Posts Tagged ‘Russian Hackers’

Russians posed as Muslim organization to sway US voters

September 28, 2017

By Chris Perez
The New York Post

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The Russian government tried to influence the 2016 presidential election by masquerading as an authentic US Muslim organization on social media and posting incendiary memes about Hillary Clinton — while simultaneously using other accounts to send Islamophobic messages to right-wing users, a report says.

Sources tell The Daily Beast that the Kremlin-backed internet trolls created a fake Facebook group called “United Muslims of America” and then used it to stir the proverbial pot for months.

While the Russians’ use of imposter accounts is well noted, this is one of the first known instances where they impersonated an actual organization.

The real “United Muslims of America” is a California-based nonprofit that claims to have promoted interfaith dialogue and political participation for more than 30 years. It is “not functional” at the moment, though, and is in the middle of an organizational rebuild.

The group has hosted events with numerous members of Congress in the past — including Democrats Andre Carson and Eric Swalwell. The lawmakers are both members of the House intelligence committee that is currently investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia.

“Unfortunately, it appears that the United Muslims of America is one of many organizations that was unfairly targeted by Russia in their attempt to influence the 2016 Presidential election,” Carson told the Daily Beast.

While using the imposter UMA account, the Russian trolls reportedly posted countless messages and memes aimed at smearing Clinton’s name, as well as other politicians.

One claimed that the Democratic nominee “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and ISIS, while another said John McCain was the true founder of the Islamic State.

The account also posted a photo showing a whitewashed, blood-drenched Moammar Gadhafi — which applauded him for not having a “Rothschild-owned central bank.”

Another post, which was watermarked with the UMA logo, falsely alleged that Osama bin Laden had been a “CIA agent.”

“Russia knows no ends and no limits to which groups they would masquerade as to carry out their objectives,” Swalwell told the Daily Beast.

Throughout the campaign, much of the content that was posted on the account remained apolitical — but the influx of fake news was likely enough to sway voters.

Positive portrayals of Islam were ultimately aimed at Muslim audiences, while the Islamophobic messages were meant for right-wing users.

One post from August 2016 promoted an anti-immigrant rally in Idaho, saying: “We must stop taking in Muslim refugees!”

A message from June 2016, following the deadly Orlando nightclub massacre, asked people to attend an event titled, “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims!”

According to the Daily Beast, the fake UMA page wrote that Clinton was “the only presidential candidate who refuses to ‘demonize’ Islam after the Orlando nightclub shooting.” It added that “with such a person in White House (sic) America will easily reach the bright multicultural future.”

Sources told the outlet that the Russian government also used the account to buy Facebook advertisements to reach its target audiences.

In order to hide their operation, the trolls reportedly used the URL “” — as opposed to the real UMA’s URL, which is “”

They wound up amassing more than 260,000 followers before the account was eventually deactivated by Facebook last month as part of the company’s public acknowledgement of Russia’s network activity.

The Daily Beast managed to uncover some of its content, including a number of posts that were made on Instagram and Twitter.

The Russians reportedly used the handles “muslims_in_usa” and “muslim_voice” to promote political rallies for Muslims and post more inflammatory memes. The accounts have since been suspended, as well.


Facebook, Twitter, Google called on to meet US intelligence committees — “Russia had a campaign to sow discord in the U.S.”

September 28, 2017

Three social media companies have been asked to testify at two US committees investigating Russian interference in the US election. The request has come as details emerge of an alleged campaign to sow discord in the US.

Symbolbild Soziale Netze (picture-alliance/dpa/Lei)

Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, on Wednesday were invited to public hearings of the US House and Senate Intelligence committees as part of their investigations into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election campaign that saw the election of US President Donald Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee plans to hold a hearing in October and the Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1. It was unclear whether the companies would accept the invitations.

Read more: Facebook reveals alleged Russia-funded political ad campaign in US

A joint statement from Democrats Representative Adam Schiff and Republican Representative Mike Conaway said the open hearing aimed “to better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.”

“Congress and the American people need to hear this important information directly from these companies,” the lawmakers added.

Members of the Senate panel confirmed the invitations under the condition of anonymity.

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Fake news and propaganda

Read more: 21 US states targeted by Russian hackers, no votes changed

Both panels have investigated how Russian groups could have used social media platforms and online ads to influence the 2016 election by spreading fake news and propaganda, and whether they were aided by people in the United States.

Republican Senator James Lankford, who received classified information about Russian meddling as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that Russia continued to sow discord in US domestic affairs.

Lankford said over the weekend Russian internet trolls stoked tensions on the issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Read more: Donald Trump slams NFL kneeling protest as ‘disgraceful’

The Daily Beast, citing unnamed sources, reported on Wednesday that a fake Facebook group named “United Muslims of America” was linked to the Russian government and that it pushed false claims about US politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures during a speech with the Facebook logo in the background (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld)Zuckerberg said Facebook did not favor candidates in elections

The group reportedly bought Facebook ads to reach targeted audiences, promoting political rallies aimed at Muslims.

After revelations earlier this month that Facebook sold $100,000 (€€85,000) worth of ads to Russian groups during the election campaign, CNN reported that at least one of those ads referenced Black Lives Matter and was specifically targeted to reach audiences in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, citing unnamed sources.


On Wednesday, Facebook’s vice president of public policy, Richard Allan, said the company shutdown tens of thousands of fake accounts ahead of Germany’s election.


“Protecting the integrity of our platforms during elections is a huge focus for us and something we are committed to — particularly in the face of hostile and coordinated interventions,” Allan wrote in a Facebook post. “Staying ahead of those who are trying to misuse our service is a constant effort led by our security and integrity teams.”

Media are “anti-Trump,” says Trump

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will work to make political advertising on its platform more transparent. The social media giant has already met with both committees’ staff as part of their investigations and said it would turn over some 3,000 ads alleged to have been bought by Russian groups during the US election.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump accused Facebook, as well as major television networks and The New York Times and The Washington Post newspapers, of being “anti-Trump.”

It’s an accusation Zuckerberg rejected in a Facebook post, writing that the platform worked to ensure “free and fair elections” and did not favor particular candidates.

“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump,” Zuckerberg said in his post. “Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

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Russian Little Green Men invaded Crimea and parts of the eastern Ukraine in 2014. How did the American intelligence community fail to warn us? Now it seems Facebook was part of a Russian plan to sow discord in the US. What does American intelligence know?

Germany Believes Russian Hackers Keep up Steady Stream of Cyber Attacks on Websites of Angela Merkel and Others Related to Germany’s Election

September 4, 2017

German intelligence and government officials have often voiced concerns that Moscow could seek to interfere in the Sept. 24 national election, in which Merkel is widely expected to win a fourth term.

Russia has repeatedly denied trying to influence foreign elections.

Julia Kloeckner, vice chairman of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said on Monday that her political website had seen some 3,000 attacks on Sunday before the debate between Merkel and Social Democratic leader Martin Schulz.

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Following a pattern seen in earlier hacks, the CDU’s headquarters in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where Kloeckner is the party’s leader, also experienced “massive attacks” ahead of the debate, she said.

“Many of the senders have Russian IP addresses,” Kloeckner added.

German authorities have blamed a spate of cyber attacks directed at the German parliament, individual lawmakers, political parties and political think-tanks since summer 2015 on APT 28, a Russian hacker group with links to Moscow.

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Kloeckner did not say how the attacks had been discovered or what form they had taken. Many recent cyber attacks targeted at German politicians and institutions have used phishing schemes that include attachments with malicious software.

Germany’s BSI federal cyber protection agency said it was aware of the incidents and was in touch with the CDU headquarters in the state, a spokesman said.

Officials with the headquarters of the CDU and the Social Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition, said they had not seen a wave of similar attacks on their websites.

Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency, told reporters in July that Berlin expected Russia to try to influence this month’s election and said he suspected that Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer a different German chancellor than Merkel.

Merkel backs continued sanctions against Russia for its actions toward Ukraine. Relations between Germany and Russia have been cool in recent years, although Germany is highly dependent on energy supplies from Russia.

A spokesman for the German interior ministry told a news conference on Monday that cyber attacks directed at political parties had increased generally in recent months, but declined to comment on the latest incidents.

He noted the BSI had been working closely with politicians and parties to increase security.

Experts said hackers were increasingly going after subsidiary sites such as those of local party branches in the hope of finding vulnerabilities.

Tyson Barker, program director of the Aspen Institute Deutschland think-tank, said the attacks on a state-level CDU party infrastructure continued a pattern of hackers probing for potential weak links in the broader political system.

“The main battle front in this hybrid war — in the U.S. as in Germany — will likely be in the states, not Berlin or Washington, said Barker, adding: “Those who thought Russian intelligence was going to sit this one out seem to have been proven wrong.”

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Catherine Evans)

International efforts intensify to resolve Qatar dispute in Gulf

June 8, 2017

DUBAI (AFP) – Efforts to resolve a diplomatic dispute pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar intensified Thursday, after Washington offered to mediate the biggest crisis to grip the Gulf in years.

As Kuwait’s emir shuttled between Gulf capitals for talks, US President Donald Trump offered to host a White House meeting if necessary, in a change of heart from his initial support for the Saudi-led boycott.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain lead a string of countries that this week cut ties with Qatar over what they say is the emirate’s financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival.

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Qatar strongly denies the allegations and has expressed a willingness to engage in talks to resolve the crisis.

The Arab countries closed air, sea and land links with Qatar, barred the emirate’s planes from their airspace and ordered Qatari citizens out within 14 days.

The feud has raised fears of wider instability in an already-volatile region that is a crucial global energy supplier and home to several Western military bases.

Kuwait — which unlike most of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members has not cut off ties with Qatar — has been leading efforts to mediate.

Its emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah held talks on Wednesday with Qatari counterpart Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, following talks with senior UAE officials and Saudi King Salman.

– Turkey approves troops –

Trump, who had initially backed the measures against Qatar in a tweet, called Sheik Tamim on Wednesday with an offer “to help the parties resolve their differences”.

Qatar hosts the Al-Udeid military base, the largest US airbase in the Middle East. Home to some 10,000 troops, Al-Udeid is central to the US-led fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

French President Emmanuel Macron has also reached out to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to kick off negotiations.

Turkey, which works closely with Qatar in the energy sector, has walked a fine line between defending Qatar and abstaining from openly antagonising Saudi Arabia.

Ankara hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif this week for talks, including on Qatar.

In a sign of support for Doha, Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday approved an agreement to expand the number of troops deployed to a Turkish base in Qatar. The agreement did not detail a timeframe or the number of troops.

Iran and Qatar share the world’s largest gas field, an offshore site the Iranians call South Pars and the Qataris call the North Dome. Doha is the largest exporter of natural liquefied gas in the world.

Analysts say the crisis is in part an extension of a 2014 dispute, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily recalled their ambassadors from Doha over Qatar’s support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

A top Gulf official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP a major concern was the influence of Sheikh Tamim’s father, Sheikh Hamad, who had allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha and helped arm Syrian rebels before abdicating in 2013.

“The previous emir is a big supporter of this whole extremist agenda, so we do have an issue,” the official said.

– Foreign policy ‘gone wild’ –

Doha has for years forged its own alliances in the region, often diverging from the politics of the six-state GCC and taking in leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas and members of the Afghan Taliban.

A senior Emirati official told AFP this week’s decision was not aimed at a change of regime in Qatar but to pressure the country to reshape its policy.

“This is a foreign policy that gone wild,” state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told AFP. “We need to put everything in check.”

Gargash said the four Arab states seek a “political commitment to change course” by Qatar, including ending its support for the Brotherhood and Hamas.

Qatar’s satellite news giant Al-Jazeera has also emerged as a point of contention in the Gulf. Gargash said “not using the formidable media ownership in promoting an extremist agenda” was a condition for negotiations.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have banned Al-Jazeera from the airwaves and closed the channel’s offices.


by Natacha Yazbeck

Kuwait steps up efforts to end Qatar blockade

June 8, 2017

Kuwaiti emir flies to Qatar as Donald Trump also intervenes for second time in Gulf diplomatic crisis

By  Diplomatic editor

Kuwait has stepped up its efforts to mediate an end to the economic and diplomatic blockade of Qatar as other Gulf States set out more detailed demands for how Qatar should end its alleged funding and harbouring of terrorism.

Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah flew to Qatar on Wednesday night and was met at the airport by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement that the two held talks on how to “restore the normal relations” of the Gulf.

The US president, Donald Trump, also rang the Qatari emir suggesting he come to the US to discuss a resolution to the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf in 30 years.

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Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah was received at the Doha airport by his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. (Source:

In his second intervention in the row in as many days, Trump urged action against terrorism, a White House statement said.

“The president offered to help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary,” it said.

Trump, in a later call with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, called for unity among Gulf Arabs “but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism”, the White House said.

But speaking on BBC radio, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Moscow, Omar Saif Ghobash, said the blockade would only be lifted when Qatar ended the harbouring of terrorists, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. He also demanded that the Qatar-funded broadcaster al-Jazeera “change completely so it no longer acts as a mouthpiece for terrorists”.

