On January 13th, 2019 the United States and Qatar held the Second U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in Doha under the theme “Forward Together.” Chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the dialogue focused on: regional security and defense cooperation, education and culture, law enforcement and counterterrorism partnerships, commercial and energy cooperation, and labor issues.
This year’s Strategic Dialogue builds on the historic achievements of the First U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, in Washington, D.C., in which Qatar and the U.S. agreed to landmark cooperation in several areas.
A Joint Statement produced by the U.S. and Qatar details the outcome of the dialogue, progress made in key policy areas, and the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Statements of Intent (SOIs) to advance mutual cooperation.
Full Remarks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at a Press Availability (01/13/2019)
Full Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (01/13/2019)
Below is a summary of key developments from the Joint Statement produced at this year’s U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue:
Officials reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing senior-level engagement:
Qatar and the United States expressed strong support for the expansion of bilateral relations evinced by high-level meetings in 2018 between: U.S. President Donald J. Trump and HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani; U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah; and an exchange of other minister-level visits to Washington and Doha. These high-level diplomatic engagements highlight the two nations’ shared commitment to advance cooperation and promote global peace and prosperity.
The U.S. recognized Qatar’s role as a leader in global humanitarian assistance and development:
The United States acknowledged Qatar’s generous humanitarian role bilaterally and multilaterally through the work of various UN agencies, in the form of a $500 million multi-year assistance pledge, including $8 million annually between 2019 and 2023 to support forcibly displaced populations, and assist refugees including millions of vulnerable young children and women.
Both countries reiterated the essential role the U.S.-Qatar defense partnership serves in international security:
Qatar and the United States emphasized the vital contribution their defense partnership provides for the security and stability of the region. This strong and lasting partnership is key to successfully combating terrorism, countering violent extremism, and deterring external aggression. U.S. officials lauded Qatar’s contributions in supporting the strategic U.S. military presence in Qatar under the U.S. Central Command.
Three key developments in defense were announced:
- The two governments reaffirmed their commitment to the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation to promote peace and stability and counter the scourge of terrorism.
- The United States welcomed Qatar’s generous offer to expand critical facilities at bases used by U.S. forces in the country and to align operating procedures at these bases with NATO standards, thereby increasing the operational capability of U.S. and coalition forces based in Qatar.
- The U.S. and Qatar signed an MOU enabling deeper coordination on potential expansion at Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar’s offers to fund capital expenditures and sustainment affords the possibility of a more enduring U.S. presence.
The U.S. recognized Qatar’s commitments to defeat radical extremism, prevent terrorism finance, and to support U.S. anti-terrorism efforts:
The United States thanked Qatar for its continued efforts to counter terrorism, counter the financing of terrorism, and prevent violent extremism in all forms. Both sides intend to strengthen their security and counterterrorism (CT) partnership to eradicate terrorism and violent extremism. The United States welcomed Qatar’s commitment to provide $75 million over five years to the work of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, including its efforts to help Member States develop and implement advance passenger information and passenger name record systems in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2396.
The forward progress made on several counterterrorism agreements, including the July 11, 2017 MOU on Counterterrorism, was reviewed:
They reviewed the positive progress made under the terms of the MOU on Counterterrorism signed on July 11, 2017, and the second bilateral CT Dialogue convened in Doha September 5, 2018, including the 2018 Joint Action Plan to implement provisions on border security, information sharing, countering the financing of terrorism, anti-money laundering, aviation security, cybersecurity, and judicial capacity building.
A Memorandum of Understanding in education was signed by Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister bin Abdulrahman Al Thani:
The U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani signed the MOU in the field of education to continue building and sustaining key partnerships in the fields of: primary, secondary, and higher education; English and Arabic language instruction; student advising; promoting academic exchange; and facilitating a wide range of study abroad options that enable students to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Qatar and the United States welcomed the role of U.S. companies in Qatar’s development and of Qatari investment in U.S. firms and jobs:
The Qatari delegation outlined successful implementation of reforms designed to attract foreign investment in Qatar, including free trade zones and expanding business ownership for non-citizens. Both countries also underscored their commitment to boosting trade and investment and noted the growing strength of bilateral trade relations.
