THE NEW YORK TIMES QUOTATION OF THE DAY – February 10, 2016:
SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL-MAKTOUM, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, on a new office established amid a sweeping government reorganization.
The NYT article’s title is: “United Arab Emirates Want to Top the World in Happiness, Too.”
By BEN HUBBARD
The emirates already have the world’s tallest building and a wealth of international talent. Soon, they will also have ministers of happiness and tolerance.
RIYADH, Saugi Arabia money can’t buy happiness, at least not at current oil prices.
It seems that being the Persian Gulf nation known for building the biggest indoor ski slope and an island that looks like a palm tree just was not cutting it anymore. At least not in the happiness department. Oh, and it seems that tolerance is also in short supply.
So the government will appoint a minister of tolerance, too.
The sheikhs who rule the United Arab Emirates have announced the most sweeping government reorganization in their country’s 44-year history, which included the creation of the two new ministers.
The announcement was made with all the trappings of a royal decree by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the country’s prime minister — on Twitter.
“It is the beginning of a new journey of achievement and giving to the people, and we ask God to help us serve and take care of them,” Sheikh Mohammed said in one post in Arabic.
An attachment to the statement gices the names of 23 Ministers in the UAE 12th Cabinet. the 12th UAE Cabinet – the team which will achieve the Nation’s aspirations.
by Jonathan Spyer
On a recent reporting trip to Iraq and northern Syria, two things were made apparent to me — one of them relatively encouraging, the other far less so. The encouraging news is that ISIS is currently in a state of retreat. Not headlong rout, but contraction.
The bad news? Our single-minded focus on ISIS as if it were the main or sole source of regional dysfunction is the result of faulty analysis, which in turn is producing flawed policy.
Regarding the first issue, 2015 was not a particularly good year for ISIS. In the course of it, the jihadis lost Kobani and then a large area to its east, bringing the Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPG and their allies to within 30 km of the Caliphate’s “capital” in Raqqa city.
In late December, the jihadis lost the last bridge over the Euphrates that they controlled, at the Tishreen Dam. This matters because it isolates Raqqa, making it difficult for the Islamic State to rush reinforcements from Aleppo province to the city in the event of an attack. Similarly, the Kurdish YPG advanced south of the town of al-Hawl to Raqqa’s east.
In Iraq, the Iraqi Shia militias and government forces have now recaptured Ramadi city (lost earlier in 2015) following the expulsion of ISIS from Tikrit and Baiji. The Kurdish Pesh Merga, meanwhile, have revenged the humiliation they suffered at the hands of ISIS in the summer of 2014. The Kurds have now driven the jihadis back across the plain between Erbil and Mosul, bringing them to the banks of the Tigris river. They have also liberated the town of Sinjar.
The city of Mosul nestles on the western side of the river. It remains ISIS’s most substantial conquest. Its recapture does not appear immediately imminent, yet the general trend has been clear. The main slogan of ISIS is “Baqiya wa’tatamaddad,” “Remaining and Expanding.” At the present time, however, the Islamic State may be said to be remaining, but retreating.
This situation is reflected in the confidence of the fighters facing ISIS along the long front line. In interviews as I traversed the lines, I heard the same details again and again regarding changing ISIS tactics, all clearly designed to preserve manpower.
This stalling of the Islamic State is the background to its turn towards international terror, which was also a notable element of the latter half of 2015. The downing of the Russian airliner in October, the events in Paris in November, and the series of suicide bombings in Turkey since July attest to a need that the Islamic State has for achievement and for action. They need to keep the flow of recruits coming and to maintain the image of victory essential to it.
Regarding the second issue: seen from close up, the Islamic State is very obviously only a part, and not necessarily the main part, of a much larger problem. When talking both with those fighting with ISIS and with those who sympathize with it in the region, this observation stands out as a stark difference in perception between the Middle Eastern view of ISIS and the view of it presented in Western media. The latter tends to present ISIS as a strange and unique development, a dreadfully evil organization of unclear origins, which is the natural enemy of all mainstream forces in the Middle East.
ISIS has the same ideological roots and similar practices as other Salafi jihadi groups in Syria.
From closer up, the situation looks rather different.
ISIS has the same ideological roots and similar practices as other Salafi jihadi organizations active in the Syrian arena. ISIS treats non-Muslims brutally in the areas it controls, and adheres to a rigid and fanatical ideology based on a literalist interpretation and application of religious texts. But this description also applies to Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.
Nusra opposes ISIS, and is part of a rebel alliance supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. In March 2015, when Nusra captured Idleb City in northern Syria, the city’s 150 Christian families were forced to flee to Turkey. Nusra has also forcibly converted a small Druze community in Idleb. The alliance Nusra was a part of also included Muslim Brotherhood-oriented groups, such as the Faylaq al-Sham militia, which apparently had no problem operating alongside the jihadis.
ISIS is not a unique organization; rather, it exists at one of the most extreme points along a continuum of movements committed to Sunni political Islam.
Meanwhile, the inchoate mass of Sunni Islamist groups — of which ISIS constitutes a single component — is engaged in a region-wide struggle with a much more centralized bloc of states and movements organized around the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is committed to a Shia version of political Islam.
The Middle East — in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and to a lesser extent Lebanon, all along the sectarian faultline of the region — is witnessing a clash between rival models of political Islam, of which ISIS is but a single manifestation.
The local players find sponsorship and support from powerful regional states, themselves committed to various different versions of political Islam: Iran for the Shias; Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Muslim Brotherhood-supporting Qatar for the Sunnis.
The long awakening of political Islam as the dominant form of popular politics in the Middle East started decades ago. But the eclipse of the political order in the region, and of the nationalist dictatorships in Iraq, Syria, Egypt (temporarily), Tunisia, and Yemen in recent years, has brought it to a new level of intensity.
States, indifferent to any norms and rules, using terror and subversion to advance their interests, jihadi armed groups, and the refugee crises and disorder that result from all this are the practical manifestations of it.
This, and not the fate of a single, fairly ramshackle jihadi entity in the badlands of eastern Syria and western Iraq, is the matter at hand in the Middle East.
Jonathan Spyer is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
1945 at Yalta Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt – then at Port Said Roosevelt and Ibn Saud – a World organized by Churchill gave Stalin East Europe in exchange for ending support for the Trude Party in Iran and turn that oil to the Btrits with the US getting uncontested the Saudi oil. 70 years later we still watch the last gasp of that arrangement in US and British support for the Saudi Wahhabi Royal clan. The House of Bush cemented that relationship with the House of Saud supported by the House of Bin Laden.
PHOTO: An explosion and smoke rise after an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition at a weapons depot in Sanaa on September 11, 2015. (photo: Hani Mohammed/AP) What timing?
THE SAUDI RULES
By Robert Fisk, CounterPunch at Readers Supported News.
13 January 16
“Regrettable” and “unacceptable” represent the double standards we employ when our wealthy Saudi friends put their hands to bloody work. To find something “regrettable” means it causes us sadness. It disappoints us. The implication is that the good old Saudis have let us down, fallen from their previously high moral principles.
No wonder the Minister of Defense has popped across to Riyadh to un-crease the maps and explain those incomprehensible co-ordinates for the Saudi leaders of the “coalition against terror”. Sorting this logistics mess out for the Saudis does, I suppose, make it less “unacceptable” to have our personnel standing alongside the folk who kill women for adultery without even a fair trial and who chop off the heads of dozens of opponents, including a prominent Saudi Shia cleric.
Those very words – regrettable and unacceptable – are now the peak of the critical lexicon which we are permitted to use about the Saudis. Anything stronger would force us to ask why David Cameron lowered our flag when the last king of this weird autocracy died.
But wasn’t there, nine years ago, a small matter of the alleged bribery of Saudi officials by the British BAE Systems arms group? The Financial Times revealed how Robert Wardle, the UK director of the Serious Fraud Office, decided he might have to cancel his official investigation after being told “how the probe might cause Riyadh to cancel security and intelligence co-operation”. The advice to Wardle was that persisting with his official enquiry might “endanger lives in Britain”. Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara ordered the investigation closed.
But relax – this would elicit no expressions of outrage, condemnation or disgust at Saudi Arabia – nor any of the revulsion we show when other local head-choppers take out their swords. Any such UK involvement would be unacceptable. Even regrettable. We would be sad. Disappointed. Say no more.
The First Comments:
+8 # RMDC 2016-01-13 18:45
Uber neocons and Bush supporters David Frum and Richard Perle wrote a book called “The End of Evil: How to Win the War on Terror.” It was a best seller. It said that the war on terror was really a war on evil and it would not end until evil had been totally exterminated from the earth. This would mean killing all people who are evil – that is, not on the American side.
This is the American rules. It is essentially a crusade against infidels or heretics. That’s what the Saudis are doing.
What we need to do is recognize that the Americans, Brits, and Saudis are pure evil. The secular and tolerant societies in Syria, Iraq under Saddam, Libya under Qaddafi, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia are the good guys and they are being killed by the evil people.
I really don’t know how the war on terror will ever end. Right now it is just massacring innocent people and destroying nations. There is no longer a point, if there ever was one. Al Qaeda, the Saudis, ISIS, the Americans — they are all the same. They are all on a killing rampage. They are all head choppers.
