US Central Command head Gen. Joseph Votel says that the country does not consider plans to abandon its base in Qatar amid the diplomatic crisis.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The United States is not currently mulling plans to move its base from Qatar, embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with several other states, US Central Command (CENTCOM) head Gen. Joseph Votel said Wednesday.
“There is no planning or discussion about that right now… We’re not looking to move anything at this particular point,” Votel said in an interview with the Egyptian DMC broadcaster, when asked if the reports of Washington mulling such move were true.
Votel stressed that the crisis around Qatar, which several states, including Egypt, accuse of supporting terrorism, should be solved diplomatically and added that Washington was “very engaged” in trying to bring the sides together.
CENTCOM head also said that he had no particular concerns over Turkey’s presence in Qatar and acknowledged that Ankara had its interests in the region. Votel then pointed out the difference between Turkey and Iran, when asked about his attitude to Tehran’s relationship with Doha.
“Iran has played a destabilizing role in the region, Turkey is a NATO ally… We have a well-established, long relationship with Turkey… I distinguish very clearly between Turkey and Iran,” Votel said.
In early June, Manama, Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi cut off diplomatic relations with Doha, accusing the latter of supporting extremism in the Middle East and interfering in their internal affairs. A number of states backed this initiative. Doha has repeatedly rejected all the accusations.
Kuwait, acting as a mediator in the crisis, handed over 13 demands of the four Arab states. However, Doha has refused to comply with the demands, which included a request to curb diplomatic relations with Iran and to shut down Turkey’s military base on the country’s territory.
US President Donald Trump said in a mid-July interview that Washington could easily find many countries willing to host its military base if the United States ever decided to relocate.
Qatar hosts the US Al Udeid air base, which is home to some 10,000 US servicemen, and serves as a major communications and operational center for the anti-IS coalition in the region.