Iraq Bans Al Jazeera Network Over Coverage

Iraq has closed the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad after accusing it of violating government guidelines on the media. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

DOHA, April 28  – Iraqi authorities have revoked the operating license of the pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera and closed its offices in Baghdad, accusing it of violating government guidelines issued in 2014 to regulate media “during the war on terror.”

Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, said it was dismayed by the action.

“We remain committed to broadcasting news on Iraq to Iraqi people, our viewers in the Arab world and across the world,” the channel said in an emailed statement.

Rights groups have criticized Iraq’s media guidelines, which restrict journalists from covering insurgent movements and require them to report in favorable terms on government forces.

In 2013, Iraq’s government accused Al Jazeera and nine other satellite television channels of fostering sectarian sentiment that was fuelling violence.

Founded by Qatar’s ruling family in 1996, Al Jazeera aggressively covered the Arab spring uprisings and has broadcast extensively on the civil war in Syria.

Qatar itself is a harsh critic of the Syrian regime and a leading backer of the rebels, and has been accused by many supporters of Iraq’s government of backing dissent in Iraq.

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