Qatar is a critical player in the Middle East as the largest exporter of liquid gas, the host to the largest US military base in the region and the venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

A group of Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, and also Egypt, have placed a stranglehold over the Qatar economy by isolating the country by land, sea and air. The UAE took a further step on Thursday by refusing to send on post to Qatar.

Turkey and Iran have offered to come to Qatar’s aid. The Qatar flag carrier is now having to fly over Iran and Turkey to keep the airlines running.

Ghobash, regarded as one of the chief thinkers on moderate Islam, said on the BBC that the UAE regarded the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and a source of extremist ideas used by al-Qaida. He added that Qatar had “instrumentalised extremism that will ultimately bring us all down”.

“They are funding and they are directing an incredibly destructive policy that makes no sense for the Qataris and the region. Political extremism and political Islam will not create the economies we need in the Middle East.”

He added it was very difficult to discern the Qataris’ logic, but suggested they thought they were betting on the winning horse. Qatar had to decide whether “it wished to be a Gulf State or instead in the pocket of Turkey, Iran and Islamic extremists”.

He said the UAE possessed all kinds of recordings showing Qatar provided millions of dollars to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.

The UAE has insisted it is not seeking regime change in Qatar, but its attacks are increasingly focused on the emir personally.

Qatar denies the claims and says it is the victim of a co-ordinated effort to demolish an independent foreign policy that tries to mediate in the Middle East, including reconciling different Palestinian factions.

The Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, said in a statement on Wednesday that Manama had always chosen to be on the side of Riyadh to protect its country against Qatari and Iranian interference.

The king said he was in Saudi Arabia not only to discuss developments in the region, but also “to renew our appreciation for the support we receive in Bahrain to protect its security and stability in light of the Qatari and Iranian interference”.

He said interference coming from both Qatar and Iran “extend several centuries”.


Qatar diplomatic crisis: All the latest updates

June 8, 2017

The latest news after Arab Gulf countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and suspended Doha-bound flights.

By Al Jazeera


  • Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, eastern government of Libya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mauritania, and Senegal cut diplomatic ties with Qatar
  • Jordan and Djibouti downgrade diplomatic relations with Qatar
  • US: No change planned for military base
  • Qatari aviation, exports, banks affected

The latest developments since several Arab nations cut ties with Qatar on Monday morning. (All times local.)

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Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah was received at the Doha airport by his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. (Source:

To jump to the first update on Thursday, click here

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10:15am – UAE postal group suspends all services to Qatar

  • Emirates Post Group has halted postal services to Qatar from all of its postal offices in the United Arab Emirates until further notice, the country’s state news agency reported. All as yet undelivered items will be returned with the corresponding postal fees according to procedures and regulations.

8:00am – France’s Macron calls all sides to ‘pursue dialogue’

  • For the second time in 24 hours, French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday held a phone conversation with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss efforts to solve the crisis in the Gulf. Macron expressed France’s readiness to act as a mediator and stressed the importance of dialogue in order to preserve stability in the region. The French president also spoke to Saudi King Salman and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and “invited all parties to pursue dialogue”.

5:25am – Qatar’s defence ministry plays down border report

  • A news report that Qatar’s military was put on high alert on the country’s southern border with Saudi Arabia is downplayed. “The ministry of defence is always on alert to protect the borders of the state of Qatar from a 360-degree approach – land, sea and air – 24 hours a day, every day of the year,” said a ministry statement sent to Al Jazeera.

3:40am – Trump calls UAE’s crown prince over crisis

  • US President Donald Trump spoke with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, a White House statement said. “Most importantly, the leaders agreed on the importance of implementing agreements reached in Riyadh to counter extremism and to combat the funding of terrorist groups. Additionally, the president emphasised the importance of maintaining a united Gulf Cooperation Council to promote regional stability, but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism.”

2:30am Thursday – US talking to all sides involved in Gulf crisis

  • “We are continuing to talk to multiple members in the region. We’ll continue to do that and monitor it,” Sarah Sanders, deputy White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One.

11:50pm – Kuwait’s Emir departs from Qatar after a brief visit

  • Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has departed from Qatar’s capital Doha after meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to discuss the GCC crisis.

11:15pm – Bahrain foreign minister says all options open on Qatar

  • Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, said according to the Saudi newspaper Mecca: “The emir of Kuwait is a messenger of good, but the policies of Qatar have not granted his endeavours success. We will not hesitate to protect our interests and the road is open to any options to protect ourselves from Qatar.”

9:30pm – Kuwait’s Emir arrives in Qatar

  • Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has arrived in Qatar’s capital of Doha after a short trip to Dubai in an effort to mediate a solution to the Gulf diplomatic spat.

8:25pm – Media watchdog condemns Saudi closure of Al Jazeera office

  • Reporters Without Borders has condemned Saudi Arabia’s decision to close the Riyadh office of Qatar’s Al Jazeera media network.
  • The media rights group, also known as RSF, said Al Jazeera was a “collateral victim of (the) diplomatic offensive against Qatar”.

8:20pm – Qatar’s National Committee for Human Rights demands end of sanctions

  • The government body said: “Such decisions violate the private ownership rights since thousands in the GCC own residences, factories and business within the GCC and the travel ban will prevent them from attending to their business and carrying out their business and access to their properties. These sanctions also violate the citizens within the GCC their rights to health and work access.”
  • It also said: “National Committee for Human Rights in Qatar warn of more violations that may take place that can affect the peace and security of the GCC as a whole and the dangerous repercussions that these sanctions will lead to.”

8:15pm – Trump holds a phone conversation with Qatar’s Emir

  • US President Donald Trump has spoken by telephone with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, expressing readiness to participate in the efforts to resolve the crisis in the GCC.
  • The White House statement: “The president emphasised the importance of all countries in the region working together to prevent the financing of terrorist organisations and stop the promotion of extremist ideology. The president reiterated that a united Gulf Cooperation Council and a strong United States-Gulf Cooperation Council partnership are critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability. The president offered to help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary.”

8pm – Turkish parliament approves troop deployment in Qatar

  • Turkey’s parliament has approved a legislation allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar.
  • The bill, first drafted in May, passed with 240 votes in favour, largely with support from the ruling AK Party and nationalist opposition MHP.

7:50pm – Top Emirati diplomat says leaked emails were true

  • Anwar Gargash, the UAE foreign minister, has acknowledged that leaked emails published by news outlets from Emirati ambassador to the US were true.

7:40pm – Kuwait’s Emir meets two top officials in the UAE

  • Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah met in Dubai with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to try and mediate a growing diplomatic rift over Qatar. No details have emerged about their discussions.

