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At least two Facebook campaign against the regime in Qatar have appeared. The signatories of one campaign called on Qataris to bring down the Qatari regime.

 

Another Facebook page demanded the ouster of Qatar's moderate, pro-Western emir, accusing him of being an agent of Israel, had attracted over 18,000 fans in one day, in the latest web-driven push for change in the Arab world. In what is apparently the first call for change in Qatar, the page has a profile picture with an image of the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, crossed out in red. Against a backdrop of Qatar's flag is the tagline: "For Qatar: try the traitor, an agent of Israel”. The page called for protests on 16 March.

 

It could not be determined how many of the page's followers are in the country. Among the demands are the exclusion from public affairs of the emir's wife, Sheikha Mouza, and an end to Qatari ties to Israel and the United States, which has a military base in the small Gulf state. Qatar does not have diplomatic relations with Israel but did maintain informal ties. It broke off those ties and closed Israel's trade office in Doha in protest at Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip over New Year 2009 in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed.

 

The page also featured pictures of Sheikh Hamad and others with Israeli officials accompanied by angry comments about the emir being a "traitor like Mubarak".

 

February 26, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

This is unprecedented in Qatar. The local population is largely homogeneously Sunni and the protests are not of the type seen in Bahrain, where they have been led by the Shiite majority.

 

In Qatar, where the local population forms about 15 percent of the total population, there has been growing unease among the highly conservative local population, most of whom follow the strict Wahabi branch of Sunni Islam. With almost no media coverage coming out of the country, even though it is home to Qatar-government funded Al Jazeera, it remains difficult to assess the degree of the potential unrest. However, the assessment is that the local opposition to the growing role of Sheikha Mouza in state affairs by the conservative locals may be the reason of the growing unrest.

 

Regardless of whether the 16 March planned protests materialize, it appears that the local Qatari population is growing frustrated by the regime’s stance in supporting democratic change in the Arab World, whilst not addressing local concerns. The local population is also uneasy about the rapid pace of modernization. The government has not responded to such unease and without a rapid response from the government to address, or even appease the local population it is likely that such unrest may materialize into protests.