Alhurra – “The Free One” – is a U.S. government-funded broadcaster available throughout the Middle East. Established in 2004, Alhurra, along with its FM radio counterpart, Radio Sawa (launched in 2002), represent America’s largest commitment to public diplomacy in the region. Over the last six years, the U.S. government has invested just under $500 million dollars in the two broadcasters.
It is about time that the Al-Jazeera Network received some good news from America. Having been accused by the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of inciting terrorism and assisting Iraqi insurgents, and then allegedly considered as a potential target of a U.S.-led military strike, Al-Jazeera has not exactly felt welcome here in the United States since the beginning of the war in Iraq.
I have to admit I did not expect to be writing what could be deemed a defense of Al-Hurra -- the U.S.-sponsored Arabic language television station beamed across the Arab world. Al-Hurra (which means "the free one" in Arabic) has come under scrutiny over the past few years for its potential impact on U.S. public diplomacy objectives.