Monday, 24 September, 2018

Qatar buys F-15 fighter planes in billion-dollar United States deal

Qatar buys F-15 fighter planes in billion-dollar United States deal Qatar buys F-15 fighter planes in billion-dollar United States deal
Nellie Chapman | 23 June, 2017, 01:19

The Middle-Eastern country has been hit with an embargo by several of its Gulf neighbours, which has continued into its second week after Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region accused Qatar of supporting the groups.

The deal was completed despite the Gulf country being criticized recently by US President Donald Trump for supporting terrorism.

Congress previous year approved the sale of as many as 72 F-15s in an agreement valued at as much as US$21 billion, providing authorisation for the deal that was completed on Wednesday.

Details of the Wednesday deal have not been disclosed but Bloomberg reported that it could include 236 jets. That deal was worth an estimated value of $21 billion.

The Pentagon said the jets sale would increase security cooperation between the U.S. and Qatar and help them operate together. Boeing Co is the prime contractor on the fighter jet sale to the Middle East nation and it wasn't immediately clear if the two deals were one and the same.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has struggled to maintain relations with Qatar and Turkey who support terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

A Qatari defense ministry source said the deal was for 36 jets. A senior administration official told Reuters earlier last week that the us had no prior indication from the Saudis or Emiratis during Trump's visit that they would sever ties with Qatar.

Pentagon and State Department officials have since scrambled to reassure the emirate, which hosts the largest USA airbase in the Middle East and the command headquarters for U.S. military operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) said it would host ministers and senior officials from Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt at its headquarters on Thursday. Al Udeid Air Base is home to more than 11,000 USA and coalition troops. The foreign ministry said foreign affairs minister Youssef bin Alawi called for support of Kuwaiti mediation efforts as the best chance for resolving the crisis.

Cavusoglu also said he would visit Kuwait later Wednesday and meet Saudi Arabian king Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud on Friday in Mecca.

Riyadh also closed its border with Qatar, the only land border the emirate has.

Regionally, it emphasizes Mattis' vision "to have a balanced relationship with all of America's Gulf Arab partner states, and this move shows that the White House is coming around to the need to strike the appropriate balance between pressuring Qatar and continuing to work closely with it", Heras said.