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U.S. Believes UAE Orchestrated Hacking That Sparked Gulf Crisis
16 July 2017
The U.S. intelligence community believes that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) orchestrated the hacking incident that sparked the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Gulf countries, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. James Valles reports. (BNO News)
From the Washington Post in the USA:
By Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima
July 16 at 6:25 PM
The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised Hamas.
The hacks and posting took place on May 24, shortly after President Trump completed a lengthy counterterrorism meeting with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified.
Citing the emir’s reported comments, the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt immediately banned all Qatari media. They then broke relations with Qatar and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott, sending the region into a political and diplomatic tailspin that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned could undermine U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State [ISIS].
In a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post article was “false.”
“The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” the statement said. “What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi.
Even if these UAE accusations would happen to be true, then it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. As the UAE used to be one of only three countries (including also Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, not including Qatar) to recognize the Taliban regime in Kabul, Afghanistan; and as Qatar’s armed forces played a prominent role in the NATO regime change war in Libya, which caused the murder of Qadafi and the present bloodbath after bloodbath.
Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”
The revelations come as emails purportedly hacked from Otaiba’s private account have circulated to journalists over the past several months. That hack has been claimed by an apparently pro-Qatari organization calling itself GlobalLeaks. Many of the emails highlight the UAE’s determination over the years to rally Washington thinkers and policymakers to its side on the issues at the center of its dispute with Qatar.
All of the Persian Gulf nations are members of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. More than 10,000 U.S. troops are based at Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base, the U.S. Central Command’s regional headquarters, and Bahrain is the home of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. All are purchasers of U.S. defense equipment and tied to U.S. foreign policy priorities in numerous ways.
The conflict has also exposed sharp differences between Trump — who has clearly taken the Saudi and UAE side in a series of tweets and statements — and Tillerson, who has urged compromise and spent most of last week in shuttle diplomacy among the regional capitals that has been unsuccessful so far. …
U.S. intelligence and other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter. …
In what the [US Donald Trump] administration hailed as a high point of the visit, the Saudis agreed to purchase $110 billion in U.S. arms and signed letters of intent to invest hundreds of billions in deals with U.S. companies.
He had told the Saudis in advance, Trump said in an interview Wednesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, that the agreements and purchases were a prerequisite for his presence. “I said, you have to do that, otherwise I’m not going,” Trump recounted. …
The day after the boycott was announced, Trump indirectly took credit for it. “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with King and 50 countries already paying off,” he tweeted. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.” …
Qatar rejected the demands. Tillerson appeared to agree that they were draconian. But when he called for the boycott to be eased, saying it was causing both security and humanitarian hardship, Trump said the measure was harsh “but necessary.” …
Asked about Trump’s tweets and other comments, he [Tillerson] noted that being secretary of state “is a lot different than being CEO of Exxon,” his previous job, “because I was the ultimate decision-maker.”
The UK government is being accused of fanning the flames of the Gulf crisis after it included both sides of the dispute in a newly published list of countries identified by officials as “priority markets” for the UK’s £12bn defence industry, Middle East Eye can reveal. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain are listed alongside regional rival Qatar on a list of 46 nations highlighted by Whitehall officials as potentially lucrative markets for weapons: here.