Dr. Khalid J. Al-Jaber Joins NCUSAR as Fellow

NATIONAL COUNCIL ON U.S.-ARAB RELATIONS WELCOMES DR. KHALID J. AL-JABER AS DISTINGUISHED INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS FELLOW

Al-Jaber Joins Collective of National Council Scholars Contributing Analysis on the Arab World and U.S.-Arab Relations

Washington, DC: The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations [ncusar.org], founded in 1983, is pleased to announce that Dr. Khalid J. Al-Jaber has been named a National Council Distinguished International Affairs Fellow.

In announcing the appointment, National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony said, “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Al-Jaber to this important position. His extensive experience as a journalist in Qatar and thoughtful and incisive academic scholarship on media in the Arab world, particularly in the Gulf, is necessary to the understanding of mass communication, public diplomacy, and news in and on the region. Dr. Al-Jaber will be a vital resource as the Council works to strengthen and expand its publications and bridge-building efforts.”

Al-Jaber is Editor-in-Chief of The Peninsula, Qatar’s leading English language daily newspaper. Previously, he served as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al Sharq (“The East”), the sister Arabic daily of The Peninsula. In addition, he is Principal at Global Media Consultants in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Among his additional responsibilities, Dr. Al-Jaber is Assistant Professor of Political Communication in the Gulf Studies Program (GSP) at Qatar University. The GSP, established and led by Dr. Abdullah Baabood in conjunction with College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Eiman Mustafawi and University President Dr. Hassan Rashid Al-Derham, and for which Dr. Anthony serves as a member of its advisory board, is in the process of becoming the world’s foremost center for Gulf studies. It is also the GCC region’s first accredited university program for Gulf studies offering Master’s and Ph.D. degrees.

Al-Jaber’s scholarship has appeared in academic and professional journals such as International Communication Gazette and the World Press Encyclopedia. He holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Florida, USA, and a Ph.D. in political communication from the University of Leicester, UK. He has also conducted postgraduate studies at Fordham, Stanford, and Georgetown Universities.

About the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations: Founded in 1983 and based in Washington, DC, the National Council is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. Information about the Council’s program, projects, events, and activities can be found at ncusar.org.

The Founding of the Gulf Cooperation Council: A Retrospective and Diplomatic Memoir

What follows is an edited transcript of recent discussions between His Excellency Abdulla Y. Bishara, Founding Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Dr. John Duke Anthony, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO as well as Founding Secretary of the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee.

H.E. Abdulla Bishara was not only the first leader of the GCC, but is also the longest-serving leader in the organization’s history. He was elected to four consecutive three-year terms from 1981 to 1993. Bishara was previously Ambassador of Kuwait to the United Nations from 1971 to 1981 and, prior to that, Director of the Office of Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

H.E. Bishara and Dr. Anthony’s friendship dates from the GCC’s May 1981 founding in Abu Dhabi. Dr. Anthony was one of the official guests present for the occasion, and since then has been invited to every GCC Annual Ministerial and Heads of State Summit. The two reconnected several times recently, first in Doha, where Bishara was the keynote speaker at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies’ Second Annual Gulf Studies Forum. Dr. Anthony also participated in the forum in addition to holding meetings with Qatar University officials, including Dr. Abdullah Baabood, Director of the University’s Gulf Studies Program, on whose Advisory Board Dr. Anthony serves. They met again a few days later in Riyadh, where they were among the invited guests for the GCC’s 36th Annual Heads of State Summit.

H.E. Abdulla Y. Bishara, Founding Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the organization’s longest and highest-ranking official to serve in that position for a record of four elected three-year terms, with National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony at the GCC’s 36th Annual Summit, December 10-11, 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

The transcript includes discussions between H.E. Bishara and Dr. Anthony regarding the GCC’s founding. An earlier report on this topic centered on how the founders envisioned emulating the European Union in matters regarding economic cooperation and integration. That report was offered in conjunction with analyses and assessments by incumbent GCC Secretary General Dr. Abdul Latif Bin Rashid Al Zayani in a seminar sponsored by the National Council and the Council’s U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee. Both reports venture behind the headlines. In places, they contest what are often mistakenly unchallenged views of the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the GCC.

