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tv   Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs ...  CSPAN  November 1, 2019 9:11am-10:46am EDT

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>> good morning and thank you all for joining us today. also, our live stream audience. atlantic council president and ceo fred kemp. thanks for joining us both here in the room and virtually for our conversation. if you want to use social media, use #ac iraq. #aciraq. >> you know it's an important event when the ambassador is
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here and when key members of our board are here and it's always such a pleasure to have our international advisory board member jafar here. thank you for crescent petroleum support for this, for the iraq initiative, global energy center. i've been stealing ideas from a long period of time, he happens to be one of the best thinkers and actors as an analyst in the region and also a pleasure to have him here as well. today's event was organized by the council's iraq initiative and global energy center. our iraq initiative is led by dr. and abbas working with us. he's one of the rare individuals who understands the workings of the country he's
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covering, iraq, so intimately and also the workings of washington which in many respects is more difficult to follow. the discussion is timely. iraq is facing its most challenging since isis, with protests in the country and citizens demanding reform and news just yesterday that ahmadi will resign. despite the future, iraq has carried out elections and a peaceful transfer of power in a region where this is not the norm. we have to keep reminding ourselves of how unique that is. the united states and iraq have a long and complex history. we all know that. iraq's relations with iran have strained aspect of u.s.-iraq relations, yet, it's more important than ever for the united states and iraq to work together as partners. as we saw, for example, during
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the u.s. mission last weekend that resulted in the death of isis leader al-badhdadi. the u.s.-iraq was one key ingredient for success of that operation. we don't spend a lot of time on individual bilateral relations in the atlantic council across our 13 programs and centers that act on all issues and regions in the world. we focus on bilateral region that has importance and that's no doubt in iraq and therefore our iraq initiative. today our panel will help us understand these dynamics and more. before i burn -- i turn the floor over to abbas, i'd like to briefly intercues him. a former ambassador to the united states, as well as a member of our iraq initiatives advisory committee and she's also the co-founder and president of the iraqi
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institute. joey hood, we're always happy when someone can break loose of their government offices to come here. we know how demanding your jobs are. he's the principal deputy assistant secretary of state in the state department's bureau of near eastern affairs and he spent much of his career working in the middle east and particularly on the arabian peninsula. he has served as deputy of chief of mission in iraq and in quiet, as well as council general, saudi arabia. and mr. jafar is from the crescent group of companies. in addition majid serves on the boards, air forum for development and iraqi energy institute and also on the board of fellows of harvard medical school and international advisory board of the princess trust international and of course, the atlantic council international advisory board.
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the -- just to show the reach of the work that we do together with majid and crescent, today in singapore we held the third workshop for a project called the role of oil and gas companies in the energy transition. it was held during the singapore international energy week 2019 as part of their think tank round table's sessions. the workshop gathered a number of individuals from a variety of southeast asian research institutions and local representatives of international oil and gas companies and yielded key insights. i won't go into them here, but they are issues that majid pushed us to look more closely at which is how oil and gas companies actually can take a leading role and a very positive role in an energy transition driven by broadening and enriching the energy mix through the companies that produce and market them to face
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challenges such as climate change and other issues, really thinking into the future. so with that, i'll turn the floor over to abbas and our panelists, before i do that, let me salute will wechsler and his principal deputy and stephanie house-ali who has been instrumental in working with abbas on the set of work around iraq. over to you, abbas. >> thank you.
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>> good morning, everyone, thank you for being here. i direct the iraq initiative and thank you, fred, for these wonderful introductory remarks and we are honored to have an all-star panel today and you know, it is that kind of an all-star panel to talk about iraq and the complexities of this country. so, without any introductions, we will have a discussion a little bit from the stage and then open the floor for the audience for questions. i'm sure everyone has many questions and the panel will indulge these questions and will answer and we will do our best to decipher or demystify what's going on in iraq.
