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US looking into relocating air base from Qatar

Qatar’s paradoxical stances, funding for terror group triggered demands for moving out

Gulf News

Dubai: The US Congress is looking into calls to relocate America’s Al Udeid military base from Qatar to another country.

Pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat reported the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives is looking at four alternatives that could become the military headquarters when the contract with Qatar, which was renewed in December 2013, expires in 2023.

The daily, citing “reliable sources in the US Congress”, said either Al Dhafra Area in Abu Dhabi, Al Zarqa in eastern Jordan, Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, or Bahrain could serve as the new headquarters.

The four military sites had been used successfully, including during the Gulf War, the Afghan War, the Iraq War and the war against terrorist groups, including Daesh, in Iraq and Syria.

Demands to transfer Al Udeid base from Doha were made following US measures taken against Qatar that included closely observing its financial and banking system due to fears of support for terrorist organisations and individuals associated with them, as well as strictly monitoring its diplomatic actions and foreign policy.

The measures pushed Qatar to sign a bilateral agreement with the US to suspend the funding of terrorism, the sources said.

The London-based daily cited US sources as saying that even though relations between Washington and Doha dated back to 1973, when the US opened its embassy in Qatar, and a military agreement was signed between the two sides in 1992 and renewed in 2013 for 10 years, Washington has repeatedly warned Doha to stop funding and cooperating with organisations suspected of being involved in terrorism and with individuals who are members of the organisations.

Qatar hosts more than 10,000 US soldiers and around 72 F-15 aircraft at Al Udeid base.

According to the daily, the US, despite all the military and other agreements with Qatar, has noticed steady funding of groups declared as terrorists organisations by the US State Department.

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