Iran Capitalising on Qatar Crisis

On Wednesday US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed the previously-approved warplane deal with Qatari Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah.

Last Friday, Trump told reporters at a White House press conference that "Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level".

The sale of the fighter jets "will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar", the Defence Department said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and severed ties with Doha last week.

Amid the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and a number of its Gulf neighbors, the U.S. has agreed to sell $12 billion worth of American F-15 fighters to the country.

In an emailed statement to Newsweek Middle East, Dr Alawwad said the "details of the terrorists being harbored by Qatar will shock everyone, at a time when we are suffering so many horrendous attacks across the world".

As can be seen by the following infographic created with Sipri data, the USA has made several lucrative arms deals with Qatar over the past decade.

Amid regional tensions between Gulf states, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci will visit Qatar, a media report said on Wednesday.

But despite this tough rhetoric, it was announced Thursday that the USA has signed a $12 billion deal to sell fighter jets to Qatar. Qatar is the host to one of the largest United States military bases in the region. ICAO has been reviewing requests from Qatar to ease a ban that its government deems illegal.

Turkey is friendly to Qatar and has sent food supplies since the sanctions were imposed.

More Arab and Muslim-majority African countries later joined the diplomatic blockade, even as several powers have called for resolving the crisis.

It is still not known whether the military exercise was planned before the diplomatic crisis began in the Gulf or whether this is a sign of support from the US, Al Jazeera reported.

Typically, Qatar Airways flights West flew over Saudi Arabia.

It also comes amid a diplomatic fallout between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar.

"We are working bring these states together towards a solution which satisfies both their current regional concerns and the global needs and expectations of passengers and shippers", ICAO said.

  • Leroy Wright