Germany and the Qatar crisis
By : Dr. Gunter Mulack
:: The recent visit by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to the Gulf — starting off in Saudi Arabia, and then to Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Kuwait — should not be seen as a new, separate mediation effort. It is, rather, a sign that Germany is looking to help facilitate the actual mediation, through Kuwait, in the Gulf’s ongoing dispute with Qatar.
Germany is the leading power in the EU and one of the strongest economic players in the world. But because of its history, it has never played a political role that is commensurate to its economic strength.
As a partner of all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states Germany is very much concerned with the stability of the Middle East and the GCC in particular. Germany is an important partner not only in economic cooperation but also in security, culture and higher education. On Friday and Saturday it will host the G-20 Summit in Hamburg.
The security and stability of the Arabian Peninsula is very much in Germany’s best interests. International terrorism is also a threat to Germany, and therefore the country will be a partner to the GCC in combating that threat, without taking sides.
During the last month, Germany hosted Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, as well his counterparts from Qatar and Iran. In all talks, Germany encouraged its partners to seek a peaceful solution to the tensions and to avoid any aggravation of the crisis.
Minister Gabriel, during his visit to Saudi Arabia, proposed a joint strategy to cut off financial support — by whomever — to radical organizations, such as Daesh. Only a joint approach by all GCC states will be successful.
International terrorism is also a threat to Germany, and therefore the country will be a partner to the GCC states in combating that threat, without taking sides.
Concerning the problems posed by Qatar’s political activities, Germany supports a diplomatic solution through the mediation by Kuwait, as well as through dialogue.
A split of the GCC and a growing crisis will only harm the unity of the region, and also affect German relations with all GCC member states. Only Iran would benefit from a further tightening of this crisis.
Of course, Qatar has to show its willingness to play a constructive role in settling the problems. But the other Arab states — under the wise leadership of Saudi Arabia — should also concentrate on positive ways to settle the issue through dialogue.
Only a unified stand — including by Qatar — against the threats of terrorism will be successful. Germany will remain a reliable partner to all member states of the GCC, and will always be willing to engage in the search for a stable solution to the existing problems.
:: Dr. Gunter Mulack is a retired German ambassador and at present the executive director of the German Orient Institute in Berlin. He was ambassador to Bahrain, Kuwait and Syria and consul general in Casablanca, along with other postings.
:: Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.