Bob Corker says US needs 'better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute' before arms sales proceed
A leading Republican lawmaker said Monday he would block U.S. arms sales to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries amid an ongoing diplomatic row with Qatar.
Influential Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the ongoing dispute within the GCC hamper efforts to combat Daesh and counter the Iranian republic.
"Before we provide any further clearances during the informal review period on sales of lethal military equipment to the GCC states, we need a better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the GCC," he wrote.
At stake is a $110 billlion arms deal with Saudi Arabia that President Donald Trump signed last month in Riyadh, although it included some previously announced commitments.
As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Corker must give preliminary approval to any major arms sale before it can proceed to a 30-day congressional review period.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Yemen abruptly cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
Mauritania followed suit shortly afterward, while Jordan has downgraded its diplomatic representation in Doha.
Saudi Arabia has also sealed its land border with Qatar, thus geographically isolating it.
Doha strenuously denies accusations it supports terrorism, and described as “unjustified” the moves to isolate it.
On Saturday, Qatar announced it had received a 13-point list of demands by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain -- to end the weeks-long embargo.
The four countries have reportedly given Doha a 10-day deadline in which to meet their demands.
"Some of the elements" in the demands "will be very difficult for Qatar to meet", Tillerson said last weekend.
"A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation," he said in a statement. "A lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension. The United States will continue to stay in close contact with all parties and will continue to support the mediation efforts of the Emir of Kuwait," he said.