+5 # Farafalla 2016-01-13 23:13
0 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-14 00:39
From the US Government run Colorado based – National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) – Ms. Victoria Healey goes to the Abu Dhabi IRENA meeting in order to stimulate governments’ interest in implementing their PARIS COMMITTMENTS.
In a letter to all IISD readers of the Clean Energy List, Ms. Victoria Healey, the Project Leader at US NREL writes:
About the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network, the Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, and the Clean Energy Solutions Center:
The Clean Energy Solutions Center and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) joined forces in 2013 to launch the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN)—a collaboration that leverages both organizations’ resources by coordinating a global network of experts and practitioners to help countries design and implement renewable energy policies and programs. To learn more visit cleanenergysolutions.org/expert/…
The Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center of NREL assists governments and practitioners with identifying appropriate finance mechanisms and designing and implementing policies to reduce risk and encourage private sector investment; helping to achieve the transition to clean energy at the speed and scale necessary to meet local development needs and address global challenges. The CEFSC is an expanded and dedicated resource that is part of the Clean Energy Solutions Center, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative that helps governments design and adopt policies and programs that support deployment of clean energy technologies.
To learn more about how these initiatives can assist in meeting countries’ clean energy objectives, please visit cleanenergysolutions.org and finance.cleanenergysolutions.org…, and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CleanEnergySolu… and Twitter twitter.com/Clean_Energy_SC
IRENA’s two added workshops during World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that will be held January 16-21, 2016.
from: Virginia Yu
Sun, Jan 10, 2016 at 2:22 PM
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announces two side events at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE – 1) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy, 18 January, and 2) Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, 19 January.
1) The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy Workshop on Medium-term Strategy will take place on 18th January, 2016 at ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre) – future home of World Fair 2020), Abu Dhabi. The purpose of this workshop is to gather information and ideas from stakeholders that can feed into IRENA’s development of the medium-term strategy (1-2 years) for the Global Atlas. Workshop participants will engage in a practical discussion around how the Global Atlas can help overcome barriers to renewable energy development, generate ideas for more effective communication on the Global Atlas, and investigate the needs and ideas of data providers.
To register, please send an email to potentials at irena.org by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please read the final event concept note and announcement. Please connect to: www.irena.org
2) The Solar Resource Assessment Workshop for Policy Makers, in collaboration with DLR will take place on 19th January, 2016 at IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.
With this training, IRENA gives an introduction of the capabilities of such tools and how they may be used to improve the design of policies for solar energy. To register, please send an email to carsten.hoyer-klick at dlr.de. We would be grateful to receive your confirmation by 13th January. For further information on the event and location, please see the attached PDF.
IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City | P.O. Box 236 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Tel: +97124179988 | Mob: +971566161584 | www.irena.org
Solar-Med-Atlas Workshop for Policy Makers.pdf 164K
Training Schedule 10:00h – 10:45h
- Introduction and expectations of the participants
- Analysis of the data in Geographical information systems (demonstration) – Interpretation of results
- Conclusions and further questions. Short assessment of the Global Atlas
Please bring along your laptops, to be able to participate in the hands on exercises.
Transportation: Shuttle bus will be provided from ADNEC at 9:15am going to IRENA HQ, then leaving again at 4:00 pm from IRENA HQ going to ADNEC
We thank IRENA for hosting the workshop in their headquarters.
November 4, 1995, Jitzchak Rabin was killed by a Jewish Extremist in Tel Aviv. 30 years later Amos Gitai will officially release “Rabin – The Last Day” – a mixed memorial documentary where every word is as it was said then.
The movie was shown this weekend twice (23rd and 25th of October) to sold out audiences at Vienna’s Film Festival – the Viennale. Another Israeli movie- maker plaid it safer – he showed killings in Indonesia. In an interview with the “Wienner Zeitung” – Gitai said that he does not want to end up the same way as Rabin.
The problem is that in the Middle East there seems to be a practical alliance between those that do not want peace. Be those extremist Palestinians or extremist Jews.
The movie includes that stairway scene where Rabin was supposed to pass to the car waiting for him after he spoke at the peace rally. The media film showed in real time the killer coming towards him and shooting.
Every action and every word uttered in the film to be released is what really happened and what was said. Gitai says he checked everything for at least two sources. The film is therefore freitening in its truth that extends to today’s situation in the Middle East.
Let me mention here that Vienna these days is also the locus where the situation in Syria is openly on the operational table and not much hope is there either. The Austrians, after years of denial to themselves – are now clearly embracing the guilt of the Holocaust and this puts them in a situation that they will not be themselves if rejecting true refugees that escape the Middle East mayhem. All this points at this movie becoming a true document
The Flury of very recent Travel between Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Syria shows that the Iran Deal has in it an opening on Syria – but nobody has yet had the courage to print that this has to do with the PRICE OF OIL.
We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?
Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.
YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
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Dispatch from Iraq: the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear
by Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media
Originally published under the title, “On the Ground in Iraq, the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear.”
Spyer writes: In late June, I traveled to Iraq with the purpose of investigating the role being played by the Iranian-supported Shia militias in that country.
Close observation of the militias, their activities, and their links to Tehran is invaluable in understanding what is likely to happen in the Middle East following the conclusion of the nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 powers and Tehran.
An Iranian stealth takeover of Iraq is currently under way. Tehran’s actions in Iraq lay bare the nature of Iranian regional strategy. They show that Iran has no peers at present in the promotion of a very 21st century way of war, which combines the recruitment and manipulation of sectarian loyalties; the establishment and patient sponsoring of political and paramilitary front groups; and the engagement of these groups in irregular and clandestine warfare, all in tune with an Iran-led agenda.
Power in Baghdad today is effectively held by a gathering of Shia militias.
With the conclusion of the nuclear deal, and thanks to the cash about to flow into Iranian coffers, the stage is now set for an exponential increase in the scale and effect of these activities across the region.
So what is going on in Iraq, and what may be learned from it?
Shia militias are essentially the sole force standing between ISIS and Baghdad.
Shia militiamen are becoming a fixture of daily life in the Iraqi capital.
The Hashed al-Shaabi was founded on June 15, 2014, following a fatwa by venerated Iraqi Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani a day earlier. Sistani called for a limited jihad at a time when the forces of ISIS were juggernauting toward Baghdad. The militias came together, under the auspices of Quds Force kingpin Qassem Suleimani and his Iraqi right-hand man Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Because of the parlous performance of the Iraqi Army, the Shia militias have become in effect the sole force standing between ISIS and the Iraqi capital.
Therein lies the source of their strength. Political power grows, as another master strategist of irregular warfare taught, from the barrel of a gun. In the case of Iraq, no instrument exists in the hands of the elected government to oppose the will of the militias. The militias, meanwhile, in their political iteration, are also part of the government.
In the course of my visit, I travelled deep into Anbar Province with fighters of the Kataeb Hizballah, reaching just eight miles from Ramadi City. I also went to Baiji, the key front to the capital’s north, accompanying fighters from the Badr Corps.
Asaib Ahl al-Haq fighters operating in Baiji in June
In all areas, I observed close cooperation between the militias, the army, and the federal police. The latter are essentially under the control of the militias. Mohammed Ghabban, of Badr, is the interior minister. The Interior Ministry controls the police. Badr’s leader, Hadi al-Ameri, serves as the transport minister.
In theory, the Hashd al-Shaabi committee answers to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi. In practice, no one views the committee as playing anything other than a liaison role. The real decision-making structure for the militias’ alliance goes through Abu Mahdi al Muhandis and Hadi al-Ameri, to Qassem Suleimani, and directly on to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
No one in Iraq imagines that any of these men are taking orders from Abadi, who has no armed force of his own, whose political party (Dawa) remains dominated by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his associates, and whose government is dependent on the military protection of the Shia militias and their political support. When I interviewed al-Muhandis in Baiji, he was quite open regarding the source of the militias’ strength: “We rely on capacity and capabilities provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Jihadology research by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi reproduced by The Middle East Forum based in Washington DC. His findings show that ISIS was born in traditional schools of Sunni jurisprudence and that many of its actions, however heinous, “can find a place within the vastness of Islamic tradition.”
From The Middle East Forum: Research on the Islamic State
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at Middle East Forum’s Jihad Intel project, is one of world’s leading experts on the Islamic State (IS) group terrorizing Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. The overwhelming majority of his writings and translations are too detailed or esoteric for distribution to a general audience, so instead MEF compiles periodic updates providing links and summaries for those who wish to follow the groundbreaking work of this prolific researcher.
Is ISIS Islamic? (April 3, 2015)
Jamaat Ansar al-Islam: Eulogy to Abu Ahmad of Mosul (April 15, 2015)
Muqawama Suriya Statement: Loss of Jisr al-Shughur (April 26, 2015)
Interview with the leader of Harakat al-Nujaba (April 28, 2015)
“We have the Swords”- IS nasheed (May 2)
Middle East Forum
Middle East Quarterly – Spring 2015
Why Yemen Matters
How Many Qatari Nationals Are There?
by Onn Winckler
Qatari demographic policy is aimed at achieving a high population growth by encouraging a high natural increase rate. Qatar has no income tax, and its citizens are recipients of generous subsidies and extensive social welfare programs, many of which are meant to encourage marriages and large families. These include providing loans for housing, reducing the cost of dowries, and giving family allowances that increase according to the number of children per couple.
