US extends military presence at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar for 10 more years

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The United States has reached a deal to extend its military presence at a base in Qatar for another 10 years, a source familiar with the matter said.

The base in question is the Al Udeid Air Base, which is located in the desert southwest of Doha and hosts the largest US military facility in the Middle East.

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The initial agreement was set to expire at the end of 2023. But the new deal will see more Qatari fund investing into the base facilities, sources told Al Arabiya English. Washington and Doha agreed that they would not announce it publicly.

The development was reported first by CNN. The US Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The tiny Gulf state has played a key role in mediation talks with Hamas and Israeli officials in relation to the war in Gaza and the release of hostages captured by the Palestinian Islamist group in its Oct. 7 cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people.

US President Joe Biden has regularly spoken with the emir of Qatar since Oct. 7 on securing the release of hostages held by Hamas and on boosting aid to Gaza, where Israel’s assault since the Hamas attack has killed over 22,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities.

There has also been criticism of Qatar by some in the US Congress over Hamas’ presence in the country. A bipartisan group of 113 US lawmakers on Oct. 16 sent a letter to Biden asking him to put pressure on countries who support Hamas, including Qatar.

Qatar is also a major non-NATO US ally, a designation granted by the United States to close, non-NATO allies that have strategic working relationships with the US military.

The Gulf state has also been a channel for US dialogue with the Taliban since the American pullout from Afghanistan in 2021. It played a role in mediating deals that in late 2023 led to some Americans being freed by Venezuela and Iran in prisoner swaps.

Read more: Qatar prime minister, Mossad, CIA chiefs discuss steps to free Hamas hostages

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