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we really have to recognize everybody in the room. all of you are friends and people who help us a lot with your presence, with your ideas, but i would be remiss if i do not recognize my good friend and the advisory committee member for the iraq initiative, and the ambassador from indiana, thank you for joining us, the ambassadors and friends, all of you are welcomed here and thank you for being here. so, let me go with the rule of ladies first and talk to ambassador rahim. ambassador, you've seen these events unfold and you are one of the people who have been in this town and elsewhere very informative in contributing to
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the debate. how do you see the trajectory of these protests, their context, regional and international, and where do you think they are going in terms of their influence on the political scene in iraq. government future, possible changes, or are we going to have another wave of protests that will go home and then we will relive this once again hopefully not, but i'm interested to know where you see these, their future. >> yes, lots of questions. first of all, let's establish that we are at a crucial and possibly turning point in iraq's political development. there's no question. i think from october 1st the protests have created a new
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narrative and scenario and projected a new for iraq that we haven't had -- i won't say since 2003, we haven't had for decades. the proje protest started as services and jobs and so on, but what was interesting was th that as they progressed and as violence began to be practiced against the protesters, the demands changed and then they became a demand for, you know, holding people to account for corruption, a demand for resignation is and so on. and then final thing was a demand for a wholesale change in the political system. so we really are now at a point where there's a direct ideological confrontation
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between protesters and between the political class that has vested interest, the protesters want complete change in all the principles, the system of governance that we've had, the electoral law, the constitution, elections and a whole mass of institutions and documents that were, in fact, the basis of the state of the 2003, they want an overhaul of all of this and yet, an overhaul is diametrically opposed to the political interests that have become entrenched in iraq. so ideologically, not only physically, but ideologically we have a confrontation. there have been attempts by the prime minister, by the president, of course by the
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most outspoken and detailed in its address, there have been attempts to say, okay, we will reform. we will do the things that the protesters are asking for. but so far, there's no indication from the establishment that they really intend to go through this wholesale change in the political system. and therefore, if we don't have a breakthrough in this confrontation, i don't see where it's an impasse and i think if the institutions of government and if the political class don't respond, we are going to have a continuation of the protests and my concern is that they're going to become more violent, partly because there are signs now that some of the protesters are so fed up that they're willing to go into armed conflict.
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but even more serious and more imminent in my view, is that there may be a confrontation among political-- armed political groups themselves. we've already seen some settling of scores, particularly among the shia militias. and this has not been declared publicly, but it has been understood on the street and in political circles that there are these efforts or actions, score settling and i think that's the most dangerous thing that can emerge that you have rival militias going against each other under the cover of the protests that really trying to gain the upper hand in a situation of chaos. >> thank you. we'll go back to some of these in our conversation and i would
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like to turn to joey. last time we sat together in the embassy in baghdad we had that beautiful, you know, outside seating and you know, baghdad was looking more peaceful. that was in may 2019, and then i went back to baghdad in september and october, actually, i witnessed the first week of the protests, and i visited ambassador shuler and we were talking about how things were looking better. there were two forums in baghdad in september. both of them were talking about the economy and energy and unlike what used to be normal -- corporatinferences were like security, and it wasn't like you were driving through tunnels, and then all of a
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sudden, something just one thing led to another and it's like a volcano and things changed completely and i was counting days would i be able to get out of the airport before they take it over. that's the in nature of iraq. my question really is here from the american point of view. the united states has been the agent of change, and provided time and again so many assistants, packages to iraq on security and on other aspects. this is some strategic frame work agreement and the u.s. was instrumental in the house with the defeat of isis, even though the iraqis did all of the heavy lifting and fighting, but it was very important for u.s. and international communities and engagement. director pompeo made a statement of sport for iraq in
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general, but my question is, where is the united states government now stands in terms of the protests, the government measures, and also in light of the fact that, you know, the united states must be very careful when the sensitivities of the region are important, probably some people argue that the u.s. should not publicly give any support for protests or any of that. would not be viewed in the lands, but on the other hand the u.s. has long support of democratic change in a reasonable pace, which iraq has been going on and off on. what do you see the u.s. government or where is the u.s. government position right now on both these areas? >> first of all, thank you for
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having us here. it's an honor to be with you and to be among so many mentors and friends, and to once again say hello to the iraqi viewers who are watching. and we are watching very carefully and closely what's happening in the country. we're very concerned about it. i think you've heard us say several times that we call for nonviolence by all sides. that the rights of the protesters to demonstrate peacefully should be respected and that the demonstrators should also not be violent, not be carrying arms because iraq is lucky to be one of the few places in the middle east where people can express their views loudly in the streets and as long as they do it peacefully, this is an extremely good way for the government to really know what its people are thinking and what they're
