UK and Qatar sign first major defense deal

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The Qatar and UK governments have agreed 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 is given enhanced significance by Qatar’s ongoing isolation and the UK’s drive to sign trade agreements ahead of its exit from the EU. According to the Financial Times, each Typhoon has an estimated unit price of £70-90m.

  • This is the first defense contract between the UK and Qatar, which Fallon says will be “the basis for even closer defence co-operation”.
  • In early June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an economic blockade on Qatar and froze diplomatic channels. They allege that Qatar has given financial backing to extremist groups including Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State.
  • In June, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson urged Qatar to address its neighbours’ concerns and crack down on support for extremist groups. He also called on the other Gulf states to de-escalate tensions.
  • In June, Qatar agreed a US$12 billion deal to purchase fighter jets from the U.S., a week after President Donald J. Trump appeared to show support for the blockade in a tweet.
  • 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 following its exit from the EU, the UK will become more reliant on arms sales.
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