Veteran diplomat Dennis Ross warns US may leave Qatar base

US diplomat Dennis Ross.
Updated 01 June 2017

Veteran diplomat Dennis Ross warns US may leave Qatar base

JEDDAH: The Trump administration may be prepared to leave Al-Udeid air base in Qatar if Doha does not change certain policies, US diplomat Dennis Ross told Sky News Arabia on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there’s some discussion internally in the Trump administration to make it clear to Qatar that if need be, we’re prepared even to move (from) the base,” said Ross, who served under former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Al-Udeid serves as a logistics, command and basing hub for US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Qatar spent more than $1 billion to construct the air base in the 1990s.

“When I was in the Obama administration… I wanted us to make it clear that just because we have a big base there doesn’t mean… we’re going to turn a blind eye to what they (Qatar) are doing,” said Ross, who was special adviser for the Gulf and Southwest Asia to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ross cited Qatar’s involvement in Libya, and its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas movement and other Islamist groups.

“My guess is they (the Trump administration) will deal directly with Qatar and give Qatar a chance to correct its approach and to realize you really can’t have it both ways. You can’t on the one hand be fighting terror and trying to choke off the money for it, and at the same time be promoting these very groups that contribute to it,” he said.

“So something, I think, will have to give, and I hope the Trump administration will be very clear with the Qataris and that the Qataris will make a choice.”

Doha has tried to be a “bridge” between the Brotherhood on the one hand, and the US and some of the Gulf states on the other, said Ross.

“If you’re going to be a bridge, there has to be some demonstration that… that role is actually producing some outcome… (that) it’s changing the behavior (of) the Muslim Brotherhood, but we don’t see any evidence of that,” said Ross, adding that the group’s behavior “hasn’t changed one iota.”

He added: “There has to be an unmistakable change… Doha can’t be a place where the Muslim Brotherhood knows they can always count on financial support… and have a kind of sanctuary.”


UN hosts Libyan military leaders in hopes of end to conflict

This handout picture released on October 19, 2020 by the United Nations Office at Geneva shows Deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Libya Stephanie Williams (3rd R) and representatives wearing protective face masks, standing during the Libyan national anthem at the beginning of talks between the rival factions in the Libya conflict, as they resume in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 55 min 4 sec ago

UN hosts Libyan military leaders in hopes of end to conflict

  • The meetings make up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks, that are aimed to lift Libya out of its grueling conflict that has ground on nearly ever since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011

GENEVA: Military leaders from Libya’s warring sides met on Monday in Geneva in hopes of a UN-brokered breakthrough that could pave the way for a “complete and permanent cease-fire” in the conflict-ridden North African country.

The meeting that began on Monday marks the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under the watch of the head of the United Nations support mission for Libya, former US State Department official Stephanie Williams.
UN organizers say the round is expected to run through Saturday, and Williams’ mission “hopes that the two delegations will reach a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent cease-fire across Libya.”
The meetings make up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks, that are aimed to lift Libya out of its grueling conflict that has ground on nearly ever since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Speaking at the start of the talks, Williams told the two sides that their success in these talks would have a positive effect on the political and economic tracks of the ongoing UN-brokered talks aiming at ending years-long Libya conflict.
Williams, who met on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, said encouraging separate meetings were held with the two delegations in the past two days.
The Geneva-based military talks came ahead of an upcoming political forum in Tunisia in November.
That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory.
This breakthrough also accompanied with the resumption of oil production.
Fighting has died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.