Al Jazeera journalist forced to resign after criticizing coverage in Syria

Al Jazeera journalist forced to resign after criticizing coverage in Syria
Israel gas masks
Israel distributes gas masks to its citizens. (Fox News)

America is on the brink of yet another foreign without Congressional approval. A little-reported story bears retelling in the wake of the latest on Syria.

The “Syrian Electronic Army” hacked into Al Jazeera, finding emails by Middle East correspondent Ali Hashem that “expressed his concern about the way Al Jazeera was covering the conflict in Syria.” The discovery of the emails ultimately led to Hashem’s resignation.

In a must-read interview with the Real News, Hashem, who has worked for the BBC and other prominent news outlets, made a disturbing allegation. When the conflict in Syria began, it was widely reported as a peaceful revolution, but Hashem saw that it was quickly becoming militarized and claims that reporting of that fact was stifled by his network.

He said that in May of 2011:

We were on the borders with Syria and there were a lot of armed men, militants, tens of guns, and they were with weapons and just moving along the border from Lebanon to Syria.

He said that this should have been “breaking news” and a “big story,” but the footage collected of the revolution being hijacked was not aired on Al Jazeera. Hashem brought the issue to management, it seems, and “was asked to go back to Beirut.” He added:

I tried my best to tell my seniors, my bosses, all of them, that there is a problem and we should solve such a problem.

Of the intruders crossing the border, Hashem said:

I can’t identify who’s really supplying the arms, but actually we saw armed men just crossing the river, the great northern river, which is the only, you know, natural barrier between Lebanon and Syria. They were just crossing that barrier and going into Syria, and then clashing with the Syrian Army.

It was clear the protests started peacefully, but it seems that quickly it went into militarizing… I just saw with my eyes, and it was in the beginning of the revolution, it was just, like, one month and a half from the revolution…I was seeing a lot of weapons, people with RPGs, people with Kalashnikovs, you know, just crossing from the borders. And they were not one or two; they were a big number; they were just dominating the whole village that were on the borders…

As far as Al Jazeera, he said:

The problem, it’s not in the journalists, it’s not in even the executives in Al Jazeera. It’s not a problem with Al Jazeera. It’s the problem with those who are really financing Al Jazeera, which are the Qataris.

He speculated a bit on the politics but was frustrated that he was not able to cover the story of the militarization of the revolution properly. He said his concern was “good journalism.”

That was in the beginning.

Today, America may be jumping into this conflict after Syria crossed the “red line” and introduced chemical weapons.

However, there is some speculation that it is really the militants who may have access to chemical weapons, particularly from RT, which is not exactly an unbiased news source and must be taken with a grain of salt. However, it is not inconceivable.

Consider this, reported Wednesday from the Associated Press via Fox News:

Syria’s U.N. ambassador is demanding that United Nations experts investigate three alleged chemical weapons attacks against Syrian soldiers.

Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari says the attacks occurred on Aug. 22, 24 and 25 in three suburbs of the Syrian capital, and dozens of soldiers are being treated for inhaling nerve gas.

The question one needs to ask is why now? Is it because Congress is on recess? Is it so that the President does not lose face? Is it a distraction from the very real problems facing America that are seemingly ignored by the Administration?

Consider a particularly creepy comment reported Wednesday by Kathleen Hennessey, Michael A. Memoli and Christi Parsons of the LA Times.

One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria” believed the Obama Administration “would seek a level of intensity ‘just muscular enough not to get mocked’ but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.” [Emphasis added ]

I wrote about this comment earlier. If the goal is not to get mocked, then all hope of getting into this for the right reasons is lost.

Thomas Erdbrink the New York Times reported that “Iranian lawmakers and commanders issued stark warnings” to the United States, saying “any military strike on Syria would lead to a retaliatory attack on Israel fanned by ‘the flames of outrage.'”

The fear is so great in Israel that gas masks were distributed to her citizens amid concerns of a possible attack.

The horrible thing about all of this is that innocent people are dying. So what should America do? Personally, I cannot trust the motives of the Obama Administration, whose policy is demonstrably driven by politics.

Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and Facebook. Check out her news and political commentary on Tavern KeepersGather and the Examiner for news you won’t find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.


Renee Nal

Renee Nal

Renee Nal is a co-founder of TavernKeepers.com, a news and political commentary site founded by former Glenn Beck interns. She is also the National Conservative Examiner. Renee is an associate producer for Trevor Loudon's political documentary, 'The Enemies Within.'

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