Qatar’s Fake Coup Was Cooked up in the Royal Harem
Who owned an interest in trumping up a fake coup against the ruler of Qatar?
The Arab Revolt and its aftermath have catapulted the live wire Qatari ruler Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani into world prominence. His proactive military, intelligence and financial involvement since December 2010 in the turbulent affairs of Libya, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Gaza Strip – and his ties with the orthodox Muslim Brotherhood movement – have made him a factor to be reckoned with – and not just in his immediate neighborhood.
Add to this his ownership of the Al Jazeera media giant which commands and influences the biggest Arab-speaking audience bar none, and his hosting of the US military command headquarters in the Persian Gulf region at the huge Al Udeid air base, and we see a figure of almost global stature reigning over no more than 600,000 subjects in the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar.
So extreme curiosity was aroused on Tuesday afternoon, April 17, when Russian, Iranian and Gulf sources disseminated a report from the Saudi Al-Arabiya TV station that some 30 high-ranking military officers had staged an uprising to topple the “US-backed” Sheikh Hamid and were in the middle of fierce clashes at the palace with royal guards, backed by US forces. American helicopters were said to have lifted the Qatari ruler and his family to a safe location.
Further reports claimed the mutinous officers were under arrest and the coup foiled. They suggested that America was ready to use military force to save the emir and restore him to power.
Sheikh Hamad remained firm in the saddle
Two groups had different theories to account for the episode: One accused Iran of the coup conspiracy for three objectives: to demonstrate Tehran’s long reach in the Persian Gulf Arab emirates; to warn Qatar off involvement in the Syrian revolt on the side of the rebel Free Syrian Army; and to install a pro-Iran son of the ruler to combat Saudi and American interests.
A second group accused Saudi Arabia of responsibility for the coup. It consisted mainly of Kuwaitis who have been trying to mediate an ongoing quarrel between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The problem with these theories is that the coup never happened. The Saudi station which first started the hare dropped the story from its bulletins in short order and ran an apology.
Even then, although by Tuesday afternoon Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was acknowledged to be firm in the saddle in Doha, there was no answer to the big question: Who disseminated the rumor? And how was it able to spread like wildfire across the Persian Gulf region and beyond, although branded as false by the most authoritative intelligence agencies? Obviously, news of the emir’s fall was eagerly welcomed in many Arab quarters.
Cherchez la Harem
While a probe has been launched into the source of the false report, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources in the Gulf have discovered that it came from some of the emir’s sons, which is why it gained so much traction and high credibility.
In fact, it was spread by two of Sheik Hamid’s wives and their sons. They were disgruntled by the award of favorite wife status to Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, Number Two of his three wives, and the elevation of her son, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, to the rank of Crown Prince of Qatar and heir to the throne.
The rumor-mongers threw in the US military element as the emir’s rescuers from the plotters to discredit the American patron presumed to be keeping him and the crown prince in power.
However, it might be a good idea for the Qatari ruler to start keeping a much closer watch on his family and other surroundings. Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim also happens to be chief of Qatari intelligence. If he missed what was happening under his nose inside the palace, he can hardly be relied on to keep abreast of the turbulent events in the Gulf and Syria.