Monday, May 21, 2007


20 May 2007

The Foundation for the Future was first announced in Bahrain in Novembre 2005 by foreign and development ministers of the broader Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States. The Foundation is an independent set-up, involving governments and civil society to support civil society organisations in their efforts to foster democracy and freedom in the broader Middle East and North Africa.

From the onset, the Foundation obtained pledges of US$56 million. Thus far the Foundation only received funds from Turkey, the United Kingdom and Jordan, among others. The US has not disbursed any funds to the Foundation.

I was invited to join the board of the Foundation in mid 2006 together with representatives from Morocco, Kuwait, Iraq, Spain, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, US, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Switzerland and Qatar.

The other board members include Kamel Abu Jaber, advisor to the Jordanian Foreign Minister; Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Professor Ibrahim Kallin, advisor to the Foreign Minister of Turkey; and Sandra Day O'Connor, former US Supreme Court justice.

The first board meeting was convened in Doha, Qatar at the invitation of Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, the Foreign Minister and presently Prime Minister of Qatar on 15 July 2006, and I was unanimously elected as the first honorary chairman. The decision was to set up the headquarters in Beirut.

However, in the Board Meeting on 4 December 2006 in Amman, Jordan, I met the Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah Al-Khatib, who endorsed the setting up of the regional secretariat in Amman due to the delay in the Beirut headquarters as a result of the Israeli attack on Lebanon. The next board meeting will convene in 29-30 May 2007 in Bahrain, Lebanon.

I did not appoint Ms. Shaha Ali Reza to the Foundation. She was first assigned by the World Bank through the US State Department to the Foundation in late 2005 before I became Chairman. The executive committee of the decided in mid 2006 to regularise the appointment so that Shaha advises directly from the World Bank and not the State Department.

The board will issue a full statement after the meeting in Bahrain next week. However, due to the incessant propaganda from the UMNO controlled-media, I have decided to issue this statement. If there is no clarification by the media on the matter, the Foundation will not hesitate to institute legal action against the relevant parties.


Foundation for the Future Chairman

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