How a Saudi media is spreading lies about Switzerland

vendredi, 12 janvier 2018 10:29

GeneveHere is a new example of the media war that the countries of the blockade against Qatar are carrying out. Taking advantage of the nagging accusations that Doha would support terrorism, a Saudi media outlet has relayed a hoax claiming that the Swiss government has launched "an investigation into Qatar's support for terrorist organizations".

On Tuesday January 9, "Infographic_ksa" tweeted a scoop that seems to be of major importance in terms of counterterrorism by the European countries. Informing its 320,000 followers, the media reported that the "Swiss government has begun an investigation into Qatar's support for terrorist organizations." The tweet goes on to say that this investigation is being conducted "in several capitals around the world, targeting suspicious personalities and companies".

As it is very often the case on this social network, the message ends with a hashtag which bears the mention #QatarFinancesTerrorism (written in Arabic), which leaves no doubt about the bias of the authors. Finally, the publication is accompanied by an infographic illustration which gives more details: the Swiss State, represented by the image of the Swiss flag, would have launched a series of inquiries about Qatari personalities or close ones to this emirate. Three faces are inserted in the visual: that of Abderahmane al-Nu'aimy, founder of a Geneva-based human rights NGO called al-Karama; Ali al-Swuaydi, presented as the president of the Islamic Council and Nicolas Blancho, president of the Swiss Federal Islamic Council. Convinced of the veracity of those revelations and as to better convey the message, the Saudi media reports in its publication another twitter account called "Akhbar Swissra", in other words "Switzerland’s News". The latter, authenticated by the administration of Twitter (authentication visible by the presence of the blue check above the name of the account) refers to the Swiss International TV and Radio Service. This signaling maneuver - a technique commonly used by Twitter regulars - was certainly activated by the author of the message in order to warn his interlocutor of the seriousness of the situation.

New episode of the media war

Immediately after its publication, the tweet received an avalanche of answers. If some of those who reacted applaud the idea that Qatar is, for the first time, directly implicated by a European state (and not insignificant one because Switzerland is the seat of a large number of UN institutions and international jurisdictions), others call for machination. Among the netizens who reacted, the account "Swiss_AR" is the one whose response had the greatest echo. Presenting itself as the "private account of Switzerland in Arabic", the latter which has a good audience on Twitter (more than 51,000 followers) is however not authenticated by the administration of the social network (lack of cochet blue). Still, its answer in response to the accusing tweet is without appeal. Retweeted more than 3,700 times, it says "it is very unfortunate to see Arab countries rise against each other" adding "that there is no information in Switzerland confirming what is written by Infographic_ksa". The message closes with two hashtags marked #StopSlanderingQatar and #SwitzerlandIsANeutralState in Arabic.

Stuck by a denial that looks official (the account "Swiss_AR" refers in its presentation to a website posing as "Swiss authorities online"), the Saudi media has seen fit to tweet shortly after an article in the Swiss newspaper Le Temps that seems to justify his accusation. Entitled "The Swiss secret services target pro-Qatar Islamists" and written by its deputy editor Sylvain Besson, this relatively lengthy survey highlights the fact that the Swiss services monitor the actions of personalities more or less related to Qatar for because of support for radical organizations. But in no case does the newspaper say that the Swiss government has started an official investigation specifically targeting Qatar for direct support to terrorist groups. In the battle fought by the countries of the blockade with their declared enemy, which is becoming fierce, the Saudi media certainly thought it would be good to pull the string of the article of the journal Le Temps to definitively stigmatize Doha.

One can imagine the catastrophic impact on the emirate's reputation if Bern had officially launched a formal investigation into support for terrorist groups. But the article from Le Temps is very far from having affirmed that; the latter only raises the reports of the Swiss services towards actors on Swiss soil and close to Qatar but without ever laying peremptory accusations. Some of these actors are well established in Geneva and it is hard to imagine how Switzerland would let them do if they had any proven link with terrorism of jihadist inspiration. Among them, Abderahmane al-Nu'aimy who, although regularly questioned, was never convicted by the Swiss courts and whose NGO he is the founder (and from which he separated since) has been working for years in collaboration with other UN organizations or the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross).

“Slander, slander, there will always be something left”

This unfortunate episode once again reveals the radicalization of the Quartet countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt), whose dislike for Doha is reaching new heights. In this conflict where all the blows seem permissible, it is also useful to remember that the hostilities had been preceded at the end of May by the hacking operation of the site of the Qatari official press agency (QNA) that the American services attributed to the United Arab Emirates. The peculiarity today is that the actors engaged in this dispute no longer hesitate to deport their dispute to the heart of Western capitals which are considered on both sides as so many strategic spaces to rally the ruling elites to their cause. In this confrontation, Switzerland is central. Indeed, as it hosts the headquarters of many international institutions and a recipient of a substantial portion of the Gulf's capital, to see Bern take a stand for either side would be a decisive diplomatic victory. Nevertheless, the Swiss confederation, whose neutrality in conflicts is constitutive of its national identity, is not ready to align itself. One can even say that by using this kind of fraudulent and dishonest process, the countries of the blockade are far from having increased their credit with the ruling elites in Geneva.

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