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passionate about. and to adjust course. and we recognize that we have to be careful about how we talk about these things because there's always people ready to criticize us and involve us in all sorts of conspiracy theories, but the reality is that we remain ready to help iraq build a stable and strong and sovereign government just like we've been doing. we think this is what protesters want and this is what we want as well. and we're ready to work with the government in putting together the-- any sort of reasonable response to the protesters' demands which we started to hear some of from his excellency, the president, yesterday. we would be interested to know what kind of timeline he's thinking about. we would be interested to know
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how we can be of assistant through the international organizations or directly bilaterally. we're ready to help. >> thank you. majid, you represent a sector that is a most important sector in iraq because it's not all -- at least the members from 85 to 95% of the iraqi revenues come from the petroleum industry and this cannot really stand without the support and participation of international corporations that work in iraq, and that contribute to the iraqi economy. there are also other businesses and energy like the ones who will deal with electricity and other projects that iraq is trying to accomplish and also,
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the industries. now, stability is very important for the work of these organizations and for your-- companies and corporations. you are just one of those and you take a importan important p the iraqi industry there. there is also the ability not only for the international corporations, even things like the sport events, you know, the iraqi national team was supposed to play in bazra and then now i think it's moved to another city or probably out of the country. so this is really, stability is very important. how do you think the international business, whether they are investors or corporations who work in iraq on the field, view this and
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what are their sensitivities, their apprehension, maybe, or their fear also around the risks that can be coming out of this practice stability and also to the continuation of the government? >> thank you. so, thank you for the easiest question so far. >> i am never going to do easy questions. >> to talk about, you know, iraq taking what's below the ground and getting it up rather than unfortunately those who are above the ground being put into it and i hope and pray that iraq achieves more of the former and less of the latter. so the energy potential for iraq is huge. the proven reserves are 140 billion dollars of oil and that number i believe is well below the realities and the exploration is being done, it's still very much in its infancy,
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the industry there, despite the fact that we're in the 21st century and despite all the challenges iraq is now achieving five million barrels a day, half a million barrels a day from the kurdistan region. really, other than the united states, it's been the big growth of global oil production and certainly the fastest growing in opec and that's despite lack of legislation, the war on isis, the internal political wrangling over revenue sharing, the political infrastructure, all of those achieved such incredible growth of main production. and it can sort out the necessary things, what is really possible. i think we as a company, we're certainly very committed to iraq, never stopped producing in the kurdistan region.
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we were awarded three more blocks with the federal government, including the difficult area which has been liberated, and we feel able to work there. and it's really about service delivery and that's one of the big asks of the demonstrators, also. i think that jobs is key and the fact that growth has been insufficient not only for iraq, but around the world you're seeing this, because of insufficient growth and major since 2003 particularly in electricity, and clean water in the south and a buffer. and it is a shame that despite such amazing resources that hasn't been achieved yet. a lot of work is underway to try and, you know, achieve better delivery of these basic services, but the political
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system also needs to get together and take some strategic decisions and some political decisions. i think that the-- one of the things that's been holding back the progress in the oil and gas sector is there isn't still this agreement in the constitution, which is revenue sharing basically for us as a population. there was an attempt years ago to package all the legislation in together. it was unfortunately failed, probably was too big an ask. probably makes more sense, first, how are you going to share the pie and then after that, everybody has an interest in growing the pie. >> right. >> and that's more on the investment laws. so there's a lot of work that still needs to be done, but no doubt iraq has great potential in this sector. >> let me follow up on this and one of the issues that you have to deal with as international
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corporations and the oil sector and in the petroleum sector, is this lack of legislation that can make things easier for iraqis and also for their international partners. and you are sort of steady and closely following the iraqi legislative system. what would make it easier for both sides? in other words, looking for something that is fair for both the iraqis and for the international corporations to be included in that law? >> so, i think on the-- again, two separate debates. one is the political one internally, how does iraq split the revenues from oil and gas. and the principle is clear. it's proportional to population, but putting it in
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place, and i think that needs-- before you start putting drops to parliament there needs to be political agreement and that hasn't really taken place yet. and the separate one is about investors and government into the fiscal terms and there has been evolution there. there was, you know, complaint from the international oil companies about the original fiscal terms because there were-- it wasn't just about the rate of return, it was the structure, it was the service agreement where it was cost plus and the investors basically became contractors, had no intent to keep the costs down, but little to incentivize beyond that because they got like a dollar a barrel or whatever it was. that's evolved and the federal ministry was-- now their common model they got into international expertise in, is more of a typical investment type agreement and
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they importantly, also, they put a price on natural gas. and backed it up with guarantees, including with crude. that's very important to achieve investment in natural gas. many countries, particularly in the middle east failed to price to gas and not surprisingly there's very little investment in that sector upstream. iraq not only for to your, but exporter for pipeline and lng if the market is fair. >> well, thank you for that. back to -- you mentioned, i mean, i gave you so many questions and i realize that, but that what we do and i'm trying to learn to be in this business.
