A “power game” in the Middle East and the Mediterranean has led to a series of proxy wars that have entrenched regional divisions, says Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
Speaking at the Mediterranean Dialogues in Rome on Saturday, Sheikh Mohammed laid blame for the wars in Yemen, Libya and Iraq on “regional disorder, mainly driven by a game of power” being played out in countries such as Saudi Arabia.
“This state of polarisation … [is] driven by leaders who use stability as a justification and an obstacle against change,” he said, according to a statement released on Sunday by Qatar’s foreign ministry.
“Resisting change can mean people starting to lose hope, turning the region into a breeding ground for terrorism. It could then spill over from the region to Europe or anywhere else in the globe.”
Sheikh Mohammed said an increase in “impulsive and adventurous” regional leadership, along with a lack of formal mechanisms for smaller countries to submit grievances against larger nations, were at the heart of the game.
“To stop power players from continuing their games and their adventures … [we need] a dialogue that all countries adhere to regarding regional security,” the statement noted. “It also requires elevating and building on political, security and economic agreements, which will never be disrupted by political disputes.”
The foreign minister’s comments come as a Saudi-led siege of Qatar reaches the six-month mark.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the 32-year-old heir to the throne, has made a number of controversial decisions in recent years, including leading Saudi into a disastrous war in Yemen, overseeing a domestic political purge, and allegedly forcing Lebanon’s prime minister to announce his resignation from Riyadh.
At the same time, the Saudi-led bloc’s refusal to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Qatar has threatened a collapse of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a political and economic alliance of six Gulf nations, Sheikh Mohammed noted.
“All parties involved must reach a level of understanding and guiding security principles that everyone should adhere to rather than having bigger countries bully smaller ones,” he said, according to the foreign ministry statement.
He also cited the need to maintain an open dialogue with Iran, Saudi’s regional rival, noting that with all of Qatar’s other borders shut by the blockading countries, the connection with Iran was necessary “to provide for the needs of the people”.