Most states do not divulge all demographic parameters of their population. At times, this data is unavailable due to the weakness of the regime as is the case with many sub-Saharan African countries and, more recently, with Yemen, Syria, and Iraq due to their prolonged civil wars. In other countries, such as the United States, Belgium, and France, there is a lack of data on the religious composition of the population due to official separation of church and state.
While none of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have ever published the religious composition of their indigenous populations, Qatar has lagged further behind: It does not even make public the total size of its indigenous population, considered “a national secret.” As the online editor of a Qatari-based business publication was told when approaching the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA) for the data: “We regret to inform you that the required data is not available.”
Until the early 1980s, the Qatari authorities did not in fact have complete demographic data of their indigenous population. Since then, and certainly following the implementation of the 1986 census, this data has been comprehensive and accurate and deliberately hidden. Why are the Qatari authorities not publishing the basic data on the number of their citizens as do all other countries? The reason for this, it seems, is quite simple: The national population is too small to match the country’s political needs and aspirations. Since Qatar prefers not to naturalize vast numbers of foreigners, including Arab Sunnis, the only option has been to hide the small size of the national population through the evasive pretense of not having the data. The principal aim of this article is to explore this “secret.”
The first estimate of Qatar’s population made by John Gordon Lorimer of the British Foreign Office in 1904 put the emirate’s total population at approximately 27,000. Before the discovery of oil, pearl fishing was the emirate’s economic mainstay; however, the development of the Japanese cultured pearl industry at the beginning of the 1930s, together with the Great Depression, and the onset of World War II led to a severe economic recession and an attendant sharp decline in Qatar’s population to some 16,000 by the mid-1940s. The beginning of oil exports in 1949 reversed this economic trend. Consequently, more and more people entered the emirate, and by 1950, Qatar’s total population was estimated at approximately 25,000-30,000.
The first Qatari census, taken in 1970, put the indigenous population at 45,039. However, since it was assumed by those who implemented the census that the under-enumeration (mainly of females and children) of that census was approximately 6 percent, it seems that the number of Qatari citizens at the time was closer to 47,700 (see Table 1).
According to an estimate by demographers J. S. Birks and C. A. Sinclair, by 1975, Qatar’s national population numbered 60,300 (see Table 1), a rise of 34 percent from the 1970 official census result. This rapid population growth could not be the result of natural increase (i.e., births minus deaths) alone as it would require the unlikely annual average natural increase rate of 4.8 percent. Since Qatar’s crude death rate (CDR) in the early 1970s was approximately 18-20 per 1,000 people (see Table 3), this means that in order to achieve a natural increase rate of 4.8 percent, the crude birth rate (CBR) would have to be more than 65 per 1,000, which is unreasonable (see Table 3). Thus, taking into consideration a natural increase rate of about 3.2 percent on an annual average during the first half of the 1970s, Qatar’s indigenous population in 1975 should have totaled some 56,000, about 4,300 fewer than Birks and Sinclair’s estimate.
Since the Qatari naturalization policy at that time was very strict, it is implausible that the authorities would have naturalized more than 4,000 immigrants, namely 7-8 percent of the total Qatari citizenship, within a period of only five years. The only alternative for evaluating Birks and Sinclair’s 1975 estimate and that of the U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia’s (ECWA), which estimated Qatar’s nationals at 65,357 in 1980 (see Table 1), is to find the number of Qatari citizens in the March 1986 census and implement a “back projection” method.
In 1985, HRD Base Ltd., a subsidiary of Lloyds Bank, estimated Qatar’s indigenous population at 84,240, namely 29 percent higher than the 1980 ECWA estimate. The nominal natural increase, namely the surplus of live births over deaths during the 1980-85 period was 15,689 (see Table 3), representing an increase of 24 percent over the ECWA estimate. This expresses a difference of 3,200 people between ECWA’s estimate of 1980 plus the natural increase of 1981-85 period and the estimate of HRD for 1985. This gap could be explained by the naturalization of foreign women married to Qatari nationals—a very common phenomenon, which the Qatari government highly encouraged—as well as by adding some unrecorded births, reflecting the fact that Qatar’s civil registration system had then been in its infancy.
The problem, however, is with the March 1986 census results. According to official Qatari data, Qatari nationals fifteen years and older numbered 54,502 (26,878 of whom were males and 27,624 females). According to figures from the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA, formerly ECWA), Qatari nationals in the 1986 census totaled 101,859 (see Table 1). This figure implies that Qataris under the age of fifteen constituted 46.5 percent of the total Qatari citizens—a rate which is plausible based on the extremely wide-based age pyramid of the Qatari indigenous population due to the high natural increase rates during the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s.
However, it is unlikely that in one year—between mid-1985 and March 1986—the number of Qatari citizens increased by 17,619 people. Moreover, if there was a massive naturalization of women who married Qatari nationals between the 1970 and the 1986 censuses, the number of Qatari women twenty years of age and older in the 1986 census data should have been much higher than that of males. This, however, was not the case. According to the census results, the number of females twenty and older was fewer than 1,000 above that of males (21,670 females and 20,734 males). Data calculated from official Qatari statistics on the rate and the nominal number of the natural increase puts the total number of Qatari citizens at 91,979 in 1984, growing to 99,642 in 1986, namely, 2,217 less than ESCWA’s figure (see Tables 1 and 2).
With the absence of data on naturalization, it is impossible to evaluate the number of Qatari nationals between the 1970 and 1986 censuses.
In light of the number of Qatari citizens calculated from the official Qatari data on the natural increase and the actual 1986 census results, the only plausible conclusion is that during the period between the 1970 and the 1986 censuses, namely, during the “bonanza oil decade,” there was massive naturalization of both males and females in Qatar.
A clear indicator of this large-scale naturalization of women of childbearing age is the sharp increase in the number of births, which grew from 2,853 in 1980 to 4,034 in 1986. This means that in six years alone, the number of live births increased by as much as 41.4 percent. Taking into consideration that during that period the total fertility rate (TFR, average number of children born to a woman during her lifetime) not only did not increase but rather substantially decreased, the only logical explanation for the rapid growth in the number of live births was due to a substantial increase in the number of women of childbearing age. However, due to the absence of any data regarding naturalization in Qatar, it is impossible to evaluate the number of Qatari nationals during the period between the 1970 and 1986 censuses.
Moving forward in time, according to the 1997 census results, Qatari nationals aged 15- years old and above numbered 84,902 while those aged ten and above numbered 103,273. The number of live births minus infant deaths (children under the age of 1) during the decade prior to the census implementation was 48,498 (see Table 4a). If we assume 0 emigration of the 0-10 age group and 0 mortality of children in the 1-10 age group, this amounts to total Qatari citizens of 151,771 with the under-10 age group representing 32 percent of the total population—a plausible percentage given Qatar’s natural increase patterns at that time.
Comparing the 1986 census results to those of 1997 indicates a nominal increase of 49,912. The nominal gap between the 1986 and 1997 data is almost identical to the natural increase between the two censuses, which numbered 48,266. The small gap of 1,650 people between the natural increase and the actual growth is probably due to the naturalization of foreign women, which also explains the small surplus of females over males identified in the 1997 census data in the age group of 15-years and above. Since no official Qatari data is available on either the scale or the timing of the naturalization, it is reasonable to distribute the 1,650 surplus equally across the entire period between the two censuses. Thus, adding 150 to the natural increase each year during the eleven years between the two censuses produces the exact increase throughout the period between the two censuses.
By the time of the March 2004 census, the Qatari authorities were publishing data regarding citizens 3-years old and above (168,958). By adding live births minus infant deaths during the three years prior to the implementation of this census (19,059), one arrives at a total figure for the Qatari indigenous population of 188,017 (see Table 1).
Measuring the natural increase between the 1997 and the 2004 censuses suggests the figure of 36,748. Thus, the 1997 census results plus the natural increase between the two censuses suggest 188,519, namely, 500 more than the actual 2004 census results—an insignificant number that is probably due to some deaths of nationals in the 1-10-age group and some misreporting or errors in the censuses. The calculated number according to the Qatari natural increase data suggests the figure of 194,092 in mid-2004 (see Table 1) which is about 3 percent higher than this author’s calculation for the census results. This gap could be attributed to the fact that there are three and a half months between the census implementations, namely between mid-March, and mid-year (end of June). Another reason is that the rate of the natural increase provided by the QSA is not totally accurate as it includes only one digit after the decimal point.
In 2005, the Qatari authorities revoked the citizenship of 6,000 members of the Murrah tribe on suspicion of disloyalty to the emir.
The latest Qatari census was implemented in April 2010. As in the 1997 census, the authorities only published data regarding the population of 10-years old and above. According to that census, nationals of ten years and older numbered 174,279. If one adds 65,763—live births minus infant deaths during the decade prior to the census (see Table 4b)—the result is a Qatari indigenous population numbering 240,042 in late April 2010.
