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Silent Eagle fighter jets

Gulf states must work out their differences before they can buy any more weapons from the US, an influential American lawmaker has warned.

Yesterday, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign relations committee Bob Corker expressed concern about the ongoing Gulf crisis.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he said “recent disputes among the GCC countries only serve to hurt efforts to fight ISIS and counter Iran.”

Corker added:

“Before we provide any further clearances during the informal review period on sales of lethal military equipment to the GCC states, we need a better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the GCC.”

Escalating crisis

It’s been three weeks since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut off diplomatic and economic ties to Qatar for political reasons.

The crisis escalated last week after the nations presented a 13-point list of demands to Doha. They included closing Al Jazeera, shutting down a Turkish military base and cutting off ties with certain political groups.

Paul Keller/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Corker’s pledge to halt arms sales comes a day after Tillerson said that many of the demands would “be very difficult for Qatar to meet.”

On Sunday, he urged GCC nations to sit together to work out the dispute, adding that “a lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension.”

F-15 deal in question

A US arms embargo would directly affect recent weapons orders by both Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, Qatar signed a deal to purchase $15 billion in F-15 fighter jets. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been talking about buying some $110 billion in weapons from US manufacturers.


F-15 fighter jets

In the US, big arms sales come across the desk of the chairman of the House and Senate foreign affairs committees for preliminary approval.

Congress then has about a month to review the deals, and decide whether to take action against them.

According to some analysts, the threat of withholding sales could provide an impetus for the GCC nations to resolve their differences.

Qatar’s foreign minister is expected to meet Tillerson today, as the deadline for responding to its neighbors’ demands draws near.



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.


Exocet MM40 Block 3 weapon system


Exocet MM40 Block 3 weapon system

Fresh off a deal to buy seven navy vessels from an Italian firm, Qatar has contracted the Italian branch of an international defense company to outfit those ships with missiles.

In a statement this week, MBDA Italy announced it has signed a contract worth more than $1.1 billion with Qatar’s Emiri Naval Force.

As part of the deal, it will outfit vessels with Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles, as well as Aster 30 Block 1 and VL MICA air defense missiles.

MBDA said the contract was finalized after an agreement was signed by Italy and Qatar’s defense ministries in Rome two weeks ago.

A Comandanti-class corvette built by Italian defense firm Fincantieri. The shipbuilder is expected to build four corvettes for Qatar. / Flickr

A Comandanti-class corvette built by Italian defense firm Fincantieri. The shipbuilder is expected to build four corvettes for Qatar.

The missiles will be fitted onto ships that Qatar agreed to buy late last month from Fincantieri.

Ship purchase

The seven new ships are worth $4.4 billion and include four corvettes – each measuring more than 100m in length – one amphibious vessel and a pair of patrol vessels.

Work on those ships will begin in Italy within two years, Fincantieri previously said.

The agreement with the state-backed shipbuilder was one of the largest Qatar has made regarding its maritime forces in recent years.

The country has been focusing on improving its sea defense capabilities to protect its large coastline and massive offshore gas resources.