While previous Senate efforts to limit US arms sales to Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns narrowly failed, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chair Bob Corker (R – TN) has now withheld all consent for US arms sales to not just Saudi Arabia, but to the other Gulf Arab states, citing the ongoing Qatar crisis.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt have all imposed a blockade on Qatar over the past several weeks, and have issued a long list of demands for Qatar to comply with as a condition for lifting it. Sen. Corker warned that this is undermining the ISIS war.
That’s been a concern from the beginning of the crisis, since the largest US military base in the Middle East is in Qatar, and much of the air war in Syria is based out of Qatar. So far,the Pentagon has insisted that hasn’t been impacted, but the longer the situation goes unresolved, the more likely it’s going to be a problem.
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 US needs to withhold all sales to GCC member nations until there is more clarification about how this dispute will be resolved.
Cutting sales to the GCC would cover Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain, as well a Oman and Kuwait, too nations that have tried to negotiate a settlement. It does not appear Corker’s move will impact US arms sales to Egypt, despite Egypt being heavily involved in the blockade effort.