Doha says United States media report showed UAE attack on Qatar's news agency

Claudine Rigal
Juillet 18, 2017

Qatar says the United Arab Emirates' alleged hacking of its government websites is a violation of worldwide law.

However, US intelligence agencies claim the quotes were posted falsely and deliberately in a state-sponsored hack ordered by the UAE to whip up anger against its smaller Gulf neighbour.

The Washington Post cited unidentified U.S. intelligence officials as saying they had learned last week of newly analysed information showing that top UAE officials had discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

UAE Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba denied the report in a statement, saying it was "false", the Post said.

New details concerning recent crisis in the Persian Gulf are being revealed while the regional conflict escalates further despite global efforts.

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash also said the story "is purely wrong" and said that "this issue has been festering since 2014". Two weeks later, they suspended diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar over its relations with Iran as well as its alleged funding of extremist groups in the region. "UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article", Al Otaiba was quoted as saying in the tweet. Where Trump has been vocal in his support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the State Department has embraced a more cautious approach, trying to find a resolution to the crisis.

"You can not be both our friend and a friend of al-Qaeda", he said, repeating allegations - denied by Qatar - that the country funds extremists.

"What is true is Qatar's behaviour. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbors", the statement said.

He pointed out that "the current crisis of dimensions beyond the domestic arena of the GCC (Gulf co-operation council)", noting the "need to put an end to official support for extremism and jihadism and terrorism in various parts of the Arab world".

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible. But it has denied aiding jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or so-called Islamic State (IS). They presented Qatar with a list of 13 wide-ranging demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face unspecified consequences.

Yet the UAE would not escalate its boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or with Qatar, he added.

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