Saudi To Reportedly Shut Down Al Jazeera Office Over Qatar Spat

The move follows the withdrawal of the Saudi, UAE and Bahraini ambassadors from Doha last week over foreign policy disagreements.



Saudi Arabia reportedly plans to shut down the offices of Qatari-headquartered Al Jazeera network, following a diplomatic row between the countries, London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

A Saudi official told the paper that Saudis will be banned from working for visual, audio, print or electronic Qatari media. The official added that the decision to shut down the Al Jazeera office was taken in consensus with all the Kingdom’s official authorities.

Saudi, UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha last week, citing foreign policy disagreements. They accused Qatar of not abiding by an accord, which rules the GCC states not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.

Reports suggest the three Gulf states are upset with Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its policies in Syria.

Qatar has however remained defiant, stating its foreign policy is “non-negotiable.”

“Qatar is to take decisions, and follow a path, of its own,” the official Qatar news agency quoted Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah as saying in a speech in Paris.

“The independence of Qatar’s foreign policy is simply non-negotiable. Therefore I strongly believe that the recent statements made by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have no relationship whatsoever with the internal security of the GCC countries, but they are related to clear differences in views on international issues.”

Following the spat, several Saudi and Emirati journalists quit the Al Jazeera network, citing political differences between the countries.

A report in US-based Huffington Post also quoted a source as saying that Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal has threatened to block Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and shuts down local branches of US think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.