Gulf media has two reports on the 9th Annual U.S. Islamic World Forum, sponsored by the U.S. Brookings Institution and which opened yesterday. The first report provides an overview of the forum opening:
The ninth session of the US-Islamic World Forum, organised annually by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the Brookings Doha Centre, opened yesterday as part of a continuous effort to help bridge the divide between the United States and the Islamic world. This year the conference carries the theme ‘New voices, new directions’ as a reflection of the major changes and new opportunities sweeping the Arab and Islamic world. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohamed bin Jabr al-Thani, Minister’s Assistant for International Co-operation Affairs and Chairman of Permanent Committee for Organising Conferences, gave the keynote speech at the opening of the summit, where he addressed the realities of the Middle East’s ongoing political turmoil. ‘With the past political and economic changes as a result of the Arab Spring uprising, some wonder what the effects will be, whether they will result in some Islamic regimes opposed to the US, and what will be the stance taken by the Western governments.’ He said that it would be wise for Western governments to side with the Arab people, or they may soon find that have lost their allies, distorting the image of the West in the Arab world. Sheikh Ahmed said that ‘we have to deal with the changes positively’, encourage countries seeking peaceful relations and ‘urge countries that still use violence against its citizens to cease using violence and grant their people the choice of freedom without humanitarian oppression. History will not have any mercy on such oppressive regimes. It is in the interest of such autocratic regimes to pursue successful democratic examples like Indonesia, and to benefit from such experiences.’ Sheikh Ahmed advised that, due to the nature of the changes in many Arab countries, the US and Western governments must in future have policies based on ‘comprehending the nature of such countries’, finding common ground, and building confidence in dialogue and mutual understanding instead of conflict.
Read the rest here.
The second report discusses an interview with Farah Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, US Department of State who describes President Obama’s relations with the Islamic world as “a departure from that of previous administrations.”
A post from yesterday indicated that for the first time, members of open Middle Eastern Muslim Brotherhood groups will be participating in the forum which also features a seminar on promoting Islamic charities that includes the leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). The post also identified the large representation of both the U.S. and Global Muslim Brotherhood as well as U.S. government officials.