Waddah Khanfar’s resignation, almost a year ago to the day, as Al Jazerra’s director general, after Wikileaks had revealed that he had held particularly close ties with the U.S. government, would appear to suggest that the Qatari based broadcasting station has, at least, come increasingly under the influence, if not the control, of the US government.
However, while coverage of U.S. foreign policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories, has most certainly been less strident, we might also want to consider this from the perspective of the Qatari government and the other Doha based investors, who, having established their station in the market by offering both the Arab world and international audiences an alternative to the BBC and CNN, now cultivate an illusion of choice by offering a very selective objectivity on topics that don’t interfere with their own Sunni Wahabbi agenda.
Of course, in reality what we have is something quite absurd and today we could listen to how there was a distortion of democracy as the opposition was shut out in the Belarus election from a station that is effectively controlled by an assortment of kleptomaniac autocrats and their side-kicks. Nevertheless, objectively, the report on Belarusian did have its merits and nobody is going to argue that the man in Minsk, Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko, is about as far away from being a democrat as …… well, as Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.
It is a bit like Belarus 1 airing a programme on how American democracy is controlled by the military industrial complex, which might indeed have some intrinsic value as far as objective reporting is concerned. However, while such a series might include reporting at least as interesting, objective, factual, as the Al Jazerra reporting on Belorussia, Belarus television does not offer the government in Minsk an opportunity to extend its tentacles into neighbouring countries.
Qatar’s “soft power” was central to the “revolutions” throughout the Arab world and it is crucial to it ultimately exporting its version of Wahhabi Islam throughout the Middle East. That the United States and Britain in particular have no problem in associating themselves with this agenda should come as no surprise and anyone who wants to grasp why can content themselves with a skimming and scanning of Mark Curtis’s book “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam”.
In doing so, there should be no illusions as to the true nature of this so-called “soft-power” which has contributed to the very hard reality of thousands of dead women and children from Libya to Syria. There should be no illusions for the evidence would appear to suggest that there is worse to come, as “Al Jazerra” forces the Wahhabi agenda and gets the Arab world ready for the coming battle against Iran and, for the time being, there are smiles all round in Washington, London and Jerusalem.