Qatar. On April 3, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa appointed his
cousin, the country's influential foreign minister Hamad bin
Jassem bin Jadr, as new prime minister. The new prime
minister also retained the post of foreign minister.
Prime Minister Abdallah bin Khalifa, who is the emir's
brother, was reported to have "tired" his office.
At the end of September, the state-owned holding company
Qatar Holding bought almost 10 percent of the shares in the
Stockholm Stock Exchange's owner, OMX. Qatar Holding had
plans to buy a larger part of OMX but put those plans on the
shelf in December.
At a meeting in Qatar in December with the Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC), member states stuck to plans to
form a single market in 2008 and introduce a single currency
Qatar mediated during the year in the civil war in Yemen.
In February 2000, the 33 responsible for a coup attempt
against the Emir in 1996 were sentenced to life in prison.
Among those convicted were the cousin of the emir, Sheikh
Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.
In March 2001, Qatar solved its border problems with
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In the first case, the
International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the
disputed Hawar Islands belong to Bahrain. There are rich oil
deposits and they have been disputed since 1930. At the same
time, however, the dosmtol gave Qatar sovereignty over the
city of Zubarah. Ifht. Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in
Doha. The agreement also contains 15 maps and documents
describing the 60 km common border between the two
countries. The Bedouins have traditionally crossed this
boundary regardless of the sovereignty of the two countries.
The Emir was not satisfied with the verdict on the coup
makers, and in May 2001, an appeals court sentenced his
cousin and 18 other coup makers to death, 20 were sentenced
to life in prison and 29 were acquitted. Until then, the
death toll had not been used in Qatar for 10 years.
During the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001,
Qatar was the most important support point in the Gulf for
the invasion - while the country's TV station Al-Jazeera was
the only one allowed to report from the Taliban controlled
areas in Afghanistan.
The Islamic Conference met in Doha on March 5, 2003, and
although it condemned the imminent invasion of Iraq by the
United States, the emir nonetheless allowed the US's main
base for the invasion to be its base in Qatar. At the same
time, Al-Jazeera brought critical reports about the invasion
and brought footage with Saddam Hussein calling for
On April 29, 2003, a new constitution was passed with 96%
of the vote from the 85,000 large voting body.
Constitutional reform was more restrictive than the
democratic forces had hoped. No parliament was created, but
the old Majlis ash-Shura (Consultative Assembly) was
expanded with elected representatives. The women were
granted the right to vote and access to public office, and
the people were given freedom of speech and freedom of
religion, but political parties remained banned.
Although the emir in 1996 had appointed the third of his
ten sons, Jassim born in 1978, as his heir, it was
surprisingly replaced by the one year younger Tamim in
In February 2004, former Chechen President and separatist
leader Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev was killed by an explosion in
Doha where he had lived for 3 years. Qatar accused the
Russian intelligence service of being behind the attack. The
Russians rejected these accusations, claiming instead that
there was an internal power struggle between warring Chechen
factions. Russia had asked to have him extradited, accusing
him of participating in armed attacks on Dagestan in 1999
and in the occupation of a theater in Moscow in 2002.
Over 12 were injured and 1 killed in a suicide bombing
with a car bomb in March 2005. The Interior Ministry
abandoned the assailant as Egyptian by the name of Abdullah
Ahmad Ali, but declined to identify al-Qaeda as responsible
for the attack.
In June 2005, the country's new constitution came into
In April 2006, the emir announced that the first election
in the emirate's history would be held in early 2007, with
representatives to be elected to a consultative council. At
the same time, Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin
Jabr Al-Thani took the opportunity to criticize the United
States for "enforcing" democracy in the Middle East.