Al Jazeera has suspended the operations of its Egyptian news network, Mubasher Misr, following high level negotiations between the Qatari and Egyptian governments. As the BBC reports:
Mubasher Misr (Live Egypt) would stop broadcasting until it had obtained “the necessary permits”, it said.Cairo accused Mubasher Misr of serving as the mouthpiece of the Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi – something the channel denied.It was a major source of tension between Egypt and Qatar, which backed Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.The two countries have sought to repair relations in recent months, and on Saturday Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi held talks with a special envoy sent by the emir of Qatar.
The Al Jazeera networks, which are funded by the Qatari royal family, have nonetheless always claimed operational independence from the government of Qatar. That hasn’t stopped various countries, particularly in the Arab world, from viewing sleights aired on Al Jazeera as direct insults from the Qatari government. As the BBC briefly notes, Al Jazeera became a major target in Egypt for perceived support of the Muslim Brotherhood following the coup against Mohamed Morsi in July of last year. Some of those criticisms were more substantial than others, but, in any event, the network is deeply unpopular in some corners of Egypt.The decision to shut down the network follows a fragile attempt at rapprochement between the two governments. Saudi Arabia is looking to bridge divides in the GCC, as it views Iran as the real common enemy, and has therefore pushed Egypt to make amends. But President Sisi has so far been reluctant to break bread with one of the largest backers of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera, for its part, keeps a running tally of how many days its journalists have been kept in an Egyptian prison (as of today, 361.)Shutting down Misr Mubasher will be no great loss to Al Jazeera or the Qatari royal family—all their networks operate in significant debt—but it could be a first step towards repairing relations with Egypt.