Qatar confirmed that the United States is its top import partner, representing 18% of all imports to Qatar in 2018.
The two governments recognized Qatar Investment Authority’s (QIA) previous commitment to invest $45 billion in American firms, real estate, and jobs. QIA Chief Executive Mr. Mansour al-Mahmoud described plans to increase Qatari investments in American infrastructure.
The United States and Qatar emphasize the importance of their continued partnership which benefits the interests of both countries, as well as the security and prosperity of the Gulf region.
This Strategic Dialogue process underlines the commitment of Qatar and the United States to increase cooperation in fields that provide the greatest mutual and practical benefit. Such cooperation includes the issues discussed today but also incorporates important work in the fields of health, food safety, intellectual property rights, nuclear safeguards and more. Qatar and the United States remain committed to dialogue and long-term cooperation on political issues, consolidating state-of-the-art defense facilities, combating terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms, countering the financing of terrorism, expanding their trade and investment partnerships, and enhancing educational and cultural cooperation.
To expand partnerships and advance mutual policy goals in those areas, the two sides agreed to hold the first working group in April of 2019. Qatar and the United States look forward to reviewing progress in these areas at the next Strategic Dialogue in Washington in 2020.
(Image Source: Middle East Monitor)
The 2018 Doha Forum was held in its namesake city this year from December 15-16, 2018 and brought together key leaders from the international community under the Forum’s theme “Shaping Policy in an Interconnected World.”
The 2018 Doha Forum was launched with an opening address by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar. His Highness stressed the need for free speech and dialogue between the Gulf countries.
The Financial Times reported on the mission of this year’s Doha Forum:
“The 2018 Doha Forum brought together political figures, thought leaders, governmental agencies, and civic society organizations with the aim of facilitating dialogue about how conscious policymaking can guide us to our global tomorrow. The forum addressed today’s urgent issues and ways the international community can come together to solve them. The forum also highlighted the modern success models and discusses how we can expand on them and replicate them. Through active and responsible global leadership, our possibilities are limitless.”
Below are some highlights of key 2018 Doha Forum developments, events, speeches, and speakers:
- Qatar Announces USD Half Billion in Aide to UN Agencies
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Qatar Fund for Development today signed agreements with multiple United Nations agencies to support humanitarian, counter-terrorism and relief programs around the world on the sidelines of Doha Forum. The multi-year assistance to ten UN agencies amounts to USD 500 million, including 28 million to the UN Development Program (UNDP), 8 million annually between 2019 and 2023 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4 million annually to UNICEF and 15 million annually to the Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC).
- Announcement of the Doha Forum Award
The first Doha Forum Award will be given in 2019 to recognize outstanding achievements in diversity, dialogue and diplomacy, and will be worth half a million US Dollars.
Opening address by HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar:
Keynote address by HE António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
- H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar
- H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the United Nations General Assembly
- H.E. Hassan Ali Khaire, Prime Minister, Somalia
- H.E. Teodor-Viorel Meleşcanu,Foreign Minister, Romania
- Wolfgang Ischinger (moderator), Chairman, Munich Security Conference
- Brett McGurk, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
- Vladamir Voronkov, U.N. Undersecretary General for Counter Terrorism
- Peter Bergen (moderator), Vice President for Global Studies & Fellows, New America Foundation
- H.E. Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, Minister of Finance, Qatar
- H.E. Berat Albayrak, Minister of Treasury and Finance, Turkey
- Christian Sewing, CEO, Deutsche Bank
- Chris Giles (moderator), FT Economics Editor
- Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Minister of State at the Department for International Development
- H.E. Sigmar Gabriel, Member of the Bundestag (Parliament), Former Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
- H.E Dr. Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution
- Ibrahim Kalin, Special adviser to President Erdogan and the Presidential Spokesperson
- Julien Barnes-Dacey (moderator), Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations
- Michael Rich, President, RAND
- Alain Gresh, Editor, OrientXXI
- Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive director, QCRI
- Nicholas Enfield, Director, Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Institute, University of Sydney
- Steve Clemons (moderator), Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic
- H.E. Moussa Mara, Former Prime Minister of Mali
- Yéro Boly, Former Defense Minister, Burkina Faso
- Hannah Armstrong, Senior Sahel Consultant, International Crisis Group
- Phillip Carter III, Consultant, The Mead Hill Group, Former US Ambassador to Ivory Coast
- Rinaldo Depagne (moderator), West Africa Project Director, International Crisis Group
Qatari Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani gave an interview to Chris Giles of the Financial Times covering a variety of political issues related to Qatar during the 18th Doha Forum.
