Iran: Commentary Says Qatari Power Transfer May Have Domino Effect in Arab States
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Commentary by Ahmad Kazemzadeh entitled: “The Domino [Effect] of Power Shuffling for Sheikhdoms.”
On Tuesday, sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani announced his withdrawal from power after 18 years. In a televised speech, he stated that the time has come for the new generation to come to power. Sheikh Hamed, who took over power in 1996 when he was 44 years old in a coup d`etat against his father, handed power over to his 33 year old son, sheikh Tamim. Sheikh Tamim is sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani`s fourth son and the second son of sheikha Mozah, Hamad`s second wife. He was introduced as his father`s successor 10 years ago. On 5 August 2003, sheikh Jasem, his elder brother and the first son of sheikha Mozah, gave up his position as successor and handed it over to his younger brother Tamim.
Sheikh Tamim loves sports and he is currently chairman of Qatar`s National Olympic Committee and is also responsible for the sensitive case of hosting the World Cup in 2022. He also played a fundamental role in the purchase of the Paris St Germain soccer club. Nevertheless, during the past few years, sheikh Hamad has entrusted him with the management of sensitive cases in the field of domestic and foreign policy. Sheikh Tamim has been the successor for the past 10 years and during this time he has been active in numerous posts. In addition to being the number two man in the Armed Forces, he also headed Qatar`s intelligence organization. Qatar`s investments abroad also take place under his supervision and he has executed numerous plans for the production of energy. It has been said that he was also involved in regional and international cases in which his father had played a role.
This history indicates that from the day that sheikh Hamad chose Tamim as his successor, he has been receiving training for such a day. However, it must be admitted that unlike sheikh Hamad, Tamim did not show any particular inclination for playing a role in political cases and has put himself forward as a technocrat prince, who is also to a certain extent secular (laic). Despite the fact that sheikh Hamad was extremely ambitious and turned Qatar into an active player in spite of its small size, he always tried to establish a kind of balance between rival poles. But it seems unlikely that sheikh Tamim would show such sensitivity. It is imagined that he will have a more pro-Western and pro-American approach than his father and he will be put forward as a new role model for the transfer of power among other members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, it is speculated that members of this council and Saudi Arabia especially, will be following the trend of the transfer of power in Qatar with trepidation. It can consequently be stated that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are the next candidates for the transfer of power in the region.
Accordingly, despite sheikh Hamad`s pretense, the transfer of power over to Tamim was not particularly voluntary and US pressure played a part in this move. Recent remarks by McDaniels, one of the US Army`s generals, that in view of the domestic unrest in Bahrain the United States must look for a new option to transfer the command headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet from Manama, indicate that Washington already wishes to place its stake firmly into the ground in Qatar and strengthen its position more than ever before. Consequently, rather than a domestic issue for Qatar, the process of the transfer of power in this country can be described as the beginning of new political developments in the region, the scope of which will gradually extend to the Persian Gulf`s other Arab littoral states.
(Description of Source: Tehran Javan Online in Persian -- Website of hardline conservative daily affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC); URL: www.javannewspaper.com)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Iran: Qatar-Based Professor Says Emir Abdication `Will Not Change` Qatari Policies
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Interview with Professor Mehran Kamrava, director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, by Vahid-Reza Na`imi: “The Why and How of Power Transition in Qatar”
International Affairs Group - Wahid-Reza Na`imi: The taking of the throne by the crown prince of Qatar to replace his father is an important development among the region`s Arab nations where leaders do not usually step down from power until they die.
Dr. Mehran Kamrava, director of the Georgetown University Center for International Studies in Qatar, believes this transfer of power will not in the short term make any difference in this nation`s main policies. According to him, the new Emir has a closer connection to Qatar`s culture. We will read his views.
Q: There has been speculation for some time about a transfer of power in Qatar. Why has this happened now?
A: That is a very good question for which unfortunately an accurate answer is not known. One explanation is that this took place on the 18th anniversary of the taking of power by the previous Emir Sheikh Hamad in June of 1995 when he staged a coup against his father. I think this is one of the reasons this time was selected for this change.
