Qatar’s new emir to announce cabinet reshuffle

Qatar’s new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is expected to announce the appointment of a new prime minister and other cabinet changes in his first major public speech in front of the country’s consultative council on Wednesday after his official enthronement. The news from Al Jazeera of the reshuffle has come a day after ...

MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images

Qatar's new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is expected to announce the appointment of a new prime minister and other cabinet changes in his first major public speech in front of the country's consultative council on Wednesday after his official enthronement. The news from Al Jazeera of the reshuffle has come a day after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani handed over power to his son. Sheikh Tamim is expected to appoint Qatar's Minster of State for Interior Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani as prime minister. He would replace longtime Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, who is credited in large part for the country's economic growth and global prominence. To the post of foreign minister, also currently held by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, the emir is expected to name Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, currently minister of state for foreign affairs. SheikhTamim is additionally expected to make changes to other key positions such as the minister of finance.

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has reported that 100,191 people have died in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. In April, the United Nations estimated that at least 93,000 people had died in the conflict. The SOHR has been tracking deaths through a network of activists. Of the people reported dead, the group said 36,661 people were civilians. In a statement on the SOHR website, the group said, "The death toll does not include more than 10,000 detainees and missing persons inside of regime prisons, nor does it include more than 2,500 regular soldiers and pro-regime militants held captive by rebel fighters." U.S. and Russian officials met in Geneva on Tuesday to plan a peace conference in efforts to come to a political solution to the Syrian conflict, but failed to produce a deal. The two parties were not able to agree to when the peace talks should be held and who should be invited to participate. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for discussions on Syria. At a news conference, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal accused the Syrian regime of "genocide" and he committed Saudi Arabia to help the Syrian opposition in "the most effective way we can." Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi retaliated accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting "terrorists."

Qatar’s new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is expected to announce the appointment of a new prime minister and other cabinet changes in his first major public speech in front of the country’s consultative council on Wednesday after his official enthronement. The news from Al Jazeera of the reshuffle has come a day after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani handed over power to his son. Sheikh Tamim is expected to appoint Qatar’s Minster of State for Interior Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani as prime minister. He would replace longtime Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, who is credited in large part for the country’s economic growth and global prominence. To the post of foreign minister, also currently held by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, the emir is expected to name Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, currently minister of state for foreign affairs. SheikhTamim is additionally expected to make changes to other key positions such as the minister of finance.

Syria

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has reported that 100,191 people have died in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. In April, the United Nations estimated that at least 93,000 people had died in the conflict. The SOHR has been tracking deaths through a network of activists. Of the people reported dead, the group said 36,661 people were civilians. In a statement on the SOHR website, the group said, "The death toll does not include more than 10,000 detainees and missing persons inside of regime prisons, nor does it include more than 2,500 regular soldiers and pro-regime militants held captive by rebel fighters." U.S. and Russian officials met in Geneva on Tuesday to plan a peace conference in efforts to come to a political solution to the Syrian conflict, but failed to produce a deal. The two parties were not able to agree to when the peace talks should be held and who should be invited to participate. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for discussions on Syria. At a news conference, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal accused the Syrian regime of "genocide" and he committed Saudi Arabia to help the Syrian opposition in "the most effective way we can." Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi retaliated accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting "terrorists."

Headlines

  • "Arab Idol" winner Mohammed Assaf returned to the Gaza Strip Tuesday to cheering crowds despite Hamas deeming the show inappropriate and un-Islamic.
  • Libya’s national assembly has elected Nouri Abusahmain as its new president, the first man from the Berber minority to hold such a senior government post.
  • One or two suicide bombs killed at least 11 people in the contested Iraqi town of Tuz Khormato at a protest camp of Shiite Turkmen calling for improved security.
  • Jordan is considering a natural gas deal with Israel, in efforts to alleviate a growing domestic energy crisis, which would make it the first buyer of the newfound Israeli reserves. 

Arguments and Analysis

New Hope for Democracy in a Dynastic Land‘ (Rob Nordland, The New York Times)

"Now that he is set to become the new emir, the absolute ruler of Qatar, what possibly can Sheik Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani promise to the citizens of a tiny, incredibly rich country that seems to have everything?

In Qatar, the unemployment rate flirts with zero (it is 0.1 percent); infants have a per-capita income over $100,000; health, housing, low interest loans and educations are all provided. Qataris have a world-class television network in Al Jazeera, will host the World Cup in 2022, are building an airport that will eclipse the one in nearby Dubai and hope to soon be self-sufficient in food production.

But they do not have democracy.

Some people here cautiously hope that the surprise decision of the outgoing emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 61, to hand power to his fourth son, Sheik Tamim, 33, may signal the governing family’s intention to offer Qataris a taste of expanded personal freedoms, even if democracy is not explicitly on the agenda."

Kerry Approaches Dead End Over Israel’s Settlements‘ (Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor)

"US Secretary of State John Kerry is soon to depart for his fifth visit to Israel in search of a diplomatic formula that will permit negotiations between Israel and the PLO to begin in earnest. Over the decades, there have been any number of mediators — many of them forgettable and some few who are not — who have sought without lasting success to breach the divide between the parties. Kerry is the latest in this long progression. He certainly won’t be the last. But it is a fair question at this point in his campaign to ask just what exactly Kerry is bringing to the process that distinguishes his effort — and its prospects — from its predecessors. 

There is always the chance that what is going on in the public eye only reveals the less important part of the story, and that behind closed doors Kerry’s leadership is producing a dynamic ‘common space’ between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that addresses the core issues of the conflict.  

One can only hope that this is the case. Otherwise it is hard to avoid concluding that the ‘new ideas’ that Kerry has brought to the table consist of little more than the participation of the secretary himself. And, with all due respect to Kerry’s talent and acumen, just having a fresh face at the table adds little of value to the storyline." 

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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