After Al Jazeera’s Baghdad headquarters was bombed in April 2003, reports surfaced that George W. Bush had joked about making Al Jazeera a deliberate target of U.S. attacks.
Wadah Khanfar was the bureau chief of Al Jazeera’s operations in Baghdad at that time.
Al Jazeera has emerged as one of the world’s indisputable global heavyweight news networks. If political and policy leaders want to reach Arab populations and Muslim people throughout the globe, Al Jazeera really can’t be effectively sidestepped.
Given this bombing kerfuffle and other Arab media-US government tensions, the US has been resistant to offer Khanfar easy access to American audiences and has repeatedly refused to issue him a visa to enter the US. The Obama State Department, however, is pushing reset — and just granted Khanfar’s visa.
Khanfar is now Managing Director of Al Jazeera and will visit New York and Washington – and will speak at a number of forums. This trip coincides with the significant expansion of Al Jazeera English on American cable networks, moving from rather insignificant timeslots to 24/7 coverage in many large cities.
To discuss how the United States might recalibrate its public diplomacy toward the Arab world, I will be chairing what will be a fascinating and politically significant public forum featuring Wadah Khanfar this Monday, July 27 from 12:15 pm – 1:45 pm at the New America Foundation.
The event will air live on CSPAN 2 and STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note.
I will post the YouTube video for later viewing here for those who can’t watch the real time discussion.
– Steve Clemons