28 June, 2017
The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Monday he would block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council pending progress in resolving a simmering dispute with Qatar.
U.S. allies in the Gulf have been divided into two groups; one side grouping Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, plus Egypt and several other Arab-Islamic countries, and on the other side, Qatar accused by its neighbors of funding terrorism - a charge the rich-gas tiny monarchy rejects.
Major foreign arms sales from USA companies must be approved by the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee before a statutory, 30-day congressional review process.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain severed all diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar on June over its alleged links to terror groups.
Under the foreign arms sale process with the Pentagon and State Department, if any one of those four lawmakers disapproves of a sale, it does not move forward to be formally notified to Congress.
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In his letter, Corker said he was pleased with President Donald Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, which included a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Gabriel said it would be hard for Qatar to accept all 13 demands on the "very provocative list", speaking at a European Council on Foreign Relations meeting in Berlin.
They also imposed a trade blockade of Qatar, a travel ban on Qatari nationals, and even deported 15,000 Qatari-owned camels from their summer pastures in Saudi Arabia.
A government spokesman in Doha said the list confirmed that "the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism - it is about limiting Qatar's sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy".
But his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, acknowledged on Sunday that some of the demands issued by its neighbours would "be very hard to meet" and called for "dialogue leading to resolution".
He called for Qatar and the other Arab countries to "sit together" to work through the list.
While Secretary Tillerson will continue efforts to "ease the tension" by "lowering of rhetoric" of the conflict, the unwavering deadline set by the boycotting coalition continues to approach without any word on whether Qatar will agree to any of these terms and whether the rest of the Gulf States will entertain further negotiation.