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US should increase pressure on Qatar: Emirati ambassador

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Yousef al-Otaiba, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 6, 2016 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (Photos by AFP)

The Emirati ambassador to the US has called on Washington to consider the relocation of its airbase in Qatar and to pressure Doha over its alleged support of terrorism.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates broke off relations with Doha and suspended all land, air and sea traffic with the monarchy. In their apparent bid to secure US support and that of Israel, the four countries cited Qatar's links with Hamas and accused it of supporting terrorism.  

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On Tuesday, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba announced that the UAE would be presenting a list of actions it requires Qatar to carry out in order for ties to be returned to normal.

He noted that the list would include sanctions aimed at Qatari banks.

Otaiba added that both the UAE and the US have been permitting Qatar to engage in “bad behavior” for “a very long time.”  

The Emirati ambassador noted that the al-Udeid air base (seen below) was probably the reason why the US was not taking any action towards Qatar.

“The air base is a very nice insurance policy against any additional pressure,” he said.

Udeid is the home over around 10,000 US forces and is the forward headquarters for the US military’s Central Command for airstrikes in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Otaiba noted that the base could be relocated to the UAE as the required infrastructure is in place following a deal recently signed between the two countries.

He also said that he did not believe that the situation would escalate to a military conflict, even Doha refuses to given to demands being made on it.

Although there will be an increase of “economic pressure” unless Qatar alters its course, he concluded.

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