By Tom Finn
DOHA, June 8 – Qatar’s Al Jazeera will maintain its editorial independence despite a regional diplomatic crisis that has isolated the Gulf state, the Doha-based broadcasting network’s acting director-general said on Thursday. Mostefa Souag dismissed accusations by some Arab powers that Al Jazeera is interfering in their affairs through its reports. “All this talk about Jazeera interfering in other countries’ affairs is nonsense. We don’t interfere in anybody’s business, we just report,” Souag told Reuters at the network’s headquarters in Qatar’s capital.
“If we bring (in) guests who are opposing certain governments, does that mean we are interfering in the countries’ business? No. Al Jazeera’s editorial policy is going to continue the same regardless of what happens with this event.”
The state-funded network is part of the dispute in which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and transport links on Monday with Qatar, an investment powerhouse and supplier of natural gas to world markets.
Founded in 1996 as part of Qatar’s efforts to turn its economic power into political influence, Al Jazeera won millions of viewers across the Arab world by offering uncensored debate rarely seen on other local broadcasters in the region.
But the network has caused suspicion among many governments over the air time it gave to Islamist groups in Syria, Libya and elsewhere.