The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia blocked access to the Al-Jazeera website on Wednesday, in response to statements published on QNA, the official Qatari News Agency, reporting that Qatar ordered the withdrawal of its ambassador from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain.
No response has been seen from Egypt so far.
This came among other statements published on QNA, but was later denied by Qatar, stating that the website was hacked.
Statements attributed to the Emir of Qatar condemned the accusations against Qatar as a country supporting terrorism, despite the country’s continued efforts in fighting against the so called Islamic State (IS) organisation, and he added that “Iran represents a regional and Islamic weight that cannot be ignored, and it is not wise to escalate against it,” asserting that Iran “is a major force to ensure stability in the region.”
Following the statements, Al-Jazeera reported a statement by the head of QNA denying all the statements, clarifying that the emir did not give any speech on Tuesday, expressing astonishment at media outlets circulating the statements.
Qatar denied the statement, saying that unknown sources had hacked the agency website, and called on media outlets to ignore these alleged statements, asserting that it will use its right to hold the hackers accountable. It also noted that its Twitter account was hacked later.
Qatar continued justifying that what happened is an unfair crackdown that came in conjunction with US president Trump’s visit to the region and aims to connect the country to terrorism, distorting its efforts in achieving stability.
It also published a statement saying that neighbouring countries will participate to find the hackers that caused the situation, causing tensions with Gulf countries, according to Sputnik news agency.
Experts suggested that the reportedly fabricated statements that came in response to President Al-Sisi’s speech during the US-Arab-Islamic Summit, as he asserted that there are countries funding, arming, and training terror organisations. It was mentioned multiple times by Egypt that Qatar is supporting terror organisations, including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.
However, in Al-Sisi’s speech, he did not mention anything about Qatar.
Also, the Saudi king made statements against Iran in his opening speech at the summit, which included accusing Iran as the source of terrorism in the region.
Gamal Sultan commented to Daily News Egypt on the necessity of an Egyptian response, saying that Egypt does not need to respond, as if the statements were true and not fabricated, so this is a confirmation of Egypt’s accusation against Qatar.
Further commenting on the future of relations between Qatar and neighbouring Gulf countries, Sultan said that relations are already strained, and this was seen through the UAE and Saudi responses.
He concluded by confirming that Qatar’s stance is a gain for Egypt, as Egypt has previously accused Qatar of supporting terror organisations.
Relations between Egypt and Qatar have been tense since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, who is currently serving life in prison in the ‘Qatar espionage’ case. Egypt believes that Qatar’s support of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood impacts the country’s security and stability.
Egypt did not block yet Al-Jazeera websites, but withdrew licenses of its offices in Egypt.