Washington (GPA) – In yet another rush to blame Russia for everything, the US is pushing their latest fake news story, that Moscow would want to divide two markets where they do business.
In a similar fashion to how many recent Russophobic accusations start, yesterday saw an “exclusive report” from CNN alleging that Moscow had planted fake news stories in Qatari media. According to CNN, the Qatari government discovered these hacking attempts several weeks ago and the FBI even sent agents to Doha to assist in an investigation.
According to this exclusive report, it’s unclear whether “Russian criminal or government elements” targeted Qatar, but this isn’t stopping western media from taking the accusation and running with it. Without any evidence, CNN has still disseminated the story into western media spheres and for some reason stuck in their tried and true line that “nothing in Russia happens without Putin’s approval.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to the CNN’s claims by saying “It’s another lie that was published…Unfortunately, our colleagues from CNN again and again publish references to unnamed sources in unnamed agencies, etc, etc. These streams of information have no connection with the reality. It’s so far away from the reality. Fake is a fake.”
The exact stories Russia is accused of planting were said to voice a favorable line concerning Iran and Israel as well as speculation about how long US president Donald Trump would remain in office.
These accusations don’t seem like enough to justify the shakeup between Qatar and their neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, considering that Qatar has to work with Iran due to common interests and the fact that Saudi Arabia discretely works with Israel all the time. Even the Trump comments shouldn’t be damaging since Trump and Saudi royals had several confrontations on Twitter during the 2016 presidential race.
As stated above, Russia strongly denies these claims, which makes sense since there’s absolutely zero reason they would seek to destabilize the gulf. Contrary to what CNN thinks, Russian business interests come before “undermining Qatar because they have a US base, blah blah something Trump.”
In fact, Russia is now one of the major parties trying to bring about a resolution to the conflict in the gulf. Russian President Vladimir Putin even talked one on one with Qatar’s leader, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Tuesday.
According to Qatari media, the conversation was friendly and both leaders agreed on the importance of the friendly relations between Doha and Moscow. This doesn’t sound like the actions of one country trying to undermine another and spark a potential conflict, and why would Russia do such a thing since in the end their own interests would suffer more than Qatar’s.
Russia has plenty of money invested in Qatar but also has recently increased cooperation with Saudi Arabia in attempts to stabilize the tumbling price of oil. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said as much in his statements on the matter, telling reporters that “Any escalation in the region, which is already afflicted by various conflict situations, is a matter for concern,” and “We believe any differences should be resolved at the negotiating table to eliminate concerns and unite forces against the main threat in the region, terrorism.”
Russia currently has ties to almost every country now involved in trying to resolve the crisis in the gulf. Whether it’s arms sales to Turkey, cooperation on oil prices with Saudi Arabia, investments in Qatari infrastructure, or security cooperation with Egypt, clearly Russia has no motivation to drive a wedge between the gulf states. Qatar also invested heavily in Russia following the western sanctions, Doha invested $2.8 billion in Russian state oil company, Rosneft.
Of course all of this is ignoring the fact that “Qatar’s support of terrorism” is the official reason for the Saudis ending diplomatic ties with Doha, which you might notice, has nothing to do with the accusations of hacking. Russia may want to gain more market share from the US in the gulf peninsula, but it’s hard to understand how potentially destabilizing the region would help that cause. If anything Russia’s involvement in the current situation with Qatar could serve as a model to president Trump, showing that instead of picking a side, major nations should help resolve conflicts peacefully.
Also published on Medium.