Qatar's ruler shook up his Cabinet on Wednesday, shuffling some ministers into new positions while consolidating some of their jobs as low global oil and gas prices squeeze the Gulf country and the wider Middle East.
Most noticeable among the changes made by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al- Thani, announced in a royal decree carried by the state-run Qatar News Agency, was the removal of Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah.
Al-Attiyah, a 48-year-old lawyer and former fighter pilot, repeatedly defended Qatar amid renewed scrutiny over ties to militants, including the Palestinian Hamas and Syrian rebel groups. He unequivocally denied that Qatar ever funded the extremist Islamic State group, which holds parts of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared caliphate.
"All these rumors against Qatar defending the extremists or supporting the extremists in Syria [have] no truth,'' al-Attiyah told The Associated Press in 2015.
Al-Attiyah's replacement is Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdurrahman al-Thani, 35, a member of the royal family who is Qatar's assistant foreign minister for international cooperation affairs.
Al-Attiyah now will serve as a minister of state for defense affairs, according to the decree. Qatar is part of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia fighting Shi'ite rebels on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognized government.
Sheikh Tamim, 35, came to power after his father stepped down from the throne in 2013. Among the seven ministers named in the decree Wednesday was one woman, Dr. Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, who was appointed health minister.
With global oil prices at around $30 per barrel, Qatar has cut gasoline subsidies and begun eyeing other budgetary measures ahead of hosting the 2022 World Cup.