When the United States Defends Al-Jazeera

By Amira Soltane (‘Expression, Algeria):

Contrary to appearances, Al-Jazeera is the best-protected network on the planet, because it has succeeded in collecting and aggregating news coming from the West toward the East.

What a funny world we live in. Yesterday’s enemy, the United States, has become today’s friend and protector of Al-Jazeera, thanks to the Libyan crisis. This is the television channel that wiped American network CNN off the global audiovisual map. The United States denounced the Libyan government for having jammed the broadcast of foreign programming, emphasizing that this initiative contradicted Col. Gadhafi’s words that all is calm in the country.

The United States also accused Libya of preventing news coverage, including Al-Hurra, the American channel in the Middle East. Even the spokesman for the State Department, Philip Crowley, wrote on his Twitter account, “Things are evidently not as calm as the Qaddafis claim.”

In a speech addressed to foreign media and distributed Sunday by the Serbian station Pink TV, Gadhafi assured us that the situation in Libya was “completely calm” and harshly denounced the U.N. sanctions against his regime. American-funded Arabic-language channel Al-Hurra claimed that since Feb. 23, its “broadcasts of the historic events in Libya have been jammed on the Nilesat satellite system.”

Nilesat, one of the most popular satellites in the region, which also broadcasts Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, was likewise jammed by the Libyan government. But what the U.S. State Department fails to mention is that it was these same Americans who provided the technology of jammed satellite broadcasting. This same technology was offered to Egypt, Jordan and, of course, Israel. And today, they stand in the name of free expression and in the ideology of Abraham Lincoln in order to denounce this blockage. Al-Jazeera has always been considered by the Americans to be an important, even dangerous, media outlet, but they have spared no effort to adjust the channel’s audience, to the detriment of Al-Hurra, itself an American station. For the record, Al-Jazeera’s Washington office receives a large number of guests, experts and stakeholders, from the Doha headquarters, the London office and the Paris office.

Al-Jazeera, moreover, has become less present in Arab nations, and despite its geopolitics, Cairo remains the Arab capital that exports the most representatives for Al-Jazeera, in the same capacity as Gaza and Tel-Aviv. Contrary to appearances, Al-Jazeera is the best-protected network on the planet, because it has succeeded in collecting and aggregating news coming from the West toward the East. These days, it is not abnormal to see American diplomats defend the interests of the Qatar-based channel.

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