US sells Qatar $12bn of F-15 jets despite political dispute

Posted on 20 Jun 2017 by Michael Cruickshank

The US is continuing the tradition of not letting politics get in the way of business, with a deal finalized last week to sell Qatar billions of dollars of fighter aircraft.

An F-15 fighter jet. Image courtesy of the US Air Force.
An F-15 fighter jet. Image courtesy of the US Air Force.

All up, the oil and gas-rich state of Qatar will buy $12bn worth of F-15 jets manufactured by Boeing. According to reports, this will net the country at least 36 individual airframes.

The F-15 is an air superiority jet produced in the US but also operated by several other close allies such as Japan and Israel.

Qatar is currently embroiled in a dispute with its neighbors Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the alleged financing of terrorism by the Qatari Government.

Given recent speculation of military action against Qatar by these countries, gaining the additional fighting capacity provided by these aircraft would be quite useful.

Nonetheless, as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are close US allies, it is quite strange that the US would still proceed with such a large sale to their newly-declared enemy.

That this sale was approved was made all the more bizarre given that US President Donald Trump himself had taken to Twitter to denounce Qatar to his millions of followers.

“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!”

He then went on to double down on his comments in a public statement.

“The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” remarked Trump.

While it is unclear why this deal was given final approval to go ahead, it is worth noting that an even larger sale was given preliminary approval late last year.

As well the Qataris may have swayed the Trump Administration with the promise of new US jobs, with their Ambassador to the US claiming that the deal would create 60,000 jobs.

One final consideration by the US may have been that these fighter jet deliveries often take years to execute, and thus the current political dispute between the Gulf States would have likely been resolved by the time of delivery.