Saturday, February 26, 2005

You can now tell the nature of inter-Arab relations by noticing the stresses and nature of coverage in Arab media. There is obviously a silent conflict between Syria and Saudi Arabia. But it is not discussed or even admitted, but the coverage of Al-Arabiyya, especially of the assassination of Hariri, indicates a strong anti-Syrian tendency. One of the wives (she is probably now an ex-wife as I write these words) of Crown Prince `Abdullah is a Syrian sister of the wife of Rif`at Al-Asad. `Abdullah always played a mediator's role between Syria and other Arab countries, but one is not sure that `Abdullah is in charge. A Syrian newspaper today even compared favorably Al-Jazeera's coverage to that of AlArabiyya, and strongly criticized Al-Arabiyya. While I am no fan of Al-Arabiyya, official Syrian media are in no position to offer lessons on mass communications. But I know fine professional Syrian journalists who work under very frustrating conditions in their country.