7:30pm – Senegal cuts diplomatic ties with Qatar

  • Senegal’s foreign ministry has recalled its ambassador from Qatar, saying it was acting in solidarity with other countries in the Gulf who had cut diplomatic ties with Doha.

7pm – Turkey debates law for military support for Qatar

  • Turkey’s parliament has begun debating legislation for increased military cooperation with Qatar in an apparent move to support the country amid its dispute with Saudi Arabia and other regional nations.
  • Separate bills for the training of military personnel and the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar were moved up parliament’s agenda on Wednesday.

5:10pm – Qatar brings stranded passengers from Saudi via Oman

  • Qatar Airways has chartered three flights on Oman Air to bring passengers from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah to Qatar’s Doha. All passengers arrived safely home via Oman’s capital Muscat late on Tuesday, the airline said on Wednesday.
  • The airline has also organised a flight with Kuwait Airlines on Wednesday to transport remaining passengers from Saudi Arabia to Doha via Kuwait. The flight will depart at 19:15 local time on Wednesday.
  • Qatar Airways said it is supporting its staff affected by the situation in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Egypt due to suspension of operations in those countries.
  • All passengers booked on affected flights will be provided with alternative options, including the option of a full refund on any unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternative Qatar Airways network destination.

5pm – Emirati diplomat: “Nothing to negotiate” with Qatar

  • Anwar Gargash, the foreign minister of the UAE, has said “there’s nothing to negotiate” with Qatar, signaling Arab countries trying to isolate Doha won’t back down.

4:15pm – France urges Qatar to answer neighbours’ questions

  • Christophe Castaner, the French government spokesman, said his country was not taking sides in the Gulf spat, but said “Qatar must be completely transparent and answer precisely the questions that have been asked notably by its neighbours”.

4pm – Turkish exporters ready to meet Qatar’s food, water demand

  • Mehmet Buyukeksi, chairman of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), has said that exporters stood ready to fill the gap after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia cut trade ties with Qatar.

1:50pm – UAE port ‘eases restrictions’

  • Abu Dhabi Petroleum Ports Authority has eased restrictions on cargoes going to and from Qatar, Reuters news agency reports.
  • A new circular states all vessels carrying the Qatari flag and vessels owned or operated by Qatar are not allowed into its petroleum port, removing a reference to vessels arriving from or destined to Qatar.

1:30pm – UAE wants change in Qatar’s policies

  • The UAE wants to change Qatar’s policies, not “its regime”, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said citing a government official.

12:30pm – Kuwait emir heading to Abu Dhabi

  • Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah has flown to Abu Dhabi to continue talks on resolving the Gulf crisis.

WATCH: Kuwaiti Emir returns from Saudi

11am – Moscow: No proof Russian hackers involved in Qatar crisis

  • Moscow has dismissed allegations that Russian hackers helped spark the diplomatic crisis around Qatar, after CNN reported that US officials believed they planted a false news story.
  • “We’re getting tired of reacting to unsubstantiated banalities,” Andrei Krutskikh, a Kremlin advisor on cybersecurity, told the Interfax news agency.
  • “Whatever happens it is hackers. It’s a stale claim and as ever there is zero evidence, and conclusions are drawn before the incident is even investigated,” he said.

9:50am – Etihad Airways: Qataris barred from travel/transit via UAE 

  • Abu Dhabi state-owned Etihad Airways said all travellers holding Qatari passports are currently prohibited from travelling to or transiting through the United Arab Emirates as part of government instructions.
  • Expatriates residing in Qatar and in possession of a Qatari residence visa will also not be eligible for visa on arrival in the UAE, Etihad spokesman said in an email.

8:30am – UAE bans show of sympathy towards Qatar 

  • “Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,” Gulf News quoted UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi as saying.
  • Offenders could be punished with a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams ($136,000), Gulf News reported.

7:40am – Hamas ‘shocked’ by Saudi comments on Qatar

  • Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Paris on Tuesday that Qatar must sever ties with Hamas and its historic parent, the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Hamas said in a statement early on Wednesday that Jubeir’s remarks “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations.”

6:30am – Qataris banned from Qantas flights to Dubai 

  • Qatari nationals will not be allowed to board Qantas flights to Dubai because the UAE has banned them from passing through its airports, an executive at the Australian airline has said.
  • The UAE had already said Qatari nationals would not be allowed to enter the country or cross its points of entry, although the practical effects on airline passengers had been unclear until now.

5:10am – Mauritanians protest in front of Qatar embassy

  • In a show of solidarity with Qatar, people in capital Nouakchott demonstrated outside of the Qatari embassy against its government’s decision to severe ties with the Gulf state.

4:05am – Qatari ambassador to US discusses crisis

  • “All these issues are based on fabricated allegations. There is no proof,” Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani told Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi.
  • “There’s proof that Qatar is combating terrorism. In Riyadh, Qatar was commended on that. Our commitment to the US is a solid commitment, and our commitment to the region is also solid, so this is not a question,” the ambassador said.

1:56am – Qatar’s gas exports unaffected

  • ExxonMobil Corp says production and exports of liquefied natural gas from Qatar have not been affected.
  • The growing diplomatic rift has raised concerns about global access to Qatar’s LNG, especially after some regional ports in the Gulf said they would not accept Qatari-flagged vessels.

1:48am – Trump talks to Saudi King Salman

  • “The two leaders discussed the critical goals of preventing the financing of terrorist organisations and eliminating the promotion of extremism by any nation in the region,” according to a White House statement.
  • “The president underscored that a united Gulf Cooperation Council is critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability.”

1:35am – Mauritania breaks diplomatic ties with Qatar

  • “The state of Qatar has linked its policies … in support of terrorist organisations and the propagation of extremist ideas,” said a statement from the ministry of foreign affairs of the West African country, a member of the Arab League.

1:10am – Pentagon chief speaks to Qatar’s defence minister

  • US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has spoken by phone with his Qatari counterpart. No details of the talks were given, Reuters news agency quoted a source as saying.
  • The Pentagon earlier renewed praise of Qatar for hosting a vital US air base and for its “enduring commitment to regional security”.

00:30am – Moroccan airline halts Doha transit flights

  • Royal Air Maroc (RAM) has announced that it had to suspend transit flights via Doha to and from UAE, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt due to the cancellation of flights from Qatar to these countries.
  • RAM’s direct flights continue to operate to and from Qatar to Morocco.

To jump to the first update on Tuesday, click here.

11:51pm – Erdogan criticises Qatar sanctions, wants stronger ties

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said “the sanctions taken against Qatar are not good”.
  • “Turkey will continue and develop our ties with Qatar, as with all our friends who have supported us in the most difficult moments,” he added in reference to last year’s failed coup.

