Qatar will not allow its country to be used as a launching point for an attack on Iran, the country’s prime minister said Wednesday.
Speaking with Al-Jazeera, Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani said his country opposes any military strike on Iran, and that he will not allow the United States — which uses the Al-Udeid Air Base, west of Doha — to use its soil as a launching pad for an attack on Iran.
Thani, who is also Qatar’s foreign minister, said that both the Americans and Iranians were aware of Qatar’s refusal to engage in acts of “aggression” against Iran.
However, in 2010, WikiLeaks revealed that Qatar had agreed to allow the United States to use one of its bases in Qatar to bomb Iran, according to an Al-Arabiya report about the secret cables. Qatar also agreed to pay 60 percent of the upkeep costs for the US air base but wanted assurances that the South Pars natural gas field, which is co-owned by Iran and Qatar, would not be threatened in the process.
Qatar, a Sunni state and a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, has kept close ties with Iran, a Shi’ite nation. It has occasionally taken on the role of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
US Central Command, known as CENTCOM, is based in Qatar. It is in charge of military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. The US military also has a presence in other Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Iran’s nuclear program has raised suspicions around the world. Tehran contends its program is peaceful in nature, while the United States, Israel and European countries suspect Iran is working toward attaining a nuclear bomb. Military options against Iran are being considered in the event that sanctions and diplomacy do not make it comply with the demands of the P5+1 group, which consists of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.