Tuesday, 22 May 2018 09:08 GMT

Qatar keen on further strengthening strategic military ties with US

(MENAFN - Gulf Times) HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, said, in a dialogue session on Monday, that Qatar is working with the United States of America on developing military relations within the framework of 2040 vision.
This dialogue came on the eve of the Qatari-US strategic dialogue at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.
At the outset, HE the Deputy PM and Minister of State for Defence Affairs acknowledged the advanced position of the United States of America in foiling the 1996 coup attempt in Qatar, and, most recently, after the blockade imposed on Qatar and closing its only land port in June 2017, by using US C-17 carriers to form an air bridge with Kuwait, Turkey, Oman and Morocco to supply food and medicine to Qatar.
During the speech, HE al-Attiyah said that Qatari military leaders are planning with their US counterparts in the US Ministry of Defence to strengthen the military relations within the framework of 2040 vision, as well as developing strategic military co-operation between the two countries, to go beyond the Al-Udaid air base.
Qatar is working, through its future vision, to build ports to host the US navy.
Speaking of the Al-Udaid airbase and its significance, HE al-Attiyah said that the airbase plays a crucial role in US fighters' air refuelling operations.
Almost 80% of air refuelling operations are executed through this base.
He pointed out that Qatar hosted its US ally after some countries in the region had abandoned it.
About the Al-Udaid airbase in light of the 2040 vision, HE al-Attiyah explained that Qatar seeks to provide stable and comfortable atmosphere for US military's men and women and their families, by building residential units, schools and entertainment centres for them; in addition to providing job opportunities through purchasing from US defence companies.
As for the environment and water resources, HE al-Attiyah stated that Qatar is aware of the hazards of having several nuclear plants on the Gulf waters.
He added that Qatar has a strategic plan to provide water in the case of polluting the Gulf waters.
HE al-Attiyah emphasised that the F-15 jet fighters, Apache helicopters and Patriot missiles' deal signals a new era of co-operation between the two friendly countries.
Qatar has adequate number of Qatari pilots to fly those fighters purchased from the US; in addition to the manpower of technicians and specialised engineers to maintain and operate those fighters, most of whom studied in US educational institutions.
In addition to that, more pilots and air controllers graduate annually from Al-Zaeem Mohamed bin Abdullah Al-Attiyah air college.
HE al-Attiyah pointed out that 'the Qatar Emiri land forces are in constant development, in co-operation with our US ally.
On another issue, HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah assured that Qatar will not allow oil and gas price manipulation; emphasising that anyone who does such 'childish acts needs to stop because it would call outsider players to the region.
He added: '30% of our partners are US companies. We have the largest gas exporting field in the world and our strategic partner is ExxonMobil, not for ten years, but maybe for 60, 70, or 80 years.
HE al-Attiyah also addressed the Qatari-US co-operation in different aspects, including education and Qatar's attracting established US universities, such as North Western, George Town and Carnegie Mellon.
The Deputy PM and Minister of State for Defence Affairs talked about the Gulf crisis.
He said that US President Donald Trump is the only person who can solve it, with a single phone call.
He explained that solving this crisis is crucial to combating terrorism, which requires intelligence information co-ordination.
The only beneficiaries of this crisis are terrorist groups.
Qatar is the only serious country in combating terrorism. It has signed an MoU with the US on this matter after Riyadh meeting; whereas no other country has signed this MoU.
On another issue, HE al-Attiyah answered a question from the audience about Qatar plan to purchase Russian S-400 air defence system, saying that Qatari ministry of defence did not announce the purchase of this system and that the ministry is examining several options of state-of-the-art systems to cope with the development of air defences, weapon systems and military equipment.
He highlighted that these options will not be a replacement for the Qatari-US arm deals.
HE al-Attiyah concluded the dialogue by emphasising the necessity to maintain stability in the Gulf region to ensure energy supplies to the world.
Qatar, on its own, supplies 30% of the world's energy and all the precautions it takes through purchasing modern weapon systems and equipment falls for the best interest of the region's security and stability.


Qatar keen on further strengthening strategic military ties with US

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