In the wake of accusing Qatar of providing unprecedented support to terrorists, President Donald Trump has given the go-ahead to a deal that will see a fleet of F-15 fighter jets in the hands of Qatar to the tune of twelve billion United States dollars. This decision has arrived less than a month into a multi-country embargo headed by Saudi Arabia which aims to reduce the influence of terrorism in the region.
Confusingly, President Trump’s administration claims the deal will improve relations and security cooperation between the United States and Qatar, despite his defense secretary and the Secretary of State calling on the blockading countries to reduce the severity of the union’s sanctions. According to the state Department, the deal will “enhance the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country and strengthening our strategically important relationship”.
This change in tone comes shortly after decrying Qatar’s ties to illicit groups. “The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level,” according to President Trump. Meanwhile, a government official of Qatar spoke very differently, stating “Our militaries are like brothers. America’s support for Qatar is deep-rooted and not easily influenced by political changes.”
To compound matters, the sanctions against Qatar were spurred by a multi-national blockade scheduled by Saudi Arabia and its allies days before President Trump joined the fray, only to post on Twitter in a way that suggests he has taken credit for the move: “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!”
Though the incident is hardly the first example of the current administration’s dichotomy causing issues in international relations, all expressions of compassion towards Qatar have been banned by both the UAE and Bahrain, though the United States falls outside of this jurisdiction and will likely face no real penalty.
“The time has come to call on Qatar to end its funding,” echoed the President just weeks prior to the signing of the deal. Qatar currently houses the largest United States airbase in the Middle East, offering more backwards thinking amidst controversy – if there are US military forces in the area, including Air Force members, why neuter a political message over a matter of twelve billion dollars?
The situation continues to unfold and, according to a European diplomat, the deal does not seem to be timed or scheduled compared to any particular political development. Echoing these sentiments include figures such as the ex-deputy national security advisor of President Obama’s cabinet, Ben Rhodes, who offered a worrying insight into the situation: “There’s no explanation for why he’s doing what he’s doing.” Rhodes went on to note the apparent lack of any strategy taken by the United States to diffuse the situation.