Qatar's special adviser in the rank of a minister Hamad bin Khalifa al-Attiyah- Press Photo
CAIRO – 14 August 2017: While Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani is known as the legitimate ruler of the tiny Gulf state, there is another person who runs the state behind the scenes. Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah is the mastermind and the right arm of the Qatari government and is favored by Prince Tamim.
Qataris call him the ‘Emir’ to whom no one has pledged allegiance. He was appointed as a special adviser in the rank of a minister upon a decree issued by Qatar’s Tamim in June, 2013.
This was only ostensibly a reward for his good performance in implementing the plan to force merchants to sell their shops in Souq Waqif, claiming to convert it into a heritage institute.
Abdulaziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah was released by Lebanon before his trial, allegedly following pressure by the Qatari government, but was subsequently found guilty in absentia
However, Hamad Al-Attiyah again leased the properties to the merchants themselves with high-priced contracts, thus reimbursing what the state treasury had paid to the traders.
Kindling Qatar-Gulf crisis
On the regional, Arab and international levels, Al-Attiyah caused a major crisis between the Gulf countries and Qatar in 2013, prompting the Gulf countries to ask Doha to sign an agreement restraining Qatar from interfering in the affairs of the member-countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, following the intensive media campaign against the four Gulf states through Qatar’s media outlets and satellite networks.
Brotherhood leader Wagi Ghoneem shows support to 'Mahd Ahl al-Sham’ campaign in favor of Nusra Front in Syria
Financing terrorist groups in Syria
In addition, several Lebanese news reports indicated the involvement of Abdul Aziz bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the brother of adviser Hamad, in the direct financing of terrorist groups fighting in Syria under the cover of a humanitarian aid organization.
He was able to do that through managing the ‘Mahd Ahl al-Sham’ campaign that collects donations from Gulf countries to arm terrorists in Syria, many of whom are members of the al-Nusra Front, which called on Qatari citizens in August 2013 to donate and send money to fighters in Syria for procuring weapons.
Qatar also intervened to release Abdel Aziz Al-Khalifa and threatened Beirut with the expulsion of 30,000 Lebanese citizens living and working in Qatar unless they release Abdel Aziz bin Khalifa Al-Attiyah, who is involved in financing terrorism.
Beirut was forced to obey Qatar’s pressures and released Abdel Aziz, although he was sentenced in absentia to 7 years in prison on charges of managing this terror financing campaign.
It was revealed that Hamad was in contact with terrorist Abu Mohammad Al-Julani, Emir of the al-Nusra Front, who made an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera network in 2015.
Nusra Front leader Abou Mohamed al-Julani during his interview on Al Jazeera- Youtube Screenshot
Backing Bahraini riot groups
In June, Bahrain’s state-owned TV broadcasted a leaked phone conversation between Qatar’s Hamad bin Al-Attiyah and Hassan Ali Mohammed Juma’a Sultan, a Bahraini dissident, whose nationality was revoked in 2015. The recordings show how Qatar was conspiring behind the scene against the Gulf states’ unified policy in Bahrain.
They indicate that the backchannel talks might have taken place in 2011, after the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sent their joint military forces, known as Peninsula Shield Force at the request of the Bahraini government to protect the latter country’s national security.
The first recording shows how Qatar was trying to strike a balance between Doha keeping up with its pro-GCC policy in Bahrain, but instead it was working behind the scene, using Al Jazeera News Channel to broadcast opposing agendas.
Financing the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood
Hamad, the ‘Emir’ to whom no one has pledged allegiance, plays a key role in financing and strengthening the status of the Brotherhood in Qatar, along with other terrorist and extremist groups in the region.