Doha, Asharq Al-Awsat—Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Jaber Al Thani, Qatari Assistant Minister for International Cooperation, has defended his country’s support of Arab Spring states, emphasizing that Qatar has no hidden agenda and is only serving national and humanitarian interests.
In a meeting with Arab journalists on the sidelines of the 2013 Doha Forum, he acknowledged that change is coming and that openness requires the implementation of principles, such as human rights.
Sheikh Ahmad stressed that governments which took power in Arab Spring countries had inherited significant economic and social problems from the corrupt dictatorships they ousted, adding that they should be given time to resolve these.
He said it was important for tensions to be reduced in these countries, particularly by involving international institutions—such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—and allowing intellectuals and economists to contribute to help find solutions.
Sheikh Ahmad emphasized that the current situation requires new economic theories, following the failure of socialism and capitalism to bring prosperity to the world.
He said: “I think that these theories have not been formed yet, and we hope intellectuals and economists will contribute to this through their ideas during this forum.”
“We must not forget that the spread of poverty and unemployment, the lack of good living standards, and the violation of human rights under systems of government characterized by totalitarianism, oppression and corruption, were the driving force behind Arab revolutions which aimed at public participation in making political and economic decisions,” Sheikh Ahmad added.
He pointed to difficulties in implementing democracy saying, “There is a crisis but we only have the western model for democracy. Each country has its own values, peculiarities, identity, and demographic structure,” adding, “the gradual implementation of democracy is what Qatar currently needs.”
The Qatari Assistant Minister for International Cooperation also pointed to the growing number of civil institutions in the Arab world, stressing that this is essential for democratic development.
Sheikh Ahmad noted that Qatar has held regular forums under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to build bridges.
He said: “There are forums related to America and the Muslim world. There is a forum in Doha to inform policy makers in America about the other view in the Arab world, and to build bridges between Muslims and the United States, in order to avoid the view that Islam is the next threat to the West.”
On coordination between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states on democracy, he said: “There is no coordination between GCC member states on the implementation of democracy, or on human rights, because each state has its own views and private policies, not to mention each peoples’ aspirations. It is not possible to coordinate on this issue. Kuwait for instance, is ahead on the parliamentary side and Qatar is taking a different direction, as have the other states, but we must nevertheless benefit from the experiences of others.”
Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Jaber Al Thani also issued the closing remarks at the Doha Forum yesterday, characterizing the event as a success.
He said: “We have benefited from a rich exploration and discussion on a range of issues of global interests…we have received the thoughts and observations from current heads of state and heads of government, from former political leaders and from leading experts from around the world; all of whom have contributed to what makes the Doha Forum such an important event.”
“We all know that the world is becoming more interconnected, that we face problems that do not respect national boundaries nor regional areas. So many of the challenges we face are global in nature and the range of contributors reflected this fundamental aspect,” he added.