The United States continues to send mixed messages as the row between two of its biggest allies in the Middle East, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, continues to get worse.
Mere days after President Donald Trump launched a Twitter tirade against the minuscule but rich Qatar — which also hosts the United States’ largest military base in the region — and berated it for sponsoring terrorism, Washington, D.C., and Doha signed a $12 billion military deal for the purchase of 36 American F-15 fighter jets.
The sale of U.S. combat aircrafts to Qatar, which has recently become the target of massive Saudi Arabia-led diplomatic boycott, is just one part of a $20 billion deal. 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 — or just wild hypocrisy.
Trump sided with Saudi Arabia right after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson publicly defended Qatar and called for the countries leading the boycott to “immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve the grievances they have with each other.”
Now, the Pentagon is selling its military jets to the country.
“We are pleased to announce today the signing of the letter of offer and acceptance for the purchase of the F-15QA fighter jets, with an initial cost of $12 billion dollars,” said the Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al Attiyah in his statement. “We believe that this agreement will propel Qatar's ability to provide for its own security while also reducing the burden placed upon the United States military in conducting operations against violent extremism.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was also pictured shaking hands with his Qatari counterpart.
Qatar signs LOA for the purchase of the F-15QA fighter jets creating 60,000 new jobs in 42 states across the United States pic.twitter.com/tnOAC3KGma— Meshal Hamad AlThani (@Amb_AlThani) June 14, 2017
Several major Gulf countries, including, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, severed ties with Qatar, alleging it supports terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and backs Shi’ite-majority Iran’s agenda. The countries even shut of all air, land and water contact with the Gulf peninsula, pulled their ambassadors and gave Qatari residents two weeks to evacuate.
“We are confident that Qatar can address its remaining issues within this timeframe, prior to delivery," said a State Department official, according to the CBS News.
Two U.S. Navy vessels have also arrived at Hamad Port south of Doha “to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy,” according to the Qatar News Agency.
“Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met today with Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Dr. Khalid al-Attiyah to discuss concluding steps in finalizing the Foreign Military Sales purchase of US-manufactured F-15 fighter aircraft by the State of Qatar,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Roger Cabiness told CNN. “The $12 billion sale will give Qatar a state of the art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar.”
To put things into perspective, here are few of the tweets Trump sent out earlier this month:
During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
...extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
The Trump administration seems to be playing a rather dangerous game.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters