On the same day the US has promoted the signing of the normalization deal between Israel and two GCC states namely; the UAE and Bahrain, the digital platform of the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera reported being asked by the US administration to register as a foreign agent of Qatar, a country that continues to be boycotted by the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
In some professional but still personal news - AJ+ is being forced by the Trump administration to register as a foreign agent, under FARA, after three years of UAE & GOP-led lobbying efforts. This is an attack on the freedom of press.— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) September 15, 2020
As the world was watching the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain sign a deal establishing full diplomatic ties with Israel, the digital platform created by Al Jazeera said that it has been required to register as a foreign agent of Qatar, despite having been able to operate in the United States for years without having to be classified as such.
Based on this request, AJ+ will have to disclose its activities to the U.S. government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), one that was created in 1938 to tackle propaganda efforts by the Nazi government of Germany.
Online commentators quickly linked the US decision with the UAE's agreement to the US promoted deal as a US gesture in response to the Emirati involvement in the deal often described as a diplomatic triumph for US President Donald Trump, who is boosting his efforts to win a reelection next November.
According to some social media accounts, the UAE has been pressuring the US administration to limit AJ+ activities by luring US lobbies into taking such a measure, calling it "a violation to freedom of speech."
2/Al Jazeera registered as a foreign agent - a key demand of the 2017 blockade. For Trump AJ+ is seen as a democratic outlet, so this just functions as a form of censorship of critical media. Along with the F35s, we are beginning to see what the UAEs list of conditions were for— Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) September 16, 2020
NYT: Trump administration orders Al Jazeera affiliate AJ+ to register as foreign agent— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) September 16, 2020
Ever since the political crisis between Qatar and it's GCC neighbors in June 2017, the UAE, KSA, Bahrain, and Egypt have blocked access to Qatari media most notably Al Jazeera network, both through satellite TV channels and online websites.
However, videos created by AJ+ have continued to be accessible to citizens of these countries as they are often posted across social media platforms.
الامارات صرفت نحو ٢ مليون دولار سنويا على مجموعات الضغط (١٠٪ من مصروفاتها السنوية على شركات العلاقات العامة في واشنطن) من اجل حشد الدعم في الكونغرس لتسجيل قناة الجزيرة وفق قانون الوكلاء الاجانب. اليوم وزارة العدل طلبت تسجيل AJ+ وفق القانون.— ZaidBenjamin زيد بنيامين (@ZaidBenjamin5) September 15, 2020
Translation: "The UAE has spent about $2 million annually promoting pressure groups (that's 10% of its annual PR budget in Washington DC) to mobilize the Congress to register Al Jazeera as a foreign agent. Today, the Department of Justice requested AJ+ to do so."
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