from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Arafat and al-Jazeera: Manufacturing Trouble

December 26, 2013

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This week Russian experts added their voices to those of French experts who had examined Yasser Arafat’s remains to determine if he was poisoned.

"French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning," AFP reported several weeks ago. Now BBC reports that "Announcing its conclusions on Thursday, the head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA), Vladimir Uiba, said ’Yasser Arafat died not from the effects of radiation but of natural causes.’"

But the third team, the Swiss, came to a different conclusion--that Arafat might have been poisoned. The striking thing about the Swiss "investigation" is that it was inspired and financed by al-Jazeera. The report itself is on al-Jazeera stationery, and the opening lines reveal that the entire thing was invented by al-Jazeera. At al-Jazeera’s web site, here, huge amounts of attention are devoted to proving that Arafat was poisoned. There are an amazing 41 "news" stories and documents listed under the headline "Al Jazeera Investigates: Killing Arafat."

The other teams were not bought and paid for by al-Jazeera and they reached the opposite conclusion. In fact this recent hullabaloo about how Arafat died represents not new science or new evidence, but an effort by al-Jazeera to create trouble. It is yet another proof that al-Jazeera continued to operate in 2013 without the restraints of a normal news medium and should not be regarded as one. The government of Qatar --which owns al-Jazeera-- changed during this year; there is a new emir and some speculation that he will rein in Qatari foreign policy. Thus far he has not reined in al-Jazeera, and its pretensions to be a Middle Eastern version of CNN or BBC should be rejected. This entire Arafat/poisoning affair shows us that al-Jazeera continues to pursue political goals and to manufacture what it hopes to persuade us is "news."

 

 

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