DUBAI: Gulf people and observers were stunned yesterday by statements, attributed to the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, in which he appeared to defy the official GCC policies on different issues, particularly Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it. It is a big power in the stabilisation of the region,” Shaikh Tamim said at a military ceremony. He also described Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate resistance movement and called Hamas “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

Doha denied the statement as “fabricated”. Qatari officials said the website and twitter account of the official news agency, QNA, had been “hacked”.

However, Gulf media and observers were unimpressed with the Qatari explanation, citing previous occasions when Doha acted “against the interests of the GCC,” Saudi newspaper Okaz said. Gulf states have repeatedly warned Doha of harbouring leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood considered as a terrorist organisation in most Gulf countries.

The GCC also criticised Qatar’s strong relations with Iran, accused by the bloc of meddling in the internal affairs of Gulf states, such as Bahrain, and instigating the conflict in Yemen. Gulf states also asked Qatar repeatedly to rein in the Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel, which has become a mouthpiece for the Brotherhood and other terror groups such as Al Qaeda and Daesh, Gulf analysts said yesterday. The channel has been blocked in Saudi Arabia and the UAE yesterday as well as other Qatari media websites.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE pulled their envoys from Qatar for about eight months in 2014, accusing Doha of undermining regional security. Tensions have eased since then, with Qatar promising to toe the GCC official line. But it seems that Doha has again chosen a confrontational way vis a vis other GCC states, Gulf sources said yesterday.