Our neighbor Al-Jazeera, why?

Our neighbor Al-Jazeera, why?

Dr. Ali Bin Hamad

By Dr. Ali Bin Hamad Al-Kheshaiban

I DO not know how I can interpret and understand the statements made by our neighbor Qatar, with whom we have so many things in common. Since the 18th century and the secession from Bahrain, Qatar has been living in peace and security and has had historical relations with its neighbors in the Gulf region, neighbors who are very close to it and who surround it on all sides. I remember the beginning of the historical relations between late King Abdulaziz and Qatar and how the King provided Qatar with everything it needed. Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Maneh, the well-known Saudi scholar, was one of the people who played a pivotal role in establishing the education system in Qatar.

Every time I think of these historical relations, I cannot help but wonder what is happening to our neighbor Al-Jazeera (Qatar)? The political changes that have been taking place there since 1995, in addition to the equilibrium of the political powers, have become a pressing issue. What are the motives that have changed that country’s political stability following the mid-1990s? How can we read and understand the changes? Nothing happens haphazardly or without a reason. We should always remember that.

As we all know, history is our greatest teacher and guide. Each government must realize that any move it makes will involve risks if it does not assess and balance the risks. In fact, the political statements coming from our neighbor Al-Jazeera contradict our common goal in the Gulf where all countries aim to live in complete peace and security.

A country’s power is determined by its capability, geographic area and demographic elements. The more a country is aware of its capabilities, the more reasonable and wise are its actions. And for it, the right path becomes clear. However, having such capabilities should not prevent countries from having other alternatives. Money is not one of the alternatives. Rather, I am talking about political equilibrium and balance in terms of ties with neighbors.

Going against the trend does not guarantee success because the trend is strong and cannot be resisted. Success lies in building strong partnerships with historical friends and utilizing such partnerships to build a bright future. Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, did not swim against the tide; on the contrary, he worked with every country that was close to and far from Singapore. If our neighbor Al-Jazeera wants to follow in the same footsteps, then it should realize that such statements are merely political campaigns whose effect will quickly vanish while the truth will remain unchanged. The real change happens in the way you act and the efforts you exert to achieve mutual interests with neighbors who surround you on all sides.

I have always wondered about the political moves adopted by our neighbor Al-Jazeera and asked why Al-Jazeera creates so much media hype and broadcasts it to the world. When all Gulf countries were suffering from terrorism and explosions, our neighbor Al-Jazeera was not moved or affected by these events. It opened its doors to everyone without exception and included those in its media programs whose objectives were not clear. Despite all of this, neighbors respected their neighbor Al-Jazeera and dealt with it with equilibrium and balance and even signed treaties and agreements with it, but…!

I think the excessive emotions expressed in the statements coming from our neighbor Al-Jazeera do not serve the interests of the region and of its neighbors and might result in negative consequences. Such consequences might reflect negatively on our neighbor, whom we hope will follow in the footsteps of Singapore in the near future and not result in the establishment of a second Cuba in the Gulf region. Even Cuba has realized today that political statements are nothing but media campaigns that bring about more damage than benefit.

Our neighbor Al-Jazeera should realize that political statements do not make history or build a country. The Arabic proverb says: “Nothing scratches your skin but your own fingernail”, meaning “God helps those who help themselves.” The most dangerous political stand a country can take is when that country adopts the positions of organizations and individuals. Our neighbor Al-Jazeera, you still have a chance to return to your neighbors, but you have to move fast before it is too late.