The latest development in the illegal blockade occurred when the Emir of Kuwait, HH Sabah Al Sabah, raised the issue during the December GCC summit. The matter was acknowledged by participants, but there was no “breakthrough,” according to the Deputy PM. Despite this, however, Qatar remains open to negotiations with the blockade nations.
“We are willing to come to the table to sit and to discuss what are the real problems, how we can resolve these problems, and the only thing you need to understand before you come to the table [is] that our sovereignty is [a] subject for negotiation.” -HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani
The Deputy PM also addressed Qatar’s recent decision to leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, in January 2019. He reiterated that, although the decision undeniably took place within a highly politicized context, Qatar left for purely business-related reasons: OPEC members primarily export oil, whereas Qatar primarily exports natural gas. Qatar’s departure simply acknowledges that Qatar is a very minor player in the global oil marketplace, and will allow the country to focus its efforts on its largest export.
On October 31st, 2018, His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs of Qatar sat down for a conversation at the Forum on Foreign Fighters and Returnees in Doha, Qatar with Steve Clemons, Editor at Large of The Atlantic.
His Excellency Dr. Khalid spoke on the role Qatar is playing in rehabilitating former extremist fighters, the international community’s progress in regional peace building, and the stabilizing affect the defense partnership between the United States and Qatar has on the Middle East and Gulf regions.
Kristian Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow and author of “The Gulf States in International Political Economy,” published an op-ed in The New York Times this week on the logic behind Qatar’s decision to leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, commonly known as OPEC.
According to Ulrichsen, OPEC has become mired in geopolitical disputes like the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, to the detriment of its member states and its central mission to stabilize international petrochemical markets.
Qatar has persisted in its mission to serve as a secure natural gas exporter. Qatar provides more than half of India’s natural gas imports, as well as 14-15% of China’s, Japan’s, and the UK’s, according to the MIT Observatory of Economic Complexity. Following the illegal blockade, Qatar signed long-term natural gas agreements with China, Japan, and the UK. Qatar even still provides natural gas to the United Arab Emirates through the Dolphin Pipeline, despite the blockade.
Qatar remains committed to the central mission of mission of OPEC – maintaining a stable international market for petrochemical products. Its decision to increase natural gas exports was in response to a projected increase in international demand, according to then-CEO of Qatar Petroleum, Saad Sherida Al Kaabi. Qatar Petroleum is investing $20 billion in U.S. oil and gas fields, most notably the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas, even though the U.S.’s LNG exports will inevitably compete against Qatar’s primary source of revenue in the global market.
Qatar’s departure from OPEC is a business decision, allowing Qatar the autonomy to develop its natural gas resources – its foremost economic strength – independent of other members’ geopolitcal agendas.
(Image Source: Darren Hillman)
Below are key excerpts from His Excellency’s conversation:
Qatar’s initiatives in building bridges to peace have seen the U.S. as a critical stakeholder:
In 2007, Qatar started interfaith dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims so that co-existence could be a reality. Qatar invited many U.S. universities to join our Education City to give the region access to excellent and unrestricted education. To bring about these reforms, we invited help from experts—financial, environmental, academic, and human rights specialists.
Qatar has been a critical partner of the United States in securing peace in Afghanistan:
AL-THANI: Well, in fact, what we see in Afghanistan now for over the last few years since this office been established for the purpose of the peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government and the U.S., there were not much progress in it. But in the recent—in the recent months, we have seen a lot of positive things.
