Senator Corker Blocks Arms Sales to Gulf States Over Qatar Row
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
During his May visit to the Riyadh, Trump and the Saudi family dictatorship agreed to at least a $300 billion US arms sales deal with the kingdom over the next decade.
Because of the row between Riyadh, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt and Qatar, Senator Bob Corker (R. TN) blocked it until things are resolved, in a letter to Rex Tillerson, saying:
Saudi-led Gulf states “did not take advantage of the summit (with Trump) and instead chose to devolve into conflict…hurt(ing)” America’s regional agenda.
“(B)efore 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 GCC.”
Major arms deals require preliminary approval by leaders of the House and Senate foreign relations committees – before the statuary 30-day congressional review process begins to approve or reject these deals.
Talks among the parties are deadlocked. Irreconcilable differences remain. A sweeping 13-point ultimatum by Saudi-led three Gulf states and Egypt would be unacceptable to any nation wishing to retain its sovereignty.
Qatar rejected them as “baseless and unacceptable.” On Tuesday, Riyadh said they’re “non-negotiable,” Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir, saying:
“We made our point. We took our steps and it’s up to the Qataris to amend their behavior, and once they do, things will be worked out, but if they don’t they will remain isolated. They know what they have to do.”
US efforts to resolve the row so far failed. Qatar has been blockaded for three weeks. According to UAE spokesman Omar Ghobash, Doha hasn’t “respond(ed) positively to what we sent.”
Asked if the row could escalate to military conflict, he said “(n)ot from our side…We’ll cut all our ties with Qatar, economic, political, and even social…”
A July 3 deadline for Qatar to accept unacceptable demands is days away. Asked what happens if things aren’t resolved by then, Ghobash said “we’d no longer be interested in bringing Qatar back into the Gulf and Arab fold.”
Days earlier, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the spat “a family issue (to be) work(ed) out (among) themselves.”
Tillerson called demands on Qatar “very difficult to meet.” US arms sales to the Gulf States is big business.
According to the Congressional Research Service, during the four-year 2012 – 2015 period, Riyadh bought $17 billion worth of weapons and munitions, Qatar $9.9 billion, Kuwait $4.4 billion, the UAE $4.2 billion, Oman $900 million, and Bahrain $300 million.
These are billions of dollars of reasons alone why Washington will pressure all sides to resolve things.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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