Posted on July 17, 2017 at 2:08 PM
This Sunday, the Washington Post reported on the alleged arrangements made by the United Arab Emirates for the hacking of the Qatari government social media and news sites in late May of this year. This was arranged in order to post false quotes in direct link with Qatar’s emir, which resulted in the Qatar-Gulf diplomatic crisis.
According to the Post, quotes about praising Hamas and statements that Iran was an Islamic power have been falsely linked to the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain have cut diplomatic and transport ties with the country in response on June 5th, following with the accusations of supporting terrorism. Qatar denied the allegations.
Qatar stated of the hacks that lead to the posting of the false statements in late May. Gulf states refused to accept the explanation.
Amb. Yousef Al Otaiba: "The @washingtonpost story is false. UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article".
— UAE Embassy US (@UAEEmbassyUS) July 17, 2017
Reportedly, the US intelligence officials have come to the possession of information that UAE government officials talked of the planned hacks on May 23rd, which is conveniently the day before the hacks occurred. The intelligence officers who found out this information haven’t been identified by the Post.
UAE Ambassador to the US stated that the report was false and pointed out to the Qatar’s behavior, which included violence and undermining the stability of its neighbors. It is known that the FBI has been previously working with Qatar to investigate the hacking. The US Department of State hasn’t responded yet.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to the Gulf Region in attempts to work things out. The visit didn’t do much except producing an agreement between US and Qatar to fight terrorism. Tillerson returned to the US on Thursday.
Spokesman for Tillerson stated that the negotiations on the said subject may take a long time until a common ground is found when it comes to the conflict. What’s sure is that the new information that surfaced is creating complications in the negotiation process.
In June, Qatar claimed of having proof of the hacking being linked to the countries that have cut ties with Qatar following the false quotes. The country has evidence of certain mobile phones being from the countries accusing Qatar being connected to the hacking, Qatar’s attorney general stated on June 21st.
Qatar’s invite both US and British intelligence services to aid investigation of the crisis was a step in the right direction, according to Khalil Jahshan, executive director at the Arab Center Washington, DC. Now that the results of the investigation are out, and the quotes are proven to be fabricated and resulting from this hacking, this should have an effect on the mediation efforts, he added.