GOP senator to stop weapons sales to Gulf region until Qatar crisis heads toward resolution

Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee warned Monday that the conflicts within the Gulf Cooperation Council inhibit the group from effectively eradicating ISIS.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee surrounded by reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 16, 2017. Senator Corker announced he will block arms sales to Middle Eastern allies until the Gulf crisis is on a clear path to resolution.

An influential senator said Monday that he'll withhold approval of United States weapons sales to several Middle Eastern allies until there is a clear path for settling a diplomatic crisis with Qatar.

Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that "recent disputes" among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council undermine efforts to combat the Islamic State and counter Iran.

The council is an alliance of six Middle Eastern countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain.
Riyadh, along with the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar over allegations that it funds terrorism – an accusation Doha rejects but that President Trump has echoed. The move has left Qatar under a de facto blockade by its neighbors.

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

"All countries in the region need to do more to combat terrorism, but recent disputes among the GCC countries only serve to hurt efforts to fight [the Islamic State] and counter Iran," Corker wrote.

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. During that period they could pass a joint resolution or take other steps to stop the sale. If they take no action, the sale moves forward.

As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Corker plays a central role in these sales. He told Mr. 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.

Tillerson said in a statement Sunday that several of the demands Saudi Arabia and the other countries have placed on Qatar "will be very difficult to meet." They've insisted that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter Al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tillerson didn't reject the list outright, however. He said the demands include major areas that "provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to a resolution." He called for Qatar and the other Arab countries to "sit together" to work through the list. Tillerson also said a "lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension."

The Senate earlier this month narrowly rejected a bipartisan attempt to rebuke Saudi Arabia and reject Trump's plan to sell the kingdom more than $500 million in precision-guided munitions. The precision munitions are part of Trump's proposed $110 billion arms package to Riyadh, which the administration said would create US jobs while also improving a key ally's military capability.

Corker backed the sale.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to GOP senator to stop weapons sales to Gulf region until Qatar crisis heads toward resolution
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2017/0626/GOP-senator-to-stop-weapons-sales-to-Gulf-region-until-Qatar-crisis-heads-toward-resolution
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe