Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani today vowed that al-Jazeera was officially “off the table” with respect to any negotiations with the rest of the GCC member nations aimed at ending a diplomatic split which has led to the imposition of a blockade by Saudi Arabia and several other key trading partners.
Saudi Arabia in particular has long criticized al-Jazeera for taking positions contrary to Saudi official policy, and for giving a voice to opposition parties in nations that heavily suppress opposition political speech, and among their demands in last week’s ultimatum, Saudi Arabia demanded that Qatar shut down al-Jazeera forever.
Qatari officials had already rejected the Saudi demands, and Thani today reiterated that al-Jazeera was considered part of Qatar’s “internal affairs,” and the popular regional broadcaster would not be sacrificed as part of any negotiations to end the blockade.
Al-Jazeera’s willingness to air both sides of controversial issues is all but unheard of in Middle East media, and the anti-Qatar crowd have used this fact as part of their narrative that the Qatari government is fomenting “extremism” across the region, with most of the sorest points in al-Jazeera’s broadcast history boiling down to their coverage of the Arab Spring and support for pro-democracy protesters in places like Egypt.
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