Authorities in Oman have reportedly uncovered a network of spies working for the United Arab Emirates, as the two Arabic Gulf Arab states are involved in a Cold War-like conflict amid an ongoing Riyadh-led diplomatic and trade boycott against Doha.
Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Akhbar, citing informed sources who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, reported that Omani security services had been able to obtain sensitive information, suggesting that agents were spying on the sultanate for the UAE.
The report added that the confidential information exposed the details of the ring and the names of all individuals and companies cooperating with it. Omani officials subsequently arrested all members of the spy network.
Al-Akbar added that the revelation also showed that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE vice president, and prime minister, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, was himself directing the spying network – an issue that generated high political tensions between Muscat and Abu Dhabi.
Omani authorities then sent a note of protest to Abu Dhabi, threatening to expose their findings in case their UAE counterparts did not provide them with the names and identities of all agents working for them.
Al-Akbar went on to report that Sheikh Mohammed had set up a line of communication with Omani officials in the ports of Duqm and Sohar, offering them huge sums of bribes in return for obstructing the development of the two ports.
Emirati officials have yet to comment on the report.
Back on January 30, 2011, Oman announced that it had dismantled an Emirati spy ring that was targeting the government and the military in the Arabic Gulf sultanate.
The cell “gathered information on the sultanate’s military, security and economy, in return for large sums of money from Emirati security services,” an unnamed security official close to the case said at the time.
The official added that a number of Omani nationals had been arrested, including some who worked for the government.
The UAE denied having links to any such network, but the country’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement carried by the state news agency WAM, expressed “its full willingness to cooperate with … Oman in any investigations that it carries out in full transparency to uncover (those) who try to mar the relations between the two countries.”