11:20pm – Jordan downgrades relations with Qatar

  • Jordan has said it will downgrade its diplomatic representation with Qatar after examining the “cause of the crisis” in the Gulf.
  • The country also revoked the license of Al Jazeera media network, Jordan’s government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said.

10pm – Kuwaiti Emir departs for Saudi

  • Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah flies to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman.
  • Al Sabah had asked Qatar’s emir to postpone speech, to give time to solve the crisis.

WATCH: Kuwaiti Emir returns from Saudi

9:13pm – Saudi Arabia: Qatar must “change policies”

  • Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said the damage caused by economic measures taken by some Arab states against Qatar should convince it change its policies.
  • Qatar must end its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the foreign minister said.
  • “We believe that common sense and logic and will convince Qatar to take the right steps,” Adel al-Jubeir said in Paris.
  • “The decisions that were made were very strong and will have a fairly large cost on Qatar and we do not believe that Qataris want to sustain those costs.”

8:30pm – IATA calls for restoring air links with Qatar

  • The International Air Transport Association has called on the countries that acted against Qatar to restore air links with the country, warning of major travel disruptions.
  • “Of course, we accept that countries have the right to close their borders,” said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac. “But connectivity with Qatar must be restored as quickly as possible.”

7:25pm – French president keen to seek resolution of Gulf spat

  • The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, has told Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in a phone conversation that he plans to seek ways to reduce tensions between Qatar and its neighbours.

7:22pm – Pentagon grateful to Qatar

  • Pentagon has said the US military is grateful for Qatar’s support of US army presence in the country and “enduring commitment to regional security”.
  • The spokesperson declined to comment on US President Donald Trump’s tweets.

4:45pm – Trump tweets on Qatar again

  • US President Donald Trump on Twitter: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off.”
  • “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

3:45pm – Philippines bars workers travel to Qatar

  • The Philippine government temporarily has suspended the deployment of Filipino workers to Qatar, the labour secretary said. Silvestre Bello said there was no plan yet to repatriate more than 200,000 Filipino workers in Qatar.

3:06pm – US President Donald Trump tweets

  • For the first time since the crisis unfolded, Trump has weighed in. His tweet: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”

12:20pm – Saudi suspends Qatar Airways licence

  • According to the Saudi press, transport authorities in Saudi have cancelled Qatar Airways’ licence to operate in Saudi Arabia.
  • The authorities have also decided to close all Qatar’s Airways offices in the kingdom.

11:50am – BeIn sports network appears blocked in UAE

  • Authorities and telecommunications companies did not provide further details. BeIN acquired Al Jazeera’s sports channels in 2013.

11:20am – UAE demands guarantees before mending Qatar ties

  • “We need a guaranteed roadmap to rebuild confidence after our covenants were broken,” UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
  • Gargash accused Doha of turning to “money and media and partisanship and extremism” in a series of tweets early on Tuesday. Qatar has denied the allegations.

10:00am – Qatar stocks rebound in early trade

  • Qatar’s stock market rebounded in early trade on Tuesday after plunging 7.3 percent on Monday.
  • The Qatari stock index was up 2.7 percent after half an hour of trade; it rose as much as 3.2 percent at one stage.

9:20am – Aluminium exports from Qatar blocked

  • Exports of aluminium from the Qatalum metals plant in Qatar have been blocked by the UAE, Norway’s Norsk Hydro said.
  • Norsk Hydro owns a 50 percent stake on the Qatalum joint venture, which produces more than 600,000 tonnes per year of primary aluminium to customers in Asia, Europe and the United States.
  • “Most Qatalum shipments normally go through the large Jebel Ali port in UAE, but this port looks to be closed for all Qatar shipments from Tuesday morning,” Norsk Hydro said in a statement.

8:23am – Qatar Airways suspends flights to UAE, Egypt, Bahrain

  • Qatar Airways has cancelled flights to Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emiratesfrom Tuesday until further notice, the airline said on its website, a day after it had suspended flights to Saudi Arabia.
  • The airline said passengers holding a confirmed Qatar Airways ticket to any of the four countries between June 5 and July 6 are permitted to rebook their flights up to 30 days after their current departure date.
  • Qatar Airways said its offices will continue to operate as normal in affected countries until further notice.

8:00am – Erdogan holds talks on lowering tensions

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with the leaders of Qatar, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on lowering tensions, presidential sources said.
  • “The importance of regional peace and stability was underlined in the talks, as well as the importance of focusing on the path of diplomacy and dialogue to lower the current tension,” according to the sources.

1:30am, Tuesday – Qatar’s foreign minister interview

  • “For us, the strategic choice of the state of Qatar is to solve any dispute through dialogue,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani tells Al Jazeera.
  • “Regarding the reasons for this escalation, honestly, we don’t know if there were real reasons for this crisis,” Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani tells Al Jazeera.
  • “There were no indications [of a crisis] whatsoever” in the latest GCC meeting, or the American-Islamic-Arab summit.
  • He said the emir of Kuwait was travelling to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to assist in “containing the crisis”.
  • He added there’s a big question mark over the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • “There was an unprecedented escalation from the [Gulf] mass media … but Qatar has not met this escalation with escalation.”

10:40pm – Kuwait calls for restraint

  • Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has called Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and “urged him for restraint and not to take any measure that could escalate” the situation in the Gulf, according to the state-run KUNA news agency.

8:30pm – Saudi banks asked to sell Qatari Riyals

  • Saudi Arabia’s central bank asks local banks to sell Qatari riyals and not to buy any more, local media and Reuters report.

8:30pm – Turkey is seeking to resolve Gulf spat

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “actively involved” in efforts to resolve the diplomatic spat between Qatar and its neighbours, according to Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus.

8pm – US military has “no plans” for change

  • The US military’s Central Command says it has “no plans to change our posture in Qatar” amid a Gulf diplomatic crisis. Major Adrian JT Rankine-Galloway said in a statement that US military aircraft continue to fly missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from Qatar’s Al-Udeid airbase.

7:30pm – Egypt airspace to close on Tuesday

  • Egypt’s ministry of civil aviation has announced that the country’s airspace will be closed to Qatari flights starting Tuesday 04:00 GMT.

6:30pm – Israel praises anti-Qatar moves

  • Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defence minister, has praised the measures against Qatar, saying: “There is no doubt that this opens very many possibilities of cooperation in the struggle against terror.”

6:25pm –  Saudi shuts Al Jazeera office 

  • Saudi Arabia has shut down Al Jazeera Media Network’s local office, according to Saudi state media

5:40pm – No Qatari vessels allowed in Saudi ports

  • The Saudi Ports Authority has notified shipping agents not to receive vessels carrying Qatari flags or ships owned by Qatari companies or individuals.

