al Jazeera under fire for tweet ‘justifying’ attacking Saudi Arabia, Israel in response to Syria strike

A ballistic missile is seen after it was fired toward the Saudi capital of Riyadh from an undisclosed location in Yemen, in this handout photo released December 19, 2017 by the Houthi movement's War Media. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 April 2018

Al Jazeera under fire for tweet ‘justifying’ attacking Saudi Arabia, Israel in response to Syria strike

LONDON: Al Jazeera has again been criticized for allegedly justifying violence, after it broadcast unchallenged comments by the leader of Yemen’s Houthi militias urging the bombing of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
The Qatari broadcaster on Saturday tweeted comments apparently made by Abdul Malik Al-Houthi in reaction to the recent missile strikes on Syria.
The US, the UK and France early on Saturday launched strikes on positions and bases in response to the chemical weapons attack conducted by Syrian President Bashar Assad on Douma. Al Jazeera’s Arabic service tweeted: “Houthi leader: The best response to the military aggression on Syria is bombing the financier Saudi Arabia and Israel, the partner.”






That is despite the fact that Qatar itself had expressed support for the US, British and French operations against military targets used by the Syrian regime. The broadcast of the Houthi leader’s unchallenged comments was last night likened to justifying violence, with the Al Jazeera media network allegedly being used as a “weapon” by Doha, one claimed.

 

 “Al Jazeera once again proves it is far away from neutrality, when it considers that violence against those who disagree with it is justified,” said Abdellatif El-Menawy, an Egyptian media analyst.

“Undoubtedly, Al Jazeera is not a media outlet but a weapon and a tool in the hands of the Qatari regime.”

Mohammed Alyahya, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and senior fellow at the Gulf Research Center, said Al Jazeera has become a consistent platform for the Houthis since the Qatar crisis began almost a year ago.

“Its publishing of Houthi material without scrutiny is reminiscent to its controversial and widely condemned coverage of Al-Qaeda materials, most notably Osama bin Laden’s recoded speeches, after 2001,” he said.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist, said that Al Jazeera “helps to achieve Qatar’s foreign policy objectives rather than assist ordinary people to acquire the truth.”

He told Arab News that the Qatari network’s reporting and tweets are “more likely incite violence, provoke terror, and provide a platform for militias or terrorists.”

​“Media outlets should not be allowed to promote extremism under the cover of freedom of expression.​ Many have criticized Al Jazeera’s attempts to change the direction of politics in other countries in favor of Doha rather than the ordinary people of those nations, such as leaning toward the Muslim Brotherhood, supporting Libya’s armed revolt and using softer language about terrorist groups such as Daesh, among others,” he added.

“In addition, according to the American Journalism Review, critics have pointed to Al Jazeera’s ‘anti-Semitic, anti-American bias in the channel’s news content’.”

The Qatar-funded Al Jazeera has faced numerous allegations of inciting violence and being a “platform” for terrorists. In March, it was accused of providing a “platform” for the Houthi militias, having aired comments by the group just minutes after a ballistic missile attack targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia.

Many Twitter users were critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the attack, with an Arabic hashtag, translating as “Qatar media support Houthi,” trending. Earlier in March, the network 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 did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.

 

FASTFACTS

• Qatar-based broadcaster tweeted Houthi leader's comments urging bombing of Saudi Arabia • Network being used 'as a weapon' by Doha: Analyst


Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

Updated 19 November 2019

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

  • Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities

BEIRUT: Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after the Association of Banks in Lebanon approved measures to ease the anger of depositors and customers. 

More than 3,000 members of Beirut’s police, the regional gendarmerie, the judicial police, and the information division of the Internal Security Forces will provide protection to banks and their employees, who carried out an open strike for a week.

They did so due to customers’ anger over measures applied by banks on withdrawals and transfers amid Lebanon’s severe political and economic crisis, which sparked mass protests that have been ongoing for 33 days.

Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon decided on Sunday to “stop restrictions on new funds transferred from abroad, provided that remittances abroad only cover urgent personal expenses.”

It also decided to lift restrictions on the circulation of checks, transfers, and the use of credit cards in Lebanon. 

As for the use of credit cards abroad, ceilings are determined by agreements between banks and customers.

The association has determined a maximum cash withdrawal rate of $1,000 per week for holders of current accounts in dollars, while checks issued in foreign currencies will be transferred into their account.

It has also urged customers to “use their credit cards, especially in Lebanese pounds, to buy their needs.”

Meanwhile, protesters are preparing to block roads leading to Parliament in the heart of Beirut on Tuesday, to prevent a legislative session from taking place. The session had already been postponed for a week.

In an attempt to placate protesters, the presidential palace’s media office said the president has ordered investigations into “financial crimes, waste, forgery, money laundering and suspicious transactions,” as well as “negligence at work, promotion of counterfeit medicines and suspicious reconciliation contracts.”