Qatar’s Year of Culture program will see the U.S. as its marquee partner in 2021, showcasing the cultural and people-to-people ties that bind the two allied countries together:
We will have the Year of Culture between Qatar and United States in 2021, which is a showcase for this cultural exchange between the countries. We have it every year in a different country and it has been a successful model for promoting the Qatari culture and inviting the other cultures.
Outline of Qatar’s engagement-driven foreign policy that emphasizes dialogue, development, and global partnerships:
Over the past twenty years, Qatar has engaged with the world through foreign diplomacy, forged economic global partnership(s), developed human capital, invested in the region. Two decades ago, my country decided to begin a new chapter of openness. This decision shaped Qatar’s signature foreign policy of engagement, dialogue, and collaboration. This was new for the Middle East and the outreach paid off.
Outside the neighborhood, Qatar found friends, allies around the globe. Within the neighborhood, Qatar became a skilled mediator in the region largely closed off to negotiation. For example, in Lebanon we were able to help calm the sectarian fighting and fill the vacuum of power. In Sudan, we helped stop a genocide and sustain peace in Darfur. Today, we are facilitating talks between U.S., the Afghan government, and parliament.
Qatar’s liquified natural gas strategy has transformed the global energy landscape:
This engagement-driven foreign policy meant that a political partnership ran parallel to economic ones. Reciprocal investments across the globe made in numerous industry sectors meant that Qatar could partner with the global specialists who supply the world with liquefied natural gas. This was no easy task because scientists had not developed an efficient way to liquefy natural gas and to ship it.
So Qatar and experts around the world collaborated and brought the energy industry into a new era of liquefied natural gas. Simultaneously, Qatar was able to diversify its economy to move away from fossil fuel dependency. Today, Qatar supplies almost 30 percent of the world’s natural gas.
Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup will be the most environmentally-friendly rendition of the games in history:
So there is a lot of programs that are taking place within the country in order to transform our country to a more green country, more environmentally friendly, and we are experiencing this especially in the World Cup—in the World Cup Project, which will take place in 2022, and I hope all of you come there and enjoy it in Doha.
The stadiums—the way it’s built—the buildings over there, all of them they are maintaining the maximum standard of environmentally friendly. We have also—we take the same consideration on our industrials because Qatar is an industrial country as well where we have industries which are derivatives from the gas industry or from the oil industry. All of this the environment is taken into consideration.
Full Video – Council on Foreign Relations: A Conversation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
The conference attracted over 300 Qatari undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the United States. QAI participated in the conference with a booth at the Exhibitor’s Hall, where conference attendees were educated on QAI’s work by staff members, recruited for internship, fellowship, and advisory board positions at QAI and at organizations throughout Washington, D.C.
In addition to Qatari students, special guests at the conference included:
- H.E. Deputy Minister of Education & Higher Education Dr. Ibrahim Bin Saleh Al Nuaimi
- H.E. Consul General of Los Angeles Khaled Al Saada
- Qatar’s U.S. Cultural Attaché Mr. Mohamed Al Hamad
The Peninsula – On November 6th, 2018, HH the Amir of Qatar inaugurated the 47th Ordinary Session of the Advisory Council, Qatar’s legislative body. HH Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani offered an optimistic, forward-looking vision of the country and its future. Below are key excerpts from the speech:
It gives me pleasure to meet with you on this auspicious annual occasion of opening a new session of your esteemed Council, marking the beginning of a new legislative term in which our constitutional institutions will proceed with assuming their responsibilities to reach the goals we have set for ourselves .
Brief review of the past year:
Since our last meeting, which took place under the circumstances that you know, Qatar’s economic invulnerability against external tremors has been boosted and our self-reliance has increased, the bonds with our allies have become stronger than before, and our relations with most of the world countries have developed.
Qatar’s national development is rooted in its character and accomplishments:
Most importantly, the Qataris have become more committed to the ethics they are famous for, and their awareness and realization of the scale of their country’s accomplishments and the importance of national sovereignty and independence of our political decision, under which these accomplishments were achieved, have been deepened.
