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Ironduke
05 Aug 03,, 05:05
Shake-up in Qatar ruling family

Qatar's ruler Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani is reportedly about to change the succession in the conservative Gulf sheikhdom by naming a new crown prince.
Reports say the current crown prince, Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad, will be replaced by his brother, Sheikh Tamim, in formal announcement on Tuesday.

Diplomats quoted by Reuters news agency say the change comes after Sheikh Jassim asked to be granted wider powers by his father the emir.

"Sheikh Jassim was unhappy about not getting enough responsibilities," one diplomat is quoted as saying.

Sheikh Jassim has been Sheikh Hamad's crown prince since October 1996, a year after the latter overthrew his own father in a bloodless palace coup.

Sheikh Jassim is Sheikh Hamad's third son. Sheikh Tamim is his fourth. Both men are in their 20s.

Father-son tension

Qatar possesses the world's third largest natural gas reserves and its small population has one the highest per capita incomes of any country.

The Al Thani family dominates the political scene in the capital Doha, but there is a history of palace intrigue since the state gained independence from Britain in 1971.

Correspondents say the 1995 coup that brought Sheikh Hamad to power was sparked by a power struggle with his own father, Sheikh Khalifa.

The father had been attempting to recover powers and patronage that had been steadily secured and exercised by Sheikh Hamad in the preceding years, correspondents say.

A key US ally in the region - Qatar hosted the advanced headquarters of the American forces during the US-led invasion of Iraq.

But the Al Thani rulers also fund the controversial Doha-based television news channel, al-Jazeera, which Washington has accused of bias in its coverage of Iraq, but which has a loyal audience across the Arab world and abroad.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3124575.stm