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from issue no. 05 - 2008

Agreement on Lebanon

A chance for the Middle East

by Giovanni Cubeddu

The Emir of Qatar with the new President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman in Beirut, 26 May

The Emir of Qatar with the new President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman in Beirut, 26 May

It is a real opening that could become a turning point. The agreement reached in May, thanks to the mediation offered by Qatar, to extract Lebanon from one of its worst crises since the end of the civil war (other better prepared figures had failed in the undertaking) has rekindled curiosity and turned the spotlights on the small but important country in the Gulf. Spotlights that the enlightened leadership of the country is not seeking, however, aware that it is “better that the facts speak for themselves.” Qatar maintains solid diplomatic relations with the United States as with Syria and Iran, talks with Israel (Shimon Peres, for example, was in Doha in 2007), and shows that it worked in Lebanon exclusively for peace and not self-interest. If the Lebanese summer passes peacefully, a chance for the Middle East will really have been created. In Doha – which is also an important financial capital, thanks to the enormous gas and oil resources – there is also an increasingly known conference, held every six years, for exchanging views among the faiths. For the Holy See, the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, participated this year. He introduced himself to the audience in these words: “I see with satisfaction that the people of Qatar are courageous and keep their promises! For example, they promised to expand the Conference to include Jews and to create an international structure for dialogue, the actual Doha International Centre for Inter-religious Dialogue: both promises were kept!”. The inauguration of the Doha Catholic church, Our Lady of the Rosary – the building of which began on 15 September 2006 – and the inauguration that took place on 15 March 2008 – is part of this virtuous circle.

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