Qatar: fighter jets deal shows deep US support
A $12 billion deal to buy Boeing F-15 US fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, adding that its rift with some other Arab states had not hurt the US relationship with Doha.
Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who cut ties last week, accusing it of funding terrorist groups, a charge Doha denies.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly echoed the accusations against Qatar, even as his Defense and State Departments have tried to remain neutral in the dispute among key allies. Qatar is home to the headquarters for US air forces in the Middle East.
On Wednesday US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed the previously-approved warplane deal with Qatari Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah. Qatar's ambassador to the United States, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, posted a picture of the signing ceremony on Twitter.
"This is of course proof that US institutions are with us but we have never doubted that," a Qatari official in Doha said. "Our militaries are like brothers. America's support for Qatar is deep-rooted and not easily influenced by political changes."
A Qatari defence ministry source said the deal was for 36 jets. In November, under the administration of Barack Obama, the United States approved a possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion. Boeing, the prime contractor on the sale, declined to comment.
A European diplomat in the Gulf said the timing of the deal appeared coincidental.
"Presumably the US could have delayed the deal if they'd wanted to, although I don't think there's a great connect between sales and foreign policy."
Qatar is an important base for the US military carrying out operations against Islamic State militants and other groups in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and beyond. Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is home to more than 11,000 US and coalition troops.
Qatar's state news agency said on Wednesday that two US warships arrived at Hamad port in Qatar as part of a planned joint military exercise involving marine forces.
The Pentagon said the jets sale will increase security cooperation between the US and Qatar and help them operate together. It added Mattis and Attiyah had also discussed the current state of operations against Islamic State and the importance of de-escalating tensions in the Gulf.
The fighter jet deal had been stalled amid concerns raised by Israel that equipment sent to Gulf states could fall into the wrong hands and be used against it, and by the Obama administration's broader decision-making on military aid to the Gulf.
Trump, who took office in January, has accused Qatar of being a "high-level" sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the State Department's efforts to help ease the worst diplomatic crisis between Gulf Arab states for years.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected in Kuwait on Thursday after completing a visit to Qatar, foreign ministry sources said, in his quest to help broker an end to the dispute. Kuwait has emerged as the main mediator in the crisis.
Turkey has backed Qatar in the crisis and President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Wednesday the rift was damaging the Islamic world and Ankara would do all it could by diplomatic channels to prevent any escalation. – REUTERS
Argentinian president approves lagging Super Etendard acquisition
The President of Argentina, Maurici Macri ,has given his go-ahead for the purchase of five Super Etendard from the Frenc...
KC-390 delivery schedule unchanged despite runway incident
Brazilian plane maker Embraer confirmed on May 10, 2018, that the schedule for the KC-390 remains unchanged and deliveri...
Opinion: Will new drone export policy hurt purchaser countries?
One almost wonders if the push to export unmanned aerial vehicles could be a secret plot to preserve the Pentagon’...
U.S. Air Force C-130 crashes on retirement mission
A C-130 military transport plane crashed on May 3, 2018, in Savannah, Georgia (U.S.) soon after takeoff. The plane was o...
Airbus and Dassault to collaborate for next-gen European fighter
Airbus and Dassault Aviation have decided to join forces for the development and production of Europe’s Future Com...