Monday, March 28, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: Qatar

The protests in Qatar kicked off on February 28, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series.
Qatar is a country I've heard of, but only barely. I didn't know they were involved in the protests until I came across the wikipedia page that covered all the different protests. That led me to research this country and its uprisings further.

Basic History
Qatar's official name is the State of Qatar. Geographically, it is located on the northeast coast of the Arab Peninsula, which is located between African and Asia. Important bordering countries include: Saudi Arabia. The capital is Doha. The population is estimated at 1.7 million people. The language is Arabic.

Qatar's most recent leader is Emir Hamad bin Khalifa AlThani. He has been Qatar's ruler since 1995. Qatar is setup as an absolute monarchy. There is an emir, a crown prince and a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is Hamad bin Jassim al Thani. The Emir is the head of state and the head of government. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emir.

In terms of independence, Qatar gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1913. They ended a treaty with the United Kingdom in 1971. Since then, it has been an absolute monarchy. There has been talk in recent years of making the country into a constitutional monarchy. But no plans yet have been made for elections outside of local elections already being held with universal suffrage (everybody votes) above the age of 18.

The Protests
The main causes cited as the reasons include: The Emir's approval to host the US military base of "Aideed", the policy of rapprochement with Israel and secret visits exchanged with Israeli officials were among the most important causes that led to the aborted coup.

The Qatari people, actually senior officials, organized a coup against the Emir on February 26th. The coup failed and 30 people were arrested. The military coup failed because Emir bin Khalifa found out and foiled it. The attempt never actually happened.

There were calls on Facebook for protests on February 27th. The protests were supposed to be against government corruption and to topple the corrupt regime. There was a new Facebook page calling for protests on March 11th after a lack of response to the first calls and amid news of the failed coup. The news of the failed coup comes from the Emir, and some have suggested that it was expressed simply to arrest people who are supporters of his brother who is exiled to France, Abdul Aziz bin Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani.

As far as I know (it's very difficult to find corroborating stories about events in Qatar, even with the help of Google and Bing), the protests planned for March never really got off the ground. There is still widespread discontent with the Emir, but I don't know where it's going. I will keep my ear to the ground for more information, but at least now you know some of the basic background.

More information can be found at,, and

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