Saudi and Emirati authorities have blocked access to the website of Doha-based and state-funded al-Jazeera Arabic news channel after statements attributed to Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on sensitive regional topics sparked a dispute among Persian Gulf kingdoms.
On Wednesday, the website of the pan-Arab satellite broadcaster was not accessible in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The website and Twitter accounts of official Qatar News Agency, al-Jazeera Documentary channel, al-Jazeera English news channel, Arabic-language and political newspaper al-Watan, semi-official al-Raya newspaper, al-Arab daily as well as Arabic and pro-government al-Sharq daily were also inaccessible in both countries during the day.
At the same time, Al-Jazeera television network was unavailable for some time in the UAE, though it was unclear if it was blocked on purpose.
The developments came a day after Qatar’s state-run news agency ran a story, saying the small and gas-rich kingdom had ordered its ambassadors from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates withdrawn over “tension” with the administration of US President Donald Trump.
The article, quoting the Qatari monarch, also called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised the Hamas resistance movement as “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry later claimed that its state agency had been hacked and the emir’s statements had been forged.
Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al Thani, the director of the Qatari government’s communications office, also issued a statement, saying authorities had launched an investigation.
Earlier, Doha had claimed it had been the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign by anti-Qatar organizations.
Qatar has long faced criticism from its Arab neighbors over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted in a military coup led by former army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.
In March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha over the rift.
Eight months later, they returned their ambassadors as Qatar asked some Brotherhood members to leave the country and quieted others.
Qatar is also home to the former Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled Meshaal, who has lived there in exile for several years.