Qatar signs pact with USA to buy F-15 jets

Posted June 18, 2017

They accuse Qatar of "funding terrorism", fomenting regional unrest and cozying up to Iran, all of which Qatar denies.

The Pentagon said the jets sale would increase security cooperation between the U.S. and Qatar and help them operate together. Qatar hosts the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command, which includes a state-of-the-art air base the U.S. depends on to target "Islamic State".

Just in November previous year, US has approved a possible sale of F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion where it can get upto 72 fighter aircrafts.

Qatar's Defense Ministry said the deal would create 60,000 jobs in 42 USA states while reducing the burden on US forces.

Defense analyst Nicholas A. Heras of the Center for a New American Security said the agreement falls under the category of "long-running deals that need to be cleared after review by different elements of the United States government".

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, on a Gulf tour trying to help broker an end to the crisis, defended the fighter jet deal. Kuwait has led efforts to mediate the dispute.

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In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in the Gulf on Wednesday for a joint exercise with Qatar's fleet, according to Doha state media.

"It indicates that the US Department of Defense under Mattis is performing the grunt work of keeping the US-Qatari security relationship moving forward", Heras said.

Qatar is an important base for the USA military carrying out operations against Islamic State militants and other groups in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and beyond.

A Saudi-led blockade imposed against Qatar raised fears of a food crisis in Qatar, as most of its supplies come from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Turkish chief diplomat held talks with Qatar's emir and foreign minister on Wednesday and plans to visit Saudi Arabia.

The sale comes amid a simmering crisis in the Gulf after Qatar's neighbors accused it of supporting terrorism and cut diplomatic ties.