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Al Jazeera not all that it's cracked up to be

Anyone who has developed a liking for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network and the news it presents - on the basis that the coverage has been extensive and apparently un-biased - will be more than disappointed to read this from Glen Greenwald's latest op-ed piece in The Guardian.

(3) "The long-time Berlin correspondent for Al Jazeera, Aktham Suliman, recently resigned, and he explains in this rather amazing interview that he did so because the regime in Qatar, which owns the network, has been increasingly shaping and dictating the news network's coverage of events to advance the regime's interests. In particular, he cites Al Jazeera's coverage of the conflicts in Libya and Syria which, he says, has been systematically distorted in order to justify the wars which the Qataris seek against the dictators in those countries which they dislike:

"Of course Muammar Gadhafi was a dictator, and of course he'd ruled for far too long. Of course there was a desire among the Libyans to get rid of him. All that is clear. But it's also clear that killing a dictator, as happened with Gadhafi, is absolutely unacceptable on human rights grounds, revolution or no. And that's not emphasized. That is: We stressed the necessity of a revolution in Libya and the humanity of the revolutionaries, but said nothing about the murder of a dictator.

"What should also give us pause for thought is that it wasn't just Gadhafi who was killed. Many others were killed after him - including, incidentally, the man who shot Gadhafi. He was killed by another group of revolutionaries. That's the actual environment in Libya. And that's exactly what you don't see on today's Al Jazeera. That's not professional.

"In Syria, too, society is divided. You have the pro-Assad people, and those who are against him. However, when you make one side out to be mass murderers and turn the others into saints you're fueling the conflict, not presenting the situation in an appropriate and balanced way. There are murders, injustices and good things on both sides. But you don't see that on Al Jazeera. My problem is and was: When I see Al Jazeera's Syrian coverage, I don't really understand what's going on there. And that's the first thing I expect from journalism."

As was true of Saddam, there is no question that Gadhafi and Assad have committed atrocities. But just as was true in Iraq, that does not justify the grossly simplistic propaganda that distorts rather than clarifies what the realities in those countries are."

 

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