Are you with us or with Qatar, Saudi King asks Sharif

Cheryl Sanders
June 25, 2017

The deal is going ahead despite the US President's condemnation of Qatar last week, when he also appeared to take partial credit for the blockade.

The Pentagon justified the massive sale by saying the jets-reportedly 39 of them-would increase "security cooperation" between the two countries.

It was part of the $21.1-billion deal signed in November, a US State Department official told Sputnik Thursday.

Last week, US President Donald Trump expressed support for the Saudi-led allegations against Qatar, charging it had "historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level".

The move comes even as Gulf states continue to isolate Qatar, cutting off diplomatic and economic ties based on accusations of that the country supports violent extremism.

The biggest U.S. airbase in the Middle East is situated in Qatar and the country often helps United States troops in fights against Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Qatar hosts the United States largest military base in the Middle East. Gulf nations have stationed troops in both African countries, using that as a jumping-off point for the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The Pentagon told Reuters in a statement that the agreement to purchase the F15 jets would pave the way for further cooperation between the two states in terms of security and military operations.

Qatar hosts the regional headquarters for the US Central Command, which includes a state-of-the-art airbase that the US depends on to target the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia.

Al Attiyah noted that the signing of the agreement is "yet another step in advancing our strategic and co-operative defencse relationship with the United States and we look forward to continuing our joint military efforts with our partners here in the US".

Following the radical decision by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to cut ties with Qatar, the US government initially appeared supportive.

Visiting Kuwait on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Qatari officials denied causing the crisis.

Earlier this month, several Gulf nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, severed ties with Qatar over their links to the Iranian Regime and related terror groups. "Turkey stands on the same distance from Qatar and Saudi Arabia", Cavusoglu said.

Other reports by iNewsToday