Arab states may settle for 'fundamental change' at Al Jazeera rather than closure as price of lifting Qatar embargo

Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera appears to be moving out of danger after the United Arab Emirates indicated that it no longer wanted the channel to close.

The closure of Al Jazeera, and it affiliates, was one of 13 demands issued by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as the price of stopping a trade embargo against Qatar which began on 5 June.

UAE minister Noura al-Kaabi told The Times: “The staff at the channel can keep their jobs and Qatar can still fund a TV channel but not one which provides a platform for extremists and where the English channel is a protective shield for the much more radical Arabic one.”

The minister told The Times that they were now seeking a “fundamental change and restructuring” of Al Jazeera rather than it closure.

Al Jazeera Media network said in a statement: “Al Jazeera Media Network rejects any external intervention pertaining to its organisational structure or journalistic mission, and reiterates its independence & professional editorial stance.

“Al Jazeera continues to stand by journalists and media institutions globally for their right to practise journalism without fear or intimidation. One of the cornerstones of free media is ensuring its ability to operate independently, without interference or censorship from governments or any other party.

“Over the past 20 years, Al Jazeera has demonstrated its editorial independence and refusal to bow down to pressures from anyone, serving as a testament to our commitment to the universal values of journalism.

“It’s clear that recent attempts by governments in the region and elsewhere to throttle the independence of the media is being met by condemnation by all international media institutions, with an urgent demand for an end to interference, intimidation, and threats.”

Al Jazeera employs 3,000 around the world including 80 at its London bureau.

Demands for the closure of the channel have prompted outrage from around the world and been seen as potentially calamitous for global press freedom.

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