U.S. SENATOR TO WITHHOLD APPROVAL OF ARMS SALES OVER CRISIS WITH QATAR

U.S. Republican Senator Bob Corker said on Monday that he will not agree to any arms sales to countries in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) until its current dispute with Qatar is solved.

“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,” Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Corker said members of the Gulf council “chose to devolve into conflict” instead of seeking to ease regional tension and expand their security cooperation.

“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 (the Daesh terror group) and counter Iran,” Corker wrote.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut off diplomatic ties and imposed a blockade on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and undermining regional security. A number of other Muslim countries followed suit in the following days.

The four Arab states that have severed ties with Qatar have issued a list of 13 demands for Doha to end the crisis.

In the list, revealed by several media outlets on Friday, the Saudi-led alliance demands Doha reduce diplomatic representation with Iran, the world’s leading Shiite power, and cut off any joint military or intelligence cooperation with Tehran.

Qatar is also required to immediately terminate its construction of a Turkish military base and stop any joint military cooperation with Turkey on Qatari territories.

The list also says that Qatar must close its satellite TV station Al-Jazeera and all its affiliates.

The Arab powers gives Qatar only 10 days to comply or the offer will be void. It added that Qatar must be monitored annually within next 10 years for compliance of the list even Doha accepts the demands.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday denounced the list of demands, rejecting their request to close its military base in Qatar.

“We consider these demands are against international law,” Erdogan was quoted as saying in Istanbul by the state-run Anadolu Agency.

“Should we get permission when we make a defense cooperation agreement with any country?” Erdogan added.

Turkey sent another 23 troops and five armored vehicles to its military base in Qatar last week as a sign of support for the country.

Meanwhile, Tillerson on Sunday said in a statement that Qatar is reviewing demands by neighbouring Gulf nations to end the weeks-long diplomatic dispute.

“Qatar has begun its careful review and consideration of a series of requests presented by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Tillerson said in a statement issued from Washington.

“While some of the elements will be very difficult for Qatar to meet, there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution.”

He called on Qatar and the other Arab countries to “sit together” to work through the list. Tillerson also said a “lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension.”

Source: NAM News Network

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