Doha / Information Office / October 21
The Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS) hosted on Wednesday HE Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater in the annual "2020 S R Nathan Distinguished Lecture" event, which hosts an elite of academics, experts, specialists and diplomats.
HE Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater gave an online lecture entitled "Small States in a Contested Era: A Qatari Perspective", which shed light on many regional and international issues, the challenges facing the small states in a multipolar world and the extent of their ability to prosper and progress amidst issues of development, globalization, security and pluralism, while preserving independence and identity in the face of external threats.
HE the Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs she touched on the effective tools that a small country may possess to be able to find its way through and determine its position, and the extent to which that country has benefited from history to create a prosperous future, as well as the areas in which that country can cooperate in and the mechanisms to achieve this, inferring the vital and important role carried out by Qatar Airways during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which received appreciation and praise from various countries around the world.
HE Al Khater highlighted the ability of the State of Qatar to face challenges, citing the progress and prosperity that Qatar has achieved despite the ongoing unjust blockade imposed on it for more than three years, stressing the pioneering role of the State of Qatar in the international arena, whether in the political or economic fields, as one of the largest exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world, as well as the active role it plays in mediating regional and international conflicts.
At the outset of her lecture, HE Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater said that the world has entered a new era of structural changes, by moving from bipolarity to multipolarity, pointing to the role of technology in the transformation into a world more interconnected than ever before.
Despite this fact, there is a lot of division in an unprecedented way, and this division leads to a state of chaos, HE Al Khater continued, noting the paradigm shift in discourse, the human rights-centered approach to global politics, and the shift to focus on countering terrorism. She indicated that this does not mean that violent extremism and terrorism is not a challenge facing the international community as a whole, rather a distortion of perceptions of the approach that addresses human rights issues.
HE Lolwah Al Khater added that the challenges facing the small country are different, although there are commonalities, indicating that climate change and natural disasters are a common concern for all countries of the world.
HE Al Khater highlighted the experience of the State of Qatar in facing the unjust blockade imposed on it, and how Doha succeeded in dealing with it since June 2017, referring to the remarkable successes in self-reliance, foiling all plans that targeted the State of Qatar and overcoming the difficulties caused by the blockade.
She noted the well-deserved successes which the State of Qatar has achieved in dealing with the repercussions of the blockade, pointing out that Qatar's gross domestic product (GDP) increased in 2017 after the blockade, and it is constantly increasing.
HE Al Khater said that Qatar is a major contributor to the global energy market, specifically through the supply of LNG to all parts of the world. She indicated that Qatar Petroleum is partaking in huge global projects, some of which are located in the blockading countries, such as the project in Egypt which was operational in 2019, and it continues to supply the UAE with LNG despite the differences, based on the strategic position Doha adopts on de-politicizing energy, gas supplies and energy projects.
HE Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater said that some believed that the State of Qatar would surrender within weeks of the blockade, which did not happen. The steps undertaken by Qatar were distinct, and the first three decisive steps which Qatar took were "preventing military intervention", "political flexibility", and "prompt direction toward alternative supply chains", and most importantly, strengthening unity and solidarity on the domestic front, and the realistic and rational approaches have proven to be more effective in the long term.
HE Al Khater affirmed that the State of Qatar has completely succeeded in managing this file. Once the immediate challenges were addressed, Qatar resorted to the international law to obtain its rights and prove the fairness of its position. In the long term, Qatar has focused on diversifying resources and bilateral relations, and promoting important and vital areas such as food security.
HE the Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted the vital role of the State of Qatar in all crises, including the coronavirus pandemic, where Qatar Airways remained operational during the pandemic in transporting people and goods, and transporting relief, medical and humanitarian aid to the brotherly and friendly countries; therefore, it is considered the most prominent international company that made such efforts, which was highly appreciated worldwide.
