Could this small Gulf state become America’s most important Arab ally?
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION will get no help from most Arab nations in a war against Iraq. The Arab League not only opposes an attack, but last week lauded the Iraqis for opening talks with the United Nations about reviving arms inspections. The Saudis won’t let American warplanes fly sorties against Iraq from the U.S. air base in Saudi Arabia. And Bahrain was pressured by Iran into public opposition to any military action against Iraq. But then there’s Qatar, the small Persian Gulf state of 700,000 people that’s quietly promoting democratic reform and ties to America.
Qatar is home to the largest pre-positioning of U.S. military equipment in the world. At the moment, Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base is a launching center for American missions over Afghanistan aimed at routing remnants of Taliban and al Qaeda. Once a war to oust Saddam Hussein begins, it will become a home base for U.S. planes raiding Iraq. Americans also use two other bases in Qatar. In fact, some officials in Qatar have suggested that if the Saudis insist American troops leave Prince Sultan Air Base, they would be welcome in Qatar. For the record, Qatar’s foreign minister said during an August visit to Washington that his country opposes an attack on Iraq. Privately Qatar is already helping in the run-up to military action.
Qatar is not entirely alone among Arab nations in its willingness to support a U.S.-led coalition against Iraq. Kuwait believes “the war against Iraq [in 1990-91] to have never ended,” its foreign minister told the London Telegraph last week. And despite its joint statement with Iran, Bahrain will help. But Qatar is a special case because it is pursuing a primary aim of the Bush administration in the Middle East: democracy.
Read the full article in The Weekly Standard here