Iraq To Replace Qatar in GCC…Paragraph Inserted Into 'Joint Statement'

AKEED, Husam Assal

Local websites have promoted a story about Iraq replacing Qatar in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The truth of the news could not be established; it is not based on any reliable or genuine source to prove what is being circulated.

Three local news sites carried the story under almost an identical headline "Arab State To Replace Qatar in GCC…Which One?" It included a Saudi-Iraqi joint statement issued in Mecca on 20 June following a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to Saudi Arabia.

The sites that confirmed Iraq's entry into the GCC included the following paragraph in the statement: "The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques confirmed that Iraq would replace Qatar as a member of the GCC as it seeks to maintain the public interest of the [other] states and follow the [same] position vis-à-vis terrorism and the states supporting it." One of the sites attributed the news and the statement to Sky News as a source, while the two other sites did not mention the source of this news.

The Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) tracked down the joint statement. It first returned to the news published about the statement on Sky News Arabia, headlined "Saudi-Iraqi Joint Statement…Establishment of Coordination Council." The statement did not include the paragraph that speaks about allowing Iraq to join the GCC. The content of the statement came from the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The statement published by SPA in two separate items did not contain any reference to the abovementioned paragraph or Iraq joining the GCC. Meanwhile, Saudi dailies did not refer to this and echoed the content carried by SPA.

The monitoring showed that the truth of the news about Iraq replacing Qatar could not be established. Relevant sources did not provide any information about this. It transpired that the said paragraph was inserted into the statement as it includes numerous language and spelling mistakes and was written within a context that is at odds with the Saudi-Iraqi joint statement.

This news comes against the background of the ongoing Gulf crisis. AKEED has already monitored two violations by the local media with regard to the Qatari-Saudi-UAE bickering. The AKEED Monitor thinks that this piece of information cannot be proven and was not released by any official or authorized party. It lacks the standard of accuracy in avoiding incorrect content. Besides, it was not contained in the joint statement.

This conduct violates Paragraph A of Article 9 of the Press Code of Honor, which states that "the mission of journalism requires accuracy and objectivity and its practice requires confirming the accuracy of information and news before publishing it." It also violates Paragraph C, which stipulates that journalists shall exercise "the maximum degree of objectivity in attributing the material published by the press to its sources and mentioning the source of each press item or text that is published. They may not make attributions to anonymous sources unless it achieves a public objective or interest or if it is impossible to obtain information except in this manner."