That conflict isn’t over, and the United States’ need for strategic posts in the Middle East is as great as ever, particularly as tensions with Iran mount and the Pentagon dispatches 1,000 more troops to the region. Though that number is down considerably from the 120,000 floated in May, it underscores how seriously the U.S. needs to be able to address threats in the region, particularly those from Iran.
It is time to use the full force of the Oval Office to explain the dire consequences that Qatar could face for continuing its game of cozying up to countries on all sides of the Middle East’s volatile divides.
I say this as someone who has dedicated his career to serving our armed forces and who believes strongly that the U.S. must maintain a military presence in hot spots throughout the world, build alliances as a bulwark against terrorism, and serve as a global player to stand for good. Including, certainly, in the Gulf.
We should build those alliances, though, only with partners that share our goals and objectives. We must now take the time to reconsider whether Qatar is such a strategic partner.
Until now, U.S. strategy in the Middle East has been uneven and fractionalized. It is time to set priorities and stay the course on those objectives, particularly deterring Iran and its proxies, and contributing to the defense of our regional allies, first and foremost Israel, as well as like-minded nations such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt.
The United States has leverage when it comes to Qatar and the Al Udeid Air Base. Our Air Force has used that base for more than 17 years now. Qatar wants the base to remain, and has offered many inducements for it to stay.
As important as the base clearly is to Qatar, the kingdom doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not critical to America.
As important as the base clearly is to Qatar, the kingdom doesn’t seem to realize that it’s not critical to America. Our military could easily expand to other regional partners such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE or even Jordan. Moving our forces currently based in Qatar is not nearly as difficult as one might think, and can be done relatively quickly and painlessly. We are not, and never will be, dependent on a single base.
Trump must tell the emir: The U.S. will stay and continue to invest in the Al Udeid Air Base if — and only if — you rejoin the Gulf Cooperation Council and cut your ties with Iran. The choice is yours.
Gen. Charles Wald
General Charles Wald (Ret.) is a four-star general in the U.S. Air Force and former deputy commander of U.S. European Command. He is the president of Jones Group Middle East, responsible for overseeing business development and operations in the region, and a distinguished fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.