Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are to join the longest conflict in US history, by supporting the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan.
Abu Dhabi and Doha will be part of a multi-nation fight codenamed “Operation Resolute Support”, according to the Washington Post. Both Gulf countries will focus on training and advising Afghan forces. Official numbers on how many troops will be deployed has not been disclosed but the military inclusion is set to be approved next week during NATO’s ministerial meeting in Brussels.
Both Qatar and the UAE are rivals in the Gulf region, where Doha remains to endure an air, land and sea blockade over allegations of supporting terrorism and extremism. To add, President Donald Trump backed the allegations against Qatar last year. But Qatar continues to categorically deny the claims, and has since turned the tables by proving to the US that it is committed to combating terrorism. Trump has since repeatedly urged Gulf states to end the rift.
Qatar has been vying to become a full-member of NATO to boost its security outlook but was rejected on the basis that only European countries could qualify, according to the Washington Treaty. Whether this was a major set back for which Doha is looking to prove worthiness in Afghanistan is unclear.
The conflict in Afghanistan began in 2001, it saw the US lead 40 other countries to fight Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces who they said were responsible for the armed attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. Qatar’s cargo planes previously provided resupply missions to nations fighting in Afghanistan.
Qatar played a “major role” in the Afghan conflict by opening a Taliban office in Doha, in a bid to broker a peace deal with the US. Despite the Taliban praising Qatar last year on their efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan, relations may soar with Qatar’s deployment in Afghanistan.
Leaked emails from Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaibi showed that the UAE was vying to open an office for the Taliban in its territories, however the group which governed Afghanistan setup a base in Qatar instead. UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed was “angry” following the announcement.