The State of Qatar has signed a new decree making changes to the mandatory military service in the country, the Daily Sabah has reported. For the first time, women will now be able to join the armed forces on a voluntary basis. Qatari women previously had administrative roles in the military, although it is uncertain what type of function they will have following the new move.
The decree by the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, requires all men aged 18 to 35 to serve in the military for one year. They are required to apply for service within 60 days of their 18th birthday and can be imprisoned for between one month and a year for refusing to join, or pay a fine of between $13,700 and $82,400.
The conscription of Qatari nationals was introduced in 2013. However, with regional political and security threats from its neighbours, the government has made significant internal policy changes.
Qatar has endured an air, land and sea blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since June last year. The four accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and extremism, but the government in Doha categorically denies the allegations.
In return, Qatar maintains that the quartet sought regime change in the country, and even planned to invade with mercenaries funded by the UAE. Along with the continued rift, there has been a barrage of complaints to the highest levels of the UN over alleged territorial violations.
Earlier this week, Bahrain ruled out negotiating with Qatar over the blockade. "There is no way of reconciliation," insisted Khalid Bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In a show of national resolve, Qatar has launched a five year plan to become self-sufficient in food and sustainable use of renewable energy. It may thus be the case that with the latest decree by the Emir Doha is preparing and boosting its armed forces for potential security threats.
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