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Thursday, June 24, 2021

US halts military exercises with Gulf allies amid Qatar boycott

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Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: US Air Force/Flickr

In a rebuke to the countries boycotting Qatar, the US has suspended military exercises with its Gulf allies.

According to the Associated Press, US Central Command said the aim is to show that the military wants its allies in the region to work together.

“We are opting out of some military exercises out of respect for the concept of inclusiveness and shared regional interests,” the newswire cited Col. John Thomas, a Centcom spokesman, as saying.

Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East. President Donald Trump initially supported the blockade against Qatar in June.

But US officials are now working to end the months-long dispute.

Will it work?

GCC nations have not commented on the decision. But analysts said it could be perceived as a “slap in the face” to the boycotting nations, which include Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

For illustrative purposes only. Credit: Qatar Insider

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at King’s College in London for defense studies and a former adviser to Qatar’s military said:

“Joint military exercises are essential for the Gulf militaries to build capability.

All Gulf states want to appeal to the U.S. as viable partners in achieving joint strategic interests, so this announcement is really a slap in the face,” he said.

Another analyst told the AP that the US appears to be running out of patience because the dispute is distracting from its war on terrorism.

One theory is that the Pentagon could step up pressure for reconciliation by freezing weapon sales to Gulf nations, as an American lawmaker suggested months ago.

Thoughts?

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