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In search of conciliation – Foreign Minister Gabriel in the Gulf region

He is the first high-ranking Western politician to travel to the region since the start of the Qatar crisis: Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel set off on Monday (3 July) on a three‑day trip to the Arabian Peninsula. In Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, he called on the parties to the conflict to show a readiness to compromise.

Dispute among brothers

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir receiving Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jeddah

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir receiving Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jeddah
© Michael Gottschalk/photothek.de

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir receiving Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jeddah

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir receiving Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jeddah

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir receiving Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jeddah

In a region already stricken by tensions, instability, crises, failing states and war, a dispute broke out a few weeks ago among the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Since early June, Qatar has been isolated by its neighbours, which are accusing the Emirate of, among other things, financing terrorism. A list of demands made by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has been rejected by Qatar on the basis of its national sovereignty. The fronts seem to have hardened. The German Foreign Minister stated before departing: “We are concerned that mistrust and discord could ultimately weaken all sides and the Gulf Peninsula as a whole.”

  

“The conflict affects us too.”

Gabriel was in the region to gain a comprehensive and nuanced insight into the situation there. In several bilateral talks with representatives of the governments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar, he is calling for efforts to ease the acute tension. At the same time, he stressed:

We support neither one side nor the other. We are not taking anyone’s part. However, the conflict in the Gulf not only concerns whose involved in this dispute but also affects us and our interests. That goes for the fight against IS as well as the stability of a region which has been hit hard by crises, tensions and war and is facing major economic and social challenges for the future.

The Foreign Minister therefore appealed to the parties to the conflict to transform the Gulf Cooperation Council into a strong forum for cooperation and conflict resolution. “What is needed now is an earnest dialogue among everyone involved with a view to finding constructive solutions through negotiation."

‎Determined efforts to combat terrorism

Frank conversation: meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar

Frank conversation: meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar
© Gottschalk/photothek.net

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Frank conversation: meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar

Frank conversation: meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar

Frank conversation: meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar

The containment of the conflict will require understanding on all sides for the concerns of the others and a readiness to compromise. Furthermore, concrete and practicable responses are needed to the complaints among the parties to the conflict. This applies all the more when it comes to the financing of terrorism. The German Foreign Minister reiterated this in his meetings with his counterparts in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar: “We are convinced that stopping the financing of terrorist organisations and extremists – no matter by whom or from where – is absolutely essential: with no ifs and buts, and in a practicable and transparent manner. If better mechanisms for this can be developed, then this crisis could even ultimately strengthen our instruments in the fight against terrorism. However, this requires goodwill, de‑escalation and dialogue on all sides.”

The path to negociations

Kuwait, where Gabriel arrived on Wednesday (5 July), has a key role to play. “We are grateful to the Emir for his mediation efforts and strongly support his endeavours. His country is making tremendous efforts to bring the parties to the conflict together.”

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministers of Qatar’s four adversaries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE – met in Cairo to discuss Qatar’s response to their list of demands. The sanctions imposed on Qatar have not been tightened. Foreign Minister Gabriel considered this a step in the right direction:

Today’s meeting of the coalition’s four in Cairo was not a breakthrough, but at least it did not lead to new sanctions. In light of the current situation, this is a result that will not complicate the further process at any rate. We are pleased by the commitment shown by US Secretary of State and the Kuwaitis, which was instrumental in helping to reach this outcome. It is important now for the parties to enter into a negotiation process.

Find out more:

Foreign Minister Gabriel ahead of his trip to the Gulf region

Germany and Qatar: bilateral relations

Germany and Kuwait: bilateral relations

Germany and Saudi Arabia: bilateral relations

Germany and the United Arab Emirates: bilateral relations


Last updated 06.07.2017

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