There will be no weapons deals to Saudi Arabia or other countries attempting to blockade Qatar as long as the diplomatic spat continues, a US Senator has vowed.
The ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf region undermines the fight against the Islamic State group, said Bob Corker, chairman of the influential Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
“For these reasons, before we provide any further clearances during the informal review period on sales of lethal military equipment to the [Gulf Cooperation Council] states, we need a better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the GCC,” wrote the Republican from Tennessee in a letter to State Department chief Rex Tillerson.
The move follows President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where a huge weapons deal thought to be worth $110 billion was signed, but comes too late at least for the first part of that agreement – a $550 million sale of “precision-guided” missiles.
Saudi Arabia has been leading an attempted regional blockade of Qatar, but efforts to isolate the tiny gas-rich state appear largely to have backfired.
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had claimed Doha was “supporting terrorism” – a charge vehemently denied by Qatari officials – but publication of 13 demands issued by the blockading countries revealed the effort had much more to do with bringing into alignment and subservience to Saudi Arabia’s hegemonic foreign policy.
The chairpersons of both the House and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees have advance approval powers over arms sales to foreign governments, before Congress is formally notified of the sale.
Corker’s bid to tie huge weapons deals to the resolution of the diplomatic crisis will likely provoke consternation both in the Oval Office and at the highest levels of Gulf administrations after taking a swipe at GCC officials in the letter.
“I could not have been more pleased with the President’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia,” wrote Corker.
“Unfortunately, the GCC did not take advantage of the summit and instead chose to devolve into conflict.”