Op-Ed: Tiny Qatar buys $11 billion in weapons from United States

Posted Jul 15, 2014 by Ken Hanly
Qatar with just 278,000 citizens, plus 1.5 million foreign residents mostly workers, is buying Patriot missile batteries and Apache attack helicopters from the US to the tune of eleven billion.
Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (L) poses by his wife Sheikha Moza bint...
Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (L) poses by his wife Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned with the World Cup trophy after the official announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup on December 2, 2010 in Zurich
Philippe Desmazes, AFP/File
This is the largest single sale the US has made this year. Qatar is the headquarters for the well-known Al Jazeera news outlet. Recently, three of its journalists have been sentenced to seven years by an Egyptian court for allegedly supporting terrorism. Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi of Egypt.
Egypt has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization and has branded any positive coverage of the group or criticism of the military-backed government crackdown on the group as support for terrorism. Saudi Arabia too brands the Brotherhood as a terrorist group. While no doubt the purchase of the missiles and attack helicopters will be justified in terms of the threat of Iran, they could also be used to counter any threats by Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates to attack Qatar.
However, Qatari officials said that Qatar was investing in missile defense systems to counter the threat across the Gulf from Iran, which has built up its missile arsenal. The Qatari defense minister Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah committed to the purchase in a signing ceremony in Washington after he had talks with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Qatar is also protected by the fact that it contains the US Al Udeid Air Base. The base is one of the most important US bases in the Middle East. The base is host to a forward headquarters of United States Central Command and several associated groups.
The sale comes in spite of Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot in the Gaza Strip Hamas and with its citizens supporting some radical Islamists in Syria. The US may actually find Qatar's connection with radical groups useful. Qatar was involved in arranging the Bowe Bergdahl release in a prisoner swap in Afghanistan last June. With Egypt now branding Hamas a terrorist organization it can hardly play a useful role in negotiating a ceasefire that Hamas would agree to. It could play a role in drafting one that Hamas will not agree to and create even greater PR problems for Hamas. However, Qatar might be able to draft an agreement that Hamas could accept.
Hamas used to support the Assad government in Syria and even had their headquarters in Syria. Back in February of 2012 Hamas threw its support behind the rebels fighting the Assad government. This meant that Hams no longer gets any support from Syria and also resulted in poor relations with Iran who provided Hamas even more support. Relations with the Shiite Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces in Lebanon are also at a low.
The US manages to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, and the UAE both of which oppose Israel. To make sure Israel does not make much of a fuss the US sells even more and more advanced military equipment to Israel and pays for it as well. Now the US is providing advanced weapons too for Qatar which is feuding with other Arab States.
Back in early March the UAE and Bahrain, joined Saudi Arabia in withdrawing their envoys from Qatar saying in a joint statement that it was "to protect security and stability". A foreign minister's meeting in Qatar failed to persuade Qatar to cease supporting those "who threaten the security and stability" of the Gulf Cooperation Council" a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Morsi in Egypt. If there are any new conflicts in the Middle East one can be sure that US weapons will be involved and the US military-industrial complex will profit from them. As the appended video from March this year shows the present purchases are just part of a $23 billion purchase plan.