Following the deadly attack on Sufi mosque in Egypt that left over 300 dead and nearly 200 injured, a senior security official in Dubai has called for an attack on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network.
According to Al Jazeera, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan tweeted that “The alliance must bomb the machine of terrorism.” He accused the news channel of meddling with security in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Dubai is a city-state in the United Arab Emirates, one of the coalition countries — along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt — participating a blockade of Qatar over several grievances, including complaints over Qatar’s state-funded Al Jazeera network.
The blockade, dubbed the “Gulf Crisis,” has been in effect since June, when Saudi Arabia issued Qatar with a list of 13 demands it said should be met before the blockade could be lifted. Among those demands were that Qatar shut down the news network.
Al Jazeera’s reporting has in the past angered its Gulf neighbors as well as Egypt. There, the state has accused the network of siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist party which President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has designated a terrorist group.
So deep is the acrimony against Al Jazeera in Egypt that after Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, was deposed in July 2013, Sisi had several employees of the Qatari news network arrested. The three men endured through a lengthy trial and were jailed for over a year.
Qatar has so far refused to meet those demands, and in response to Khalfan’s tweets, the network issued a statement demanding Khalfan be held accountable for “incitement to terrorism” and holding him responsible for any attacks on its staff or facilities.
Khalfan is known for his heated, public rhetoric against a number of players in the region, including Iran and Iraq. He has also been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump’s “Muslim” travel ban (which does not include any Gulf Arab countries).
There’s been no official response or objection to Khalfan’s tweets, but then, even the expression of sympathy with Qatar has been banned in the U.A.E. since the start of the blockade. The official statement from U.A.E. Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi said that, “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.”
D. Parvaz previously worked for Al Jazeera.