Qatar summoned the U.S. ambassador on Thursday, requesting she explain an online video showing two American servicemembers laughing in front of the Arab country’s purple-and-white flag. The move prompted a quick apology, a reflection of the importance the small nation has in hosting a major U.S. military base.
Ambassador Dana Shell Smith wrote to a series of users on Twitter that she “apologized to the government of Qatar” and asked the U.S. military to investigate the video. The U.S. Embassy in Doha confirmed the tweets sent on the ambassador’s account were genuine, but declined to immediately discuss the video.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry issued its own terse set of tweets over the video, saying Smith “was asked for an explanation of the contents of that video.” It didn’t elaborate and Qatari officials did not respond to a request for comment, though insulting the Qatari flag is a criminal offense that carries a prison sentence of up to three years and a $55,000 fine.
At issue was a 30-second online clip showing two U.S. servicemembers in front of both a U.S. and a Qatari flag. The location and the time the video was shot is unclear, though it appeared to be at a U.S. facility, as the Great Seal of the United States also was behind them on the wall.
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