However, a curious and significant anomaly emerges. This is because adding the natural increase between the two censuses (38,641) to the 2004 census data yields 226,658, namely, 13,384 less than the actual 2010 census results. This substantial gap could not be explained by an under-enumeration of births. This is not only due to the fact that since 2000, the Qatari civil registration system has been totally computerized but also because Qatari parents have had every reason to register new births due to various benefits granted by the government for every Qatari newborn. Moreover, because of the short time between the two censuses, it is quite easy to compare age groups in these two censuses.
Under a condition of “zero naturalization and migration balance,” i.e., the natural increase only, the number of Qatari citizens in the age group of 4-58 from the 2004 census should have been close to identical to the 10-64 age group in the 2010 census. In reality, however, while the 4-58 age cohort in the 2004 census numbered 155,024, the 10-64 age group in the 2010 census numbered 166,932, about an extra 12,000 people.
The unexplained gap between the two censuses could not be justified by the matter of the al-Murrah tribe, when in March 2005, the Qatari authorities revoked the citizenship of about 6,000 members on suspicion of disloyalty to the emir. This is because their citizenship had already been returned in February 2006. Thus, both revoking and returning their citizenship occurred during the period between the two censuses.
Thus, while the difference in the number of Qatari citizens between the 1970 and the 1986 censuses could be explained at least partially by an under-enumeration of births at a period when the Qatari civil registration system was just beginning, this was certainly not the case in the period between the 2004 and the 2010 censuses. The only plausible conclusion is that, during the period between these two censuses, there was a massive naturalization of about 13,400 people, representing approximately 5.6 percent of the country’s citizens in the 2010 census.
The Qatari natural increase data also indicates massive naturalization during the period between the two censuses, particularly in 2007 and 2008. While according to the calculations based on the Qatari natural increase data, the number of Qatari nationals increased from 215,199 in mid-2007 to 232,267 in mid-2008, the actual natural increase in those twelve months was less than 7,000 (see Tables 2 and 3), namely, about 10,500 less than the actual growth. However, since it is not clear when this large-scale naturalization actually occurred, it is reasonable to divide the “extra” growth beyond the natural increase equally across the 6-year period between the two censuses.
Some analysts estimate that 88 percent of Qatar’s population is made up of migrant workers. But Qatar has made no progress in abolishing laws that effectively force foreign workers into slavery.
With the beginning of the Persian Gulf states’ oil era, but particularly following the October 1973 oil boom, these states were confronted with two options for closing the gap between their labor needs and the available supply: Adopt the labor migration policies of the developed world and naturalize vast numbers of foreign laborers, or import temporary labor migrants in order to solve shortages in the short run. This second option was eventually implemented by all of the Gulf oil states including Qatar. It was hoped that in the not-too-distant future, the majority of the required workforce would be supplied by nationals through substantial investments in education and professional training on the one hand and by generous pro-natalist measures that would encourage high fertility rates on the other. This policy was adopted in response to the fear that large-scale naturalization of foreigners, even of Sunni Arabs, could upset the “intimate nature” of these societies. There was also a fear of the introduction of “revolutionary-republican ideologies” by Egyptians, Syrians, Palestinians, or Lebanese migrants, which could potentially topple the royal houses whose legitimacy and hold on power were becoming increasingly tenuous in a modern world.
Thus, in each of the Gulf oil states, the authorities enacted laws to prevent the naturalization of foreign workers, even Sunni Arabs and even if they had lived in the country for decades. Nor would birth in one of the Gulf states entitle newborns to citizenship or even permanent residency. The naturalization laws in each of these states are so strict that even marriage of a foreign male to a Gulf female does not grant citizenship to the husband. On the other hand, a foreign woman who marries a Gulf male does become a citizen of the host country. This difference is due to the fact that according to the Shari’a (Islamic law), the religion of children follows that of the father. Therefore, the vast majority of non-natives who have received citizenship in these countries are females married to GCC males. Only in exceptional circumstances have the authorities granted citizenship to a male foreigner; their number, in any case, was insignificant.
In the case of Qatar, before the Citizenship Act (No. 38) of 2005, foreigners were granted citizenship solely at the emir’s discretion. The new act provides for the first time a legal mechanism by which a foreigner can apply for Qatari citizenship. According to the new law, Qatari citizenship may be obtained for those who fulfilled the following conditions: (a) residency in Qatar for at least twenty-five consecutive years; (b) the ability to speak Arabic; (c) a clean criminal record; and (d) a lawful means of income. In addition to these conditions, those born to a naturalized Qatari father shall be deemed a naturalized Qatari. The new law, however, limits the number of those to be granted Qatari citizenship to only fifty annually.
It should be noted in this respect that the Qatari authorities regularly insisted that the number of those who acquired citizenship in this fashion was very small. Thus, for example in a 2010 interview, Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad stated: “A policy to increase the population; we don’t have this actually. But we give [citizenship] for the people first who apply and who fulfill our own regulations. Until now there are not many who are asking.”
While official Qatar followed the common naturalization policy of the other GCC states with the majority of those receiving citizenship being foreign women married to Qatari nationals, evidence indicates that a substantial number of foreign males also succeeded in receiving Qatari citizenship.
Recently, Qatar apparently started a new process of naturalization of Bahraini Sunnis. However, as it probably began following the implementation of the 2010 census, this process is beyond the scope of this article. Moreover, since the latest publication of vital statistics annual bulletins of the QSA is from 2011, it is impossible to try to evaluate the scale of the Qatari national population following the 2010 census.
But whatever the number of naturalized citizens in Qatar, the major contributor to the rapid growth of the indigenous Qatari population since the 1970s has been natural increase.
Qatar University College of Pharmacy. Eighteen female pharmacy students receive their bachelor of science degrees from Qatar University College of Pharmacy, November 30, 2011. It is probable that the decline in the fertility rate of Qatari women has been due to both a substantial increase in the number of indigenous females receiving post-secondary education and to delayed marriages.
Since there are no official vital demographic statistics prior to 1980, the only possibility for estimateing Qatar’s natural increase rate during the 1970s is through comparison with other countries with similar socioeconomic conditions. According to the ECWA estimate, in 1975 the crude birth rate of the indigenous Qatari population was approximately 50 per 1,000 while the crude death rate was 20 per 1,000. The total fertility rate in 1975 was estimated at 7.2 (see Table 3). These values are quite similar to those which prevailed in other Gulf countries at that time. For example, Kuwait’s CBR amounted to 51.1 in 1975 while the TFR was measured at 7.2. Thus, an average natural increase rate of about 3.1-3.3 percent (31-33 per 1,000) during the first half of the 1970s is a reasonable estimate for Qatar as well.
Like other Gulf oil states, Qatar’s natural increase rate rose rapidly following the onset of the oil boom, due to a sharp decline in CDR as greater oil revenues translated, in part, into better health services and a sharp rise of living standards. According to ECWA’s estimate, in 1980, Qatar’s natural increase rate climbed to 4.1 percent (with a CBR of 51 and a CDR of 10); an average of 3.7 percent annual increase during the second half of the 1970s can, therefore, be reasonably assumed.
Due to its nearly exclusive reliance on oil revenues, Qatar fits the classic model of a rentier state, that is, a country that receives a considerable portion of its national revenues from the sale of its natural resources to external clients. Qatar has no income tax, and its citizens are recipients of generous subsidies and extensive social welfare programs. As a result, Qatar is pro-natalist by its very nature, like other rentier states.
Since more than 80 percent of Qatari males work in the public sector, family allowances are, in effect, granted to almost all citizens.
In addition to the indirect pro-natalist measures, there are also various direct pro-natalist measures, first and foremost generous family allowances for each child of male heads of households who are employed in the governmental sector. Since more than 80 percent of the Qatari males work in the public sector, family allowances were and still are in effect granted to almost all citizens. Further, the high salaries and luxury work conditions (without any work-reward causation) offered its national employees can be construed as pro-natalist behavior as are the various full subsidies of public services, including healthcare and education, as well as high subsidies on housing, foodstuffs, and energy products.
The impact of these measures can be seen in the demographic data. In total contrast to what would be expected in line with the “demographic transition theory” (i.e., after a sharp decline in death rates, fertility rates decline substantially), during the 1980s, and particularly in the second half of the decade, despite a sharp decline in infant and child mortality rates and the rapid increase in life expectancy, the fertility rate of indigenous Qatari women only declined slightly. By 1986, the total fertility rate of indigenous Qatari females was 5.8 (see Table 6), a rate much lower than it had been a decade earlier but still very high in comparison to other Arab countries.
This pattern continued through the 1990s when despite great improvements in both healthcare and educational services (which led, in effect, to healthcare indicators similar to those of the developed world), Qatar’s fertility rates remained very high. By 1997, the total fertility rate was 5.8, identical to 1986. While the significant improvement in these services led to a substantial delay in first births, their cumulative number remained the same (see Table 6).
This trend ended, however, by the early 2000s with the fertility rate of Qatari women gradually declining to 3.4 in 2012. It is probable that this decline, marked especially by the drop in births to women under the age of twenty-four, was due to both a substantial increase in the number of indigenous females receiving post-secondary education and to delayed marriages.
At least by 2004, the Qatari authorities had acknowledged the problem and established the Permanent Population Committee (PPC) to promote higher fertility. Its main objective was to, “Raise the current natural population increase rate for nationals, or at least maintain it to achieve an appropriate balance among Qatar’s total population.” In its 2011 annual report, the committee specifically declared that the main objective of Qatar’s population policy was to “increase the proportion of citizens among [the] total population.” This aim was to be achieved mainly through encouraging and facilitating marriages among Qatari citizens; the adoption of policies that would reduce delayed marriage, especially of girls; facilitating the remarriage of divorcees and widows; providing loans for housing; reducing the cost of dowries, and giving family allowances that would increase according to the number of children per couple. In addition to these financial incentives, the Qatari authorities have recruited prominent religious figures who constantly emphasize the religious duty of marriage and childbearing.
Birth in Qatar does not entitle newborns to citizenship; the marriage of a non-Qatari male to a Qatari female does not grant citizenship to the husband or to the child. As a result, these children are denied privileges such as free electricity and water, subsidized food products, free education, and government jobs set aside for nationals.
Thus far, not only have all of the demographic projections for Qatar totally failed, but they have not even been maintained for a decade. For example, in the mid-1990s, the World Bank projected that Qatar’s total population, both nationals and foreigners, would reach 693,000 in 2010 and increase to 769,000 in 2020. Even more recent projections were wildly inaccurate. In 2004, for example, the Population Division of the U.N. projected that Qatar’s population would total 874,000 in 2050. In 2009, analysts Berrebi, Martorell, and Tanner quoted a forecast by the U.S. Census Bureau that “in 2020, the population [both Qataris and non-Qataris] is expected to exceed 1.1 million people.” By the time the article was published, Qatar’s population was already much higher, amounting to 1.64 million in mid-2009.
The failures of these projections were largely due to two factors: First is the impossibility of predicting Qatar’s high demand for foreign labor, even in the short run. The country’s economic development during the past decade has been unique—even among the GCC countries—with a real GDP growth rate of 17.7 percent in 2008, dipping to 12 percent in 2009, and then accelerating to the incredible level of 16.6 percent in 2010. In 2012, Qatar’s per capita GDP was the highest worldwide, amounting to more than $102,000 (in purchasing power parity terms). This rapid economic expansion was accomplished through the massive import of foreign workers who were the main contributors to Qatar’s population increase during the past two decades. The second factor for the demographic projections failure was the lack of knowledge of the number of Qatari citizens, which made it impossible to predict their nominal growth even in the short run.
Despite pro-natalist measures, the fertility rate of indigenous Qatari women has gradually declined since the early 2000s.
Overall, the following three components will dictate future demographic developments for the indigenous Qatari population:
The natural increase rate. Despite significant pro-natalist measures, the fertility rate of indigenous Qatari women has gradually declined since the early 2000s. In 2012, the total fertility rate of indigenous Qatari females was quite similar to that of Jordanians and only a little bit higher than in Egypt, both of which had implemented open, anti-natalist policies, at least until the onset of the Arab upheavals. However, in Egypt and Jordan, the total fertility rate is approximately 3.1-3.3 due to a huge difference between low fertility rates in the urban centers and much higher fertility rates in rural and peripheral areas, yielding an average TFR of 3.1-3.3. Qatar’s current fertility rate, by contrast, is due to the great financial benefits given to all nationals, which in practice overshadow the various specific, pro-natalist incentives. What else can the Qatari government give its nationals in order to increase their fertility rate? In other words, Qatar, as the most rentier state worldwide, has no more “carrots” for encouraging its nationals to increase their fertility level. Thus, Qatar’s current TFR is probably at the highest level possible under the current rentier system while in Egypt and Jordan, for example, the fertility level is more elastic and could rise or decline, in line with the natalist policy. Consequently, Qatar’s fertility rate is projected to stabilize at 3.0-3.2 for the foreseeable future.
The age pyramid. However, even if the fertility rate continues to decline to less than three children due to its current, wide-based age pyramid (see Table 5), Qatar’s indigenous population will continue to increase rapidly at least into the foreseeable future—a result of the “demographic momentum” phenomenon, i.e., the tendency for a population to continue to grow because the number of women of reproductive age will continue to increase for a number of decades before finally stabilizing. Therefore, it is reasonable to predict an average natural increase rate of 2.6-2.7 percent for the coming decade and approximately 2.3-2.5 percent for the decade following. The natural increase rate of the indigenous Qatari population is expected to go down not only due to declining fertility rates but because of an increasing crude death rate as the percentage of the elderly population naturally increases due to the sharp decline of the fertility rates since the early 2000s.
The naturalization scale. Among the three components, this is the least knowable. This is the case not only because Qatari authorities have not published any data on naturalization but also because, as previously discussed, naturalization in Qatar occurred in two large, unexpected waves that had hitherto been undetected. Thus, if there is a next large-scale naturalization, it will probably also be unexpected and consequently unpredictable.
Despite the fact that the latest publication of the annual bulletin of vital statistics of the QSA is from 2011 and that the scale of naturalization since the 2010 census is unknown, it would be reasonable to assume that the number of Qatar’s citizens has increased by about 4 percent annually since the implementation of the 2010 census. Thus, one can conclude that in early 2015, the number of Qatar’s citizens will total approximately 290,000 and will increase to about 440,000-470,000 in 2030.
Achieving high population growth by encouraging a high natural increase rate was and still is the basic demographic policy of the Qatari authorities. In this respect, the emirate is no different from other GCC states, such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. However, both censuses and official natural increase data indicate that the Qatari population grew significantly also due to two waves of naturalization.
Who are these “new Qataris”? Was this mass naturalization a consequence of a huge labor shortage? Unfortunately, the Qatari authorities have barely mentioned the issue of naturalization and have never acknowledged any form of mass naturalization.
Qatar may continue to act according to its current super rentier policies due to its huge per capita income. It has also enjoyed unusual economic growth for a GCC country as the result of a rapid increase in liquefied natural gas exports and a massive development of infrastructure. It remains to be seen how the new emir, Sheikh Tamim, will run the country with a much larger indigenous population and with a much larger national workforce which cannot be employed almost exclusively in the public sector, as is currently the case.
Onn Winckler is associate professor in the department of Middle Eastern History, University of Haifa, specializing in political demography and economic history of the Arab countries. The author thanks Noa Josef and Fany Pesahov for their assistance in data.
The Year then followed by the three columns:
(a) Semi-official and
(b) Author’s calculation
(c) Author’s estimate
1970 (c) 45,039(c) – 47,700(c)
(c) = census; (uo) = unofficial estimate; (so) = ESCWA semi-official data; * End of the year; ** See Table 2.
Sources for Semi-official and unofficial estimates: 1970: British Embassy in Beirut, Middle East Development Division, by N.B. Hudson, The First Population Census of Qatar, Apr./May 1970 (Beirut, Oct. 1970), p. 17; 1975 (uo): J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, International Migration Project, Country Case Study: The State of Qatar (University of Durham, Department of Economics, February 1978), table 1, p. 6; 1980 (so): ECWA, Demographic and Related Socio-Economic Data Sheets for Countries of the ECWA, No. 3 (Beirut, May 1982), table 1, p. 131; 1985 (uo): HRD Base Ltd., Lloyds Bank Chambers, Socio-Demographic Profiles of Key Arab Countries (Newcastle, May 1987), table 1, p. 151; 1986 (so): ESCWA, Population Situation-1990, table 9.1, p. 153; 1986 (uo): Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM).; 1990 (uo): Birks, Sinclair & Associates Ltd., GCC Market Report-1990 (Durham: Mountjoy Research Centre, May 1990), table 1.1, p. 108; 1992 (uo): Birks, Sinclair & Associates Ltd., GCC Market Report-1992 (Durham: Mountjoy Research Centre, 1992), table 1.1, p. 82; 1994 (so): ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 8 (1995), table 1, p. 92; 1996 (so): ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 9 (1997), table 1, p. 84; 1997 (uo): Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM). Available at: gulfmigration.eu/population-by-na…; 1998 (so): ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 10 (1999) table 1, p. 83; 2000: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 11 (2001), table 1, p. 116; 2004 (uo): Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM); 2010 (uo): Matthew Gray, Qatar: Politics and the Challenge of Development (Boulder, CO.: Lynne Rienner, 2013), p. 222;Mehran Kamrava, Qatar: Small State, Big Politics (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2013), p. 5; Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM).
Year and again column we present here but which are better viewded in the original
CBR = Crude birth rate; CDR = Crude death rate; NI = Natural increase
The formula for calculating: N = E(X) (Under the assumption of a binomial distribution) P; N = Total Qatari citizens; E(X) = The nominal number of the natural increase; P = NI (natural increase) per 1 Qatari citizen. Sources: CBR and CDR: Qatar Information Exchange; Live births and Deaths: Table 3.
Table 3: Natural Increase Rates in Qatar, 1975-2010 (author’s calculations)
Total Fertility Rate
– No data available.
