The story of an intelligence officer’s recordings

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The New York Times is well-known for validating its news to the point where it’s said that the paper cannot find anything good to publish.

Anyway this is just a myth as like other dailies, the NYT is only strict when it wants to and lenient when it wants to. There is no journalist without an opinion or an orientation. This can be seen in the dispute with President Trump as it turned into a smear campaign of insults and plenty of the media coverage violated the profession’s ethics.

The NYT published a report saying that unlike what they announced, the Egyptian authorities are not against Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. It included recordings of an intelligence officer coordinating with Egyptian television hosts, clarifying the government’s policy and asking them to market it.

If they are true, like plenty of the daily’s recent news about the region, they seem like they are part of the Qatari public relations’ activity that uses journalists to spread facts and lies.

ALSO READ: Palestinians say Jerusalem ‘not for sale’ after Trump aid threat

When I heard the recordings I did not find any new political stance. All Arab countries agreed to the Arab initiative that frankly accepts West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and recognizes the latter as a state. When Trump insisted on acting on the decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, all Arab governments opposed the move.

However, they know they cannot stop him. Meanwhile, they do not want to fall into the Iranian and Qatari trap which seeks to incite the region’s people for reasons that have nothing to do with Palestine and Jerusalem and which are part of a regional political game.

Qatar’s approach has been that of incitement ever since Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa staged a coup against his father in 1995. Sheikh Hamad is still ruling the country from behind the curtains. American warplanes which targeted al-Qaeda posts in Iraq and Afghanistan took off from a base in Qatar whose media was inciting “jihad against American infidels”. Hypocrisy and forgery have continued until this day.

The aim of Qataris and Muslim Brotherhood’s campaign is to picture leaders of countries which disagree with them as traitors

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Fire and Fury

Doha hurried to translate the book Fire and Fury and published it on social media. When comparing the Qatari version with the original, we can see that the latter is 260 pages while the translation is only 120 pages. This is because Qatar chose the chapters which negatively talk about Saudi Arabia and it falsified them to fit its aims.

Falsification is nothing new. Even when broadcasting Trump’s live speeches, interpreters would put words in Trump’s mouth according to what suits Doha’s stance. This is the credibility of the sources which the NYT adopts.

The Qataris and the Muslim Brotherhood filled satellite channels and social media networks with fake media garbage by forging interviews with Henry Kissinger and deceased men like Brzezinski. This is in addition to analyses that are falsely attributed to German and British dailies.

ALSO READ: On the radical road to Palestine

They also exploited western media outlets that are eager to publish interesting stories and willing to do so without validating the sources which if actually mentioned, the report would lose its credibility.

Countries like Egypt need to resolve major affairs with extreme sensitivity. It’s not like Qatar which has an American base and an office for Taliban and Sheikh Qaradawi on its territories. The Brotherhood and their Qatari ally have for two years now tried to ignite the Egyptian street in any way possible and for whatever excuse, whether over bread or Jerusalem. What matters to them is destabilizing the current governance.

When late President Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David Agreement, the Brotherhood launched an incitement campaign against him and he was assassinated. They exploit Palestine for blackmail purposes that have nothing to do with Palestine. Exaggerating the significance of the recorded phone calls comes within this context.

Consequences on Palestinians

It’s not difficult to understand Egypt’s stance as it’s well aware how defying Trump’s administration can have consequences on the Palestinians. The US is one of the biggest supporters of relief programs for refugees and it’s the only one capable of putting pressure on Israel.

Egypt is aware that it can resolve Trump’s decision just like the 1995 Congress decision was resolved when transferring the embassy was ordered but never got executed. The embassy will not be moved before five years and during this time, Trump may change his mind or another president may obstruct the move.

Therefore, these governments have no interest in engaging in a losing conflict for the sole purpose of pleasing inciters. As many as 15 Palestinians were killed and 600 others were injured in clashes with Israeli forces due to Qatar’s and the Brotherhood’s incitement.

ALSO READ: How do you solve a problem like Jerusalem?

It’s also naïve to think that media outlets’ phone calls can end matters obstructing negotiations by adopting an alternative capital or resettling refugees. These are complicated matters, and they will not be solved as long as Netanyahu is the head of the government.

The aim of Qataris and Muslim Brotherhood’s campaign is to picture leaders of countries which disagree with them as traitors. Their aim is to incite against them so they’re killed or toppled in a coup. This is what the Brotherhood has done with Sadat in the past.

I understand when a journalist or an outlet, like the NYT, continuously market Qatari messages but only if they clarify that their source is Qatari. This detail alone is enough to understand the story.

This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.