Al-Jazeera News Network: Opportunity or Challenge for U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East? [Updated July 23, 2003]   [open pdf - 92KB]

Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's first all-news network was started by the Persian Gulf monarchy of Qatar. It has come to be recognized as a key player in covering issues of central importance to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East: the conflict in Iraq, the war on terrorism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Al-Jazeera has become so publicly influential that U.S. officials now regularly appear on the network. Although Al-Jazeera has received praise for its uncensored format and for airing interviews with U.S. and Israeli officials, as well as Arab critics of the policies of Arab governments, it has drawn criticism from many observers in the United States and elsewhere for a perceived lack of objectivity in covering these conflicts, including the activities of Al Qaeda. For their part, officials from Al-Jazeera have claimed that they merely reflect Arab popular resentment of U.S. policy in the Middle East. This paper provides an overview of Al-Jazeera and explores the debate surrounding its objectivity. This report also analyzes Al-Jazeera's coverage of events in the Middle East, specifically, its coverage of events in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The final section of this report discusses policy options regarding U.S. public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East region. This paper will be updated periodically.

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31889
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