Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday blocked the websites of fellow Gulf state Qatar – including al-Jazeera – over incendiary remarks about Iran and Israel posted on Qatar’s state-run news agency.
Qatar claimed its official websites had been hacked after reports appeared in which the Qatari emir criticised Donald Trump, described Iran as a force for stability in the region and threatened to withdraw ambassadors from a range of Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia .
However, a number of Arab news agencies pointed out the some of the emir’s remarks had already appeared on Qatar state broadcasting before they were disowned, raising questions whether they were genuine, but should not have been reported.
The stories included reports that the emir of Qatar , Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, speaking at a military ceremony, called Iran a “big power” and described Qatar’s relations with Israel as “good”.
He reportedly said there were tensions with Trump, adding the US president was facing legal issues in his home country as claims over his Russia links continue.
The row is important partly because the Trump administration is coming under pressure to review its alliance with Qatar in view of its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.