- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

The U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, has filed a formal complaint to the Qatari government about the partly state-owned Al-Jazeera satellite network's coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, State Department officials said.
Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Maureen Quinn delivered a demarche from Washington regarding Al-Jazeera's broadcasts to Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani.
Miss Quinn asked the Qataris to investigate what the United States says is the station's tendency to run interviews with analysts who argue that U.S. foreign policy had brought about the recent attacks.
The ambassador also expressed concern about the station's repeated airing of an interview with accused terrorist Osama bin Laden, State Department sources said.
Qatar's head of state, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, said yesterday that he considered the formal complaints from Washington to be "friendly advice."
"It is true that we have heard from this administration as well as previous administrations. Whenever we hear from these friends, we consider this as a friendly advice, and we listen to the friends and their advices," he said.
The emir is the current head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, one of the regional groups the State Department hopes will develop firmer anti-terrorism policies in line with similar organizations such as the European Union and the Organization of American States.
A senior State Department official told reporters that the State Department had concerns about some of the anti-Americanism in Al-Jazeera's broadcasts and, in some instances, the inaccuracy of its reporting. This official pointed out a report over the weekend that the Afghan Taliban militia had captured five U.S. special forces members.
Although Al-Jazeera is partly owned by the Qatari government, its editorial policy is independent, an anomaly in the state-run media climate of the Middle East. It is also the largest Arabic television news channel in the world. According to the station's Washington bureau, its programs are watched by 40 million viewers regularly.
The U.S. Embassy in Doha writes weekly cables monitoring Al-Jazeera, but for the most part has been supportive of the station. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell even granted an interview to its Washington bureau on Sept. 17.
State Department sources say the Qataris agreed last week to investigate the concerns raised in the demarche. On Monday, the latest cable from the U.S. Embassy in Doha actually notes the programming has become more balanced.

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