Qatar failed to inform allies despite knowledge of attack in Gulf - report

Qatar had prior knowledge of May 12 attack on four ships, including oil tankers, in the Gulf just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, and did not warn its western allies, Fox News said on Saturday, citing an intelligence report.

After the attack, Riyadh identified two of the ships as Saudi, and a Norwegian company said it owned another. The fourth ship was a storage tanker flagged in Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s seven emirates.

U.S. officials, notably former U.S. National Security Adviser Jon Bolton, pin the blame on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a charge Tehran denies.

"Credible intelligence reports indicate that the IRGC-Quds Forces Naval unit is responsible for the Fujairah Port attacks, and the elements of civilian government of Iran, as well as the State of Qatar, were aware of the IRGC’s activities,” Fox News quoted the western intelligence report as saying.

Officials from Britain and France, that have a considerable military presence in the UEA, said they would demand answers to the report from their governments, according to Fox News.

“I intend to raise questions with colleagues in other countries with strong connections in the Middle East such as Britain and with our government,” said Nathalie Goulet, a member of the French senate and a major figure in European counterterrorism.

Meanwhile, Ian Paisley Jr., a British lawmaker said he would ask his government to immediately investigate claims made in the report.

“If proven correct, this poses serious questions for our alliances in this region. The Islamic threat must be taken seriously and I await the government’s response,” he said.

After the outbreak of the Gulf crisis in June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, cut off diplomatic ties and began a blockade of the country, Qatar is Turkey’s only real ally left in the Middle East when Ankara backed Doha in the diplomatic row.

Turkey’s diplomatic and military came to the aid of Qatar at the times of the Gulf crisis, and when Turkey faced U.S. sanctions over its imprisonment of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson in 2018, Qatar’s $15 billion investment pledge helped keep the lira afloat. 

And both countries are known for their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, as both support the organisation in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza and Brotherhood-linked groups in Syria and Libya.