Qatar dismisses reports of Gulf tensions over 'hacked' news
Qatar's foreign minister has dismissed reports of renewed tensions with other Gulf states after the country's state media was hacked and controversial fake remarks attributed to its emir were published.
Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani said on Thursday during a press conference in Doha that Qatar shared the same interests as its allies in the Gulf and that the country was the target of an organised smear campaign.
"We are keen on maintaining good relations with Gulf states. This incident has no relation to what happened in 2014," Thani said, referring to when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors over Qatar's alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a claim Qatar denies.
"In Riyadh, we had very positive discussions about the relationship between Gulf countries," he said, speaking about US President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia last week.
He said that investigators have been assigned to look into the "electronic crime" and that a transparent report would be released.
Thani added that Qatar was being targeted by a hostile campaign, particularly in the US media.
"It is surprising that during the past five weeks, there were 13 opinion articles focused on Qatar" in US media, and that the day the Qatari state news agency was "hacked, a conference on Qatar convened without us attending while the authors of those articles were there," he said.
The four-hour cyber attack after midnight on Tuesday caused ripples across the Middle East because of the content of the stories, including remarks on "tensions" with the US administration, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and relations with Iran.
Doha quickly issued a robust denial that the remarks had ever been made and said the news agency had been compromised.
Media outlets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, however, have ignored the denial and as of Thursday continue to spread the fake news as genuine.
In the past few years, Qatar has made amends with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, following a period of tensions mainly over Doha's independent foreign policy that diverges from those of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Qatar continues to host leaders of Palestinian Islamist resistance group Hamas, to which the UAE and Saudi Arabia are hostile. Qatar has come out against the military coup in Egypt led by the ally of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
From Iraq and Syria to Tunisia via Libya, Doha toes a different line from those of its two Gulf neighbours.