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Qatar Modern History

Thanks to oil revenues, after World War II, Qatar was able to go from being one of the world's poorest countries to becoming one of the richest. In 1971 the British left Qatar and the country became independent under emir Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani. He was deposed the following year in a bloodless coup by his cousin, who in turn was overthrown in 1995 by his son, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. During Hamad, some modernization and democratization began.

When the British left Qatar, the idea was that the country would be included in what is today the United Arab Emirates. But Qatar could not agree with the other Emirates on the terms of membership of the federation and chose full independence.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Qatar. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

Already the following year, in 1972, the emir Ahmad bin Ali Al Thani was deposed in a bloody coup by his cousin, the then Crown Prince and Prime Minister Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani. He named himself emir and retained the post of prime minister. After the coup, Khalifa advanced rapidly in terms of education, social reform, healthcare and infrastructure. Quantities of housing and schools were built, and a pension system was introduced. At the same time, the emir adhered to Islamic living rules. There were no approaches to political democratization.

The 1990-1991 Kuwait War marked a turnaround in Qatar's relations with the United States. Previously, it was unthinkable for most countries in the region to ally themselves with the country that was Israel's foremost ally. (The Arab countries were consistently opposed to the establishment of modern Israel and have continued to be deeply critical of the subsequent occupation of Palestinian territories.) But after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Qatar felt compelled to secure its own security and signed several military cooperation agreements with the United States. The US military presence established in accordance with the agreements later formed the basis for US operations during the Iraq war in 2003, when Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

Contemporary History of QatarBargain against the emir

In 1995, emir Khalifa, who was said to have seized billions of dollars worth of state assets, was deposed in a bloodless coup by his son, Crown Prince Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. He took the title emir and launched a series of reforms to modernize Qatar politically and economically.

The deposed emir traveled around the region in the mid-1990s and sought support to regain power. The attempt failed, and later it was announced that father and son had been reconciled, after the seized assets were returned.

A new coup attempt was reported in 1996. Around a hundred people, mostly military and police, were arrested by security forces. They were imprisoned, according to human rights organizations, after defective trials. Four years later, the emir's cousin and 32 other people were arrested for the same coup attempt.

The takeover of power marked the start of a collaboration with the outside world with the aim of extracting Qatar's large natural gas assets. In the coming years, several agreements were made that made Qatar one of the most important natural gas producers, including an export agreement with the United Arab Emirates in 2002. A collaboration with the energy giant Shell the following year led to the construction of the world's largest natural gas plant.

Hamad's entry into power worsened the already strained relations with Saudi Arabia. The dispute was partly about Qatar's relations with Israel and expressed itself in armed confrontations at the border. In 1996, relations were normalized after the countries agreed on border controls, but Hamad continued to pursue a policy of balancing Saudi Arabia's influence in the region.

al-Jazira is started

A tool to strengthen Qatar's influence abroad was the launch of the Arabic-language TV channel al-Jazira. The channel became known for outspoken journalism of the Western cut and aroused the suspicion of many Arab countries because of its controversial reporting of regional conflicts. It also angered the United States after sending video-recorded statements by the terrorist accused and calling for Usama bin Ladin (recordings from which every news editor in the world was interested in sending excerpts). al-Jazira was given a lot of room for journalistic coverage, as long as it was not the Qatari regime that emerged in bad days.

In early 1998, the emir announced that general elections would be held and in March 1999 the first general elections in Qatar's history were held. At that time, 29 members were elected to a council that gained influence on local issues. Women were also candidates and just under 50 percent of voters participated in the election. No parliamentary election, which was also promised, was held.

The regime's decision to allow women to vote and run for office aroused consternation in conservative circles and sparked protests in both Qatar and some neighboring countries. As early as 1996, Qatar was the first country in the Persian Gulf to have a female government official, when the emir appointed a woman as secretary of state for education and culture. In 2003, Qatar also got its first female minister.

A constitutional committee presented a proposal for a new constitution in 2002. The proposal was adopted in a referendum in 2003. The country's advisory assembly, Majlis al-Shura, would have greater similarities to a people-elected parliament, with some influence over the legislation (see Political system). The assembly would consist of 45 members, 30 of whom were elected and the rest appointed by the emir. According to the proposal, power would be separated between the legislative, executive and legal bodies. However, the general elections that were promised did not come to fruition.

Opposition group is formed

A group of civil servants, students and military formed an opposition group in 2002 and demanded that the emir abdicate in favor of Crown Prince Jasim, but this did not happen. The reason was dissatisfaction with the foreign policy that has led to deteriorating relations with Qatar's neighboring countries. The group also accused the emir of corruption.

In 2004, trade unions were allowed and working hours were regulated to eight hours working day. A ban on child labor was introduced.

In the same year, new anti-terrorism legislation with the death penalty was adopted. Qatar had long been spared terror attacks, but in March 2005 a bomb exploded outside a theater in an area where Westerners were happy to move. One British national was killed and twelve people injured. An Islamist group took on the responsibility.

In April 2007, the Emir Hamad bin Jasim Al Thani, a member of the ruling clan and known as HBJ, appointed a new head of government. HBJ had long been regarded as one of the country's most influential politicians. Among other things, he led Qatar's powerful investment authority, QIA, with upwards of $ 100 billion from the country's huge gas and oil revenues to invest in projects for the benefit of Qatar's future. Perhaps the biggest attention was drawn to such things as the acquisition of Harrod's London department store 2010, as well as shares in banks such as Swiss Crédit Suisse and British Barclay's as well as German car manufacturers Porsche and Volkswagen.

2003

August

The Emir changes the heir to the throne

The Emir appoints his youngest son, Tamim, as a follower of the throne instead of his eldest son Jasim. Tamim is the second oldest son of the emir and his second wife.

April

Yes to new constitution

A large majority of voters vote yes to a new constitution. According to the constitution, a new parliament is to be established.

March

Iraq invasion from Qatar

The US uses its bases in Qatar in connection with the invasion of Iraq.

 
 

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