By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed*
The well-respected New York Times (NYT) newspaper recently published a report claiming that the Egyptian authorities, contrary to official announcements, are not against US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. The NYT also attached recordings, which it claims are of an Egyptian intelligence officer coordinating with Egyptian broadcasters, explaining the position of the Egyptian government and asking them to agree with it and promote it.
The NYT has a long-standing reputation for journalistic integrity and fact-checking, but the Times, just like any other paper, can be flexible or inflexible with its ethics, in accordance with its publisher’s wishes.
I would argue that no journalist in the world is entirely objective or without bias. We can see that borne out in the coverage from media opposed to Trump, which has become quite unprofessional and has often focused on personal insults.
The report about the Egyptian intelligence officer follows the theme of many recent stories by the NYT about the region, in that it appears to serve the interests of the Qatari authorities, whose PR activities include using journalists to publish both fake and actual news that reflects negatively on those with whom they have disagreements.
When I listened to the recordings, I did not discover any new political position. All Arab countries approved the Arab initiative, which explicitly accepts West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and recognizes Israel as a state.
When Trump insisted on activating the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, all Arab countries voiced their opposition, albeit in the knowledge that they could not stop it.
At the same time, however, the majority of Arab countries did not want to follow the lead of Iran or Qatar, both of which seek to incite regional people for reasons which have nothing to do with Palestine or Jerusalem; rather, they are part of the regional political game.
Qatar has used exaggeration and incitement since the 1995 coup led by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah, who is still governing from behind the curtain, against his father.
We should not forget how American jets, flying from a base in Qatar, were bombing Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan, while at the same time the Qatari media was calling for jihad against the American infidels.
Qatari hypocrisy and fraud continue to this day. “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolff’s recent exposé of the Trump administration, has quickly been translated into Arabic by Qatar, and published on social media. However, the Qatari translation is just 120 pages long, compared to Wolff’s 260-page book, because it selectively highlights the passages that mention Saudi Arabia in a negative way, twisting it to suit its purposes.
Such distortion is common. Even during live broadcasts of Trump’s speeches, Qatari interpreters have misquoted him to suit Qatar’s position.
This is the credibility of the NYT sources.
The Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood have filled the internet and social media with false garbage: Invented interviews with political commentators, for example, or analyses falsely attributed to German and British papers.
They have also played on the Western press’s eagerness for stories on the region, and willingness to publish without properly verifying sources — because if the sources were mentioned, the stories would lose any credibility.
Countries like Egypt need to tackle major issues with sensitivity — unlike Qatar, which does not hesitate to gather US bases, Taliban offices, and Sheikh Qaradawi in one place.
The Muslim Brotherhood and their Qatari allies have been trying for two years to provoke the Egyptian people in every way possible in order to destabilize the present regime. The Brotherhood also exploits public support for Palestine, but for reasons that have nothing to do with Palestine, and the exaggeration of the importance of these recorded phone calls should be viewed within that same context.
It is not difficult to understand Egypt’s position. Cairo understands the consequences Palestinians could face if the Trump administration is challenged. The US is among the biggest supporters of refugee relief programs and the only country capable of influencing Israel. Egypt also realizes that Trump’s decision can be dealt with in the same way the 1995 Congress decision to move the embassy was dealt with, and that was never implemented.
The embassy will not be moved for five years, and during this time Trump may change his mind, or another president may reverse the decision. Understandably then, Egypt has no interest in entering into a losing battle just to satisfy its instigators. And because of the incitements of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, 15 Palestinians were pointlessly killed and 600 injured in confrontations with the occupying forces.
Moreover, it is naïve to believe that leaking recorded phone calls to the media can remove political obstacles, whether in regards to an alternative capital or resettling refugees. These are complex issues, and they will not be solved as long as Netanyahu is prime minister.
The goal of the campaigns of the Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood is to portray leaders of countries that are at odds with them as treacherous, and incite others to assassinate or overthrow them. This is what the Muslim Brotherhood did with President Sadat when he signed the Camp David Accords.
I can understand if a journalist, as the New York Times did, promotes Qatari messages, but only if he explains that they come from Qatari sources. Then readers have enough context to really understand the story.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.
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