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As Washington Tries to Build a Coalition to Support An Attack On Afghanistan, It Tries To Censor the Largest Cable Network in the Arab World: A Roundtable On Media Coverage

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The British newspaper, The Guardian, is reporting that the U.S. has delayed airstrikes on Afghanistan, after key countries in the Middle East expressed doubts about allowing their territory to serve as a base for military operations.

In meetings with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, both Saudi Arabia and Egypt clearly stated they would extendno military support. Oman, which has opened the country’s airfields and ports to US forces in a succession of Gulfcrises, downplayed the presence of British and US military forces. And Uzbekistan has given permission for U.S.planes to fly over its territory, but has balked at the idea of U.S. troops launching attacks from its soil. This,as a thousand U.S. elite troops are already en route to Uzbekistan in the first major, publicly acknowledgeddeployment of U.S. ground forces.

The military support of these countries is crucial to U.S. strategy. Perhaps this is why Washington is trying tocontrol what is believed to be the most widely watched cable TV network in the Arab world.

The al-Jazeera cable network is based in Qatar; the Bush administration acknowledged it is trying to pressure Qatarto restrain the network from encouraging so-called anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.

State department officials said the station continues to run an old television interview with Osama bin Laden and hasinvited anti-American guests who have argued that U.S. foreign policy was to blame for the September 11 terroristattacks.

Secretary of State Colin Powell met yesterday with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, whosegovernment currently holds the presidency of the Organization of Islamic Countries, and President Bush is scheduledto meet with the emir today.

Guests:

  • Ali Abunimah, media analyst and vice president of the Arab-American Action Coalition. He is a contributorto a new book by Verso, called ??The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid.
  • Janine Jackson, co-host of CounterSpin and Program Director of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).
  • Rick Macarthur, publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of ??Second Front: Censorship andPropaganda in the Gulf War.
  • Frank Smyth, independent reporter who has written a piece for the Committee To Protect Journalists on thePentagon’s rules for journalists.
  • Joe O’Connell, spokesperson for Voice of America.

Related links:

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StoryOct 11, 2001The Major TV Networks Crack Down — On Themselves — to Restrict Their News Coverage of Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan
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