Volkswagen Co-Owner Escapes Military Coup

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

You think Volkswagen/Porsche was a soap opera? The sequel could be right out of Tom Clancy’s word processor: People at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg and at Porsche in Zuffenhausen cast worried eyes toward Qatar. If they don’t, they should.

Their new sugar daddy, the Sheik of Qatar just narrowly escaped a coup attempt, if Stratfor [expensive sub] is to be believed.

Stratfor—Barron’s once referred to it as “The Shadow CIA”—picked up signs that on July 30 the Qatar government thwarted a coup against the country’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The very same man who is slated to become 17 percent owner of the combined Volkswagen/Porsche conglomerate.

According to these reports, a classic military coup has been narrowly avoided. Sixteen senior military officials are under house arrest. Qatar’s army chief, Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Attiya, supposedly was involved in the attempted overthrow. Senior members of the ruling al-Thani family have cut short their vacations at the Cote d’Azur and elsewhere. They are heading home to deal with the crisis.

Coups come with the tiny territory of Qatar. The current emir deposed his father in a bloodless coup in 1995 while dad was away in Switzerland being treated for (ooops) alcoholism. Coup rumors in Qatar also sprang up in October 2002 as the United States was gearing up to invade Iraq. Stratfor: “Eager to ensure that Doha would permit the United States to use its bases in Qatar for the invasion of Iraq, Washington allegedly had a hand in helping the current emir contain his rivals.”

Volkswagen may want to consider sending a battalion of their feared “Werkschutz” in the direction of Qatar to beef up security for their new co-owner.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

More by Bertel Schmitt

Join the conversation