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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Qatar Inks Agreement for F-15 Fighter Jets

Qatar has officially signed an agreement for F-15 fighter jets, amid a nearly two-week long political dispute with its neighbors.

On June 14, 2017, Qatari Defense Minister Khalid al-Attiyah traveled to Washington, D.C. to complete the agreement. He met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis during his visit.

The agreement is worth $12 billion and covers the delivery of 36 F-15QA fighter jets. The agreement also comes with a range of support services.

Bloomberg News cited a Defense Department statement as saying the sale "will give Qatar a state of the art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar."

Qatar's Defense Ministry said, the deal would result in "closer strategic collaboration in our fight to counter violent extremism and promote peace and stability in our region and beyond." Doha emphasized the deal would create a large amount of jobs in the United States.

The State Department announced in November 2016 that it had approved the sale of F-15QA fighter jets to Qatar. That approval covered 72 jets at an estimated cost of $21.1 billion in total. It had previously been suggested that Qatar, having also ordered Dassault Rafales, would likely move forward with an order for 36 of the approved jets.

The completion of the deal comes alongside a period of tension in the Gulf region, following a decision earlier this month by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Egypt, to cut ties with Qatar and restrict its use of their airspace and territorial waters. Saudi Arabia additionally closed off its land border with Qatar.

The dispute centers around Qatar's alleged support of terrorism and its foreign policy, which the four countries assessed as destabilizing to the region. Doha rejects the accusations.

U.S. officials have sought to mitigate the crisis, though American President Donald Trump has criticized Qatar as funding terrorism at a "very high level." The completion of the F-15 sale shows that the row did not negatively impact the agreement, despite concerns.

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