UK and Qatar sign first major defense deal

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The Qatar and UK governments have agreed to a new defense deal which they say will be the basis for “deepening military cooperation” between the two nations.

UK defense secretary Sir Michael Fallon and his Qatari counterpart, Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah, signed a statement of intent for the sale of 24 Typhoon jets on September 17.

The agreement has taken on greater significance given Qatar’s ongoing isolation and the UK’s drive to sign trade agreements ahead of its exit from the EU. Each Typhoon has an estimated unit price of £70-90 million, according to the Financial Times.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • This is the first defense contract between the UK and Qatar, which Fallon says will be “the basis for even closer defence co-operation”.
  • The deal comes after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June imposed an economic blockade on Qatar and froze diplomatic channels, alleging that Qatar has given financial backing to extremist groups including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
  • UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson had urged Qatar in June to address its neighbors’ concerns and crack down on support for extremist groups. He also called on the other Gulf states to de-escalate tensions.
  • A week after President Donald J. Trump appeared to show support for the blockade in a tweet, Qatar agreed a US$12 billion deal to purchase fighter jets from the U.S.
  • Trump will meet Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the UN General Assembly meeting this week.
  • Lobbying group Campaign Against the Arms Trade says that it is concerned that the UK will become more reliant on arms sales following its exit from the EU.
  • The full name of the aircraft is the Eurofighter Typhoon. It was developed by UK manufacturers in partnership with other arms developers across Europe and parts are made in several countries. The government’s announcement says that theses will be constructed by British company BAE Systems.

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