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Qatar, also known as the State of Qatar, is a Arab Emirate located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in southwest Asia. A peninsula approximately one hundred miles long, Qatar is surrounded on all sides by the Persian Gulf, with the exception being to the south where it shares a border with Saudi Arabia. Prior to Doomsday, Qatar contained the third largest known reserves of natural gas. Since 1990, it has been a member of the Gulf States Union (GSU).
A harsh climate and lack of resources, coupled with frequent fighting, resulted in no major nation being established on the Qatar Peninsula for much of its history. The region's rangeland was utilized for grazing by nomads and small ports were established along its coast for fishing and pearling, forming the basis of many of the large cities of today. The origin of modern Qatar can be traced to the arrival of the Bani Utbah Tribe of Kuwait, who established the successful trading and pearling port of Zubarah in 1732. After being attacked by the ruler of Bahrain, the powerful clan of Al-Khalifa organized a fleet, captured the island, and claimed dominion over it. Over time, the Al-Khalifa clan would move to Bahrain and redirect trade there, turning Qatar into a largely forgotten area in which no one person or group ruled.
Events began to change in Qatar in the early 1800s with two events, the arrival of the Al-Thani clan in 1825 and the appearance of the British. The Al-Thani emerged as the most powerful and respected clan in Qatar and was looked upon as the leader of all the tribes. Around this same time, the British arrived in the Persian Gulf, determined to impose law and order. In 1868 through various peace treaties, Britain acknowledged Qatar as a country separate from that of Bahrain, which had been a long standing dispute between the two areas. Ten years later, Jassim bin Muhammed Bin Thani was appointed Emir of Qatar, establishing the family's control of the throne which lasts until this day. In the 1870s, the growing Ottoman Empire claimed sovereignty over Qatar until it collapsed following World War I in 1913. This marked the beginning of a close relationship with the British in 1916, when Qatar became a protectorate under treaty in exchange for safety. Over the following decades, the discovery of oil would set in motion massive changes to Qatar's society, country's economy, and infrastructure along with the creation of a government structure under British guidance. With Britain's announcement in 1968 that it planned to leave, Qatar set about creating a new government and constitution. On September 3, 1971, it officially declared independence.
Qatar was not directly impacted by Doomsday. News of the unfolding events of Doomsday were received in the early morning hours of September 26, 1983 via radio and television broadcasts. Confused and alarmed by the reports, Emir Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani took the step of declaring a state of emergency and putting the military on alert.
Qatar is governed as an absolute monarchy. Under the terms of the 1970 Constitution, the head of state is the Emir, a hereditary title passed down among members of the Al Thani dynasty, who have held the throne since 1850. Although the Emir rules by decree, he is required to rule in agreement with the principles of Islam Islamic precepts and in order to remain in power must retain the support of the religious community, who assert themselves in areas of Qatari life. The current Emir is Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who deposed his father in 1989 due to widespread unrest in the country.
The Emir is assisted in the operation of the government by the prime minister and a cabinet of ministers. The prime minister, who acts as a deputy ruler, is appointed by the Emir. He devises government programs and exercises final supervisory control over the financial and administrative affairs of the government. The cabinet of ministers oversee the operation of key Qatari ministries and are answerable individually and as a body to the Emir, who appoints them.
The Consultative Assembly is the legislative body for the country consisting of 35 members, who serve three year terms. The Assembly may discuss, draft, and vote on legislation, but laws can only be enacted with the approval of the Emir. Additionally, they may approve the national budget and monitor the performance of cabinet ministers. Under the original constitution, each of the ten districts submitted a group of candidates from whom the Emir would select those to serve. After the political upheaval of the early 1990s, a new constitution was created which granted the right to native Qataris to elect twenty members of the Assembly by popular election.
Under the constitution, the presumption of innocence is established and judges are deemed to be independent in carrying out their duties. The judiciary consists of a higher and lower criminal court, a civil court, an appeals court, and a labor court. The sharia court, the oldest example of the Qatari judiciary, made decisions on all legal matters in accordance with Islamic law. Beginning in the 1960s the court’s power was restricted, so by the 1990s it had been relegated to family matters and Islamic ethics.
There are no political parties and suffrage is limited to only local elections.
Because of Qatar's limited population, it has tended to maintain a small military force. On the eve of Doomsday, Qatar had begun to upgrade the equipment of its military with newer and more powerful models, mostly from England and France, in response to the tensions growing out of the Iran-Iraq War. As was the case with all Gulf nations, this process came to a halt as a result of the war. Since then, the only new additions have been in the form of Iraqi military equipment captured during the occupation of southern Iraq following their civil war. With newer models expected to come off the assembly lines of GSU armament factories, it is hoped this problem will finally be rectified. Despite its size, the Qatari military has shown a willingness to be participate in military defense pacts, first among the GCC, and later the Gulf States Union.
At the time of Doomsday, the Qatari army stood at about six thousand, the largest segment of the military. Their armor, such as tanks, armored cars, and armored infantry fighting vehicles (AIFV), was mostly of French and British design. This included at least two dozen French built AMX tanks; forty AMX 10-P AIFVs; and at least 160 VAA/VTT armored personnel carriers. They were also equipped with a variety of artillery and missile systems. Since the war, the army had slowly increased its numbers to as of 2010, it stands at 9,000. As in the past, foreigners, such as other Arabs or westerners populate the military. Like all Gulf nations, Qatar has welcomed the participation of former American, British, and French military expatriates who were either trapped in the region or since immigrated to it.
The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) consists of mostly pre-war British and French fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, operating out of the military airfield at Doha and smaller fields scattered across the nation with a total force of 800. The strength of the air force includes twelve Mirage F-1s delivered in 1983 and six Dassault-Dornier Alpha jets along with at least twenty attack helicopters, among them twelve SA 342 Gazelles; six Super Pumas; and several Westland Commando, Whirlwind, and Lynxes.
Qatar maintained a very small navy at the time of the war, based out of Doha and the nearby Halul Island. It consisted of two segments, the regular navy and the Marine Police, numbering around 1,500. The navy was equipped with six Vosper Thorneycroft 120-ton patrol boats armed with search radar and four twin 35 mm guns and six small 18-ton Damen Polycat 1450 patrol boasts (which could also be used by the Oman Marine Police). The Marine Police used four Crestitalia MV 45 class 17-ton coastal patrol boats; two Keith Nelson 13-ton patrol boats; 25 4.3 ton Spear class patrol boasts; and five Watercraft P-1200 12.7 ton coastal patrol craft.