Doha in Qatar is a popular place with migrant workers. Photo: iStock
Doha, Qatar, is a popular place for migrant workers. Photo: iStock

Since its independence, Qatar has sought to increase its military might because of its small defense capability. Over the past decade, as the country’s wealth has grown, the trend has been on the rise. It has been purchasing advanced military equipment from various manufacturers and has signed various agreements for training and enhancing its human resources.

However, Qatar has no significant place among the world’s military powers. According to analytical reports and statistics available in 2017, it was ranked 93rd in terms of military strength and its total active military force was about 12,000.

Doha is planning to expand its navy by 2025, as the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbors continues. Officials say this has made self-reliance even more necessary. The Qatar authorities’ decision comes as construction begins on the country’s latest naval base, and amid a broader plan to call up those who qualify for military service. Qatar, a small but wealthy country like its larger neighbors, has used its vast oil wealth to rebuild its armed forces and has spent tens of billions of dollars buying some of the world’s most advanced military weapons.

Qatar, a small but wealthy country like its larger neighbors, has used its vast oil wealth to rebuild its armed forces and has spent tens of billions of dollars buying some of the world’s most advanced military weapons

Qatar’s defense officials believe the country’s naval renewal and expansion plan is related to the political and economic siege launched by Saudi Arabia and several other Arab states. But they also believe that these tensions have increased the need to strengthen domestic capabilities. Since the start of the Qatar crisis, Doha has purchased three different types of fighters, including 36 US-made F-15s, 12 French-made Rafale fighters and 24 Eurofighter Typhoons. The Qatari navy reportedly plans to raise the number of personnel from 3,000 today to more than 7,000 by 2025.

Operations to build a major naval base south of Doha also began early this year. The base is expected to house about 6,000 troops and host some of Qatar’s newest expensive military purchases, which are expected to be delivered within two years. These purchases include four Italian-made frigates and a large blue-water ship.

The Qatari military has about 11,800 elements, including 8,500 infantry, 1,800 naval personnel and 1,500 in the air force. Qatar’s military machinery and equipment are scarce and of poor quality. Its battle tanks are unusable. The country’s air force has not grown significantly, except with the addition of a number of cargo planes since the early 1990s, and the process of training pilots has been reduced to very low-level missions. The air force, without foreign aid, lacks the equipment needed for serious military operations. Qatar has an air defense system, but it has no long-range or intermediate-range missiles. These systems are operated by air surveillance intelligence and ground forces.

Reports indicate that Qatar has recruited an army of Pakistani, Sudanese and irregular guerrillas from Colombia, South Korea and the former Blackwater group. According to the Almogaz (الموجز) site, their mission priorities include safeguarding the country’s vital installations such as offshore and offshore gas platforms and power plants and desalination plants, as well as suppressing any possible demonstrations.

United World International also published an article noting that Israeli officials on a trip to Oman, Jordan and Bahrain reached a multilateral agreement with Persian Gulf states that would target the Muslim Brotherhood independently. If the claim is true, we will see more Qataris being pressured by opposition players across the country, making the need for military force more pronounced.

Also read: New residency scheme for investors in Qatar

Sajad Abedi is a resident fellow at a national defense and security think-tank in Iran and a postdoctoral student at the University of Tehran. He is also an advisory board member of the Cyber Security Research Center at Islamic Azad University.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment