Tillerson Meets Qatari FM on Persian Gulf Crisis

Harsh sanctions remain imposed against the gulf country by a Saudi led coalition of states for Qatar's alleged state sponsoring of terror organizations, and a total of 13 demands will need to be met if economic and diplomatic relations are to open again with its Middle Eastern neighbors.

Major arms sales need preliminary approval from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee in advance of the congressional review process, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in its announcement of the letter.

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday that the 13 point list of demands issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt included some which challenged Qatar's independence.

Once Congress is formally notified by the State Department of the sale of weapons to an ally, lawmakers typically have 30 days to review the transaction.

The most recent round of demands against Qatar includes the expulsion of all Turkish troops from their country.

In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday, Corker said he "could not have been more pleased" by President Donald Trump's recent trip to Saudi Arabia and the summit meeting with heads of other Gulf Arab states.

Last month, a motion to halt sale of about $500m of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia as part of the $110 bn arm deal signed in May in Saudi Arabia was narrowly defeated.

Corker's decision adds weight to Tillerson's calls for the nations to work quickly together to reach a settlement to the dispute. Congress in turn has the power to vote to block the sale. He also said Qatar was by no means the only country in the region responsible for funding terrorism, and added Europe had to do more to influence U.S. thinking in the Middle East.

"Some of the elements" in the demands "will be very hard for Qatar to meet", Tillerson said last weekend.

President Donald Trump initially expressed his support for the actions taken against Qatar despite it hosting the largest USA military base in the Middle East.

They want Doha to close the al-Jazeera TV channel, restrict diplomatic ties with Iran, halt the construction of a Turkish military base in the country, and sever contacts with extremist organisations. Qatar is expected to reject the demands, and Turkey's President Erdogan has already done so, insisting it is no one's business but Turkey and Qatar if they have a military base on Qatari soil.

Tillerson on Sunday said that "while some of the elements will be very hard for Qatar to meet, there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution".

  • Joey Payne