Corker blocks arms sales to GCC countries

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Mr Corker announced he would not clear any more weapons sales in the region until the USA has a "better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the [Gulf Cooperation Council]".

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Corker said "recent disputes" among GCC countries have only hampered the fight against ISIS and efforts to confront Iran.

Under U.S. law, major foreign U.S. arms sales are submitted for review to a small group of lawmakers, including the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, before they can go ahead.

The senior senator's threat adds pressure on GCC members to settle the crisis, triggered on June 6 when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed a blockade on Qatar and cut diplomatic ties.

While Congress has already been notified about many aspects of the deal, others have yet to enter the informal review process.

He said that while he "could not have been more pleased" with President Donald Trump's recent trip to Saudi Arabia, GCC countries did not "take advantage of the summit and instead chose to devolve into conflict". And it's sparked hope among activists who say Congress is often too reluctant to stand up to the executive branch and place conditions on weapons packages to induce better behavior from friendly governments.

To stop boycotting Qatar, they have also issued 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran, shutting a Turkish military base and paying reparations.

Earlier this month, the Senate narrowly fended off a bid to block a Trump administration plan to sell Saudi Arabia $500m in precision-guided munitions, part of a proposed $110bn arms sales package announced during the president's visit to Riyadh last month.

Corker's pledge to halt arms sales comes a day after Tillerson said that numerous demands would "be very hard for Qatar to meet".

Gabriel told an event hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin that Germany remained in close touch with all sides to try to reduce tensions resulting from the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region in years.

Tillerson has said he hopes the list of demands would be "reasonable and actionable".

Mr. Fawzi, an Egyptian citizen, was released after a few days in prison and fled the country for Qatar before coming to the U.S. He was tried in abstentia, sentenced to 10 years in prison and designated an global terrorist.

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".

  • Jon Douglas