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US pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

UAE-funded lobbyists called for the initial order last year [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 March, 2021

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The pro-Israel Lawfare Project has called on the Department of Justice to force AJ+ to register as a foreign agent.
The US Department of Justice is under renewed pressure to force Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent after the Qatari news network launched its Rightly channel.

The department ordered Al Jazeera's Washington-based channel AJ+ to register as a foreign agent last year, an order pushed for by lobbyists working for Qatar opponent the UAE.

AJ+ has not yet complied with the order.

The launch last week of Rightly, a new right-wing platform by Al Jazeera, has prompted fresh pressure on the Department of Justice to force the Doha-based media network to comply.

The Lawfare Project, an American non-profit that advocates against anti-Semitism and describes itself as the "world's only international pro-Israel litigation fund", urged the DOJ to take action in a letter last week.

"This new media platform is nothing more than the latest attempt by Qatar to subvert American law and orchestrate a non-transparent and pernicious influence operation to affect and influence American politics and society," Lawfare Project senior counsel Gerard Filitti was quoted as saying by Axios.

The Lawfare Project has previously accused Al Jazeera of being a "mouthpiece" of the Qatari government that fuels "Jew hatred".

Al Jazeera denies last year's claims by the DOJ that it acts "at the direction and control" of Doha's rulers.

"Al Jazeera Media Network is a Private Foundation for Public Benefit under Qatari law; it is not owned by Qatar, and its content is not directed or controlled by the Qatari government nor does it reflect any government viewpoint," a spokesperson for the media network told Axios.

The network claimed last year that the foreign registration order came at the behest of the United Arab Emirates as part of a US-brokered deal to normalise ties with Israel.

"The UAE has confirmed it presented the United States with preconditions prior to announcing the Abraham Accords, and we received DOJ's letter the day before the UAE signed the Accords," Al Jazeera said in a statement.

Abu Dhabi and allies had previously demanded Qatar shutter the media network in order to end a regional economic and diplomatic blockade on the Gulf state. 

The Emirati ambassador to the US last year denied any link between the foreign registration order and the country's normalisation deal with Israel.

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