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UAE Role In Hack That Sparked Crisis Revealed In Media Report, Qatar Says

UAE Role In Hack That Sparked Crisis Revealed In Media Report, Qatar Says
In an alleged hack of Qatar's state news agency in late May that helped spark a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates was involved, Qatar said citing a U.S. media report.
The UAE said that four Arab powers were discussing imposing new sanctions on Qatar and said that the Washington Post report was untrue.
Accusing Qatar of financing Islamist militant groups and allying with their regional adversary Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5. Qatar denies allegations.
A story quoting Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, as praising Gaza's ruling Islamist Hamas movement and calling Iran an "Islamic power", was carried by Qatar's news agency, QNA, about two weeks ago which resulted in the move by the four Arab nations against Qatar.
And following that, one of the most serious feuds in years between Western-aligned Gulf states began as Qatar’s allies were outraged, even though Qatar said its emir had never given the speech, and that the story had been planted electronically.
"The information published in the Washington Post on 16 July 2017, which revealed the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and senior Emirati officials in the hacking of Qatar News Agency, unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place," Qatar's government said in a statement.
While identifying the culprit will take time, experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) helping Qatar investigate the incident are convinced QNA was hacked, U.S. officials have said.
In the meantime, Qatar has had to find alternative sources for the food imports on which it relies because the wealthy natural gas producer’s neighbors have banned its aircraft from their airspace, among other measures. There has been little results in the diplomatic efforts by Washington and Kuwait to broker a resolution.
U.S. intelligence officers had learned last week of newly analyzed information showing that top UAE officials had discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred, reported The Washington Post citing unidentified U.S. intelligence officials.
A striking example of a cyber attack shaping global politics would be a hack of QNA if confirmed. It was unclear if the UAE had hacked the sites itself or paid for them to be hacked, the officials were quoted as saying.
Deliberate ambiguities in Qatar's policies that have undermined stability in the region were reflected through Sheikh Tamim's reported remarks said fellow Gulf states who had already rejected Qatar's explanation.
"The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told the Chatham House think-tank in London.
Saying only that "there will be some tightening of the screws" and not elaborating, he said the four Arab powers were in the process of discussing additional sanctions on Qatar.
Gargash suggested international monitoring of Qatar was needed and said the UAE would not ask foreign companies to choose between doing business with it or Qatar.
The sanctions were being maintained "in light of what the quartet states see as Qatar's stalling and procrastination, and lack of concern for the concerns of the four states", Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his Kuwaiti counterpart.
Downgrading relations with Iran, closing a Turkish military base, shutting down the pan-Arab satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera, and curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood by Qatar are among the demands made from Qatar.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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