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Middle East Eye (MEE) is a London-based online news outlet covering events in the Middle East. MEE describes itself as an "independently funded online news organization that was founded in April 2014". It seeks to be the primary portal of Middle East news, and describes its target audience as "all those communities of readers living in and around the region that care deeply for its fate".[1]

Middle East Eye
MEE Logo.jpg
FoundedApril 2014
LocationLondon, United Kingdom
WebsiteMiddleEastEye.net

The governments of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain accuse MEE of pro-Muslim Brotherhood bias and receiving Qatari funding. As a consequence, they demanded MEE to be shut down following the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. MEE has responded that it is independent of any government or movement and is not funded by Qatar.

OrganisationEdit

MEE is edited by David Hearst, the former chief foreign leader writer for the British daily, The Guardian.[2] MEE is owned by Middle East Eye Ltd, a UK company incorporated in 2013. According to the news editor Dania Akkad, most of the content is written by freelancers that approach Middle East Eye. MEE favour articles that highlight local people and local stories.[3]

It employs about 20 full-time staff in its London office. The director of Middle East Eye Ltd is Jamal Bessasso (whose surname is alternatively spelled Bassasso), a former director of planning and human resources at Al Jazeera.[citation needed]

CoverageEdit

Middle East Eye covers a range of topics across the Middle East. According to its website, it reports on events in 22 different countries. Content is separated into different categories on its website including news, opinion and essays.[4]

Since the foundation of the media outlet, it has provided exclusives on a number of major events in the Middle East, which have often been picked up by other media outlets globally. This included providing details from leaked emails of Mohammed bin Salman and US officials contained in leaked email between Yousef Otaiba, the UAE's former ambassador in Washington D.C. and Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel.[5] This revelation on 14th August 2017, led to other media outlets to print other material from the leaked emails.[6][7]

MEE was also cited on the front page of UK newspaper Metro, following the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.[8] MEE led and broke many of the stories around the incident at the time, including that Khashoggi had been dismembered.[9] A number of high profile personalities such as Bernie Sanders,[10] Queen Noor of Jordan,[11] and NGO's such as Amnesty International,[12] Oxfam[13] and Human Rights Watch have shared MEE articles on social media.[14]

Notable contributorsEdit

Free speech and the Khashoggi assassinationEdit

MEE publishes stories based on the information given to them by journalists in the Middle East who fear for their lives if they were to publish the stories themselves.[24] One such journalist was Jamal Khashoggi who wrote for MEE prior to joining The Washington Post.[25]

According to a post on the MEE website, Khashoggi wrote for them over a period of two years. His op-eds were not credited to him at the time due to concerns for his safety because many of his articles for MEE are critical of Saudi Arabia and its policies, and Saudi Arabia's rift with Qatar.[25] Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist was assassinated by a Saudi hit squad when he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on 2 October 2018. After vehement denials, Saudi Arabia eventually admitted that he was killed inside the consulate building with “premeditated intention”.[26]

Middle East tensionsEdit

MEE's coverage has been openly critical of states in the Middle East, and has been accused for portraying mainly Islamist view-point on criticisms towards the region. Despite accusations that they receive Qatari funding, MEE has published several articles that report on negative news in Qatar.[27][28][29] Although these articles are designated as simple news reports, Middle East Eye has been criticized for not having opinion articles openly criticizing Qatari policy or the Muslim Brotherhood, which is interpreted as reflecting Al Jazeera's editorial policy. [30]

UAE and Saudi blackoutEdit

Since 2011, UAE authorities have regularly suppressed freedom of expression in the country,[31] with MEE's reporting of the country's policies often drawing criticism from UAE.

In 2016, the United Arab Emirates blocked the Middle East Eye in what was a countrywide ban. MEE says it contacted the UAE embassy in London for an explanation, but never received a response.[32] The UAE government-owned newspaper, The National has since published a number of articles aimed at discrediting and smearing the reputations of MEE and its employees by associating them with those who the UAE perceive as enemies.[33] Saudi Arabia also blocked the website across the country in May 2017.

2017-18 Qatar diplomatic crisisEdit

In June 2017, the axis made up of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain subjected Qatar to unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions, followed by an aggressive blockade and threats of further action if Qatar fails to meet a list of 13 demands. In an attempt to curtail free speech, high on the list are the demands for the closure of media outlets which have openly criticised their policies.[34][35][36] One of the outlets named is MEE which the axis persistently accuse of being funded by Qatar and which MEE continues to vehemently deny[37] stating that ‘the demand as an attempt to “extinguish any free voice which dares to question what they are doing.”’[38]

Criticism and controversyEdit

According to Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now working for the American Enterprise Institute, MEE and its chief editor David Hearst were noted to have exclusive access to Hamas news content in their articles.[39][40][41] David Hearst was also noted by Rubin to have penned editorials praising and defending the Muslim brotherhood.[39][42][43] According to Rubin, The Middle East Eye website was registered by a former employee of Interpal, which is a United Kingdom-based charity designated by the US Treasury Department as a financial supporter of Hamas.[39]

According to the Hudson Institute, MEE and Middle East Monitor were launched by Muslim Brotherhood affiliates as an alternative to the Qatari-based Al Jazeera to provide western readers with the Muslim Brotherhood point of view.[44]

