If one were to pick an emblem of America’s global military might, the B-52 properly might top the list. The strategic bomber’s expansive 185-foot wingspan and 159-foot fuselage, make the “Stratofortress” a universally recognizable symbol of unrivaled aerial firepower.
This is especially the case if you are unfortunate enough to be the target of its devastating payload – which can be munitions ranging from unguided or guided bombs, to cruise missiles or nuclear weapons. Reportedly, up to 500 Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria found this out the hard way in February, illustrating that when America wants to send a message, it is often the B-52 that serves as its courier.
So then, what Middle Eastern country does the United States trust with hosting our regional fleet of B-52s, a crucial weapon in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist forces — Iraq? Saudi Arabia? United Arab Emirates? None of the above, actually. Instead, America turns to one of its biggest little allies in the world: Qatar.
In terms of land mass, Qatar is slightly smaller than Connecticut. Yet, despite its small size, the nation is home to America’s largest air base in the world outside the U.S. Al Udeid airbase, located just outside the capital city of Doha, is home to some 11,000 military personnel. The base also serves as the overseas headquarters for United States Central Command.
Qatar’s geographic location along the Persian Gulf, a stone’s throw from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan is in part what makes the country such a strategic partner for the U.S.; another, less known facet of this partnership, however, is Qatar’s strong, pro-Western culture.
In the center of its capital, a half dozen American universities, including Texas A&M and Georgetown, maintain modern campuses where American students can earn degrees in studies such as petroleum engineering or international economics. Additionally, more than 650 American companies operate in Qatar; and, Boeing recently inked a $6.2 billion order with Qatar for 36 F-15QA aircraft, to be built in Boeing’s St. Louis county facilities.
These are reasons why recent rumors of Qatar’s relationship with terrorist organizations should be regarded with high skepticism. It is true that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have organizational presences in Qatar, but only at the behest of the United States. This allows Washington to keep a closer eye on the activities of such organizations than would be possible if they were located elsewhere.
The proof, however, is in the pudding.
The massive, continued presence of the American military in Qatar, a strategic relationship reaffirmed by Defense Secretary James Mattis as recently as this week, should be evidence enough that speculation about Qatar’s flirtation with terrorism is utter bunk. Common sense and strategic military planning dictate that the U.S. would hardly invest massively in a country that is a high security risk.
Furthermore, the U.S. agreed to a $300 million sale of missiles to Qatar this week, with the State Department noting Qatar “is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region.” Again, if Qatar was falling into the terrorist orb, such a deal would make no sense.