Al Jazeera in the firing line in Saudi, UAE row with Qatar
Rebecca Hawkes | 13-03-2014
Saudi Arabia has threatened to close the Riyadh office of Qatari satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera amid escalating tension between the Gulf countries, according to the Huffington Post.
The news comes as two Emirati citizens working for beIN Sport, formerly Al Jazeera Sport, resigned on Saturday (8 March) reportedly under pressure from their government. Commenters Ali Saeed Al Kaabi and Farwes Awad quit their jobs on the pan-Arab sports network shortly after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain withdrew their envoys from Doha.
Abdul Rahman Al Murshid, a Saudi correspondent working for Qatar TV, also reportedly resigned on Sunday (9 March).
Some of the Saudi columnists at the Doha-based daily al-Arab have also quit, although at least five Saudi journalists are continuing to work for beIN Sports, according to Al Jazeera.
Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Qatar's former ambassador to the United Nations and the US, told Al Jazeera the move was regretful, but that it "would not affect Al Jazeera, Qatar or its newspapers".
"There are hundreds of people who want to work here," he added.
According to London-based daily Al-Hayat, the Al-Jazeera office in the Kingdom is now to be closed down within the next few days. Al Jazeera declined to comment on the report, given the Doha-based network has "not received any notification of this nature".
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are at odds with the foreign policy of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country Qatar, most notably over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and a different opposition group in the Syrian civil war – thought by observers to be the root of the dispute. Qatar has denied the three countries' public claim on 5 March that the peninsular state has not complied with a GCC security pact.
Saudi TV broadcast a government decree on 7 March declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, alongside Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) – whose forces are battling the regime of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.