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Saudi Arabia, Libya and the United States? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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America has requested Saudi Arabia to stop broadcasting the official Libyan television channel on “Arabsat”, while the Saudis say they are not the sole owners of the satellite network, and therefore do not have the necessary authority to cease the broadcast of Libyan channels.

Sources indicate that the U.S. is pressurizing Riyadh, under the pretext of the need to stop Gaddafi’s propaganda. Of course, the U.S. request is strange and puzzling, for a number of reasons. A month ago, at the time of a campaign of incitement against Saudi Arabia, a significant part of the U.S. media criticized the Kingdom, insinuating the monitoring and control of its media. Yet today, we find that Washington wants Riyadh to intervene to stop the broadcast of Muammar Gaddafi’s channel!

I do not think it is logical to ask the Saudis to stop the broadcast of Libya’s official satellite channel whilst intending to launch a channel for the Libyan revolutionaries. If the source of concern was the information broadcasted by the official Libyan channel, I would say that no one watches it today in order to gain information, but rather in order to laugh and make fun of it. To be sure of this, it is enough to search the “YouTube” website to see how viewers perceive the official Libyan channel. But if the goal is not to protect Arab citizens [from this propaganda], but rather Libyan ones, then merely stopping the broadcast on Arabsat does not mean that the channel will cease operations, because I assume that the Libyans can still receive the channel terrestrially within Libya!

Therefore there is no point demanding that Saudi Arabia, or anyone else, stops the broadcast of Libyan state television. However this story prompts the observer to stop at several key points, such as how can Washington criticize control over the media, and then demand such action against its opponents? For example, is there any link to Washington, with regards to what the Facebook website did when removed a page in support of the Palestinians, and closed the account responsible, which called for an uprising against Israel, and the number of users who subscribed to the page had exceeded around three hundred thousand? This story did not receive the same media coverage as other trivial pages with only a few thousand participants, such as those promoted against Saudi Arabia. Is there also a link to Washington, regarding the closure of a Muslim Brotherhood Facebook page recently?

These are unanswered questions, and worthy of contemplation, especially as Washington instigated an era of media and technological openness, through the Internet, yet it demands the closure of Gaddafi’s channel. Washington has already banned the pro-Hezbollah “al-Manar” channel in the U.S. and elsewhere, and this is something we support, but the question here is why the selectivity? Why, for example, does America not ask the Europeans to prevent their Arab extremist residents from carrying out broadcasts promoting extremism, incitement, and hatred?

Of course, the intention here is not to defend Gaddafi’s satellite channel, but the problem in Libya is not the Colonel’s broadcasts, but it is far larger. Gaddafi will not leave unless there is genuine, fast preventative action from NATO. What is most important today is to stop Gaddafi’s military machine, and prevent the mercenaries who are used to kill and torture innocent Libyans, rather than stopping a television channel which is only a source of ridicule and laughter.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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