Television Tensions: Qatar's Al-Jazeera Pours Oil on Fire, Tweets Caricature of Saudi King

Published May 29th, 2017 - 10:51 GMT
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani gives a press conference in Doha on May 25, 2017. (Karim Jaafar/AFP)
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani gives a press conference in Doha on May 25, 2017. (Karim Jaafar/AFP)

by Rosie Alfatlawi

The rift between Qatar and its GCC allies just keeps getting bigger. Last week, the official Qatar News Agency attributed pro-Iran, anti-US comments to the country’s Emir, only for several Arab nations to temporarily block the Doha-based Al-Jazeera channel.

Then Qataris, who insisted the QNA incident was a hack, started to unsubscribe from the Saudi-owned OSN network. Talk about cutting off your TV access to spite your face.

Now, the latest move in the Gulf's ongoing back-and-forth point scoring match has set Twitter alight. Over the weekend, Al-Jazeera’s official account on the microblogging website shared a caricature mocking the Saudi King Salman.

The cartoon, which appeared to show King Salman draping fake news stories over the protruding Pinocchio nose of a television station, was later deleted, and a swift apology issued.

The #caricature 'fake news' has been deleted. #Al-Jazeera emphasizes that it did not intend to offend the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Those who have made a connection between the two are just trying to stir trouble.

However, that did not stop Saudis mercilessly attacking Al-Jazeera and Qatar for all they were worth. The hashtag "Al-Jazeera insults King Salman" was the number one trend on Saudi Twitter on Sunday.

Where is the “conspiracy” and #OurGulfIsOne crew now?

Many accused the Qatari government of being behind the cartoon, given that Al-Jazeera is a state-funded network.

This is hostility coming from the childish Qatari regime.

Al-Jazeera and the petty land of fitna (trouble, calamity) #Qatar has practiced prudence for 5 years and now it has returned to its reality by attacking Saudi Arabia and its king.

Others also made reference to the news that Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim, spoke on the phone to Iran’s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday. Some saw this move as adding credibility to the comment attributed last week to Tamim, and denied by the government, that “there is no wisdom in harboring hostility towards Iran”.

Yesterday it was #TamimCongratulatesRouhaniInRamadan and today its #Al-JazeeraChannelInsultsKingSalman And what next? Are we waiting for something worse? Clear political provocation and public abuse.

As fractures between Qatar and the rest of the Gulf continue to widen, Sheikh Tamim will reportedly make a state visit to Kuwait later this week. It remains to be seen whether tensions will calm or continue to escalate.


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