The transfer of power in Qatar was not as trouble-free as depicted by the stream of citizens and dignitaries flocking to the palace Tuesday, June 25, to pledge allegiance to the new emir, 31-year old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the fourth son of the ailing Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Shortly before this ceremony, in a back chamber of the palace, Sheikh Hamad summoned Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to threaten him: "Unless you put a stop to your intrigues for setting Qatar's prominent and wealthiest families against the new ruler, I will have you arrested and thrown in jail, your property confiscated and put you on trial for corruption on the evidence in my possession."
This is reported exclusively by DEBKA Weekly's sources in the Gulf.
Prime Minister Jassim knew he would be relieved of his post in the shakeup accompanying the new regime in Doha. The old emir struck hard and fast upon receipt of intelligence that Jassim was cooking up a conspiracy to mount a coup against the new ruler – or else round up opposition groups for disrupting the new administration.
It took plenty of courage for Sheikh Hamad to clear the ground for his successor and so lay bare and exacerbate a major spit in the ruling family of Qatar. The outgoing prime minister, a cousin of the new emir, is one of the most powerful and affluent figures in the Persian Gulf and the author of the emirate’s aggressive diplomacy which transformed a weak sheikdom into a major power in the West and Arab world. The Al Jazeera television station is the product of his vision and ambition.
A triumvirate for ruling Qatar and a reshuffled cabinet
Jassim al-Thani is unlikely to go quietly. But he will probably continue his intrigues against the young new ruler from outside Qatar. The former emir took the precaution of buttressing his successor by forming a ruling triumvirate: He stays on to support him, on one side, with his second wife, the influential Sheikha Mozah, who is the mother of the young emir, supporting her son on the other.
While the ex-ruler is subject to treatment for an acute kidney ailment, Sheikha Mozah will be on hand to oversee her son’s first steps and keep an eye on their enemies.
For a second line of defense, the appointments of a new prime minister and foreign minister were announced in Doha Wednesday June 26. This was a fast move to break the outgoing prime minister’s monopoly over the emirate’s domestic and foreign affairs.
Another family member, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Than, is Qatar's new prime minister, and Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah takes over as foreign minister.
Our Gulf sources say the two new appointees have much in common:
1. Both have a plenty of experience in managing intelligence operations and running special forces operations.
2, Both took part in the new emir’s past activities as Director of Intelligence in the upheaval of the Arab Revolt in Libya, the civil war in Syria and the change of power in Egypt.
3. Both are fierce opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they believe is bent on overthrowing the Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf.
Solidly attached to Washington
4. Both have strong connections in US administration and intelligence circles in Washington.
Qatar's new prime minister, Sheikh Abdullah, 43, served as Qatar’s Minister of State for Internal Affairs from 1995 to 2013. He holds degrees in policing science from Durham Military College in Britain and in law from Beirut University.
According to his biography, he has graduated from more than 23 qualifying and specialized training courses at home and abroad in the field of Special Forces.
The new Foreign Minister, Khalid Al Attiyah, was formerly Qatar's main liaison officer with the Syrian rebels.
DEBKA Weekly's sources in Washington report that the new regime in Doha has assured the Obama administration that no change is contemplated in the status of the US operational commands for the Mideast, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean housed at the Al Udeid Air Base.