DOHA: Wadah Khanfar (pictured), the high-profile director-general of the Aljazeera Network, has quit and has been replaced by a Qatari, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani.
In a parting message to the network’s staff, Khanfar, who was in the hot seat for eight years, said it was time to move on and added that the TV station would continue with its good work.
Khanfar said he began his career with Aljazeera working as a correspondent based in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa, among other locations.
Khanfar maintained that he was “moving on since the goal set at the time of his appointment to establish Aljazeera as a global media leader had been met.”
But Aljazeera’s rival network Alarabia said on its website that Khanfar was under pressure to put in his papers over recent revelations made by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks about him “cooperating” with the US in 2005.
The US was continuously monitoring Aljazeera’s coverage of US-related events and affairs at the time and pointing out mistakes in its coverage on a regular basis, Alarabia.net said.
In his farewell message, Khanfar was obliquely critical of Washington and said that the US was highly critical of the network earlier but is now all praise for it.
Aljazeera has always been objective in its coverage, Khanfar said. Referring to the Arab Spring and its coverage by the network, he said Aljazeera will continue to be the voice of the voiceless in the Arab world.
Meanwhile, people commenting on Qatari social networking sites expressed happiness over Khanfar’s resignation and said replacing him with a Qatari was a welcome move.
“Congratulations! Our heads are held high with pride as one of us has taken over the reins of the network,” wrote a jubilant commentator. “There are capable men in the Qatari community as well,” he added.
Another commentator congratulated Khanfar’s successor on his appointment as head of the network. Nearly all the commentators expressed their happiness over Khanfar’s exit.
Aljazeera in a release, while confirming that Khanfar had stepped down, said Al Thani’s first day at work will be today.
Al Thani has been a member of the most senior decision-making body at Qatargas, Aljazeera said in the release. He has industry experience in France and the US and holds degrees from numerous institutions worldwide, including Imperial College in Britain and the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business.
The network was all praise for Khanfar and said he made outstanding contributions to Aljazeera and journalism worldwide.
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