(MENAFN- Gulf Times)
Qatar has achieved remarkable successes in 2021 at the political and diplomatic levels in the Gulf and Arab region, and even internationally. Doha managed during the year to solve the region's crises. The country's achievements were not separated from the outside.
All these successes would not have been achieved in one year without popular cohesion with the decision-maker, and this was evident in the Shura Council elections in which 234 candidates competed for 30 out of a total of 45 seats through 30 distributed election committees across the country.
Shura Council elections, which took place on October 2, 2021, came in fulfilment of the vision of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, which he announced in his speech at the opening of the Council 49th session. It was the first legislative elections to choose the members of the elected Council, in order to consolidate the rule of law and institutions, and under the direct supervision of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
| Shura Council elections, which took place on October 2, 2021, came in fulfilment of the vision of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, which he announced in his speech at the opening of the Council 49th session |
The Council elections were the country's second after the elections of the Central Municipal Council, and embodied the desire of the wise leadership to expand popular participation in decision-making and move forward in its reform process, and crown this path with a legislative council with broader powers, through which it approves policies it ratifies international agreements, monitors budget and government performance and other functions that promote the separation of powers.
The challenges of combating the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the losses it caused, and regional and global crises, were touched upon in His Highness the Amir's speech before the 76th session of the UN General Assembly -- an affirmation of the role played by Qatar to help the least developed countries and provide them with medical and relief aid from a humanitarian point of view.
In his speech, the Amir stressed the necessity of equitable distribution of vaccines, ensuring their access to the countries of the South, and securing treatment for all, as well as the necessity of co-ordinating efforts in combating another epidemic, the epidemic of false news, conspiracy theories and unprecedented scepticism about the feasibility of vaccines that also swept the world during this pandemic, which is what it continues to impede the necessary distribution of vaccines.
The Amir indicated that Qatar did not hesitate to provide support to the relevant international institutions and stand with the countries affected by the pandemic, as it continued to provide medical supplies and meet other needs related to confronting the pandemic, through Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, and the support of the World Health Organisation and the humanitarian initiative to provide vaccines for the most vulnerable groups and the most needy countries.
Over the course of last year, and in implementation of the directives of His Highness the Amir, Qatari relief planes carried aid and field hospitals to a number of brotherly and friendly countries to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
During his speech at Qatar Economic Forum in co-operation with Bloomberg, which was held in Doha, His Highness the Amir explained Qatar's humanitarian approach in dealing with brotherly and friendly countries during the coronavirus crisis.
The Amir stressed that Qatar has taken great steps in this path by providing the necessary assistance to more than 80 countries and international organisations, and pledged support to the WHO, Gavi and many other international organisations and programmes such as the Covax programme, which aims to provide the vaccine in a fair and equitable way to more than 92 countries in need of official development assistance by the end of last year.
In terms of strengthening the march of the GCC Council and the unity of the Gulf and Arab ranks in general, His Highness the Amir participated with his brothers, the leaders of the GCC countries, and heads of delegations, in the work of the meeting of the 41st Gulf Co-operation Council Summit which was held in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, on January 5, 2021.
The Amir also participated in the 42nd session of the Supreme Council of the GCC in Riyadh on December 14. In the same context, the year 2021 witnessed the convening of the sixth meeting of the Qatari-Saudi Joint Co-ordination Council. During its meeting, the council reviewed the strong brotherly relations between the two countries and ways to support and develop them in various fields to broader horizons in a way that meets the aspirations of the leadership of the two countries and achieves the interests of their peoples, especially in the political, security, economic, investment and other fields.
The council also dealt with a number of regional and international issues of common interest, especially the latest developments in the region, in addition to exchanging views on everything that would protect stability and security in the region.
On the Arab side, the Qatari presence was impressive and influential during 2021.
No sooner had the year begun than the Palestinian cause was exposed to a new test by the Israeli occupation forces, which was a military escalation of the displacement of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem by brute force, followed by an extensive military operation on Gaza Strip.
As part of Qatar's continuous support to the Palestinian brothers, His Highness the Amir, directed the allocation of a grant of $500mn for the reconstruction of Gaza Strip. This generous gesture was preceded by a directive of the Amir to allocate a financial grant to Gaza Strip worth $360mn, to be spent over a whole year, to be used to pay the salaries of employees, provide financial aid to needy families, and operate power stations.
In his speech at the opening session of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Amir affirmed that the international community bears the responsibility to achieve a comprehensive and just peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue by establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside Israel and ending the occupation of the Arab territories and a just solution to the refugee issue.
