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Us arab regimes threaten future of opposition satellite channels

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Arab media experts are meeting in Cairo today to discuss the 8 December US Congress decision to penalize Arab satellites which allow the transmission of channels that Washington considers hostile. The Arab delegates are not expected to oppose the US stance however, because the majority of Arab governments do not disagree with it, and even support it, particularly as the targeted channels like "Al-Manar", "Al-Alam", "Al-Hiwar", "Al-Rafidayn", "Al-Aqsa", and to a lesser degree "Al-Jazeera" are unacceptable to these governments.

The Arab League’s experts are the last ones with the right to talk about the freedom of the Arab media or confront such an unfair American decision that muzzles freedoms because the League and its countries’ affiliated Arab information ministers council was the one which adopted the "satellite channels document" in February 2008 under the name of the "Arab media honour charter" whose application led to the closure of several channels and prevented others from transmitting on the satellites "NileSat" satellite and "ArabSat".

The Arab information ministers approved a number of punitive steps for any satellite channels which criticize leaders and discuss corruption. Measures include shutting down their offices, removing them from Arab satellites, and imposing heavy fines on them. Only three Arab countries expressed reservations about these steps and these were Lebanon, Qatar, and Algeria. We might not be exaggerating when we say that the Arab information ministers' "efforts" to suppress freedoms, muzzle mouths, and impose policies of exclusion and black lists encouraged Congress to take punitive measures against the channels which it says are inciting against the Americans. The US administration and institutions and the Arab governments have a common interest in "taming" and subjugating the Arab media because most of the Arab regimes, the "moderates" among them in particular, are totally embroiled in the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the so-called war on terror. From the American viewpoint, support for resistance to US plans for hegemony in the region is tantamount to incitement to kill and terrorize. Unfortunately, the majority of the Arab regimes are also opposed to the culture of resistance and the movements which adopt it, starting with Taliban in Afghanistan and ending with "Hamas", "Islamic Jihad", "Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades", and the other resistance factions in occupied Palestine. Ironically, the US Congress, which strongly opposed Chinese censorship and filtering of "Google", strongly supports muzzling the Arab media and the confiscation of the freedoms of expression while passing legislations confirming this shameful approach which is inconsistent with all the American and Western lectures about democracy, human rights, and freedom in general. Arab governments friendly to the United States have been engaged in shutting down and blocking thousands of internet websites which criticize their corruption and dictatorships yet we have not heard that the US administration protested these repressive steps. We are living in dark times for the Arab media and things might even get worse if the United States and Israel decided to resolve some pending dossiers – especially in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Gaza Strip (Hamas) – through military means. The official Arab alliance with the US Congress against the "other opinion" is getting stronger and more solid and preparing to extinguish the remaining voices which are still saying yes to resistance and no to the steel fences, suffocating blockades, and American and Israeli occupation.