China / World

Germany accuses Trump of stirring Gulf conflict

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-06-08 07:32

Recent military contracts 'raise risk of new spiral in arms sales'

BERLIN/DOHA - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday accused US President Donald Trump of stirring up conflicts in the Middle East and risking a new arms race as Qatar's neighbors cut ties with Doha.

"US President Trump's recent giant military contracts with Gulf monarchies raise the risk of a new spiral in arms sales," Gabriel warned in an interview with the Handelsblatt daily to appear Wednesday.

"This policy is completely wrong and is certainly not Germany's policy," he said.

"I am very concerned with the dramatic escalation and the consequences for the whole region," Gabriel said.

Saudi Arabia and allies including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced on Monday they were severing diplomatic relations and closing air, sea and land links with Qatar.

They accused Doha of harboring extremist groups.

The UAE has banned people from publishing expressions of sympathy toward Qatar and will punish offenders with a jail term of up to 15 years, local media reported on Wednesday.

Qatari nationals will not be allowed to board Qantas flights to Dubai because the UAE has banned them from passing through its airports, an executive at the Australian airline has said.

The West African country of Mauritania, a member of the Arab League, also severed ties with Qatar on Tuesday, and OPEC member Gabon also condemned Doha.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for unity among Gulf states on Tuesday, saying he was ready to back "all initiatives to encourage calm".

Energy-rich Qatar has long had strained ties with its neighbors but the move by Riyadh and its supporters shocked observers, raising fears the crisis could destabilize an already volatile region.

$110b deal with Riyadh

The dispute comes less than a month after Trump visited Saudi Arabia and called for Muslim nations to unite against extremism.

Trump on Tuesday backed the regional efforts to isolate Qatar, supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies and suggesting that the key US ally - home to the largest US air base in the Middle East - has been funding extremism.

During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Trump signed arms contracts worth $110 billion with Riyadh.

Gabriel warned against completely isolating Qatar and said the move is an attack on the Gulf state's very existence.

"Such a 'Trumpification' of relations in a region already susceptible to crises is particularly dangerous," Gabriel said.

He added that the nuclear deal agreed with Iran in 2015 had allowed just such an escalation to be avoided.

"A toxic conflict between neighbors is that last thing we need," Gabriel warned.

He was scheduled to meet his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in Berlin on Wednesday. Jubeir said on Tuesday in Berlin that Qatar must "change their policies" and stop supporting "extremist groups".

Afp - Reuters - Ap

Germany accuses Trump of stirring Gulf conflict

Hot Topics