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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK
Saudi envoy recalled from Qatar
Doha from the air
Al-Jazeera receives backing from the Qatari Goverment

Saudi Arabia has decided to recall its ambassador from neighbouring Qatar for consultation.

It has not given any reason for the decision but the move follows animosity between the two Gulf countries over reporting by Qatar's al-Jazeera television station.

Although the station sees itself as independent from state control, it relies to some extent on the Qatari Government.

There have been repeated calls in the Gulf and the wider Middle East for Doha to rein in its television station, but so far with little effect.

Critical role

Al-Jazeera, based in Qatari capital Doha, has courted controversy since its founding in 1996.

Al-Jazeera presenter
Al-Jazeera has come under attack before
That is undoubtedly part of its ever increasing popularity throughout the Arab world.

But in recent months the station appears to have gone one step further.

It is now widely perceived in the Arab world as being critical of the conservative and highly powerful Saudi royal family.

This is a brave move in a region where Saudi Arabia holds sway.

This summer, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were in dispute after participants in a live al-Jazeera debate criticised Crown Prince Abdullah's Middle East peace initiative and accused Saudi Arabia of betraying the Palestinian cause.

The contributors were also critical of the kingdom's founder, King Abdul Aziz Bin Al-Saud.

In turn, Saudi commentators have criticised al-Jazeera for continuing contact with Israeli officials and for giving Israel what they see as a platform to voice their views.

Some newspapers believed to reflect official Saudi opinion went so far as to warn Qatar that al-Jazeera could become a tool serving anti-Arab interests.

See also:

08 Oct 01 | Media reports
04 Oct 01 | Americas
13 Nov 01 | South Asia
10 May 02 | Middle East
07 Aug 02 | Middle East
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