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3 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Fear and diplomacy fuel Qatar’s military spending

AFP

DOHA: Since the Qatar diplomatic crisis started, one response by the emirate has become increasingly clear—Doha is using its extraordinary wealth to fund a massive push in defence spending, reports AFP.

A flurry of military contracts have followed since Saudi Arabia and its allies dramatically cut all ties with Qatar last June, accusing the 2022 World Cup host of sponsoring terrorism and cosying up to Riyadh’s bitter regional rival, Iran.

Isolated by and increasingly vulnerable to its more powerful neighbours, Qatar has in the past eight months subsequently announced military contracts worth some $25 billion (20 billion euros).

“While Qatar’s defence spending has been increasing for a number of years, the more recent spending surge appears to be directly related to the crisis,” says David Roberts, assistant professor at King’s College London.

Doha bought F-15 planes from the United States barely a fortnight after the crisis began and at the same time as US President Donald Trump appeared to take the Saudis’ side in the dispute.

In December it signed a Rafale fighter jet deal with France during a visit to Qatar by French President Emmanuel Macron.

That deal caused consternation among some officials in Britain—desperate for its own bilateral deal as it negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union—until days later London too signed an agreement to supply Typhoon jets to the Qatari air force.

Britain will also supply air security during 2022.

Last month it was announced that Qatar was in talks to buy Russian air defence missiles.

Sandwiched between the air force deals, Qatar, bordered on three sides by water, also negotiated a multi-dollar billion contract to buy seven Italian navy vessels.

There has also been military diplomacy.

In the past few days Qatar’s defence minister, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, has said the emirate also wants to host the US Navy.

It is already home to the largest US airbase in the Middle East, Al-Udeid, which houses some 10,000 American troops.

And Turkey, which also has a military base in Qatar, could also deploy naval forces there.

Symbolically, during December’s National Day celebrations, Qatari troops paraded with recently acquired Chinese short-range ballistic missiles.

“It’s a massive investment into the military,” says Andreas Krieg, a military adviser to the Qatari government until last year.

This huge leap in spending—until 2013 Qatar was spending around $3 billion a year on defence, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute—reflects Doha’s fear of invasion especially at the beginning of the crisis.

Qatari officials admit privately they were stunned when the crisis began, taken completely unaware by the Saudi-led states.

Despite the sometimes bizarre nature of the crisis—Doha flying in thousands of cows, protest songs and Qatar missing from a map at the Louvre Abu Dhabi—fears of invasion initially ran very deep.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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