Voices from the Arab press: Why is Qatari media interested in Khashoggi?

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from Arab media around the world.

The Al-Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Al-Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Why is Qatari media Interested In the Khashoggi case?
Al-Arabia, Saudi Arabia, October 10
The so-called sadness and grief expressed by Al Jazeera news anchors and other media officials over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi does not stem from a genuine fear for his fate or a concern about the state of democracy around the world. Rather, it is motivated by one thing, and one thing only: Khashoggi’s Saudi passport. If the journalist were an Emirati, a Bahraini, or even an Egyptian, he would have not received such widespread attention on these channels. Yet in Al Jazeera’s playbook, any opportunity to lock horns with the Saudi government is an opportunity worth pursuing.
This speaks to the broader journalistic standards that guide the Qatari station. Al Jazeera and its sister stations have become platforms for extremist ideologues. While the station’s managers speak about moderation and concern for human rights, its reporters have been promoting everything but those values. Let us all remember that this is the same news channel that gave prime-time broadcast to Osama Bin Laden. This is the news station that brought Muslim Brotherhood-backed radical clerks to galvanize the masses against their leaders during the Arab revolutions. This is the same news outlet that gave rise to the terrorists who ordered their followers to blow themselves up in Riyadh, Baghdad, and Sana’a.
Indeed, we have seen the fatwas propagated on Al Jazeera turned into real-life events. Al Jazeera is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the government in Doha, used to shake the stability of the Middle East at large, and the Arab Gulf more specifically.
The coverage of Khashoggi’s disappearance was an orchestrated campaign based on fabricated stories and false reports, designed to vilify and undermine the Saudi government. Instead of honoring the legacy of this great journalist, Al Jazeera and its sister channels are exploiting his name to promote the radical political goals of the government in Doha and its extremist patrons in Iran.
– Mamdouh al-Miheni
Iran will never Come to terms with reality
Al-Arab, London, October 10
Some commentators have noted that the regime in Tehran is finally beginning to understand the magnitude of the Iranian crisis; a realization that might push the mullahs to accept the American terms and renegotiate the nuclear deal. I am not convinced this is true. The most important issue on the table is actually not the nuclear program itself, but rather Iran’s belligerent behavior outside of its borders.
One of the main issues to be discussed is Tehran’s ballistic missile program, which, if completed, would undermine the stability of the entire region. Iranian missiles have already been used against Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen. Therefore, these capabilities must be addressed within any framework or deal reached with Iran. Thankfully, we are living in the day and age of US President Donald Trump, who has been committed to calling things as they actually are without political correctness. The 12 points posed to Iran by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are a clear interpretation of this vision. It is no coincidence that they explicitly refer to Iran’s military involvement outside its borders, as well as its ballistic missile program, as precondition to negotiating a new deal with Tehran.
Trump’s administration tore up the terrible deal signed by former president Barack Obama and changed the rules of the game. It sent a clear message to the mullahs that the millions of dollars funneled into their economy thanks to Obama will no longer continue to flow into Iran. The economic sanctions have already hit the Iranian economy in a comprehensive way, moving the battle between Iran and the West deep into Iranian territory. This is what the mullahs fear most. Their battles have all historically taken place away from Iran’s borders. Now, Trump’s policy has brought the battle back to the Iranian home turf.
These are all reassuring developments, but anyone who has ever studied Iran’s history knows that the mullahs will do whatever they can to escape the repercussions of their actions and avoid reconciling with America. They will again try to win time in order to enhance their sinister projects. Most importantly, they are looking at the upcoming US elections and hoping that their biggest enemy loses his majority in both houses of Congress, allowing them to return to the terrible deal proposed by his predecessor, Obama.
– Kheir Allah Kheir Allah
Loyalty over ideology
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, October 8
It is fascinating to observe the events revolving around the Supreme Court nomination in the United States, not merely because of the drama that this case has provided to reporters, but also because the Supreme Court stands at the heart of the American empire, given its status as one of the three most powerful American institutions, alongside the Congress and the White House.
What is clear to any outside observer of the situation is that the debate surrounding the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court revolved around partisan lines.
The Republicans supported Kavanaugh, while the Democrats opposed him. Neither side did so on the basis of the candidate’s actual competence to fulfill the role, but rather in an effort to gain political capital and defeat the opposing party.
On the Republican side, there was an incentive to move forward with the nomination and approval process as quickly as possible, before the mid-term elections, out of fear that the Democrats might gain a majority in Congress. On the Democratic side, there was an incentive to prolong the hearings and the investigations that ensued, in order to humiliate the Republican Party and the president.
The result was an embarrassing situation that brought shame to both sides. The Democrats pushed a perfectly competent Supreme Court Justice to cry in front of live television cameras and comment about his college-day drinking. The Republicans, on the other hand, disgraced a woman who spoke about her interactions with that man.
Other than creating even more polarization and division among the American public, this spectacle did not achieve a single thing. Judging by where American politics are headed, it seems like the only thing that will matter in America in years to come is party affiliation; not ideology.
– Ahmad al-Farraj
Has a new oil war been waged?
Asharq Al-Awsat, London, October 8
Last week, a giant fleet of cargo ships left the port of Kharg in Iran and set off toward international waters. Shortly thereafter, the ships, which carried over two million barrels of Iranian oil, disappeared from international radars and maritime registries. This was not accidental. The assumption is that the Iranian vessels turned off their electrical repeaters in an effort to mask their shipping route.
This was their first attempt to test whether Iran could defy the US sanctions without being detected. Oil is hugely important to the Iranian regime. Well over half of the Iranian GDP is generated from oil sales. This figure does not even take into account the peripheral industries that exist around the extraction, production and sales of oil, which constitute a large portion of the Iranian economy. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Iran will do anything it can to hide its operations and continue its exports.
One plan might revolve around shipping Iranian oil to Russian refineries, where it will be re-branded and sold to markets abroad. The Russians, who are themselves targets of US sanctions, will gladly cooperate with their Iranian counterparts. Of course, modern technological solutions would allow the US to monitor any of these vessels and sanction those who violate the sanction regime. But there is yet another problem: the price of oil. With Iranian oil taken off the market, there will likely be a shortage in the global supply of oil. Unless a different producer compensates for the Iranian share in the market – something that Saudi Arabia has considered doing – it is likely that oil prices around the world will increase.
This is Tehran’s ultimate doomsday weapon. The Iranian regime hopes that soaring oil prices around the world might push the US to reconsider its sanctions. The price of a single barrel of oil has already been on the rise, passing the $80 mark line – the highest since 2014. It is likely that these prices will continue to rise, passing even $100 per barrel by the end of the year.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed