US Senator and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker has decided to withhold arms sales to member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) until they end the ongoing dispute with Qatar.
Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE and Yemen ended diplomatic ties with Qatar over charges of supporting terrorism.
In a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Corker said: “I could not have been more pleased with the President’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia. The unity of the Gulf States and their commitment to security cooperation were welcome steps forward. We need to remain united in the face of rising threats from Iran and ISIS.
“Unfortunately, the GCC did not take advantage of the summit and instead chose to devolve into conflict. All countries in the region need to do more to combat terrorism, but recent disputes among the GCC countries only serve to hurt efforts to fight ISIS and counter Iran.
“For these reasons, 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 and reunify the GCC.”
The decision to withhold consent for arms sales threatens to block the recent $110bn arms deal signed between US President Donald J. Trump and King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia to support the Middle East nation’s defence needs.
The defence capabilities deal covers a package of equipment and services to support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of growing enemy threats, The White House stated.