On Thursday, February 1st, 2018 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar H.E. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani spoke at American Enterprise Institute on the US-Qatar relationship, and newly signed bilateral agreements on cyber security, trade and investment, human trafficking, and joint defense.
The Foreign Minister highlighted five historic bilateral agreements signed by the US and Qatari governments during this week’s US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue:
This week our country met for a historic strategic dialogue, and signed five additional agreements, including: defending the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure for energy, strengthening trade investment and technology, developing international law enforcement to stop human trafficking, and continue joint defense commitments.
The US and Qatar’s steadfast partnership in the war against terrorism is supported by a strong alliance that was on full display during the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue this week:
The US and Qatar have a unique partnership. When the US was searching for a home for its troops in the Middle East, Qatar welcomed them. Today, Qatar hosts the largest US foreign military air base in the world. In Qatar, 11,000 US troops, thousands of US teachers and students, and hundreds of US-owned companies are living and working in Qatar.
The US and Qatar have been allies for 45 years, we have dozens of agreements that memorialize our commitments to each other.
The Qatari delegation could not have been welcomed with wider arms.
His Excellency noted that the US and Qatar are committed to defeating radical extremism militarily and through offering hope to the region:
Qatar and the U.S. have been fighting terrorism together for many years. We agree that terrorism must not only be destroyed by all military efforts, but also by uplifting the oppressed with a vision of openness and hope through lasting social transformations.
The US and Qatar’s security cooperation is defined by clear goals, he said:
The joint US-Qatar anti-terrorism MoU established plans and milestones to achieve what we have set out to accomplish. There is a clear understanding at the State Department that the US and Qatar are partners in the fight against terrorism, not only in the terrorism financing front, but also in the military aspect.
The governments of the State of Qatar and the United States held the inaugural Strategic Dialogue in Washington D.C. on January 30, 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis co-chaired the opening session jointly with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Khalid al-Attiyah and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. U.S. Secretary of Energy James R. Perry and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. participated in sessions with Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry Mohammed al-Sada and Qatari Minister of Economy and Commerce Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, respectively. U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and Qatari Minister of Finance Ali Sharif al-Emadi co-chaired the closing ceremony.
Dialogue Key Points
- Stated the strengthened and expanded bilateral relationship
- Welcomed the U.S. role on countering threats of terrorism and violent extremism. Agreed on the need to address violent extremism through preventive framework. Thanked Qatar for its action to counter terrorism and violent extremism in all forms
- Acknowledged Qatar’s generous humanitarian role and commitments made by Qatar on combating human trafficking and advancing labor rights
- Issued a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation
- Lauded Qatar’s contributions in supporting the sizeable U.S. military presence in Qatar under the U.S. Central Command. Welcomed Qatar’s offer to expand critical facilities at U.S. bases in the country. Qatari funding of capital expenditures and sustainment offers the possibility of an enduring presence
- Noted the $24.7 billion Foreign Military Sales, and that they have resulted in over 110,000 American jobs and the sustainment of critical military capabilities for the United States
- Noted the recent conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Attorney General and his Qatari counterpart on the fight against terrorism and its financing and combating cyber-crime
- Highlighted Qatar’s committed investment of $45 billion in American firms, real estate, and jobs
- Agreed bilateral agreements on trade, investment, and technology
Download the Fact Sheet to Learn More:
QAI Strategic Dialogue Fact Sheet Final
State.gov – Remarks at the High-Level Opening Session of the Inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue
The inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue opened at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 with remarks by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, and Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah:
Three bilateral memorandums were signed at the high-level dialogue, aimed at strengthening the U.S.-Qatar relationship:
The first is a memorandum of understanding that establishes the convention for this U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue on an annual basis going forward, so that we can continue to build on the close partnership between our two countries.
The second document is a joint declaration outlining the United States cooperation with Qatar on matters of shared regional and security interests.
The third document is a memorandum of understanding that creates a framework for the cooperation between the United States and Qatar to combat human trafficking.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised the close relationship between the U.S. and Qatar, and outlined the topics of discussion for the dialogue:
Qatar is a strong partner and a longtime friend of the United States. We value the U.S.-Qatar relationship and hope the talks today deepen our strategic ties. In today’s Strategic Dialogue sessions, we will discuss important areas of cooperation, including trade and investment, security, counterterrorism, energy, and aviation. The United States believes enhanced trade will contribute positively to both our countries’ economic development, and create jobs for the American people and Qatari citizens while furthering the region’s security and stability.
