(Photo Credit: AFP)
According to French media reports, data was leaked exposing a France-based network acting in the interest of the UAE to push anti-Qatar sentiment by linking Doha’s government to the Muslim Brotherhood.
This leak was disclosed in a report by French investigative outlet Mediapart on 1 March, which elaborated on the techniques used by the UAE to expand its influence in France to disseminate negative information about Qatar.
According to the investigation, the network publishes over 100 articles per year at the request of Abu Dhabi to spread disinformation about Qatar. The report adds that several of the articles are published by fake accounts.
The French report further reveals that a Swiss-based financial intelligence company, Alp Services, organized the UAE network.
The Emirati network published articles in both English and Arabic in a book called the “Qatar Papers,” which leveled several allegations at Qatar, among them that it finances several Muslim associations across Europe.
The “Qatar Papers” was written by Christian Chesnot, a journalist for Radio France, and Georges Malbrunot, a journalist for Le Figaro.
This development comes a few months after the UAE’s President Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (MbZ) met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, marking the first time an Emirati head of state has visited Qatar since the end of a three-and-a-half year-long embargo imposed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and its close regional partners.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed all diplomatic ties with Qatar and banned Qatar-registered planes and ships from using their airspace and sea routes, while Riyadh blocked Qatar’s only land crossing after accusing Doha of supporting extremist groups.
Saudi Arabia then pushed for regional sanctions on Qatar. Saudi Arabia and the UAE claimed that Qatar “embraced various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region,” including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Iranian-backed groups in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province.
Notably, Saudi Arabia has also sponsored extremist groups, including ISIS. The Financial Times reported in April 2016 that Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, acknowledged Saudi support for ISIS to US Secretary of State John Kerry in the wake of the fall of Mosul to the group in 2014.