Event Reports

"We Want to See Actions"

by Stefan Stahlberg

H.E. Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir about Saudi relations to Qatar, Iran and the US

Saudi Arabia is a key state in a region which is marked by instability and conflict. The Kingdom just recently proved its influence: Several Gulf States, led by Saudi Arabia, cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar. The Saudi Foreign Minister H.E. Al Jubeir spoke about various topics at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Berlin: the difficult relations of Saudi Arabia to the State of Qatar, to the Islamic Republic of Iran, but also about the good relationship to the US.
Currently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is very present in the media as it cut all ties with its neighbour, Qatar. H.E. Adel Al Jubeir considered these events as a “painful decision” and stressed that “we have no interest to harm Qatar and his citizens”, since the Saudis usually consider themselves and their "brothers in Qatar" as one “family”. Nevertheless, according to the Foreign Minister, there was an agreement with Qatar: The Emirate was supposed to stop supporting terrorist groups as well as destabilising other countries' internal affairs. Although the government of Qatar agreed, they did not fulfil the terms of agreement. Thus, “our patience has run out” said Al Jubeir. However, he re-emphasised that the cut of relations is neither due to the visit of US President Trump nor due to potentially false news posted by Russian hackers.

“If Iran changes its behaviour, we can normalise the relationship”

Besides that, the foreign minister issued criticism against the biggest opponent in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said, the country is a supporter of terrorists, pursues money laundering, destabilises Lebanon and Yemen and fuels the conflict in Syria and Iraq. According to Al Jubeir, a crucial question is if one can negotiate rationally with Iran: If Iran is a revolution rather than a nation state, then it does not act logically and there is no potential to building up sustainable relations, said Al Jubeir. However, the foreign minister underlined his diplomatic willingness to negotiate: “If Iran changes its behaviour, the relationship will normalise.” But to this extend “we want to see actions”.
Deputy General Secretary of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Dr. Gerhard Wahlers, emphasised in his welcoming speech the importance of open dialogue: ”As a foundation, we strive to make a contribution to the mutual understanding of different perspectives and challenges. Today’s event is a good example of it.” Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is the only German political foundation which has a programme for the Gulf States. It carries out numerous projects to facilitate exchange and understanding within the Gulf States as well as regarding Germany and Europe.

Trump’s “powerful message” to the world

According to Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia shares the common goal of containing Iran with the US. Trump and the Saudis agree that one must fight united against the so-called Islamic State. Thus, Al Jubeir viewed positively that Trump undertook his first foreign trip to Riyadh, which has been “a powerful message”: The USA intends to fight, together with the Muslim world, against global terrorism. In this regard, Al Jubeir defended Trump’s “travel ban”, as he would not consider it as a “Muslim ban”. He said, there are in fact 55 Muslim countries in the world and only 7 were affected by the ban: Failed states or countries which are on the verge of failure and one cannot trust on their reliability of travel documents, according to Al Jubeir.

The question of how security can be guaranteed in an increasingly unstable region, also played an important role during the discussion with the audience. Al Jubeir acknowledged that in the past also private individuals from Saudi Arabia financially supported radical religious groups. Nonetheless, Al Jubeir said, the Kingdom has already introduced several policies to prevent such support.
Contact Person

Simon Engelkes

Simon  Engelkes bild

Desk Officer in the Department Middle East and North Africa

simon.engelkes@kas.de +216 70 02 94 60 +216 71 96 23 81