Hack, fake story expose real tensions between Qatar, Gulf

Marcus Newton
May 25, 2017

By early morning, those living in the UAE and subscribed to local cable providers couldn't access the channels of Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite broadcaster based in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Al-Thani also seems to have praised Iran which even the previous U.S. administration under President Obama labeled as the "biggest state sponsor of terror" as an "Islamic power" and a source of stability in the region.

In an embarrassing incident that has the Qatari government bending over backward to fix its "tarnished" reputation in the face of its petrodollar-fueled and USA -backed Gulf allies, the state-run Qatar News Agency took down an article that defended all of Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, claiming the site was hacked.

KSA and UAE media outlets also considered that Doha devoted all its capabilities to be the voice of the militant groups, describing the Qatari step as a disaster.

The incident comes just days after President Donald Trump met Gulf Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Doha has accused unidentified hackers of breaking into the agency's website and publishing fake news.

Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia fell out with Qatar over its backing of then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood member.

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Qatar News Agency (QNA) confirming the hack on its Twitter account.

On Tuesday night, a story published by the Qatar News Agency said Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the country's emir, had addressed a military graduation ceremony that day in which he criticised the aggressive rhetoric aimed at Iran by the Gulf and United States during president Donald Trump's trip to Riyadh.

There was no immediate official comment available. A story had run earlier on the agency's website quoting a speech by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar's ruler.

Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of Qatar government's communications office, issued a statement saying authorities had launched an investigation.

This year's valedictorian, Ghada Khalifa Al Thani, gave an emotional speech: "One individual can not make a permanent change or development", she said. The statement published has no basis whatsoever, and the competent authorities in the State of Qatar will hold all those (involved) accountable.

Meanwhile, numerous Saudi media outlets claimed that a number of Qatari news websites have been banned in Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a response to the statements.

Relations between Qatar and other Gulf states cooled in 2014 over Qatar's foreign policy and its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a political and social organization that calls for a society based on Islamic law.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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