DAILY CITES U.S. IN­TEL­LI­GENCE Wash­ing­ton Post re­ports, UAE de­nies Qatar hack­ing

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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 Amir, prompt­ing a diplo­matic cri­sis, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported on Sun­day, cit­ing US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials.

The Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad al-Thani, had been quoted in May as prais­ing Ha­mas and say­ing that Iran was an “Is­lamic power,” the Post re­ported. In re­sponse, Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplo­matic and trans­port ties with Qatar on June 5, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism.

Qatar said in late May that hack­ers had posted fake re­marks by the amir, an ex­pla­na­tion re­jected by Gulf states.

The Post re­ported that US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials learned last week of newly an­a­lyzed in­for­ma­tion that showed that top UAE gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials dis­cussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day be­fore they oc­curred.

The of­fi­cials said it was un­clear if the UAE hacked the web­sites or paid for them to be car­ried out, the news­pa­per re­ported. The Post did not iden­tify the in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials it spoke to for the re­port.

UAE de­nies story

The United Arab Emi­rates was not re­spon­si­ble for an al­leged hack of Qatari web­sites which helped spark a month­long diplo­matic rift with Doha, the UAE’s min­is­ter of state for for­eign af­fairs said on Mon­day.

An­war Gar­gash de­nied as false a story in the Wash­ing­ton Post that cited US of­fi­cials say­ing the UAE had or­ches­trated the hack of Qatar’s state news agency.

“The Wash­ing­ton Post story to­day that we ac­tu­ally hacked the Qataris is also not true,” he told the Lon­don-based think­tank Chatham House.

Gar­gash said the four Arab pow­ers were in the process of dis­cussing ad­di­tional sanc­tions on Doha.

“There will be some tight­en­ing of the screws,” he said in an in­ter­view on the side­lines of the event, de­clin­ing to give a time frame on when new mea­sure could be in­tro­duced.

“We will see what are these Kuwait’s Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter and For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Ha­mad Al-Sabah met Egypt’s Pres­i­dent Ab­delfat­tah el-Sisi at Cairo’s Al-It­ti­hadiya Palace. The act­ing pre­mier and for­eign min­is­ter de­liv­ered a mes­sage of greet­ings from HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the Egyp­tian leader. He also ex­pressed Kuwait’s con­do­lences over lives lost in ‘ter­ror­ist in­ci­dents’ that re­cently tar­geted Egypt. Fur­ther­more, he re­it­er­ated Kuwait’s ‘stead­fast and un­wa­ver­ing sup­port’ for Egypt’s anti-ter­ror­ism ef­forts and mea­sures taken by Cairo aimed at bol­ster­ing se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity. Dur­ing the talks, the two of­fi­cials dis­cussed re­gional and in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ments. The meet­ing was at­tended by As­sis­tant FM for the Of­fice of the First Deputy PM and FM Sheikh Dr Ah­mad Nasser Al-Mo­ham­mad Al-Sabah and Kuwait’s Am­bas­sador to Egypt Mo­ham­mad AlThuwaikh.

screws, whether they are fi­nan­cial, whether they are other, but they are com­pletely within our (re­mit) as sov­er­eign states.”

Yet the UAE would not es­ca­late its boy­cott by ask­ing com­pa­nies to choose be­tween do­ing busi­ness with it or with Qatar, he added.

Gar­gash, who also sug­gested in­ter­na­tional mon­i­tor­ing of Qatar was needed, added there were no plans for a meet­ing be­tween the two sides un­der the aus­pices of Kuwait, a neu­tral Gulf Arab coun­try seek­ing to me­di­ate in the spat.

“We are too early to speak about meet­ings, be­fore we get a me­di­a­tion with some trac­tion,” he said.

“The in­for­ma­tion pub­lished in the Wash­ing­ton Post on July 16, 2017, which re­vealed the in­volve­ment of the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) and se­nior Emi­rati of­fi­cials in the hack­ing of Qatar News Agency, un­equiv­o­cally proves that this hack­ing crime took place,” Qatar’s gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

US of­fi­cials have said that ex­perts

from the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (FBI) help­ing Qatar in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent are con­vinced QNA was hacked, but that iden­ti­fy­ing the cul­prit will take time.

Egyp­tian For­eign Min­is­ter Sameh Shoukry told his Kuwaiti coun­ter­part that the sanc­tions were be­ing main­tained “in light of what the quar­tet states see as Qatar’s stalling and pro­cras­ti­na­tion, and lack of con­cern for the con­cerns of the four states”.

KUNA photo

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