Officials said Qatar has deployed two French-origin Mirage 2000-5
fighters and two U.S.-origin C-17 Globemasters for the NATO mission. They
said the C-17s, based out of the Greek island of Crete, were being used for
refueling by U.S. and other NATO fighter-jets.
This marked the first time a Gulf Cooperation Council state has joined a
NATO combat mission. Qatar, based on French equipment, has one of the
smallest militaries in the GCC.
Jordan and the United Arab Emirates had been expected to join the NATO
mission. But officials said the UAE, with plans to deploy up to 24 Mirage
and F-16 fighters, suspended participation in the operation.
Former UAE Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Khalid Al Bu Einan said Abu
Dhabi withdrew from NATO in protest of Western criticism of Bahrain's
crackdown on the Shi'ite opposition. Al Bu Einan said neither the European
Union nor the United States has acknowledged the Iranian threat to Bahrain
and other GCC states.
"The European and U.S. positions are unable to imagine the extent of
Iranian intervention in Bahrain," Al Bu Einan said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Jordan and Kuwait would join
the NATO mission. Cameron said the two Arab League states, however, would
not participate in combat operations against Libya.
"We will be getting logistic contributions from countries like Kuwait
and also Jordan," Cameron told the British parliament on March 23. "I hope
further support will be forthcoming."