General view of US Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircrafts at al-Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar September 7, 2021.

Qatar Banned US From Using Its Military Base Against Iran

Friday, 06/21/2024

In early 2024, as the US and Qatar quietly extended the use of America’s largest military base in the Persian Gulf, they appeared united in their support for US military activities from Al Udeid Air Base.

This unity persisted until April, when the Islamic Republic of Iran launched a massive rocket and missile attack against Israel.

Qatar declared, according to an April report in the Iranian government-controlled media, that the US is barred from using its airspace in Qatar. Doha hosts key leaders of the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist designated organization.

In one of the starkest signs of Qatar impeding the US from defending its allies in the Mideast and American national security interests, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published on Thursday a scarcely noted 2012 interview with Qatar’s former Prime Minister Hamid bin Jassim, who said Qatari foreign policy prohibits military operations against Iran.

Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ) told the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera Network in an April 1, 2012 interview that “The Iranians and the Americans know that we oppose any military action against Iran." When asked by Al-Jazeera "Will the Americans ask for your permission?,” the former Prime Minister said "The Americans know that we will not accept any hostile action from Qatar, against any neighboring country, especially against Iran."

Al-Jazeera said, "There is now escalation between Iran and the US. Couldn't the Al-Udeid Air Base be used to...", prompting HBJ to stress "I have told you that we will not accept – I am saying this clearly and underlining it twice... We will not accept any hostile action against Iran from Qatar. Full stop."

HBJ’s statement appears to render the Al-Udeid base futile against one of America’s principal enemies, the Islamic Republic, which the US has consistently designated a state-sponsor of terrorism since 1984.

Rich Goldberg, who served on the National Security Council during the Trump administration, told Iran International, “There’s little value in having a base right next to our greatest threat in the region if a primary condition for having the base is that it can never be used to confront that threat.” Goldberg is a senior advisor for the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

When approached by Iran International for a comment, a US State Department spokesperson said, “We refer you to US CENTCOM for comment on Al Udeid. We refer you to the Government of Qatar for comment on their policy.”

However, in response to an Iran International press query CENTCOM, a US defense official, said " We have no additional information to provide as this topic is not a Department of Defense decision. Therefore, we defer you to the U.S. State Department for comment."

Iran International reported in October, after the Iran-backed Hamas movement invaded Israeli border regions and killed 1,200 people, including over 30 Americans, Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, asked Qatar’s defense minister for Doha to deny the US the use of its Al-Udeid airbase.

Qatar’s disruption of US military activity may have also weakened the US response to the Iran-backed militia, Kataib Hezbollah, in Iraq that murdered 3 US soldiers in Jordan in late January.

Retired US Navy Intelligence Commander, Jennifer Dyer, noted on her website, the “The Optimistic Conservative” in February, ”It’s possible that no Air Force strike-fighters from Al-Udeid participated. If that’s the case, the likely reason is that Qatar wouldn’t allow it.” Dyer added, “The silence from Al-Udeid doesn’t bode well...for the U.S. ‘option’ of attacking Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Doing that would involve a huge target set, not even so much for the nuclear weapons program itself as for neutralizing Iran’s air defenses and means of retaliation.”

Qatar and the Islamic Republic share the vast South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf and this may be a reason why the supremely opulent gas-rich nation of Qatar has gone to great lengths to not pick fights with Iran’s clerical regime.

The two countries have drawn closer in recent years. Israel’s former president Reuven Rivlin delivered a dossier about Qatar’s alleged role in funding Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to president Joe Biden in 2021. The US said at the time it would investigate the dossier.

The new MEMRI translation of HBJ’s Arabic-language interview sparked intense criticism from American and Israeli security experts.

Ezra A. Cohen, a former US Department of Defense official, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter,that “Every day it becomes more and more clear that Qatar is holding the United States hostage.”

The popular Israeli journalist and commentator, Caroline Glick, wrote on X “The Biden administration does not designate Qatar a state-sponsor of terrorism, despite the fact that it is one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism. No. The administration designated Qatar a major non-NATO ally, which it decidedly is not.”

Qatar is in the crosshairs of many US Senators and Congressional representatives for its support of the US-designated terrorist movement Hamas. There are increasing calls on Capitol Hill for Biden to reexamine America’s alliance with Qatar and consider the relocation of the Al-Udeid base to another state in the Mideast that is not embroiled in funding Islamist terrorist movements.

MEMRI president and founder, Yigal Carmon, argues that Qatar is the single largest state-enabler of both Sunni and Shiite Islamist terrorist movements across the globe. Carmon termed the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s government a “dishonest broker” who should not be involved in the effort to secure the release of Hamas held hostages in the Gaza Strip.

Qatar’s ambassador to the US, Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, did not respond to an Iran International press query. Iran International sent multiple email press queries to Qatar’s embassy in Washington.

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