Turkish FM in Qatar to resolve Gulf diplomatic rift

Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his United States counterpart Jim Mattis completed the formalities for the purchase of the fighter jets in Washington on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported citing Qatar News Agency (QNA).

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.

It added that US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid al-Attiyah had also discussed the current state of operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and the importance of de-escalating tensions in the Gulf.

The Pentagon justified the massive sale by saying the jets-reportedly 39 of them-would increase "security cooperation" between the two countries.

The agreement is for the purchase of a number of F-15 fighter jets, a sale which the Pentagon says will ensure that Qatar has "state-of-the-art" defensive capabilities.

U.S. agrees with KSA/UAE that Qatar is a "state-sponsor of terrorism", and then sells Qatar $12 billion in arms.

Trump has repeatedly echoed the accusations against Qatar, despite attempts by his defence secretary, James Mattis, and secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to offer a more neutral and nuanced position.

Ankara has said that it stands with Qatar against sanctions and has urged Riyadh to take the lead in finding a solution to the crisis.

The agreement to supply dozens of F-15 jets to the Gulf state "is the latest twist in the highly contradictory U.S. diplomacy over the crisis around Qatar", says The Guardian.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are expected to announce what they want Qatar do to in return for ending their isolation of the tiny Gulf nation, according to a Gulf official with direct knowledge of the matter.

The crisis has seen Saudi Arabia cut off its land border with Qatar, the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar remains the home of some 10,000 American troops at a major US military base in the Mideast.

The Pentagon last week renewed praise of Qatar for hosting the U.S. airbase and for its "enduring commitment to regional security".

Gargash tweeted Qatar's reputation has been damaged and said it is important that Doha makes a U-turn before it's too late.

The announcement comes amid conflicting reactions from the Trump administration in the wake of the rift between Qatar and several Gulf nations. He called the trip a "routine port visit", though Qatar's state-run news agency described the presence as being part of a "joint exercise" with the Qatari Navy. He is due to fly on to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

He also expressed concern with the news that the UAE and Bahrain will take punitive measures against their citizens who show sympathy with Qatar.

  • Zachary Reyes