Four months after stepping down as director general of the Al Jazeera Network, Wadah Khanfar is now ready to unveil his new venture: a pro-democracy think tank named The Sharq Forum.
The “Eastern” Forum describes itself as an “independent global institution designed to implant the values of engagement, dialogue and democracy in Arab countries.”
As its rationale, The Sharq Forum states:
Due to the historical interconnectedness of the peoples of the region; And due to the current waves of global, regional, and local political changes and geostrategic shifts; And as a result of the challenges ahead that need to be addressed to achieve peace, stability and prosperity; The Sharq Forum was established.
It is meant to be a non-partisan, non-profit organization which works to develop democratic institutions and ideals, as well as foster dialogue in the broader Middle East:
It seeks to nurture political consciousness, exchange of expertise, set out priorities, and bolster understanding and collaboration between the Arab world and its environs.
Khanfar, the president of the Sharq Forum, is in Tunisia – known as the birthplace of the Arab Spring – to formally launch the institute tomorrow, in the presence of Tunisia’s democratically-elected president and Arab intellectuals.
Here he is speaking (in Arabic) about the Forum:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1zJ4EeI48Q?rel=0]
Membership to the institute will apparently be open to “the political forces, intellectual vanguard, social and youth movements, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs and journalists in the Arab world.”
Here’s the full press release:
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What do you think – is this what the Middle East needs to help secure some of the gains of the Arab Spring? Or will it inevitably fall short of its lofty rhetoric?