C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 000143
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2019
TAGS: PREL, KPAO, QA
SUBJECT: US-ISLAMIC WORLD FORUM: IMPACT COMES ON THE MARGINS
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOSEPH E. LEBARON, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D
(SBU) KEY POINTS
-- The sixth annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum, organized
jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Qatari Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, brought together dozens of academics and
politicians from the United States and the Muslim World to
lead discussions on topics such as public opinion trends, the
Arab-Israeli conflict, the financial crisis, and the
Administration's approach to the Muslim world.
-- Current and former USG officials such as CENTCOM
Commander General David Petraeus, former SecState Madeleine
Albright, and Congressmen Brian Baird and Keith Ellison,
participated in the Forum as well as events organized by the
Embassy, including dinners, public diplomacy outreach and
media interviews, including with Al Jazeera (septel).
-- GEN Petraeus heard from prominent Qataris that the
Administration should consult Qatar's leaders on regional
dilemmas, as they want to play a positive and supportive
role, and felt that they were disregarded by the previous
-- Qatar's Prime Minister conveyed this same message to Dr.
Albright in a private meeting.
-- Conferences such as the Brookings event are, first and
foremost, a Qatari tool to increase the country's
-- U.S. participants in this annual event tell us that the
formal panel discussions were insightful, but not
groundbreaking. According to them, the real value of the
Forum, which is organized at Qatari expense, comes on the
sidelines as participants exchange ideas and proposals
-- Virtually no Qataris attended the Forum (they are not the
organizers' principal audience). But Embassy took advantage
of the presence of prominent Americans at the event to
arrange speaking engagements with key Qatari audiences, all
of which responded positively, especially to Congressman
END KEY POINTS AND COMMENTS
1. (SBU) For the sixth year running, the Qatari Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, in partnership with the Saban Center on
Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, convened a
U.S.-Islamic World Forum, bringing together dozens of
academics, politicians and social activists from the United
States and the Muslim world. Topics addressed during panel
discussions included trends in public opinion among the
world's Muslims; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the financial
crisis; energy policy; and the Administration's approach to
the Muslim world.
2. (SBU) General David Petraeus, Madeleine Albright and the
Qatari Prime Minister spoke at the opening plenary session
devoted to "common challenges." Also on the panel were Anwar
Ibrahim of Malaysia, Saeb Erekat of the Palestinian
Authority, and Barham Salih, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq.
3. (SBU) Later in the Forum, Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA)
addressed how the United States and the Muslim world could
work together through science education to strengthen
knowledge societies. Congressman Keith Ellison (DFL-MN)
spoke on a panel devoted to the Administration's approach to
the Muslim world.
4. (SBU) On the margins of the Forum, Ellison appeared on Al
Jazeera's Arabic channel as the "mid-day guest," and was also
interviewed by Turkish national television and Egypt's
Al-Hayat TV. Each interview focused on his experiences as
the first Muslim member of Congress and how the Obama
Administration would approach the world's Muslims. Ellison
also granted an interview to Qatari Arabic daily "Al Watan."
5. (SBU) Ellison spoke to the dean, faculty and students at
Qatar University's Sharia College and responded to questions
about religious freedom and the lives of ordinary Muslims in
the United States. The Congressman also spoke to a gathering
of young Qatari men organized by the General Youth Authority.
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6. (SBU) Congressman Baird granted an interview to Arabic
daily "Al Raya," and visited the Qatar Science and Technology
Park as well as the campus of Texas A&M University at Qatar
for briefings on joint U.S.-Qatari science and research
7. (C) At a dinner in honor of General Petraeus held by the
Ambassador, prominent Qatari guests told the General and the
Congressmen that the Administration would do well to consult
closely with Qatar's leaders on regional issues, as they want
to be helpful in resolving them. The Minister of Finance
noted that Qatar represented ExxonMobil's biggest investment
in the world. An Amiri advisor noted that Qatar's agenda
does not differ from that of the United States because "we
want regional stability to promote our economy; remember,
regional problems impact us first."
8. (C) The advisor said that Qatar's leaders believed that
they were "sticking their necks out" to support the United
States economically and militarily, and yet the Amir was
"snubbed" by not being received for a state visit in
Washington by the previous Administration and by President
Bush engaging in "childish games" by skipping Qatar on his
tour of the region in early 2008.
9. (C) According to Madeleine Albright, the Qatari Prime
Minister conveyed a positive message to her in a private
meeting, noting that Qatar wanted a "new chapter" with the
USG and that it should be possible for Qatar to find ways to
be supportive of the United States on regional policies.