Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Doha earlier this week to attend the World Cup and to also hold sideline meetings with Qatari officials regarding the fate of Iran as regional tensions in the Middle East remain high amid the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program and nationwide protests throughout the country.
The Secretary of State, a soccer fan and player himself, will watch as the United States faces the United Kingdom Monday night at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Blinken will also be holding crucial diplomatic talks with Qatari officials in Doha, one of America’s trusted respondents with Iran. Qatar shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Tehran and has maintained friendly ties with the regime for several years.
The Islamic Republic has also provided airspace routes for Qatar Airways flights and supplied food shipments to Qatar amid a boycott of Doha by several Arab countries.
The Secretary of State’s visit comes as part of a strategic dialogue with Qatar, which hosts thousands of American troops at its massive Al-Udeid Air Base, the forward headquarters of the U.S. military Central Command (CENTCOM). The base helped the Biden administration’s 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and the evacuation of Afghan civilians.
“Qatar is a steadfast and important partner to the U.S., and U.S.-Qatar ties continue to grow,” said Daniel Benaim, a deputy assistant secretary for the Arabian Peninsula Affairs at the State Department before Blinken departed to Qatar.
“Together, we’ve made important progress on a range of issues, including facilitating the travel of at-risk Afghans to the U.S. for new beginnings, strengthening regional security, and expanding commercial investment ties between our countries.”
One pressing issue Blinken and Qatari officials will discuss is Iran’s nuclear program. According to recent reports, the regime has enough uranium enriched up to 60 percent weapons-grade levels to reprocess into fuel for a nuclear weapon.
Officials from Tehran have insisted that the program is for “peaceful purposes,” however, reports indicate that it has drastically expanded its nuclear production since the signing of the 2015 agreement to its withdrawal under the Trump administration.
Currently, the Islamic Republic has been rocked with months-long protests following the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic morality police for her hijab wear.
Since September, Iranian citizens have taken to the streets to call for the regime’s downfall and the death of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In response to the protests, the Islamic Republic has deployed security forces, Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) troops, Basij paramilitary forces, and proxies to arrest, beat, and kill protesters.
According to reports, at least several hundred people in Iran have been killed by regime officials on the streets.
Many protesters have also been taken to state prisons, where they will face torture and brutal deaths for voicing their opposition to the regime and its laws. The U.S. and other Western countries have condemned the regime’s brutal actions, issuing economic sanctions against Iran and individuals affiliated with the regime.
The ayatollahs have condemned the protests, accusing the West and Israel of fomenting chaos in Iran, and attempting to overthrow the regime.