BERLIN, June 7 German Foreign Minister Sigmar
Gabriel expressed alarm about the sudden escalation of tensions
in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia and other states abruptly broke
off ties with Qatar, warning of the dangers of "Trumpification"
of relations in the region.
"I am extremely concerned about the dramatic escalation of
the situation and the consequences for the entire region,"
Gabriel told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper in an interview
published on Wednesday.
Gabriel, who is due to meet Saudi Arabia's foreign minister
on Wednesday, said he was surprised by the intensity of the
tensions erupting in the Gulf region.
"Such a Trumpification of relations with one another is
particularly dangerous in a region that is already rife with
crises," he told the newspaper, in an apparent reference to what
critics say is the increasingly divisive rhetoric seen since the
election of U.S. President Donald Trump last year.
"Qatar is apparently to be more or less completely isolated
and existentially targeted," he said, adding: "A further
escalation serves no one. The Middle East is a political and
military powder keg."
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
severed their ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of
supporting terrorism and Iran, opening the worst rift in years
among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
The three Gulf states announced the closure of transport
ties with Qatar and gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks
to leave their countries. Qatar was also expelled from a
Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Gabriel, a longtime critic of German arms sales, also
criticised Trump's recent large U.S. weapons sales to other
countries in the Gulf.
"The latest gigantic arms sales of the American president
with the Gulf monarchies increase the risk of a new arms race
spiral," he told the newspaper. "That is totally the wrong
policy, and certainly not the policy of Germany."
Trump sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on
his maiden foreign trip in May.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Adrian Croft)