For some time Sheikh Hamad has been mentioning abdication. For example in September of last year when the previous Emir went to the UN, he had written in its notebook, this is the last time I am coming here. All the people of Qatar knew about this change and were expecting it, but they did not know the time. In my view he was looking for a suitable opportunity to resign. In view of the continued war in Syria and the heightened tensions in the region, they chose this time.
Q: What information is available about the new Emir of Qatar and his relationships with the various nations?
A: Because the crown prince was always behind the scenes and there is no information about his behavior on the political scene, it is quite difficult to answer this question. As far as is known, he has backed his father`s policies but it is not yet clear what decisions he will make when he himself is at the head of power, especially in the realm of foreign relations.
However he himself has mentioned one or two things. First, it appears he has a closer relationship with Qatari culture. As you know, 85 percent of the residents of Qatar are not citizens of that country and the primary spoken language of this nation is not Arabic but English, because 85 percent of the people are citizens of other nations. This has consequences for Qatar`s cultural authenticity and identity. When Sheikh Tamim was crown prince, it seems he put more emphasis on Qatar`s culture. Of course it is possible in the past when he was on the sidelines he put more emphasis on culture and identity.
However it is unlikely there will be a major change on the foreign policy scene because during the last few years Qatar has to an extent put itself forward on the regional scene and it will be quite difficult in the short term to back away from regional issues such as Libya and Syria. It is possible in the long term there will be minor and peripheral changes, but in my view the active policies Qatar has had and the efforts it has made to put itself forward in the region and in the Persian Gulf will not change.
Q: In what ways does America`s relationship with Qatar differ from its relations with its other Arab allies?
A: America`s relationship with Qatar is not one-dimensional; it is multi-dimensional. If for example we look at America`s relationship with Egypt, we see it has only one dimension and that is the military and security relationship. The same thing is true of Saudi Arabia. The only pillar for the deep relationship between America and Saudi Arabia is the military pillar. However America`s relationship with Qatar has three main pillars. Its first dimension is security and military. America`s largest airbase in the world is in Qatar. The second dimension is commercial and economic. The big American companies including the oil companies are quite active in Qatar, and there are also consulting companies that are designing this nation`s future. It might not be apparent how influential the consulting companies are on domestic policies.
The third and important dimension is the cultural dimension. The big American universities have branches in Qatar. In this nation the American and Western cultural dimensions are quite large. The native language of the Qataris might be Arabic, but they do not speak it well because they go to American schools at early ages. Then they go to American universities; then they work in environments where the day-to-day language is English. For this reason America`s relationship with Qatar is deeper than its relationship with its other Arab allies.
Q: What objective is Qatar pursuing in Syria?
A: Qatar`s goals in Syria are like the goals it was pursuing in Libya, or in other words these are the objectives they have chosen for themselves historically and regionally. For this reason, when Libya had war and revolution, Qatar was the first Arab nation to interfere in Libya`s affairs. The same thing also happened in Syria. In the view of Qatari politicians there has been a big wave throughout the Middle East and this wave is causing a series of fundamental changes in the policies of the region. Qatar has tried to ride the tip of this wave. This is Qatar`s long-term view. Of course short-term views and strategic considerations also play a role. Qatar`s policy in Syria is the same as America`s policy and runs parallel to it; naturally America encourages it.
(Description of Source: Tehran Hamshahri Online in Persian -- Website of daily owned by Tehran municipality; editorial line shifts to reflect views of mayor; currently conservative Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf who at times opposes President Ahmadinezhad; founded in 1991; www.hamshahrionline.ir)
© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.
Syrian writer predicts fall of Arab leaders opposed to Al-Asad
BBC Monitoring Middle East
June 29, 2013
“Opinion column” by Nidal Nu`aysah: “The time when big heads begin to roll”
The Seljuk sultan Erdogan woke up at Taksim Square, horrified and panicking after having seen a very bad dream following the Al-Qusayr triumph and other powerful Syrian victories. Erdogan has always believed that while he is always feared by others, he himself remains intrepid, that his orders are carried out in the manner of the old sultans: “Your orders are obeyed, My Lord,” and that he is now the undisputed Ottoman Caliph sitting on the throne of the empire, straddling the Seljuk Muslim Brotherhood crescent that extends from Morocco to Istanbul, and which the West established to promote its well known Constructive Anarchy.
