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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Who is Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar?

Nadene Goldfoot                                                               
White House Meeting of Obama and Emir of Qatar

Qatar, perhaps the richest state in the  Middle East is one of the smallest.  Lying in the Persian Gulf next door to Saudi Arabia, it has a population of 744,029 and is the 44th out of 48 largest Muslim majority countries.  77.5% are Sunni Muslims, which is the state religion.  They are ruled by an  Emir, who was a Sheikh, and is an absolute monarchy, but they haven't taken part in the "Arab Spring" of discontent.  Their GDP per capita is the highest with 80,870 in $ whereas Afghanistan's is 724.  Saudi Arabia's is only 23,243 with all their oil profits.

Emir Hamad  bin Khalifa al Thani is the 7th in a line of Emirs in Qatar and is a member of the Al-Thani dynasty of Qatar, founded in 1868 by Muhammad bin Thani.  They descend from the Banu Tamim; one of the largest tribes in the Arabian Peninsula.  This goes back to Abbad bin Athussayen bin Abbad, a knight in the Umayyid dynasty.  Millions of Arabs claim descent in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and "Palestine."  I wouldn't be surprised that the Emir is related to Qaradawi.  One thing they respect and care about is keeping a genealogy of their tribes. 

Mohammed bin Thani reigned from 1868 to 1878; Jassim bin Mohammed al Thani from 1878 to 17 July 1913; Abdullah bin Jassim al Thani from that date to 20 August 1949 and then abdicated (relinquished power) , dying on 31 August 1974; Ahmad bin Ali al Thani from 24 October 1960 to 22 February 1972 and was deposed (put down, removed from the throne) by his cousin Khalifa and died 25 November 1977; Khalifa bin Hamad al Thani b: January 1, 1952 in Doha, Qatar,  from 22 February 1972 to 27 June 1995 and was deposed by his son in a palace coup, the present Emir, Hamad.  That's when he took over in 27 June 1995. 

He was also declared as Minister of Defense.  For starters he led the Supreme Planning Council in the early 1980's, deciding the state's basic economic and social policies.  He'd been running the country since 1992, involved with the development of their oil and natural gas resources. 

His eduation was in Qater but later attended Sandhurst Military Academy in England and graduated in 1971, commissioned as a Lt. Colonel in the Qatari armed forces and commanded the 1stt Mobile Battalion, now called the "Hamad Mobile Battalion" in his honor.  Later he was promoted to Major General and appointed commander in chief of the Armed forces.  He modernized the military, increased manpower, created new units, updated weapons and improved training.  "He is also promoting Islamist (like the Muslim Brotherhood) parties in Libya, Syria and "Palestine." which would be today-Judea and Samaria and Gaza, as there is no more "Palestine, " being a term created by the Romans around 132 ACE when Judea fell and with the establishment of Israel in 1948, is a defunct term.  

He touts himself as a moderate and is considered to be progressive among Muslim leaders.  His  3rd wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned has been an advocate for education and children's causes.  She now chairs the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, estabished in 1995.   

Under his rule his government helped to fund the Al Jazeera news network, and funded it with an emiri decree.  Hugh Miles analysed this TV station and claimed that diplomats from other countries know he is the real power behind it but network spokesmen deny this accusation.  Sheik Hamad is a distant cousin of the network chairman, Hamad bin Thamer al Thani, who was the Minister of Information in the government.  The USA was given a $137 million dollar grant from Emir Al-Thani, so Al Jazeera had the goal to become self-suffieienct through advertising by 2001.  This failed, so the Emir agreed to several loans; $30 million in 2004.  Colin Powell in a October 3, 2001 press conference, tried to persuade Sheik Hamad to shut down Al Jazeera while the NY based organization "Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting" commented that in those efforts, " Powell and other US officials were upset by the channel re-airing old interviews with bin Laden and guests too critical of the US on its program.  By 2005 Sheik Hamad was under pressure to privatize it. 

The Emir has 3 wives and 24 children of which 11 are sons and 13 daughters.  His first wife is the daughter of his first cousin.  They have 2 sons and 6 daughters.  His 2nd wife is the daughter of Nasser bin Abdullah al Missned and they have 5 sons and 2 daughters.  The 3rd wife, daughter of Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani, past Minister of the Interior and they have 4 sons and 5 daughters. 

Considering that his buddy, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the ruling religious leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood, has put out a fatwa against Jews, telling his people to kill all Jews everywhere, I am surprised to read that he met with an Israeli stateswoman.  He has created this  progressive statesman reputation, so did  actually meet with Israeli minister Tzipi Livni in New York on September 25, 2007.  Other Persian Gulf leaders carry the belief of anti-Israel sentiment within the Arab world, to say the least.  This marks the first real attempt by any leader in the area to pursue dialogue with Israel.  Tzipi is from Israel's Kadima party, the opposition leader to Netanyahu and is trying to take his place. Qaradawi had found refuge in Qatar in 1961 and has been bosom buddies with the Emir ever since, with many buildings and organizations named for him in his honor.

Qatar Foundation has been creating satellites  in their own country of universties from the USA like Carnegie Mellon.  They've also established Arab language classes in 5 high schools in the USA as well.  They gave $70,000 to our Lincoln High in Portland to do this.  In the 2nd year program, the teacher has brought in a hip-hop group of 3 disgruntled Arab Israelis, DAM,  who tell a most slanted view of living in Israel, instigating the ruination of Israel and that the land should not be in Israel's hands.  This has caused much consternation in the Jewish community.  So far, the issue remains unresolved, though "Christians United for Israel" have voiced their disapproval of this act very strongly with the school board after a presentation of 7 Jewish high schoolers.


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