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Saudi Arabia: Qatar must pay for US troops in Syria or risk regime change

April 25, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir in Manama, Bahrain on 30 July 2017 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir called out Qatar to pay for American forces in Syria yesterday hinting that if it didn’t do so it would lose its US protection and the regime would fall.

“Qatar has to pay for US military presence in Syria and send its military forces there, before the US President [Donald Trump] cancels US protection of Qatar,” Al-Jubeir said in a statement noted by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The response comes off the back of US President Donald Trump’s call on wealthy countries in the Middle East to pay for American protection and to deploy their own troops in the fight against Daesh.

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He warned that without US protection, the regime in Qatar’s “would fall there in less than a week”.

Late last year it was revealed that the UAE planned to invade Qatar using mercenaries. Qatar has since increased its defence and security spending, including cyber protection software for its government institutions. Qatar’s allies have also stationed themselves in the country to beef-up security presence, some going on to sign agreements for their own naval bases.

Al-Udeid Airbase

The US military currently has 9,000 soldiers and some 100 planes stationed at the Al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar, which is some 30 kilometres west of the capital Doha. US Central Command (CENTCOM) uses it primarily for the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

In June last year, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain accused Qatar of supporting extremism and terrorism, allegations Qatar categorically denies.

Nearly one year on since the blockade, Qatar has fought tooth and nail to ensure its country is up and running as normal. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month claimed in its preliminary report that the impact of the Gulf rift is “fading”.

Yesterday, Khalid Al-Jarallah, deputy foreign minister of Kuwait stressed that the continuation of the Gulf rift without any mediation will lead to instability in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).