In his accession speech, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who was handed power by his father on Tuesday in a rare example of a hereditary Arab ruler stepping down, said that the Gulf state would not “take direction” from anyone.
The new emir’s first address as head of state coincided with a cabinet reshuffle that saw Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, a force behind Qatar’s support for the Arab Spring revolts, replaced as premier and foreign minister, but he is expected to retain his powerful post as vice-chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, a wealth fund worth between $100-$200bn.
Sheikh Tamim, 33, added that sectarianism threatened to weaken Arab unity at a time when Syria’s war has raised communal tension. “As Arabs we reject splitting countries on a sectarian basis... because this split allows for foreign powers to interfere in the internal affairs of Arabs and influence them.”
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