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Friday, December 3, 2021

Egypt says ‘monitoring Qatari media’ post GCC reconciliation


Questions on whether editorial decisions made in Doha-based newsrooms would change to reflect the recent reconciliation have emerged since the Al Ula Declaration ceremony.

Cairo is reportedly “monitoring” Qatar’s media on a daily basis to document news being published by outlets in the Gulf state, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry told Saudi-owned MBC Masr on Saturday.

The monitoring operation is being conducted to prepare for an upcoming meeting with a Qatari delegation, in which the two parties will review the outlets, Shoukry told pro-Sisi journalist and MBC presenter, Amr Adib.

Shoukry added the meeting is part of Cairo’s efforts to discuss obligations of the Al Ula Declaration and how they are being implemented by both sides.

“We are in the process of setting a date for these meetings, and when they are held, there will be a review of all existing commitments on the two parties and an assessment of the extent to which the pledges were implemented,” he said.

Read also: Qatar insists Al Jazeera not part of reconciliation with Egypt

The remarks come more than a month after the signing of the Al Ula Declaration, which brought to an end a three-year long crisis between Qatar on one side and Egypt and other GCC member states.

Since then, questions have emerged on whether editorial lines across media outlets would be changed to reflect the reconciliation.

The Doha-based Al Jazeera media network in particular came under the spotlight due to its inclusion in the list of 13 demands that were issued to Qatar by the blockading Quartet.

On the same day of the Al Ula Declaration ceremony, the outlet posted what many described as “positive” images of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, prompting questions over editorial changes.

At the time, a senior source told Doha News that the tweets, posted by Al Jazeera Documentary’s account, were in no way a reflection of the regional events and were coincidentally posted.

The images were part of “a wider series that was unfortunately posted by staff members at the wrong time,” the source said.

“Al Jazeera is an independent media outlet and these images are not reflective of its editorial line on the latest developments in the region,” they added.

Shortly after the countries buried the hatchet, Qatari officials confirmed Al Jazeera was not mentioned in discussions to reach a resolve with the blockading quartet.

“We guarantee freedom of expression, and the issue of Al Jazeera must be dealt with positively and constructively,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said in an interview on the Doha-based broadcaster.

“It is an institution that we are proud of, its media professionals, and its presence in Qatar,” he added.

Meanwhile, the rumoured changes in Al Jazeera’s editorial policy were quashed in recent weeks, with the Doha-based outlet continuing to mark a decade since the 2011 Egypt revolution, as well as the Bahrain uprising.

Separately, an Al Jazeera journalist detained in an Egypt prison for more than four years was also released earlier this month, although analysts believe he was freed due to pressure from the new Biden administration in the White House as opposed to reconciliation in the GCC.

The landmark Al-Ula deal included the formation of strategic partnerships with regional and international partners to enhance the GCC’s role with the international community.

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