The rise and fall of Al Jazeera

The ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt marks the latest nadir for Al Jazeera’s flailing credibility. The US launch of the network, once hailed as the voice of Arab resistance, could not come at a worse time

On 30 June shockwaves were sent around the Arab world when for the second time in little over two years, the Egyptian people moved against their government and toppled a leader they saw as autocratic, unjust and incompetent.

Nowhere were the repercussions of Mohamed Mursi’s ouster felt more keenly than in Qatar, the tiny Gulf state that in the last twelve months had poured billions into propping up the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

The demise of Egypt’s Brotherhood also marked the latest nadir in the credibility of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera, which has gone from being the voice of resistance amid the Arab Spring to a regional pariah, as the station shifted to a more Islamist agenda.

However, the broadcaster also finds itself at a more complex crossroads. With a rare changing of the guard in Qatar’s ruling elite having recently taken place and a controversial entrance into the US market planned for August, the next few months are likely to be as crucial as any Al Jazeera has faced before.

Launched in 1996 with a QR500m ($137.3m) loan from the Qatari ruler at the time, Al Jazeera replaced the BBC’s defunct Arabic language channel, and quickly gained notoriety by providing a platform for some of the Middle East’s most controversial voices. These ranged from Islamists in Palestine and Chechnya to even more taboo subjects, with the channel said to have been the first in the Arab world to give air time to Israeli nationals speaking Hebrew.

Today it is estimated that Al Jazeera has about 40 million viewers worldwide across all of its channels.

“It increased its presence by covering controversial issues and positioning itself as the channel of the resistance,” says Fadi Salem, a Dubai-based researcher into Arab media. “It was biased in its coverage or gave more coverage and airtime to movements that were considered anti-Israel or in the resistance camp in the Arab region.”

Al Jazeera came to global prominence in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US and the campaign to oust the Afghan Taliban that immediately followed. During that conflict, several Western news outlets relied on footage shot by Al Jazeera reporters and the station itself broadcast a number of recorded messages from senior Al Qaeda figures, including Osama Bin Laden. Famously, then US president George W Bush had wanted to bomb Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, before being talked down by UK counterpart Tony Blair.

In 2011, Al Jazeera’s breathless, live coverage from the streets of Cairo, Tunis and Tripoli was seen as galvanising the Arab Spring protests that toppled deep-seated autocrats like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

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Posted by: Peter

@Daniel Shane - hilarious! You may now remove your foot from your mouth!

Posted by: amon

"The rise and fall of Al Jazeera"
The wishful thinking of anti Al Jazeera people

Posted by: Ceepee

Arabian Business and other so called fair minded news feeders are one sided and AJ is on other side. You can't fool the whole world all the period with one sided version of the fact or is the nature's balancing factor that led to the birth of AJ to show the other side of the story.

Your (AB) inclination and intolerance is very much visible in your title of the report itself.....

It is over dear author to potray a wolf as a sheep or vice versa.

Posted by: emad

Can we have a measure stick here? Name 1 channel that is not leaning towards 1 side or the other. CNN, BBC, ARABIYA, SKY (Abu Dhabi), Al-HURRA???
AJ is not totally impartial, but it is the least impartial. AJ has been covering Arab Spring issues fairly for the most part, all programs have 2 sides debating the issues, unlike ALARABIYA or even the "respected" BBC.
The article is a flagrant example of how biased reporting & editorials can be. I can sense a lot of wishful thinking that AJ is on the downfall. Trying to associate $8 billion in aid to Egypt as a big investment & hence needs to be defended is absurd. AJ had been previously attacked in Egypt long before Jan2011 & long before the political rise of the MB as country leaders.
I honestly believe AJ does have its shortfalls, but remains relatively fair, much more fair than all competitors who remain for the most part very minor envious competitors.

Posted by: khdmohd

ALJ will remain one of the most viewed channel in the Arab world as its infra-structure is solid . I do no admire the latest siding with one side in Egypt , I know that independent news shoul take no side , this will have a short term impact on the channel , I would suggest that this is due to old management members and that will go a way soon as all corporation go through that structure chnage out once in 5 years . The arab world is clicked to news and such thirst will need more news channels to come on air , as we seen lately sky news in UAE and more will come to cure the arab worl for news , unfortunitly many people do not worry about the trueth in news , they just want to set and hear news worl wide .... this may change as will in the future hopeful sooner

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