Qatar tactics questioned after ‘soft power’ deals with France

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (R) watch as their foreign ministers sign bilateral agreements in the Qatari capital Doha on Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2017
0

Qatar tactics questioned after ‘soft power’ deals with France

LONDON: Qatar signed $14.15 billion in deals with France on Thursday, including the purchase of 12 fighter jets, in what has been described as a “soft power” play. 
The deal was signed during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Qatar with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who in 2015 as defense minister helped negotiate a deal with Qatar to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets.
Qatar exercised its existing right to purchase 12 more, bringing the total number of Rafales the Gulf Arab country will have to 36.
Middle East expert Zaid Belbagi referred to the move as a reflection of “soft power.”
“There is a more tactical way to do this,” Belbagi told Arab News. He explained that in this deal, the “real winner” is France, which has become $14.15 billion richer. According to the French government, Qatar has agreed an option for another 36 planes. In addition to the fighter jets Qatar also committed to buying 490 armored vehicles from defense firm Nexter.
Professor Anoush Ehteshami, director of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University, said that the deal was partly for show.
“This is not a military response,” Ehteshami explained, saying it marks Doha’s aim to “show they have strategic partners.”
He added, “it’s one thing to buy them and its another thing to use them — I don’t think they will buy any more anytime soon.”
Macron’s one-day trip to Doha comes a week after the Gulf Cooperation Council met in Kuwait to discuss the ongoing dispute. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut relations with Qatar over its alleged support of extremists and funding of terrorist groups. Doha denies the claims.


Plane makers plot course through trade and Brexit worries at Farnborough Airshow

Updated 15 July 2018
0

Plane makers plot course through trade and Brexit worries at Farnborough Airshow

FARNBOROUGH: Aerospace firms are setting out wares from luxury jets to lethal drones at back-to-back British air shows this week, hoping trade tensions will not deter airlines from buying jetliners even as geopolitical uncertainty allows them to sell more weapons.
In the quintessentially English atmosphere of the Royal International Air Tattoo, gives way on Monday to the Farnborough Airshow, where deals in the $800 billion aerospace and defense sector will be done.
Trade tensions between the US and China and Europe, disputes over the consequences of Britain’s exit from the EU and an increase in global protectionist rhetoric have barely dented a prolonged industry boom.
“The overall environment will reflect industry health, despite the dark clouds of Brexit and other global trade setbacks in the background,” said analyst Richard Aboulafia of Teal Group.
“We’ll see more of what we’ve seen for years: Aviation remaining a strangely protected and happy corner of a turbulent world.”
Boeing is expected to confirm demand for air transport is rising after Airbus lifted forecasts last week, citing strong economic growth in emerging markets and replacing older planes in Western markets.
The two giants will add to record orders for narrowbody jets, whose waiting lists underpin their near-record share price, while seeking a recovery in sales of bigger jets.
Boeing will be looking for a boost to its largest twinjet, the future 777X.
Airbus will hope to end uncertainty over AirAsia’s support for its A330 neo jet, which could also involve a deal for smaller planes, though doubts have been expressed over financial commitments to Airbus.