CAIRO – 13 July 2019: United States President Donald Trump has expressed his gratitude for the expansion of the centerpiece of U.S.-Qatar ties, namely Al Udeid Air Base.
During a speech that Trump delivered amid a dinner banquet organized on the occasion of an official visit conducted by the Emir of the tiny emirate, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, he said Qatar will pay for the expansion of the air base.
Trump further stressed that his country will not pay anything, noting that Qatari investments in the US are considered the largest.
Al Udeid is home to scores of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, tankers and reconnaissance planes.
The boycott of Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain took place for its policies of supporting terrorism and meddling in its neighbors’ internal affairs.
Observers and political experts see the move by the Qatari Emir as an attempt to purchase protection against the anger of Qatari citizens after neighboring Arab countries cut ties with Qatar for its devious schemes and support of terrorism.
The U.S.-Qatar military relationship expanded rapidly in the 1990s and early part of the 21st century, as the Qataris built Al Udeid and encouraged the United States to use it.
It is pertinent to mention that the Pentagon moved its air operations center there from Saudi Arabia in 2003, after Riyadh denied the United States permission to use its Prince Sultan Air Base to attack Iraq.
The U.S. has spent about $450 million in construction at Al Udeid since 2003, expanding the facility from an expeditionary airfield in which many U.S. troops lived in tents to the more permanent structures there today.
Qatar calculates it has spent $8 billion there to support U.S. operations.
Qatar is a major customer for the U.S. defense industry, including last 2017’s purchase of $12 billion worth of F-15s.
Other recent purchases include $20 million worth of Javelin guided missiles, $700 million in logistics support services and equipment, and an estimated $200 million in weapons systems.