JNN 15 June 2013 Doha : The decision made by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to cede power in Qatar was not a personal decision to be justified by ‘health reasons’ suffered by the man who plays serious roles in recent years, whether at the Arab level or at the international level, Lebanese Assafir daily reported Thursday.
“The decision is an American one, first and foremost, and the Emir had been informed through an exceptional para-military envoy, who is a senior official at the US Central Investigation Agency (CIA),” the newspaper said citing reliable diplomatic sources.
“The decision was studied in the White House and was made after collecting all the information gathered by different apparatuses on the activities of Sheikh Hamad and his foreign minister,” the sources added.
However, the daily noted that activities of Hamad and his Prime minister have exceeded in many cases the limits set by Washington, both in terms of the situation in Syria, or in what related to the support provided by the Emir of Qatar for some Islamic organizations, including those groups which the U.S. intelligence suspects about their relation with Doha via receiving kinds of financial and military support.
Some of those who have had access to the details of US decision summarized the message delivered by the presidential envoy to Sheikh Hamad as follows:
“You have one specific choice, either we impose seizure over your money around the world, or you leave your position for one of your sons that we name to be the ruler after you.”
When the Emir tried to discuss the matter, the special envoy replied:
“I’m not authorized to negotiate with you, but I’ve come to inform you about our decision.”
The available information revealed that the US conditions include the departure of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, the PM and the FM, with his Emir, along with pending all the Qatari investments around the world, except in regions where the US administration decides.
“Any decision regarding various affairs of Qatar should be made in Washington and by Washington,” the diplomatic sources quoted the envoy in his extraordinary message as saying.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim, 53, has been prime minister since 2007 and has played a key role in positioning Qatar as power broker in the region. He is also chairman of the board of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), a position he is expected to retain. QIA has estimated assets of $100 billion – $200 billion.
Widely seen as a savvy dealmaker, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim has personally negotiated some of the sovereign wealth fund’s most high-profile investments, including talks with Glencore’s chief last year when the fund demanded better terms for backing the firm’s acquisition of Xstrata. The companies eventually merged to create Glencore Xstrata.
The Emir elevated the country’s international profile in recent years through the launch and development of the al Jazeera television network, as well as its successful bid to host the 2022 soccer World Cup tournament.
The Persian Gulf state has played a substantial role in promoting the Arab Spring, lending significant support to rebels who ousted former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and to an uprising seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.
Earlier on June 11, The Assafir stated that the power transition process in Qatar will begin at the end of June until the first week of August, in which Emir Hamad bin Khalifa will cede power to his crown prince Tamim.
Arab and Western diplomats in Doha and other countries also noted that the transition process is guaranteed by many Western and Arab countries.
Such a change could inject an element of uncertainty into the foreign policies of the U.S.-allied gas exporter, which is a global investment powerhouse and a bankroller of Arab Spring revolts in alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood.
For its part, Reuters news agency stated that two scenarios are highlighted. The first is that crown prince Tamim takes office first as prime minister, while the second is that deputy PM Ahmad Mahmoud occupies the position when Hamad bin Jassim steps down.
Such a move would be relatively unusual in Persian Gulf Arab politics: It is customary for Persian Gulf Arab heads of state to continue in office until death.
Worthy of mentioning that Prince Tamim, 33 years, is the second son of the Emir and the first son of his second wife Mozah Bint al-Masnad.
A close U.S. ally that hosts a large U.S. military base, Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and wealthiest nation per-capita. The tiny country whose economy once centered on pearl fishing now has a sovereign wealth fund that controls an estimated $100 billion in assets.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani seized power from his father in a bloodless coup in 1995. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim played a key role in facilitating the coup, for which he was rewarded with influence for life.
British-educated Sheikh Tamim is believed to be closer to the Muslim Brotherhood than many in the current leadership, and may pursue more socially conservative policies.
The British ‘The Daily Telegraph’ newspaper reported Monday that Tamim is closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. His powers have been crystallized when he became responsible for defense and arms affairs.