This transcript does the same by providing hard-to-come-by information, insights, knowledge, and understanding regarding the geostrategic and geopolitical conditions of the time. Readers will also find material that bears on the GCC countries’ contemporary concerns, namely terrorism, regional security, and, by extension and implication, the ongoing issues and challenges represented by Iran and Iraq. As such, the transcript provides context and perspective on the current array of issues and challenges confronting the GCC’s decision makers as they face an uncertain future.

The account is composed in the format of questions from Dr. Anthony and responses from H.E. Bishara.

The Impetus for the GCC’s Founding

Q: Were you to address Americans and others who were not present when the GCC was founded in Abu Dhabi in May 1981, what would you have them recall as to the situation prevailing then that served to bring the GCC into being?

Death and destruction were at our doorstep. We were aghast at the nature and extent of the challenges we faced. Iran and Iraq were at each other’s throats, and each had populations as large or larger than ours combined.

A: Regardless of the fact that the GCC would likely have been established at some point, it was Iran’s and Iraq’s resort to armed conflict that provided the immediate geostrategic and geopolitical context and also the pretext for the GCC’s establishment, indeed its necessity. We were under a cloud. Death and destruction were at our doorstep. We were aghast at the nature and extent of the challenges we faced. (Would that the threatening issues in play then were not still in some ways present.) Iran and Iraq were at each other’s throats, and each had populations as large or larger than ours combined.

Q: Was it just the enormous demographic asymmetry that was such a cause for concern?

A: It was that and the fact that each had armed forces that were larger, better equipped, and more experienced than all six of ours. Given their and our respective capacities at the time, it was also that their swords were drawn and were being used; in contrast, ours, impressive as they were in the eyes of some, were still sheathed. As such, the imbalance was precarious.

Q: But as the two were fighting only each other, and neither Iran nor Iraq appeared ready to attack any of the GCC’s founding members, how did this affect the situation?

A: One had little choice but to assume the worst. Not to prepare for what sooner or later would likely be coming toward us was hardly an option.

[LEFT] H.E. Abdulla Y. Bishara; [MIDDLE] HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1970 to 2005) and present Deputy Prime Minister; and [RIGHT] H.E. Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, at the 10th GCC Summit in Muscat, Oman, in 1989. Photo: Dr. John Duke Anthony.

Q: What made this seem so certain?

A: Baghdad and Tehran alike were reeling in anger at what we had done. In ways that were similar yet different, each was fuming at what most analysts, in retrospect, seem to have forgotten or overlooked. Both were irate that we had, in their eyes, stolen a march on them. Here were the GCC’s six founders forging a degree of unprecedented unity of purpose among the region’s eight countries.

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National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Condemns Presidential Campaign Bigotry

Washington, DC: The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations [ncusar.org] condemns the bigotry, demagoguery, and fear mongering directed against Muslims, immigrants, refugees, and communities of color in the 2016 presidential campaign. It joins HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, Dr. Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor, the Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, and Secretary General of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – and countless other global statesmen and leaders in denouncing calls from prospective nominees and other prominent American national personalities such as those recommending implementation of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Upon his return from the GCC’s 36th Annual Summit, National Council Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony remarked that “America’s GCC friends, allies, and strategic partners said repeatedly that calls to impede people from entering the United States based solely on their religion or ethnicity can be likened in effect to a slap in the face of the Statue of Liberty. Such inflammatory language not only runs counter to the principles upon which this country was founded. It is callous. It is offensive. It is insensitive in the extreme. It serves only to instigate and invigorate religious prejudice, hatred, and violence. It tarnishes the image of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. It smears the record of Muslims serving positively and contributively in all walks of our local, state, and national life. Such calls are nothing short of shameful. They are as un-American as one can imagine. They need to stop.”

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations takes no position on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for office.

About the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations: Founded in 1983, the National Council is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. Information about the Council’s program, projects, events, and activities can be found at ncusar.org.

