Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that the ongoing isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies could lead to a war in the Gulf region, according to an interview he gave to Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, although he added that he still saw a chance to defuse the tension.
“There is a danger that this dispute could lead to war,” Gabriel said citing what he called a “dramatic” harshness in relations between allied and neighbouring countries in the Gulf.
The foreign minister said personal talks this week with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and phone calls with the foreign ministers of Iran and Kuwait underscored his concerns.
“After my talks this week, I know how serious the situation is, but I believe there are also good chances to make progress.”
Gabriel also said that he had a phone conversation with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the Gulf situation on Friday and said that Tillerson showed a “very wise and prudent attitude” that has contributed to calming the conflict.
Yet while Tillerson was “calming” the conflict, during a press conference on Friday Trump appeared to be adding fire to it, when the president accused Qatar of being a “high level” funder of terrorism even as the Pentagon and Tillerson cautioned against the military, commercial and humanitarian effects of a blockade imposed by Arab states and others.
As expected, on Saturday Saudi Arabia and Bahrain welcomed Trump’s demand for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism, but did not respond to a U.S. Department of State call for them to ease pressure on the Gulf state. After severing ties with Qatar on Monday, Saudi Arabia said it was committed to “decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism” in a statement carried by state news agency SPA, attributed to “an official source”.
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