The visit of the Emir of Qatar to Washington .. What are the most prominent hot files on its agenda?

Washington- The Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, began a working visit to the United States, where he was received by President Joe Biden, in talks that will include bilateral files and regional and international issues, including the Afghan file, regional security and ensuring the stability of global energy supplies.

The visit will also include talks with a number of senior US officials, most notably Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorcas.

Sheikh Tamim is the first state leader to visit Washington in 2022, and this visit coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1972.

There are many issues before the summit, which was planned after the great role Qatar played in evacuating thousands of Americans and others from Afghanistan, following the US withdrawal in mid-August, and the Taliban’s control of the government.

Here, Al Jazeera Net presents various aspects related to this visit in the form of a question and answer:

What is the significance and timing of this visit?

The visit indicates that there is a great momentum in the relations between the two countries. The Emir of Qatar is the first Gulf leader to visit Washington under President Joe Biden. The White House’s purpose of the visit was to thank Doha for the great role it has played and is playing, since the completion of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The visit of the Emir of Qatar coincides with marathon talks between Iran, the United States and international parties, in Vienna, to discuss a return to the nuclear agreement. At the same time, this visit comes with the continuation of the escalation related to the Ukrainian crisis, and the increasing possibilities of turmoil in global energy markets, especially the liquefied gas supplied by Russia to many European countries.

What are the most important visitor meetings?

The visit witnessed a summit meeting between the Emir of Qatar and the US President at the White House on Monday evening. After he met with the US Secretary of Defense and discussed with him the military fields between the two countries.

Blinken will participate in the White House talks, along with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

The Qatari Emir’s visit schedule includes meetings with leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties.

Sheikh Tamim receives US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas (Al Jazeera)

What are the most important regional files?

The Iranian nuclear deal and the Palestinian issue are among the most important regional issues that will be discussed in detail at the White House summit. The White House’s agenda is likely to focus on potential Qatari diplomatic assistance with Iran.

The Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman, visited Tehran last week, and met President Ibrahim Raisi.

On the other hand, Doha plays an important role in alleviating the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip, and this role doubled after the Israeli aggression on the Strip last May. Washington appreciates Qatar’s aid to the Palestinians in the besieged strip, and in addition to it, Qatar agreed to finance the provision of Israeli gas to the power plant outside Gaza City.

What about the situation in Afghanistan?

Last August, Qatar was the first and primary destination for the transit of more than 60,000 evacuees from Afghanistan, including US citizens, foreigners and Afghans.

Qatar has also been a key partner in supporting Afghanistan’s peace, and aligns itself with the United States in pressuring the Taliban to form an inclusive government, respecting basic human rights.

It also plays a major role in managing Kabul International Airport and finding ways to support the humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan.

A photo published by the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs of a Qatari plane carrying humanitarian aid provided by an association "Qatar Charity" Arrived at Kabul airport in AfghanistanA photo published by the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs of a national plane carrying humanitarian aid that arrived at Kabul Airport (communication sites)

What global issues of common interest?

Simon Henderson, an expert on Gulf affairs and energy policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, says Monday’s summit, which he had planned to thank Qatar for crucial assistance in withdrawing from Afghanistan last summer, is likely to focus on Doha’s potential role in addressing the Ukraine crisis rather than on that.

Qatar has the third largest gas reserves after Russia and Iran, and exports large quantities of liquefied natural gas. Biden hopes that some Qatari liquefied natural gas tankers will be able to go to Europe in case the situation in Europe deteriorates, as Russia provides 40% of the gas consumed in the European continent.

As Qatar is one of the largest exporters of liquefied natural gas, its willingness to compensate for any shortage resulting from an expected deterioration of global markets is being discussed in the event of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the imposition of sanctions by the United States and the West on the Russian energy sector, as indicated by the Wall Street Journal.

What are the most important stages of the development of relations between the two countries?

Qatar-US relations were established in 1972 with the arrival of the first US diplomatic mission to Doha, then Washington opened an embassy in the beginning of 1973.

However, the actual launch of relations between the two countries was in the early 1990s, when they signed a defense cooperation treaty between them in 1992, which developed military relations until Qatar hosted the largest US military base in the Al-Udeid region.

Then the relations of the two countries witnessed a quantum leap with the launch of the strategic dialogue in January 2018, which held its first annual session, with the participation of the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries, in addition to representatives from the investment, cultural and trade sectors.

The economic and trade relations between the two countries grew, bringing the volume of trade exchange between them close to $10 billion in 2020.

What are the most important bilateral issues discussed by the visit?

The two countries have developed and strong investment and trade relations, and Qatar has invested heavily in the United States in recent years. Total Qatari investments amount to about $30 billion, with plans to increase it to $45 billion through the Qatar Investment Authority.

Qatar has imported more than $23 billion worth of US goods and services over the past five years. American companies have billions of dollars invested in the Qatari economy, especially the energy sector.

Sources indicate that a deal may be officially announced under which the American company Boeing will sell 50 aircraft to Qatar Airways, and the sources said that the potential deal, worth several billion dollars, will contribute to strengthening trade relations between the two countries.

Qatar has the third largest gas reserves in the world and is looking to compensate for the lack of energy supplies in the event of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Qatari Press)

What about military procurement?

A recent congressional report indicated that Doha plans to acquire more than $40 billion in US weapons over the next five years, while the report indicates that total purchases have reached $25 billion since 2014.

The documents of the second strategic dialogue session, which was held in 2020, stated that Qatar’s military purchases resulted in the creation of 110,000 jobs in the United States.

Henderson notes that Qatar has its own demand, as it wants to buy advanced F-35 fighter jets.

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