Mr. Tillerson condemned the ongoing Gulf crisis as harmful to U.S. and regional security interests:
As the Gulf dispute nears the eight-month mark, the United States remains as concerned today as we were at its outset. This dispute has had direct negative consequences economically and militarily for those involved, as well as the United States. We are concerned by the rhetoric and propaganda employed in the region, playing out daily in Arab mainstream and social media.
It is critical that all parties minimize rhetoric, exercise restraint to avoid further escalation, and work toward a resolution. A united GCC bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts, particularly on counterterror – countering terrorism, defeating ISIS, and countering the spread of Iran’s malign influence.
The Secretary of State recounted the progress achieved under a July 2017 bilateral anti-terrorism finance MoU:
As a result of the memorandum of understanding our countries signed in July, the United States and Qatar have increased information sharing on terrorists and terrorist financiers. We have participated in counterterrorism technical training and taken steps to improve aviation security. We look forward to building on this foundation and implementing next steps.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reaffirmed the U.S.-Qatar relationship in strong terms:
A strong and valued military partner, Qatar is a longtime friend in the region. Even in the midst of its own current challenges, Qatar and the United States maintain excellent military-to-military relations, hosting Al Udeid Air Base, home to our Combined Air Operations Center, the United States Air Force Central Command Forward Headquarters, and U.S. Central Command’s Forward Headquarters, providing critical counterterrorism support to the Defeat ISIS/Defeat Daesh coalition and President Trump’s South Asia strategy.
The Secretary of Defense thanked Qatar for its regional security efforts, and called for a reunified GCC:
We are grateful to Qatar for their longstanding support of America’s present and continuing commitment to regional security, a commitment that includes information sharing and counterterrorism training.
As Secretary Tillerson stated, a united Gulf Cooperation Council bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts, particularly on countering terrorism, defeating ISIS/Daesh, and countering the spread of Iran’s malign influence. It is thus critical that the GCC recovers its cohesion as the proud Gulf nations return to mutual support through a peaceful resolution that provides for enhanced regional stability and prosperity.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani noted the increasingly close relationship among U.S. and Qatari leadership:
Holding this immensely significant first session of Qatar-U.S. Strategic Dialogue come as an expression and a celebration of the enduring and the close affiliation between our two countries. In a recent January phone call between the President of United States Donald Trump and His Highness the Emir of Qatar, there – they have emphasized their mutual determination to strengthen the bilateral relation. A number of major agreements will be signed today covering defense, trade, investment, and energy – all area where Qatar is committed to investing in America’s economy.
Foreign Minister al-Thani touted the successful investment relationship between the two nations; from infrastructure to education:
Qatar is already investing more than $100 billion in the U.S. economy, including $10 billion earmarked for infrastructure. Qatar and U.S. private sector have devoted substantial resources to the other, U.S. companies doing business in Qatar within construction, energy, and services industry. Qatari companies are investing in the U.S. financial services, health care, and technology markets.
From Qatar hosting six prominent U.S. universities in our education city, to Qatar investment in the LNG Golden Pass in Texas, our countries have shared interests – interests that translate into job opportunities for the American and Qatari people. To make all these investments flourish, regional security is essential. So today we will also discuss a range of security issues, including shared threats and further opportunities of regional cooperation.
Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah reaffirmed the U.S.-Qatar alliance:
The state of Qatar has never waived its commitment to stand with friends and allies, especially when the – when they needed us the most. When other in the region were no longer able to accommodate U.S. present of their soil, Qatar eased restriction and expedited its offer to host its ally. Al Udeid airbase, which currently hosts 11,000 of your brave men and women, has been at the epicenter of the global fight against terrorism. Qatar has spared no effort in increasing the readiness and efficiency of Al Udeid operation by investing billions of dollar in the direct infrastructure and maintenance of the strategic airbase.
The Minister of State for Defense Affairs reported that his country values the United States as a trusted ally in security cooperation:
We are looking toward the future of our military partnership with the United States as we plan for the year ahead. Qatar and its trusted ally have reaffirmed their commitment toward the stability and prosperity of both nation. The recent purchased of the F-15s fighter jets signal a new era of cooperation. This strategic bird will assure our readiness to protect our own border and aid our allies further in our collective fight toward peace and stability. Creation of tens of thousand of jobs directs – new jobs, and ten of thousand more of indirect creation job.
