Washington and Doha have signed an agreement for the purchase of F-15 fighter jets with an initial cost of $12bn, as US President Donald Trump’s administration attempts to navigate an ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
The aircraft purchase was completed by Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his US counterpart Jim Mattis in Washington DC on Wednesday, according to Qatar News Agency (QNA).
Attiyah said the agreement underscores the “longstanding commitment of the state of Qatar in jointly working with our friends and allies in the United States in advancing our military cooperation for closer strategic collaboration in our fight to counter violent extremism and promote peace and stability in our region and beyond”.
Can diplomacy solve the crisis in the Gulf
The deal is “yet another step in advancing our strategic and cooperative defence relationship with the United States, and we look forward to continuing our joint military efforts with our partners here in the US”, said Attiyah.
The sale “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.
The weapon transfer comes just weeks after Trump signed a deal with Saudi Arabia for almost $110bn in US arms.
It also comes amid a diplomatic row between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain and a number of other countries severed relations with Qatar earlier this month, accusing it of supporting armed groups and Iran – allegations Qatar has repeatedly rejected.
Riyadh also closed its border with Qatar, the only land border the emirate has. In addition, the closure of Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati airspace to Qatar-owned flights has caused major import and travel disruptions.