Category: International Relations

Qatar to Upgrade Al-Udeid Air Base

Washington Post – Qatar to upgrade air base used by U.S. to fight terrorism

Qatar is executing a major upgrade and expansion of the United States’ largest overseas air base, Al-Udeid Air Base:

Qatar will spend $1.8 billion upgrading the major air base used by the United States for its ongoing military and counterterrorism operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf kingdom said Monday.

According to Defense Minister Khaled Mohammed al-Attiyah, expansion of the base, which houses about 10,000 U.S. military personnel, will include new housing and expanded operational capabilities:

New family housing facilities for more than 200 officers and other infrastructure enlargements, along with “operational” improvements, Defense Minister Khaled Mohammed al-Attiyah said in an interview.

The improvements, to be formally announced at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, were previewed this year in meetings between Attiyah and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

The base is key to U.S. military efforts in the Middle East and has played a central role in the Pentagon’s air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq:

In addition to the large U.S. troop presence, it is also the headquarters of Air Forces Central Command, headed by a three-star U.S. general, and a combined air operations center from which the Pentagon tracks the maneuvers of aircraft throughout the region.

Qatar’s willingness to let the United States fly bombers from Al Udeid is seen as particularly significant:

Other nations in the region do not allow bombers, but the Pentagon has had a steady rotation of bomber squadrons through the base. A unit of B-1B bombers arrived this spring, replacing B-52s that carried out airstrikes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria over the previous two years.

Qatar and the United States have spent billions of dollars together to improve and expand key U.S. combat capabilities in the region:

The U.S. military has spent about $450 million in construction at Al Udeid since 2003, expanding the facility from an expeditionary airfield in which many U.S. troops lived in tents to the more permanent structures there today. Qatar calculates it has spent $8 billion there to support U.S. operations.

In addition, Qatar is a key purchaser of U.S. defense equipment and aircraft, enabling operational cohesion and mission support between the allied militaries:

Qatar is a major customer for the U.S. defense industry, including last year’s purchase of $12 billion worth of F-15s. “We have bought a lot of military equipment from the U.S. so we can fly hand in hand with our partners,” Attiya said.

According to Qatar, a contract for 36 F-15 fighter jets “supports 50,000 total jobs and more than 550 suppliers in 42 states.” Other recent purchases include $20 million worth of Javelin guided missiles, $700 million in logistics support services and equipment, and an estimated $200 million in weapons systems “which support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States.”

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U.N. Court Orders Qatari Families Reunited

Reuters – U.N. court orders UAE to lift measures against Qataris

The U.N. International Court of Justice issued a provisional ruling on Monday, 23 July 2018 that ordered the immediate reuniting of separated Qatari families, recourse for expelled students under the blockade, and due process for affected Qataris.

The legally binding order calls for the following measures to be implemented:

1. Families, including a Qatari affected by the measures from the UAE after June 5, that are separated are reunited

2. Qatari students affected are given opportunities to complete their education or to obtain their educational records if they wish to continue their studies elsewhere

3. Qataris affected are allowed access to tribunals or judicial organizations

The order was imposed with immediate effect, before the International Court of Justice hears the full case filed by Qatar at a later date:

According to Qatar, which filed the suit in June, the UAE has as part of the boycott expelled thousands of Qataris, blocked transport and closed down the offices of the Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel.

The court found that ordinary Qatari residents in UAE have been exiled and their rights are in peril:

“Many Qataris residing in the UAE appeared to have been forced to leave their place of residence without the possibility of return,” the judges’ ruling said.

“There is an imminent risk that the measures adopted by the UAE could lead to irreparable prejudice to the rights invoked by Qatar.”

The U.N. court found several human rights violations have occurred under the blockade:

The court found that mixed UAE-Qatari families have been separated, Qatari students have been deprived of the opportunity to complete their education, and Qataris have been denied equal access to justice.

Qatar welcomed the ruling in a statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Qatar’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater said:

“This is only the first step on a long road to defend our rights, but at the same time this sends an early strong signal that there will be no tolerance shown to countries that take arbitrary measures against Qataris,” she said in Arabic language comments published by state news

 

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Qatar Recommits to Counterterrorism Efforts at NATO Meeting

On Tuesday, July 9th 2018 the State of Qatar’s Ambassador to NATO addressed a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels, Belgium to renew its commitment to fighting terrorism, in partnership with its America, European, and Gulf security partners.

