H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
The US-Islamic World Forum
16-18 February 2008
Your Excellency President Karazai
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you all in Doha and I am pleased to inaugurate the proceeding of this forum which is held in Doha for the fifth time and is attended by an outstanding audience, which is a source of satisfaction.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to present to you some major points constituting, in my opinion, basic rules for any vision of the course of events.
There is no doubts that there are positive aspects in the relationship between the Islamic world and the United States. Still, there are also numerous aspects of deficiency and failure.
We are still witnessing the absence of serious and effective treatment which ensures laying the bases for a relationship along the course of constructive development that respects mutual interests.
The starting point should, in the first instance, be the acknowledgement of some facts related to the internal conditions of the states in Islamic world and the extent of external influences in the past and present on political, economic, social, intellectual and other aspects. Thus we create the correct environment for making political options that lead to positive transformation in the desired manner.
The challenges facing us in the Islamic world will persist, if we do not do our utmost to provide solutions that are satisfactory to the parties concerned on the basis of well studied policies built on dialogue and consultation on the widest possible level.
The international community has accepted a definite organization of its common relationships which provides collective solutions for problems. Such organization is based on dialogue and cooperation and serving common interest. Hence, we should not deal with this organization selectively depending on the concept of capability and opportunity thereby leading us to adopt the logic of force. In brief, it is our duty to give the multilateral nature of international relations the respect it deserves so that the force of law will prevail rather than the law of force.
The facts of the contemporary realities of the relationship between the Islamic world and the United States is also very important for facing future challenges. In this respect, there is the most serious challenge, namely settlement of the Palestinian issue and the conflict in the Middle East. The public opinion in the Islamic world is no longer convinced that we should remain in the category of failure because of unilateral policies that spring from bias disguised with politics, no matter how clever such logic is in depicting the causes of failure. What is needed here is a collective will to realize justice. What is true for this conflict also applies to other violent conflicts else where in the region such as the conflict in Iraq, the situation in Lebanon and the Iranian nuclear issue. These and other issues in the Islamic world beyond our region continue to constitute the basic source for tension and lack of trust.
Undoubtedly, continuation of such challenges makes talk of aspects of structuring regional security in its comprehensive sense a mere intellectual luxury not covering the solutions needed in the political, economic and social reality, solutions that put an end the causes of frustration and despair which perpetuate the lack of security and stability.
Political development on the basis of reform and the prevalence of democratic practices is useless unless it is accompanied by serious economic and social development programs.
Without these, factors that feed the sense of injustice and frustration and lead to mutual suspicions, escalating conflicts and rising violence at internal and international levels, will remain.
In this respect, we should pay special attention to educational programs and guided orientation to achieve positive coexistence. We should address problems of youth, the elimination of poverty, the promotion of dialogue culture and mutual understanding as well as avoidance of targeting the Islamic world because of the position of certain extremist groups. Indeed, extremism exists on both sides. What is currently taking place has political causes that should be addressed. If we really seek to deal with terrorism and to combat it, such efforts will not succeed unless we address the underlying causes and factors.
If we want to be convincing, we should, at the same time, succeed in making democracy prevail in international relations. If autocratic rule is unacceptable at the internal level, unilateral policies should also be eliminated at the international level with the accompanying double standard policies, absence of transparency and resort to force.
It is inevitable that we understand one another, respect different viewpoints and earnestly seek to settle our differences by peaceful means, as well as be ready to support one another in various aspects of life.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are some modest ideas that we hope will simulate fruitful discussions at this Forum. I wish you success and happy sojourn in the State of Qatar.