UAE says report that it was behind Qatari cyber hack is "false"

Gulf states hint at expulsion of Qatar from regional bloc

The Washington Post reported Sunday that USA officials believe the United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari news sites in May, posting false quotes by the country's leader that set off the Gulf region's most serious diplomatic crisis in years.

The report said that information accessed by US intelligence officials has confirmed that senior members of the UAE government had discussed the plan and its implementation.

On May 24, two day after U.S. president Donald Trump's visit to Riyadh for a summit with leaders from the GCC and dozens of other Muslim-majority countries, Qatar News Agency carried on its website and a ticker on an online video incendiary quotes attributed to Sheikh Tamim, the emir of Qatar, including a denunciation of the summit and praise for Iran and Hamas.

Since June 5, Qatar has been under a land, sea and air blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, who accuse Doha of supporting terrorism.

"The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking", UAE ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said in a statement.

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

"We need to be certain that Qatar, a state with $300 billion in reserves, is no longer an official or unofficial sponsor of jihadist and terrorist causes", said Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Reuters reported.

While much of what Qatar's critics charge is true, you also have to consider the source.

The Gulf states who cut ties with Qatar last month have given their strongest hint yet that they plan to expel Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional trade and security group.

The UAE has termed the Post report false.

Proof points and key messages on Qatar's funding and support of terrorism and extremism will be brought to the limelight at a seminar in Brussels.

Its officials categorically denied having any involvement in the hack on Sunday.

Qatar has been subjected to a diplomatic and economic blockade that the USA government says could compromised U.S. efforts against so-called Islamic State. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours", the statement said.

"As the Qataris realise this is a crisis that will drag on, we will see them become a bit more realistic", he said.

"We've sent a message to Qatar".

In an interview, Mohammed Cherkaoui, professor on conflict resolution at George Mason University, said the new Washington Post "bombshell" shows that the Gulf crisis "is moving from one escalation to another".

The first on the list of 13 sweeping demands that the Gulf states and Egypt placed before Qatar in the form of ultimatum is a complete severing of ties of Iran.

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