With the Ukraine crisis staining all geopolitics, Washington is looking for allies wherever it has them to deal with a possible scenario of an energy crisis in Europe. This Monday, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, has said the emirate of Qatar as one of his greatest allies outside the NATO sphere. The many conversations that Washington and Doha have been holding on the possibility of supplying liquid natural gas to Europe in the event that Russia decides to invade Ukraine have materialized this Monday with the visit of the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani, to the Casa White. There were several urgent issues on the agenda of the sheikh and the US president, but the most important was focused on guaranteeing energy support for European allies if Russia decides to cut its gas exports.
Washington wants to ensure that all possible alternative sources to Russian gas are ready to supply the community block in a matter of “days” or in “a week or two” if Moscow interrupts the flow of energy, according to sources from the US Administration. Along with the US and Australia, Qatar is one of the largest exporters of liquid natural gas in the world, specifically the fourth largest supplier, with 5.2% of all purchases of this resource. The European Union imports 40% of its natural gas from Russia. Therefore, both the White House and the EU are confident that Doha will be able to temporarily redirect its exports destined for Asian countries to European markets. Although there is a but to this desire and that is that Qatar has already signed long-term contracts with South Korea, Japan and China.
This afternoon, I’m hosting Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar for a bilateral meeting at the White House. I look forward to discussing a range of issues, including security and prosperity in the Middle East, global energy supplies, Afghanistan, and more.
President Biden (@POTUS) January 31, 2022
Birthplace of Al Jazeera, Qatar, one of the most prosperous countries in the world thanks to its gas reserves, consolidates with this official trip its status as an important international actor, since the bases that the United States has in the emirate served as a stopover for American flights with Afghan civilians and collaborators who left Afghanistan last August after the withdrawal of US troops from that country after 20 years of war. In the brief appearance that both leaders made before the press, Biden described the small but rich country as “a good friend” with which he has just celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations.
It was a day of announcements and sealing alliances with our friend Qatar. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo declared in a statement that she was “honored and thrilled” to announce “an agreement of historic importance between Boeing and the cargo subsidiary of Qatar Airways.” The airline wanted to build its cargo fleet, so it has submitted a purchase order for 34 units of the new 777X freighter from the US aerospace giant. With this, it has become the first to buy this model with a contract of more than 20,000 million dollars. The company, which has formalized the agreement taking advantage of the visit of the emir of Qatar to the White House, has also signed a letter of intent for 25 737-10 aircraft and indicated that it is ready for an order of up to 50 737 MAX aircraft.
The tiny peninsula of Qatar has attracted unusual international attention since the turn of the century, when it was designated the site of the 2022 World Cup, but has come under increasing criticism for its treatment of foreign workers who build the facilities and infrastructure required for the event. However, Washington seeks through the emirate to promote security and prosperity in the Gulf and Middle East region. Doha acts as the US’s diplomatic liaison with the Taliban, making it a key player in any contact with Afghanistan. Biden also expressed in his appearance the role that Qatar played in the restoration of humanitarian aid to Gaza after the escalation of war between Israel and the militias of the strip in May 2021.
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