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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:
UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval, according to U.S. intelligence officials
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.”
This report is contrary to earlier accusations by CNN that Russia was behind the hacking.
Inside the alleged financial plot by the United Arab Emirates to steal the World Cup from Qatar.
U.S. HACKERS HELPED UAE SPY ON AL JAZEERA CHAIRMAN A group of American hackers who once worked for U.S. intelligence agencies helped the United Arab Emirates spy on a BBC host, the chairman of Al Jazeera and other prominent Arab media figures during a tense 2017 confrontation pitting the UAE and its allies against the Gulf state of Qatar. The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. [Reuters]
Twitter users blast UAE over Emirates ban on Tunisian women: here.
UAE: human rights defender Obaid Al-Zaabi released over three years after being found innocent: here.
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.
The United Arab Emirates has rejected a Qatari call for dialogue, saying Doha has to change its policies before talks could take place to lift a Saudi-led blockade of the Persian Gulf Arab state. Qatar last month dismissed a list of 13 demands put forward by four Arab countries, which asked the country to close down Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran and shut down a Turkish military base.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash on Saturday welcomed Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s call for dialogue, but said Doha had to make changes which he did not specify.
Gargash said of the remarks made on Friday: ‘Dialogue is necessary and needed but its backbone has to be revision,’ Gargash said as he expressed disappointment with the Qatari emir’s first speech since the crisis began last month.
‘I had hoped that the speech of Sheikh Tamim would be an initiative for revision. Sheikh Tamim described the blockade as ‘a pre-planned smear campaign’ and an act of aggression. The quartet comprising Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties and cut all land, sea, and air routes with Qatar on June 5th, accusing it of supporting terrorism and intervening in the region.
On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Italy in an attempt to promote the sanctions, insisting in Rome that Qatar had to meet the demands to have the blockade lifted.
He said: ‘We provided our Qatari brothers with a set of demands. We hope wisdom in Qatar will prevail and respond positively to these demands so we can put an end to this page. We will wait for the desired change to occur.’
Turkish President Erdogan headed to the Persian Gulf last weekend in an attempt to patch up relations. He began his visit in the Saudi city of Jeddah where he met Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman before heading to Kuwait and Qatar.
Turkey has stood behind Qatar during the dispute, providing the small nation with food and pledging military support. Ankara has maintained a military presence in Qatar since 2014, sending additional troops since the crisis began.
The Saudi-led quartet in the crisis, which also includes Egypt and Bahrain, is wary of Turkey’s links with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as its military buildup in the Persian Gulf, complicating Ankara’s role as a mediator in the crisis.
A hopeful opening, however, came after Qatar’s BeIN sports network began broadcasting in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday. Subscribers said they were receiving the network of BeIN sports channels, which had been blocked since the start of the Persian Gulf crisis.
Etisalat, a UAE-based telecommunications giant, also reinstated BeIN sports. ‘We would like to advise that starting 22 July 2017 the BeIN package will be available to customers and normal charges will apply,’ said an email message from Etisalat for subscribers. It was unclear what was behind the decision to allow BeIN, a subsidiary of the Qatari satellite network Al Jazeera, to broadcast again.
In another embarrassment to Riyadh yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Saudi-blockaded Gulf state of Qatar and announced £9 billion in deals, including the sale of 12 jet fighters with an option of 36 more.
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