Qatari ruler appoints new prime minister

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, has implemented a cabinet shake-up after the resignation of the prime minister. (Iranian Presidency/AFP file photo)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Qatari ruler appoints new prime minister

  • Key cabinet positions such as foreign, energy, finance, defense and trade ministries remained unchanged

DUBAI: Qatar’s ruler has appointed a new prime minister, the office of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said on Tuesday, choosing a close associate for an influential role that seeks to ensure the emir’s writ runs throughout the Gulf State’s administration.

Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdelaziz Al Thani will take on the role of prime minister after Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, who was also Qatar’s interior minister, submitted his resignation to the emir.

The new premier Sheikh Khalid, who will also take on the post of interior minister, had been the head of the Amiri Diwan, the emir’s office.

Sheikh Abdullah on Twitter thanked the emir for his guidance during his time as prime minister.

Key cabinet positions such as foreign, energy, finance, defense and trade ministries remained unchanged.

Sheikh Abdullah’s predecessor as premier, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, who was also foreign minister, used the influential positions to lead the Gulf state’s forays into global finance and Arab politics.


Iranian VP and 1979 embassy hostage spokeswoman infected with coronavirus

Updated 27 February 2020

Iranian VP and 1979 embassy hostage spokeswoman infected with coronavirus

  • Massoumeh Ebtekar, who oversees women’s affairs, is being treated for the coronavirus
  • Mojtaba Zolnour, head of parliament’s national security and foreign affairs committee, also contracted the illness

TEHRAN: The coronavirus epidemic in Iran has cost 26 lives, the health ministry announced Thursday, with a vice president becoming the latest top official to be infected as the spread appeared to accelerate.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that the tally of infections had risen to 245 with 106 more cases confirmed — the highest number for a single day since Iran announced its first infections on Feb. 19.
The Islamic republic has the highest death toll from the virus outside China, where COVID-19 first emerged.
Among the latest coronavirus sufferers is one of Iran’s seven vice presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, who oversees women’s affairs.
Ebtekar, a former spokeswoman for students who took 52 Americans hostage at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, is being treated at home and members of her team have been tested, state news agency IRNA reported.
Mojtaba Zolnour, head of parliament’s national security and foreign affairs committee, also contracted the virus, appearing in a video posted by Fars news agency saying he was in self-quarantine.
The cleric is a deputy for the Shiite holy city of Qom in central Iran where the country’s first cases were detected.
According to media reports, among the deceased in Qom on Thursday was theologian Hadi Khroroshahi, who in 1981 was named Iran’s first ambassador to the Vatican.
The announcement by Zolnour comes two days after another top official, deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi, head of the government’s coronavirus task force, said he too had contracted the virus.
On Wednesday, Iranian authorities announced domestic travel restrictions for people with confirmed or suspected infections.
They also placed curbs on access to major Shiite pilgrimage sites, including the Imam Reza shrine in second city Mashhad and the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom.
Visitors to the shrines will be allowed to visit on condition they are provided “with hand-washing liquids, proper (health) information, masks,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said.
They must “not gather together in groups but just pray and leave,” he said.
In a rare move, authorities announced the cancelation of the main Friday weekly prayers in Tehran, Qom and Mashhad as well as in the capitals of 22 of Iran’s 31 provinces and other infected areas.
School closures have been extended in affected areas and universities are to remain closed for another week starting from Saturday.
“All of these decisions are temporary and if the situation changes, we might intensify or ease them,” Namaki said.
In a message of thanks to doctors and nurses, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he hoped their efforts would help “eradicate this sinister virus soon.”
International health experts have expressed concern about Iran’s handling of the outbreak. But Tehran insists the situation has been “improving.”