Qatar is using the Arabic TV channel Al-Jazeera as a bargaining chip in talks with other nations, American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks claimed on Monday. The channel is "one of Qatar's most valuable political and diplomatic tools," according to the cables.
The Gulf state adapts Al-Jazeera coverage to suit other foreign leaders, claimed the cables revealed in Britain's Guardian newspaper. It has also offered to drop critical transmissions in exchange for concessions, the cables added.
An American dispatch from November 2009 predicted the station could be used "as a bargaining tool to repair relationships with other countries, particularly those soured by Al-Jazeera's broadcasts, including the United States."
Government control over the channel's reporting appears to American diplomats to be so direct that they said the channel's output had become "part of our bilateral discussions -- as it has been to favourable effect between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and other countries".
The US embassy told Washington in February how "relations [between Qatar and Saudi Arabia] are generally improving after Qatar toned down criticism of the Saudi royal family on Al-Jazeera."