5:10pm – Egypt suspends air and sea links

  • Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement the country was suspending air and sea links to Qatar, citing national security.

4:40pm – Turkey expresses ‘sorrow’

  • Turkey is ready to help however it can to bring the disputes to a manageable level, said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking at a joint news conference in Ankara.
  • Cavusoglu also said: “Turkey sees the unity and solitary among Gulf states as our own unity.”

4pm – Iran’s food ‘can reach in 12 hours’

  • Food shipments sent from Iran can reach Qatar in 12 hours, said Reza Nourani, chairman of the union of exporters of agricultural products.

3:30pm – UAE port to turn away Qatar-bound vessels

  • UAE’s Port of Fujairah says all vessels flying the flag of Qatar or destined for Qatar will not be allowed to call at the port.

3:30pm – Iran calls for dialogue

  • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted on the ministry’s website as calling for a “clear and explicit dialogue” among the feuding nations. Iran says rising tensions among its Arab Gulf neighbours threaten the interests of everyone in the region.

3:15pm – Maldives cuts ties with Qatar

  • Decision made because of the Maldives’ “firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism”.

3:10pm – Egypt recalls ambassador

  • Egypt’s foreign ministry says it has given the Qatari ambassador in Cairo 48 hours to leave the country and has ordered its own envoy in Doha to return home, also within two days.

2:50pm – Libya’s Haftar cuts ties with Qatar

  • The faction led by Khalifa Haftar, one of three rival governments in Libya, announced it is cutting ties with Qatar.
  • Haftar’s foreign minister accuses Qatar of “harbouring terrorism”.

2pm – Saudi closes border with Qatar

  • Saudi Transport authority confirms immediate border closure with Qatar by land and by sea.

1:30pm – Saudi border line up

  • Reports of trucks being lined up across the border in Saudi Arabia unable to enter Qatar.

1:20pm – Updates from FIFA

  • Football’s world governing body says it remains in “regular contact with Qatar”.
  • FIFA issued a short statement saying it has spoken with “the Qatar 2022 Local Organizing Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup”.
  • It said: “We have no further comments for the time being.”

1:15pm – Air Arabia flights suspended from Tuesday

  • Air Arabia, a low-cost airline based in the United Arab Emirates, said it is suspending flights to Qatar along with other Emirati airlines over a growing diplomatic crisis.
  • Air Arabia says its flights will be suspended from Tuesday “until further notice”.

EXPLAINED: How diplomatic rift affects air travel

12:10pm – Saudia flights suspended from Monday

  • Saudi Arabian Airlines says it is suspending flights to the Qatari capital, Doha.
  • The airline, also known as Saudia, posted on Twitter that it would be halting flights from Monday morning, without elaborating.

11:05am – FlyDubai flights cancelled from Tuesday

  • Dubai’s budget carrier FlyDubai says it has cancelled its flights to Qatar amid a diplomatic dispute between it and other Arab countries.
  • The carrier said on Monday that, starting Tuesday, all flights would be suspended. It offered no other details.
  • FlyDubai’s decision follows that of Emirates and Etihad in cancelling flights to Doha.

10:45am – Yemen cuts ties with Qatar

  • Yemen’s internationally recognised government has cut relations with Qatar and says it supports the decision by the Saudi-led coalition to end Qatar’s participation in the war on the Houthis in Yemen. Qatar has been part of the coalition since March 2015.
  • The government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi says it severed ties with Qatar in part over its support of extremist groups in Yemen “in contradiction with the goals announced by the countries supporting the legitimate government”.

10:20am – Emirates flights cancelled from Tuesday

  • The Dubai-based airline Emirates says it is suspending flights to Qatar amid a growing diplomatic rift.
  • Emirates said on its website on Monday that flights would be suspended until further notice starting Tuesday.

10am – US urges GCC unity

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney: “It is important that the GCC remain a unified [front]”.
  • Tillerson does not expect the rift “to have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism”.
  • Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the Middle East.

9:55am – Qatar’s official reaction

  • Qatar says there is “no legitimate justification” for four Arab nations to cut diplomatic ties.
  • Qatar also says the decision is a “violation of its sovereignty”, vowing to its citizens that it will not affect them.

READ: Qatar’s reaction in full

8:35am – Etihad suspends flights from Tuesday

  • Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad said it is suspending flights to Qatar from June 6 “until further notice”.
  • Etihad said its last flights would leave early Tuesday morning.
  • Etihad gave no reason for the decision. It is the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

6:10am – UAE, Egypt cut ties with Qatar

  • The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.
  • Both the UAE and Egypt made the announcement on their state-run news agencies within minutes of each other.

6am – Saudi cuts ties with Qatar

  • Saudi Arabia says it is cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar and it has pulled all Qatari troops from the ongoing war in Yemen.
  • Saudi Arabia made the announcement via its state-run Saudi Press Agency early on Monday. It appeared to be timed in concert with an earlier announcement by Bahrain similarly cutting ties.
  • The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries escalated recently over a hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiralled since.

5:50am, Monday – Bahrain cuts ties with Qatar

  • Bahrain says it is cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar amid a deepening rift between Gulf Arab nations.
  • Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement early on Monday saying it would withdraw its diplomatic mission from the Qatari capital of Doha within 48 hours and that all Qatari diplomats should leave Bahrain within the same period.

2:30am Thursday – US talking to all sides involved in Gulf crisis

  • “We are continuing to talk to multiple members in the region. We’ll continue to do that and monitor it,” Sarah Sanders, deputy White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies


Qatar has “chosen to ride the tiger of extremism and terrorism and now needed to pay the price”

June 8, 2017
In this photo released by Emirates News Agency, WAM, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, right, is received by UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to hold talks about Qatar, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting violent Islamist groups across the region. WAM via AP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Kuwait’s emir traveled to Qatar to help mediate an end to a crisis that’s seen Arab nations cut ties to the energy-rich nation home to a major U.S. military base, though Emirati officials warned there was “nothing to negotiate.”

Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah was met planeside by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, when he arrived on Wednesday night. The Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement the two held talks on how “restore the normal relations” of the Gulf as the 2022 FIFA World Cup host and international air travel hub now finds itself isolated by land, sea and air.

But the visit came after Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told The Associated Press that Qatar has “chosen to ride the tiger of extremism and terrorism” and now needed to pay the price, despite Qatar long denying the allegation.

Gargash said Qatar “definitely” should expel members of Hamas, stop its support of terror groups “with al-Qaida DNA” around the world and rein in the many media outlets it funds, chief among them the Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera.

