The Economist: For Gulf States, Diplomacy Involves Buying Weapons They Don’t Need

2018-03-04 - 5:39 ص

Bahrain Mirror: In its editorial, The Economist highlighted how although Qatar, the world's wealthiest state, with a native population of only 300,000, has never been known for its martial prowess, it plans to increase the size of its air force, adding that since June it has signed $20bn in contracts to buy 96 new jets from three countries: F-15s from America, Typhoons from Britain and Rafales from France. "The shopping spree is one side-effect of the nine-month-old blockade of Qatar by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)."

The weekly newspaper further pointed out that for Qatar and its neighbours, arms deals are a way to shore up support in Western capitals, noting that Bahrain is spending $3.8bn to about double its fleet of F-16s, the UAE signed a $1.6bn deal with Lockheed Martin, an American firm, to upgrade its air force.

As for Saudi Arabia, the paper mentioned the deal the US President Donald Trump struck during his visit to Saudi Arabia last May, announcing arms sales with the kingdom worth $110bn, stressing "it was the largest such sale in American history-or, at least, it appeared to be."

The Economist further stated that Qatar; however, has been most aggressive in pursuing this strategy, noting that in June 9th Trump called the emirate a sponsor of terrorism, yet five days later his defence secretary signed off on the F-15 deal, undermining the president's narrative.

Similarly, the paper mentioned that in October BAE Systems, a British firm, announced that it would lay off nearly 2,000 workers because of sluggish Typhoon sales, but the $6.7bn deal with Qatar, announced two months later, will help keep the production lines humming. "The frenzied defence spending mirrors a flood of Qatari cash into Washington lobbying firms, which totals $4.7m since June. (In the five years before that, it spent only $6.5m on lobbying in America.)"

Concluding its piece, the preeminent journal highlighted how the military build-up is already raising tensions in the Gulf, stating that in January the UAE claimed that two Qatari fighter jets intercepted a civilian airliner. Bahraini state television aired a video that showed the radar tracks of all three aircraft... With scores of new warplanes buzzing the skies over the Gulf, though, such run-ins may become more common."

Arabic Version


التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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