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Qatar replaces Energy Minister 18, January 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry, Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, has been replaced by the former State Minister of Energy, Mohammed Salah Al Sada.

The Al Attiyah family are one of the best connected families in Qatar. Indeed, the Emir, Hamad Al Thani, is said to have grown up in their household to some degree.

Al Attiyah has been the architect of Qatar’s startling rise to  dominance in the Liquified Natural Gas market. Indeed, he recently oversaw a huge investment programme lifting Qatar’s capacity to 77 million tonnes-a-year. It is, therefore, something of a natural time for him to go.

There are no indications that this is some kind of demotion as Al Attiyah has been appointed to the head of the Emiri Diwan (the Ruler’s court), a prominent position, and retains the title of Deputy Prime Minister. Given that every other press clipping of Al Attiyah is of him in Japan, China and various other far-flung places in the world, at the age of 59 it is reasonable to assume that he simply wanted to spend more time at home.

The new Minister, Al Sada, had the post of Minister of State for Energy and Industry created for him in 2007 mostly – it is assumed – as a kind of training position for when he would take over from Al Attiyah. He has decades of experience in the Oil and Gas business in Qatar and a PhD from the UK.

Seymour Hersh loses his marbles? 18, January 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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Working out when to leave the lime-light, put down the pen or stop treading the boards so as not to sully one’s reputation is a fine balancing act. Some can seemingly continue forever (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) while we wish that others had quit years ago. Who cannot have felt slightly creepy watching Sean Connery in Entrapment or finished watching Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr. Moreau without a tinge of sadness?

I’ve talked before about this feeling with Robert Fisk. Once a great of the journalism world, a literal by-word for thorough fact checking and rigour, not only was his most recent tome utterly riddled with mistakes but his regular articles can be similarly error-strewn and one gets the impression that they are based on friends’ anecdotes more than a thorough appreciation of the ‘macro’ situation. (This doesn’t preclude him from the occasional super article, though).

So too must we now kindly ask that Seymour Hersh retire. Once – like Fisk – one of the brightest, most diligent and investigative of investigative reporters, uncovering government malfeasance and reporting it to the public, today he appears to have crossed over into a realm where every oddity or curious connection is automatically part of a grand conspiracy. At a talk that he just gave in Doha, Hersh recounted that:

Regarding the looting in Baghdab in 2003:

In the Cheney shop, the attitude was, ‘What’s this? What are they all worried about, the politicians and the press, they’re all worried about some looting? … Don’t they get it? We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get all the oil, nobody’s gonna give a damn…That’s the attitude…We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.

“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins…They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”