That belief was reinforced Jan. 20, when Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, a frequent critic of the Obama administration, questioned the delay at a time when America's Sunni allies are looking for reassurance while diplomatic relations are improving between the US and their chief rival in the region, Iran.
"This dynamic has only grown worse because the administration has been so slow to offer support to those allies and partners, as we have recently seen with delayed fighter aircraft sales to Qatar and Kuwait."
Later, McCain told reporters he was actively working to hasten the sales.
According to Corker, Qatar is seeking 73 jets, 36 in the first tranche, a buy that would take 42 months to be delivered.
Corker declined to say who was briefing him, but AA source with knowledge of the meeting said the briefing with Corker had been on the books for some time and had not been was not something that had been recently scheduled.called.
"It hasn't come from the White House yet, and I'm having a conversation about that very topic today," Corker told Defense News. "First thing I want to do is understand why the request, which has been held up for almost two years, hasn't come to Congress yet. There has to be some reason why the White House is holding it."
"It's been open for two years, it's been rather unusual," Corker said. "Personally I'd like to see it move along."
"I don't think anybody is going to criticize anyone for being careful about who we sell weaponry to at this point — with the world such as it is, especially in that part of the world," McCaskill told Defense News.
The scrutiny on these requests comes as Washington has stepped up arms sales to assuage its old allies wary of the warming relationship with Tehran. Since the Gulf Cooperation Council Summit at Camp David in May, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency has announced more than $20 billion in sales of bombs, aircraft, ships and other military equipment for Middle Eastern allies and Turkey.
While a boon to US American defense contractors in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets, the transfers have been criticized as fueling a dangerous new arms race in the Middle East — just as the region descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks.
A spokesperson for the Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs declined to comment on the specific sales a matter of policy, but said arms transfers "fit into the overall US regional diplomatic strategy by improving interoperability with the US and Gulf Cooperation Council countries' forces to meet their legitimate external defense needs."
It is not unusual, "and in fact quite appropriate ... for transfers of major US weapons systems to any partner nation to require significant interagency consideration and consultation, given the potentially significant long-term implications for US national security interests," he said.
"The lengthy US bureaucratic process is really not serving anyone's interests," said Abdullah al-Shayji of Kuwait University, also a lecturer at the Mubarak Al-Abdullah Joint Staff Command College. "Kuwait is fighting in two wars, one in Yemen and another against ISIS. The State Department, Pentagon and the White House need to expedite these sales."
Support for the F-18 remains strong in Kuwait, which is good news for Boeing.
"The Super Hornet is one of the best solutions for us," Abdullah al-Foudary, commander of the Kuwait Air Force, told Reuters Jan. 21. "We have the legacy F-18s that we have to find a solution for in 2030-2040."
"A debate is ongoing on what sort of air power will Kuwait use," al-Shayji said. "This debate included the Eurofighter, Rafales and the F-18s, but the Air Force had clearly stated their preference for the F-18s and they at the end have the power in this matter."
The Air Force prefers the F-18 because adding in either Eurofighter or Rafale will "require the conversion of the systems used and will be more costly and time-consuming at a time when the oil prices are collapsing and may cause problems in the future if this deal is further delayed," he added.
Aaron Mehta in Washington contributed to this report.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.