Qatar to expand Al Udeid US airbase: Al Attiyah

 30 Jan 2018 - 15:34

Qatar to expand Al Udeid US airbase: Al Attiyah
(FILE PHOTO). Al Udeid Airbase. Reuters

Al Jazeera

Visiting Washington, DC, Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs H E Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah said his country will expand the American airbase that currently houses about 10,000 US military personnel.

The expansion at the Al Udeid base - home of the US Air Force Central Command - will allow for 200 more housing units for officers and their families, al-Attiyah said.

"It will very soon become a family-oriented place for our American friends there. We want more of the families to be stable and feel more comfortable in their stay," al-Attiyah said at an event held by the Heritage Foundation, a US-based think-tank.

Al Udeid serves as one of the most important overseas US military bases with operations throughout the Middle East launched from Qatar.

In the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, the United States and Qatar signed a military cooperation agreement that deepened defense. 

The US military moved to Qatar in 2003 after evacuating the Prince Sultan airbase in Saudi Arabia.

Al Udeid also houses military personnel from the UK and other allies.

"Qatar is strategically placed. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria - these are all hotspots in the region. I am not exaggerating when I say 80 percent of aerial refueling in the region is from Udeid," al-Attiyah said.

"We're the ones that keep your birds flying."

Al-Attiyah added the US presence has been beneficial for Qatar's armed forces. "We're learning a lot on the military side by flying side-by-side. We are learning from the Americans, it's a real operational environment."

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