After a three-year intermission brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the 14th edition of the Al Jazeera Forum will take place under the title, “The Middle East and the Russian War on Ukraine: Growing Crises and Opportunities,” on 11 and 12 March 2023 in Doha. The forum will host an elite group of researchers, politicians and experts.

Through discussion and dialogue, this edition will address the Russian war on Ukraine that erupted in February 2022 and examine direct and indirect implications on its main parties and others who were affected by it both negatively and positively. In this context, participants in the forum will present their reading of the distribution of power in the world a year later.

In the first session, speakers will explore whether the war represents a threat to international security and peace, or whether it can be viewed as an opportunity to form a more balanced world order. In this context, they will look into the history of relations between Russia and the West, whether they were relations of cooperation or fear and mutual threats, and how this impacted the development of these relations.

The session will shed light on the likelihood of the use of unconventional weapons, whether in the battlefields in Ukraine or in the case of the war extending to other countries, and the effects that could have. It will also discuss the implications of the war on nuclear, food and energy security.

The session will conclude with a discussion on the prospect of Russia and its allies successfully forming an Eastern bloc equivalent and parallel to that of the West, and the potential strategic and geopolitical implications of that.

From the impact of the war on the structure of the world order to its impact in Russia and the West, the participants will debate in the second session the objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the war and explore to which extent the plans and strategies he set have been executed. Furthermore, they will delve into the mutual sanctions between Russia and Europe and the detriment they have caused for energy, food, security and migration as well as the relationship between all of that and the rise of the extreme right in decision-making circles. The participants will also present the West’s alternatives, after having cut ties with Russia, and whether these alternatives are available and able to compensate for the shortage resulting from the cutting of ties.

Sessions three to five of the forum will discuss the impact of the war on the Middle East, particularly in issues such as armament, the Iranian nuclear file, the Palestinian struggle and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It will also examine the implications of the war on various countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Egypt and the opportunities that countries like Turkey and those of the Gulf could invest in.

The forum will conclude with its sixth session by evaluating the media coverage of the war by both Russian and Western media, following the narratives each side presents to domestic and international public opinion to sway audiences and mobilise support. The session will also present the testimonies of field correspondents that covered the realities of the war and continue to work at its fronts.

Al Jazeera’s 14th Forum will be held at City Centre Rotana Doha on 11 and 12 March 2023. It will broadcast on Al Jazeera Mubasher and live-streamed on AJCS’s social media platforms.

The 14th Al Jazeera Forum: The world will be safer if the Russian-Ukrainian war ends

Speakers in the first session: AJ Presenter Ahmed Taha (moderating), Abdullah Al-Shayji, Abdulaziz Sager, Mahjoob Zweiri and Noof Al Dosari. [Al Jaz


Al Jazeera Media Network held the 14th Al Jazeera Forum on 11 and 12 March 2023 under the title, “The Middle East and the Russian War on Ukraine: Growing Crises and Challenges”, with the participation of a select group of researchers, politicians and experts.

Over six sessions, the forum discussed the direct and indirect implications of the Russian-Ukrainian war on both the parties to the conflict as well as others who were affected negatively or positively. Within this context, the participants presented their readings of the map of the distribution of powers in the world a year into the war.

Shaikh Hamad bin Thamer: The implications of the war befell the whole world

Shaikh Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, Chairman of Board of Directors of Al Jazeera Media Network, inaugurated the forum and expressed in his speech the importance of its theme, especially considering the implications of the Russian-Ukrainian war befell countries in the region and led to an increase in food prices, the influx of refugees and the escalation of the energy crisis, and cast a shadow on international relations. He also referred to the opportunities the war has created for energy-exporting countries, and the challenges it has created for energy- and food-importing countries at the same time.

On the other hand, Shaikh Hamad bin Thamer emphasised the importance of the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement that was announced recently, maintaining that “it is important that this topic be discussed in-depth in the 14th Al Jazeera Forum.”

Shaikh Hamad concluded his speech by touching on Al Jazeera’s coverage of the war, noting its commitment to objectivity and impartiality, and its adherence to professional standards that have made its screens and platforms a destination for those looking for accurate information and in-depth analysis.

Majed Al-Ansari: It is in the Gulf’s interest for the war to end peacefully

For his part, Dr. Majid Al-Ansari, Advisor to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Spokesperson for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed in his keynote speech the gravity of the Russian-Ukrainian war on world security and the importance of reaching a peaceful solution to the war.

In this context, Al-Ansari said that since the beginning of the crisis, Qatar has emphasised the importance of finding a peaceful solution and de-escalation, as it realises the significance of the matter for Europe and the world. He added that Qatar has taken upon itself to fulfil its obligations towards global energy security, especially with regard to gas.

Al-Ansari concluded his speech by pointing out the need for the international community to consider other crises and issues that are no less serious than the Ukrainian crisis, such as the Palestinian struggle and the importance of finding a fair and peaceful settlement that restores the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

A summary of the sessions

After the two opening speeches, the forum’s sessions began, taking place over the course of two days. Participating in them were researchers and experts of different nationalities, intellectual orientations and political affiliations. They reached a number of conclusions, most notably that the war in Ukraine is a proxy war between Russia and the West; and that it will not change the nature of the global order radically, but may relatively reshape it to become more pluralistic.

In addition, the sessions indicated that, despite the ongoing attrition of both Russia and the West and the growing impact of the war on them both, the West will remain strong and cohesive. This means that if the war drags on, the biggest loser will be Russia.

However, discussions revealed that there are countries that benefited from that war – like the United States, which has strengthened its leadership of the global order; China, which sees the exhaustion of the West as support for its peaceful rise to the leadership of the global order, or at least to an advanced position at the top; and Turkey, whose geopolitical position has improved, especially after the Black Sea Grain Initiative. This also holds true for Iran, whose relations with Russia on the military and economic levels and oil-exporting Gulf countries were strengthened by the war. Notwithstanding, there are many countries in the world negatively affected by the war, especially with the disruption of food supply chains and the rise in energy prices, resulting in currency depreciation and increased debt. This could lead to political and social unrest if the war persists.

For the Gulf states in particular, it is of utmost importance that the war ends and peace and security are restored, the sessions maintained. This is because, despite the rise in energy prices (which benefits them), in the long run, the war will lead to global instability and increasing polarisation among influential powers, which will in turn impact Gulf states negatively. Therefore, the forum concluded, Gulf interests require remaining neutral, avoiding regional and international polarisation, and allocating natural and financial resources according to the interests of Gulf peoples.

One of the sessions addressed the nature of media coverage and the challenges facing field correspondents. These include the lack of safety in conflict zones; merely practicing the profession, potentially triggering parties to the conflict to consider what they present propaganda against them; having to educate themselves while conveying the news and educating viewers; and the long-term psychological effects of witnessing traumatic events during coverage.

In terms of coverage, the session asserted that Al Jazeera’s is characterised by balance, objectivity, professionalism and impartiality as well as courage, initiative and access to the front lines of fire to present an image to the viewer that is as close to reality as possible. This kind of coverage, it explained, necessitates sending experienced journalists to conflict zones, and ensuring their physical and psychological safety during and after coverage.

At the end of the session, it recommended benefitting more from organisations dedicated to human rights and press freedom, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Press Institute, for the protection of journalists as both media professionals and civilians in conflict zones and wars.

The 14th Al Jazeera Forum was broadcast on Al Jazeera Mubasher and live-streamed on Al Jazeera Forum and Al Jazeera Centre for Studies’ social media platforms. The sessions are available here.