Posted on February 20, 2019

Qatar University (QU) hosted a seminar on “The United States Position on Issues Related to the Middle East” featuring William Grant, the Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the United States (US) in Qatar since August 2018. The seminar was led by William Grant, who conducted the informative session followed by a discussion with the audience.

The seminar was attended by Dr. Hassan Al-Derham, President of QU, along with other senior representatives from the University, students, faculty and staff. William Grant began by providing an introduction to the US government saying, “We value the opportunity to explain our country’s policy, in our own voice, to the people of Qatar, and people of all backgrounds. The best way to understand other nations is through dialogue.”

He began by briefly explaining the role of the US embassy in four basic functions: Establishing relationships with key people from the host country; providing certain services such as visas, services to American citizens living or visiting Qatar, and helping companies seeking to do business in Qatar; keeping the government informed about key developments in Qatar, such as the energy business, which is important to Qatar and has a major impact on the world energy market; and finally informing people from the government and informing regular citizens about the USA policies and interests through various ways such as through seminars and social media, which is increasingly popular in the region.

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He also talked about the structure of the US government explaining that the US has a very active democracy and they have three branches of government. The first branch is the judicial branch, the second is the president or executive branch and the third is legislative. The executive and legislative branches are called co-equal governments. William Grant also explained his next point saying, “Any country, when determining foreign policy, has to determine its interests and the other countries interests. Different countries of the world can have various interests such as energy, human trafficking, counterterrorism efforts, and much more.” He explained that the US has relations with most countries, and established relations with Qatar soon after it declared independence.

He explained that the US has a very active role in the Middle East region and views this region as very important. He noted that relations between Qatar and the US are “very good and very strong” and “the cooperation we have with Qatar is very wide.” He says, “It’s much more than just defense,” saying Qatar and the US cooperate in terms of labor matters, education, energy, terrorism control, trade and investment, security for the World Cup and law enforcement. He also noted that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani visited the Munich Security Conference earlier this week and praised Washington’s efforts towards the current Gulf crisis.

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In concluding the seminar, the floor was opened to question and answer from audience members, where students, faculty and staff alike asked various questions related to the United States foreign policy. In responding to a question about the current blockade, William Grant responded by saying, “I do want to mention the question of the blockade. Our position is very clear and we have stated many times, we are opposed to this dispute. We believe it is hurting our interests in this region. We’re not happy with the dispute, we want to see it end.”