Media Wars: Can Saudis and Qataris Buy the Hearts and Minds of the Arab World?……….

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“As with its military operation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is throwing a great deal of money and resources into media backing for the government of President Abd-Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. In short order, it has helped equip and launch two satellite TV channels supporting the exiled president, as well as an alternative version of Yemen’s official news agency. Meanwhile, TV channels sympathetic to the Huthi movement are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their broadcasts via satellite as the main regional operators suspend their transmissions…………… At the regional level, the two leading pan-Arab TV news channels – the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera – have put aside their differences over Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood and are both running a similar anti-Huthi, and sometimes anti-Iranian, line on Yemen, as is the Abu-Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia…………..”

The Yemenis can defeat, truly trounce, the Saudi forces and their hired allies in any battle. But they don’t have a chance in the media war, almost nobody in the region does. The potentates certainly have not held back on spending money on acquiring old Arab media and establishing new ones. Nobody in the Middle East has such unrestricted access to financial resources, and they have been buying.

Two undemocratic anti-democratic absolute tribal dynasties now dominate the Arab media, both old media and new media. The two Wahhabi regimes, the little one in Qatar and the bigger one in Riyadh are almost in control of much Arab media narrative. Their message is heavily sectarian, not always subtle, the best way to divert attention away from royal corruption and the natural human demands for freedom and self determination. The two Wahhabi financial powers seek to dominate the majority non-Wahhabi Sunni Arab minds while marginalizing and often demonizing Shi’a Arabs (and non-Arabs).

Can they win, nay buy, the hearts and minds in the vast Arab region that extends from Baghdad to Morocco? They can only influence some minds, but they can’t win,  nor buy, any hearts. Hearts cannot be bought. The princes and potentates can’t win any outside their own domain.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
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