Like Father, Like Son: Qatar Pays Price for Going Against Saudis

Like Father, Like Son: Qatar Pays Price for Going Against Saudis
Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:05:29

When Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed the reins of power to his son in 2013, he said it was time “to turn a new page” in Qatar.

The emir's abdication, an unusual move for a Gulf ruler, was expected to mark a change of course, with his youthful successor dialing back on foreign policy positions that angered neighbors and allies by, among other things, supporting the former Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt.

But the father's strategy of engaging with everyone has spectacularly caught up with the world’s richest country under his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with the Saudi-led isolation of Qatar is in its fifth week and showing no sign of ending. The Saudis say that's because nothing has really changed, and it's the older man who still pulls the strings.

“Sheikh Tamim is paying the price of keeping his father’s policies even though he gave the impression he will reposition Qatar,” said Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. “The crisis has shown that the policies of the father are still very well entrenched.”

That belief was reflected in the Saudi media, which accompanied stories on Qatar with a composite photo of Sheikh Hamad, 65, and his son, 37. In Qatar, being pictured together is used to show respect for the ruling family. In Saudi Arabia, it reinforced the perception that Father Emir, as the elder sheikh is known, is still the power behind the throne.

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