Erdogan is no longer the same as he was before his abortive adventure in Syria. He can hear the voices of millions of Turks of all sections shout: Quit, Erdogan. He can see the fake cardboard glory that he has built being crushed in front of his eyes, losing yet another of his visions that he would enhance his power and love of authority by winning the Turkish presidency for two consecutive terms in accordance with the amendments that he had intended to introduce to the Turkish constitution, by which Turkey would be a US-style presidency.
It is believed now that all this has become part of the past. Erdogan`s shaky popularity and his fragile position have become clear. The Turkish people`s violent protests have destroyed all his ambitions, which have now disappeared in thin air, thus threatening the possibility of his completing his current term as prime minister, making it somewhat difficult.
Another falcon of the anti-Syrian terrorism and universal war (the so-called Syrian revolution) and one of the hot-heads, officially abdicated last Tuesday in favour of his son, Crown Prince Tamim, in what many considered to be a dismissal by an official US decision which a delegation that paid a secret visit to Doha conveyed to him personally, holding him responsible for their failure in the Syrian issue - a failure which made his Western allies lose their prestige and threw them into confusion in front of world public opinion. Their weakness and debilitation have been unprecedented as opposed to the powerful rise of the Russian bear, which has imposed its will, agenda, and vision on the world`s major powers at the G8 summit and wrested from them a statement that was considered a document of defeat and surrender. Thus they capitulated to Russia`s upcoming world leadership during the next phase and the triumph of its vision for a solution in Syria.
The Qatari ruler has now retreated into oblivion. He had always hoped to pray at the Umayyad Mosque along with his charlatan preacher, and to enter Damascus as a conqueror and hero, declaring that after Damascus has been eliminated, the grand Brotherhood empire, extending from Istanbul to Casablanca, would be established. The dismissal of Hamad Sr., means the automatic exit of Hamad Jr., and the fall of his star, and his total exist from the Qatar scene. Indeed, he is preparing to make this exist.
On 30 June, a buffoon, a clown, a puppet, and another Karzai from the puppets and Karzais of the so-called Arab Spring, will face a very hard test to his survival. Muhammad Mursi Isa al-Ayyat, who is a fugitive from (?Leman) charged with espionage and contacting foreigners, is also suffering a similar problem and is trying to survive. He is expecting that millions of angry demonstrations will ask him to quit and they might end his miserable and baneful term in office. His chances of remaining in his position are almost nil, given the expanding and overwhelming popular wrath and anger against his policies and his poor and repugnant administration of the country. This will happen on the first anniversary of his taking over the Egyptian presidency, en event that was disastrous by all standards. The year has been an abominable and gloomy one for Egypt and the Egyptian people, during which the man looked inefficient, lunatic, and ridiculous. He was not qualified and he had no charisma or popularity. He has been a machine in the hands of external powers. and a puppet which is moved by the fingers of the ignorant and illiterate oil sheikhs from their desert capitals and their barren and arid salt cities.
The Saudi monarch is in a critical health condition and he is almost clinically dead. He is excluded from all calculations and equations of power. The security conditions are exploding in the face of Michel Sulayman, a Don Quixote, with his empty gimmicks and stupid acrobatic movements. He seems to be besieged in an enviable position. The same applies to the Jordanian king. No demonstration or protest in any place in Jordan ends without having another one spring in another place. He is in a fragile and critical position. It is not likely that his NATO sponsors will leave him alone in the sweeping changes and clean-up process that would follow the collapse of their satanic and evil project in Syria. Another fact must be said; namely, that as the big heads start to roll, the small, hireling, and microscopic heads, which can hardly be seen with the naked eye, will also fall one after another, even though with lower and reduced clamour and less commotion.
Therefore, apparently there will be changes in the maps of the region as a result of the tremendous strategic transformations that followed the Syrian steadfastness and victory, and Syria`s resistance to the Western-backed cancerous terrorist wave and the re-emergence of the Russian giant on the international scene as a major player that imposes its agendas and visions in order to define its interests and aims. Indeed, the fall of these heads and the exit of the imams of evil, aggression, and terrorism in this ignominious and collective manner is the first sign and the new geopolitical maps are now being redrawn.
Text of report by Syrian government-owned newspaper Al-Thawrah website on 27 June
Source: Al-Thawrah website, Damascus, in Arabic 27 Jun 13
© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.