As Qatar gears up to host Middle East’s first World Cup this November, it has partnered with various countries to help maintain the security of the event.
Qatar’s national service programme will continue as usual during the World Cup 2022, a Qatari government official privy to the matter told Doha News, amid misleading reports by western media.
The Gulf state holds mandatory national service on an annual basis around this time of year, in which those under the age of 35 are recruited. Every year, a small number of recruits who have already completed their mandatory service are recalled to support in mega events, including National Day on 18 December.
Those who were enrolled to complete their mandatory service a few years ago helped support the World Athletics, formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), since the event coincided with the service time.
Similarly, the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup was seen as ‘hands on’ experience for many.
This comes as a report by Reuters misrepresented facts about alleged mandatory military service operating security checkpoints at World Cup stadiums.
“Qatar has called up hundreds of civilians, including diplomats summoned back from overseas, for mandatory military service operating security checkpoints at World Cup stadiums, according to a source and documents seen by Reuters,” the news agency claimed.
However, the report was dismissed as misleading.
“Qatar’s national service program will continue as normal during the World Cup. Recruits completing their mandatory service will be supported by a small number of temporary recalls. This is standard practice and happens every year during major public events such as the National Day celebrations,” a Qatari government official told Doha News in a statement.
Security assistance during the World Cup
The comments come less than 60 days to the kick off World Cup.
As the Gulf country seals its final touch ribbon on the Middle East’s first World Cup, it has also partnered with various countries to help maintain the security of the event.
The defence ministries of Italy and Qatar 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.
As Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Qatar as part of a two-day trip, 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 is set to dispatch 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.
The designated officers will be passing on their expertise on law enforcement, security, close combat, and arrest techniques to the Qatari police until October. This will also be the first time South Korea’s military police dispatches its personnel abroad.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also signed collaborative partnership agreements with Qatar early July in an effort to boost security during the major tournament in November.
Under a Joint Security Program, DHS and Qatar’s Ministry of Interior will partner to “identify air passengers linked to terrorism, trafficking, detecting watchlisted travellers, and monitoring potential security risks at Hamad International Airport,” DHS explained in a joint statement.
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.
Morocco has also reportedly agreed to deploy a team of cybersecurity experts to Qatar ahead of the World Cup, Rabat-based media said.
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.
Away from the region, Britain’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy is set to provide counter-terror policing during the competition, Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom announced in late May.
Britain and Qatar will “join forces to provide air policing in the skies,” said Wallace in an official statement.
It is the first time Britain has provided this level of security for a World Cup held outside the UK.
The Ministry of Defence will support Qatar with military capabilities to counter terrorism and other threats to the tournament through maritime security, operational planning, and command and control support, according to a defence source told The Telegraph in late May.
The Gulf country received its first Typhoon aircraft from the UK in August.
In January this year, members of Qatar’s police forces met with the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Transit Bureau team in the US to exchange expertise over safety and security best practices during major events.
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.
The Qatari and Turkish interior ministries had also previously signed an agreement to join efforts in organising the much anticipated major event. One such effort includes Turkey’s participation in the security organisation of the World Cup 2022.
In December, Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said his country will temporarily send 3,250 security officers to Qatar for the sporting event.