Qatar’s Defense Minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah sat down with Defense One in Washington, DC for an interview on the inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue:
During his visit, he announced plans to substantially expand Al Udeid Air Base outside Doha. Qatar plans to allow the U.S. Navy to keep warships there in addition to the existing Air Force assets held there. Qatar also plans to expand the base to allow American families to stay on the base like in Germany and Japan, constructing 200 houses and an entertainment complex. The Defense Minister told Defense One, “As we speak now, the commitment is a long-term commitment… I don’t see anything on the horizon which indicates that our fellow Americans are going to leave in the near future.”
Dr. Al Attiyah also gave a talk at the Heritage Foundation with Senior Fellow John Venable about the military relationship between the U.S. and Qatar:
He cited areas of substantial mutual benefit in the relationship, including the thousands of American jobs supported by Qatari weapons purchases and the U.S.-sourced Boeing C-17s that helped Qatar ship in food immediately following the diplomatic siege. “We lost our only border with the Saudis [during the blockade] and we find ourselves without any access in the air. The C-17s really rescued us, we had to initiate an air-bridge from Doha to Kuwait to Turkey to Oman to Morocco… Thank you for Boeing,” the Defense Minister said.
The Defense Minister gave an extended interview to Politico Magazine with Susan Glasser:
He discussed the diplomatic crisis, providing extensive details on the onset of the crisis and failure of Qatar’s fellow GCC countries to raise their disagreements diplomatically. He expressed dismay at the extended crisis and praised the Trump administration for its efforts to resolve the dispute. He also went into further detail on the expansion of the base to better serve the American soldiers based there. He pled for cooperation and negotiations from fellow GCC states, saying “We’ve been calling for a dialogue since day one, and we keep insisting that the only way out of this is through dialogue. We said before, we say now, and we will keep saying this tomorrow, that we are open, and if you come forward to the dialogue, you can put on the table whatever things you think is concerning you.”
Finally, the Defense Minister gave an extended interview to the Washington Post on the strategic dialogue with the United States and news regarding the diplomatic crisis with the rest of the GCC:
He expressed dismay at the protracted diplomatic crisis and said it was hampering the U.S. and Qatari fight against terrorism, saying “This is not a way to counter terrorism. This operation needs a lot of intelligence sharing, and if you don’t talk to your neighbors, how can you get information exchanged?”