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The closure of Al Jazeera — the Middle East’s most high-profile and widely watched network – is among a list of 13 demands presented to Qatar in a bid to end the diplomatic rift between the gas-rich Gulf state and its Middle East neighbors.
Long known to have been a thorn in the side of states in the region and considered a propaganda tool for Islamists and Qatar, Al Jazeera has been expected to be one of the key bargaining chips after a major rift flared up between the nation and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt at the start of June, with Qatar accused of supporting extremism.
The list of demands, which was sent by Kuwait — currently acting as a mediator — and obtained by the Associated Press, includes “shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations,” as well as requests to sever ties with Iran, alongside such organizations as the Muslim Brotherhood and to stop interfering in the affairs of sovereign countries.
There is also a demand to shut down the news outlets that Qatar directly or indirectly funds, “including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.” Several of these are accused of promoting the Muslim Brotherhood — labeled a “terrorist organization” by many Gulf states — and are already widely blocked.
The Saudi-led coalition has given Qatar 10 days to comply with the demands, or they will be “considered void.”
It is not known if the demand to shutter Al Jazeera includes the beIN Media Group, which broadcasts sports and entertainment and was spun out of its Al Jazeera Sports channels. beIN acquired Miramax in 2016.
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