Despite being shunned by U.S. President Donald Trump and its Gulf neighbors, Qatar signed a massive new arms deal with Washington last week.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid Al-Attiyah, penned a $12 billion agreement for the purchase of up to 36 F-15 fighter jets.
In an emailed statement, the Pentagon said the sale “will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar”.
Congress approved the sale of as many as 72 F-15s last November in an agreement valued at up to $21 billion.
Qatar’s Defense Ministry said the F-15 deal would create 60,000 jobs in 42 U.S. states in addition to easing the burden on U.S. forces in the region.
The fighter jet deal had been stalled amid concerns raised by Israel that equipment sent to Gulf states could fall into the wrong hands and be used against it, and by the Obama administration’s broader decision-making on military aid to the Gulf.
The U.S. has made several lucrative arms deals with Qatar over the past decade. They include the 2008 sale of C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft and a high-profile deal in 2014 to supply the country with Apache attack helicopters, Patriot surface-to-air missiles and Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Qatar is an important base for the U.S. military carrying out operations against Islamic State militants and other groups in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and beyond. Al Udeid Air Base is home to more than 11,000 U.S. and coalition troops.
Furthermore, two U.S. warships arrived at Hamad port in Qatar as part of a joint military exercise involving marine forces which started Friday.