This is a story about two Kuwaiti newspapers: Al-Rai and Al-Seyassah. People often hail Kuwait as having one of the most free media scenes in the Arab World. But there’s a difference between free and diverse.
You see, in Kuwait, as in Lebanon, there’s a huge range of private broadcasters and newspapers – especially given the size of these two tiny countries. But that doesn’t mean there is a free media. Each of the organisations is owned by a powerful family. In Kuwait there are a dozen wealthy, influential tribes, and in Lebanon, most broadcasters and publications are controlled by political parties (which in turn feel the heavy hand of an influential family – the Junblatts, the Jajas, the Gemayels, the Hariris).
So when a Kuwaiti newspaper publishes an ‘exclusive’, people pay attention. Unfortunate
ly though, these publications lack professional standards. Al-Seyassah led a campaign against Syria at the height of its isolation, making various wild claims which apparently came from within the Syrian government. The problem was that each of these claims was based on an anonymous source.
Now Al-Rai is at it too. It says that Israel is planning to attack Hizbollah factories inside Syria. And you guessed it, it relies on an anonymous source from within Israel. Compounding this unprofessional attitude, an Israeli paper, Haaretz, has republished these astonishing rumours about its own country without any fresh source – no confirmation, denial or even a ‘no-comment’ from the Israeli military.
Someone in Al-Rai is up to something, possibly starting what they hope will be a self-fulfilling prophecy about an Israeli attack on Syria. Or it could be nothing more than sheer unprofessionalism. We have to hope it’s the latter.