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US deploys 2 warships to Doha for joint drills with Qatari navy

Two US navy vessels have arrived in Doha to take part in joint military drills with the Qatari navy amid escalating tensions between Arab Persian Gulf states.

The US ships arrived at Hamad Port south of Doha “to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy,” announced the Qatari News Agency (QNA) on Wednesday.

The news agency noted that the crews of the two ships were received by Qatari navy officers.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) broke off relations with Doha and suspended all land, air and sea traffic with the monarchy. In their apparent bid to secure US support and that of Israel, the four countries cited Qatar’s links with the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas and accused it of supporting terrorism. Qatar has denied the allegations, calling them unfounded.

It is not clear if the deployment was planned before the recent heightened tensions in the region, or whether it is a sign of support for Qatar from the US.

The US’ largest military base in the Middle East is located in Qatar with 11,000 troops assigned to the al-Udeid airbase which is the forward headquarters for the US military’s Central Command for airstrikes in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, The Emirati ambassador to the US called on Washington to consider the relocation of its airbase in Qatar and to pressure Doha over its alleged support for terrorism.

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