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Qatar: Wadah Khanfar Resigns as Al Jazeera Head

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, North America, Qatar, U.S.A., International Relations, Media & Journalism, Politics

Al Jazeera Network Director General Wadah Khanfar announced his resignation today, creating a stir on social networking site Twitter. The Palestinian-born journalist, who was at the helm of the network for eight years, is being replaced by a member of the Qatar royal family, Shaikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani.

On Twitter, Khanfar, who has changed his profile bio to “Former Director-General of the Al Jazeera Network,” shared reasons for his resignation.

Khanfar explains to staff reasons he is leaving. Picture by Mohamed Nanabhay [1]

Khanfar explains to staff reasons he is leaving. Picture by Mohamed Nanabhay

@khanfarw [2]: After 8 years of service leading Al Jazeera, I have just announced that I am moving on.

And continues:

@khanfarw [3]: 8 years is a long time to be leading a Network. Renewal and change is always good.

He also adds:

@khanfarw [4]: Entertained by all the rumors of why I have resigned. #whatdoyouthink? :-)

Those rumours ranged from accusing Khanfar of being a CIA agent to being brought down by the leaked United States cables made public by whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks.

Zeinobia, who runs Egyptian Chronicles, opines [5]:

Despite Khanfar made it clear in his farewell that the he though of stepping down for quite some time now , many link his resignation to the recent cables released by Wikileaks about his meetings with U.S state of Defense Department intelligence agency “DIA” officers in Doha in 2005.

Cable ref.id : #05DOHA1765 shows that there was a meeting allegedly held on October 19th ,2005 between the managing director of Al Jazeera Network then Khanfar and the CIA officers who did not like the performance of the Al Jazeera.Net website content and believed it was hostile against the U.S government. The officers had monthly reports with the performance of the channel and the website. Allegedly Khanfar promised them to tune down the language and remove the pieces they complained from

Zeinobia also provides us with a link [6]to all the cables that deal with Khanfar.

The Syrian propaganda machine too had a reason for Khanfar's resignation. Foreign Policy Editor Blake Hounshell, who is based in Doha, Qatar, notes:

@blakehounshell [7]: Syrian media pounces –> RT @rallaf: “Al-Jazeera Top Officials Resign for fabricating news on #Syria”

Saudi King Saud University political communication professor, Ahmed Bin Rashid Bin Saeed, finds the excuse funny:

@LoveLiberty [8]: Take a moment to laugh at #Assad TV: #AlJazeera director Waddah Khanfar resigns for fabricating news on #Syria #Libya and #Yemen

Khanfar also came under fire for what is seen as Al Jazeera's link to Islamists.

Hounshell notes:

@blakehounshell [9]: Among Arab liberals, the critique of Al Jazeera under @khanfarw's tenure is that he took the network in a strongly Islamist direction.

And Libyan Twitter user Libyan and Proud replies:

@libyanproud [10]: I'm not a liberal, just wld like to see different views, but 90% of libyan commentators were MB on AJ

For The Big Pharaoh from Egypt, Khanfar's exit brings hope:

@TheBigPharaoh [11]: All what I want from Al Jazeera's new management is to pull it away from adopting the agenda of a certain political force namely islamists.

Meanwhile, Lebanese media personality Octavia Nasr quips:

@octavianasr [12]: HUGE NEWS WITH INTERESTING TIMING! -> Head of #AlJazeera Networks Waddah Khanfar resigns RT @halmustafa

And Lebanese TheZako, who tweets from London, is not happy with the appointment of a member of the Qatari ruling family to head the station:

@TheZako [13]: AlJazeera is officially a ‘State TV’ now. To hell any independence.