Last morning, numerous social media users and a number of media reported on an attempted coup in Qatar. Someone from the Twitter account under the eloquent title "Transitional Government of Qatar" posted fuzzy videos with shots and flashes of flame. Israeli 13 TV channel correspondent Alon Ben-David reported on shootings in two television centers. According to ISCResearch, strong skirmishes also took place in the coastal city of Al-Wakrah, 5 km from the capital, and military aircraft and helicopters were lifted into the air. Twitter user John Nasser claims the coup attempt was unsuccessful and law enforcement officials have already arrested the military and security services involved
Qatar’s ambassador to the Russian Federation Fahad bin Muhammad al-Attiyah denies rumors of a coup d'etat and believes that the videos distributed on social networks are fabricated. According to the Russian publication Military Review, citing sources from Saudi Arabia, the Qatar authorities have banned the dissemination of information about an attempted coup d'etat under the threat of criminal prosecution. Whatever actually happens in Qatar, one thing is clear: incumbent emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani does not suit everyone in the Middle East.
Enemy of corrupt officials
According to information from the Twitter account of the ISCResearch international security and conflict research group, the coup was organized by former Prime Minister Hamad Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani. It is believed that the emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, under pressure from the United States, ordered an anti-corruption investigation against his firms that might be involved in economic crimes in preparation for the World Cup. The U.S. Department of Justice suspects Qatar and Russia of bribing members of the FIFA Executive Committee to grant them the right to host the World Cup.
The decision that Qatar will be the venue for the Mundial in 2022 was made in 2010 when Hamad Jassim headed the government of the emirate. By the way, the former prime minister is one of the richest people in the world. He owns the French football club Paris Saint-Germain, the high-rise building Chard, the Harrods shopping center, the Intercontinental hotel in London, and three banks in Luxembourg. About 60% of Qatar's economy is associated with Hamad Jassim firms. He also owns shares of the German bank Deutsche Bank, Qatar Airways, and the International Bank of Qatar.
Hamad Jassim is suspected of involvement in the financial fraud of former top managers of Barclays Bank, who hid £ 322 million in Qatar, in the theft of $ 8 billion, which were transferred to offshore, in the acquisition of assets at low prices. In preparation for the World Cup in 2022, it is planned to build hotels and sports facilities. 220 billion dollars were allocated for the implementation of infrastructure projects, which could become the object of corruption schemes.
An opponent of Saudi Arabia
Hamad Jassim, cornered, could play all-in and try to overthrow the emir, with the support of his enemies. Emir Tamim is like a bone in the throat of Saudi Arabia. The Arabians perceive Qatar, rich in natural gas, as a competitor for influence in the Middle East. Doha pursues a multi-vector foreign policy and does not seek to be an assistant to Riyadh in most international issues. Qatar is in an equally constructive relationship with Iran, Turkey, the United States, and Russia. Emirate does not support sanctions against Iran. Iran assisted Qatar in the form of food supplies during the economic blockade. Russia views Qatar as a promising arms market and has already sold small arms and grenade launchers there. Saudi Arabia, on the contrary, perceives Iran and Russia as competitors in the oil market, it is not profitable to strengthen the influence of these countries in the Middle East.
It is beneficial for Saudi Arabia to have a more loyal representative of the Al-Thani dynasty in power. On the eve of rumors of a coup, opposition Qatari Sheikh Mubarak bin Khalifa Al-Thani commented on the Saudi Gazette on the socio-political situation in Qatar and urged Emir Tamim to immediately transfer power to someone else. According to him, Qatar is completely controlled by Iran and Turkey, and their special services are persecuting anyone who does not agree with the political development of the country. Mubarak left Qatar due to disagreements with the emir and lives in Riyadh. He advocates the unity of all the Gulf countries. In 2018, the opposition sheikh threatened to return to his homeland and rid her of the ruling regime.
Qatar is one of the few Middle Eastern countries where terrorist attacks are rare. Some individuals periodically transfer substantial amounts of money to terrorist organizations. According to the Israeli publication Breaking Israel News, Qatar has allocated $ 150 million under the pretext of financial assistance to fight the coronavirus, to the Gaza Strip, controlled by Iran-sponsored terrorist organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad. According to unofficial information, several years ago Qatar paid Al Qaeda a billion dollars in ransom for 26 members of the Emir’s family abducted in Iraq. No wonder Qatar is accused of sponsoring international terrorism. Tamim uses “good relations” with Islamic fundamentalists as a counterweight to pressure from Saudi Arabia.
Turkey and the United States guarantee the security of Qatar by viewing the country as a foothold in the Persian Gulf. Turkish President Recep Erdogan pursues a policy of neo-Ottomanism and is trying to consolidate influence in countries that once belonged to the Ottoman Empire. For the United States, the airbase in Qatar has a military-political significance. It is used for military operations in the Middle East, there are strategic bombers. The constructive and pragmatic relations of the Qatari emir with Iran are beneficial to the Americans. Emir Tamim could act as a mediator in negotiations between the US and Iran on a missile program and a new nuclear deal if the ayatollah regime agrees to this sooner or later under the yoke of US sanctions in the face of a growing economic crisis. Therefore, overthrowing the ruler of Qatar is not an easy task.
It is possible that rumors of a coup in Qatar are the result of a well-thought-out information campaign by Saudi Arabia. Official Riyadh wanted to observe the reaction of the Qatari people, to check how strong are the positions of the emir Tamim in society. After all, Sheikh Mubarak bin Khalifa Al-Thani tirelessly makes statements that the policy of the government of the emirate is at odds with the interests of ordinary Qatari people. Whether it is true or not, one can verify this by throwing it into the media space.
Perhaps one of the goals of the rumors is to scare investors away from the Qatar stock market. Recently, Vanguard Asset Management, an American investment company, acquired securities on Qatar and UAE debt securities, but not Saudi Arabia. According to Nick Eisinger, co-chair of Vanguard Asset Management, Saudi Arabia has enough reserves in foreign currency and resources to cope with difficulties, but Qatar and the UAE are more flexible in terms of work.
Currently, oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia are experiencing difficult times amid falling global oil prices. Saudi Arabia’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $ 27 billion in March. Saudi dollars denominated $ 2.5% this year. Apparently, the Arabians expected that, against the background of information about the political crisis in Qatar, oil prices would rise.
Coup d'état has already taken place in Qatar. In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani seized power in the country while his father, Emir Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani, was abroad. In 1996, associates of the ousted emir, including the former head of the police and economy minister Hamad bin Jassim, tried to overthrow the new ruler of Qatar with the support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, the coup attempt was unsuccessful. According to various sources, in 2012 there was a putsch in the country, led by the chief of the general staff, Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah. The siloviki tried to seize the palace of Emir Hamad, but the American special forces arrived to help.
The coup d'etat pursues the son of Hamad - Emir Tamim. According to the Turkish journalist Yeni Safak, an attempted coup d'etat also occurred in June 2017, after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the country, accusing incumbent Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of sponsoring international terrorism. According to Safak, the Turkish troops stationed in Qatar helped prevent the overthrow of the emir.
Perhaps the conspiracy against Emir Tamim has matured this year, while the attention of the international community is riveted to the coronavirus pandemic, but they managed to prevent it in a timely manner. There was only informational noise.