On Monday, January 29, 2018, H.E. Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah spoke at the Heritage Foundation on U.S.-Qatar military relations and Qatar’s military, economic, and political future.
Dr. al-Attiyah serves as both Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar and has previously served as President of the National Human Rights Committee.
He is in Washington, DC along with three other Qatari ministers for a strategic dialogue with the U.S. Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Commerce. His talk was with John “JV” Venable, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and 25-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who has served at al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar.
The discussion centered around cooperation between the militaries of Qatar and America, as well as recent major defense acquisitions by the Qatari military, such as the recent $6 billion sale of 36 F-15 fighter jets to Qatar, creating 60,000 new jobs in the U.S.
Qatar is building up its military substantially to serve as a more impactful partner for American counterterrorism operations.
Venable and Dr. al-Attiyah cited the benefit reaped by each nation from the partnership – the United States in its counterterrorism fights across the Middle East and Central Asia, and Qatar’s Boeing C-17 aircraft that helped transport food and supplies immediately following the diplomatic siege.
Dr. al-Attiyah spoke optimistically of Qatar’s future, repeatedly citing Qatar’s National Vision 2030 as a roadmap for Qatar’s sustainable development and expanded partnership with the U.S.
Baker Institute Issue Brief: Anti-Qatar Embargo Grinds Toward Strategic Failure
Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy published an issue brief on 22 January 2018 titled Anti-Qatar Embargo Grinds Toward Strategic Failure by Gabriel Collins, J.D., Baker Botts Fellow in Energy & Environmental Regulatory Affairs, Center for Energy Studies. Below are key findings from the issue brief:
The anti-Qatar blockade runs counter to historical precedent and has dangerous collateral consequences:
Centuries of history reveal a simple strategic truth: embargoes and blockades frequently fail to coerce states into making policy changes sought by the embargoing countries and often create unintended consequences
The evidence suggests that even an embargo lasting multiple years would likely still fail to coerce Qatar into making the concessions desired by the embargoing countries
The embargo and its slow-motion strategic failure have already unleashed consequences that will haunt the region for decades to come, and more effects will become clear as time rolls on.
The issue brief supports its claim that the blockade is a failure with concrete statistical and qualitative evidence:
This issue brief provides evidence of the anti-Qatar blockade’s trajectory from initial shock to emerging strategic failure using actual market data. It also discusses potential paths forward, and the economic and security ramifications of those options
First and foremost, global investors do not view the Saudi-led embargo as an existential threat.
Even without an increase in LNG exports, the “lost” trade volumes caused by the embargo do not just disappear. Rather, they are likely temporary disruptions that will be replaced over time as Qatar builds relationships with new trading partners.
Anti-Qatar campaigns in foreign capitals are backfiring:
Quartet lobbying efforts against Qatar are likely to fail. Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Bob Corker is deeply critical of the quartet’s blockade of Qatar, noting that “when you live in glass houses, you shouldn’t throw stones,” and is unlikely to support Senate passage of House bills aimed at sanctioning Qatar.
Finally, as with the blockade itself, time is not on the quartet’s side on Capitol Hill either, since additional time provides more opportunities for members of Congress to properly comprehend Doha’s strategic importance to US interests across the broader Middle East.
The blockade is proving to be a fundamentally unsound use of state power:
The blockade against Qatar is on the wrong end of powerful diplomatic and strategic dynamics and is likely to weaken as time progresses. Escalating pressure against Qatar also does not seem a realistic option, since moving the embargo from its current footing into a bona fide blockade backed by military force would likely trigger a strong reaction from Washington.
Qatar enjoys the support of its ally the United States:
The September 28 meeting between US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at the Al Udeid Air Base highlights Qatar’s strategic importance to American interests and also carries important symbolic weight, given Mattis’ apparent influence with President Donald Trump.
Financial markets recognize Qatar’s fundamentally strong position, and traders are pricing a future that sees Doha successfully resisting the embargo:
The worst of the post-blockade capital flight is likely over, the country is rebuilding its trade links and food supply chain to bypass imports previously obtained via Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and LNG exports remain robust, underpinning Qatari cash flow.
From this point, the embargo could remain in place for years and Qatar could very likely withstand the effects with decreasing impact each year as it increasingly emphasizes economic relationships outside the Gulf region.