In continuation of the unlimited humanitarian role played by Qatar to alleviate the suffering of the brothers, the Amir directed the allocation of $100mn to support the efforts of the UN World Food Programme in Yemen to support food security and stave off starvation in that country, and to assist the UN relief programmes and urgent humanitarian relief to alleviate the exacerbation of this human tragedy.
With the intensification of the Lebanese crisis and the blockage of the prospect of forming a Lebanese government during the beginning of this year, and its repercussions on Lebanon and even on the entire region, the Qatari move was quick and remarkable. Qatar called on all Lebanese parties to give priority to the national interest and expedite the formation of the government.
Doha hosted the visits of a number of Lebanese officials to meet with His Highness the Amir, and senior state officials within the framework of Doha's efforts to resolve the governmental crisis there.
Beirut also received successive visits by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, to discuss and consult with the leaders of the active political forces in Lebanon.
During 2021, Iraq began to move towards expanding its Arab partnerships and strengthening co-operation with its Arab surroundings. The Qatari presence was also prominent. His Highness the Amir participated with his brothers leaders of countries and heads of government of brotherly and friendly countries in the opening session of Baghdad Conference for Co-operation and Partnership.
The Amir outlined the parameters of Iraq's restoration through several messages in his speech before the conference, the most prominent of which is that the security and stability of Iraq is part of the security and stability of the rest of the countries in the region, and that Iraq's unity is one of the most important steps to address crises, with the need to address the roots of the issues that led to the emergence of successive crises, expressing faith that Iraq is qualified to play an active role in establishing security and peace in the region.
His Highness the Amir affirmed the continuation of Qatari support for the brotherly Iraqi people and their support in achieving their aspirations for peace, security and development.
On the issue of Libya, and along with the visits of senior Libyan officials to Doha and the consultations held by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar has emphasised in every Arab or regional forum its support for the Government of National Unity, the Presidential Council and the political process that facilitated by the UN, it expresses the hope that free and fair elections will be held to achieve the aspirations of the brotherly Libyan people and to preserve Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Within the framework of joint Arab action, Doha hosted during 2021 the work of the consultative meeting of Arab foreign ministers, the meeting of the Council of the League of Arab States at the ministerial level in its extraordinary session on the developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam file, and the meeting of the Arab Ministerial Committee to move and communicate with the permanent members of the UN Security Council to urge it to take practical steps to stop the illegal Israeli policies in the occupied city of Jerusalem.
August 15, 2021, represented a significant day not only in the history of Afghanistan, but also in the entire region. When the departure of former President Ashraf Ghani was announced, and Taliban took power and the crisis of evacuating Westerners and Afghans emerged, attention turned from Kabul to Doha. Qatar was an acceptable and neutral mediator and hosted the talks between the US and the Taliban, as well as the Afghan-Afghan talks, to find co-ordination for power-sharing or a peaceful transition to include everyone.
Following the emergence of the evacuation crisis at Kabul Airport, Qatar co-ordinated the evacuations from Afghanistan with the US, where more than 120,000 people were evacuated, and Qatar evacuated more than 60,000 people.
Doha was the centre of the world's attention during that crisis, either through visits by Western ministers and officials to Doha, especially the US, or through phone calls praising Doha's role and its efforts to evacuate Afghan nationals and their families.
Qatar was working on Afghan file in 2021 on an approach based on the need to communicate with all relevant stakeholders, including the Taliban, neighbouring countries and permanent members of the UN Security Council, to achieve international consensus that ensures stability in Afghanistan and contributes to avoiding any crisis.
At the international level, the annual strategic dialogue between Qatar and the US in its fourth session in Washington was another milestone in the strong historical partnership between the two countries.
The economic partnership between Qatar and the US exceeds $200bn in trade and investment, and Qatar has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in the American economy. Qatar and the US are also linked to a partnership in the fields of defencse, security, investments, education, energy, and combating terrorism.
Qatari-French relations witnessed a new boost when His Highness the Amir received French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Doha on December 3-4, 2021. The joint statement between Qatar and France during the French president's visit summarised the determinants and frameworks of bilateral relations and the two countries' common positions on most of the region's issues (Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, nuclear negotiations and Libya).
Before the end of 2021, the meeting of the seventh meeting of the Qatari-Turkish Joint High Strategic Committee was held, chaired by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two sides signed agreements and memorandums of understanding in various fields, starting with: endowments and Islamic affairs, media, communication, culture, disaster and emergency management, small and medium enterprises, and investments.
Both Qatar and Turkey focused on strengthening their bilateral relationship to reach the level of complementary partnership, and they discussed opportunities to deepen co-operation and continue implementing agreements and arrangements previously concluded between them. The two countries also reaffirmed their intention to enhance co-operation, solidarity and co-ordination in international and regional organisations, including the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.