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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

NYPD exchanges expertise with Qatar police ahead of 2022 World Cup


Doha has been engaging in discussions with its allies as it put the final touches on security plans for the much-anticipated sporting event.

Members of Qatar’s police forces met with the New York Police Department’s [NYPD] Transit Bureau team on Tuesday in the US to exchange expertise over safety and security best practices during major events.

“Our thanks to Lt. Col. Nasser Saad Al-Kuwari and his team for visiting and sharing their insight,” tweeted NYPD Chief of Transit Kathleen O’Reilly.

While no details have been disclosed over what specific security protocols were discussed and shared between the two sides, the meetings come amid Qatar’s preparations for the major sporting event, taking place at the end of this year.

The Gulf state has been discussing matters related to the safety and security of the World Cup with some of its allies, including France, the UK and Turkey.

In December, officials from Qatar’s Ministry of Defence’s Executive Committee for the 2022 World Cup met with the Minister of the British Armed Forces James Heappey in Doha. During the meeting, the defence officials discussed the UK’s role in helping secure the World Cup in Qatar.

“The UK and Qatar also recently cooperated on the ‘Watan’ exercise which tested the preparation for World Cup 2022,” a British Embassy spokesperson told Doha News on 14 December.

Furthermore, France’s armed forces confirmed it would send its personnel and material to Qatar following an agreement signed between the two countries. This includes the deployment of a BASSALT anti-drone system, which will help detect and identify incoming drones.

France said it will also be sending one of its Air Force’s four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System [AWACS], which can track hundreds of targets.

Meanwhile, Turkey confirmed it will dispatch some 3,000 members of its riot police units to Qatar for the World Cup. That’s in addition to more than 40 security advisers, and search dogs that Ankara intends to dispatch to assist Doha.

US Congress to boost security cooperation with Qatar

Qatar-US ties

The latest meeting in New York comes amid growing defence ties between Qatar and the US.

Last week, the US Congress had issued a statement on calling legislators to include Qatar in the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] for the fiscal year 2022, reflecting the strategic importance of the Gulf state’s role in the Middle East.

“We note that the United States and the country of Qatar have built a strong, enduring, and forward-looking strategic partnership based on long-standing and mutually beneficial cooperation,” read the statement by US legislators.
Following the collapse of the previous Kabul government, Qatar immediately facilitated the evacuation of Afghans and foreigners in what has been described as the largest airlift of people in history.
Doha has since evacuated 70,000 people from Afghanistan.
“Including Qatar in the NDAA for 2022 is kind of the logical result of the developments and events this year where Qatar has proven to the Americans that they are a reliable partner,” Dr. Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at the School of Security Studies at King’s College London and researcher of Middle East and North African Studies, told Doha News last week.

Beyond the latest cooperations, Qatar hosts the largest American military base in the Middle East, the Al-Udeid Airbase, which is used extensively by the US for its operations in the region.

The allies also signed an agreement during their latest Strategic Dialogue, enabling Doha to represent Washington’s interest in Afghanistan in light of the US closing its embassy following the Taliban takeover in August last year.

Despite the US Congress’s latest statement however, there have been no updates regarding the delayed approval of Qatar’s requests to purchase four MQ-9b Predator drones from Washington.

Previous reports stated that the US Defense Department is reportedly encouraging the sale of over $500 million worth of drones to Qatar despite a delay from the State Department’s end.

While the Pentagon favours the sale, the US State Department has yet to approve the request despite green lighting similar applications from other allies, including the United Arab Emirates.

Officials at the State Department said it is wary about the sale due to its fear of angering other Gulf allies, namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatari officials previously told the Wall Street Journal [WSJ] that they want to use the drones to keep their eye on giant natural-gas facilities and to monitor terrorist threats in the region.

Doha’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup next year was also attributed in the nation’s request for drones, with officials believing that the mega-event will need protection against potential attacks.

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