US senator argues for blocking of GCC arms sales until Qatar dispute resolved

The US is a major supplier of military equipment to the region



The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has said he will block arms sales to the Gulf Cooperation Council states to help resolve the current dispute between Qatar and its neighbours.

In a letter sent to US secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Monday, Republican senator Bob Corker said the country needed a better understanding of how to resolve the dispute before selling more weapons to the region.

“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, ” Corker said.

The blocking of weapons deals could grant the US greater leverage in promoting an agreement between the two sides.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain severed all diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar on June 5 over its alleged links to terror groups.

They later sent a list of 13 demands to end the dispute including Qatar’s closing of broadcaster Al Jazeera, the shutting down of a Turkish military base in the country and limiting of ties with Iran.

Tillerson said it would be “very difficult” for Qatar to comply with the demands on Sunday but added they would provide a basis for talks.

Read: US secretary Tillerson says “very difficult” for Qatar to comply with demands

“We believe our allies and partners are stronger when they are working together towards one goal which we all agree is stopping terrorism and countering extremism. A lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension,” he said.

Trump offered some $110bn of arms sales to Saudi Arabia during a trip to the kingdom in May following which the US State Department approved the potential sale of more than $1.4bn worth of military training and equipment earlier this month.

Read: US State Dept approves $1.4bn in military sales to Saudi

Qatar also recently went ahead with plans to buy 36 F-15 fighter jets from the US for $12bn.

Read: Qatar goes ahead with $12bn US fighter jet deal despite Trump’s criticism

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