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    Qatari Navy to Bolster Fleet With 7 New Warships

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    One of the biggest buyers of US military equipment in the world, Qatar, has decided go in a different direction for its next purchase of combat warships. Spoiler: Russia didn’t get the contract either.

    The second-richest country in the world by GDP per capita ($129,700) agreed to a deal with Italy "to acquire seven warships" for $5.9 billion, the Qatari Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday.

    The news was delivered during a joint news conference held by Qatari and Italian diplomats in Doha.

    The emissaries gathered to discuss the diplomatic row, unresolved since June, between Qatar and four other Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Qatar has been accused of funding terrorism and being too cozy with Iran, a charge Doha has denied outright. 

    Riyadh and the other three nations include in their list of 13 demands that Doha end support of the Muslim Brotherhood (banned by Russia as a terrorist organization), Al-Qaeda, the Nusra Front/Fateh al-Sham and Hezbollah; shut down Al Jazeera; and adopt a firmer stance against Tehran. 

    Doha says the demands violate Qatari national sovereignty.

    Kuwait has emerged as the mediator between Qatar and the other Arab states. On Wednesday, though, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the bloc “showed no intention to resolve the crisis peacefully,” during a meeting between the parties on Sunday, Italy’s The Local reported.

    In a conflicting Tuesday report, Qatari Minister of State for Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Attiyah said the dispute “should be resolved only through dialogue,” and military options had been eliminated “for many reasons,” Sputnik Egypt reported.

    Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano urged a relaxation of tensions and encouraged a new way forward that demonstrates “respect for international law,” The Local added.

    The Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Abrahms tweeted on July 19, "Saudi Arabia had to manufacture misdeeds by Qatar because Saudi Arabia participated in many of Qatar’s actual misdeeds."

    Thani declined to reveal what types of ships would be added to the Qatari Navy and did not say which Italian shipmakers would be involved in producing the vessels.

    In 2015, Qatar ranked first in the world in terms of money spent on US-made weapons and military equipment. Out of $40 billion-worth of US defense exports in that year, the latest year for which the information has been updated by the US Congressional Research Service, Qatar procured $17.5 billion in US military equipment and services.

    In June, Qatar and the Pentagon finalized a deal to ship 36 F-15Q Eagles to the island nation for a cool $12 billion. The Obama administration had originally signed off on a deal to send 72 F-15s to Qatar last November, but the Trump administration chose to tread more lightly in implementing the agreement — leaving $9 billion on the table in the process.

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    Tags:
    defense spending, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, UAE, Italy, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia
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