UAE arranged for hacking of Qatar government sites, sparking diplomatic row

The United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister has hotly denied that his government was responsible for the alleged hack of a Qatari state news agency which helped spark the current diplomatic crisis enveloping the Gulf.

The Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was falsely quoted as praising Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic movement, and saying that Iran was an “Islamic power“.

The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true”, he told the London-based think-tank Chatham House.

According to intelligence officials, the working theory since the attacks was reported has been that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or a combination of these countries were involved in orchestrating the hacks.

Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation.

The United Arab Emirates warned Qatar on Monday it could not belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council if it undermined regional security, calling for a “change of behaviour” but not “regime change”.

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said that the agreement signed by the US and Qatar on the financing of terrorism was a positive development but did not live up to their expectations.

The UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, also issued a statement describing the report as false. Previously, US media, citing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, blamed the attack on “Russian hackers”.

He went on to accuse Qatar of “funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi“.

Mr Gargash called for “a regional solution and global monitoring” to solve the Gulf crisis. “Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbors”, the statement said.

Washington and Doha signed the agreement as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Qatar on a three-day tour of Persian Gulf-Arab countries to try to end a month-long rift between Western-allied Arab states. “They [the UAE] claim that basically their demands from Qatar are legitimate and they insist that they should be fulfilled nearly as a diktat instead of sitting at a table and negotiating some legitimate differences that they might have with Doha, and somehow, unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has followed suit”, said Jahshan.