Muslim Voices — Shikara
0:00:06:>>MANAF BASHIR: Welcome to Muslim voices. I'm your host Manaf Bashir. Over the last several years we've been hearing the idea that the United States must become energy independent. That it's a matter of national security the country wean itself off of foreign oil. What we don't hear as often is how that weaning could affect the countries producing that oil, several of which are located in the Persian Gulf and are Muslim. Ahmad Shikara is a researcher at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi. He's also an expert on security and energy issues of the Persian Gulf. Shikara spoke with Rosemary Pennington about what people in the Gulf think of the idea of energy independence, also about President Barack Obama's pledge to forge a new way forward with the Muslim world.
0:00:52:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: When Barack Obama was on the campaign trail and even now he's been president - he's been talking a lot about becoming energy independent and not having to rely on the Gulf states so much for resources. What's your take on what he's been saying there in that region?
0:01:09:>>AHMAD SHIKARA: Well they take it to new (unintelligible) right actually. They know that this is an issue which has been bothering the American presidency a long time ago. The first president to mention this was basically officially was Nixon, Richard Nixon. And then after that every American presidents are trying to implement their oil and dependency theory. And I think which is of course relating to what Americans would like best for their country and for their future. But at the same time I think people as I imagine everyone in the world would say also to accommodate and be adaptable to any situation. So they are looking also for other forms of alternative energies. Particularly we saw the energy for example in the Gulf is really important. And so they are looking also into these projects. There are new projects going on. I know that the financial crisis have affected so many countries and even the Gulf countries. But they're still very flexible in trying to find new sources of energy because they think they're environmental probably a crisis as well as the energy crisis that will be looming together. And they need to find a way - exit strategies as well. So I think you know there's no knowing or way of saying that President Obama has a new problem in saying this. No. But I think it's a wake up call also to both parties to think of - to reevaluate the situation. And I would imagine because of the environmental situation as well they need to re evaluate their position and depend on other sources of finance.
0:02:37:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: How important is it for the United States and other entities that are outside the Gulf - how important is it for them to really understand - have a real understanding of Islam when they go to engagement with these Gulf countries?
0:02:49:>>AHMAD SHIKARA: I think they they should. I think this is why it's the responsibility of creating more people who are culturally and religiously orientated towards the Middle East in the way of researching Islam through sense because what we lack even in the Arab and Muslim worlds is really - we do our research showing waht Islam is - what real content Islam has. For example one of the things that I think they should look into is their independence (unintelligible) which is the jihad. Jihad means new thinking. And new thinking - we should be always thinking of what are the new innovative ideas, what change will it bring two to us but also in a reasonable manner. We have to think of all these things and to do it - in a way a balanced where we balance spirituality with the materialism. I think it's a balanced position. When people want to learn about Islam they should go to the roots and see the good examples, the good models whether from Prophet Mohammed himself or from other people companion during the first era of Islam. That's the glorious coexistence, I think. It didn't last long but it was really the formation period of Islam. That's one other era. And during (unintelligible) era you find some ellipses and hopes here and there. But of course you know you need to study more about Islam to see the kind of interaction between Islam and the religion Islam and other Islamic nations an d Muslim nations with other nations from the position of coexistence outward from the decision as well from a position of developing their planet and the way that we are living in a sustainable environment. We should all work towards achieving a good result I think or good results.
0:04:38:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: We've been hearing a lot since I came into office about how he plans to work to forge a new way forward with the Muslim world. Now that he's in office what do people in the Gulf sort of expect from him? I mean hearing that I mean are there expectations of what that means and what that's...
0:04:55:>>AHMAD SHIKARA: I think one of the things that they - that you should - the Americans - I wouldn't say - they Americans, I think they are aware that the eight years pass which did bring too much results in the you know the relation between the Muslim world and America basically because of the wars in Iraq and (unintelligible). Now with that we'll go away. I think we're going to shortly probably in a couple of years. We don't hear about this kind of wars. Then we'll find more opportunities. So it's more coexistence, I think. I think you know people would think there's another way rather than using force or violence to persuade people to do their own model. To apply they will see the diplomacy of dialogue more. They would see more interaction going through respecting each other. And they work through that basis of understanding. And this is why Obama when he left - when he visited Turkey I think he was - he promised that he would listen more. And he promised that he would any visit coming whether any country in the Muslim world or in any other world he will listen more because they need to formulate I think a new habit or attitude towards you know respecting others. As well as he said you know if there are any mistakes we have done, we will admit that. And this is a new approach. I think it's really a welcoming approach. I remember and you know if we compare his administration with Bush we don't find this kind of humbleness and this kind of attitude. We find a good attitude. You'll find a good - we are optimistic in the Arab Gulf towards the new administration. I would say at least on the part of the population. And I would say also on the part of the political elites because once that happened then we will have the ball rolling out in good coexisting between West and Islam.
0:06:46:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: Ahmad Shikata is a researcher at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi specializing in energy and security issues. This has been Muslim voices, a production of voices and visions and partnership with w a few public media from Indiana University.