' Qatar accuses UAE of hacking its media following WaPo report

18 July, 2017, 06:38 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • UAE minister

In a stunning turn of events, the Washington Post is quoting USA intelligence officials as saying that the "fake news" hack which started the Qatar blockade was actually the product of a plot concocted by top leaders of the United Arab Emirates, one of the blockading states. I have no idea if this is true - but the story is sourced to "U.S. intelligence officials" so presumably the reporters got it from someone inside the IC (and given that it looks like SIGINT, probably from the NSA).

The alleged hack of the Qatar News Agency website on 24 May attributed explosive remarks to Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said global monitoring was needed in the standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, adding he saw signs that the pressure exerted on Doha "was working". Other countries involved in the embargo included Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Senegal and Mauritania. If the reports are true, it proves how easy it is to set up bait for Trump - and to create an global crisis now that he is president.

The UAE has denied this, with the ambassador for the country, Yousef al-Otaiba, saying the reports were false. Qatar houses more than 10,000 USA troops at its air base near Doha. What effect, if any, did this revelation have on Trump's credulous support for the campaign?

U.S. spies now believe those comments to have been concocted and planted on Qatari government websites.

As tensions flared after the report, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to the region to try to narrow the rift.

This represented a radical break with the administration's initial line on the crisis.

"We can't tolerate such direct and overt support of extremist ideologies", he said, noting that more pressures have to be piled over such nations to change course.

Still, it's hard for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates not to feel as if Trump is on their side, especially given his embrace of their worldview.

And now U.S. intelligence agencies are claiming the quotes were posted falsely and deliberately in a state-sponsored hack ordered by the UAE trying to whip up anger against its smaller Gulf neighbour.

Weeks later, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates organized a blockade of Qatar, Trump took his new friends in Riyadh at their word: The blockade was the Gulf states' attempt to honor the president's bold request. "What is true is Qatar's behavior".

The four Arab states accuse Qatar of ties to Iran and of funding Islamist extremist groups. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours".

Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, also claimed the story was false. Emails from the account were circulated to the media by an organization called GlobalLeaks. In them, Otaiba criticizes Qatar and expresses a desire to see the US military base moved out of the country.

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