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Tuesday, 2nd December 2014

Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations

Source: Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

From Summary:

Qatar, a small peninsular country in the Persian Gulf, emerged as a partner of the United States in the mid-1990s and currently serves as host to major U.S. military facilities. Qatar holds the third- largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, and is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Its small citizenry enjoys the world’s highest per capita income. Since the mid-1990s, Qatari leaders have overseen a course of major economic growth, increased diplomatic engagement, and limited political liberalization. The Qatari monarchy founded Al Jazeera, the first all-news Arabic language satellite television network, in 1995. Over time, the network has proven to be as influential and, at times, as controversial as the policies of its founders, including during recent unrest in the Arab world...

According to the 2013 U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights in Qatar, principal U.S. human rights concerns included the “inability of citizens to change their government peacefully, restriction of fundamental civil liberties, and pervasive denial of noncitizen workers’ rights.” Political parties remain prohibited and civil liberties remain restricted. According to the report, “The government made efforts to prevent and eliminate forced labor, although the existence of the restrictive sponsorship system left some migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation.” These concerns are drawing increased attention as Qatar implements large scale infrastructure projects in preparation for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatari officials have positioned themselves as mediators and interlocutors in a number of regional conflicts in recent years. Qatar’s deployment of military aircraft to support NATO-led operations in Libya and U.S.-led operations against the Islamic State in Syria signaled a new assertiveness, as has reported Qatari support for armed elements of the Syrian opposition. Some of Qatar’s positions have drawn U.S. scrutiny and raised the ire of its Gulf Arab neighbors, including its leaders’ willingness to engage Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban and allegations of Qatari support for extremists in Syria. It remains unclear whether Qatar’s active and—for the United States—at times vexing policies may change under Emir Tamim. To date, the Obama Administration has remained committed to military and counterterrorism cooperation with the ambitious leaders of this wealthy, strategically located country.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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