Friday, June 7, 2013

Qatari Official: "“What have billions bought us in Syria? We’ve failed to bring down Mr Assad & left 4m Syrians homeless!”

[The Economist] "Rumours of a change at the top do not include moves to democracy:
... Many Qataris take pride in the leadership their city-state has played in the Arab awakening over the past two years. But some now question whether the emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is frittering their wealth away on foreign ventures. “What have billions bought us in Syria?” mumbles a Qatari official. “We’ve failed to bring down Mr Assad and left 4m Syrians homeless.” Others in an emirate long loyal to a puritanical Wahhabist version of Islam wonder why they are helping the troublesome Muslim Brotherhood abroad.... ...
Similar mutterings are being more often heard about where the money for the grandest public projects or foreign investments ends up. “They could have got it for half the cost,” tweeted one Qatari, after the government announced it was allocating $40 billion to a rail network in time for the football World Cup in 2022. With no public forum for consultation and no openness about the oil wealth the ruler regards as his own family’s, criticism, such as it is, gets aired in the majlis, the gatherings held by members of the ruling family in their homes. More outspoken, however, are the comments posted online in chat rooms....
Now there is talk that the emir, who ousted his father in a coup 18 years ago, may hand effective power to his 33-year-old son, Crown Prince Tamim. One of 24 siblings, he already features more prominently in the official press than his cousin the prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani. Some say the younger man may take over as premier. Others suggest the emir may formally abdicate, allowing for a constitutional succession.
It is uncertain what difference Tamim would make if he took over. Most of the other monarchs in the Gulf have frowned on the emir’s fondness for the Muslim Brotherhood, which most of them regard as a menace. Qataris who know the Sandhurst-educated prince think he may be more Islamist than the prime minister. His most public act to date has been to switch the main language of tuition at Qatar University from English to Arabic. Behind the scenes he is said to be trying to boost the Muslim Brothers in Libya. Do not expect a sudden drive to democracy."

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