Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Al Arabiya reports on Iraq and Syria

I am not watching the BBC Arabic while in Jordan, but I am seeing a lot of Al Arabiya's special in-depth news channel called 'Al Hadeth'. That means, 'the events.'

I've never really watched Al Arabiya before. But someone told me that during the coup in Egypt last year, Al Arabiya took the side of the Egyptian army. On the other hand, Al Jazeera took the side of the deposed president Mursi.

Al Arabiya is owned by a rich Saudi guy - but not by the Saudi government. And it is headquartered out of Dubai.

These days, the only thing Al Arabiya's special 'Al Hadeth' channel ever talks about is what is happening in Iraq. Well, every once in a while they'll sneak in something about Syria, too.

Al Arabiya takes the side of the Sunni revolutionaries in Iraq, and is very clearly against the current Iraqi president, Al Maliki.

In fact, they don't really fully recognize his claim as head of state. Instead of talking about the 'Iraqi army', they'll just talk about 'Al Maliki's army'.

I don't think, however, that they are on the side of 'Daa-ish'/ISIS/ISIL, or whatever they are supposed to be called. But they probably put the blame for their appearance squarely on the head of Al Maliki.

Moving on from all the Al Maliki's, Al Jazeera's, and Al Arabiya's, I would like to tell you that Al Arabiya does also highlight the UN's role in what is happening.

For example, I think two days ago Syria's last stockpiles of chemical weapons were shipped out. So Al Hadeth did very long interview with Sigrid Kaag. I saw her last year on the BBC Arabic. She is the lady in charge of the UN mission to remove all of Syria's chemical weapons.

The Al Arabiya moderator asked something like: how does it feel to be leaving Syria while it is in such a shambles?

Sigrid Kaag: I came to do a job for the UN, and beyond that, I can't comment.

The Al Arabiya moderator: what do you make of reports that you are being considered as the successor to Lakhdar Brahimi as the special envoy trying to bring peace to Syria?

Sigrid Kaag: I don't know anything about that.

The Al Arabiya moderator: you don't know anything about it? I'm not asking you that, I'm asking how you feel about that.

Sigrid Kaag: I have nothing to say about that.

Yesterday, all the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan were back in the news, and Al Arabiya showed a clip of Valerie Amos speaking about the terrible situation. Valerie Amos is something like chief of humanitarian operations at the UN.

Then Al Arabiya showed a UN spokesperson, who said: we know that Lebanon and Jordan are overwhelmed, and we are doing everything we can to support them (or something like that.)

And then, Al Arabiya even showed a clip of the current president of the World Bank speaking about Syrian refugees. The current president of the World Bank is an American with roots I think in South Korea. Any case, he was talking about how the World Bank is doing everything it can to support Jordan and Lebanon.

This morning, Al Arabiya aired a commercial from Unicef, trying to get people to donate to the Syrian refugees. It was full of crying, miserable-looking kids. I'd heard before that Unicef does not show crying kids in its commercials, but maybe that is a policy just in place for western audiences.

Any case, at least Al Arabiya audiences don't have to suffer through that actress who does a Unicef commercial every Christmas in the US, with a really cheesy trembling voice. I guess Unicef must have monitored the results of that Christmas commercial and found it successful, because I see it year after year.

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