Monday, July 27, 2015

London Eid Festival co-hosted by Qatar attracts thousands

Denise Marray,

image from article, with caption: 
The Qatar Marquee at the Eid Festival in London
The Eid Festival held in the heart of London on Saturday saw people from all corners of the globe converge onTrafalgar Square to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan. 
The Qatar Embassy in London co-sponsored the day-long event in partnership with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Diplomats and staff from the embassy, assisted by volunteers from Qatar, were on hand at the festival to showcase the culture and traditions of the country and offer hospitality on the day. 
Mubarak Ajlan al-Kuwari, third secretary at the Qatar Embassy, spoke to Gulf Times about their participation.
“The embassy is privileged to sponsor the 10th Anniversary of the Eid Festival in London with the Mayor of London. The Qatar Marquee offers authentic Qatari hospitality with Arabic coffee and dates and a workshop in traditional Arabic calligraphy and literature. We are also offering beautiful Qatari clothing for visitors to try on. This is part of our public diplomacy programme initiated by our Ambassador Yousef Ali Al Khater.”
The embassy has been planning for the event since last year and it proved very popular with people keen to enjoy the Qatari exhibits which included a history of pearl fishing, ceramics and a musician playing the Oud.
All around the square thousands of people joined in the celebrations, enjoying the traditions, cuisines, music and fashion from Muslim cultures around the world. ...
Hamad Mohamed Hussen Ali Almuftah, counsellor at the Qatar Embassy, gave additional background about the embassy’s programme of public diplomacy.
“When our Ambassador, Yousef Ali al-Khater, first came to London he initiated a programme called Outreach which is a public diplomacy programme through which we engage not only with the government of the United Kingdom but also with the public. This event is part of that programme; we are celebrating Eid in London not only with the Muslims but with the whole population of the city and tourists as well. 
“Nowadays, alongside our traditional diplomacy, we have to move towards public diplomacy in which we engage with the public as well. Today the public influences opinion due to many factors such as social media.” ... 

To Know Us is to Love Us: Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting in Contemporary Russia and China

Gary D. Rawnsley,

Rawnsley image from

international broadcasting;public diplomacy;CCTV;RT;propaganda

China and Russia have devoted significant resources to developing their international broadcasting capacity as an instrument of public diplomacy. Focusing on CCTV-N (China) and RT (Russia), this article discusses the strategies each has developed to communicate with international audiences and further the foreign policy ambitions of policy makers in Beijing and Moscow. It highlights the differences between the two stations – namely CCTV-N's ambition to rectify perceived distortions in the global flow of news about China, and RT's focus on reporting events in the US. Hence the case studies expose the fine line between propaganda and public diplomacy.

FACT SHEET: Advancing Democracy, Human Rights, Gender Equality, Wildlife Conservation, and Governance in Africa

Office of the Press Secretary,

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The United States is committed to supporting African countries’ efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, support civil society, advance gender equality, improve governance, and protect human rights. We view these efforts as priorities not just because they are vital by themselves, but also because good governance and human rights underpin sustainable economic growth and peaceful and just societies. The United States pursues these goals through our development assistance, high-level diplomatic engagement, partnership with like-minded stakeholders, and public diplomacy that engages directly with citizens across the continent. Several of President Obama’s signature initiatives directly promote and elevate inclusive, transparent, and democratic governance in Africa. ... 

In search of soft power: challenges, trends and prospects for Australian public diplomacy

Presented by Dr Caitlin Byrne,

image from entry

The recent axing of the Australia Network came as a major blow to Australia’s public diplomacy efforts, which had until that time centred on the modest but important broadcast reach of the ABC. Additional budget cuts, including to Australia’s development assistance and international scholarship programs have further eroded Australia’s soft power resources, while lagging digital diplomacy efforts continue to constrain Australia’s real-time reach and impact. At the same time, new initiatives driving people-to-people connections offer alternative models for Australia’s wider relationship-building, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. This presentation examines recent challenges, latest trends and prospects for Australia’s public diplomacy and considers what it might all mean in the ongoing search for soft power.

Dr Caitlin Byrne is a senior lecturer in International Relations at Bond University and former research fellow of the USC Centre for Public Diplomacy.

Vladimir Khomeriki: "Diasporas should be actively involved in public diplomacy" [video; in Russian]

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Soft Power, Smart Power Or Public Diplomacy? Australia Fumbles By Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski,

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As traditional diplomacy is complemented by emerging concepts such as public diplomacy, soft power and more recently ‘smart power,’ Australia is grappling with how best to shape and alter perceptions of the country and extend its influence, writes former Australian diplomat Alison Broinowski. Despite many initiatives, it has a long way to go to catch up with efforts being made by other countries. ...
Australia’s foreign policy establishment seems unclear about whether to opt for European-style collaborative public diplomacy or US-style persuasive soft power, but it is unlikely to attempt interventionist, manipulative smart power techniques. For Australia, other initiatives are more likely to work: it could host an Asian regional Institute for Public Diplomacy, for example, and establish a free-standing Australia Foundation to present a more coherent, interesting narrative to the world.
Alison Broinowski, formerly an Australian diplomat, was Cultural Attaché in the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, and Director of the Australia-Japan Foundation in the 1980s. She is currently researching soft power and public diplomacy as Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University’s Faculty of Asian Studies.

A public diplomacy lesson from Iran

Mojtaba Barghandan,

As the pivotal actor in global developments, the Islamic Republic of Iran has historically proven to be capable of applying public diplomacy tools; however, it has always been under a “cultural invasion,” alongside economic and political sanctions of the West, for nearly the last four decades ….
The U.S. has employed hard and soft power tools toward Iran, particularly since the administration of President George W. Bush, who approached Iran with a “two clock strategy.” That is, the U.S. government directed its policies at fulfilling two coercive objectives: changing both Iran’s behavior and its regime through instruments of hard and soft power. The change in behavior was geared at curbing Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, which was described as “non-peaceful.” Consequently, the U.S. government tried to slow down and/or reverse this clock (i.e., change behavior) through economic and political pressure. At the same time, it tried to speed up the clock of regime change through instruments of soft power and as a result there was a cultural invasion by means of employing some of the powerful radio and TV channels broadcasting in both the English and Farsi languages.
In light of the White House’s detrimental policies, Iran’s traditional diplomacy tools have not been helpful.
Iran began to believe that in order to win the diplomacy war, it should resort to comprehensive public diplomacy programs that attract, inform, persuade, and influence - that is, the necessity of public diplomacy became almost impossible to ignore and added more importance to digital diplomacy, as they recognized that continuing to practice diplomacy as usual without effective public diplomacy was like trying to run a car without an engine in the digital age of the 21st century. 
Faced with a challenging misinterpretation worldwide, Iran in the new era began its attempts to resolve it through new diplomacy tools based on maximum engagement, as well as employing a new rhetoric based on a “patience-oriented, friendly approach” towards diplomacy, which in many ways helped to harmonize and reconcile inconsistencies between its foreign policy and public diplomacy.
The U.S., on the other hand, reached the same level of understanding of the necessity of transformation through its coercive and sanction-oriented policies on Iran to a negotiation and soft diplomacy-based policy beginning in 2013. As U.S. President Barack Obama stated in an interview published in the Huffington Post, “We have done the same thing over and over again and there hasn’t been any change - [we] should try something different…” President Obama took charge of “trying something different” with Iran and Cuba, initiating discrete and patient diplomatic approaches and the world has witnessed the outcomes of its peaceful diplomacy with both countries. ... 

*Mojtaba Barghandan is a staff member of the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Istanbul. The content of this article is based on the author’s personal views