At about the same time that Donald Trump was taking credit for Saudi Arabia cutting ties with Qatar, . Although President Trump just got done slamming Qatar for apparently financing terrorism, the arms deal will help ostensibly Qatar beef up its security and combat extremist groups like ISIS.
The Qatari defense minister released a statement Wednesday outlining the deal and its goals. “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,” it read. “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.”
Further muddling things, the U.S. ambassador to Qatar just quit—in part over opposition to Trump’s insistence that Qatar is a terrorist financier. Prior to handing in her resignation, Dana Shell Smith took to Twitter to counter Trump’s comments, insisting that Qatar has been a helpful ally in the Middle East.
Yesterday, Smith also retweeted emir Althani’s photo with Mattis as they shook over the arms deal, which also celebrate the 60,000 jobs that will be created in 42 states to manufacture the 15 new fighter jets.
The Saudis aren’t going to be happy about this, nor their allies who followed suit in cutting off Qatar. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have a long history of tension in the Gulf region, but the Riyadh cited the same concerns over terrorist financing that Trump did as justification for the diplomatic downgrade. While Trump has been spouting off about Qatar and taking credit for the Saudi split, Rex Tillerson is gamely trying to keep the State Department’s diplomatic goals in the Gulf afloat despite his Commander in Chief’s penchant for inflammatory statements.
On one hand, it will take years to fulfill the order and deliver the jets. On the other hand, that might not be much comfort to the Saudis as they try to parse U.S. loyalties from the wildly inconsistent statements coming out of Washington. Then there is also Iran to consider, which had its own dust up with Saudia Arabia after it blamed the Riyadh for a bombing in Tehran claimed by ISIS. If Qatar’s thirst for weapons is any indication, things aren’t going to calm down in the Middle East any time soon.
(Via CBS News)