DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar’s ruling emir accepted the resignation of the country’s prime minister on Tuesday and appointed in his place another member from the ruling Al Thani family who has deep experience in the royal court.
Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued a royal decree naming Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani as the new prime minister and interior minister. The emir also accepted the resignation of Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani. The report by the state-run Qatar News Agency did not elaborate further on why the outgoing prime minister had resigned.
In posts on Twitter, outgoing Sheikh Abdullah expressed appreciation to the the emir for his confidence throughout his service, but did not give details on why he was stepping down.
The new prime minister, Sheikh Khaled, has long been an insider with close ties to the country’s emir. He has been in charge of the emir’s royal court, or diwan, since November 2014, according to the royal court’s website. He served in numerous posts within the royal court since 2006.
Qatar is a close U.S. ally and host to thousands of American troops at the vast al-Udeid air base, the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command. Qatar shares a massive underwater gas field with Iran, and the two countries also have close ties. The tiny peninsula-nation is set to host the World Cup in 2022.
Qatar is being boycotted by neighboring Gulf Arab states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Egypt. They cut ties with Doha in 2017 over its support for Islamist groups and its relations with Iran.
Sheikh Abdullah had been prime minister and interior minister since 2013. In recent months, he had embarked on two closely watched visits to Saudi Arabia to attend regional summits.
In the first visit in May, the emir dispatched Sheikh Abdullah to Mecca, where a stern-faced and brief handshake with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman highlighted Qatar’s fallout with its Gulf neighbors.
Months later in December, the prime minister received what appeared to be a warmer welcome in Riyadh, where he shared traditional Arabic coffee with King Salman in what was viewed as an attempt to possibly ease the tensions.