Qatar crisis is not nearing its end soon. The Qatar officials did reply that they are working on the demands put forth by Saudi Arabia & other Gulf countries. The Arab States allege Qatar is supporting terrorists. However, this allegation puts the US in a tight spot, balancing the act between two allies.
The Qatar crisis resulted from a blockade of ties on 5th June by Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain. Besides cutting travel and diplomatic links, Qatar is accused of having close relations with Iran.
Countries Behind Qatar Crisis
The four countries primarily leading the Qatar crisis have given a list of 13 demands. Qatar has to shut down broadcasting of the Al Jazeera channel besides reducing relations with Iran. Qatar has ten days to comply with the requirements provided by the Gulf countries.
Kuwait, with the help from the US, wants to resolve the Qatar crisis. The deadline for meeting the demands will end on Sunday 2nd July 2017.
Qatar Preparing its Responses
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, the Qatari Foreign Minister, said on Thursday that his country is preparing its responses. Furthermore, as per the Minister, Qatar is seeking help from the US and Kuwaiti officials.
The Minister stated that there need to be set the conditions which require prioritization. Similarly, the Minister indicated that the Qatar crisis could jeopardize the relations between the six GCC countries. The GCC countries include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and UAE.
Furthermore, the Foreign Minister said that GCC was formed to protect against any external threats. However, he added, the threat originates from inside and not outside the GCC. Sheikh Muhammad was of the view that the demands set by the four Arab countries were unreasonable. He further added that the setting of a deadline would have an adverse impact on Qatar’s sovereignty.
Qatar Crisis and US Interests at Stake
Qatar has the largest US military presence in the Middle East. The Qatar’s Al Udeid Base houses around 11,000 US soldiers. The base also has around 100 US aircraft. The Al Udeid air base has a busy schedule with a flight taking off or landing every ten minutes.
The US considers Al Udeid Base as Forwarding Headquarters for the US Air Force Central Command. The Al Udeid Base has 379th Air Expeditionary Wing & United States Combined Air Operations Center or CAOC.
CAOC is responsible for controlling all the US air operations in around two dozen countries. The air operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan take place from the Qatari air base.
The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remains hopeful that the Qatar crisis will not impact the US flights. He also said that the US remains grateful to Qatar for supporting the United States armed forces presence. He further added that the US does not have any plans for changes in its position within Qatar. The US Secretary of State has asked all parties to exercise restraint.
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