Qatar is net self-sufficient in steel production (including rebar critical for construction as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup).20 Likewise, the new Hamad Port—capable of storing enough cereal grains to satisfy multiple years of local consumption, able to handle more than 3.5 million 40-foot shipping containers per year, and able to accept 1.7 million tonnes per year in general cargo.
This New York Times article, published this morning, by Declan Walsh presents a snapshot of the Gulf crisis from perspectives not necessarily endorsed by Qatar-America Institute. QAI encourages the reader to do their own research on this topic, including with the links at the end of this post.
HH the Emir proclaimed Qatar’s independent foreign policy as the true explanation for an ongoing blockade that cut off his country from its Gulf neighbors:
“They don’t like our independence,” he said in an interview in New York in September. “They see it as a threat.”
Qatar’s foes accuse it of financing terrorism, cozying up to Iran and harboring fugitive dissidents. They detest Al Jazeera, Qatar’s rambunctious and highly influential satellite network. And — although few say it openly — they appear intent on ousting Qatar’s young leader, Tamim, from his throne.
Tamim denies the accusations, and chalks up the animosity to simple jealousy.
The blockade turned out to be the first strike of a sweeping campaign that has electrified the Middle East:
[Saudi Arabia] has shaped the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East and his endeavors could have far-reaching consequences, potentially driving up energy prices, upending Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and raising the chances of war with Iran.
The Qatar dispute is perhaps the least understood piece of the action, but it has a particularly nasty edge.
Sheikh Tamim’s young, steadfast rule is markedly different than that of his Gulf neighbors:
His rise to power in 2013, at the age of 33, offered a stark contrast with the gerontocracy of Saudi Arabia, where rulers clung to their thrones till reaching their deathbeds. And his easy manner belies a stubborn streak that his neighbors see as the mark of a dangerous gadfly.
Qatari society has been a boon for transformative changes in the region:
While Saudi women will finally be allowed to drive in June, Qatari women have been driving for decades. In Qatar, there are cinemas, bars and even female race jockeys. Christians can worship openly.
Tamim lauds his country’s democratic values. In 50 years, he recently predicted, Al Jazeera will be seen to have “changed the whole idea of free speech in the region.” In many respects, it already has.
In the Middle East, though, Qatar’s rulers have deployed their wealth to assert their independence from their larger neighbors:
For decades, Saudi Arabia, which is 186 times as large, treated Qatar as a virtual vassal state. In the 1940s, Saudi rulers took a slice of Qatar’s modest oil revenues; later they nibbled at Qatar’s territory and dictated its foreign and defense policy.
Tamim’s father, Hamad, accused the Saudis of trying to oust him in a failed coup in 1996 — a bitter episode that has framed the decades of simmering rivalry ever since.
Striking out on their own, the Qataris at first played the role of regional peacemaker, turning Doha into a sort of Geneva-on-the-Gulf where protagonists from wars in Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon could hash out their differences in five-star hotels. They embraced America, hosting a vast air base since 2003, the year of the Iraq war, and won popular influence through Al Jazeera, whose provocative style irked just about every Arab government.
U.S. officials determined the Qatar News Agency hack, a precursor to the June 2017 blockade, originated from the one of the blockading nations:
American intelligence officials determined that the planting of the fake news story had been orchestrated by the Emirates, which had been quietly pushing for a boycott of Qatar since 2016, a United States official told The New York Times.
Qatar has responded to the blockade with unprecedented ingenuity and resourcefulness, as well as a renewed national patriotism:
[Sheikh Tamim’s] ministers, making a virtue of necessity, are developing new trade and transportation links. To make up for lost Saudi milk, they created a new dairy industry from scratch in the desert. In a surreal tableau one day in July, German cows toddled down the ramp of a Qatar Airways Airbus at the Doha airport, the first arrivals of around 4,000 cattle flown in from Europe, Australia and California.
The Emir’s image adorns billboards draped off skyscrapers, and he is lionized in saccharine songs hailing his steely leadership. “He’s the embodiment of the philosopher king,” said Dana al-Fardan, one such balladeer.
Is Qatar soft on terrorism? Some of the charges are red herrings, American officials say:
Tamim cut funding to most extremist militias in Syria and Islamist groups in Libya in 2015, at the urging of the Obama administration.
Report: “CYBER ATTACKS ON THE QATAR NEWS AGENCY: FAKE NEWS, CYBER WAR, AND AN ATTACK ON INTERNATIONAL NORMS OF SOVEREIGNTY.”
