Gulf emirate may be latest Arab country facing political unrest within its borders
A Facebook page entitled "Freedom Revolution March 16 Qatar" calling for the downfall of Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, has attracted the approval of 1,646 people, the page showed on Thursday.
Demands listed on the site, which shows a photo of the Emir crossed out in red, also include the removal of a US military base from Qatari soil and the exclusion of the emir's influential wife Sheikha Mouza from public affairs.
It was impossible to verify how many of those who "liked" the page were in Qatar or were Qatari nationals or whether any protest would materialise on March 16.
Qatar, a close US ally, is viewed as one of the least vulnerable countries to the wave of political unrest shaking the Arab world. The Gulf Arab state's copious natural gas reserves have made it super-rich, with a tiny population about 350,000 nationals enjoying the world's highest per capita income.
Sheikh Hamad seized power from his father in a bloodless coup in 1995 and in 2003 declared his son Tamim heir apparent.
Political reform has stagnated with parliamentary elections repeatedly postponed. Qatar has no organised opposition groups.
The Facebook site calls for political reforms and more welfare benefits for Qataris. It says Qatar should consider cutting ties with Iran and with Israel, which had a trade office in the emirate until Doha closed it in 2009 in protest at an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.
The Facebook site shows a picture of Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani meeting an Israeli official, with the caption: "Why did Al Jazeera not publish these photos?"
Qatar hosts and funds Al Jazeera, a Doha-based news channel that has covered unrest in Tunisia and Egypt extensively.
This page in Facebook is ridiculous. Qataris are pro-capita the wealthiest in the world and have one of the lowest unemployment incidence. No taxation, free utitilities, extremely safe and in the last few years has became one of the top spots attractions for world class sport events. Moreover there have been huge investments for improving education and preparation of youth into professional activities and the job market. The small number of those who clicked "Like It" might be curious who want to participate in the FB page or even non citizens.
I agree with you. But I also agree with the page regarding US base there - we don't need them there, they should go somewhere else, like the sun or something. As for "Israel" we as Arabs MUST NEVER have any agreements with them until they go back where they came from, or better yet, they can go to Britain or the US and create their country on top of those countries who really love them.
Most of the people who 'liked' the page are from outside of Qatar who do not know much about Qatari politics and want to support the people of Qatar even though most of the people of Qatar do support the current regime. The Emir's wife Sheikha Mouza is seen as a hero. Of the people that 'liked' it from Qatar just 'liked' it so they can comment, and give their opinions on the subject. The objectives they are asking for are completely ridiculous. If it were a protest against corruption I might support it, because there is a lot of corruption in Qatar.
The American base in Qatar has many benefits. Rather than Qatar having to spend billions of dollars on weaponry they can now spend it on education (which Sheikha Mouza is spear heading as a national priority). Qatar is a tiny country who could never win a war. Rather they could provide the US with a military base, and have them protect us.
This is outragous. The Emir of Qatar is a great man and his wife Shiekha Mouza is a visionary and I love them. I am not a Qatari national but a American national and what this current government is doing for its people is amazing and only if the people of Qatar have faith and show much effort in the vision of its leaders they will be one of the best if not the best world citizens coming from the Arab region. Long live Emir Hamad
About Israel I agree with you but you too agree that when doing politics in the international arena you are forced to make compromises you wouldn't like to make.
This here is a declaration of war by proxy against Al-Jazira TV pure & simple.
If Al-Jazira was based in Brunei or in Oman, the page would single out these two unlikely candidates for "democratic transformation" instead. I venture as far as saying that if Facebook was based in Qatar the caption would read "why did Facebook not publish these photos".
The Arab world has entered the 21 st century in January 2011, and the old guard of the 20th century is grabbing for dear life every where.
But then again what do I know!!! I'm a 50 year old who lived it off for half a century and wrote off the bills to my children and their children after them.
i agree completely with NS.. maybe they want to put al jazeera in the dock.. qatar along with other lower gulf region is probably the most open society and it would be a sad day if the protest starts in these region
What a surprise. An American speaking for the most proAmerican regime in the Arab World. Anyone who offers US bases will be seen as a "visionary". However thousands of people have been killed by use of this base, so who is going to serve justice for them?
Qatar has done a lot for its citizens, after all they have a small population and are an oil/gas exporting country.
However their attitude towards the US has caused a lot of unnecessary deaths in Iraq
Qatar is a nice country, and the people are very nice too. You see people talks politics everywhere with no fears. All Qataris have a comfortable and a bright future. Qatar royal family is one of the most open and open minded royal family in this region, and they have done a lot of good things for the country and the region. It is true that you need to engage people in your day-to-day running the country, and I think these changes will come to Qatar very soon.
Just my two cents
A) It is Facebook, don't take it serious
B) It is a opinion/interest group, shouldn't there be the freedom
of having an opinion even though we dislike the point of view
C) If no one supports this effort, it will be forgotten quickly
Don't give these things too much attention. It is facebook and as long as you are supporting freedom of speech, you can not deny anyone to found such groups..