By Arab News
NATO has denied claims made by some Qatari media outlets which sought to exaggerate a recent agreement which was signed with the tiny Gulf state, some of which have imagined that such an agreement makes Doha a fully-fledged ally.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Qatar had signed a “security agreement” with NATO at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
It was in fact a regular agreement that NATO signs with a number of countries. This was clear from the press release posted on the alliance’s website, which said: “These agreements are signed by NATO partner countries that wish to engage in cooperation with NATO. All four ICI (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative) partner countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE — have now signed individual security agreements with NATO.”
Some of the Qatari media outlets projected this agreement as if Qatar had become a NATO member, or that it means that it now benefits from the protection of the military alliance. Many social media users were taken in by the propaganda and actually thought that Qatar had joined NATO and become an ally.
However, a NATO official based at its headquarters in Brussels categorically denied all such claims.
“Qatar is a very active partner of NATO, but it’s not a NATO ally,” the official told Arab News. “NATO has 29 allies (27 European countries as well as Canada and the US).”
Qatar watchers were not surprised by the Doha-inspired propaganda.
“Qatar is such a tiny country and it has often punched above its weight. So I am not surprised by the fallacious claim of its media and followers that it has become a NATO member. It is a joke,” said Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh.
He expressed surprise, though, that NATO should enter into any agreement with Qatar.
Other analysts see this agreement as another step Doha has taken to adhere to the demands of the Anti-Terror Quartet, comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. However, analysts told Arab News that Doha wants to save face by not making terror-combatting agreements with its fellow Arab nations, but with foreign entities such as NATO and the US Department of Justice.
Political commentator Oubai Shabandar says the deal should not be blown out of proportion.
“This is a standard agreement between NATO and a non-NATO member country that deals with information-sharing privileges that are shared by other countries in the Arabian Gulf region. It would be a major stretch to consider this development as being anything more than what it really is: A diplomatic agreement along the lines that NATO enjoys with other Arab states, no more, no less,” he added.