Emirati diplomat: 'Nothing to negotiate' with Qatar

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash
Updated 07 June 2017

Emirati diplomat: 'Nothing to negotiate' with Qatar

DUBAI: A top Emirati diplomat has told The Associated Press that “there’s nothing to negotiate” with Qatar amid a diplomatic crisis now gripping the Gulf.
Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash applauded efforts by the emir of Kuwait to try and mediate an end to the turmoil. However, when asked in a rare interview what Emiratis would be willing to concede, Gargash offered nothing. He also suggested that all options, including using force, remained on the table in confronting Qatar.
The United Arab Emirates joined Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in cutting off diplomatic ties to Qatar on Monday. The countries are now blocking Qatar’s access to their airspace and blocking its ships, isolating the small, energy-rich nation.
Measures taken by the United Arab Emirates and other nations against Qatar are aimed at pressuring Doha into changing its policies, not at overthrowing its regime, Gargash told AFP on Wednesday.
“We have now reached a cul-de-sac in terms of trying to convince Qatar to change course,” UAE’s Gargash said in an interview, accusing Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region.”
“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” Gargash said.
The Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting extremism, a charge Doha firmly denies.
Gargash said the crisis was the result of “an accumulation over many, many years of subversive Qatari politics and support for extremism and terrorist organizations.”
Qatar has forged regional alliances independently of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council states, drawing accusation by Saudi Arabia and its allies of serving Iranian interests.
The country is home to a number of high-profile figures of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, both listed as terrorist organizations by the United States.

 

– With input from AP and AFP

 


US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

Updated 22 October 2020

US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

  • Intelligence director: “These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries”

WASHINGTON: US officials accused Iran on Wednesday of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump.
The announcement at a rare, hastily called news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the US government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.
The activities attributed to Iran would mark a significant escalation for a nation that some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage, with the announcement coming as most public discussion surrounding election interference has centered on Russia, which hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election, and China, a Trump administration adversary.
“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said John Ratcliffe, the government’s top intelligence official, who, along with FBI Director Chris Wray, insisted the US would impose costs on any foreign countries that interfere in the 2020 US election and that the integrity of the election is still sound.
“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Wray and Ratcliffe did not describe the emails linked to Iran, but officials familiar with the matter said the US has linked Tehran to messages sent to Democratic voters in at least four battleground states that falsely purported to be from the neo-fascist group Proud Boys and that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump.
The officials also said Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Ratcliffe said the spoofed emails were intended to hurt Trump, though he did not elaborate on how. An intelligence assessment released in August said: “Iran seeks to undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in North Carolina, made no reference to the press conference but repeated a familiar campaign assertion that Iran is opposed to his reelection. He promised that if he wins another term he will swiftly reach a new accord with Iran over its nuclear program.
“Iran doesn’t want to let me win. China doesn’t want to let me win,” Trump said. “The first call I’ll get after we win, the first call I’ll get will be from Iran saying let’s make a deal.”
Both Russia and Iran also obtained voter registration information, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Asked about the emails during an online forum Wednesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she lacked specific information. “I am aware that they were sent to voters in multiple swing states and we are working closely with the attorney general on these types of things and others,” she said.
While state-backed Russian hackers are known to have infiltrated US election infrastructure in 2016, there is no evidence that Iran has ever done so.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.