The state of Qatar continues to provide strategic support to the NATO coalition in Afghanistan through its membership within the Resolute Support Mission (RSM). Qatar is currently providing crucial air support to both US and NATO forces in Afghanistan by providing aircraft and personnel to airlift supplies from Hungary to Afghanistan. This is Qatar’s first airlift within a NATO country.
The RSM was initially set up to take over following the completion of the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) at the end of 2014. Following the completion of the ISAF mission, Resolute Support was launched on January 1st, 2015 to provide further training and assistance for Afghan security forces.
On January 16, 2018, Qatar signed a security agreement with NATO within the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. The agreement allowed for NATO forces and personnel to both enter and transit through Qatar, primarily using the Al-Udeid Air Base. This was followed by a visit of the Qatari Amir to Brussels that led to a signing of an additional agreement that further increased cooperation between NATO and the Qatari Armed Forces.
Cooperation between NATO and Qatar reached new heights in July of 2018 as Qatar was invited to take part in Operation Resolute Support. As a result of the agreement, Qatar now provides ground forces in Afghanistan. Additionally, Qatar is committing $1.8 billion in expanding CENTCOM headquarters at Al-Udeid Air Base that would further strengthen US & NATO capacity in their missions in Afghanistan and the wider region.
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 insurgency. At Washington’s request under the Obama administration, Qatar facilitated in opening an unofficial Taliban political office in Doha so that negotiations could take place between the US, the Afghan government, and the Taliban.
(Image Source: Twitter – @USAmbQatar)