Their “fingerprints are all over the place” in terror funding, Gargash said. “Enough is enough.”

Qatari officials declined to comment on Gargash’s comments. Its foreign minister has struck a defiant tone in interviews, even after worried residents emptied grocery stores in its capital of Doha as Saudi Arabia has blocked trucks carrying food from entering the country.

Its flag carrier Qatar Airways now flies increasingly over Iran and Turkey after being blocked elsewhere over the Middle East. Emirati officials also shut down the airline’s offices in the UAE on Wednesday. Al-Jazeera offices also have been shut down by authorities in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Meanwhile, Turkey’s parliament approved sending troops to an existing Turkish base in Qatar as a sign of support.

The international agency Standard and Poors announced Wednesday that it lowered its rating on Qatar’s long-term debt to AA-minus because of the country’s dispute with its neighbors. S&P said those countries’ severing of diplomatic and business links “will exacerbate Qatar’s external vulnerabilities and could put pressure on economic growth and fiscal” stability.

Speaking to the AP from a Foreign Ministry office in Dubai, Gargash listed a number of terror groups he alleged Qatar had funded, including al-Qaida’s branches in Syria and Somalia, militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and other group’s with “al-Qaida-type organizations” in Libya. He offered no documents to support his claim, but Western officials long have accused Qatar’s government of allowing or even encouraging funding of some Sunni extremists.

Gargash particularly pointed out the tens of millions of dollars paid to Shiite militias and others to free dozens of Qatari ruling family members and others in Iraq after 16 months in captivity.

Asked for specifics about what Arab nations wanted from Qatar, Gargash said expelling members of Hamas and other groups like the Muslim Brotherhood from Qatar was important.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted Tuesday about Qatar funding extremists, called Sheikh Tamim on Wednesday and offered to host leaders at the White House to resolve the crisis. It’s unclear whether the Qatari leader would accept, especially as one outspoken Emirati ruling family member, the writer and political analyst Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, has raised the prospect of Qatar’s leadership changing.

“Qataris are questioning whether this is going to end up in seeing a change in leadership itself in Qatar,” Al Qassemi told the AP in his office in Sharjah, near Dubai. “So it is a very serious issue. Again, this is Qataris speaking to international media wondering whether this is possible at all.”

The Gulf countries have ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris abroad 14 days to return home. The countries also said they would eject Qatar’s diplomats.

“Doha now is completely isolated,” Al Qassemi said. “Doha now needs to take serious steps very rapidly to placate not only their neighbors but also their allies around the world.”

The crisis began in part over what the Qataris described as a false news report planted during a hack of its state-run news agency.

An initial report on the hack from Qatar’s Interior Ministry late Wednesday said the website of the Qatar News Agency was initially hacked in April with “high techniques and innovative methods.” It said hackers installed a file and then published a fake news item attributed to Sheikh Tamim just after midnight May 24.

The ministry did not say who it suspected carried out the attack, though it thanked the FBI and the British National Commission for Combating Crime for assisting it in its investigation.

Russia denied Wednesday it hacked the agency after a CNN report quoted anonymous U.S. officials saying they suspected Russian hackers.

The UAE did not hack the Qatari news agency, Gargash said. However, he did acknowledge the authenticity of recently leaked emails from Emirati Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba in Washington, which several media outlets described as including criticism of Qatar.

“That hack showed the UAE’s real concerns and that what we really say in our private emails is what we say publicly,” Gargash said.


Macron slams RT, Sputnik news as ‘lying propaganda’ at Putin press conference

May 30, 2017

France 24


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-05-30

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin faced some awkward questions from the press following bilateral talks on Monday, including allegations that Russian hackers targeted Macron’s election campaign team.

Toward the end of France’s recent presidential campaign, Macron’s team denied press access to Russian state-backed media outlets RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik, accusing them of spreading “propaganda” and “misleading information”.

Speaking on Monday alongside his Russian counterpart, Macron said he had good relationships with most foreign journalists, as long as they “behave like journalists”. This was not the case with the Russian media outlets, he said.

“Russia Today and Sputnik did not behave as press organisations and journalists, but as agencies of influence and propaganda, lying propaganda – no more, no less.”

A TrendMicro report released in late April said the cyber-security group was “99 percent sure” that Russian hackers were targeting Macron’s campaign.

Less than 48 hours before the May 7 second round election, WikiLeaks released information hacked from members of Macron’s staff.

Asked about the alleged Russian hacking attempts to influence the French election, Putin was indignant, then evasive.

“You asked the following: ‘It is said that’ there was ‘perhaps’ some interference by Russian hackers … How can I comment on such a thing?” he asked.

“Perhaps there were Russian hackers at work, perhaps not,” Putin said.


To watch the entire joint press conference given at Versailles, click on the video below.

Date created : 2017-05-30

OPINION: Rodrigo Duterte is Uniting The Philippines, there is certainly nothing united about the United States under Donald Trump

April 1, 2017
/ 01:28 AM April 01, 2017

The liberal world order, inaugurated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his dying days and ended with the sublime leadership of Barack Obama, has given way to a new era of disorder. No one is responsible, but Vladimir Putin’s gaining full dictatorial powers in Russia in 2012 is an easy starting date. Rightwing dictatorships have spread across East and Central Europe, stopping only at—ironically—the well-ruled Germany of Angela Merkel sticking tightly to democratic governance.

It was in this atmosphere that Rodrigo Duterte came to power, just nine months ago. Then, four months ago, and possibly with the help of Russian hackers, Donald Trump managed a near-landslide in what is clearly now ex-America; there is certainly nothing united about the United States anymore.

Given both men’s penchant for foul language, many commentators saw Trump as part of this trend and Mr. Duterte’s election as presaging Trump’s. Mr. Duterte’s awful start, with his seeming encouragement of the extrajudicial killing of thousands of druggies, and Trump’s appalling language with reference to women, not to mention his disdain for any democratic rule that stands in his way, underlined the comparisons.

True, they are both septuagenarians, but I make the case that the two men have nothing relevant in common, and that whereas the Philippines may emerge a far better ruled country and a more coherent one after Mr. Duterte’s six years, ex-America is heading to disaster.

Let’s start with what they say. Mr. Duterte is coherent; no one doubts he is also very smart. One may not like what he has to say but it is clear. He states an objective, then step by step, he lays the groundwork for carrying it out. If he is to be compared with any leader, it would be the late Singapore leader Lee Kwan Yew, who in a generation of tough leadership made his country the richest city in the world.

Now read any pronouncement by Trump that isn’t scripted, and what do you have? You cannot even parse it. It is composed of ramblings on whatever in the immediate context will bring attention or, better yet, adoration. This is narcissism, in pure form.