The State of Qatar renewed Monday commitment to the fight against terrorism, calling for doing so through prevention and treatment.

Ambassador to Belgium and Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the European Union & NATO Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khulaifi made that statement in a NATO meeting that included GCC ambassadors as well as NATO ambassadors.

In the speech, HE the ambassador reviewed the efforts of the State of Qatar in the fight against terrorism, pointing out that it is an integral part of the global coalition against ISIS. he added that Qatar hosts the U.S. military base in Al Udeid, from which the country conducts its counter-terrorism operations.

Ambassador Al Khulaifi recounted Qatar’s participation in the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, its MoU with the United States on combatting terrorism financing, and Qatar’s domestic legal actions against suspected terrorism financiers:

He noted that the State of Qatar is an active member of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, which was established in 2011 and consists of 29 countries, in addition the European Union. He also noted that the State of Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a center for the combating terrorist financing operations with the participation of GCC countries and the United States.

Qatar also issued a law to combat terrorism and amended the provisions of other relevant laws in accordance with international laws related to combating terrorism and financing. It also issued a terrorism list last March that included names and entities against which a final judicial decision was issued.

The Ambassador called for strong action to prevent the spread of extremist ideology by investing in impoverished areas of the world:

Al Khulaifi pointed out that the spread of poverty is a result of the intensification of conflicts in the Middle East region and the transformation of the region into hotbeds of extremism, stressing that the treatment of terrorism and radicalism will only come through solutions of economic nature and by increasing development rates. He added that the decline in development rates acts as a fertile ground for the emergence of new terrorist groups, considering that military solutions alone will not eliminate terrorism.

His Excellency also highlighted the partnership between the State of Qatar and NATO:

Referring to the visit of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to NATO last March and the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two sides, the partnership has developed markedly between both sides since the visit of the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani to NATO back in 2006.

He also highlighted Doha’s hosting the annual NATO conference on arms limitation and non-proliferation in March 2015, as well as the signing of the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program between the State of Qatar and the NATO in 2016, in addition to the security agreement signed between the two sides in January 2018. HE the ambassador also highlighted Qatar’s contribution to peace efforts in Afghanistan and the support to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

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Qatar Charity and UNHCR Partner to Support Syrian Refugees

Qatar Charity and UNHCR extend a lifeline to 30,000 Syrian refugee families

Qatar Charity, a Doha-based non-profit, will be donating over $10 Million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Zakat Initiative to support more than 30,000 Syrian refugees residing in Jordan and Lebanon. The agreement between Sheikh Hamad Bin Nasser Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Charity and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi took place at the UNHCR headquarters.

The UNHCR is an agency established to “protect and assist refugees everywhere”, and provides mechanisms for charitable giving that are fully in line with Islamic principles on social financing. Muslims across the world trust the UNHCR to provide assistance to refugees and give to the agency to meet their Islamic charitable duties and fulfill Zakat obligations. Additionally, one hundred percent of the zakat contributions to UNHCR will be given to those in need.

Qatar Charity’s collaboration with the UNHCR was praised by the High Commissioner, who applauded Qatar’s contributions stating, “Qatar Charity’s donation to the UNHCR Zakat Initiative is ground-breaking. The generosity of tens of thousands of people in donating their zakat contributions to refugees in need is an exemplary act of solidarity”. The donation by Qatar charity comes at a time when “funding is not keeping up with needs.” Qatar Charity’s contribution to the program will improve the lives of those most in need.

 

 

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Qatar and Colombia’s Initiative Pays Tribute to Women in Global Organizations

On June 27th, Secretary-General to the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, spoke at the book launch of HERstory: Celebrating Women Leaders in the United Nations. This initiative was sponsored by Qatar and Colombia to highlight UN women trailblazers. Among them include the first women to serve as Under-Secretary-General, Lucille M. Mair, and the first women to head peacekeeping operations, Margaret Anstee.

The history we learn at school, that is celebrated in public monuments and events, tends to be a very partial history. It is the history of men…Raising awareness of women’s contributions is an essential part of correcting the imbalance in our culture that has historically undervalued women’s contributions and women’s work.

The Secretary-General believes that more could be done to remove the barriers constraining women from top UN and diplomatic leadership positions. Internally, the UN works to ensure that events are programed with a gender perspective to be inclusive and inviting to all.

This is not simply about the fight for gender equality… From peace and security to development to human rights, greater inclusion is the key to our success – bringing new perspectives, different leadership styles, greater innovation and, ultimately, a more effective organization.

