10 June, 2017
German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel is worried that the blockade of air and sea ports in Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its Muslim extremist allies in the middle east could lead to a new regional war in the Gulf region. In an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, he said “There is a danger that this dispute could lead to war” This would represent a “dramatic” escalation in tensions between Qatar and neighbouring countries in the Gulf.
Gabriel said personal talks this week with his the foreign ministers of 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,” he concluded.
Gabriel also referred to 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, President 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. Trump is talking bollocks of course, while its true that Qatar does support terrorist activity, both Saudi Arabia and the USA are far bigger suppliers of arms, money and expertise to terrorist organisations.
Today 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 tiny but wealthy 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”.
The real cause of the conflict is not Qatar’s support for terrorism of course, but its abandonment of support for the US / Saudi pet project of an oil and gas pipeline from The Gulf through Syrian territory to the Mediterranean.It seems the Qatari’s have grasped the idea that Assad, with support from Iran and Russia, is winning the war against ISIS despite US and Saudi intervention in support of the Islamic extremists.
A separate SPA report on acknowledged Tillerson’s call for Qatar to curtail support for terrorism, but did not mention his concession that apart from was hurting ordinary Qataris and impairing business dealings in The Gulf it is also harming the U.S. fight against the Islamic State militant group. Saudi Arabia said its action followed the conclusions of last month’s Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, where Trump delivered a speech about Islamic extremism.
Meanwhile the joker in the middle eastern pack, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan vowed to continue supporting Qatar. “Now, there are ones who are bothered because of us being together with our Qatari brothers or sending and exporting food supplies, drugs etc – no matter if they are in hunger or thirst – should excuse us. We will continue to give all our support to Qatar,” Erdogan said at an iftar (fast-breaking meal) with members of his AK Party in Istanbul, quoted by RT.
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