Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Congress Studying Demands to Relocate US Military Base in Qatar

Congress Studying Demands to Relocate US Military Base in Qatar

Monday, 12 March, 2018 - 06:45
US Air Force B-52 bombers arrive at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. (Reuters)

The US Congress is studying the possibility of moving its al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to another country, revealed legislative sources to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The demand has been made in wake of American measures taken against Doha’s financial and banking systems after they were suspected of funding terrorist groups and individuals. Washington has also been closely monitoring Doha’s diplomatic activity and foreign relations, which prompted Qatar to sign in July an agreement with the US on halting terrorism financing.

The Congress had in July made a demand on relocating its base in Qatar.

Trusted sources from Congress told Asharq Al-Awsat that alternative locations to al-Udeid include Bahrain, al-Dhafra region in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, al-Zaraqa region in eastern Jordan and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

All of these four locations had at one point in the past been used for military purposes, such as the Gulf War, war in Afghanistan and war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The contract over the US’ use of al-Udeid air base was renewed in 2013 and it will expire in 2023. The relocation of the American forces would be possible once the deal ends.

Ties between Washington and Doha date back to 1973 when the US opened its embassy there. American sources said that “despite those historic ties, Washington has repeatedly warned Doha about the need to stop cooperating with and funding groups or individuals suspected of terrorism.”

Doha has spent more than 21 billion dollars on purchasing American military equipment and fighter jets, revealed the sources. It also hosts more than 10,000 US troops and some 72 jets at al-Udeid base.

Qatar in July signed a memorandum of understanding with the US to increase cooperation on fighting terrorism finance.

It was forced to sign the deal in wake of the economic and diplomatic boycott imposed against it since June by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt over its backing of terrorism.

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