Hack, fake story expose real tensions between Qatar, Gulf

Terrell Bush
May 25, 2017

"The Qatar News Agency website has been hacked by an unknown entity", reported the Government Communications Office in a statement.

The retracted story also had quotes attributed to Tamim that stated that Qatar has good relations with Israel and that there is no wisdom in making an enemy out of Iran, the Middle East Eye reported.

The disputed Qatar news agency report also described Hamas - considered a terrorist organization by the US and European Union - as the official representative of Palestinians, according to Arabic media.

Statements attributed to the Emir of Qatar condemned the accusations against Qatar as a country supporting terrorism, despite the country's continued efforts in fighting against the so called Islamic State (IS) organisation, and he added that "Iran represents a regional and Islamic weight that can not be ignored, and it is not wise to escalate against it", asserting that Iran "is a major force to ensure stability in the region". In May 2016, hackers leaked sensitive information involving thousands of bank customers. He signed a huge weapons deal with Saudi Arabia.

The statement was made on the official news agency's Twitter account, which asked the media not to publish the remarks that had been posted earlier.

On Thursday morning, Bahrain and Egypt also apparently had blocked Al-Jazeera websites, though authorities did not immediately acknowledge it. Egypt also blocked other websites as well, including that of Mada Masr, a popular online news outlet known for its investigative reports on the Egyptian government.

Qatar has been at odds with Gulf states for sometime over the extent of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an issue that has been brought into sharper relief by Trump's demand for Gulf states to do more to fight extremism.

The Emir said Al-Udeid Air Base, which houses both Qatari Air Force and US Air Force, is protecting Doha from some neighboring countries, without mentioning any names.

The comments were picked up by several other news outlets and broadcasters in the Arab world, and were met with a storm of criticism in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in particular. It declined to comment further.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the U.A.E. pulled their envoys from Qatar for about eight months in 2014, accusing the state of undermining regional security.

The agency's official Twitter account has also been attacked.

There were also alleged negative remarks about Qatar's relationship with the new administration of US President Donald Trump. One of those pieces, suggesting Qatar in 2006 may have let go a Qatari man who became an al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan, came from David A. Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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