Veteran diplomat: Qatar using US base as guarantee ‘to do as it wants’

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A former United States diplomat and Middle East envoy has said that the only reason Qatar is hosting an American airbase in Doha is to use it as security guarantee to do as they please.

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross also said that the US administration, as he sees it, is prepared to look for alternatives for its base in Qatar should Doha not change its ways.

“They won’t kick us out because the reason they allow us to use the base is because they see it as a not so subtle indication that the United States is providing a security guarantee to them. That gives them, on one hand, that gives them an assurance and a license to do what they’re doing and on the other hand,” Ross told Fox News on the current crisis enveloping Qatar.

Ross served two years as special assistant to former US President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and a year as special advisor to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping US involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations.

“I think they key here is that we need to be the ones communicating to them that we won’t continue to use this base and that we’ll be prepared to look for and develop alternatives. They want this as a source of security. They need to understand unless they change their ways, they’re putting that (the base) at risk,” Ross added.

Saudi Arabia and its allies announced on June 5 they were severing ties with Qatar and later put forward a list of 13 demands.

They accuse Qatar of supporting extremism and of being too close to Iran, which Doha has denied.

The demands included Doha ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, closing Al Jazeera, downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran and shutting down a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Asked on the question of whether he thinks Qatar is prepared to change its foreign policies that saw it support extremist groups, Ross said: “Only if they see that the real cost with us is one that begins with us raising questions about their security as they define it”.

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