Friday, May 9, 2014

Qatari funding of Al-Jadeed confirmed?

[Originally posted at NOW]

It’s never been an especially well-kept secret that Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed (“New”) TV station, renowned for its attacks on the Saudi-backed Hariri dynasty, benefits from the pecuniary resources of Saudi’s neighbor and rival, Qatar.

And yet, as with all such “it-is-knowns,” it was something that had never been definitively proven. As I reported in 2012, Al-Jadeed’s owner Tahseen Khayyat would vaguely acknowledge having ties with the Gulf promontory, and his business conglomerate does have offices in Doha, but beyond these one could establish very little about Qatar’s involvement in Al-Jadeed specifically.

Until now, apparently. An audio clip circulating online purports to be a leaked phone call between former Qatari ruler Hamad al-Thani and the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, in which al-Thani talks of “creating” a TV station called Al-Hiwar in London and funding (he literally says “feeding”) Al-Jadeed in Lebanon. Later, the man supposed to be al-Thani adds that these two stations could be used to promote Saad al-Faqih, a Saudi opposition figure.

Assuming the leak is genuine, it may help explain the comparatively neutral – or, rather, incoherent – editorial line adopted by Al-Jadeed toward Syria (the killing of its cameraman, Ali Shaaban, by the regime in 2012 was presumably a factor too). Access to Qatari petrodollars is also likely to be appreciated given the station has just been summoned by a United Nations tribunal for contempt and obstruction of justice – charges that carry a potential fine of up to 100,000€ ($139,000), not to mention seven years in jail for Khayyat’s daughter, Karma, the deputy head of news.

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