The CBR and CDR were calculated by the average of Qatari citizens each year. For example, the average Qatari citizens in 1998 was their number at the end of 1997 plus their number at the end of 1998 divided by 2 (155,664 + 160,533 : 2 = 158,099).
Sources: Natural increase, 1975: “Available Demographic Socio-Economic Data for Countries of the ECWA Region,” Population Bulletin of ECWA, Nos. 10-12 (1978), p. 25; 1980-1982: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 1st Issue, 1984 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Sept. 1985), table 2, p. 2; table 19, p. 30; 1983-1992: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 9th Issue, 1992 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1993), table 2, p. 5; table 25, p. 59; 1993-1999: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 16th Issue, 1999 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, July 2000), table 2, p. 5; table 25, p. 61; 2000: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), tables10 and 28; 2001-2010: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2011), table 3; 2011: Annual Statistical Abstract-2012 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2013), chapter 3, tables 2 and 10; Total Fertility Rate, The data on the TFR except for the 2005-2007 period is taken from Table 5.; The Data for the 2005-2007 period is taken from: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 1.
Number of births
Number of infant deaths (0-1)
* Since the census was implemented in mid-March, the live births and infant deaths were not included Jan., February and half of March; ** Since the census was implemented in mid-March, the infant live births and deaths were included Jan., February and half of March.
Sources: Live Births, 1987: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 4th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1988), table 4a, p. 4; 1988-1997: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 14th Issue, 1997 (Central Statistical Organization, June 1998), table 2, p. 5; table 4.1, p. 7; Infant deaths, 1987: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 4th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1988), table 38, p. 77; 1988-1997: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin, 14th Issue, 1997 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 1998), table 39, p.123; table 41, p. 128.
Table 4b: Qatari Nationals Ages 0-10 in 2010
Number of births
Number of infant deaths (0-1)
* Data include the period of May-Dec.; ** Data include the period of Jan.-Apr.
Sources: Live Births, 2000: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2000, 17th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2001), table 4-1, p. 7.; 2001-2004: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2011), table 3.; 2005: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2005, 22th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Sept. 2006), table 7-1, p. 25; table 44, p. 205.; 2006-2009: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2009, 27th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2011), table 3.; 2010: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 6-1.; Infant deaths, 2000: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2000, 17th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2001), table 41, p. 168.; 2001-2009: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 53.; 2010: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 20.
Age group Year 0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75+ Total Qatari population
(a) =Include the period of May 2000-Apr. 2005; (b) = Include the period of May 2005-Apr. 2010
Sources: 2004, 0-3 age group: Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2004, 21th Issue (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, June 2005), table 1.7, p. 26; table 44, p. 208; Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2007, 24th Issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2008), table 5, p. 26; table 44, p. 208; 3 years and above: At-Ta’dad al-’Amm lil-Sukan wal-Masakin-2004 (2004 Census) (Doha: Majlis at-Tahtit, Dec. 2004), table 1, p. 141; table 8, p. 154; 2010, 0-9 age group: Table 4.b.; 10 years and above: The General Census of Population and Housing, and Establishment, Apr.-2010 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2010), table 24.
Table 6: Age-Specific Fertility Rate, Qatari Indigenous Women, 1980-2012
Year Age Group 1980 (so) 1984 (so) 1986 (o) 1988 (so) 1992 (so) 1994 (so) 1997 (o) 2000 (o) 2004 (o) 2008 (o) 2009 (o) 2010 (o) 2011 (o) 2012 (o)
o = Official Qatari data; so = Semi official data (ECWA/ESCWA).
Sources: 1980: ECWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 3 (1982), table 2, p.132.; 1984: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 4 (1985), table 2, p. 124.; 1986: Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), p. 27; 1988: ESCWA, Population Situation-1990, table 9.4, p. 156; 1992: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 7 (1993), table 3, p. 108; 1994: ESCWA, Demographic Data Sheets, No. 8 (1995), table 3, p. 94.; 1997: Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), p. 27; 2000: Qatar Information Exchange; 2004: Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), p. 27; 2008-2011: Woman and Man in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2012 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2013), table 1/5, p. 16.; 2012: Qatar Information Exchange. Available at: www.qix.gov.qa.
The research for this article is mainly derived from two kinds of sources:
(a) Official Qatari data, which includes two types of materials. The first is the five censuses which Qatari authorities implemented, beginning in April 1970 and most recently in April 2010.
The second is drawn from the Qatari civil registration system and ongoing demographic and health statistical publications. Although Qatar implemented its first census in 1970, it did not have an accurate system of vital demographic registration until the early 1980s. In 1980, the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) was established and, in 1998, it was integrated into the Planning Council. In June 2007, the Statistics Authority (QSA) was established as a new independent governmental agency.
(b) ECWA/ESCWA publications. The U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) was established in 1973. In 1985, the name of the organization was changed to the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The data provided by ECWA and ESCWA since the early 1980s is quite detailed. In addition to providing the total number of Qatari citizens according to sex and age groups, it covers a wide range of other demographic parameters such as the crude birth and death rates, age-specific fertility rates, and in some years, even the scale and structure of the indigenous workforce. However, in many cases, the estimates provided by ECWA/ESCWA were not accurate, and in some instances, there was quite a substantial gap between the data it provided and the estimates from our research on the number of the Qatari nationals.
The “accuracy hierarchy” supposition on which this research is based is that since the mid-1980s, the most reliable data is that published by the Qatari authorities themselves, followed by that published by ECWA/ESCWA. Unofficial estimates have been credited with little accuracy as their research methodology was not specified. This article did not use any data from the World Bank or the CIA, as the demographic data published by both organizations lumps the Qatari nationals and the foreign population into one group without any distinction between them.
In light of the above-mentioned accuracy hierarchy, the Qatari official data served as a “fulcrum” on which the calculated estimates were based regarding both the total number of Qatari citizens and their natural increase. In many cases, ECWA/ESCWA’s data serve either to check the probability of the Qatari official data or as a supplement to Qatari partial official data.
 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 Jure Snoj, “Population of Qatar,” bq magazine (Doha), Dec. 18, 2013.
 “History of Census in Qatar,” Qatar Statistics Authority, Doha, accessed Jan. 15, 2015.
 Allen J. Fromherz, Qatar: A Modern History (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2012), p. 1.
 Population and Development, Issue No. 6: Development Policy Implication of Age-Structure Transitions in Arab Countries (New York: U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, 2013), annex I, table 1, p. 67; The Population Situation in the ECWA Region-Qatar (Beirut: U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia, 1980), p. 8.
 N.B. Hudson, The First Population Census of Qatar, April/May 1970 (Beirut: British Embassy in Beirut, Middle East Development Division, Oct. 1970), p. 17.
 Ibid., pp. 3-4.
 J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair, Country Case Study: The State of Qatar, International Migration Project, (Durham: University of Durham, Feb. 1978).
 Women and Men in the State of Qatar: A Statistical Profile-2006 (Doha: Central Statistical Organization, Apr. 2006), table 1/4, p. 96.
 At-Ta’dad al-Amm li-l-Sukan wa-l-Masakin-March 1997 (Doha: Majlis at-Tahtit, Feb. 1999), table 13, p. 65.
 The natural increase between the two censuses included the natural increase growth for the period of Mar.-Dec. 1986, the whole period of 1987-1996 and that of Jan., Feb., and half of Mar. 1997 since the census was implemented on Mar. 16.
 According to the 1997 census data, the age group of 15-65 represented 51.3 percent among the males but 54.5 percent among the females. See Women and Men in the State of Qatar, p. 16.
 At-Ta’dad al-Amm li-l-Sukan wa-l-Masakin-March 2004 (Doha: Majlis at-Tahtit, Dec. 2004), table 1, p. 141, table 8, p. 154.
 Vital Statistics Annual Bulletin-2010, 26th issue (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, July 2010), table 10, p. 29, table 53, p. 201.
 The natural increase growth between the 1997 and the 2004 censuses was calculated as follows: half of the natural increase in March 1997 plus the whole natural increase of the rest of that year; the natural increase of the whole period of 1998-2003; and the natural increase of Jan., Feb., and half of Mar. 2004.
 Census of Population and Housing, and Establishment, April-2010 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2010), table 24, p. 91.
 The natural increase growth between the two censuses was calculated as follows: half of the natural increase in Mar. 2004 plus the whole natural increase of the rest of that year; the natural increase of the whole period of 2005-09; and the natural increase of Jan.-Mar. and two-thirds of Apr. 2010.
 Since there is no available data for the age group of 55-59 each year, the total population of this age group was divided by 5 (since this cohort contains 5 years) and multiplied by 4 (since only 4 not 5 years are needed for the comparison), thus producing 2,606 people for the age group of 55-58.
 At-Ta’dad al-Amm li-l-Sukan wa-l-Masakin-March 2004, table 1, p. 141, table 8, p. 154.
 Census of Population and Housing, and Establishment, April-2010, table 14; Summary Results of 2010 Population, Housing and Establishments Census (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2010), table 2-1, p. 11.
 See Gianluca P. Parolin, Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation-State (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009), p. 116; Gulf News (Dubai), Apr. 3, 2005.