Qatar’s economy has diversified, and has seen an impressive 4% growth rate in non-hydrocarbon sectors, as well as an 18% export increase:
A drop in our hydrocarbon GDP was coupled with about 4% growth in GDP from other sources, thus reflecting the role of economic diversification as an important growth component.
Exports increased by 18%, leading to a significant improvement in the public budget, trade balance and current account. The banking system retrieved in less than ten months the level of indicators that prevailed before the blockade, while the level of some of them became even better.
In addition, Qatar Central Bank regained its reserve level, and the Qatari Riyal has maintained its value and free circulations noteworthy that the number of factories operating in the State has increased by about 14% after the blockade, and these factories managed to achieve a great deal of self-sufficiency in some food products and consumables.
Water and food security are at the top of Qatar’s national priorities:
We are striding at a steady pace to achieve water and food security and to secure sufficient electrical energy to push forward the development drive and meet its requirements. This megaproject will increase Qatar’s electricity production by about 30% and water desalination by about 40%.
Cutting government spending has been complimented increased by private sector spending:
Government consumption expenditure this year decreased by around 20% from the previous year while household spending increased by 4%. It is expected that this policy will lead to a public budget surplus this year, and that this surplus will increase in the coming years.
Social contributions and national unity are paramount to Qatar’s success:
We have achieved great and rapid progress in nation-building, living standard and human development in health and education. We have many challenges ahead in these areas, and we have to ascertain commitment to the work ethics and the act of giving to the society. In this context, we also confirm the importance of national service and its role in building the youth of this country.
HH the Emir’s closing remarks:
In conclusion, I would like to point out that preparations for the election of the Legislative Council are underway at the level of the ministerial and experts committees.
Top Five Highlights from Amir Tamim Bin Hamad’s Speech to UNState Department Report Highlights Qatar’s Counterterrorism Efforts
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin was received in Doha, Qatar for an official visit on October 25, 2018 by HH Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Secretary for Security Affairs Mohammed Al-Misned, Minister of Finance Ali Sharif Al Emadi for talks on enhancing bilateral security cooperation, combatting terrorism financing, and the US-Qatar economic relationship. Secretary Mnuchin was accompanied by U.S. Embassy Charge D’Affaires William Grant.
Tweet by Secretary Mnuchin:
His Excellency Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and I discussed our US-Qatar joint commitment to counter terrorist financing.
Tweet by Secretary Mnuchin:
Great to be in #Qatar and sit down with Prime Minister @ANK_AlThani. We will continue to build our strong relationship that brings security and prosperity to both nations.
Tweet by Secretary Mnuchin:
Met with the Qatari Secretary for Security Affairs, Mohammed Al-Misned, to continue a strong partnership.
Tweet by Secretary Mnuchin:
This evening I met with my Qatari counterparts including Finance Minister Al-Emadi to discuss bilateral economic issues and the fight to prevent terrorist financing.
Tweet by Charge D’Affaires William Grant:
Honored to join meetings of Secretary .
@stevenmnuchin1 HH Sheikh . @TamimBinHamad, PM/MOI Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani & Mohammed al-Misned, Secretary to the Amir for Security Affairs US & Qatar agree on making more joint progress to control terrorism financing & on critical matters
On Monday, the famed Chatham House think tank in London hosted an on-the-record talk on Qatar’s foreign policy featuring HE Lolwah R.M. Al Khater, Spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Abdullah Baabood, the former Director of the Gulf Studies Center at Qatar University. The event focused on Qatar’s foreign policy as a regional moderator and leader during the Arab Spring and into the current illegal blockade.
Lowlah R.M. Al Khater and Dr. Abdullah Baabood discussed the failure of many Arab governments to respond constructively to the Arab Spring. Other participants focused on misconceptions about Qatar’s relationships with Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular.
Audience questions varied, but many regarded Qatar’s relationships with its neighbors in the wake of the illegal blockade and Jamal Khashoggi crisis, as well as the future of the GCC and Yemen.
Chatham House Recording