by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 12, Jumada' al-Ula', 1438)
Al Jazeera tries to project itself as the voice of the Arab street but in reality it is an echo chamber for Western propaganda.
Last month, the Qatari regime-owned TV channel, al-Jazeera, released a documentary exposing attempts by the Israeli embassy in London to influence British politics. The documentary discussed the Zionists’ secret efforts to undermine the election of the student body, the National Union of Students (NUS) for president. The aim was to subvert the victory of Malia Bouattia, the first Muslim to be elected as head of the NUS. It also revealed an Israeli embassy agent plotting to “take down” British lawmakers deemed unfriendly to Israel.
The documentary was presented and projected by al-Jazeera in sensational terms, as if Zionist Israel’s meddling in the political affairs of other countries is a secret. The Zionist entity’s track record of interference includes its support for the apartheid regime in South Africa and support for all autocratic regimes in the Arab world. A quick search of the internet would reveal these details immediately. It has used fake Canadian and New Zealand passports in the past and indulged in other criminal activities. In March 2015, the Zionist war criminal, Benjamin Netanyahu, caused a scandal by addressing the US Congress directly, opposing the P5+1 treaty with Iran while bypassing the US president. Who has not heard of AIPAC, the Israeli regime’s lobby that is used as a blackmailing tool to coerce American lawmakers and others to toe the Zionist line. So why is al-Jazeera’s documentary being presented as a sensation?
Ever since the Qatari regime launched al-Jazeera, it has attempted to present the channel as the authentic voice of the Arab street. Al-Jazeera acted and continues to do so to this day as a control valve for Washington and its regional surrogates in order to allow the Arab street to vent its frustration and anger. In an interview with Crescent International in 2015, veteran Muslim journalist Roshan Muhammed Salih who used to work for al-Jazeera from 2003–2005, pointed out that “after the so-called Arab Spring [is] when al-Jazeera developed a sort of imperial hubris and thought it had the right to decide the fate of nations rather than simply report on their politics. Then it supported the US-NATO war on Libya and the Saudi invasion of Bahrain. But the breaking point for me has been its incitement of an imperial, sectarian war on Syria which is threatening to destroy the whole region… I just wish ordinary Muslims would wake up to what al-Jazeera has become.”
During the 2014 presidential elections in Syria, as millions of Syrians came out to vote, the tribal owned al-Jazeera network whose home country has never had any elections, parroted the lie that “observers from countries allied to the regime — North Korea, Iran and Russia — are supervising the election, while a security plan has reportedly been put in place in Syrian cities to prevent possible attacks against voters and polling stations.” If al-Jazeera had bothered to go to Damascus in 2014 and other Syrian cities not under the control of takfiri terrorists, it would have discovered dozens of independent international observers on the ground monitoring the election. These were anti-war peace activists that went to Syria despite opposition of their home governments.
In February 2015, the semi-literate corporate media was ecstatic about al-Jazeera’s announcement that it had obtained, allegedly the “largest intelligence leak since Snowden.” But was it really a leak or was it intelligence information fed to it? Al-Jazeera is a state-financed TV channel, so any “intelligence” treasure it gets essentially belongs to the Qatari regime. The Doha-based tribal regime is a strategic Israeli, British, and US ally; would it release documents damaging its strategic relationship with powerful states, one on whose goodwill it depends for survival? Intelligence information is valuable only when the opposing side does not know that its adversary knows its secrets. If one were to assume that the Qatari regime would make use of those leaked documents for their own national interest, why would Qatar announce it?
In September 2011, Foreign Policy magazine reported that “a cable issued by the US Embassy in Doha and signed by then ambassador Chase Untermeyer, details a meeting between an embassy public affairs official and Wadah Khanfar, al-Jazeera’s director general, in which the latter is said to agree to tone down and remove what the United States terms ‘disturbing al-Jazeera website content.’”
While most Muslims and others assume that al-Jazeera is an alternative source of true news, a closer look at its track record reveals that in many instances it is as wedded to promoting the establishment’s views as the others. True, al-Jazeera has produced some critical and alternate journalistic works; it is also true that in many respects, before it fired most of its Islamic editorial staff during the 2003 Iraq war, al-Jazeera revolutionized journalism in the Muslim East. However, when it comes to strategic issues, al-Jazeera is no different than its mainstream peers that propagate the US designed secular and materialistic perspective on global issues.
When security forces of the popularly elected government of Hamas prevented the US-backed militias of Mohamed Dahlan from overthrowing the Palestinian government in Gaza, al-Jazeera, like all other news sources, presented events in Gaza as a “coup d’ état” by Hamas. During the 2009 US-instigated riots in Tehran, al-Jazeera’s perspective and rhetoric were no different than the BBC or CNN. The Islamic government in Iran was demonized and all vandalism and violence in Iran was legitimized through the narrative of “fraudulent elections.”
Finally, the 2010–2011 uprisings in the Muslim East totally exposed al-Jazeera as a channel financed and managed by the un-elected Qatari tribal regime for the strategic interests of its paymasters. Al-Jazeera’s constant focus on and exaggeration of events in Syria and its skimpy coverage of uprisings in Bahrain and the Saudi-ruled Arabian Peninsula reveal its true nature.