Washington approves $1 billion arms deal to Qatar — RT World News

The Biden administration announced its decision on a key arms deal with Doha during the US-Iran World Cup match

US President Joe Biden’s administration has approved a long-delayed arms deal with Qatar, agreeing to supply the Middle Eastern ally $1 billion worth of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The US State Department announced the green light to the deal on Tuesday as the US and Iranian teams entered the second half of their FIFA World Cup match in Doha. The sale includes 10 advanced drone systems, 200 drone interceptors and related equipment.

Qatar has made its request to purchase UAVs, including MQ-9 harvester drones, in 2020. Despite Doha’s close ties with Washington, including hosting the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and the Central Pentagon air operations for the region at Al Udeid Air Base, U.S. officials were slow to approve the deal. Even as Qatar hosted thousands of refugees and helped facilitate the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, the government of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani struggled to get clear answers from the administration. Biden on what was blocking the UAV transaction.

The Pentagon encouraged approval of the sale, citing Qatar’s reliability as a trusted partner, but State Department officials feared that other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates united, be angered, according to the media last year. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing the country of supporting terrorists.

The United States had a falling out with Saudi Arabia this year after Riyadh reportedly reneged on a secret deal to boost oil supplies ahead of midterm parliamentary elections this month. Biden responded by pledging to reassess the US-Saudi relationship, saying: « there will be consequences »

The sale of UAVs will be « to support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly nation that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East », the State Department said in a statement. It will be « enhancing Qatar’s ability to deal with current and future threats by providing electronic and kinetic defeat capabilities against unmanned aircraft systems. »

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U.S.-supplied drones will help Qatar monitor its vast natural gas infrastructure and prevent terrorist attacks. Doha aimed to complete the purchase in time to bolster security for the World Cup.

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