Monday, June 24, 2013

Hamad's Abdication

It now looks official that Emir Hamad of Qatar will soon abdicate in favor of his son Tamim:
It was unclear when the handing over of power would take place or how it would unfold. But the news follows weeks of reports in western and Arab media that such a transfer of power had been planned, possibly before Ramadan.
The transfer is also reported to involve the departure of Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, an indefatigable diplomat who took office in 2007 and has been the face of the small emirate's ambitious foreign policy since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011...
The UK-educated Sheikh Tamim, currently the deputy Emir, is "already deeply involved in the political process", said Mahjoob Zweiri, head of the humanities department at Qatar University. "He is aware of all the files and has already been part of the decision-making process."
As I said once before, the reason for this move is almost certainly to secure the succession.  Emir Hamad's own rise to power was not the first contentious succession in Qatar's history, and members of the Al Thani family had been able to extract various goodies from new emirs through their role in selecting heirs.  As explained by Allen Fromherz in his Qatar: A Modern History, one of Hamad's major domestic initiatives has been increasing his own power to select the heir apparent, part of a broader agenda of strengthening the monarchy at the expense of the dynasty.  I suspect that Hamad simply wants the succession to go ahead while he is alive to make sure it happens as he wishes.

Asad Abu Khalil sees Saudi Arabia as somehow forcing Hamad out.  That seems highly unlikely.  First, it is unnecessary speculation.  Second, Hamad chose Tamim as his heir ten years ago, and he has been groomed for this position.  He represents continuity, not change.  A Saudi choice would likely fall upon Tamim's brother Fahd, and perhaps aim to re-open Al Thani factionalism rather than mark its defeat.



Blogger jmeasor said...

"agenda of strengthening the monarchy at the expense of the dynasty" ... Indeed ... but, will it succeed? The timing is portentous no? Does Hamad believe this is the most stable time to make the transition? Does this speak to fears of challenges to come (from KSA, from opposing dynastic challengers, or from anti-regime populism)?

It seems this raises as many questions as it (hopes?) to resolve ... and - of course Occam would warn us that ill health might well be a more pragmatic explanation. :)


11:06 PM  

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