Sci-tech

Fighter jets deal shows deep U.S. support

Fighter jets deal shows deep U.S. support

The signing of the deal on Wednesday is the latest twist in the highly contradictory U.S. diplomacyover the crisis around Qatar - now in its second week - with the emirate targeted by a Saudi-led embargo.

Despite the diplomatic crisis going on between Qatar and a number of its Gulf neighbors, the United States has agreed to sell $12 billion worth of American F-15 fighters to the country. It "underlines the reigning confusion inside the Trump administration as it handles one of its first big foreign policy crises".

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have severed relations with Doha, cut travel and commerce links last week over Qatar's support for some Islamist groups as well as its ties with Iran.

Saudi Arabia, another key U.S. ally, has led moves to isolate the gas-rich emirate since earlier this month.

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Energy-rich Qatar, whose land, maritime and aviation routes have been interrupted by a quartet comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, sent officials to Montreal, where the UN aviation agency is based.

Two warships of the US Navy arrived at the Hamad Port in Doha on Wednesday "to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy", the Qatari Ministry of Defence said in a statement released on QNA.

He doubled down on his accusations on Friday saying: "The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level", adding "the time has come to call on Qatar to end its funding". Al Udeid Air Base is home to more than 11,000 USA and coalition troops.

Kuwait, Turkey and the United States have all urged a political solution as the bloc isolates Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions, including shutting down their air space to Qataris and blocking import routes.

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Turkey has said that it stands with the tiny Gulf state against sanctions and has urged Riyadh to take the lead in finding a solution to the crisis. Given how Trump openly sided with Saudi Arabia in one of his recent Twitter tirades, the deal also signals the lack of coordination within Trump administration.

"We do not want any differences between our brothers in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, and it is not enough to say that there is a problem without trying to resolve it", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

"Saudi Arabia is important and the Saudi King is respected by everyone".

The sale will increase security cooperation and interoperability between the USA and Qatar, the Pentagon said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

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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.


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