Qatar based Aljazeera satellite channel denounced Monday accusations by US deputy Defense secretary - Paul Wolfowitz - of bias and incitement in their coverage of the events in Iraq. However, Dubai based Alarabiya channel, another target of Wolfowitz’s comments, declined to comment on the accusations.
Earlier, Wolfowitz described the two channels’ news coverage in Iraq as ‘very biased’ and ‘inciteful’ - negatively impacting the livelihood of American soldiers in Iraq.
For its part, Aljazeera lashed out against the allegations describing them as untrue. “The channel is going to be sending a very clear statement to the concerned US agency in protest of these accusations,” Aljazeera spokesman - Jihad Balloot - told Al Bawaba via telephone.
Balloot accused Wolfowitz of being “too quick to voice an opinion” and views his statements as baseless. He attributed the accusations to what he described as an ‘inaccurate interpretation’ of what Aljazeera broadcasts.
“The Americans seem to interpret what the Arab media broadcasts as inaccurate. Perhaps this has been the reason why Wolfowitz was quick to express his resentment,” said the spokesman.
Wolfowitz warned both the governments of Qatar and the UAE - where both channels are headquartered - saying, “What I'm complaining of are false reporting and very biased reporting that has the effect of inciting violence against our troops, and these governments should stop and realise that this is not a game, that they are endangering the lives of American troops.”
However, the government of Qatar did not move to take any action against Aljazeera. Balloot noted that the channel has been under no pressure to change its editorial policy regarding its coverage on the situation in Iraq. “As far as I know, things are going on as usual at the channel as there have been no pressures,” said Balloot, adding “the government of Qatar understands the notion of inaccurate interpretation, which explains why the Americans understand Aljazeera’s coverage as inaccurate.”
Several Iraqi parties have also shown their resentment towards the way some of the Arab channels cover the situation in Iraq - specifically Aljazeera, Alarabiya and Abu Dhabi TV.
In the same context, the Iraqi Al Wifaq party also accused these channels of exacerbating the Iraqi issue. “I feel that these channels aim to complicate the Iraqi issue, sometimes through creating divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and sometimes through shedding light on the current shortage of public services and the ongoing attacks on US soldiers,” said Wifaq secretary general - Ibrahim al Janabi.
These comments were delivered sfter an informed Iraqi source disclosed that the interim governing council might start legal proceedings against several Arab satellite channels that broadcast videotaped messages of groups identifying themselves as “resistance cells”.
The congress’ spokesman - Haidar al Moussaui - told Al Bawaba in a telephone conversation that these channels are playing a ‘dirty game’ and are fully aware of its dimensions. “The rage these channels are causing has gone beyond the Iraqi public and has now reached the governing council, which is currently looking at ways on how to deal with the issue…and take the necessary action against them,” the spokesman added.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )