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Eurofighter Typhoon

Qatar has signed a letter of intent to buy 24 fighter jets from the UK, officials have announced.

The UK has been trying to sell Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Qatar for years, but for many, this announcement was unexpected.

This is in part because Qataris had just agreed to spend up to $12 billion on F-15 fighter jets from the US this summer.

Ministry of Defense

Defense ministers Khalid Al Attiyah and Michael Fallon sign deal for fighter jets

It also purchased 24 Rafale planes from France in 2015, a deal thought to be worth $7.5 billion.

The agreement with the UK comes as Qatar tries to drum up international support amid an ongoing Gulf blockade.

It marks Qatar’s first big defense contract with the UK, and will keep the nation’s Typhoon project viable until at least 2019, the Telegraph reports.

GCC security

The purchase likely won’t be viewed favorably by Saudi Arabia, one of the combat jets’ biggest customers.

In a nod to this, UK Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon cited the security of “all Gulf countries” as being critical to own his nation’s security, adding:

“The UK and Qatar share mutual defense interests, including countering violent extremism, and ensuring peace and stability in the region.”

Qatar’s purchase should also help “increase security cooperation and interoperability” with other GCC Typhoon partners, he said in a statement.

Air show

The news comes just a few weeks before Qatar residents will be treated to a display of daring aerobatics when the Red Arrows visit Qatar as part of a Gulf tour.

This will be the Royal Air Force pilots’ first show in Qatar since 2013, when the UK also displayed its Typhoon over Doha.



F-15 fighter jets

US officials have agreed to sell a whopping $12 billion in F-15 fighter jets to Qatar, according to the Pentagon.

The deal was signed yesterday after a visit to Washington by Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Khalid Al Attiyah.

The fighter jets will be built by Boeing and “give Qatar a state of the art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar,” the US Department of Defense said.


Silent Eagle fighter jets

Bloomberg reports that up to 36 jets have been agreed upon.

Last year, there was talk of Qatar buying 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets for $21 billion.

‘Be more thoughtful’

To many, yesterday’s deal symbolizes that Qatar has firm support from the US during the ongoing Gulf crisis.

The clear message comes after days of confusion over the US’s official policy on Qatar.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed support for isolating the country, even though his staff has stressed how important an ally they believe the country is.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani

Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the region.

Speaking to Charlie Rose this week, former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said:

“I think the United States as the super power country in the world should be more thoughtful when they support measures like this. They are our ally and our friends and we expect from our friends to be fair – not to help us, but to be fair.”

But “in the end the United States will do the right thing,” he added.


Christopher Hall/Wikimedia

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Turkish Parliament officials have approved legislation to send troops to Qatar as part of a long-discussed military agreement.

It remains unclear how many soldiers could be sent to Doha. But Turkey has been setting up a military base in the Gulf state that is expected to be ready next year.

A former ambassador previously said that the base could hold up to 3,000 Turkish soldiers, stationed primarily to conduct joint training exercises.


Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan in 2016

Yesterday’s vote signals Turkey’s strong support of Qatar amid a worsening Gulf dispute.

Pressure is on

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE announced that it would be severing economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar.

They have ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries, recalled their own nationals from Doha and closed air, land and sea borders to Qatar.

arwcheek / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The goal is to get Qatar to change its politics and stop supporting terrorism, the nations have said.

Qatar has responded by denying any links to terrorism and stating that it is a sovereign nation that will not bow down to outside interests.

Isolation won’t help

Yesterday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for Qatar while being careful not to criticize Saudi and other allies.

According to Bloomberg, he said isolating the country and classifying it as a terrorist nation wouldn’t help solve any problems.

“I’d like to say that we don’t find sanctions against Qatar right. The most appropriate way for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to solve their internal issues is through dialogue. In this regard, we admire Qatar’s constructive and cool-headed approach.”

“We are ready to do everything to resolve other countries’ problems with Qatar,” he added.

Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Elsewhere, Qatar has also found a friend in Iran, one of Saudi’s biggest regional rivals.

The country, which shares access with Qatar to the world’s biggest natural gas field, has offered food and other supplies to help ward off shortages.