Pentagon favors US sales of more than 500 million armed drones in Qatar, but Department of State warns

State Department officials are concerned that the sale will anger some US allies, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, officials said.

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The Ministry of Defense is promoting the sale of more than 500 million armed drones in Qatar, just as the State Department has made a gradual request to the Qatari government, said three U.S. officials and an ANC aide familiar with the talks.

Qatar initially asked the US to acquire MQ-9 Reaper armed aircraft last year, but the request is no longer available. Qatar is now seeking re-election, using the aid it provided during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and organizing a full court case in which the country's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is visiting Washington next month.

The Pentagon sees Qatar as a trusted ally that has proved itself responsible for advanced weapons such as armed drones, said an official familiar with the talks. The official added that Qatar could be instrumental in the world's anti-terrorism and "counter-terrorism" campaign in Afghanistan, meaning a long-range air strike outside US boots on the ground.

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Officials, for example, are worried that the sale will anger other US allies, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Qatari emir is planning a visit to the US next month, and drones are expected to be at the top of his plans when he meets with President Joe Biden.

"In terms of policy, the Department does not publicly comment or confirm the proposed sale or transfer of defense until they are formally notified to Congress," said a State Department spokesman.

The defense official confirmed that the Pentagon would not oppose the sale but said it did not force it. The official acknowledged that the sale could have an impact on partners and partners and said the Pentagon did not want to undermine the region. But the official said having Qatar with armed drones could bring more security to the region thanks to its anti-terrorism efforts and support.

In addition to assisting the US during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Qatar also hosts US troops at Al Udeid Air Base, home to US Central Command headquarters and a U.S. military air base in the region. Qatar has donated about $ 8 billion since 2003 on infrastructure development, and has hosted thousands of Afghan refugees there. It is also part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

Qatar is already the second largest trading partner in the US military, with more than $ 26 billion in active cases. The U.S. sells Qatar Patriot plans to protect long-range arrows, the F-15QA fighter aircraft - the most advanced F-15 in U.S. inventory. - and AH-64E Apache helicopters.

The possible sale of US-made drones in Qatar could spark opposition from American partners in the Middle East.

Qatar has had strong ties with other Arab Gulf provinces due to its support for Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the region, its support for the Al Jazeera television network and its friendly relations with Iran.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar and imposed expensive borders, claiming to support terrorists. Qatari-flagged ships were banned from operating in most of the region's ports, and Qatari airlines were banned from airspace in much of the region.

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Relations were restored in January and embargo was removed, but there are ongoing tensions between Qatar and other Gulf governments, particularly the UAE.

Israel is also concerned about Qatar's relations with Hamas. Any U.S. arms sales it will have to be in line with US law that requires Israel to maintain a standard military border in the region.

The US government has moved to allow a number of countries to buy armed drones, including the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany and Taiwan, but not all of those countries have used their options to buy them. The UAE also authorized the purchase of armed drones last year under the Abraham Accords, which began to accommodate relations between the UAE and Israel.

Two NATO partners, Belgium and the Netherlands, also have initial approval from the US government to purchase drones.