The State Department has approved a possible $270.4 million missile sale to the United Arab Emirates and a $197 million upgrade for Qatar’s air operation center, even as Gulf countries continue to impose a blockade on Doha.
The proposed sale to the UAE Air Force includes 300 Sidewinder Block II missiles and associated parts and contractor support from Raytheon, according to a Thursday announcement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees foreign military sales.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the DSCA notice states.
Qatar’s possible sale, also announced Thursday and awarded to Raytheon, includes equipment and support to upgrade its Air Force’s Air Operation Center.
The country houses Al Udeid Air Base, which holds 10,000 U.S. military personnel.
The DSCA notice for that sale also calls the nation “a friendly country” that has been, and continues to be, “an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region.”
Congress must now approve both sales.
A group of Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed all land, sea and air borders in June 2017.
The countries accused the Qatari government of supporting extremist groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Several other countries later followed suit.
President Trump is reportedly set to hold a series of meetings with Arab leaders this spring in an attempt to end the diplomatic fight, though he himself took credit for the blockade, which took place just after his visit to Saudi Arabia.