Is Al Jazeera On Congress’ Radar?
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, January 4
An old Arabic proverb holds that when something grows too big it can easily turn against its creators. This is certainly true of the Qatari media—filled with noise, evil, and darkness—which like an octopus extends its tentacles into every peaceful corner of the world. Qatari authorities have invested an immense sum of money into developing and expanding this media both openly and covertly, using a network of institutions and individuals in countries far away from Doha. But now the beast seems to have turned on its masters. According to reports, preparations are underway in the United States Congress to enact a new bill targeting Qatar-backed news outlets, forcing them to reveal their funding sources or otherwise risk losing their licenses to operate in America. The U.S. has long been concerned about Qatari channels, fearing that stations such as Al Jazeera spread fake news and provide a platform for extremists. The proposed legislation would also apply to Russian companies such as RT (formerly Russia Today) and the Sputnik agency, which have placed emphasis in recent years on the American audience. The bill is being supported by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers that have grown wary of foreign intervention in domestic affairs. This is a good omen for anyone that believes in a free press. If Al Jazeera is allowed to maintain its operations abroad, moderate Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt should seriously consider launching a joint news conglomerate in an effort to combat the Qatari propaganda machine. But before this happens Qatar’s rulers may find themselves with their backs against the wall, forced to answer some difficult questions from U.S. leaders. –Mashry al-Zayidi