The US and NATO coalition in Afghanistan recently added Qatar into the multi-nation coalition with the first-ever deployment of Qatari ground troops to the South Asian nation. At the start of this year, Qatari aircraft had been supplying crucial air support and cargo handling capacity by flying resupply missions in and out of Afghanistan. Currently, Qatar is committing $1.8 billion in expanding CENTCOM headquarters at Al-Udeid Air Base.
The strength of the Qatari commitment to the US mission in Afghanistan was further displayed by the recent remarks of State Department Spokesperson, Heather Nauert. Ms. Nauert responding to progress being made in Afghanistan commented that the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Alice Wells, trip to Doha had been a successful one. During the press conference, she stated:
“So first thing, I can tell you that our senior bureau official for SCA [South & Central Asia], Alice Wells, is returning today from Doha, Qatar, and that’s where she’s been meeting with the – she met with the deputy prime minister. She also met with other government officials to talk about their contributions to the situation in Afghanistan. Qatar has been an important and valuable partner in that. They have helped with training and equipping, they have helped with supplies, things of that nature that are obviously needed by coalition partners to help facilitate what is going on right there. So Alice is returning. She’s had good meetings. And part of the reason she went there was to commend the government for their ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan.”
Prior to joining the coalition by committing ground troops, Qatar played a crucial role in conducting peace negotiations between the US military and the Taliban militancy. At Washington’s request under the Obama administration, Qatar facilitated in opening an unofficial Taliban embassy in Doha so that negotiations could take place between the US, the Afghan government, and the Taliban.