UAE minister denies Qatar hack claim, warns feud could take long time

Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, speaks at an event at Chatham House in London Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2017

UAE minister denies Qatar hack claim, warns feud could take long time

LONDON: The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs on Monday denied the country was behind the alleged hacking of Qatar’s official news site and warned the feud with Doha could take a long time to resolve.

Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash disputed a Washington Post report that claimed the UAE had orchestrated a hack to post incendiary false quotes attributed to the Qatari emir. The publication of the quotes was followed by a boycott of Qatar by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt.

The minister said it was one of a number of false claims that had been made about the country, in response to a question from the audience at Chatham House in London, where he delivered a speech on Monday morning.

“This is instead first and foremost about the support offered over the past 20 years by one of the world’s wealthiest countries to the cause of jihadism across the Middle East, and for specific individuals and organizations, including some linked to Al-Qaeda,” Gargash said. 

“It is a crisis that is exacerbated by our loss of trust in Qatar, after it repeatedly broke its word to us. 

“It has spent effort and money trying not to help us, as allies should, but to undermine us and destabilize various countries including the largest Arab state, Egypt. This effort is reckless and will bring no benefit to Qatar. We want it to end.”

In his speech, the minister acknowledged concerns among Western governments that the six-week-old crisis threatened to sow further instability across the Middle East.

“Understandably many of our friends in Europe and beyond are concerned about this crisis. They see the Arab Gulf as a haven of stability in an unstable Middle East, and as an important and functioning common market. Many would argue that it is one of the few Arab bulwarks against further Iranian expansion. We understand and respect those concerns,” he said.

Analysts said the speech by the UAE minister in London reflects how both sides in the dispute are making great efforts to win the media war around the crisis.

However, professor Fawaz A. Gerges of the department of international relations at the London School of Economics said that the message from Gargash was that the only solution to the crisis was to be found in Riyadh, rather than Washington.

He said: “Today’s speech clarified that unless Qatar accepts the demands from the four states, then this crisis will most likely continue for the foreseeable future.”

He believes the longer the row drags on, the worse it will be for a country that relies so heavily on neighboring states for trade and transport.

“I don’t see a way out for Qatar,” he said. “It cannot survive as an island — and now it literally is an island.”

In his speech to Chatham House, Gargash also took aim at Doha’s approach to dialogue, accusing Qatar of leaking a series of demands made by the Anti Terror Quartet (ATQ) at the start of the crisis.

“If the Qataris wanted dialogue, why did they not try first to work through the mediator with a counter proposal in a mature fashion? Why didn’t they say that certain items were accepted and others not? Instead they said: ‘We reject all your demands. Let’s talk’ — but what was there left to talk about?”

Gargash added, however, that there were some positive signs emerging from Doha, including the signing of an memorandum of understanding with the US on terror financing.

“These steps are results of the pressure put on Qatar. And they are welcome — even if it seems that Qatar finds it easier to make these concessions to our Western friends rather than sit around a table with its own Arab Gulf neighbors to discuss their concerns and past experiences.”

Britain’s Prince William in Jordan for historic Middle East tour

Updated 2 min 14 sec ago

Britain’s Prince William in Jordan for historic Middle East tour

  • Prince William was greeted by Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah
  • He will become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories

AMMAN: Prince William arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
He was greeted at Amman’s Marka military airport by Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, who is hosting William for the two-day visit in Jordan.
The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge’s Royal Air Force plane touched down at the small airport in eastern Amman, where he was given a red-carpet welcome by the heir to the Jordanian throne.
Royal guards carrying rifles fitted with bayonets and wearing traditional red-and-white chequered keffiyeh scarves stood to attention as the prince, in a dark suit, descended from the plane.
Amman’s Mayor Youssef Al-Shawarbeh and foreign diplomats based in Jordan were also present at the airport to greet William.
The second in line to the British throne will spend two days in Jordan for a visit billed as a chance to bond with 23-year-old Prince Hussein, a fellow graduate of Britain’s Royal Sandhurst Military Academy.
Later Sunday, he will attend a birthday party in honor of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the residence of the British ambassador in Amman.
On Monday, William will visit the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash, north of the capital, as well as a vocational training college for young Jordanians and Syrian refugees.
That evening, he will head to Israel to begin his history-making visit to the Jewish state and occupied West Bank.
He will hold talks with both Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Kensington Palace has underlined the “non-political nature of His Royal Highness’s role — in common with all royal visits overseas.”
But the region is a minefield of sensitivities.
The visit comes at a particularly volatile time after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved Washington’s embassy there, sparking Arab outrage and deadly clashes.
Britain governed the region under a League of Nations mandate for almost three decades until Israel’s independence 70 years ago, and is still blamed by both sides for sowing the seeds of a conflict that continues to wrack the region.
Ahead of William’s arrival, the official schedule’s reference to east Jerusalem as “in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” sparked anger among right-wing Israeli politicians.
Official visits by British royals take place at the request of the UK government, but statements from the prince’s household have given little explanation for the timing of this trip.
Israel has long pushed for an official visit by a member of the British monarchy.
Other members of William’s family — including his father Prince Charles — have made unofficial visits to Israel and east Jerusalem in the past.
During the trip, William will have plenty of reminders of Britain’s role in the region.
In Jerusalem he will stay at the King David hotel, which was Britain’s administrative headquarters during its rule of Palestine prior to Israeli statehood in 1948.
In 1946, militant Jews waging violent resistance against British rule bombed the building, killing and wounding scores of people, many of them British civil servants or military personnel.
Whilst in Jerusalem, William will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
He will also visit the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and pay tribute at the tomb of his great-grandmother Princess Alice of Greece, who was honored by Israel for sheltering Jews during World War II.
In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah he is also set to meet Palestinian refugees and young people.