 Baquer Salman al-Najjar, “Population Policies in the Countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council,” in Abbas Abdelkarim, ed., Change and Development in the Gulf (London: Macmillan Press and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 138-9.
 Nasra M. Shah, “The Management of Irregular Migration and Its Consequence for Development: Gulf Cooperation Council,” ILO Working Papers, International Labour Organization, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Mar. 2009, p. 8.
 See, for example, Philippe Fargues, “Immigration without Inclusion: Non-Nationals in Nation-building in the Gulf States,” Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, no. 3-4 (2011), p. 273.
 Law No. 38 of 2005 on the acquisition of Qatari nationality, 38/2005, Qatar Legal Portal (al-Meezan); Zahra R. Babar, “Citizenship Construction in the State of Qatar,” Middle East Journal, Summer 2014, pp. 411-3; Gulf News, June 6, 2006.
 Financial Times, Oct. 24, 2010.
 Asharq al-Awsat (London), Sept. 18, 2014; Justin Gengler, “Bahrain Drain: Why the King’s Sunni Supporters are Moving Abroad,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 5, 2014.
 Statistical Abstract of the Region of the Economic Commission for Western Asia, 1970-1979, 4th issue (Beirut: U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia, 1981), table 1-2, p. 174.
 Demographic and Related Socio-economic Data Sheets for Countries of the ECWA, no. 3 (Beirut: U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia, May 1982), tables 2, 3, pp. 132-3.
 “World Population Policies-Qatar,” Population Studies, no. 102, vol. 3, U.N. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, New York, 1990, pp. 39-40.
 “Labor Force Sample Survey-2011,” Qatar Statistics Authority, Doha, Nov. 2011, pp. 11-2, 14.
 For comparison, see Onn Winckler, Arab Political Demography: Population Growth, Labor Migration and Natalist Policies (Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2009), table 2.4, pp. 62-3.
 Bulletin on Population and Vital Statistics in the Arab Region, no. 16 (New York: U.N. Social and Economic Commission for Western Asia, 2013), table 77, p. 102.
 The State of Qatar’s Population Policy (Doha: Permanent Population Committee, Oct. 2009), p. 13.
 Annual Report-2011 (Doha: Permanent Population Committee, Jan. 2012), p. 8.
 The State of Qatar’s Population Policy, p. 13.
 World Population Projections, 1994-95 Edition, The World Bank (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1995), p. 442.
 World Population to 2030 (New York: U.N. Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2004), table A11, p. 200.
 “Qatar,” International Data Base, U.S. Census bureau, Dec. 2013.
 Claude Berrebi, Francisco Martorell, and Jeffery C. Tanner, “Qatar’s Labor Market at a Crucial Crossroad,” Middle East Journal, Summer 2009, p. 429.
 Annual Abstract-2014 (Doha: Qatar Statistics Authority, 2014), table 5.
 “Qatar: 2012 Article IV Consultation,” IMF Country Report No. 12/18, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2012, table 1, p. 27.
 “Qatar Economic Insight-2013,” Qatar National Bank, Doha, Nov. 2013, p. 2.
 For a detailed methodological examination of the various demographic sources used in the article, see Appendix A.
Related Topics: Demographics, Persian Gulf & Yemen | Onn Winckler | Spring 2015 MEQ This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.
Moderate rebel groups are suffering. The Islamic State and Nusra are gaining ground. And Washington’s piecemeal efforts are worthless. Here’s a grand plan worth paying for.
By Robert S. Ford
The current U.S. strategy in Syria isn’t working. Despite the coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State, the group still has strategic depth in Syria to back its campaign in Iraq. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, meanwhile, isn’t fighting the Islamic State — it’s locked in combat with the moderate opposition. Despite Washington’s hope for a national political transition away from Assad, there is no sign of a cease-fire, much less a comprehensive political deal.
More than ever, Americans — and Syrians — need to ask themselves what has gone wrong and what can be fixed. U.S. strategy needs to center on taking back ground from the Islamic State and driving a wedge between Assad’s small ruling circle and his increasingly wobbly support base so that a new government can be established to rally more Syrians against the jihadis. Reinforcing Syria’s moderate rebels is still the key component in achieving these goals, but we — and they — have to get the strategy and tactics right.
The quiet end to the Syrian armed opposition’s Hazm Movement, with which the Americans had worked in northern Syria, was the latest signpost of the current failed policy. With aid coming too little and too late, the movement was easily knocked aside by al Qaeda-linked extremists who gained new territory and border crossings. It is far from the only moderate rebel group to suffer large setbacks in recent months: Others are simultaneously under attack from Assad regime forces (which are strongly reinforced by Iranian and Hezbollah troops), jihadis from the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, and the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, the Americans didn’t ramp up aid to the secular moderates when they needed it most. Instead, assistance to moderate Syrian fighters has been small and erratic, and the rebel fighters have been badly divided by foreign states parceling out desperately needed aid among multiple groups. This has created a vicious cycle, forcing the moderate rebels to compete against each other and to sometimes cooperate with al-Nusra Front. That in turn has aggravated foreign states and scared off any regime elements that might want to negotiate a deal, thus extending the war of attrition to the benefit of the Islamic State.
The larger package deal is vital. Simply increasing material aid to the moderate fighters in northern and southern Syria, even by huge amounts, won’t be enough. The key is settling on a revised strategy that establishes a unified command structure for the non-jihadi opposition.
This unified structure must be the sole conduit for external funding, arming, and training. It must include the main non-jihadi rebel groups and must be led by a Syrian who enjoys wide support from Syrians fighting on the ground and from foreign states. Those who refuse to follow orders from the unified command must be cut off from any assistance. This is the only way to end the fragmentation that has long plagued the moderate armed opposition and to ensure it will support any eventual negotiation.
Ankara has been trying to exploit extremists to fight both the Assad regime and the PYD, the terrorist PKK-affiliate operating in Syria. A U.S. strategy that provides greater support for moderate forces fighting Assad and the jihadis, and which also ends U.S. actions that foster Kurdish separatism in Syria, could convince Turkey to abandon this path. SustainabiliTank.info editor takes exception from this last proposition that originates with the author iof this paper!}
While U.S. military aid to the Syrian Kurdish fighters from the PYD helped to combat the Islamic State around the northern city of Kobani, it also fosters the PYD’s separatist ambitions. The PYD has already unilaterally announced an autonomous zone in northern Syria, which has spurred fearful Arab tribes in the area either to back Assad or the Islamic State. The U.S. emphasis on using Syrian Kurds against the Islamic State won’t end the jihadi threat — it will only aggravate it, and the broader Syrian conflict. The Syrian Kurds’ demand for decentralization may be the only way to reassemble a shattered Syria one day, but for now, the Americans and their allies must tell the PYD that autonomous zones only belong as part of longer-term political negotiations involving all Syrians.
Hugely boosted U.S. aid to the Syrian opposition should come with strings attached — a lot of them. In return for increased support, the Syrian opposition writ large must agree on these six conditions:
1) That armed groups receiving assistance from the newly created central command will obey its orders only.
2) That the armed opposition will stop atrocities against civilian communities that have backed the Assad regime and that the armed opposition command will accept responsibility for actions of its constituent groups.
3) That the armed opposition will sever all ties with al-Nusra Front.
4) That the armed opposition’s leadership must constantly reiterate that it is not seeking to destroy Christian, Alawite, or other minority communities and is prepared to negotiate local security arrangements, including with Syrian Arab Army elements, to protect all Syrians.
5) That it will negotiate a national political deal to end the conflict without Assad’s departure as a pre-condition.
6) That any political coalition purporting to lead the opposition must have genuine representation from minorities and top-level businessmen in Syria — communities that have, broadly speaking, supported Assad’s government — and that representation will not come mainly from long-term expatriates.
Implementing these steps would help create a moderate rebel force able to confront the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, and also pave the way for a real national political negotiation. If U.S. regional partners and the Syrian opposition won’t accept the strategy and the tactics to make it work, or if the Obama administration won’t expand its level of assistance and the air mission, then Washington needs to drop the goal of significantly degrading the Islamic State in Syria over the next several years.
It would be better for American credibility to walk away than try more halfhearted measures in Syria.
It would be better for American credibility to walk away than try more halfhearted measures in Syria.
After two years of experience, we should realize that limited actions aren’t enough to address the major threats emanating from Syria. Our foreign partners want U.S. vision and leadership to contain extremists and launch a successful negotiation for a Syrian unity government, which is the only sustainable fix to the extremist threat. Let’s give it to them.
A Week before the Elections in Israel and it looks already that Democracy will be Reinforced by bringing the Arabs into the Israeli Government or at least make them the Official Leaders of the Opposition.
The following article expresses the realism we wrote about earlier – that the Palestinian issue will find a solution only if the Israeli Arabs will pick it up as part of the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. So, activism of the Israeli Arabs is a good thing for everyone as long as it is done as part of the Israeli democracy. Seemingly, the Arab citizens of Israel have found a true leader in Ayman Odeh of Haifa who understands how political democracy can help the cause of all Israeli citizens including its Arabs, and by doing so will help also the Arabs outside borders of Israel.
