After taking credit for a Mideast-wide initiative to shine a light on the terror-supporting activities of the government of Qatar, President Donald Trump has done a dramatic reversal and will sell Doha up to 36 U.S. military jets.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday afternoon that the Qatari defense minister will meet with Defense Secretary James Mattis at some point later that day to officially sign the agreement.
On June 6, the president tweeted about Qatar’s support for terrorism:
During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
...extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
Now, just over one week later, as evidenced by the fighter jet sales, he appears to have little concern with the country labeled by some as the foremost supporter of the Islamic State and other jihadist groups like al-Qaida and Hamas.
Over the past couple weeks, several Middle Eastern countries have imposed boycotts on Qatar, citing its support for terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The Arab states also remain gravely concerned about its diplomatic endeavors with the regime in Iran, which views most Sunni states as enemy nations.
The Trump administration has sent mixed messages about its policy toward Qatar, with some White House officials calling for an end to hostilities, and others calling for Doha to do more to stop support for terror. While the State Department has pushed for conflict resolution, White House officials often point to Qatar’s long-suspected terror financing.
The Qatari government has long solicited favor in Washington, D.C., by dumping millions of dollars into lobbying governments, past state officials, and prominent think tanks and universities. Doha recently signed a $15 million deal with the Brookings Institution, arguably the most prominent left-of-center think tank in the U.S. The Gulf state also donated $1 million to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state.
In addition to the White House deal with Qatar, the administration has signed $100-plus billion mega-deal with Saudi Arabia to sell American military equipment to the Gulf monarchy. Like Qatar, Saudi Arabia has been accused of financing and arming terrorist networks in the Middle East. An effort led by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to block the arms sale failed in the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 47-53
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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