It gets worse. If you extract what message, if any, is consistent, it is that he has no interest in democratic values. More basically, he has no values. He has no agenda other than enjoying the attention that the presidency is bringing. He enjoys Republican majorities in the House and Senate, so there are no checks on him from the so-called division of powers. It is a psychosis. Not to put too fine a point on it, Trump is a narcissistic psychotic.

Now if by a fluke he was elected 20 years ago, the liberal world order would have checked him. The United Nations is not as such powerful, but it’s important in consolidating a rules-based system; an American president who wished to knock it down would have drawn amused yawns and curiosity on how he ever got elected.

Compare the Duterte agenda: Basically, it’s to make the Philippines a nation, a coherent and at least slightly disciplined state where citizens think of the national interest before their own personal agenda. I’m highly optimistic that the Duterte presidency will get better and better, that the virtuous reforms will cumulate and compound. He cannot do it in six years, but he can put the Philippines on a road that cannot be altered.

On the other hand, I fear the Trump presidency will just get worse and worse. Trump plays with fire. Many national security experts have laid out their fears that a psycho simply can’t be allowed to have his fingers on the nuclear trigger; he might be a Nero enjoying a burning Rome—because it was all about him.

But as for the Philippines itself, I think six years of tough rule will be a good thing, because Mr. Duterte is disciplined but coherent, and genuinely wants a better country, not his own glorification. That is not a small thing to be grateful for.

* * *

Oliver Geronilla is a language instructor at Han Maum Academy in Parañaque City.

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A man suspected of dealing drugs shot dead after a “buy and bust” operation in Quezon City in September. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times


Nunes, Comey Clash on Nunes’ White House Meeting on Russia — Senate Intelligence Will Open Bipartisan Russia Election Probe

March 30, 2017

By Tom LoBianco and Mary Kay Mallonee, CNN

Intel on Russia: We will get to bottom of this 02:26

Story highlights

  • Devin Nunes said he invited James Comey to testify before his committee
  • The FBI director said Wednesday he hasn’t seen a formal invite to come back

Washington (CNN) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and FBI Director James Comey can’t seem to agree on whether the former invited the latter to testify before House Russia investigators, in a dispute that has now popped up twice in less than a week.

Nunes first announced last Friday that he was inviting Comey back to the House on Tuesday to answer questions in a closed briefing. But Nunes announced Monday that he had to cancel the hearing because Comey could not make the hearing.
However, a source at the FBI said the reason Comey couldn’t make the hearing was because he was never invited.
 Image may contain: one or more people and closeup
Sally Yates
At the center of the dispute is a formal letter Nunes drafted last Friday, inviting Comey to brief the committee in private at the same time that former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and others were supposed to testify before the committee in public.
Nunes delivered the letter to the top Democrat on the investigation, Rep. Adam Schiff, but Schiff refused to sign the invite, saying he wanted to hold the public hearing they agreed on, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Then, Tuesday, Nunes said that he had invited Comey again to come testify before the House intelligence committee. A Nunes spokesman said that discussions between House intelligence staff and Comey staff have been conducted over phone and email, but did not immediately say if a formal request had been sent via letter.
Comey said he would not testify without a formal invite, a spokesman for Nunes told CNN.
“We had staff-to-staff discussions with their congressional affairs people,” Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said. “He declined to come without a formal invite letter signed by the chairman and the ranking member. The ranking member declined to sign the invite.”
An FBI official said earlier in the day Tuesday that the agency does not want to get stuck in the middle of the tug of war between Republicans and Democrats on the House intelligence committee.

Senate intelligence leaders pledge bipartisan Russia election probe

Richard Burr and Mark Warner pledged a deep, objective investigation into links between Russia and Donald Trump, amidst discord and criticism surrounding a similar investigation by the House intelligence panel and it’s leader, Rep. Devin Nunes.

By Patricia Zengerle

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

MARCH 29, 2017 The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday promised a thorough investigation into any direct links between Russia and Donald Trump during his successful 2016 run for the White House.

Committee chairman Richard Burr and Mark Warner, its top Democrat, pledged at a joint news conference that they would work together, in contrast with the partisan discord roiling a similar probe by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

Senator Burr was asked if the Senate panel wants to determine if there is anything suggesting a direct link to President Trump and responded, “We know that our challenge is to answer that question for the American people.”

Trump’s young presidency has been clouded by allegations from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia sought to help him win while connections between his campaign personnel and Russia also are under scrutiny. Trump dismisses such assertions and Russia denies the allegations.

The Senate committee intends to begin interviewing as many as 20 people, including Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, beginning as early as Monday.

Burr served as a security adviser to Trump’s campaign but said he has not coordinated with him on the scope of the committee’s investigation. He insisted he could remain objective.

Burr declined to go along with the White House’s denial of collusion between the campaign and Russian hackers, who U.S. intelligence officials believe favored Trump in last year’s campaign at the expense of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

“We would be crazy to try to draw conclusions from where we are in the investigation,” Burr said. “Let us go a little deeper into this before you ask us to write the conclusions. That’s clearly something we intend to do down the road.”

Burr and Senator Warner would not comment on the investigation in the House, where the chairman of the intelligence committee, Trump ally Devin Nunes, has been under fire over his handling of the matter.

Many Democrats, including Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, called for Representative Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation after he met last week with an unidentified source at the White House complex, accusing him of colluding with the White House.

Before telling his committee colleagues, Nunes met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, and then Trump, and told reporters the source provided him with evidence that information on Trump’s transition team had been collected during legal surveillance of other targets.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have said the discord surrounding the House committee has made the Senate investigation more important than ever. “Clearly in the Senate, it appears that both Democrats and Republicans are acting like adults and taking this matter seriously,” Democratic Representative Jim McGovern told Reuters.

Warner and Burr both stressed the importance of exposing the activity of Russian hackers, which Warner said included reports of “upwards of 1,000 paid Internet trolls” who spread false negative stories about Clinton.

Warner and Burr did disagree slightly, with Warner alluding to some difficulties getting particular documents from intelligence agencies, and Burr defending them.

The two senators also indicated they had communicated with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who was fired last month after misrepresenting meetings with the Russian ambassador.

“It would be safe to say we have had conversations with a lot of people and it would be safe to say General Flynn is a part of that list,” Burr said.

Neither Burr nor Warner gave a timeline for finishing the investigation.

“This is one of the biggest investigations the Hill has seen in my time here,” said Burr, who has been in Congress since 1995.

The senators said they also wanted to call attention to what they described as Russia’s attempts to influence upcoming elections in France and Germany.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Toni Reinhold and Bill Trott)