Al-Arabiya’s Fabrications: Methods of Bandar
It was amusing to see Giselle Khoury (a pro-Hariri TV presenter who works for the news station of King Fahd’s brother-in-law, al-Arabiya) on MTV (a right-wing station with a history of racism, sectarianism, and misogyny) the other day. She was defending the authenticity of the Syria-related “documents” that were being released by al-Arabiya over the last few weeks.
She said that she contacted “some people” to make sure that the documents were authentic and received assurances. It was not clear if she called the brother-in-law of King Fahd or the son of King Fahd who now runs the station or if she called the propagandist for Prince Salman’s son, Abdul-Rahman al-Rashed, who is the functional director of the station. Hilariously, Khoury also claimed that the station is “privately-owned” and that it is not “state-owned." She must have meant that King Fahd himself does not own the station through his children and that his brother-in-law represents private ownership.
Al-Arabiya has been releasing these documents with great fanfare and they seem to only focus on what is embarrassing to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Saudi clients in Lebanon (those who operate under the umbrella of March 14 and who receive their funding from the Saudi government) immediately jumped on the story and press conferences were held and statements were released to reap the necessary political benefits. Watching the spectacle in itself and knowing the identity of the source would be enough to discredit the “documents” without even having to examine them.
But a cursory look at the documents would be necessary to discredit them. The days when an Arab intelligence service would put in writing assassination orders are long gone – it is not clear that that was ever done. All the captured documents from Saddam’s intelligence apparatus or that of Gaddafi have not produced a document where assassination orders were written down and then disseminated through the bureaucracy for extra effect. As is known, Arab regimes – especially those of the Baath – are known to rely on a very small circle of people (and on need-to-know basis) for any assassination orders. No trail of paper is ever left behind. Baathist regimes are repressive and criminal but they also are very secretive. If there is really a paper trail for Syrian regime assassination orders they would have come out by now.
The fabrication of the documents was so casual and clumsy that no attempt was made to infuse them with a tinge of credibility. You have the mukhabarat office informing the president himself about the arrival of Hezbollah members, as if the regime needs to note their arrival on paper, and as if the president himself needs to be informed. There are other more comical documents that talk about destabilizing Lebanon and Jordan and causing trouble without even containing a hint of credible language of the regime.
But the matter of authenticity does not matter at all. Western media have been consistently peddling the cheap propaganda of Qatari and Saudi media. There has never been a closer convergence between the Arab oil and gas media and Western media. It is now a political mission.
The Saudi and Qatari monopoly of Arab media prevents any real critical examination of the documents. So you have one Hariri journalist citing another Saudi journalist: or various outlets of Saudi media citing one another. Such is the abysmal affair of Arab media. There will be more fabrications and the standards for fabrications under Prince Bandar seem to sink lower. There are no standards and the war by all means continues: not to establish democracy in Syria – as if the House of Saud ever supported democracy – but to spread the wings of the Saudi-Israeli-US-Qatari order in the Middle East.