Qatar has signed a $12 billion deal with the United States for at least 36 F-15 fighter jets despite being shunned by U.S. President Donald Trump and its Gulf neighbors. Qatar Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah and his U.S. counterpart James Mattis penned the agreement in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. 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".
Last November, Congress approved the sale of as many as 72 F-15s to Qatar in an agreement worth up to $21 billion. Wednesday's deal comes after President Trump accused Qatar of being a "high-level" sponsor of terrorism last Friday. In advance of the president's comments, Rex Tillerson tried to calm tensions by calling on Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade, causing confusion on America's stance on Qatar and the current crisis in general.
Amid growing food shortages brought on by the blockade, Qatar is still a vital U.S. partner in the Middle East. It hosts an estimated 10,000 American troops and the largest U.S. base in the region. According to Qatar's Defense Ministry, the F-15 deal will create 60,000 jobs in 42 U.S. states and ease the burden on American forces in the Middle East. The importance of the partnership between Washington and Doha can be seen on the following infographic which shows notable arms deal between the U.S. and Qatar over the past decade. Judging by the F-15 sale, the relationship between the two countries is still going strong but Trump's confusing stance and comments are likely to test it to its limit.