The Qatari Amiri Air Force received the joint Qatar-UK Typhoon Squadron, 12 Squadron, at Dukhan Airbase on Sunday, as part of an air protection agreement between Qatar and the United Kingdom dedicated to securing the World Cup 2022.
The arrival of 12 Squadron was attended by a number of Qatar Amiri Air Force officers, state run Qatar News Agency reported.
The Joint Typhoon Squadron, also known as 12 Squadron, is the UK’s first joint squadron since World War II and will be in charge of counter-terrorism operations.
The UK-based Typhoon squadron is headquartered at the Royal Air Force Coningsby in Lincolnshire, and has regularly trained in Qatar since its creation as a combined squadron in July 2018.
Qatar received its first Typhoon aircraft from the UK in August as part of wider efforts to secure the major sporting tournament.
At the time, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Typhoon delivery is another exciting milestone for our joint UK-Qatar collaboration, which will see the sharing of training and expertise between our respective air forces and will ensure both our nations stay at the forefront of defence capability”.
Qatar is one of the UK’s most important defence customers.
With the 2022 World Cup inching closer, Doha and London have announced major cooperation to ensure the Gulf state hosts a safe sporting event.
Last year, Qatar and UK defence officials discussed joint security for the World Cup, with the allies taking part in the ‘Watan’ exercise to test the preparation for the tournament.
Bilateral defence ties were further discussed in May during the visit of Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to the UK.
Soon after, London announced it would be providing air policing during the much-anticipated World Cup in Qatar – marking the first such time that Britain provides this level of security to a World Cup held outside the UK.
Other security assistance during the World Cup
As the Gulf country seals its final touch ribbon on the Middle East’s first World Cup, it has partnered with various blocs and countries beyond the UK to help maintain the security of the major event.
Qatar and the US’ defence ministries are set to cooperate on technical arrangements during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a statement announced, less than 50 days before the major tournament kicks off.
The Gulf state’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced last week that Qatar and the US signed a memorandum of understanding on the matter.
Qatar and the US have signed other security agreements ahead of the major sporting event.
In July, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) signed agreements with Qatar over World Cup security.
The DHS would help “identify air passengers linked to terrorism, trafficking, detecting watchlisted travellers, and monitoring potential security risks at Hamad International Airport,” as it explained in a joint statement.
Both parties also agreed on further commitment to collaborate on countering threats from unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS), and “DHS is committed to sharing lessons learned and best practices on C-UAS to help secure World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Separately, Turkey’s parliament on Wednesday approved deploying Turkish soldiers to Qatar to help maintain security during next month’s World Cup.
A motion to send an undisclosed number of troops to the Gulf nation for six months was passed by lawmakers. Fikri Isik, a ruling party legislator and former Turkish defence minister claimed that the deployment will include 250 soldiers and a corvette-class naval ship, according to reports.
The extra troops would be sent to Qatar to help with security during the World Cup in addition to the 3,000 riot police that Turkey has already stated it will send.
In December, Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said his country will temporarily send 3,250 security officers to Qatar for the sporting event.
Approved in January, those to be deployed during the tournament include 3,000 riot police officers, 100 Turkish special forces, 50 bomb detection dogs and their operators, 50 bomb experts and other staff – all of whom will be on duty for some 45 days.
Soylu also added that Ankara has also trained 677 Qatari security personnel in 38 different professional areas, without providing further details on the specificities, according to Al Jazeera.
Turkey is also set to deploy chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRN) personnel during the World Cup in Qatar in November, the head of Turkey’s CBRN announced in July.
“We will support the CBRN defence in Qatar through the Turkish Armed Forces Command. We will take part in the CBRN defence in Qatar,” said Burcak Cabuk.
“We are working on the development of products against biological warfare agents”.
Qatar and Morocco signed a major declaration on boosting bilateral security cooperation during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, beIN Sports reported on Sunday.
Under the joint agreement, the two countries would ensure the safety and security of World Cup spectators, with at least 1.5 million fans expected to head to Qatar for the event.
Morocco has also reportedly agreed to deploy a team of cybersecurity experts to Qatar ahead of the World Cup, Rabat-based media said late May.
According to the report by Morocco World News, Doha had requested Rabat’s assistance in securing the major sporting event as part of its efforts to expand the two countries’ security cooperation.
The defence ministries of Italy and Qatar also inked technical agreements in early September on defence cooperation in preparation the upcoming tournament in November.
The ceremony for signing the agreement was hosted in the Italian capital, and comes within the scope of ongoing cooperation deals between Doha and defence ministries of nations taking part in the tournament to secure the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Troops to secure World Cup
As Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Qatar as part of a two-day trip earlier this year, his cabinet ratified a draft agreement in late August that permitted the South Asian government to provide troops for security at the Qatar World Cup.
South Korea’s army also dispatched five police officers specialising in counter-terrorism to Qatar to exchange security expertise as part of efforts to secure the World Cup, Seoul’s news agency reported in July.
Separately, NATO also confirmed in late June it will assist Qatar in security measures during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as part of the bloc’s close cooperation with Doha.
“The support will include training against threats posed by Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) materials, which will be delivered by Slovakia and NATO’s Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence in the Czech Republic,” the North Atlantic alliance explained in a statement.
The security support will also entail training offered by Romania for the protection of very important people (VIPs) as well as to deter threats posed by improvised explosive devices.
“A first training session dealing with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear threats was conducted this past May in Slovakia,” it added.
In December, France agreed to send personnel and material to the Gulf state, including a BASSALT anti-drone system that detects and identifies incoming drones.
France also said it will be sending one of its Air Force’s four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), which can track hundreds of targets.
On Wednesday, French media reported that France is sending 191 gendarmes along with deminers and sniffer dogs to help maintain security at the event.