Erdogan to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia amid Gulf rift

The United Arab Emirates was behind the hack of a Qatar news agency that helped spark one of the biggest diplomatic crises in the Middle East in decades, according to a bombshell Washington Post report citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials on Sunday. But Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all blocked Qatari media and later severed diplomatic ties.

USA intelligence officials confirmed that senior members of the UAE government discussed the hack on May 23, just one day before the news site and its social media accounts were hacked.

Abu Dhabi is said to have orchestrated the hack to post inflammatory quotes falsely attributed to Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, the Washington Post reports.

U.S. officials told The Washington Post that they had intelligence confirming that senior members of the UAE discussed the hacking during a meeting on May 23, hours before it happened.

In a statement, the UAE's ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, rejected these claims.

Qatar, the Gulf state being isolated by its neighbors, said Monday that the reported involvement of the United Arab Emirates in hacking its government news site in May is "unfortunate" and a breach of agreements among the Gulf countries. The largest USA base in the region is in the now-pariah state, with attacks against Islamic State launched from the country regularly, and with B-52s being based in Qatar, the first time they have been based in the region since the Gulf War.

But Qatar said that the Washington Post report proved its version of events, that its websites were hacked and that quotes were fabricated and published.

In the meantime, Qatar's neighbours have banned its aircraft from their airspace, among other measures, and the wealthy natural gas producer had to find alternative sources for the food imports on which it relies. One of the demands was the closure of the Turkish military base in Qatar, which Mr Erdogan said was "disrespectful against Turkey".

In the days after the Qatar crisis erupted, Tillerson called on all sides to work for a solution, only to be contradicted by Trump, who came out very strongly in favour of Saudi Arabia and condemned Qatar as a "funder of terrorism at a very high level". Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taleban to Hamas and Gaddafi.

"This defense cooperation between Doha and Ankara is part of their common defense vision to support anti-terrorism efforts and maintain security and stability in the region", a statement by Qatar's Armed Forces said.

It's all turned into a mess and Qatar is weathering the storm.

While the Arab quartet continues to pressure Qatar, its ally in the conflict, Turkey, remains firm in its support of the besieged kingdom.

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