Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Their Dear Friend Trump Can Do Something Else for Them

Washington should consider relocating its Al Udeid airbase from Qatar as it gives the gas-rich state “a nice insurance policy” against pressure from Arab neighbors, the UAE ambassador to the US argued as the Gulf political crisis enters its second week.


During the early 1990s, Qatar invested sizeable amounts of money to construct the airbase in an area southwest of Doha. The facility has then been used by British Royal Air Force and the US Air Force amid wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2014, the Al Udeid base has been used by the US-led coalition in their operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Additionally, Al Udeid serves as a command and logistical hub for current American deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. Camp As-Sayliyah, a nearby military compound, houses a number of US command and control facilities supporting the Central Command’s operations.

“Maybe someone in Congress should have a hearing and just say, you know, ‘Should we consider moving it?’” Otaiba suggested. “And maybe not moving the entire base. Maybe just distribute to various countries so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.”


US troops stationed in Qatar would also relocate to the UAE, he argued, adding the “infrastructure is in place.”

Or should I speak to President Trump directly?
Calling to ease blockade of Qatar, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed it is “hindering US military action in the region and the campaign against [Islamic State or IS, formerly] ISIS.” He also said it was crucial to engage in a “calm and thoughtful dialogue with clear expectations” in order to resolve the crisis, endorsing the mediation proposal by the Emir of Kuwait.

Otaiba, however, said the American plea is unlikely to be heard in Arab capitals. “That's not going to happen,” Otaiba said.
Yeah, I wouldn't characterize that statement as the plea being "unlikely to be heard."

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


The US ambassador to Qatar took to Twitter on Tuesday to confirm that her posting will come to an end this month.

"This month, I end my 3 years as US Ambassador to #Qatar. It has been the greatest honor of my life and I'll miss this great country," Dana Shell Smith said on Twitter on Tuesday.


"Ambassador Dana Smith's assignment as Ambassador comes to an end this month and she will depart Qatar later this month as part of the normal rotation of career diplomats throughout the world," a spokesperson said.

"Her decision to leave the Foreign Service was made earlier this year and we wish her the best as she moves on from the Department of State."

Al Jazeera also understands that Shell Smith's decision was taken before the Gulf diplomatic crisis erupted last week.

She won't be replaced. And Trump will probably blame the Democrats.

UPDATE 8/30: Scathing article on Otaiba.

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