Warm greetings to everyone. Thank you very much for the kind introduction, and I also want to thank ASP for organizing today’s event.
The launch of your very important report on the U.S. security presence in the Gulf is commendable for its timing and content.
Indeed, the issue of the American strategic presence in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East is a topic that provokes different multitudes of views.
Due to the constraints on time I will limit myself to 3 points.
My first point is about the engagement-disengagement debate, I think we can agree that there is a shared perception that the Gulf region remains at the heart of the Middle East.
Gulf countries are not only key in the energy sector but play a significant role in shaping investment decisions across the globe, as well as its contribution to sustaining regional security.
Over the last decade Gulf countries have also increasingly impacted the dynamic of the wider Middle East.
Sometimes this has been in terms of humanitarian and development assistance, but other times due to security factors.
However, malign actions have weakened regional unity leading to security crises and conflicts.
To most experts the logic of national security means that while U.S.-Gulf relations may ebb and flow, America will never entirely disengage from the region.
Indeed – at this moment in time we know that President Biden’s administration has in fact prioritised Gulf security and engagement.
This includes Iran’s return to compliance and U.S. re-commitment with the 2015 nuclear deal.
Since the dangerous escalation of tensions last year between Iran and the U.S. in the Gulf, Qatar has successfully stepped in to provide its mediation expertise to contribute to achieve calm and de-escalation.
Without such mediation vital global strategic assets, especially maritime, would have been dangerously affected.
And because the JCPOA also needs scaffolding Qatar is supportive of efforts to initiate regionally – led confidence building measures to restore dialogue and rebuild trust between Iran and the Arab Gulf states.
Then there are parallel Gulf issues including GCC unity, Yemen, and Iraq, while if we broaden-out it includes Syria, Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Let us take, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a timely reminder of the important impact that a country like Qatar has made in mediating and providing unparalleled humanitarian and development assistance to achieve stabilization and security.
The recent Israeli attacks on Gaza has brought to the world’s attention the ugly fact that for more than 14 years Israel has imposed a land, air and maritime siege on Gaza’s 2 million inhabitants.
The crisis has also highlighted the problems with Israel’s policies in East Jerusalem not just in terms of limiting religious rights of worship for Palestinian Christians and Muslims but through its illegal practices of settlement and eviction which many consider tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
Qatar calls through its mediation efforts for a negotiated and sustainable solution to the conflict that recognizes the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions. This reaffirms our role in supporting peace on the basis of justice.
This brings me to my second point, which is that through the US deepening its strategic partnership with Qatar, common regional goals can be realized on the basis of more balanced approaches that are more cooperative and sustainable.
This is because Qatar understands the key purpose of security cooperation, diplomacy and mediation which are a firm foundation for countries to work from.
It is important to highlight that the security relationship between Qatar and the U.S. is one of the strongest in the region that contributes most effectively to global defence objectives such as defeating Da’esh.
Qatar’s support for U.S. Defence and Security at the Al Udeid base means that it serves as a centre of optimization for the improvement of integrated defence initiatives within the region. Our substantial input for the co-located resources and expertise of U.S. CENTCOM and U.S. Combined Air Operation Center (CAOC) thus makes a major contribution to “future-proofing” U.S. air defence.
This is defence in the Gulf which enhances security and stability in the region, as well as being a part of US Indo-Pacific power-projection strategy.
My third point is that US Security presence cannot be separated from sound and strong US policies in the region. In this context, Qatar can be very helpful. Its overall foreign policy approach is forward looking and based on understanding that the region cannot move forward without adopting an approach that is based on the broader consideration of a shared and responsible future.
Such an approach needs to incorporate and balance key interests of the region. Such an approach is not exclusive to national interests between states, but it also advocates the requirements of responsible governance to achieve stability of states.
Furthermore, it incorporates global cooperation through the UN and other global and regional organisations that provides and nurtures a positive environment for the people of the region. Such a multi-pronged and balanced approach is much needed as we move into a new phase of regional relations and that calls for a path forward towards a shared and responsible future.
Finally, we can evidence the very positive and enduring momentum between Doha and Washington that has aided the review and enhancement of broader strategic, defence, security and economic priorities in the Gulf and the wider Middle East. Indeed, the launch of the Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue in January 2018, and subsequent dialogues, has provided an important mechanism for this momentum. This demonstrates that Qatar, despite being one of the smallest countries in the Gulf, carries its responsibility for sustaining constructive security dynamics and burden-sharing in its own region. It can be counted on as being part of the solution to emerging challenges.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs