Qatar: Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy

Qatar’s support for regional Muslim Brotherhood organizations and its Al Jazeera media network have contributed to a backlash against Qatar led by fellow GCC states Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, joined by Egypt and a few other governments, severed relations with Qatar and imposed limits on the entry and transit of Qatari nationals and vessels in their territories, waters, and airspace. The Trump Administration sought a resolution of the dispute, in part because the rift was hindering U.S. efforts to formalize a “Middle East Strategic Alliance” of the United States, the GCC, and other Sunni-led countries in the region to counter Iran. Qatar has countered the Saudi-led pressure with new arms purchases and deepening relations with Turkey and Iran. On January 5, 2021, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt agreed to lift the blockade, and Qatar agreed to drop its pursuit of legal cases against those countries in international organizations. Qatar’s leaders work with the United States to secure the Persian Gulf, as do the other GCC leaders. The United States and Qatar have had a formal Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) that reportedly addresses a U.S. troop presence in Qatar, consideration of U.S. arms sales to Qatar, U.S. training, and other defense cooperation. Under the DCA, Qatar hosts more than 8,000 U.S. forces and the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) at various military facilities, including the large Al Udeid Air Base. U.S. forces deployed at these facilities participate in operations throughout the region. Qatar is a significant buyer of U.S.-made weaponry, including combat aircraft. In January 2018, Qatar and the United States inaugurated a “Strategic Dialogue”…    Learn More