UAE FM warns Qatar is 'undermining' GCC allies

Anwar Gargash

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

The United Arab Emirates arranged for Qatari government social media and news sites to be hacked in late May in order to post fiery but false quotes linked to Qatar's emir, prompting a diplomatic crisis, the Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing U.S. intelligence officials.

In the articles, Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was quoted as cautioning against confrontation with Iran, as well as defending the Palestinian group Hamas and Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia movement allied with Tehran.

Among the false social media posts published during the hack were some made in the name of the emir of Qatar, in which he appeared to make disparaging remarks about Donald Trump, praised Gaza's Hamas leaders and expressed support for Iran as an "Islamic power".

In response to this statement, Emirati Embassy in Washington's statement has been released calling Post report as false and claiming that UAE played no role in the catastrophic situation between Gulf nations and Qatar.

Asked about a Washington Post report citing United States intelligence officials saying the UAE may have been behind the hack, Gargash said it was "purely not true". "You will see in the next few days the story will die". He said: "The Washington Post story is not true".

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt responded by blocking Qatari media.

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The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported.

The hack, which took place the following day, preceded the current split in the Gulf between Qatar and a coalition of four states that are mounting an economic and diplomatic boycott against it.

"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 we really do want is we either reach an agreement and Qatar's behaviour changes, or Qatar makes its own bed and they can move on and we can move with a new relationship. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours". A few days later the four states launched their blockade of Qatar.

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible. Instead, he said the quartet meant to put the issue on the back burner to focus on trying to resolve the crises in Libya and Yemen.

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