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The United States has finalized a deal to extend its military presence at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar for an additional 10 years, as informed by defense officials.
Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US military installation in the Middle East, accommodates over 10,000 troops and serves as a critical hub for operations in the region. In a recent visit, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the US & Qatar would “formally take steps forward to expand and reinforce our bilateral defense relationship.” He continued, “We’ll do this through Qatar’s commitment to contribute significant resources to increase capabilities here at Al Udeid Air Base, and that will support both of our forces for years to come.”
This extension comes as Qatar plays a pivotal role in regional dynamics, notably in mediating discussions between Hamas and Israeli officials concerning the recent war in Gaza and the release of hostages. President Biden has been in regular communication with the Qatari emir since the beginning of the war, focusing on hostage release efforts and aid to Gaza, which has seen significant casualties.
Despite Qatar’s strategic importance and its status as a major non-NATO US ally, there has been critical scrutiny from some US Congress members over its relationship with Hamas. A bipartisan group of lawmakers recently urged the Biden administration to pressure nations supporting Hamas, including Qatar.