The intricacies of the ongoing diplomatic shitfight between Qatar and its Middle Eastern neighbors are rather beyond the remit of Flavorwire — we’re not a hard news site, after all — but at least one aspect of the dispute may have a direct effect on the areas of culture that we do cover. According to the Guardian, amongst a list of 13 demands issued to Qatar by Saudi Arabia is the closure of Al Jazeera. In its report, the Guardian explains, “The Saudi-led alliance regards Al Jazeera, the most widely watched broadcaster in the Arab world, as a propaganda tool for Islamists that also undermines support for their governments.”
Given the thoroughly obnoxious nature of the House of Saud, Al Jazeera is probably doing something right if it’s acting as a thorn in the Saudi government’s side. Beyond that, though, the unilateral closure of a news organization at the demand of an autocratic government is, fundamentally, not a good thing. While Al Jazeera certainly has its faults — amongst them being the accusation that its vaunted independence is undermined by the fact that it is state-run and partly funded by the Qatari royal family — it remains a vital news outlet in a region where plenty of governments take varyingly dim views of press freedom. There’s no indication that Qatar will cave to Saudi Arabia’s demands at this point, and also no word on what a hypothetical acceptance of those demands might mean for Al Jazeera’s international arms.