Saudi Arabia accuses MEE of being a news outlet funded by Qatar (both directly and indirectly).[45] The Emirati newspaper The National, claimed Middle East Eye coverage to have an anti-Emirati bias and noted several members employed by MEE to be originally part of Al Jazeera.[46][47] The National also accused MEE of being associated with multiple members of the Muslim Brotherhood.[46]

On 22 June 2017, during the Qatar diplomatic crisis, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain, as part of a list of 13 demands, demanded that Qatar close Middle East Eye, which they saw as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood and a Qatari-funded and aligned outlet. Middle East Eye denied it has ever received Qatari funds.[48][49]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Middle East Eye. [1]
  2. ^ David Hearst. Articles. Middle East Eye. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  3. ^ Quickfire Q&As with commissioning editors, Rory Peck Trust
  4. ^ "News page". Middle East Eye.
  5. ^ "Saudi crown prince wants out of Yemen war, email leak reveals". Middle East Eye.
  6. ^ "UAE ambassador says 'whole of Saudi Arabia is cuckoo' in leaked email". The Independent.
  7. ^ "Yousef al-Otaiba berates Saudi in leaked emails". Al Jazeera. August 19, 2017.
  8. ^ "If Looks Could Kill". Metro. October 24, 2018. p. 1.
  9. ^ Evans, Sophie (October 17, 2018). "Jamal Khashoggi: Screaming Saudi journalist was 'chopped up alive in horrific seven-minute killing'". Daily Mirror.
  10. ^ "Yemen death toll passes 230,000". Middle East Eye.
  11. ^ "UN human rights chief to leave post with principles intact and few friends". Middle East Eye.
  12. ^ "The full extent of US arm deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE". Middle East Eye.
  13. ^ "Yemen death toll Five Times Higher than Previous Estimate". Middle East Eye.
  14. ^ "US Ambassador Nikki Haley defends Israel as it imposes crippling blockade on Gaza". Human Rights Watch.
  15. ^ "Britain is right to welcome Saudi crown prince and support his reforms". Middle East Eye. March 6, 2018.
  16. ^ "Turkey: Why the West should show more support". Middle East Eye. January 26, 2017.
  17. ^ "Peter Oborne bio". Middle East Eye.
  18. ^ "Ian Cobain bio". Middle East Eye.
  19. ^ "Sarah Leah Whitson bio". Middle East Eye.
  20. ^ "From Obama to Trump: The lessons, the challenges". Middle East Eye. February 2, 2017.
  21. ^ "Richard Falk bio". Middle East Eye.
  22. ^ "Gideon Levy bio". Middle East Eye.
  23. ^ "Political Islam will go the same way as nationalism and communism". Middle East Eye. June 15, 2016.
  24. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (June 29, 2017). "UK-based Middle East news outlet also targeted for closure in Saudi-led demands against Qatar". Press Gazette.
  25. ^ a b "Jamal Khashoggi articles". Middle East Eye.
  26. ^ Smith, Saphora (October 24, 2018). "Saudi Arabia now admits Khashoggi killing was premeditated". NBC News.
  27. ^ "Qatari president of PSG football club investigated for alleged corruption". Middle East Eye.
  28. ^ "Qatar paid $880m 'secret payments' to Fifa: report". Middle East Eye.
  29. ^ Ullah, Areeb. "Qatar World Cup: Air-con stadium opens as worker abuse continues". Middle East Eye.
  30. ^ "How Middle East Eye is fake-news central". Arab News.
  31. ^ "UN raises concern over human rights in UAE". Al Jazeera. January 10, 2018.
  32. ^ "UAE government blocks access to Middle East Eye". Middle East Eye.
  33. ^ Langton, James (June 26, 2014). "Al Jazeera executive helped to launch controversial UK website". The National. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  34. ^ Wintour, Patrick (14 November 2017). "Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  35. ^ Carlstorm, Gregg (24 June 2017). "What's the Problem With Al Jazeera?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  36. ^ Mandhai, Shafik (18 July 2017). "Al Jazeera: 'Business as normal' despite Gulf Crisis". Al-Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  37. ^ "What's the Problem With Al Jazeera?". The Atlantic.
  38. ^ "Unacceptable call for Al Jazeera's closure in Gulf crisis". Freedom without Borders.
  39. ^ a b c "Qatar's other covert media arm". American Enterprise Institution. 25 July 2017.
  40. ^ "Exclusive: Hamas pushes Abbas to join ICC". Middle East Eye. 11 August 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  41. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Blair met Khaled Meshaal to negotiate end of Gaza siege". Middle East Eye. 21 June 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  42. ^ Hearst, David (20 April 2016). "It's open season on the Muslim Brotherhood". Middle East Eye.
  43. ^ Hearst, David (8 November 2016). "Why the West cannot afford to ignore political Islam". Middle East Eye.
  44. ^ Tadros, Samuel (20 August 2015). "The Brotherhood Divided". Hudson Institute. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  45. ^ Wintour, Patrick (14 November 2017). "Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  46. ^ a b "Muslim Brotherhood, its UK connections and media attacks on the UAE". The National. June 19, 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  47. ^ Langton, James (June 26, 2014). "Al Jazeera executive helped to launch controversial UK website". The National. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  48. ^ Carlstorm, Gregg (24 June 2017). "What's the Problem With Al Jazeera?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  49. ^ Mandhai, Shafik (18 July 2017). "Al Jazeera: 'Business as normal' despite Gulf Crisis". Al-Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network. Retrieved 20 December 2018.

External linksEdit