Iran fires weapons at Qatari defense exhibition under massive economic sanctions
DOHA, Qatar – Iran, under massive economic sanctions, is laying down arms at a Qatari defense exhibition on Wednesday, a startling scene at a large conference of American companies and fighter jet exhibitors.
In the far left corner of the carpeted convention center, commanders from Iran’s Ministry of Defense market their missile and air defense weapons systems. The Ministry of Defense develops weapons for both the Iranian military and its powerful paramilitary force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a group that plays a unique role in shaping and implementing Iran’s national security and foreign policy.
The DIMDEX exhibition works to promote Qatar, a major non-NATO ally of the United States, home to the largest American military base in the Middle East. The tiny Gulf Arab state maintains good relations with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field.
Iranian officials declined to comment to the Associated Press. They handed out brochures to an AP journalist promoting their home-made jet trainers, helicopters and hovercraft.
The head of the Qatari armed forces, Maj. Gen. Salem al-Nabet, visited the Iranian pavilion before the end of the exhibition, inspected the display of deadly goods in glass cases and heard a sales pitch about machine guns. A huge American flag representing the US military contractor General Atomics Aeronautical System was seen hanging right next to the Iranian stand.
Note that the Iranian pavilion cannot be found on the conference map. The U.S. Department of Defense and the Armed Forces are among the U.S. sanctions on suspected illegal arms trade.
The Revolutionary Guard, for its part, is widely regarded by the Trump administration as a toxic business partner for its designation as a terrorist group, its global reputation for meddling in regional conflicts and its ban on ballistic missile programs and human rights abuses.
Four years after former President Trump abandoned it, talks with world powers to restore Tehran’s shattered nuclear deal have drawn sharp criticism from America’s Middle East allies, such as Israel, over the possible removal of the Guard’s terrorist status.
The United States has rejected Iran’s demands, excluding Tehran’s promise to cut off funding and arms supplies to extremist groups in the region and beyond. Nuclear negotiators have not yet met in Vienna.