Middle East Eye

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

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]

Organisation[edit]

MEE is edited by David Hearst, a 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]

Coverage[edit]

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 ambassador in Washington D.C. and Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel.[5] This revelation on 14 August 2017, led to other media outlets to print other material from the leaked emails.[6][7]

Notable contributors[edit]

Jamal Khashoggi[edit]

Jamal Khashoggi wrote for MEE prior to joining The Washington Post.[21][22]

According to a post on the MEE website, Khashoggi wrote for them over a period of two years. According to MEE, 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.[21] Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist was assassinated when he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on 2 October 2018. After initial denials, Saudi Arabia stated that he was killed by rogue assassins inside the consulate building with "premeditated intention".[23]

Middle East tensions[edit]

Blocking[edit]

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.[24] Saudi Arabia also blocked the website across the country in May 2017. Following protests against the President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in September and October 2019, Egypt also blocked the website. [25]

2017-18 Qatar diplomatic crisis[edit]

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain ended their diplomatic relationships with Qatar, followed by a list of 13 demands to restore diplomatic relations.[26][27][28] MEE was mentioned in one of the demands to be shut down by Qatar even though the news organisation denies receiving funds from them stating that 'the demand as an attempt to "extinguish any free voice which dares to question what they are doing."'[29] In a statement responding to the demand, the publication's editor-in-chief said "MEE covers the area without fear or favour, and we have carried reports critical of the Qatari authorities, for instance how workers from the subcontinent are treated on building projects for the 2022 World Cup.""[30][31]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood[edit]

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now working for the think tank American Enterprise Institute, believed that MEE and its chief editor David Hearst had exclusive access to Hamas news content in their articles.[32] 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.[32] He further claimed that Hearst had penned editorials praising and defending the Muslim Brotherhood.[32]

According to Samuel Tadros of the conservative American think tank, 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.[33]

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.[34][35] The National also accused MEE of being associated with multiple members of the Muslim Brotherhood.[35]

Dahlan court case[edit]

On July 29, 2016, MEE published a story alleging that the UAE government, aided by Palestinian exile Mohammed Dahlan, had funnelled significant sums of money to Turkish coup conspirators. The article also stated that as a result of the failed coup, Dahlan had been exiled from the UAE, where he had become a top political operative.

In 2017, Dahlan brought a case against MEE in a London court disputing that the article was libellous and caused damages costing him up to £250,000. MEE's defence through their lawyers Carter-Ruck was that the article was in the public interest and based on “trusted and credible” sources. A trial was set to begin in November 2019 when Dahlan abandoned the claim against MEE hours before the deadline to submit relevant documents to the court. In a statement, Dahlan said he is focusing his legal proceedings against Facebook in Dublin courts. By dropping the claim, Dahlan has to pay all legal costs, which is estimated to be more than £500,000.[36][37]

In November 2019, the Turkish government officially accused Dahlan of involvement in the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt and is offering $700,000 for information leading to his capture.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Middle East Eye". Middle East Eye.
  2. ^ David Hearst. Articles. Middle East Eye. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  3. ^ Quickfire Q&As with commissioning editors Archived 2019-04-01 at the Wayback Machine, 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. ^ "Britain is right to welcome Saudi crown prince and support his reforms". Middle East Eye. March 6, 2018.
  9. ^ "Ian Cobain bio". Middle East Eye.
  10. ^ Jonathan Cook, bio, Middle East Eye
  11. ^ "From Obama to Trump: The lessons, the challenges". Middle East Eye. February 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "Richard Falk bio". Middle East Eye.
  13. ^ "Turkey: Why the West should show more support". Middle East Eye. January 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "Faisal Kutty bio". Middle East Eye.
  15. ^ "Gideon Levy bio". Middle East Eye.
  16. ^ "Political Islam will go the same way as nationalism and communism". Middle East Eye. June 15, 2016.
  17. ^ Joseph Massad bio, Middle East Eye
  18. ^ "Peter Oborne bio". Middle East Eye.
  19. ^ Madawi al-Rasheed bio, Middle East Eye
  20. ^ "Sarah Leah Whitson bio". Middle East Eye.
  21. ^ a b "Jamal Khashoggi articles". Middle East Eye.
  22. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (June 29, 2017). "UK-based Middle East news outlet also targeted for closure in Saudi-led demands against Qatar". Press Gazette.
  23. ^ Smith, Saphora (October 24, 2018). "Saudi Arabia now admits Khashoggi killing was premeditated". NBC News.
  24. ^ "UAE government blocks access to Middle East Eye". Middle East Eye.
  25. ^ "BBC Arabic website blocked in Egypt". BBC Monitoring.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Carlstorm, Gregg (24 June 2017). "What's the Problem With Al Jazeera?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  28. ^ Mandhai, Shafik (18 July 2017). "Al Jazeera: 'Business as normal' despite Gulf Crisis". Al-Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  29. ^ "What's the Problem With Al Jazeera?". The Atlantic.
  30. ^ "Unacceptable call for Al Jazeera's closure in Gulf crisis". Freedom without Borders.
  31. ^ "'An attack on free thought': Middle East Eye responds to Saudi demands". Middle East Eye.
  32. ^ a b c "Qatar's other covert media arm". American Enterprise Institution. 25 July 2017.
  33. ^ Tadros, Samuel (20 August 2015). "The Brotherhood Divided". Hudson Institute. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ a b "Muslim Brotherhood, its UK connections and media attacks on the UAE". The National. June 19, 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  36. ^ Tobitt, Charlotte (September 12, 2019). "Middle East Eye journalism 'vindicated' after Palestinian politician drops libel case". Press Gazette.
  37. ^ "Dahlan drops libel case against MEE over article on Turkey coup". Al Jazeera English. September 12, 2019.
  38. ^ "Turkey to offer $700,000 bounty for exiled Palestinian strongman Dahlan". The Times of Israel. November 22, 2019.

External links[edit]