Speaking at the world’s oldest independent think tank on international defense and security, Al-Attiyah discussed the pressing security issues for Qatar, the wider region and relations with the United Kingdom:
“My current visit to London marks an important moment in our continuous effort to engage with our allies here in the United Kingdom and to further advance and solidify our strategic military-to-military relationship. We have recently signed a landmark defense cooperation agreement with the United Kingdom concerning the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoon Aircrafts.”
“This agreement builds on the historic friendship that joins both nations and further advances the strategic defense partnership that aims to serve our common security objectives.”
Dr. Khalid noted a recent defense deal signed between the UK and Qatar on a joint operational squadron:
“This deal has also contributed directly to the preservation and creation of tens of thousands of jobs here in the UK. We have also agreed on the establishment of a joint operational squadron, which will ensure our mutual combat readiness, further our joint actions in combatting terrorism and advance our strategic efforts towards the stability of our region and beyond.”
“This squadron will also play a vital role in securing our skies during the 2022 World Cup, which despite people’s fruitless efforts, will be hosted by the State of Qatar.”
Qatar is a regional leader in fighting terrorist groups and is fully committed to bringing them to justice:
“Qatar has spared no effort in its fight towards countering extremist ideology and eradicating terrorism in all its forms. We have provided operational and technical support to our allies and have joined in the fight to ensure that groups that violate international laws, commit gross systematic abuses of human rights, and terrorize entire communities are brought to justice.”
The Defense Minister praised Qatar’s commitment to preventing extremist ideology from prospering by providing access to quality education across the region:
“We have also taken the fight beyond the battle field, by funding educational and development programs all across the Arab region and beyond. Educational organizations such as Educate a Child – that has made a commitment to providing access to quality education for tens of millions of children around the globe, have achieved immensely towards fulfilling their commitment and realizing their objectives through operating in 54 countries and providing to date around nine million out of school children access to quality primary education.”
Concerning the situation of the blockade he said:
“The Quartet [Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain] should realize what they are doing is harming their own interests as well.”
President Trump thanked HH Skeikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for Qatar’s efforts to combat terrorism in the region:
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday thanked the ruler of Qatar for “action to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms,” the White House said in a statement that suggested a warming of ties between the two countries.
The White House statement on the call with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani did not directly address the rift but said Trump “reiterated his support for a strong, united Gulf Cooperation Council that is focused on countering regional threats.”
“The leaders discussed areas in which the United States and Qatar can partner to bring more stability to the region, counter malign Iranian influence, and defeat terrorism,” it said.
HH Sheikh Al-Sabah’s recent calls for GCC unity at a gathering of GCC national assembly leaders strengthens Qatar’s long-running efforts at resolving the crisis:
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has stressed the need of cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to face growing threats and challenges.
“We are all aware of the conditions around us, and unfortunately, of their deterioration that represents a serious challenge to us all,” Sheikh Sabah said as he opened the 11th meeting of Chairpersons and Speakers of the GCC Shoura, representative councils and national assemblies in Kuwait City on Monday.
“The situation is compounded with the obstacles that affect the GCC’s forward-looking progress, and this demands that we cooperate, consult and meet at all levels. We cannot confront these challenges individually. Working together is the way forward to solve the standoff and the best way to protect us in dealing with the challenges in order to preserve the achievements of our people and countries.”
HH the Emir of Qatar recently thanked his Kuwaiti counterpart for his efforts at keeping peace among GGC nations in an address to Qatar’s Shoura Council:
“I extend my sincere thanks to my brother HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the brotherly State of Kuwait, for all his commended efforts in mediating between our Gulf States.”
The Kuwaiti Emir noted that differences within the allied bloc are far less consequential that the interests that unite it:
“What brings us together is far too important to be impacted negatively by a difference no matter how long it lasts,” Sheikh Sabah said.
The words echo Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani when he highlighted the GCC’s common threat:
“There is a bigger threat in the region, which is terrorism.”
“Qatar has always been in pursuit of unity in the Gulf, the achievement of the common Gulf goal and the fulfilment of all commitments to preserve the GCC.”
Qatar’s commitment to resolving the GCC’s fractious divisions through dialogue and productive mediation has become increasingly evident to the international community.
With Sheikh Al-Sabah’s earnest remarks in Kuwait, there is no doubt that Doha’s efforts to achieve peace among Gulf nations received a powerful boost on the regional stage from an influential leader.