Qatar’s support for equalizing the playing field for women is represented on a global scale.

 

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Human Rights Watch Notes Progress Made in Workers’ Rights in Qatar

 

In a report released today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted progress made in Qatar in protecting migrant workers’ rights, while acknowledging areas for Qatar to improve.

The report notes the legal guarantees made in Law No. 15 on Service Workers in the Home, which came into effect in August 2017. Law No. 15 sets a 10-hour workday, minimum rest periods, required annual leave, and more.

In November 2017, Qatar established a minimum wage for migrant workers. That same month, Qatar also signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization (ILO), a UN agency, to cooperate in enforcing and strengthening Qatar’s legal protections for workers. Concurrent with this agreement, the ILO closed its complaint against Qatar regarding migrant laborer conditions. In April 2018, the ILO opened its first office in Qatar – a key component of the agreement.

The report recommends that Qatar enact and enforce equivalent protections for migrant workers as for Qatari national workers – a reasonable recommendation, although many countries around the world have distinct protections for national and non-national workers. It recommends strengthening protections for worker rest periods, accommodations, food, and health standards, while acknowledging that legislation and enforcement in all those does currently exist. Given Qatar’s three-year agreement with the ILO to strengthen and enforce Qatari labor protections, these additional reforms are more likely than critics might assume.

Qatar is now a leader in the Gulf in instituting and enforcing labor protections.

The relatively narrow recommendations for Qatar reinforces the progress Qatar has made on workers’ rights as it has prepared for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Accelerating that progress was one of the Qatar’s goals when bidding and preparing for the World Cup. As Hassan Al Thawadi, the Secretary General in charge of World Cup preparations, told The New York Times:

No country is perfect. We have issues, and we have challenges… With the World Cup coming on board, of course the spotlight came in, but this is something we recognized. So when we said legacy, we mean the World Cup is an opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change, and to increase the momentum for initiatives that the government was already committed to. And of course worker welfare is one of them.

Qatar has consulted with many international organizations in addition to the ILO to improve its migrant labor regulations, including HRW itself, Amnesty International, Building and Wood Workers’ International, Engineers Against Poverty, the International Trade Union Confederation, and Humanity United. Qatar has also worked with Impactt, an ethical trade consultancy, to audit labor conditions at 2022 FIFA World Cup construction sites. Impactt has conducted 33 total audits, and their results can be viewed online in their External Compliance Report.

Some further reforms enacted by Qatar include protecting workers’ right to exit the country, refunding recruitment fees charged by intermediaries to migrant workers, implementing the Wage Protection System to secure workers’ wages, establishing a minimum wage, and creating a confidential hotline for workers’ grievances. Workers are encouraged to participate in worker welfare forums (WWF) and elect representatives to protect their interests – turnout for the most recent representative election reached 86%.

 

 

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Qatar – Civilian Protection During War

 

At the 8th annual meeting of Global Network of R2P Focal Points in Finland, H.E. Dr. Mutlaq bin Majid Al Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Dispute Resolution and the National Focal Point for the Responsibility to Protect Civilians from Cruel Crimes, announced that Qatar’s foreign policy was expanding to cover the protection of civilians from war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

The goal is to uncover the root motives of violence, early on, that could lead to terrorism in hopes of aiding with mediation and prevention diplomacy programs. Qatar has been working closely with national NGO’s and civil society organizations to increase economic empowerment and equal opportunities in the region to create alternatives to violence.

Putting this idea to work, Qatar is currently mediating disputes between Afghanistan and the Taliban, the Muslim minority in Arakan, and Myanmar and Bangladesh to create peace in the region. In addition, Qatar has been successful in Gambia and Senegal in its efforts to promote a peaceful transfer power.

 

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Dr. Reem Al-Ansari: Insight on the Impact of 1 Year Into Blockade

 

Dr. Reem Al-Ansari, Legal Professor and Scholar, appeared on the John Fredericks Show on 11 June 2018, to discuss the impact of the one year GCC crisis including the legal perspective of the blockade, and her perception of what triggered the crisis. Watch the full clip of the segment below:

 

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Patrick Theros: When is a Blockade a Blockade?

 

Patrick Theros, Former Qatar Ambassador, appeared on the John Fredericks Show on 06 June 2018, to discuss the effects of the one year blockade on Qatar including agriculture and women. The Ambassador also talks about how this blockade affected other Gulf states.

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