The United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the United States wants President Trump to use the U.S. airbase in Qatar as a political tool to press the country's government on supporting extremism.
“The air base is a very nice insurance policy against any additional pressure,” Ambassador Yousef Otaiba said Tuesday. “Maybe someone in Congress should have a hearing and just say, you know, 'Should we consider moving it?’ ”
Last week, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations cut off all diplomatic ties with Qatar and accused the country's government of supporting terrorists across the Middle East. Doha has denied the charges, but that wasn't enough for Emirati officials.
“We’ve gotten fed up. We’ve had enough,” Otaiba said.
According to Otaiba, the U.S. airbase in Qatar has given cover for the country's government to continue supporting instability in the Middle East unabated.
“If I want to be honest, I think the reason action hasn’t been taken against Qatar is because of the air base,” Otaiba said.
Earlier Tuesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the diplomatic crisis centered around Qatar was a sign of Russia's continuing efforts to destabilize the West and the rest of the world.
Russia is “trying to break any kind of multilateral alliance ... that is a stabilizing influence in the world," Mattis said during a hearing in response to a question by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.).
Qatar is the site of the United States' biggest military base in the Middle East. The forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and the staging area for much of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are based near Doha, the country's capital.