Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, former CEO of Qatar’s troubled project
London- Former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani has been out of sight since he left power in 2013 but observers say the political legacy he left behind lingers on.
Since the latest crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours began, media interest in Sheikh Hamad has resurfaced. The Egyptian news website elyomnew.com said Sheikh Hamad is one of several candidates expected to seek to lead Qatar, should the rule of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani collapse.
Sheikh Hamad, also a former foreign minister, lives in a luxurious apartment in the upmarket area of Knightsbridge in London because, some observers said, he did not want to be close to decision-making in Doha, lest the royal family suspect him of meddling in the country’s affairs.
Bahrain’s pro-government Al Watan newspaper on June 7 accused Sheikh Hamad, then the prime minister, of involvement in the 2011 protests in Pearl roundabout in Manama.
The newspaper alleged that Sheikh Hamad communicated with the “now-dissolved Iranian-backed Al Wefaq” opposition group to mediate with the Bahraini government with the aim of changing the Manama’s ruling system.
He “presented his vision to Al Wefaq society to launch a national dialogue as soon as possible to discuss its political demands provided that the protests would not end at the said roundabout until one month elapses from the beginning of such dialogue,” wrote Al Watan.
The Qatari proposal, which included Al Wefaq’s participation in “Bahrain’s transitional government,” was rejected by the government.
The Saudi-funded Al Arabiya TV released audio recordings of the former prime minister as well as Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Qatar’s former emir, purportedly conspiring with former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi against Riyadh in 2003.
In the recording, whose authenticity could not be independently verified, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said Qatar’s ties with Israel are meant to secure US help to fend off pressure from Saudi Arabia.
“The region will be facing a volcano, Saudi Arabia will be facing a revolution,” he is alleged to have said. Saudi Arabia will be divided into small states within 12 years, he predicted.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim was criticised following remarks in an interview with the Financial Times in April 2016.
“We [Arabs] didn’t demonstrate we are an ally [to the United States] you can rely on. We have to have an excellent relationship with the United States but the United States won’t come to the region like before,” he told the newspaper.
He angered Riyadh when he suggested Iranians were better than the Saudis in the art of negotiation. “I have to admit one thing: They [the Iranians] are more clever than us and more patient than us and the best negotiators. Look at how many years they negotiated [with world powers]. Do you think an Arab country would negotiate for so long?”
Sheikh Hamad was said to be lobbying to be a candidate for the post of secretary of the League of Arab States but Qatar’s tensions with other Arab countries made that unlikely.
He has reportedly made a controversial investment of $9.4 billion in Barclays bank. The deal is the subject of an investigation in Britain.