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PUBLISHED: Jun 15, 2017 9:57am

Despite blockade, Qatar inks F-15 deal with US



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DOHA, 15 June 2017: 

Qatar’s Ministry of Defence yesterday said the country signed a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the US for US$12 billion.

The deal was completed despite the Gulf country being criticised recently by US president Donald Trump for supporting terrorism.

US defence secretary Jim Mattis and representatives from Qatar were set to meet to seal the agreement, said a source familiar with the deal. Bloomberg News reported the deal was for 36 jets.

In November, the US approved possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for US$21.1 billion. Boeing Co is the prime contractor on the fighter jet sale to the Middle East nation.

Trump on Friday accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the US Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others.

There are no apparent plans by Arab states to propose that names from their Qatar blacklist be subjected to UN sanctions, diplomats said yesterday – a likely difficult move that would need approval by the 15-member UN Security Council.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain on Friday branded 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, as terrorists and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, as having links to terrorism.

The move came days after the four Arab states severed relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their arch-adversary Iran, charges Qatar rejects. Several other countries followed suit.

Turkey sent its foreign minister to Qatar as part of a drive to repair the rift with fellow Gulf Arab states.

At least six of the people on the Arab states blacklist are already named on the UN Security Council al Qaeda and Islamic State sanctions list, which subjects them to a global asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban and related groups and people with ties to them. Iran is also subjected to a UN arms embargo.

The Arab states would need to link people or entities on their blacklist to those UN sanctioned groups or to breaches of the Iran arms embargo if they wanted to propose that they be subjected to UN sanctions.

For any names to be added to UN sanctions lists the Security Council can either agree by consensus behind closed doors or vote on a resolution, which would need nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China.

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry signalled yesterday that Cairo was eyeing UN action but did not specify if it would be Security Council or General Assembly action.

“With regards to the United Nations, Egypt is moving forward without a doubt and I cannot clarify more than that.

“But it will emerge within the coming days that there are impactful actions (being taken) and we will continue to use all of our resources to defend our national security,” he told Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

Last week, Egypt called for the Security Council to launch an investigation into accusations that Qatar paid a ransom of up to US$1 billion “to a terrorist group active in Iraq” to release kidnapped members of its royal family. Qatar denies the claim.

The UN has said it is only bound by the UN Security Council sanctions lists and therefore any work with Qatar Charity was unaffected by the Arab states’ blacklist.

“The Qatar Charity implements projects included in the UN-coordinated Humanitarian Response Plans in Yemen, in Syria, and in Iraq, where they also participate in the common humanitarian coordination structure,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

He said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs does “not provide funding for them and we do not receive funding from them.”



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