US sells F-15 fighters, Turkey, Iran supply food
The Saudi-Qatar crisis is turning in Doha’s favor with signing of fresh F-15 fighter deal between US and Qatar and food supplies coming from Iran and Turkey. This was indicated by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel-al-Jubeir, when he, on Friday, called Qatar as “ally” and stated that a list of “grievances” involving Qatar is being drawn up and will be presented to that country.
Speaking in London, Saudi Foreign Minister called upon Qatar to respond to what he claimed were international and regional calls for it to halt its support for “extremism and terrorism”. He softened his language saying, “I would not call them demands. I would say it is a list of grievances that need to be addressed and that the Qataris need to fix.” He also said that there was no intention of harming the Qatari people.
On Thursday, amid the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, Qatar signed a deal to purchase F-15 jet fighters from US for 12 billion dollars. After signing the deal with US Defence Secretary Jum Mattis in Washington, Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah was quoted saying that the agreement underscores the “longstanding commitment of the state of Qatar in jointly working with our friends and allies in the US in advancing our military cooperation for closer strategic collaboration in our fight to counter violent extremism and promote peace and stability in our region and beyond”.
The countries which have severed their ties with Qatar include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, one of the three fragile governments in Libya and government in exile of Yemen. Chad, Djibouti, Jordan and Niger have downgraded their ties with Qatar. However France, Iran, Kuwait, Turkey and USA have offered to mediate.
The Saudi led bloc of nations simultaneously cut off sea and air links with Qatar and ordered Qatari nationals to leave their countries within 14 days.
Iran and Trukey have started supplying food items and drinking water to Qatar. Several plane loads and ships from Iran have already arrived in Qatar. One high ranking Iranian official was quoted saying that Iran was capable of supplying food items to ten states of Qatar size.
Immediately after severing ties, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued a list of 59 people and 12 groups with links to Qatar alleging that they have ties to “terrorism”. The list included several prominent charities that carry out life saving work across the Middle East including Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Palestine. The Qatari government rejected the allegations as “baseless”.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu held talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Friday in Mekkah. Earlier he travelled to Doha to meet Qatar’s Emir and Foreign Minister.
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, which has not followed Saudi “advice to brotherly states” to cut ties with Qatar, has also been trying to mediate.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has also indicated his priority to resolve the Qatar crisis by cancelling his scheduled trip to Mexico for participating in Organization of American States (OAS) meeting next week.
Tamara Kharroub, a senior analyst and assistant executive at Arab Centre in Washington, told Aljazeera that Tillerson’s latest move is “a clear sign that this is a priority and in the next week, we will see some serious efforts to mediate and resolve the conflict”. She further said, “Now we hear from Saudi Arabia of a list of grievances, rather than demands. That I believe is a signal that Saudi Arabia is not intending to escalate this crisis any further.”