Qatar is working with Turkey to undermine American interests in the Middle East and should not be given special status by NATO, Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said on Friday.
The Trump administration recently indicated its desire to designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally, a status that would grant the Gulf nation defence and security benefits, including access to training and equipment.
Such a move would be detrimental to other U.S. allies in the region, as Qatar has sought to undermine its pro-Western Arab neighbours through its state-owned news network Al Jazeera and backing of the Muslim Brotherhood in countries like Egypt, Inbar said in an article for the Jerusalem Post.
Qatar’s support for Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdoğan has also been counter to U.S. interests, Inbar said. Qatar has emerged as a key ally of the government in Ankara in recent years, providing Turkey with finance to protect the value of the Turkish lira, as well as funds for military operations in Libya.
In contrast, relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been repeatedly strained over a number of issues, including support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, and the development of natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
Expanding relations between Qatar and NATO risked exacerbating such tensions within the alliance, Inbar said. “America needs to be able to distinguish friend from foe”.