Former head of the Arab League Amr Moussa has revealed that Qatar has offered to pay “in full” for the expansion of US military presence on its soil in return for protection.
In an interview with London-based Arab newspaper al-Hayat, Moussa said Qatari Emir Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told the US he was willing to pay for all their military expenses if Washington agreed to establish more military bases in the gas-rich Persian Gulf country.
“Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa is Qatar’s real power and Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim assists him. The prince managed the country’s affairs well and took crucial decisions very easily,” Moussa said.
“When he thought of protection and saw that Americans are the only ones willing to provide it, here he thought of the American military, which forming a base in Qatar was not among its priorities. But Sheikh Hamad told Americans that he will ensure their expenses are paid in full, so now he enjoys security and has moved forward,” he added.
Qatar, which hosts the largest American military base of any Arab state, is a major oil and gas producer in the Persian Gulf region.
Al Udeid Air Base, located in the west of Qatari capital Doha, houses US personnel and assets. It is home to a forward headquarters of United States Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF.
In 1999, the Qatari Emir reportedly told US officials that he would like to see as many as 10,000 US soldiers permanently stationed at Al Udeid.