A New Kind of Information Warfare? Cyber-conflict and the Gulf crisis 2010–2017

Tarek Cherkaoui


This article analyses the current Gulf crisis that started in May 2017 by posing the following question. Did an information war unfold or did the crisis events that took place merely illustrate yet another round of propaganda and disinformation contests among Gulf participants and their backers? Accordingly, I will focus on five central themes. First, the theoretical underpinning and key concepts concerning Information Warfare (and related notions like Hacktivism and Cyber War) will be discussed in relation to information space and the media sphere. The second theme explores the historical, strategic, and geopolitical dynamics that led to the crisis and looks closely at the rivalries taking place in the region, with a particular focus on the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Against a backdrop of geopolitical tensions and cyber threats, the third theme reviews some of the most notorious cyber attacks that occurred in the Gulf region up until the Trump Presidency. The fourth theme sheds some light on recent manifestations of the Gulf crisis and the anti-Qatar coalition’s modus operandi. Fifthly, Qatar’s response to the crisis will be reviewed and evaluated.

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