HE Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater reviewed the political and diplomatic efforts of the State of Qatar and mediation to resolve differences in various conflict areas, indicating that these efforts are numerous and broad, including the mediation in Yemen in 2007 and 2008, as well as the mediation between the Lebanese parties in 2008, and the mediation between Sudan and Chad in 2009. In 2010, there was the mediation between Djibouti and Eritrea, and in 2011 there was a Qatari mediation between the Sudanese government and some Sudanese opposition components, and in the same year there was a mediation between Sudan and Eritrea.
In 2012, Qatar mediated between Fatah and Hamas to calm down the situation in Palestine, and in 2015, Qatar was a mediator between the Libyan Tabu and Tuareg tribes. Between 2018 and 2020 Qatar led the mediation between the Taliban and the United States, which culminated in the signing of a peace agreement in Doha last February, in addition to the Qatari sponsorship of the intra-Afghan peace talks.
Her Excellency expressed her hope that all Afghan parties would agree and reach an agreement in the near future, indicating that one of the main victories for the Qatari mediation is the inclusion of Afghan women in the negotiating delegations. She noted that the mere presence of the Taliban during negotiations with Afghan delegations that includes among its members, female members, is in itself a victory.
Her Excellency pointed out that there is great respect for Afghan women from all sides during the talks, adding that the Afghan issue will be resolved between the Afghan parties themselves without interference, as all negotiation methods are facilitated.
HE Al Khater indicated that small countries can play a role in de-escalation, de-polarization, and de-escalation of tensions.
At the end of her lecture, HE Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah bint Rashid Al Khater touched on the issue of identity, indicating that the state's identity includes several elements, some of which are modern, some are traditional, and some are global. She noted that the issue of identity is one of the important issues that all countries should pay attention to, adding that there are many lessons that can be learned from the Singaporean experience, especially with regard to human capital development.
In response to a question about the nature of the community front unit in the State of Qatar, which Her Excellency referred to in her lecture and whether it was formed naturally or through specific policies, HE Al Khater said that the measures taken by the blockading countries in 2017 touched the citizens and residents of the State of Qatar personally and affected their lives directly. It was not just a political or diplomatic dispute like the previous procedure was in 2014, and this is what made people automatically and naturally rally around the leadership of the State of Qatar, which is what the government of the State of Qatar built upon after that, by creating a discourse that gather all whoever lives on the land of the State of Qatar.
In response to a question about whether there is an end to the blockade in the future, HE Al Khater assured that it could be, but it will take time, and that the solution will be gradual.
Commenting on a question about the recent agreements signed between some Arab countries and Israel, HE Al Khater stressed that the Palestinian issue must be viewed in its historical depth, therefore peace can only be based on a just and sustainable solution, and no solution or peace can exclude the Palestinians.
On the United States' elections and the impact of the next US president on the US policy in the Middle East, HE Al Khater said that Qatar has continuously worked to reduce polarization in the region, and will continue to push this message to all governments in friendly countries. She stressed that it is important for the Gulf states to have unified and consistent positions towards issues related to the Gulf security and coexistence, independent of any changes occurring outside the region.
On the role of the United Nations in the Middle East region, which is witnessing divisions and conflicts, HE Al Khater referred to the success of the United Nations in preserving the resilience of vulnerable societies, such as dealing with the issue of refugees, adding that the international organizations - despite all the problems and shortcomings - are still the best consensus umbrella among many countries in alleviating some humanitarian disasters, as evidenced by the UNRWA, which supports the steadfastness of the Palestinian refugees.
Regarding the lessons learned from the support of the people of Qatar for the government, HE Al Khater underlined that maintaining effective and interactive communication by governments with the society is essential. She noted that social media helps greatly in this regard, however it can be manipulated easily. Therefore, caution and follow-up are crucial to identify what is real and what is fake.
Speaking about the type of skills and areas which the new generation should take into account, HE Al Khater stressed that in order to reach the highest stages of prosperity in the future, education, medicine and energy sectors must receive a special attention and high skills and experience in the State of Qatar.