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Qatar's annus horribilis

Qatar has taken a sharp turn in fortune in the past year, going from influential regional power to almost complete isolation.
Secretary-General Hassan Al-Thawadi (C) of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the nation's 2022 World Cup organising committee, speaks during a news conference to announce the start of work on the Al-Khor Stadium in Al-Khor June 21, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous (QATAR - Tags: SPORT BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION SOCCER) - RTR3UZO5
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What a difference a year makes in the Middle East. One year ago this week, Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, handed over power to his son Sheikh Tamim, joining a short but seemingly growing list of monarchs who have abdicated in favor of their relatives. At the time of his abdication, Hamad left behind an empire of soft power and influence that spanned the entire region. Twelve months on, things could not be more different.

Only 72 hours after Tamim's ascension to the throne, the Muslim Brotherhood — arguably Qatar’s biggest ally that the Gulf state has propped up with billions of dollars and favorable media coverage through Al Jazeera Arabic — was swept from power in Egypt. The movement, which only a few days before held the presidency, the premiership, cabinet posts and parliament, was chased underground, jailed and exiled. President Mohammed Morsi did not even have time to send a cable of congratulations to the young emir. Elsewhere, Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda movement, another close ally of Qatar, agreed to give up power and appoint a caretaker cabinet only a few weeks after the Brotherhood was ousted in Egypt. In Libya, where Qatar committed money, media and military power, former Gen. Khalifa Hifter has pledged to “purge” his country of Muslim Brotherhood members. The Qatari-backed and Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Coalition no longer plays a significant role, with the opposition now headed by the Saudi-backed Ahmed al-Jarba, leading one political pundit to comment on Qatar’s influence that "Politically, it is in the back seat — or maybe not even in the car."

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