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03 April, 2005

Into exile

Surprising story from Qatar/Saudi, recalling Lawrence of Arabia once again - "there are no Arabs, only tribes."

"Riyadh: Thousands of Qataris of the Al Ghafran clan of the Al Murrah tribe who lost their citizenship were forced to seek refuge with relatives in Saudi Arabia's eastern Al Ahsa region.

"They were stripped of their Qatari nationality by government decree. The tribesmen claimed that they have been living in Qatar for 70 years."

The story becomes more interesting further down, with a quote from one of the affected tribesmen:

"Al Merri, who is staying in the eastern Saudi city of Al Hafof, described the decision as "unfair" and said it was related to a 1995 coup attempt in which some members of the tribe took part."

There was a coup in Qatar in 1995, but it was a peaceful, "bloodless" coup in which the current ruler deposed his father, and it seems unlikely that the government would be taking reprisals for that now. There was also one in 1996 - but again, all those involved were dealt with at the time.

But a web search finds reports of a much more recent, rumoured coup in 2002:

"Diplomatic circles in the Middle East are buzzing with rumors of a failed coup against the Qatari regime on the night of Oct. 13 [2002].

"At least two members of the royal family are said to have joined with officers of Yemeni and Pakistani background, along with individuals from Islamic organizations, all opposed to the growing U.S. military presence."

Other sources point to direct US intervention:

"But sources in the State Department say the whole thing is made up, a bit of disinformation on the part of the Saudis who are angry over the milder form of Wahabbism practiced in Qatar, Al Jazeera, which is based in there and, especially, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifah al-Thani's relatively close ties with the United States."

As Albritton notes, we'll probably never really know what happened. But it is a reminder that peace is a fragile thing, and strong measures will continue to be taken to maintain stability in a volatile region.

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Blogger Jawad said...

Conspiracies and coups in royal quarters, in the Middle East !!

That's of fact of life, a long standing tradition streching back to the time of the Umayyads and beyond.

06 April, 2005 19:31  

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