Qatar lashes out at UAE over QNA hacking

The Post says the UAE planted a false story that sparked the current crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries. reuters file

In a stunning turn of events, the Washington Post is quoting USA intelligence officials as saying that the "fake news" hack which started the Qatar blockade was actually the product of a plot concocted by top leaders of the United Arab Emirates, one of the blockading states.

The report said that information accessed by USA intelligence officials has confirmed that senior members of the UAE government had discussed the plan and its implementation.

The crisis erupted May 24, when Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, was cited on government and news websites as praising Iran and the radical Palestinian group Hamas. Qatar has previously asked USA and British officials to investigate the source of the hack.

The United Arab Emirates are behind the hacking of a Qatari's state news agency earlier this year, it has been claimed.

Speaking at the Chatham House forum in London on Monday, the UAE foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, twice denied the veracity of the claims.

While much of what Qatar's critics charge is true, you also have to consider the source.

"UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article", he said in a statement.

The next day President Trump, on a trip to Saudi Arabia, held a counter-terrorism meeting with Gulf Arab nation leaders, and shortly after that meeting the hacking operation was allegedly put into action. Staunchly defending its innocence against the allegations from the onset of the crisis, Qatar claimed the demands were deliberately created to be impossible for it to meet and rejected them, causing the current stalemate in negotiations. The talks in Cairo came a month after the four countries severed ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting extremism.

The Washington Post story also comes days after the U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson spent four days engaged in shuttle diplomacy between Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - all strategic USA partners - seeking to find a way to resolve the crisis. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours", the statement said.

Initially the USA seemed to have taken sides with them against Qatar in the dispute, President Trump accusing the Qataris of funding terrorism "at the highest level".

Arab states that have cut ties with Qatar vowed Wednesday to maintain their boycott of the emirate, criticising its "negative" response to their list of demands to end the diplomatic crisis. The bogus remarks were reported by Saudi-supporting media.

The Gulf crisis is the worst to hit the region since the establishment of the GCC in 1981.

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