Diplomatic war in the Gulf. Most influential countries of the Gulf are banning Al Jazeera and demanding of Qatar to shut it down completely. The west remains silent!
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Translation: Fairpress
Five Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan, Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) stopped diplomatic relations with Qatar due to its alleged support to the authorities of extremist groups. As CNN reports, after the first step, in addition to the aforementioned countries, four more countries joined in on punishing Qatar: Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives and Libya.

Regarding the accusations Qatar stated that the accusations saying that it supports terrorism and the destabilisation of the region are unjustified and baseless. According to CNN sources, for the escalation of the crisis investigators from US state agencies directly accused Russia, whose hackers attacked the news agency from Qatar and “planted” fake news on it and so this contributed to the escalation of the crisis. According to reports of the official briefing of the investigators, the reason for the Russian attacks is the aim of the Russian authorities to destabilise the relationship between the United States and their allies in the Gulf.

According to reports of world agencies and diplomatic sources present in the region, this is the greatest political crisis that has hit the Middle East in recent years.

However, in the diplomatic chaos and tensions that are rising every day, the people who are informed claim that the key target of the diplomatic war between the Arab countries gathered in an alliance is the most powerful TV Network of Qatar, Al Jazeera, which is extremely critical of the regimes in the region. Paradoxically, attacks on Al Jazeera come at a time when this media house has received international recognition at the One World Media ceremony in London for reporting on corruption – which Fairpress already reported on.

Ranije navedene države, najavljuju i lokalne zabrane djelovanja Al Jazeere na njihovom teritoriju, čime se na Katar vrši dodatni pritisak kako bi ovu medijsku kuću potpuno ugasio. Tome u prilog govori i tweet koji je prije dva dana objavio poznati politički komentator iz UAE, Sultan Al Qassemi, koji je prognozirao kako će „prva gesta dobre volje katarskog emira biti potpuno gašenje TV mreže Al Jazeera i to tijekom sljedećih nekoliko mjeseci ako ne i tjedana“.

On the high probability of the Al Jazeera shutdown was also warned by a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, Michael Stephens, who said that in the context of the crisis, Qatar will be forced to make major compromises and that Al Jazeera could be in danger.

On the other hand, the Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates have further contributed to the tensions threatening anyone who expresses their agreement with Qatar, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form with up to 15 years in prison, and barring entry to Qatar.

“Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form”, said UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi.

This, almost without presedan blow to the freedom of speech, has led to a series of reactions, on the series of decisions, including the last one by the Jordanian authorities, reaction came from the international

Commette to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “Journalists, and ordinary people who rely on them for news and information, are paying  the price for this regional diplomatic dispute,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “We call on Jordan not to follow its neighbors down the path of censorship, and instead to allow Al-Jazeera and all news outlets to operate freely.” CPJ said that they could not determine if the order has immediately gone into effect.

Fairpress asked the leadership of Al Jazeera, diplomatic representations, international organisations, political commentators and the ones who are familiar with the situation in the Middle East for a comment regarding this difficult and dramatic situation for Al Jazeera’s journalists.

The Public Relations Service of Al Jazeera condemned the reactions of the Gulf countries and the pressures that are directed towards this network:

Al Jazeera condemns the measures taken by Governments of Saudi Arabia and Jordan to close the Al Jazeera Media Network’s office and withdraw the operating license.

This is not the first time that Saudi authorities have imposed such restrictions on Al Jazeera’s operations, in the past they blocked access to our channels and digital platforms. We firmly believe these are unjustified measures by the authorities in the Kingdom against the Network and its operations. In spite of the restrictions imposed on the Network, Al Jazeera will continue to cover the news and current affairs from the region and beyond in a balanced and objective manner. We call upon the government to respect the freedom of the press and allow journalists to continue to do their jobs free of intimidation and threats.

Dr David Roberts professor at Kings College in London and former director of the Qatar office of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), who specialises in the area of Middle East policies and Qatar gave a brief overview of the current situation for Fairpress:

Jordan, like make states around the wider region, is feeling the pressure to support the boycott of Qatar. This is the way that it has chosen to do so. The likely dinar diplomacy being played here by the three Gulf States can easily out-compete any would-be Qatari offer. Thus, Jordan falling in line is not that surprising.

However, Dr Roberts believes that Qatar will fight to keep Al Jazeera. It is the states’s best known asset. Whether they can keep it or not – assuming that it is threatened – depends more on how much external support Qatar can muster to pressure the three Gulf states.

In this whole story, what’s interesting is the silence of Western diplomacies, which de facto are allowing a diplomatic dispute to bend over the back of one media outlet, i.e. the freedom of speech and expression in the most financially powerful region of the world. Fairpress will continue to report on the developments of this dispute and the events regarding the Al Jazeera TV Network in the days and weeks that follow.

This article has been created with the help of the Fund for Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity in Electronic media within the project “Media reality– Development and promotion of the programme of media literacy

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