On Monday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., threatened to choke off arms sales to U.S. Gulf allies because they are pressuring Qatar on terror financing. In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Corker promised to shut down all arms sales to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) if it does not immediately “resolve the current dispute” with Qatar.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) June 26, 2017
Corker has a long history of supporting initiatives for Qatar. His latest action on behalf of the oil-rich nation follows a disturbing pattern of carrying water for Doha.
Several Middle Eastern nations have decided to boycott the nation of Qatar, highlighting its worrisome support for terrorist organizations. They have released 13 mandates for Qatar, which call for the country to stop its close relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida, among other jihadi outfits. The Arab nations are also demanding that Turkish and Iranian influences be removed from the region and that Qatar shut down its Al Jazeera media network. The demands are very much in line with protecting American interests and putting pressure on U.S. adversaries.
And President Trump appears to support the initiative, as he recently labeled Qatar “a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
When in a series of tweets, the president accurately described Qatar as a state funder of terror, Corker seemingly mocked Trump to reporters, shaking his head and asking: “The president?”
It appears that Corker is not acting out of concern for more advanced armaments entering the Middle East (he recently approved a $100 billion-plus arms deal with Saudi Arabia), but seemingly as an activist for Qatari interests. The Tennessee senator has in the past lobbied Obama officials for arms sales to the Gulf state.
Last year, Corker personally lobbied Obama national security adviser Susan Rice on the merits of selling 72 F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft to Qatar.
Al-Monitor reports that Corker “urged her” to let a proposed arms sale through and dismissed concerns that the massive fighter jet deal could upset Israel’s regional Qualitative Military Edge (QME).
“I want the administration to bring forth the Qatar sales, and I've met with the White House toward that end," Corker told Al-Monitor in March, 2016. "I support it and hope that they're going to be forthcoming."
In January 2016, he publicly pushed for Qatar’s fighter jets, asking the White House to accelerate sales to Doha.
In early June, Corker told Al Jazeera (the Qatar-controlled media network) that the U.S. should not encourage the embargo of Qatar. "We have got to deal with all of the people in the region,” Corker said. “We have got some assets in Qatar that I visited not too long ago that are very important to us.”
Corker is infamously known in Republican circles as being the man who delivered a mechanism for President Obama to approve the Iran nuclear deal without the consent of Congress. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker authored the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. His bill torched the treaty provision in the Constitution, allowing for President Obama to forge an agreement with the world’s foremost terror sponsor. The Treaty Clause, found in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution, requires that two-thirds of Senate support for any treaties made by the president with foreign nations.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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