The Gulf Information War| Cyberconflict, Online Political Jamming, and Hacking in the Gulf Cooperation Council
This article offers insight into the role of hacking during the Qatar diplomatic crisis in 2017. I argue that the Middle East region has been witnessing an ongoing cyberconflict waged among different factions separated along regional rivalries, political alliances, and sectarian divisions. In relation to Qatar, systematic and well-calculated cyberoperations and hacking measures have been employed to pressure the Qatari government and influence its regional policies. Hackers, whether state-sponsored or not, intentionally created a diplomatic crisis in response to the perceived oppositional and unilateral policies carried out by the Qatari government in the region. The hacking incident led to other cyber-retaliations, and there is currently a cyberconflict between Qatar and a few other Arab states. I argue here that hacking is a form of online political jamming whose goal is to influence politics and/or change policies, and its communication impact flows either vertically (top-down or bottom-up) or horizontally.