Mattis overrules Trump on Qatari “terrorism,” sells it $12 bn in F-15s

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis defied his boss Donald Trump on Wednesday and inked a deal with the Qatar government to sell it $12 billion in F-15 fighter jets. Qatar hosts a US air base, al-Udeid, where some 11,000 US military personnel are based, and from which the US flies sorties against the Taliban and ISIL. Qatari pilots have flown missions against ISIL in northern Iraq, in cooperation with the US Air Force, and Mattis indicated that he hoped the deal would increase US-Qatari cooperation in this regard.

What makes this arms sale unusual is that Trump twice called Qatar a supporter of terrorism in the past week! If that were really true, the US couldn’t sell it a hammer, much less all those F-15s.

While Trump took sides with Saudi Arabia in its anti-Qatar campaign, Secretary of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disagreed with his boss. He urged an early resolution of the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, declining to take sides. Tillerson, amazingly, told the Senate on Wednesday that there was no daylight between him and Trump on Qatar.

Now Mattis is strongly supporting Qatar.

For a long time Steve Bannon seemed to be calling the shots in the White House so dexterously that people were calling him “President Bannon.” Since Trump is highly erratic, a single-minded ideologue like the alt-NeoNazi Bannon could influence him just by being consistent.

But on foreign policy perhaps we have to speak of President Mattis.

Qatar, of course, is not actually a terrorist-supporting state, and has in fact been a close ally of the US against al-Qaeda and ISIL. And if Saudi Arabia thinks it can come for it the way they came for Yemen, Riyadh has another think coming.

Because there is still an adult in the room on US foreign policy and he is Jim Mattis.

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Related video:

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18 Responses

  1. There appear to be several captains running the good ship of the USA. Anyway, I would think Qatar might well be needing these planes as the countries around them are being hostile and belligerent .

  2. What next, Mattis to be fired? Mattis seems to be the only adult in the room. The rest are amateurs, who seem to follow Trump, right or wrong, and have their own interests vested in this presidency.

  3. One should not believe in this level of divide in politics. I would not believe for a second that Mattis defied Trump. On matters of such importance, the entire security establishment must be on-board.

  4. Maybe if Qatar would allow Trump and Tillerson to rub their orbs?

    The General picked a very good time to defy the clueless “businessman” and “oil baron” who are distracted attempting to clean-up big messes of their own amateurish making.

  5. “Qatar and the United States have solidified their military cooperation by having fought together side by side for many years now in an effort to eradicate terrorism and promote a future of dignity and prosperity,” quoting Secretary of Defense General Mattis in direct contradiction to the CICPOTUS.

    Consequences?

    link to aljazeera.com

  6. Congress abdicated its responsibility for war making to the executive a decade and half ago; not the executive sources it out to the military. What could go wrong?

  7. There was some resistance against the arms sale to Saudi Arabia in the senate. I wonder what they make of the Qatar deal. US arming these states seems like more trouble for the region.

    link to salon.com

    Bipartisan Senate deal to halt $500 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia fails

    “With the war in Yemen raging, the Senate votes to approve President Trump’s massive arms deal to Saudis”

  8. No, no! I think this is clearly a well orchestrated drama aiming at organizing a program of Weapons for Oil that recalls the Food for Oil put in place for Iraq. The business benefits for US companies comes first at the expense of peace and the Middle Ease peoples.

  9. A few considerations: 1) There’s a lot of money to be made by trading with both sides. 2) Qatar might pay for the planes, but they certainly won’t have complete use of them. And, no doubt, there will be restrictions in terms of functionality, with limited features or computer systems that can be overridden by the US as desired. Then, there is the maintenance and spare parts. If Qatar wants to use these planes for any purpose not in line with the directives of the US, the planes will be grounded. Surely those 10,000 US troops stationed in the country could easily confiscate a few planes if so desired.

    But, a larger question to ask is why Qatar would give the US all that money? Yes, I understand, it’s a way of reminding the US (Trump) that Qatar has value (ka-ching!) to the US, and, assuming need, it wouldn’t be easy to turn away from US suppliers when US Central Command and 10,000 troops are in the country. Still, they’re spending billions of dollars on weapons they likely don’t need from a country whose leader is in bed with their adversary and mindlessly insults them. Pathetic all the way around.

  10. Wrong to sell arms in ME – latest sale is to get the goods to usa personnel in Qatar.
    usa congress not doing their job.
    Stop The Wars!

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