Friday, March 5, 2010

Qatar-US Partnership

A story that demonstrates the Obama administration's continuing commitment to build mutual understanding between the US and the Muslim World makes hardly a mention in the US press.

In today's Gulf Time, we read a locally prepared (that is, no wire service) report on Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, speaking at the residence of the US ambassador to Qatar. The complete story can be found here.

I quote a couple pieces here:
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Tamara Wittes, was speaking at US Ambassador, Joseph LeBaron’s residence yesterday, where she told reporters that the US would be continuing to work with organisations in Qatar and the region to promote political participation and offer assistance regarding issues on local agendas.
Wittes explained that she is also visiting Qatar to follow up Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s recent visit to the country and her participation in the US-Islamic Forum – something she argues indicates the US administration’s commitment to broader participation with the region and the Muslim world.
Speaking about the current partnerships between the US and Qatar, Wittes mentioned the sister school network, which presently includes two schools from Washington and Boston, who have joined with the Doha Independent Secondary School and the Yarmook Preparatory School for Boys.
She explained that a group of some 15 students from the US will be visiting Qatar later this month to continue the development of the relationship between the schools, which have already been conducting video conference and partaking in other forms of communication.
A number of other partnerships include one between the US-based Solitary Centre and the National Human Rights Committee, which will be looking at improving labour conditions and rights for workers in Qatar. The National Democratic Institute will also be working with the Municipal Council to assist with local governance and related issues.
“These are all examples of how the US is working to support ongoing relations between Qatar and the US, and the creation of partnerships between government, businesses and civil society,” she argued.
Referring to Barack Obama’s work in the region, she claimed that efforts in the Muslim World depend on three ‘pillar stones’: mutual respect, mutual interests and mutual responsibility; a commitment to universal values, including a commitment to human rights; and the US commitment to broadening engagement with Muslim communities and governments.
And the deputy assistant secretary argued that these commitments have been exemplified by the administration’s ongoing efforts in Qatar and the rest of the region.