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QATAR: Al Jazeera faces tough questions as Doha backs Saudi troops in Bahrain

March 15, 2011 |  8:13 am

Bahrain-tanks- The Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network has been credited with helping to sustain protest movements across the region with its wall-to-wall coverage, but will its editorial line change now that Qatar has voiced support for Saudi intervention in Bahrain?

On Monday, Qatar's prime minister, Sheik Hamad Jassim ibn Jaber al Thani, held a phone interview with Al Jazeera's Khadija Bin Qinna and Mohammad Kurayshan in which he characterized the deployment of security forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Bahrain as "assistance and support" within the framework of existing agreements.

"I think the call of his highness the Bahraini crown prince for dialogue is a sincere one that should be well taken by all parties," he said, after refusing to rule out the possibility of Qatari troops being deployed as well.

"We believe that in order for dialogue to succeed, we have to defuse this tension through the withdrawal of all from the street and through the return of the language of dialogue and compassion among all segments of the Bahraini people," he added.

Bin Qinna and Kurayshan pressed the prime minister concerning statements from the Bahraini opposition warning that it considers the presence of foreign troops to be an "occupation," to which he responded by reiterating his support for dialogue.

Al Jazeera is considered among the most credible Arabic news sources, but it has been accused at certain times of allowing its royal backer's political affiliations to skew its coverage. Al Jazeera Arabic, in particular, has recently been criticized for what some see as its overly careful handling of violent clashes between Bahraini protesters and government forces.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: Saudi troops enter Bahrain on Monday. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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