Twentieth Annual Oman Cultural Immersion Program — February 17 – March 2, 2016

Applications Now Being Accepted for the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’

Twentieth Annual Oman Cultural Immersion Program

February 17 – March 2, 2016

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations is pleased to offer, through its Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies Program, the Twentieth Annual Oman Cultural Immersion study visit to the Sultanate of Oman, February 19 – March 2, 2016. Fellows are required to participate in and complete a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. to be held on February 17-18. This unique opportunity will provide a privileged first hand exposure to one of the Arab world’s most demographically, geographically, and socially diverse countries.

The National Council is currently accepting applications to participate in this study visit. APPLY NOW!

MALONE FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION

American professionals in academia, government, the military, non-governmental organizations, business, religious institutions, the media, civic associations, as well as the fine arts, humanities, and the social sciences are invited to apply.

The Twentieth Annual Oman Cultural Immersion study visit will provide participants an educational experience that few Westerners and even fewer Americans have had. The program is choreographed to provide Malone Fellows an unparalleled diverse exposure to Oman — one of the most historically and culturally rich of all Arab and Islamic societies. Until relatively recent times, the Sultanate languished in its status as one of the most forgotten corners of all Arabia. Anyone in doubt about the extraordinary opportunity that being able to visit Oman in this manner presents need only consult any of the several National Geographic Magazine features on the country in the past two decades.

End Pictures: inlaid Islamic niches at the Grand Mosque in Oman’s Capital Territory; Middle Pictures: Bedouin Omani girls in the Sharqiyyah Sands.

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Stars of the National Council’s Model Arab League Head to Qatar

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO, and U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee Founder, Board Member, and Secretary Dr. John Duke Anthony, presently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to attend the annual GCC summit, spent the past ten days in Doha, Qatar. He did so as leader of a delegation participating in a cultural study visit sponsored by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The National Council’s Model Arab League delegation takes in a sunset along the corniche in Doha.

The visit was a reward for a delegation of five American faculty advisers and ten U.S. university and armed forces institutions students. The participants were Outstanding Award Winners in the National Council’s Model Arab League Program (MAL), which began in the early 1980s and presently has 38,000 alumni.

The Models are conducted for some 2,500 university and secondary school participants 20 times a year at a nearly equal number of U.S. universities. The Council has also helped to establish Model Arab League Programs conducted yearly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with Bahrain and Oman in the process of establishing their first-ever programs this year and Qatar’s Gulf Studies Program (see below) intending to organize the first-ever MAL devoted exclusively to the six GCC member countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

During their time in Qatar, the delegation members visited and had briefings at the Qatar Foundation, the Museum of Islamic Art, the National Human Rights Committee, Al Jazeera, Katara Cultural Village, the Qatar National Museum, and various branch campuses of blue-ribbon American universities. They also spent an evening with a Qatari family at their farm and sailed on an Arab dhow – a traditional “sundowner” experience, with Doha’s glittering skyline of modernist buildings as the backdrop for photography.

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“Oman Reborn: Balancing Tradition and Modernization” Book Discussion

On December 8, 2015, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center hosted a book launch luncheon and discussion for Oman Reborn: Balancing Tradition and Modernization by Linda Pappas Funsch.

  

Oman Reborn traces the narrative of a little-known and relatively stable Arab country whose history of independence, legacy of interaction with diverse cultures, and enlightened modern leadership have transformed it in less than fifty years from an isolated potentate to a stable, dynamic, and largely optimistic country. At the heart of this fascinating story is Oman’s sultan, Qaboos bin Said, friend to both East and West, whose unique leadership style has resulted in both domestic and foreign policy achievements during his more than four decades in office.

The author, Linda Pappas Funsch, is a specialist in modern Middle East studies and Islamic history. She has studied, worked, and traveled extensively throughout the region. A freelance writer, consultant, and educator for more than forty years, she lectures frequently about Oman at scholarly symposia and institutions such as the World Bank, the World Affairs Council, and Georgetown University.

Funsch was re-introduced to the Sultanate through the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ Annual Malone Oman Cultural Immersion Program in 2006, 32 years after her first visit. After the National Council study visit she published a series of articles about Oman in the Frederick News-Post. Funsch has subsequently served as a scholarly escort as well as a lecturing specialist at pre-departure orientations for this annual Council cultural program in Oman.

