The cable news channel Al Jazeera America, which debuted in 2013 to great fanfare when it promised to cover American news soberly and seriously, is shutting down at the end of April. The move was announced at a companywide meeting on Wednesday.
In a memo to the staff, Al Jazeera America’s chief executive, Al Anstey, said the “decision by Al Jazeera America’s board is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”
“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” he continued. “The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled.” NYT
Turkey will establish a military base in Qatar, its regional ally. The move comes a year after the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement which was ratified in June by the Turkish parliament.
Qatar is also home to the U.S. air base Al Udeid.
Establishment of the base, part of an agreement signed in 2014 and ratified by Turkey’s parliament in June, intensifies the partnership with Qatar at a time of rising instability and a perceived waning of U.S. interest in the region.
The two countries, both economic heavyweights, have provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, backed rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and raised the alarm about creeping Iranian influence in the region.
Both have condemned Russia’s intervention on the side of Assad’s forces fighting in Syria.
The envoy, Ahmet Demirok, told Reuters that 3,000 ground troops would be stationed at the base – Turkey’s first overseas military installation in the Middle East – as well as air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces.
The “multi-purpose” base will primarily serve as a venue for joint training exercises. The agreement also grants Qatar the option of setting up its own base in Turkey, he said in an interview.
“Turkey and Qatar face common problems and we are both very concerned about developments in the region and uncertain policies of other countries … We confront common enemies. At this critical time for the Middle East cooperation between us is vital,” Demirok said. Business Insider
Qatar is the richest country in the world. It has a wide range of relations with other countries and groups from Hezbollah to the Taliban. Al Jazeera is a state-funded broadcaster that is partially funded by the ruling family of Qatar.
It emerged today that the gunmen kidnapped at least 26 Qatari falcon hunters, including members of the royal family, after they were snatched from their camp near Samawah province, 230 miles from Baghdad.
The raid was carried out at around 3am this morning, said the area’s governor, Faleh al-Zayadi, adding that around 100 kidnappers on 50 machine gun mounted SUVs launched the attack. DailyMail
Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Qatar’s relationship with the Brotherhood has functioned as an important bulwark against Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has viewed the Brotherhood as a significant domestic irritant since the 1990s, and designated it as a terrorist group in March of this year. Qatar’s patronage of and influence over some parts of the group have served as a stick to wield against its more powerful neighbor.
Qatar’s domestic environment reveals the complicated nature and extent of the country’s support for the Brotherhood. In Qatar, there is a total dearth of Islamist activism. The Islamist politics that Doha has championed in the broader region are illegal in Qatar. New Republic
Brian Ross on ABC reported:
The terror group is calling their release a major victory. New video posted this morning on an Afghan news website shows the five former detainees arriving in Qatar with no sign they are under any sort of custody or guard. Online video shows the men receiving a kind of hero welcome.
The Miami Herald quotes Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Qatar had agreed “to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised” by the release of the five men, all of whom had been placed on a list of terrorist suspects that the United States felt were too dangerous to release.