IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

The Africa Report - - CONTENTS -

Qatar and Saudi Ara­bia are not firm friends. Qatar sup­ported Is­lamist pow­ers in Libya, Egypt and Syria, crit­i­cises the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Saudi Ara­bia, and al­lows the Mus­lim Brothers to con­gre­gate in the Qatari cap­i­tal, Doha. In 1995, Qatar al­most walked out of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC), a re­gional group­ing of Gulf States. Now the GCC has walked out on Qatar, mostly be­cause its mem­bers do not like Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Ha­mad bin Khal­ifa al Thani, who has been throw­ing geopo­lit­i­cal muscle around af­ter a decade of top-dol­lar gas prices. He has nom­i­nally handed over to his son, the 33-year old Emir Tamim. That could just be an in­ter­nal mat­ter for the re­gion. But a new face on the scene, the new heir to the throne in Saudi Ara­bia, the 31-year-old Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, may spell prob­lems. Some see him as the mod­erniser Saudi Ara­bia needs to shake up the na­tional oil com­pany and make good the King­dom’s at­tempt to di­ver­sify away from en­ergy. But his crit­ics say he is im­pul­sive. He is also the ar­chi­tect of the Gulf ’s re­cent diplo­matic and eco­nomic iso­la­tion of Qatar and a hard­line op­po­nent of Iran, a Qatar ally. Ex­pect a rocky road ahead, as these thirty-some­things go head to head.

Princes of power: Qatar’s Emir Tamim (L) and Saudi heir Mo­hammed bin Sal­man (R)

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