LONDON – Chaos has gripped Qatar’s ruling family following the surprising resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani amid growing divisions within Al Thanis over finding a way out of the Gulf crisis.
Qatar's ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has accepted the resignation of the prime minister, and appointed Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdelaziz al-Thani in his place, the emir's office said in statements on Tuesday.
Sheikh Abdullah’s resignation came at a time when the Gulf region is going through turbulent times.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a political and economic boycott of Qatar in June 2017 over allegations Doha backs terrorism. Qatar denies that and accuses them of trying to curtail its sovereignty.
Kuwait and the United States have tried to mediate the rift, which shattered the GCC alliance and undermined Washington's efforts to form a united front against Iran, which is locked in a struggle for regional supremacy with Saudi Arabia.
Analysts say the PM’s resignation was mainly due to his efforts to restore the damaged ties with Qatar’s neighbouring countries by making concessions to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a move that was opposed by Qatari Emir’s father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa and former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim.
The Qatari premier visited Saudi Arabia twice in eight months. The first visit was in May for an emergency summit to discuss regional security following an attack on tankers in Gulf waters.
He attended in December the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia in the most concrete sign yet of a possible thaw in a regional dispute, but the meeting ended without public mention of the 2-1/2 year row.
Sheikh Abdullah's presence, the most senior Qatari to attend the annual gathering since 2017, follows an intensification of efforts to resolve the row among US allies.
Kuwait and the US have tried to mediate the rift, which shattered the GCC alliance and undermined Washington's efforts to form a united front against Iran, which is locked in a struggle for regional supremacy with Saudi Arabia.
Informed Gulf sources familiar with the Kuwaiti mediation said that the Qatari Emir asked his Kuwaiti visitors to meet with his father or Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim and fill them in on what was happening and that taking a reconciliatory path required making concessions to the Arab Quartet, especially that Qatar has reached a stage in which it drained a lot of money and effort to face the consequences of the boycott, according to Qatarileaks.
Sheikh Tamim’s father and Hamad bin Jassim told the Qatari Emir that any reconciliation would not be accompanied by any concession and that the work should focus on spreading a dispute between the boycotting countries instead of reconciling with them with their own terms.