USA lawmaker: No arms deals to Gulf countries during dispute


Also on Monday, Republican Senator Bob Corker called for blocking arms sales to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states pending progress in resolving the dispute with Qatar.

Corker complained that the GCC nations "did not take advantage" of Trump urging them to act against ISIS at his recent visit, and "instead chose to devolve into conflict", adding that the U.S. needs to withhold all sales to GCC member nations until there is more clarification about how this dispute will be resolved.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani's meeting with Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, on Tuesday will come just days after Qatar dismissed a list of demands from Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The influential senator said that his committee would block lethal military weapons sales to GCC states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman - until there was "a better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the GCC".

In the U.S., big arms sales come across the desk of the chairman of the House and Senate foreign affairs committees for preliminary approval.

In his letter, Corker said he "could not have been more pleased" with Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia.

Several other states in the region have reduced diplomatic relations with the country.

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". A Saudi-led alliance severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar three weeks ago, accusing their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member of supporting terrorism and cozying up to Iran.

If Corker does not sign off on deals for the foreseeable future, it could hamper Trump's $110 billion arms sale with the Saudis, most of which still has to be agreed to and run through the congressional process.

On Sunday, Tillerson urged the two sides to talk, while acknowledging some of the demands will be "very difficult" for Qatar.

Meanwhile, the cost of Qatar's sovereign debt insurance has soared to its highest levels in one year after the four Arab states imposed sanctions on Doha, which has been given 10 days to comply or face unspecified consequences.

Tillerson on Sunday said that "while some of the elements will be very hard for Qatar to meet, there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution".

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.