Doha Host of Pan-Arab and Islamic Conference

QATAR is to host the Sixth Pan-Arab and Islamic Conference on December 21 and 22 in Doha, conference director Dr Usama Mohiyou told a news conference yesterday.

Mohiyou said the two-day conference, being held for the first time outside Lebanon, seeks to bring together the two main streams in Arab politics to deal with the critical situations in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Sudan.

“The conference is trying to seek solutions for the hotspots in our region as well as to strengthen the relationship between the pan-Arab and Islamic streams,” he said.

He stressed that the conference is not merely a forum of discussion as most of the participants are either political leaders or intellectuals of active movements and parties like Hamas in Palestine and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan.

Asked whether the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions will participate, he said Hamas leaders have confirmed their attendance.

“Many leading figures in Hamas like Khalid Mishal, Usama Hamdan and Mohamed Nazaal are expected to participate. But so far we have not received confirmation from any leading figures in the Fatah movement,” he said.

“The conference is equally open to representatives of the pan-Arab and Islamic streams whether they are in power or in the opposition,” he said.

Asked about the achievements of the conference since 1994 when the first round was held in Beirut, he said that bringing the two streams together to discuss mutual concerns is in itself a great achievement.

“The pan-Arab and Islamic conference is meant for mobilising the efforts of these two streams in face of the serious challenges threatening the Ummah at this decisive moment,” he said, adding that there is a consensus among the two on the necessity of restoring sovereignty to Iraq, establishing a Palestinian state and maintaining the unity of the Lebanese people.

He said representatives of the pan-Arab stream could be Christians, Baathists (pro-Baath party in Iraq and Syria) or Nasserists (supporters of the principles of Gamal Abdul Nasser) who believe in Arab nationalism, while those of the Islamic streams are from groups like the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood.

Asked about the reasons for selecting Qatar as the host for the sixth conference, he said Qatar is more open to the two streams. “Some other countries raise reservations over the participation of specific figures we invite to the conference. But Qatar did not have such reservations,” he explained.

He said some 260 personalities from 18 Arab countries will take part in the conference. Akram Kassab, representative of Islamic scholar Dr Yusuf Qaradawi, was also present at the press conference.