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Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani

Хамад бин Халифа ат-Тани
Хамад бин Халифа ат-Тани 
Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (Arabic: الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني‎, born 1 January 1952) has been the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar since 1995.[1][2] Sheikh Hamad was the appointed Heir Apparent of Qatar between 1977 and 1995 and at the same time Minister of Defense.[3] In the early 1980s he led the Supreme Planning Council, which sets the Qatar's basic economic and social policies. Starting in 1992, Hamad had a growing responsibility for the day-to-day running of the country,[4] including the development of Qatar's oil and natural gas resources. On 27 June 1995, after deposing his father in a palace coup, Sheikh Hamad became Emir of Qatar and was crowned on 20 June 2000.[4] The Emir is famous for helping to establish the first Arab international news network, Al Jazeera, when he provided a loan of QAR 500 million ($137 million) to sustain Al Jazeera through its first five years. In late 2012 and early 2013 the Emir was accused of providing financial and material support to terrorist organizations such as Hamas,[5] Ansar Dine,[6] and the Al-Nusra Front.[7]
 
Early life
Sheikh Hamad began his education in Qatar and later attended Sandhurst Military Academy in England. Upon his graduation in 1971, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Qatari armed forces and commanded the 1st Mobile Battalion, which has since been designated the "Hamad Mobile Battalion" in his honor.[citation needed]
Hamad was later promoted to the rank of Major General and appointed Commander in Chief of the Qatari Armed Forces. He oversaw an extensive program to modernize Qatar's military, increasing manpower, creating new units, updating weaponry, and improving training.[citation needed]

  As Emir

In the early 1980s, Hamad led the Supreme Planning Council, which sets the Qatar's basic economic and social policies. Starting in 1992, Hamad's father handed over responsibility for the day-to-day running of the country,[4] including the development of Qatar's oil and natural gas resources. With the support of his family, Sheikh Hamad took control of the country in 1995 while his father was on vacation abroad.[4] While his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani was in Geneva, Switzerland, Hamad bin Khalifa deposed him in a bloodless 1995 coup d'état.[8] Hamad bin Khalifa engaged an American law firm to freeze his father's bank accounts abroad, thereby defeating a possible countercoup.[4] Thereafter, his father lived in exile in France and Abu Dhabi[8] until he returned to Qatar in 2004.
The Emir is considered to be progressive among leaders of Muslim countries.[citation needed] In a break with the traditional role, his second wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned has been a visible advocate for education and children's causes.[4]
 
A sportsman[9] and an accomplished diver, Hamad has played an active role in promoting and developing athletics in Qatar. His activism has enhanced the country's involvement and performance in a number of international competitions, including: winning an Olympic medal in track and field; hosting a wide variety of international sporting events such as the 15th Asian Games, GCC, Asian and World Youth soccer championships; and initiating the Qatar Open Tennis Championship which has grown to become one of two premier tennis competitions in the Middle East.
 
Under his rule the Qatari government helped to fund the Al Jazeera news network, funding it by an emiri decree.[10] In an analysis of Al Jazeera, Hugh Miles claimed that diplomats from other countries know that the Emir is the real power behind Al Jazeera but he also quotes a network spokesman denying 'countless times' this accusation, adding that many independent news sources also have subsidies from their respective governments without this implying editorial dabbling and explaining that trying to coerce the kind of journalists Al Jazeera has would be like trying to 'herd cats'.[11] Sheik Hamad is a distant cousin of the network chairman, Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, who was previously Minister of Information in the Emir Al-Thani government. Following the initial US$137 million grant from Emir Al-Thani, Al Jazeera had aimed to become self-sufficient through advertising by 2001, but when this failed to occur, the Emir agreed to several consecutive loans[11] on a year-by-year basis (US$30 million in 2004,[12] according to Arnaud de Borchgrave). At an 3 October 2001 press conference, Colin Powell tried to persuade Sheik Hamad to shut down Al Jazeera while The New York based organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting commented that in those efforts, "Powell and other U.S. officials were reportedly upset by the channel re-airing old interviews with bin Laden and the inclusion of guests that are too critical of the United States on its programs."[13][14] The Washington Post reported in 2005 that Sheik Hamad was under pressure to privatize the network.[15]

  Foreign relations

The emir made a $100 million donation for the relief of New Orleans following the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.[16]
In 2012, the emir proposed deploying Arab troops to reduce killings in the Syrian civil war.[17]
He has provided two military bases for foreign troops, Al Udeid Air Base and Camp As Sayliyah.
Despite the prevalence of anti-Israel sentiment within the Arab world, he had previously maintained friendly relations with Israel.[8] He met Foreign Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni (25 September 2007) in New York. This marked the first real attempt by any leader in the Persian Gulf to pursue dialogue with Israel.[18][19] However, Qatar severed diplomatic ties with Israel in 2009 in response to Israel's actions during the Gaza War.[20] The emir has also expressed his objection to Israeli settlement policy, especially the Judaization of Jerusalem.[21]

  Visit to Gaza

In October 2012, the emir made a landmark visit to Gaza by being the first head of state to go there since the 2006 election of Hamas and the imposition of a blockade by Israel.[22] He took a flight to Egypt before being driven into Gaza. When there, the emir was thought to be launching a $254 million reconstruction project in the territory, and giving an address to the Palestinian people. Palestine's interior ministry was said to have a "well-prepared plan" to provide security for the emir during his stay.[23] Incidents nevertheless continued.[24]

  Criticism and Allegations of Support to Terrorist Organizations

In December, 2012 the New York Times accused the Qatari regime of funding the Al-Nusra Front, a U.S. government designated terrorist organization.[7] Others have noted the emir's visit to Gaza and meeting with Hamas, another internationally designated terrorist organization.[5] In January, 2013 French politicians again accused the Emir's regime of giving material support to Islamist groups in Mali and the French newspaper Le Canard enchaîné quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying that “The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”[6]
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