Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Saturday expressed regret at a lack of attention to Middle East conflicts, as the West pushes them to show more solidarity with Ukraine.
“The humanitarian suffering that we have seen in Ukraine, and everyone is talking about it right now ... has been the suffering of a lot of countries in this region for years and nothing happened,” Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a roundtable at the annual Doha Forum.
“We have never seen a global response to address those sufferings,” he added, evoking “the brutality against the Syrian people, or against the Palestinians or against the Libyans or against the Iraqis, or against the Afghans.”
Al Thani expressed hope that the Ukraine conflict would serve as “a wake-up call for everyone in the international community, to look at our region and to address the issues ... with the same level of commitment that we have seen between Russia and Ukraine.”
Hundreds of thousands of people in Yemen have been killed, directly or indirectly, and millions have been displaced as a result of its years-long conflict, in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The war in Syria is estimated to have killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions more since it began with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in 2011.
In a video message to the Doha Forum earlier on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Qatar to increase natural gas production because of the conflict.
“The future of Europe rests with your efforts,” he told the audience that included the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
He drew comparisons between the war in his country and the conflict in Syria, where Russia’s intervention in 2015 was seen as having turned the tide in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor.
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan appeared to support the Qatari position.
“The engagement of the global community ... now and then, it’s quite different,” he said at the forum.
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