Policy questions swirl in Qatar handover

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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I would not be honest if I forecasted that Qatar’s policy will remain constant or will change after Sheikh Tamim became its emir. Will Qatar continue in the same direction? Will it continue to grow at the same speed with which his father, Sheikh Hamad, led the country, and in the same circumstances, with the same men and women? The truth is, we don’t know.

What is certain is that Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah has chosen Sheikh Tamim to be the crown prince, and he has bequeathed to him the most precious thing to his heart; the governance of Qatar. Sheikh Hamad willingly decided to hand over the leadership of the country and he prepared everything to make a successful transition. This is why we expect a new era of continuity, and we expect that Qatar’s Tamim will be like Qatar’s Hamad.

Sheikh Tamim was handed over the governance of Qatar as a modern, effective state that has political and economic power and that is a partner in regional and Arab causes.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Over the past 17 years, Qatar proved to us that a nation’s determination is not measured by its area or the number of its citizens, rather it is measured by that nation’s ability to make decisions and facilitate change. On the other hand, it turned out that working alone is an extremely dangerous adventure for countries in this brutal world. It struggled in the raging sea of politics due to its choices and decisions; there were some very tough years for Qatar and for everyone. We have no right to say whether a country’s policies are right or wrong because they are adopted according to the country’s circumstances, interests and aspirations. What deserves to be said about the past, and what we can say about the future, is that the Qatari choice be Gulf collective work because Gulf countries together represent real power capable of altering the region and affecting world decisions regarding them. Even a powerful Gulf country like Saudi Arabia knows that along with the other five Gulf countries, it projects huge influence that it cannot attain alone.

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Issues facing the Gulf

There are Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and of course Iran. Thorny issues linked to these four countries are linked to the Gulf countries’ security and interests. The Yemeni case represents that best political success. If it weren’t for the collective work of the Gulf, we might have faced another civil war in which thousands of people could have died, resulting in vengeance that could have destabilized the region for years to come. Half of this collective action concerns the Gulf’s treatment of those countries allied with the Iran axis in Syria and Lebanon. Qatar is an important country in all regional issues, and collective work does not decrease the value or sovereignty of any country. Each has the complete ability to veto decisions and each has a voice, just like Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Tamim was handed over thorny issues from his father. Qatar plays an important role in these issues and Qatar’s role may positively change our region that is semi-threatened by dangerous collapses; it may push the region towards stability. Qatar contributed a lot to toppling an evil regime in Libya, then it realized that toppling a regime like Qaddafi's is easier than building an alternative regime. For reasons like this one, a superpower, like the U.S., is spending a lot of time and effort to convince tens of countries to cooperate with it on any political or military effort in the region.

Sheikh Tamim was handed over the governance of Qatar as a modern, effective state that has political and economic power and that is a partner in regional and Arab causes. All Qatar needs to do is remain in the same collective Gulf boat, because whatever Qatar decides, anywhere in our world, affects the rest of the Gulf countries. Everyone appreciates Sheikh Hamad’s achievements in modernizing Qatar, leading its huge development and granting women a very progressive role in the country.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 26, 2013.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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