Though envisioned in its Constitution for some time, Qatar has announced that it will hold elections to choose two-thirds of its now appointive Advisory Council in 2013. (BBC version here; Al Jazeera English version here.)
While Al Jazeera offers fairly neutral coverage of every Arab country but one, the one where it's located and owned by members of the Ruling Family, it's worth reading their account, since it clearly is seeking to spin this as part of Qatar's reputed support for Arab Revolutions (except in Qatar), and to portray it as democratization from the throne down. That can work. Consider Nepal and . . . can somebody help me out here? Okay, Nepal.
Anyway, elections are better than no elections. But is this a sign of empathy with the revolution or an attempt (as the Jordanian and Moroccan monarchs are trying to do with unclear results so far), to get ahead of a cresting wave?
Shadi Hamid offers his analysis. He's always a solid analyst, but he does work in Doha.