Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani will meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House today.
The two will discuss regional politics, security and counterterrorism cooperation. The leaders will likely focus on arms sales between the two countries—Doha signed a $3 billion deal just last May to purchase 24 Boeing Apache helicopters from the United States.
Over the past few years, Qatar has used weapons purchases as a diplomatic tool to foster friendly military-industrial relations between the US and Qatar. In June 2017 Doha agreed to buy some $21 billion of US weapons—including 36 F-15 fighter jets. In April 2018, during the Qatari leader’s last trip to Washington, the US president praised Doha as regional ally with a strong economic relationship with the US.
Doha has adroitly kept friendly relations with both Washington and Iran. However, as tensions between the latter two have increased this balancing act could quickly unravel, especially considering that Qatar hosts some 11,000 US personnel at its al-Udeid military base. Expect Doha to use growing tensions between the United States and Iran to place it in a mediator role so that it can maintain its relations with both of its sparring allies.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.