GOP senator to block arms sales over crisis with Qatar

GOP senator to block arms sales over crisis with Qatar

The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he’ll block USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and their neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council to prod them toward ending a standoff among critical American allies in the region.

A senior United Arab Emirates official said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept an ultimatum issued by fellow Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the tiny Gulf Arab nation, there would be a “parting of ways”.

He said some of the demands being made of Qatar were negotiable, but others clearly challenged its sovereignty.The Arab states are demanding, among other things, that Doha close Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish base and also pay reparations.Gabriel said it would be tough for Qatar to accept all 13 items on what he described as “a very provocative list”.

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. Iran and Turkey have backed Qatar in the crisis, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calling the demands an attack on the gas-rich nation’s sovereignty and against global law.

Corker said members of the Gulf council, in the wake of a summit in Saudi Arabia last month with Trump, “chose to devolve into conflict” instead of seeking to ease regional tension and expand their security cooperation.

Once Congress is formally notified by the State Department of the sale of weapons to an ally, lawmakers typically have 30 days to review the transaction.

Still, Ankara has stopped short of directly criticizing Saudi Arabia’s actions, merely calling on Riyadh to take a leading role in solving the crisis. He told Tillerson that “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 alliance.

Turkey’s president said his country “admires and embraces” Qatar’s attitude, while slamming the demands by arguing they contradict worldwide law.

Tillerson didn’t reject the list outright, however.

“A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation”, he said in a statement. Tillerson called on all parties to lower their rhetoric and to seek unity in the fight against terrorism.