The blockade imposed on Qatar by several of its neighboring Arab nations has had no impact on war efforts against the Islamic State from the United States’ largest base in the Middle East, but it is affecting the Pentagon’s long-term planning, a U.S. defense official said Friday.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, said operations at Al-Udeid Air Base in the tiny desert nation on the Persian Gulf “have not been interrupted or curtailed.” The United States runs its air wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan from Al-Udeid, which hosts more than 11,000 American troops.
“Qatar remains critical for coalition air operations in the fight against ISIS and around the region,” he said.
Davis’ comment came shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during an address from the State Department that the blockade was hindering American military efforts and operations against ISIS. Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to “ease” their blockade on Qatar, which they have accused of supporting terrorist organizations and working with Iran.
The Pentagon has continuously played down the impact that the blockade has had on the U.S. military. Just about an hour before the comments made by Tillerson, who did not take questions from reporters, Davis told reporters at the Pentagon that operations from Al-Udeid continued as normal and supplies were moving into the base as normal.
The Defense Logistics Agency is looking at several contingency plans for a worse-case scenario, he added.
“But at this point, there’s been no impact to our operations,” Davis said. “It has not had an impact at all.”
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday accusing the nation of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, funding al-Qaida fighters in Syria and working with Iran.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday thanked Saudi Arabia, which has in the past been accused of funding terrorist groups, for helping combat terrorism and called out Qatar on the allegations levied against it.
“Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations,” Trump said at the White House. “We ask Qatar and other nations around the region to do more and do it faster.”
Washington has been suspicious of Qatar’s support for Islamic militant groups going back to the George W. Bush administration, even as the American military rooted itself at Al-Udeid.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has played down the divisions among Gulf States and he said the fight against ISIS would move forward without impact.
“I am positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation at all, and I say that based on the commitment that each of these nations, that you just referred to, have made to this fight,” Mattis said in Australia on Monday in his only public comments on the issue.
President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.
The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.
"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."
It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.
Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.
The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.
MAPLE, N.C. -- A maritime center with a pool big enough to hold a small ship and simulate hurricane conditions is set to open in Currituck County, North Carolina, in two years. It will serve to train groups such as special forces, law enforcement and offshore wind crews.