NATO and Qatar signed an agreement on Wednesday allowing NATO personnel to enter and transit Qatar, and to use the Al-Udeid Air Base, a deal NATO said will facilitate its missions and operations in the region, including the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
The deal was signed at NATO Headquarters on Wednesday, March 7. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani also discussed the security situation in the Gulf region as well as the partnership between NATO and Qatar, NATO said in a press release.
Al-Udeid Air Base near Doha already operates as a base for the Qatari Air Force, U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force, as well as other Global Coalition Against Islamic State personnel and assets. It contains forward headquarters of United States Central Command and United States Air Forces Central Command. In June 2017 more than 11,000 U.S. and Coalition personnel and more than 100 aircraft were stationed there.
Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates participate in NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Launched in 2004, the ICI covers cooperation between the alliance and Middle Eastern countries in areas such as counter-terrorism, military exercises, training and other security initiatives.
The latest agreement comes after the signing on January 17 of a security agreement between Qatar and NATO establishing a framework for protection of the exchange of classified information.