Qatar participates in joint Arab military exercise, signals compromise

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By Middle East Affairs

Despite a nearly year-long boycott among some Gulf Arab states against Qatar, the Arab state has joined its neighbors for a joint military exercise, signaling a compromise may be around the corner, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt began a boycott against Qatar last June for alleged ties to terrorism, which Qatar denies.

The United States, which is an ally of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, has tried to defuse the issue, but decided in October it would pass on the joint military exercises in light of the dispute.

However, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters last month that the countries had decided to partake in the exercises, without providing any details.

Qatari Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Ghanem bin Shaheen Al Ghanim was present on Monday at a closing ceremony, Reuters said, which was attended by Saudi King Salman for the Gulf Shield drills.

Saudi government media did give an immediate comment to Reuters.

The news agency said Qatar did not send a senior representative to Sunday’s Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, nor did the league discuss the boycott.

A Qatari military statement reported on by Reuters did not “provide details about the size of the Qatari contingent that took part in the Gulf Shield exercises” from March 21 to April 16.

However, an official from one of the 23 participating countries told reporters that Qatar had sent one ship with nine officers to join the drills, while seven other officers were observing.

 

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