RNA - The Saudi regime’s blind enmity towards Iran is escalating by the day. The Independent, a major British online newspaper, is the latest victim.
Independent in Arabic is owned and managed by Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), a major publishing organisation with close ties to the Saudi royal family. Indeed, the London-based editor of Independent Arabia, Adhwan Alahmary, is a well-known apologist for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).
Alahmary described MBS’ murky path to the top as a “smooth transition of power” and a sign that the Kingdom is “renewing its blood”.
Following the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Alahmary dutifully made the rounds on the Arab and international media trying his level best to extricate MBS from any involvement in the crime.
According to the London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye, SMRG and The Independent signed a licensing deal last July following which Independent Arabia was launched.
Reportedly the same licensing deal grants SMRG management control over three other Independent editions in Urdu, Persian and Turkish. Consequently all three subsidiaries – in addition to Independent Arabia – are effectively under full Saudi editorial control.
This reality contradicts The Independent’s claim that it has hired consultants to monitor the foreign-language editions produced by SMRG, by way of ensuring compliance with the online newspaper’s editorial standards.
The latest developments are a big blow to The Independent’s core loyal audience. When it was first launched in 1986 The Independent newspaper caused a splash in Britain as its editorial policy was indeed refreshingly different to the main broadsheets.
But over time the paper declined, as demonstrated by its acquisition by a Russian oligarch in 2010 and subsequent downgrading to an online outlet in 2016. The Independent’s demise mirrors that of the wider British press, substantial parts of which are controlled by a complex web of foreign corporate stakeholders.