To be successful in bettering their own positions, the Arabs of Israel will now fight for the common interest on the side of all other citizens of Israel – these interests are SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PEACE. By playing their cards within the system they could be part of the new government or at least be recognized as the in-land political loyal opposition.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the joint Arab ticket, talks about equality, peace and a lasting settlement. Ayman Odeh’s Campaign
Until this election cycle there were four Arab parties represented in the Israeli parliament. They were very different, ranging from: the Chadash party, (originally the Israeli Communist party), which has always included Jews and Arabs; Balad-Ta’al, two highly nationalistic, but secular parties; and the Islamic party, whose platform is reflected in its name.
Previous attempts to unite these parties into a single list failed, due to the large ideological differences between the groups. However, the last Knesset passed a law, sponsored by the party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, that raised the threshold of votes a party is required to receive before it can be admitted to the Knesset.
Many believe that Lieberman’s unstated goal to was to push the Arab parties out of the Knesset. Indeed, in a debate held before this interview, Lieberman turned to the Odeh and said, “You are here for now.”
At the time of writing, polls show the United Arab List receiving 12 places in the upcoming Knesset, although many believe that that number will grow to as many as 15 seats as the existence of the United List will result in an increase in Arab Israeli participation in this election. For the Center-Left to win this election it is clear that the joint Arab slate will be key—minimally in blocking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability to build a coalition.
I met the leader of Hadash who heads the joint Arab effort, Ayman Odeh, toward the end of long day. The fatigue was visible on his face, as well as on the faces of his weary campaign staff. With just two weeks to go until the election, there was no time to lose for this 40-year-old, who was born and grew up in Haifa, has a law degree and is married with two children.
Odeh has the personality of a natural politician. He immediately put me at ease. In a Clintonian manner, he knew how to make me feel that (at least for the moment) I was the center of his world. The mission he accepted—i.e. holding together his diverse coalition and becoming a significant player on the larger Israeli political scene, will be a challenge. Here is a condensed transcript of our conversation that took place in Hebrew:
Tell me a little about your background and why you got into national politics?
Odeh: I was a member of the Haifa City Council when I was 23 years old, which made me the youngest city councilman in Israel. When I began my political career, I identified with Malcolm X. After two or three years, I evolved—and not to a small degree—because of my service on the council in the city of Haifa, which is the most liberal multicultural yet homogenous city in Israel.
As a result of that experience I was transformed from being someone who believed that either the Jews or the Arabs could survive here, to someone who thought that Arabs and Jews must work together. I began to feel that I now must follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, who believed in working together.
So I began to look for the good in all the residents. I understood that what is generally good for people in distress is good for the Arab population; that democracy is good for the whole country, including the Arab population. I learned that social justice benefits the whole population, including the Arab citizens.
This attitude shift helped me connect to all sorts of groups. Four years ago, I sat for a whole month on Rothschild Boulevard (the place where the Israeli social protest movement began). I believe I was the only Arab to do so. I was the one who helped develop the slogan “The people demand social justice.” At the first demonstration, people were initially chanting all sorts of slogans. But in Egypt the people had already been demonstrating, shouting “The people want.…” so I borrowed the phrase “the people want” and added “social justice.”
My ideological transformation was part of my political maturation, choosing to become part of the greater whole. This does not mean that now I ignore the specific needs of the Arabs in Israel. On the contrary, as part of the greater whole, I can better address the needs of the Arab community.
Now, in every party meeting of our Joint List I say, yes, we will address the needs of Arab Israelis, but not only the needs of Arab Israelis. We will have 15 seats in the upcoming Knesset. We will raise our hands in support for the handicapped, for the pensioners, for all of the weaker sectors.
Do you think the four parties you represent who came together will be able to work together—minimally for the medium term, not to mention for the long-term?
Odeh: When our four parties began to work together we discovered that our positions are actually very close to each other. Together we developed both long-range and more immediate plans. The long-term plans talk about peace, based on the U.N. Resolutions: equal rights for everyone in the country; social justice for everyone; and equality between people in the State of Israel. As to our short-term achievable goals, I am developing a plan, which the other groups support. I have a ten-year plan to close the socioeconomic gaps between Jews and Arabs.
We have many disagreements on the nationalist level. I, Ayman, will not give up on any of my national rights. I will continue to speak about them. However, there are some things that we do not need to fight over—for example, equal civil rights, employment in general, employment of women, elimination of violence, recognition of the recognized Bedouin villages in the South and bus service to the underserved Arab towns. I put forth 90 new civil programs, and I have expert opinions from economists who agree that within two years the country would directly benefit from my plan.
When I speak about our national rights, people respond by saying, “How scary.” But it is not scary. It would be good for both of us. I tell you, I want two nations here by choice. I want two cultures here. That is good for me. It adds something important for me. We are all richer because there are two nations and two cultures here. Let’s focus on the positive things that unite us and not what separates us.
There was a recent Ha’aretz Newspaper poll showing that 70 percent of the Arab population in the country are more interested in matters of economics and daily life than questions about the Palestinian issue. How do you respond to those findings?
I will not run away from the nationalistic issue. Our society, our joint society will never be a moral society as long as we occupy another people, not only from a moral and democratic point of view but also economically. Instead of wasting money in the occupied territories, money should be spent here in Israel for the good of all of us—for education, for health and for social programs. However, all of what I just said here is secondary to the fact that the Palestinian people have a right, just like all people in the world, to have their own state.
What do you respond to Israelis who say, “Yes, we agree with you theoretically, but if you look at the state of the Arab world at the moment, this is not the time to make drastic any changes?”
Odeh: Let’s look at the reality of the world around Israel. Israel made peace with Egypt, the largest Arab State. There are militant Islamists there, but there is also law. There are agreements and also defense arrangements there. So, was it better to make an agreement with Egypt or not?
Now let’s look at Jordan, the country with which we have the longest border. Jordan is home to members of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Jordan, there are Salafim, and there are even some members of ISIS.
However, there is a monarchy that runs an independent government. In Jordan there is law and there is security cooperation. Where there is law, and where there is government, there is security. Therefore, I believe it is better for there to be clear borders and independence.
The Palestinian Arabs accept the framework that they will get a state on 22 percent of the land that they dreamed of. I believe that you cannot push them any further to the wall. There is an historic opportunity. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization] is a pragmatic person, a peace loving person, in everyone’s opinion—other than the opinion of the Israeli government.
While Abu Mazen [Abbas] might have the image of someone who wants peace, doesn’t he have the image of being a weak leader?
Odeh: Abu Mazen has proved he can control the West Bank. There have been very, very difficult events for the Palestinian people, and despite these outbreaks and the ongoing occupation Abu Mazen has shown he can maintain order—even though in reality, that is not his job. If he successfully brings accomplishment to his people, his position will be strengthened. He is weak because he does not succeed. It is the Israeli government who prefer him weak.
Why do you think during the last few years there has been such a rise in racist actions against Arabs in Israel?
Odeh: I will explain something that might sound backwards. I believe that since the Bar-Ilan speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the right wing has understood that there is no choice (i.e. there will have to be a Palestinian State.) This realization by the right wing has fueled racism towards the Arab citizens of Israel. MK [Member of the Knesset] Avigdor Lieberman speaks every Monday and Thursday against the Arab citizens of Israel. Yet even Lieberman, when he repeats his slogan “Um-El -Fahem [an Arab Israeli town] to Palestine,” is implicitly recognizing that there will be a Palestinian State.
In 2006, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the main danger to Israel was not the Arabs in the territories but, rather, the Arabs inside Israel. In some ways I think he is correct. The Arab population does not want to turn inward and be isolated, it could throw all of its weight into the political process.
The Arab population should not sit on the side and wait until 50 percent of the Israeli population is convinced about some of our views. We can be satisfied if we are able to convince 30 percent of the Jewish population. Then together with our 20 percent we will be at least 50 percent. This is the reason the right wing attacks us.
All we have to do is become determined to get involved in the political game and the right wing will be in big trouble.
I have to ask the question that everyone asks—If you are asked by [chairman of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition] Yitzhak Herzog to join the government, will you?
Odeh: The most important thing is that the Netanyahu government, which has been so bad for all parts of the Israeli population, must come to an end. However, at the same time, we are not in Herzog’s pocket. If and when we get to that junction [where Herzog approaches us], then we will decide.
Assuming you have approximately 15 seats—which is (more or less) the number people expect you to have—what do you think you can accomplish?
Odeh: If Yitzhak Herzog is the one picked to form the government, he should have the courage to rely on us. His party (actually it was the Labor party, under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin) had good experiences when they relied on us as a blocking guard. We want the next government to be one that seeks peace and equality. We plan to bring our population what they deserve.
If there is one large coalition government compromising Labor and Likud, we will be the head of the opposition. Then, for the first time in history, the head of the opposition will receive foreign visitors. I will bring up the issues facing the Arab population to those who visit.
The head of the opposition speaks after the Prime Minister in the Knesset and receives government briefings. All of this will happen for the first time in history—That will be a good position for us to be in.
Historian Marc Schulman is the editor of historycentral.com. An archive of his recent daily reports from Tel-Aviv can be found here. A longer version of this interview can be found at historycentral.