Another problem concerning Morsi these days is the approaching month of Ramadan, which begins, apparently, on the seventh of July. This year, Ramadan in Egypt will be especially difficult. The fast will take place during very long, hot days compared to years when Ramadan occurs in the winter. In Ramadan, especially at night, people throng into the streets, prices of food and clothing go up because of the rise in demand, and security forces will find it very difficult to control the masses. Heightened religious consciousness during Ramadan might also increase the tension between the religious groups, especially between the Salafists and the various branches of government; conflict may erupt in the form of tumultuous street riots and many casualties may result.
The Emir of Qatar Resigns
Meanwhile, an event occurred this week that is almost unprecedented in the Arab world. The ruler of a country has decided, on his own initiative, to give up power. This occurred in Qatar, the most influential country in the Arab world today, when Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani decided to pass the reigns of power to his 33-year old son, Tamim. The prince did not explain the reasons for his decision, and the Arab world is buzzing with rumors and various interpretations. One rumor is that he is not healthy, since he has already undergone two kidney operations, and there is a history of dementia in the family as well. Therefore, he decided to pass the rule on to his son while he still could, and even if he is not healthy, he will be able to accompany his son for a significant period of time. In contrast, King Hussein of Jordan appointed his son as king only a few days before he died, which negatively influenced Abdullah the Second’s ability to function, at least in the beginning of his reign.
Another interpretation is that the Emir of Qatar wanted to exit the political stage at the apex of his power, after he had proved that he could take down dictators like Mubarak, Qadhaffi, bin ‘Ali, Saleh and Asad, whether by means of money or by means of the al-Jazeera channel, which incited the Arab masses against their rulers. According to another opinion, he wants to spend the rest of his life engaged in charitable enterprises so that he will go down in history as the greatest Islamic philanthropist in the world. Others speak about his desire to show his colleagues, other Arab rulers, that an Arab ruler does not have to remain stuck to his seat until his death or until he is overthrown, thereby presenting a new model of Arab leadership that knows how to retire in an orderly way too.
Even if I do accept some of these hypotheses, in my opinion, the reason for the Emir of Qatar’s retirement is totally different. He is the person who is most identified with the political success of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Arab Spring”, which has since become a bloodbath, costing until now, one hundred thousand lives in Syria, fifty thousand in Libya, three million Syrian refugees and the violence continues and the sword is still unsheathed. He has ultimately understood that he was the one who incited the Middle East and has caused it to deteriorate into the wars of Sunni against Shi’ite, tribal wars, and the imposition of political Islam on some of the countries. Now, since he cannot douse the flames, he does not want to be in the center of focus when Egypt collapses on the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is in power today largely owing to his influence. And so that he will not be in the picture when the disaster happens, he preferred to pass the rule on to his son a week before the demonstrations break out in Egypt on the 30th of June; demonstrations which, if they heat up enough, might bring Morsi to the same end that Mubarak had. The son, Tamim, is not identified with his father’s policies, so Qatar may emerge unscathed from the criticism about the disaster that sheikh Hamed caused to the Arab world in general and to the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.
Whatever the reason for Sheikh Hamed’s resignation, it is very important to watch the policies that Qatar develops in the future, under the rule of Tamim. Will it continue to shake up the Arab world with the money, weapons and ammunition that Qatar has been sending to every country where there is a chance to promote the Islamists, or will it stop doing this and leave Arab societies to their own rulers. It is important to monitor Tamim’s international orientation, because Qatar has the largest military American airfield in the Gulf, and Qatar – together with Iran and Russia – is one of the three largest suppliers of natural gas in the world.