A new leaked audio recording has reportedly captured Qatar’s former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani telling former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi that Qatari-owned Al Jazeera would not stop negative coverage of Saudi Arabia.
The recording, which was posted on social media on Wednesday by Qatari opposition activist Khalid al-Hail, reportedly captures the two leaders and Qatar’s former prime minister discussing Al Jazeera’s coverage of Saudi Arabia.
In it, Qatar’s emir appears to tell Gaddafi that Al Jazeera has not stopped its negative coverage of Saudi Arabia.
“Al Jazeera stopped [negative coverage] of Saudi Arabia,” Gaddafi says, to which Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa replies: “No, no, no. The stop that you’re referring to did not happen.”
After Gaddafi says that Qatar’s other television channels now have the same coverage of Saudi Arabia as Al Jazeera, seemingly implying the need for a change in the coverage, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim interferes and says he agrees with the Libyan leader.
“We agree with Colonel [Gaddafi] … Give us a little time,” Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim says.
Qatar’s leadership has long denied that the country’s foreign policy dictates Al Jazeera’s coverage, a claim that these recent leaks appear to undermine.
The recording is no older than 12 years, as it discusses Al Jazeera’s coverage of former US President George W. Bush’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2008, when pictures of Bush and Saudi King Salman carrying swords and watching a traditional dance went viral. King Salman held the title of Riyadh Governor at the time.
Al Arabiya English could not verify the authenticity of the recording, which is the latest clip posted by al-Hail on Facebook.
A similar recording between Qatar’s former emir and Gaddafi was released in 2017, in which the two ex-leaders attacked Saudi Arabia and the ruling family.
In 2013, Sheikh Hamad handed over power to his son, current Emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani. Hamad bin Jassim stepped down from his positions in government at the time and reportedly has strained relations with the current emir.
Libyan dictator Gaddafi was tortured and killed on October 20, 2011 when rebel fighters took control of his hometown Sirte as part of an uprising that deposed his regime and led to the subsequent civil war in the country.
Al Jazeera’s coverage
Qatar has been accused of Saudi Arabia accuses Qatar of using Al Jazeera as a mouthpiece to destabilize the region.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed all ties to Qatar, including a travel ban and cutting political and trade relations. The four countries accused Doha of supporting terrorism and cozying up to Iran. Qatar denied the charges.
In an attempt to end the dispute, the four states presented Doha with a list of 13 demands, including closing Al Jazeera television network.
Critics say that Al Jazeera has in past years turned to promoting Islamist movements as a tool of Qatar’s foreign policy. Other countries in the region have designated many of these movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as terrorist organizations.
Al- Jazeera and Qatar have been intertwined since it the channel was launched in 1996, with financial backing from the ruling emir at the time, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al al-Thani.
Throughout its existence, the station has been mostly funded by the Qatari government. Its chairman is a member of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family.