The U.S. ambassador to Qatar apologized to the government after a video emerged showing two U.S. troops laughing near the emirate’s national flag, prompting speculation they were insulting it.
So far, there isn’t any information available regarding the background of the recording. It just starts off with the soldiers talking into a camera, standing in front of a pair of Qatari and U.S. flags.
The soldier can be heard saying, "from an unknown disclosed location in a place called …,” before gesturing at the Qatari flag behind him. Meanwhile, the other soldier is constantly laughing.
A background voice later chimes in, stating, "This is as serious as it gets."
While the video doesn’t seem insulting, Qatar — home to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East — didn’t feel that way. For those unaware, it is illegal to disrespect the Arab country’s national flag.
In fact, just last November, Qatar stiffened the penalties for the offense, according to which “those who publicly insult the flag could face three years in jail and a fine of up to $54,000 (QR200,000), which is 14 times the previous fine of $4,000 (QR15,000).”
After the video appeared online, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry promptly summoned the U.S. envoy, Dana Shell Smith, announced in a series of tweets:
over the video which was recently circulated in social media network. She was asked for an explanation of the contents of that video. 2— MOFA - Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) June 9, 2016
Smith immediately responded in a tweet written in Arabic:
"Dear followers, please trust that those soldiers were making fun of themselves and not the country of Qatar."