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[IWS] CRS: QATAR: BACKGROUND AND U.S. RELATIONS [4 November 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations

Christopher M. Blanchard,  Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

November 4, 2014

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL31718.pdf

[full-text, 20 pages]

 

Summary

Qatar, a small peninsular country in the Persian Gulf, emerged as a partner of the United States in

the mid-1990s and currently serves as host to major U.S. military facilities. Qatar holds the thirdlargest

proven natural gas reserves in the world, and is the largest exporter of liquefied natural

gas. Its small citizenry enjoys the world’s highest per capita income. Since the mid-1990s, Qatari

leaders have overseen a course of major economic growth, increased diplomatic engagement, and

limited political liberalization. The Qatari monarchy founded Al Jazeera, the first all-news Arabic

language satellite television network, in 1995. Over time, the network has proven to be as

influential and, at times, as controversial as the policies of its founders, including during recent

unrest in the Arab world.

 

In June 2013, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani abdicated in favor of his son Tamim bin Hamad,

marking the first voluntary and planned transition of power in Qatar since it became an

independent country in 1971. In a 2003 referendum, Qatari voters approved a new constitution

that officially granted women the right to vote and run for national office. The constitution

envisions elections for two-thirds of the seats in a national Advisory Council. However, elections

have not been scheduled, and the term of the current Advisory Council has been extended to

2016. Central Municipal Council elections were last held in May 2011.

 

Following joint military operations during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Qatar and the United

States concluded a defense cooperation agreement that has been subsequently expanded and was

renewed in 2013. In 2003, the U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East moved

from Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia to Qatar’s Al Udeid airbase southwest of Doha, the

Qatari capital. Al Udeid and other facilities in Qatar serve as logistics, command, and basing hubs

for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations. U.S. officials have described

Qatar’s counterterrorism cooperation since 2001 as significant, but Administration officials and

some Members of Congress remain critical of Qatar’s efforts to combat reported support for Al

Qaeda and other violent extremist groups by some Qatari citizens.

 

According to the 2013 U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights in Qatar,

principal U.S. human rights concerns included the “inability of citizens to change their

government peacefully, restriction of fundamental civil liberties, and pervasive denial of

noncitizen workers’ rights.” Political parties remain prohibited and civil liberties remain

restricted. According to the report, “The government made efforts to prevent and eliminate forced

labor, although the existence of the restrictive sponsorship system left some migrant workers

vulnerable to exploitation.” These concerns are drawing increased attention as Qatar implements

large scale infrastructure projects in preparation for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

 

Qatari officials have positioned themselves as mediators and interlocutors in a number of regional

conflicts in recent years. Qatar’s deployment of military aircraft to support NATO-led operations

in Libya and U.S.-led operations against the Islamic State in Syria signaled a new assertiveness,

as has reported Qatari support for armed elements of the Syrian opposition. Some of Qatar’s

positions have drawn U.S. scrutiny and raised the ire of its Gulf Arab neighbors, including its

leaders’ willingness to engage Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban

and allegations of Qatari support for extremists in Syria. It remains unclear whether Qatar’s

active and—for the United States—at times vexing policies may change under Emir Tamim. To

date, the Obama Administration has remained committed to military and counterterrorism

cooperation with the ambitious leaders of this wealthy, strategically located country.

 

Contents

Country and Leadership Profile ....................................................................................................... 1

U.S.-Qatar Relations and Issues before Congress ........................................................................... 4

U.S. Military Cooperation and Foreign Assistance ................................................................... 5

Counterterrorism Cooperation and Concerns ............................................................................ 7

Qatar’s Foreign Policy ..................................................................................................................... 9

Afghan Taliban in Qatar .......................................................................................................... 10

Qatar and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ................................................................................ 11

Qatar’s Economy and U.S. Trade .................................................................................................. 13

Oil and Natural Gas ................................................................................................................. 14

U.S.-Qatar Trade ...................................................................................................................... 16

Outlook .......................................................................................................................................... 17

 

Figures

Figure 1. Qatar: Map and Country Data .......................................................................................... 2

Figure 2. Qatar’s Emir Hosts Palestinian Leaders ......................................................................... 13

Figure 3. Map of Qatari Energy Resources and Select Infrastructure ........................................... 15

 

Tables

Table 1. Chiefs of State and Select Qatari Leaders .......................................................................... 3

Table 2. Proposed U.S.-Qatar Arms Sales 2012-2013 ..................................................................... 6

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 17

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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