Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani – Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 17 June 2017: After four years away from political life, Qatar’s former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani (commonly abbreviated as “HBJ”) has come back under the spotlight, defending Qatar’s position and policies in light of its crisis with Arab countries.
Bin Jassim first came into the picture when audio leaks appearing to be a conversation between the former Qatari prime minister and former Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi were released early June, discussing a desire to divide the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“Those who are coordinating with Saudi Arabia are the ones who have no dignity, Egypt and Jordan, and especially Jordan,” Bin Jassim says in the audio recording. In another statement, he states that “Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the ones who brought shame to the Arabs.”
Bin Jassim is known to have been Qatar’s foreign policy architect for over two decades.
Sheikh Hamad was the prime minister of Qatar from April 2007 to June 2013, and he had previously served as foreign minister since 1992.
He first joined the Qatari government as director of the agriculture and municipal affairs minister’s office between 1982 and 1989. And in 1990, Bin Jassim was appointed the deputy minister of water and electricity.
Bin Jassim’s foreign policy involved strengthening relations with members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and enhancing cooperation with Hezbollah and Hamas, as well furthering cooperation with Israel and Iran.
In 2010, Bin Jassim met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran and agreed to boost regional security cooperation. “Cooperation between Iran and Qatar can guarantee security and stability in the region,” Bin Jassim said.
The Qatari sheikh has also repeatedly expressed his backing of Al-Jazeera channel, and talked about “his friends” in Israel.
Apart from setting the dynamics of Qatari foreign policy, Bin Jassim is also an active investor and businessman, with an estimated net fortune of at least $1.2 billion, according to the Panama Papers leaks released in 2016.
Bin Jassim has nearly $700 million worth of public stock in Deutsche Bank, Forbes reported.
Bin Jassim’s role in the current Qatari crisis
In an interview with Charlie Rose on Monday, the former prime minister and very close friend to the present Qatari emir defended Qatar’s relation with Iran, saying that it is not any more special than other gulf states’ ties with the latter.
In contradictory statements, Jassim stated that Qatar’s role in Syria is opposed to Iranian goals, to later admit supporting radical groups in Syria under the slogan of “supporting the revolution.”
“Questions have been raised about how much funding Qatar has done to some of the Islamic groups in Syria,” Rose asked.
“In Syria, everybody did mistakes, including your country,” Bin Jassim replied.
While Qatar has always claimed its support for conciliatory efforts in Palestine, Bin Jassim revealed in the interview that Doha’s government has aided Hamas in Gaza Strip, a contradictory step that would deepen the Palestinian rift even further.
In his first appearance after leaving office, the Qatari diplomat seemed to be even more involved and knowledgeable on Qatar’s internal politics and the gulf crisis than the present Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
According to Egypt’s former ambassador to the U.S. Abdel Raouf El Reedy, Bin Jassim’s comeback to the political sphere reflects Qatar’s desire to use experienced characters in directing deceitful media campaigns and justifying the small state’s support and financing of terrorism.