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Silent Eagle fighter jets

Gulf states must work out their differences before they can buy any more weapons from the US, an influential American lawmaker has warned.

Yesterday, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign relations committee Bob Corker expressed concern about the ongoing Gulf crisis.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he said “recent disputes among the GCC countries only serve to hurt efforts to fight ISIS and counter Iran.”

Corker added:

“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.”

Escalating crisis

It’s been three weeks since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut off diplomatic and economic ties to Qatar for political reasons.

The crisis escalated last week after the nations presented a 13-point list of demands to Doha. They included closing Al Jazeera, shutting down a Turkish military base and cutting off ties with certain political groups.

Paul Keller/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Corker’s pledge to halt arms sales comes a day after Tillerson said that many of the demands would “be very difficult for Qatar to meet.”

On Sunday, he urged GCC nations to sit together to work out the dispute, adding that “a lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension.”

F-15 deal in question

A US arms embargo would directly affect recent weapons orders by both Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, Qatar signed a deal to purchase $15 billion in F-15 fighter jets. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been talking about buying some $110 billion in weapons from US manufacturers.


F-15 fighter jets

In the US, big arms sales come across the desk of the chairman of the House and Senate foreign affairs committees for preliminary approval.

Congress then has about a month to review the deals, and decide whether to take action against them.

According to some analysts, the threat of withholding sales could provide an impetus for the GCC nations to resolve their differences.

Qatar’s foreign minister is expected to meet Tillerson today, as the deadline for responding to its neighbors’ demands draws near.



For illustrative purposes only.

Close Al Jazeera and all of its affiliates, shut down Turkey’s new military base in Qatar, reduce diplomatic ties with Iran and submit to regular compliance audits for the next 10 years.

Those are just some of the demands that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are making of Qatar nearly three weeks after imposing a blockade on the country, according to the Associated Press.

A list of 13 points was given to Qatar through mediator Kuwait this week, the newswire reports.

Authorities have not yet commented on the demands, but Qatari officials have previously already said that they would not allow other nations to dictate their foreign policy.

Other demands

Many of the points on the list have already been discussed in some capacity by various Arab media outlets.

They include demanding that Qatar sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and ISIS, among other groups.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the four countries want Qatar to stop naturalizing their citizens.

Additionally, they have ordered authorities to expel their citizens currently within Qatar to keep the nation “from meddling in their internal affairs,” AP reports.

This point goes back to the 2014 Gulf dispute. At the time, Bahrain accused Qatar of harming its national security by naturalizing some of its Sunni citizens.

This apparently upset Bahrain’s Sunni/Shia demographic balance.

Compensation sought

Another demand is that Qatar hand over anyone wanted by the four nations on terrorism-related charges. For Egypt, this would mean Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born Qatari cleric.

However, officials have already previously said they will not extradite Qatari citizens to other countries for purported crimes.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi

According to Al Jazeera, the four nations are also seeking compensation from Qatar for any harm their foreign policy has done over the past several years.

The country has 10 days to comply with this list of demands.



Crown Prince King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent a cable of congratulations to the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia yesterday, even though many consider him to be an architect of the Gulf dispute.

The Emir wished Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud “success towards the good of the kingdom under the wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,” QNA reports.

He “further wished more development and growth to the deep fraternal ties between the two brotherly countries,” it added.

Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MBS) is the 31-year-old son of the current king and replaces his cousin Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince.

He is popular in Saudi Arabia particularly among its large young demographic, and represents what analysts have called a “new generation” of leadership in the country.

Foreign policy

At home, MBS has a reputation as a reformer who wants to open the country up to tourism. He has also introduced live entertainment such as concerts and comedy shows into conservative Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, he supports the right of women to drive.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Abroad, the new crown prince retains his defense minister post. In this capacity, he led the war in Yemen to stop a group allied with Iran from gaining power.

However, the Yemen conflict shows no sign of ending, two years on.

Analysts said MBS has now focused his energies on isolating Qatar for political reasons. But that goal could also end with no clear victory.

“(Boycotting Qatar) has his emerging hallmark of action that is sudden, spectacular but not necessarily strategic,” said Jane Kinninmont, a Middle East expert at Chatham House.

Speaking to Reuters, she added, “It is a maximalist position without a clear endgame.”

For its part, Saudi State TV thanked the Emir for his well wishes, raising hopes that a solution to the ongoing Gulf crisis can still be reached.