After GRA, Qatar boosts its cyber front in association with Turkey
The QNA hack proved to be turning point for Qatar’s cyber interventions in the region and beyond. Though, the country’s cyber capabilities are still in the developing stages various precedents suggest that Qatar has been outsourcing its cyber operations to various agencies.
Qatar’s outsourcing operations came first in the limelight when a US based Elliot Broidy accused Emir’s brother Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of hiring a UK based consulting firm, Global Risk Advisors (GRA) to extract information out of Broidy’s personal emails. The accusation was based on the fact that former CIA operative Kevin Chalker and his partner at GRA David Mark Powell opened an office in Doha just few weeks before the accused hacks.
Though, the Qatari counterpart Jassim Al Thani completely denied the allegations it’s true that GRA did establish an office in Doha weeks before the alleged hacks. Moreover, it is highly possible as Qatar at that time wanted to get a strong bargaining hold with Trump administration given the Saudi-UAE led gulf crisis.
Soon after the case was registered, The Associated Press obtained a trove of Broidy’s emails that detail how he was promised hundreds of million dollars in consulting contracts from the United Arab Emirates as he sought to push anti-Qatar policies with the White House which cleared all doubts that it was an outsourced task.
Qatar perhaps was successful in getting the task executed in its national interest but also caught a lot of negative attention post the operation which perhaps made him consider that trust is an important factor in planning and executing such operations and hence it has sought to narrow down its choice of cyber collaboration to Turkey.
Despite of various agencies who have tried to gauge Qatar’s attention by sending proposals it has sought bilateral agreements with Turkey on various critical areas including Technology of which cyber operation may prove an important sphere of cooperation that Qatar needs.
Qatar may not have sought a better partner than Turkey for its cyber operations as Turkey has a proven ability and trust experienced by Qatar during the resolution of QNA hack. The course of recent interactions between the two countries suggest that Qatar may now stick with Turkey for its crucial cyber mission as and when needed instead of relying on any cross region agency due to trust barriers it has experienced in the past.