  1. Watch the book discussion on YouTube

Playing Russian Roulette: Russia’s Involvement In Syria

Following is a Q&A with National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President & CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony regarding Russia’s interests and involvement in Syria.

Q: What characterizes Russia’s relationship with the Bashar al-Assad regime?

A: Out of the 22 Arab countries, 28 Middle Eastern countries, and 57 Islamic nations, Russia’s allies are few. Moscow’s relations with Damascus are closer than its relations with the capitals of other Arab countries. Indeed, they are closer than its relations with other Middle Eastern countries as a whole. As a result, Russia’s military actions in Syria aim to protect Assad and the country’s leadership and to keep Syria strong.

Other nations may not approve of this stance, but it must be acknowledged that Moscow has interests in Syria that it wishes to protect as well as the goal of further strengthening and expanding an allied relationship. What is also important and largely missing from or downplayed by the mainstream media is that Moscow, in standing with Damascus, provides the Syrian leadership with a rebuttal to the other UN Security Council Permanent Members (China, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States) who state or imply that Syria lacks international support.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. ©REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin.

Q: What are Russia’s particular interests in Syria and are they of recent or older vintage?

A: They are numerous and date back to the respective reigns of Catherine and Peter the Great. Both sought ports in southern climes that could facilitate and sustain Russian east-west and west-east maritime ventures involving trade, rest, and resupply. During the Cold War, in addition to these commercial and economic objectives, interests of a military nature – aeronautical and naval, mainly – manifested themselves in the construction of port facilities to accommodate Russian ships traversing the waters southward from Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. As a matter of course, Russia used these port facilities also to build the country’s air defense system and weaponry as well as to ensure provisions for armaments, munitions, training, and maintenance for the system and the country’s defense establishment as a whole.

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NCUSAR’s Summer 2016 Washington, DC Internship Program – Applications Due February 26

Opportunity for Students:

Washington, DC Summer Internship Program
May 23 – July 29, 2016

The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ Washington, DC Summer Internship Program offers undergraduate and graduate students a ten-week professional, academic, and career opportunity internship in the nation’s capital. The program features a demanding mix of professional involvement, intellectual challenge, career exploration, and cultural encounters designed to provide interns with a rich and varied experience during their time in Washington.

  • Professional workplace experience: Interns are placed with one of over a dozen Near East and Arab world-related organizations in Washington, D.C., where they are expected to work 35-40 hours/week under the direct supervision of their host organizations.
  • Academic seminars: Interns take part in twice-weekly seminar sessions designed to provide them with greater depth of knowledge about the Arab world, to underscore the cultural, economic, and political diversity of Arab states, and to explore the intricacies of Arab-U.S. relations. There will be a particular emphasis, though not exclusively, on Arabia and the Gulf.
  • Site visits: Interns receive a behind-the-scenes look at many of the central institutions of federal government, national security policymaking, international diplomacy, and international business.

About the Program

The National Council’s Summer Internship Program offers professional work experiences combined with twice weekly evening seminars that bring academic experts and experienced foreign policy practitioners to meet with the interns in candid off-the-record discussions and freewheeling question and answer sessions. Our goals are: (1) to provide a realistic Washington, D.C. work experience that will pave the way to career development; (2) to provide interns with first-hand experience behind-the-scenes of the foreign policy analysis and advocacy process in Washington, D.C.; (3) to provide a strong academic component dealing with U.S. political, economic, and cultural relations with Arabia and the Gulf region; (4) to help participants begin the process of career networking by introducing them to working professionals in government, business, journalism, and NGOs; and, (5) to highlight the wide range of career opportunities awaiting those who aspire to work in the field of U.S.-Arab relations as well as to provide counseling on the graduate school and fellowship application processes.

As complements to the program, interns will also be exposed to D.C. in a less formal manner via films, cultural events, embassy and museum visits, off-the-record conversations with former diplomats, group dinners, and suggestions for exploring the sights and sounds of Washington, D.C. This allows students not only to experience living and working in the city but also encourages them to appreciate the cultural diversity of the urban environment and the exciting cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities available in the nation’s capital.

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