The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon
CAIRO – 16 February 2020: TV presenter Mohamed Al-Baaz, known for attacking the Turkish and Qatari regimes, during his program “90 Minutes” reported an alleged severe decline in the funding of Qatari state-funded broadcaster Al-Jazeera, citing unknown sources as saying.
A decline in the funding of the Doha-based Al-Jazeera, which Egypt has accused of promoting terrorism and hostile approaches against the Egyptian state, forced the channel to lay off 600 employees, most of which are Egyptians, Baaz said, adding that the laid-off employees will leave the channel before June.
The funding provided for Al-Jazeera totals $5 billion, including $2 billion from the state’s treasury, Baaz said. Egypt Today, however, could not verify the data about the total fund received by the channel. According to Baaz, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad decided to stop the $2 billion fund from the treasury for political reasons.
The regime found that the 23-year old channel cannot implement the regime’s plan any longer and decided that the money be given to other Qatari allies in London and Turkey, Baaz said.
This sharp decline in the funding has affected the channel’s work in different situations, Baaz asserted. First, a TV program named Ala Defaf Al-Nile (On the Banks of the Nile), was set to be launched with the aim of incitement against Egypt but was cancelled, he said. It was set to be broadcast by Mahmoud Murad, an Egyptian political journalist who has worked for Al-Jazeera since 2010.
Second Sami Al-Hajj, a Sudanese journalist in Al-Jazeera, has introduced a plan to upgrade a Qatari unit for public freedoms and human rights but was declined due to shortage of funds, according to Baaz.
Third, Al-Jazeera stopped to produce documentary films that seek to distort the image of the Egyptian national army, especially after Egypt released Al-Mamar (The Passage) movie in 2019, a drama film, which displays turning points and decisive battles in the history of the Egyptian army. According to Baaz, the film has thwarted the Qatari smear campaign against the army as it has boosted the morale of the Egyptian people.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar since June 2017, accusing their neighbor of funding terrorism and harboring fugitives. The four states demanded that Qatar closes Al-Jazeera channel, as part of a list of demands issued to Doha in order for relations to be restored. The boycott is believed to be led by Saudi Arabia. Since then, Egypt has blamed the Qatari channel of spreading fake news about Egypt and hosting extremist figures, mostly Egyptians, with the aim of harming national security.