Al Jazeera under fire for Houthi bias after KSA missile attack

Damage created by debris is seen, after ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Houthi militia fell at a house in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Monday. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 March 2018
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Al Jazeera under fire for Houthi bias after KSA missile attack

JEDDAH: The Qatari news network Al Jazeera has prompted a Twitter storm over its coverage of a ballistic missile attack targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia that was launched by Houthi militias in Yemen.
Seven ballistic missiles were fired targeting several cities in Saudi Arabia, three of which were intercepted by the Saudi Defense Patriot systems over the capital Riyadh. The rest were shot down in the skies of Jazan, Najran and Khamis Mushait. The missiles were fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen on Sunday night, the Arab coalition said, leaving one Egyptian civilian dead and two others injured.
The attack prompted widespread condemnation from the UN, UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Pakistan and others.
Al Jazeera was, however, accused of providing a “platform” for the Houthi militias, having aired comments by the group just “minutes” after the attack.
The network’s breaking news service claimed that the missiles fired at Saudi Arabia hit their targets, despite statements by the Kingdom confirming that the missiles were destroyed by Saudi air defenses.
Al Jazeera also carried statements by Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, in footage shot before the attack, in which he threatened to use advanced missile systems and aircraft against Saudi Arabia.
Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, a spokesman for the Houthis, told Al Jazeera that the attack was in “response to the bombing of Yemeni cities, and siege of the Yemeni people.”
Al-Bukhaiti called on the Yemeni people to mobilize against “the Saudi aggression.”
Many Twitter users were critical of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the attack, with an Arabic hashtag, translating as “Qatar media support Houthi,” trending.
“The coordination between the Houthis and Al Jazeera is clear and revealing, and the role of Qatar in funding the Houthis is known. So, their betrayal of the alliance in Yemen is remarkable and their days are numbered,” wrote one.
Another Twitter user said that Al Jazeera and the Qatari media in general “has become an integral part of the Iranian media, but this is not surprising, as they are known to provoke sedition and host terrorists on its channels."
It is not the first time that Al Jazeera Arabic has been accused of providing a platform for militant and terror groups.
Earlier this month it came under fire for “normalizing terrorism” in its coverage of an attack on the French Embassy in Burkina Faso.
Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global, a management consultancy focused on the Middle East, claimed Al Jazeera reporting on the Burkina Faso terrorist attack was skewed.
“Al Jazeera Arabic . . . refuses to call Al-Qaeda ‘terrorists,’ instead says ‘whom authorities describe as terrorists,’” he tweeted. “Common with Al Jazeera normalizing terrorism in eyes of its readers.”
Al Jazeera declined to comment when contacted by Arab News.


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019
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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).