Saudi Arabia accuses Qatar of using Twitter to stoke dissent

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, which is leading a four-country blockade of Gulf neighbour Qatar, on Thursday accused Doha of being behind over 23,000 Twitter accounts it blames for trying to stoke dissent in Saudi Arabia.

“We found over 23,000 Twitter accounts driven by Qatar, some of them linked to accounts calling for ‘revolution’ in Saudi Arabia,” information minister Awwad Saleh al-Awwad told AFP during a visit to Paris.

They included the @mujtahidd account, which claims to have the inside track on the Saudi royal household and has over 1.8 million followers, he said.

The account, which has backed Qatar, claimed that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates had set out to overthrow Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani but decided against after coming under pressure from the United States, an ally of both Riyadh and Doha.

Al-Awwad accused a London-based Saudi dissident, Saad al-Faqih, of being behind the account, “together with Qatar”.

While some of @mujtahidd’s claims have proven false, it reported the death of Saudi King Abdullah in 2015 a few hours before the news was officially announced.

Some of the other accounts identified by Riyadh as being Qatari proxies were behind calls for protests by the jobless on April 21, he said.

In the end, there were no major demonstrations in Qatar, with police flooding the capital.

Further calls for protests during the holy fasting month of Ramadan also went largely unheeded.

“They failed,” al-Awwad declared.

His remarks came as Saudi Arabia vowed to push on with its month-old boycott of Qatar after the emirate refused to meet a list of demands to end the diplomatic crisis.

These include Doha ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood and closing its flagship broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia and its supporters have severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.

Qatar has dismissed the demands as “unrealistic”.