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News > World

Qatar State News Retracts 'Hacked' Article That Defended 'Enemies' — but Still Faces Wrath of Allies

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani poses with Trump and Gulf allies.

    Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani poses with Trump and Gulf allies. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 May 2017

While Qatar scrambles to save its image after the hack, its imperial allies are already fuming at the remarks.

In an embarrassing incident that has the Qatari government bending over backward to fix its "tarnished" reputation in the face of its petrodollar-fueled and U.S.-backed Gulf allies, the state-run Qatar News Agency took down an article that defended all of Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran, claiming the site was hacked.

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"The Qatar News Agency, QNA, website has been hacked by an unknown entity. A false statement attributed to His Highness has been published," said a government statement early Wednesday.

The story that ran earlier quoted a speech given by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar's ruler, that criticized U.S. foreign policy, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

“No one has a right to accuse us of terrorism because they designated the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists or refused the role of the resistance with Hezbollah and Hamas,” one quote read.

The retracted story also had quotes attributed to Tamim that stated that Qatar has good relations with Israel and that there is no wisdom in making an enemy out of Iran, the Middle East Eye reported.

Despite Doha’s maladroit attempts at denial and retraction, the remarks were already picked up by other Gulf Arab countries, who published steaming, accusatory pieces criticizing their "traitorous" ally.

Saudi Arabia's Okaz daily thundered: "Qatar splits the rank, sides with the enemies of the nation,” while Riyadh's Arab News said the comments sparked "outrage."

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Authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates even blocked the main website of Qatar's al-Jazeera television, which both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have often griped is critical of their governments.

Qatar is set to track down and prosecute the perpetrators, officials said in a statement.

After the hacking, QNA’s website was shut down, but its Twitter account continued to send polemical tweets, including one which claimed that Qatar’s foreign minister said that there was a conspiracy by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Kuwait to smear his country’s reputation.

Qatar’s blunder was especially distressing for the absolute monarchy, given the meeting its allies recently held in Saudi Arabia, where Trump met and exalted the repressive leaders the U.S. supports in the region, while all fearmongered about the threat Iran poses.

Clearly, the retracted story’s anti-imperial criticisms were completely off the mark.

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