News Seeks To Create State of Tension Between Jordan, Saudi Arabia

AKEED, Anwar Ziadat

Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper published a report headlined "Saudi Precedent in Objecting to Hashemite Custodianship Over Jerusalem; Row With Jordanian Delegation at Arab Parliamentary Conference." The report stated that "a high-level Jordanian parliamentary delegation resisted a direct and rare Saudi attempt to ignore Jordanian and Hashemite custodianship in the literature and documents of the recent meeting of the Arab parliamentary conference."

The newspaper tried to establish a link between the case of the businessman, Sabih al-Masri, who is held in Saudi Arabia, according to recent media reports, and what it described as Jordanian-Saudi quarrels over custodianship over Jerusalem. It noted that the incident followed tension between the Jordanian and Saudi delegations at the meetings of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in Morocco last week.

Parliamentary sources have denied quarrels with Saudi Arabia over Jerusalem during the meeting of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, pointing out that reports about the Saudi delegation objecting to Hashemite custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem were untrue.

Deputy Dr. Fawzi Tueimeh, member of the Jordanian parliamentary delegation, told the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) that there was no quarrel. Rather, there were differences in views. Jordan"s position was fixed in supporting the Palestinian brothers and embodying unified Arab rhetoric that preserves Jerusalem. He said that including historical Hashemite custodianship over the holy places in the final communiqué confirms that what happened was just a difference in views and that talking about a sharp dispute was untrue.

A statement issued by the Press Office of the Lower House of Parliament said that parliamentary sources who accompanied Engineer Atef Tarawneh, speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, to the meeting of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, held in Morocco last week, had denied any quarrel or confrontation with the Saudi parliamentary delegation. The sources stressed that reports about the Saudi delegation objecting to Hashemite custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy places in Jerusalem were untrue. This has never happened. They said that the Saudi delegation was not originally a member of the committee that drafted the final communiqué of the meeting. The committee included the delegations of Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and the host country, Morocco. The sources said that the emphasis by the Jordanian parliamentary delegation on Hashemite custodianship over holy places was included in the first item of the final communiqué and was unanimously approved by the delegations of the participating countries.

According to the final communiqué of the meeting of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union on 14 December, which was posted on the website of the Moroccan House of Representatives, the first point stated the following: "The conferees reject the decision of US President Donald Trump in part and parcel and express their absolute rejection of undermining the legal, political, and historical status of the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem. They underline the historical Hashemite custodianship over the holy places by the king of Jordan to support his majesty"s position at international forums. They also deem the US recognition of the occupied city of Jerusalem as capital of the Israeli occupation state and relocating its embassy to it as null and illegal."

Most Jordanian websites published the press report as was published in Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper without verifying the accuracy of the published information. Some sites published Al Quds Al Arabi"s report without attributing it to the newspaper, but under a different headline "Tarawneh Harshly Opposes Saudi Attempt To Ignore Hashemite Custodianship Over Jerusalem."

In this context, we see that local media outlets did not make any effort to confirm the report of Al Quds Al Arabi and adopted the information, and sometimes opinions, it published. This goes against the professionalism of journalistic reports.

On the other hand, the Lebanese newspaper Ad Diyar on Monday, 18 December, ran a report headlined "Massing Saudi Forces on Jordanian Border…Will Military Confrontation Take Place Between Two Countries?" The report said that "Saudi Arabia had massed some ground forces on the border with Jordan." The news was reported by the website of Al Alam TV, Maydan Al Akhbar, and the Syrian website wakionline.

The first paragraph in the report stated the following: "MBC America TV has reported that Saudi Arabia massed some ground forces on the border with Jordan." The report also carried statements attributed to King Abdullah II, but without specifying when and where they were made.

When checking the website of MBC America TV, we see that it mainly focuses on producing drama and documentaries. When searching its own search engine for Jordan, we do not find any news about Jordan. The channel is concerned mainly with South Korea.

Dr. Mohammed Momani, minister of state for media affairs and official spokesman for the government, said that these reports relied on incorrect sources and media fabrications. In statements to the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED), Momani added that such reports aim at sowing sedition.

The local website Sawaleif published the report under the headline "What Is the Truth of Saudi Military Buildup on Jordanian Border?" It added to the report a denial by an official source. It said: "A Jordanian official source has denied the claims and allegations of the Lebanese newspapers, describing the news carried by the Lebanese newspaper Ad Diyar on Saudi troop buildup on the Jordanian border as false and baseless. He said that regardless of differences in views between the two sisters, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, these will remain within the framework of conversations between brothers who have a common goal and fate." The source added that the story of the Lebanese newspaper as a whole "does not stand to reason," stressing that "there is a deep alliance with the brothers in Saudi Arabia that does not heed such absurdities."

Another website ran a report headlined "Sources: News by Lebanese Newspaper Ad Diyar on Saudi Troop Buildup on Jordanian Border False." It stated the following: "Reliable sources said that the news carried by the Lebanese newspaper Ad Diyar on Saudi troop buildup on the Jordanian border is false and baseless. Regardless of differences in views between the two sisters, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, these will remain within the framework of conversations between brothers who have a common goal and fate."

In the same context, Deputy Mohammed Riyati denied news about a Saudi military buildup on its border with Jordan. Al Sabeel newspaper ran a report headlined "What Is the Truth of Military Buildup on Jordanian-Saudi Border?"

Riyati said on his Facebook page: "The news about a military buildup by a sisterly and cherished state neighboring Jordan is absolutely untrue. The aim of this fake news is to distract the attention of the Jordanian people from the real issue (Palestine question) in general and (Jerusalem) in particular and to direct the attention of the people toward worthless news."

Some websites removed the news after publishing it under the headline "U.S. and Arab Media: Saudi Arabia Massing Troops on Border With Jordan." The Ammon website published a report under the headline "In What Resembles the Fanciful Writings of Abdel Bari Atwan …Ad Diyar Tells Us a Story." The website then removed it.

The AKEED Monitor views positively the Jordanian news websites that refrained from reporting the erroneous news. Meanwhile, it asks websites in sisterly countries to wait before publishing any news about Jordan and to verify it before publishing it.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Jordan has seen a lot of fabricated news on Lebanese and Syrian websites containing inaccurate information, especially concerning security conditions near the Syrian-Jordanian border.

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