Lawmakers Urge Biden to Strong-Arm Qatar

Two senators asked President Biden to pressure Qatar into assisting with the release of American hostages held in Gaza.

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen (Nev.) sent a letter to President Biden which stated, in part, “We appreciate Qatar’s efforts so far to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas and their commitment to continue coordinating efforts to release all remaining hostages. However, we are concerned that Qatar is not fully utilizing its leverage to seek further concessions from Hamas.”

The two senators asked Biden to make clear to Qatar that if it fails to secure a new hostage release, this could “significantly impact bilateral relations” with the United States.

“Time is of the essence to free the hostages — and every diplomatic option must be on the table to secure their release. Given Qatar’s unique ability to influence Hamas, it is imperative that Doha understands our expectation that negotiations result in the release of all remaining hostages,” they stressed.

Qatar and International Affairs

Qatar was an isolated spot in several empires, most recently the British Empire, until oil was discovered in 1949. The economy expanded, and by the time of independence in 1971, Qatar was probably the most powerful and influential Arabian Gulf country aside from Saudi Arabia.

In 1991, Qatar played a significant role in the Persian Gulf War, particularly during the Battle of Khafji. Qatari tanks rolled through the streets of the town and provided fire support for Saudi Arabian National Guard units as they engaged Iraqi Army troops. Qatar allowed coalition troops from Canada to use the country as an airbase to launch aircraft on CAP duty and also permitted air forces from the United States and France to operate in its territories.

Qatar played an even more important military role when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. In 2003, Qatar served as the U.S. Central Command headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the invasion of Iraq. In March 2005, a suicide bomber killed a British teacher from Dorset at the Doha Players Theatre. The bombing, which shocked a country previously untouched by terrorist acts, was carried out by Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali, an Egyptian resident in Qatar who had suspected ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Qatar is also known for its independent course. In 1995, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani seized control of the country from his father, thanks to the support of the armed forces, cabinet, neighboring states, and France. His liberalizations included the Al Jazeera television station, limited women’s suffrage, the nation’s first written constitution, and the legalization of the Roman Catholic Church.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani replaced his father in 2013. He immediately scheduled parliamentary elections and committed more resources to public welfare programs, mostly healthcare and education. In response, several more conservative states in the region (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain) broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing the country of supporting “extremist” groups.

The combination of economic power, a close relationship with the West, and its status as a political maverick gives Qatar the sometimes unwanted role as mediator in regional conflicts, most recently the Afghanistan War and the Israel-Hamas War.

Qatar and Private Military Contractors

Private military contractors are also independent groups that play important roles in international conflicts.

Contractor deployment figures do not count in official troop tallies. So, they protect American interests, people, and property in places like Qatar, yet they are not an occupying army. This arrangement works well for politicians on both sides. The suits in Washington don’t commit American troops overseas, yet they get the protection they need. The suits in Doha don’t invite the Americans in through the front door, yet they also get the protection they need.

On a related note, contractors are much more flexible in terms of their responsibilities. With one phone call, the DoD can replace combat support contractors with construction contractors. So, they can alternatively protect American interests and continue expanding military facilities.

Both duties are critical to successful overseas operations. When bullets are flying, contractors hold the fort, allowing regular servicemembers to concentrate on offensive operations. America has learned the hard way that wars don’t end when belligerent parties sign peace treaties. Unless these countries are rebuilt, they usually descend into chaos, an outcome which basically means that the men and women who fought there sacrifice for nothing.

Contactors are financially flexible as well. When the need for military or construction contractors ends, the government severs financial ties with these groups.

Injury Compensation Available

When contractor deployment ends, the government’s financial commitments end. But when contractors are injured overseas, their financial commitments continue. Money stress causes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-type symptoms. So, without the Defense Base Act’s lost wage replacement benefits, injured contractors have yet another injury condition to deal with.

To reduce this stress, and help injured contractors get back to work as quickly as possible, several kinds of wage replacement benefits are available.

  • Temporary Total Disability: Most injured contractors are completely disabled as they recover. They can get around the house, but they cannot possibly work. In these situations, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the victim’s Average Weekly Wage for the duration of any temporary disability.
  • Temporary Partial Disability: As their recoveries progress, many victims move from TTD to TPD. Basically, partially disabled victims can work part-time or accept low-paying, light-duty assignments. Such work hastens the injury recovery process. It allows victims to support their families, at least partially. Since such assignments usually do not pay the bills, the DBA pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new incomes.
  • Permanent Total Disability: By definition, a disability is a medical condition that prevents SGE (substantial gainful employment), which is a challenging job that pays the bills. In other words, a disability is subjective. Two victims with the same injuries or illnesses might or might not be disabled, mostly depending on their vocational and educational backgrounds.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: Disability payments, both PTD and PPD, vary, usually depending on the nature and severity of the disability and a few other factors. Alternatively, PPD benefits might be available if a recovering victim does not make it back to 100 percent healthy.

The AWW must accurately reflect the victim’s income at the time of injury. Furthermore, the AWW must account for future lost overtime opportunities, performance bonus milestones, and other such changes.

For more information about other DBA benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.