Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

United States lawmaker: No arms deals to Gulf countries during dispute

Sen. Bob Corker 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.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, having close relations with Iran and backing the Muslim Brotherhood, viewed as a political rival of the conservative Gulf monarchies and military rulers in Egypt.

Under U.S. law, foreign U.S. arms sales are submitted to a small group of lawmakers, including the chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, for clearance during an informal review process before they can go ahead.

The senator's announcement will cover any weapons packages that have not yet been formally notified to Congress, a Corker aide told HuffPost in a Monday afternoon email.

Doha retorted that the allegations against it and demands were baseless and unacceptable.

Secretary Tillerson's more balanced stance on the conflict leaves open the possibility of Qatar not accepting all the offered terms, and opting to rather meet with the boycotting states at a USA endorsed mediation by the neutral state Kuwait.

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Trump also praised Jeff Immelt, who recently announced that he was stepping down as CEO of General Electric after 16 years. Sequoia Capital, Accel, Kleiner Perkins and Y Combinator all skipped out on the event despite getting invites.

Trump boasted of offering $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia during his trip to Riyadh in May.

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.

Tillerson said in a statement Sunday that several of the demands Saudi Arabia and the other countries have placed on Qatar "will be very hard to meet".

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday that a blockade on Qatar will remain in place unless officials meet non-negotiable demands from Gulf nations to end support of terrorism. And if the country were to meet these demands before the upcoming deadline, it will be subject to audits for compliance at regular intervals for the next decade.

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". Sheikh Saif Al Thani, director of Qatar's government communications office, said the list falls short of Tillerson's test for "reasonable and actionable" requests and were instead an effort to limit the country's sovereignty.

"We continue to call on those countries to work together and work this out". He also said Qatar was by no means the only country in the region responsible for funding terrorism, and added Europe had to do more to influence United States thinking in the Middle East.

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