White House Asks Qatar to Gain Control of Al Jazeera

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reportedly urged Qatar to moderate Al Jazeera’s reporting on the conflict in Gaza, indicating the U.S. administration’s perspective that Al Jazeera operates under Qatari influence. However, as stipulated by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), it hasn’t registered as a foreign agent.

This Act mandates entities acting on behalf of foreign governments to shape U.S. public opinion to register accordingly. Al Jazeera, fully financed by the Qatari government and active in the U.S. media landscape, seems to be a prime candidate for such registration.

Despite these concerns, the Biden administration has yet to exert significant pressure on Al Jazeera to comply with FARA, confounding advocates for transparency who insist on its registration. This inaction persists even as Blinken acknowledges Qatar’s potential to direct Al Jazeera’s editorial line.

Senator Ted Cruz’s spokesperson, Darin Miller, has criticized Al Jazeera for promoting narratives aligned with Qatari interests, which he characterizes as frequently anti-Semitic and anti-American, as well as against Israel.

He challenges Qatar’s claims of non-interference with Al Jazeera’s operations, a skepticism seemingly shared by Secretary Blinken. Miller asserts there’s no justification for not enforcing FARA compliance on Al Jazeera.

Having previously addressed Al Jazeera’s registration issue to Attorney General Merrick Garland in July 2021, Senator Tom Cotton stresses the gravity of media influence in conflicts such as the one in Gaza. He points to the impact of misinformation, using a New York Times report as an example, and insists on the importance of Al Jazeera acknowledging its role in information operations.

According to Axios, Blinken criticized Al Jazeera for inciting anti-Israel sentiment. Israel has proposed banning Al Jazeera based on accusations of it aiding Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, by broadcasting sensitive details about Israeli military movements.

Moreover, Qatar has faced scrutiny for hosting Hamas leaders despite maintaining its relationship with the United States. Investigations by The Daily Wire revealed Qatar’s attempts to influence U.S. officials through sponsored trips.

Al Jazeera has been accused of biased reporting in the Gaza conflict, such as propagating unfounded claims of an Israeli hospital bombing that was instigated by a militant rocket, according to U.S. officials. The outlet has also faced allegations of espionage against states it perceives as adversaries.

The Trump administration previously ordered an Al Jazeera entity in the U.S. to register as a foreign agent due to its political activities for Qatar. Nonetheless, there has been no subsequent enforcement of this requirement by the Biden administration, drawing criticism from a group of U.S. Senators, including Cotton and Cruz. They have expressed dissatisfaction with Al Jazeera’s disregard for the DOJ’s directives and continue to advocate for legal enforcement against unregistered foreign agents operating in the U.S.