Qatar’s top diplomat is sworn in as new prime minister

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar’s top diplomat was sworn in as the country’s prime minister on Tuesday, replacing another member of the ruling family who had held the post since 2020, state news reported.

The Qatar News Agency says Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani was sworn in as the new head of government, without providing further details.

Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, appoints the holders of top offices, usually from members of the ruling family. As in other Gulf Arab countries, politics is largely confined to the ruling family and developments are rarely aired in public.

Sheikh Mohammed has served as foreign minister since 2016 and was the public face of Qatar as it navigated a 3 1/2-year economic boycott by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt that only came to an end in January 2021.

He replaces Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, who had served as prime minister and interior minister — responsible for domestic security — since 2020. He was replaced as interior minister on Tuesday by Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Sheikh Mohammed’s appointment and the Cabinet reshuffle that brought new people into the Qatari government in a tweet early Wednesday.

“I’m grateful for our enduring partnership,” Blinken wrote.

Gas-rich Qatar, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, supported Islamist groups across the region during and after the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, bringing it into conflict with its Gulf Arab neighbors, who view such groups as a threat to hereditary rule.

Relations have improved over the last two years. The rulers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt visited Qatar as it hosted soccer’s World Cup last year.

Meanwhile, the UAE quietly began allowing internet users in the country to access the websites of Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab broadcaster, as well as the Qatar News Agency. Both websites and others appeared accessible early Wednesday in the Emirates, which long has complained about Al Jazeera’s editorial coverage.

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