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so. [laughter] >> you know, because you need to really test what's there and that, you know, how doing from talking to students to experts, that's a different story, but let me follow up on my questions and also your answers. so what we go with, what would be broader. people talk about two scenarios that are most plausible. either the designation of the demands of the protesters and probably many people in the political parties, especially those who have their eyes on his job and they think probably they can have it. and there are those who are more interested in reform and they think that the resignation of the government of prime minister ahmadi will put it
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through-- maybe they will not be able to form another government for a long time and then either you risk continued protests and protests mean basically a lot of more disruption. the country will be halting its activities for a long time and that will hurt so many people, especially the it p's who are waiting to have government give them back and so many others, and the business as well that means iraq is signing contracts and they need to have those on the ground to meet the protests. so between these two, the resignation or the continuation of the government, and the parliament, and have them be the agents of change and reform, where do you lean? and what do you think is the more realistic and more plausible scenario? >> well, i think it's important to always keep in mind that
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ahmadi became prime minister as a compromise solution and that there was no single block that nominated him. it was an agreement between -- which is -- the southern block. >> okay. >> and the other block and they got together and they chose somebody who was seen as an independent. in other words, not belonging to either of their political groups. and the outset, this looked like a sensible arrangement. b
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but-- and he arrived as a prime minister with a legacy of a political system that has been hobbled and dysfunctional and certainly not-- not highly recorded -- regarded by the population. so he did come with this badge or he had to deal with this baggage. the fact that he didn't have the support of a single major party rather than being an asset has now proved to be a liability because there's nobody defending him. and even who originally was a great backer came out openly a few days ago and said he should resign. the problem is, there are mechanisms, i don't think that the resignation of the government is going to create
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this vacuum. the problem is not that. the problem is what is going to replace them and if you are looking from the perspective of the protesters, it is not enough for one individual to be scapegoated and to resign if in fact the replacement is going to be also somebody from the powers that be. they are looking for radical change. i hate to use this term. they want to see a paradigm shift in the politics of iraq, okay? so the resignation on its own, unless it's tied to a much more far-reaching and broader vision of reform, is not going to help. the dissolution of parliament and early elections, if we follow the same electoral law
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with the same or a similar type of electoral commission and the same party law, political party law, and that's an important element, if those remain unchanged, we are going to reproduce the same type of parliament. all of those are not going to be the type of reform that people want, and they're calling for. and not only the people, but it has been very clear about the type of far-reaching radical reform that's required. we have the resignation in lebanon, okay, fine, and this is probably a tactical move because there are others in the government that he wanted to get rid of and so as he resigns, the entire government falls and so on, so he can get
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rid of some faces, but in iraq, it's different. you can't have one man resigning, only to be reproduced by somebody similar. and so, what do i see? perhaps a resignation of the government. he's offered to resign once a replacement is found, according to the speech by the president yesterday. >> which came from on the -- that's how the frame of --. >> now, the talk is, let's go back a few days. we're talking now in terms of days in iraq because every day, every hour seems changed. there was discussion and an agreement that they should find
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a replacement. there were reports by reuters and others that on wednesday in baghdad, met with them and said, no you should not change -- so there are all sorts of interests at play here. and the picture is becoming more complicated. will he resign? will he not resign? if he resigns, who will replace him? so on and so forth. i think an orderly transition with reforms in the electoral law, in the commission, in the party law, early elections based on those, and a caretaker government, whether it's a government that's under him or
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somebody else, to see it through a certain period of time is, to my mind, is the most orderly way to do it. now, the problem with the president's speech, as you mentioned, is it was a little short on details, but i understand because they're going through consultations and processes, but more to the point, it had no timeline. if, as some people have suggested, elections should take place in two years, i can tell you that that's not going to be satisfactory solution. there has to be a short timeline in order to light a fire under people and to keep their focus. so is it going to be a revolution? is it going to be an evolution? perhaps by my nature i'm more
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of a -- evolution needs to be anchored in solid steps of reform, legislation, followed by elections within six months maybe and then a review. >> and the president's speech, everything has to be done through the constitutional frame work because iraq's countries and some other countries in the region, the only way you can have change is by some means that are extraordinary. iraq has a process in place and can serve for an evolutionary change, in fact. and joey-- oh, sure, please. >> on this one article 64 of the constitution, which my friend knows by heart, about
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not the article, the whole constitution. [laughter] >> article 64, which i've read and reread in the last few days. there are two mechanism for dissolving parliament, what they said was i will agree to a -- to early elections which presumes the solutions parliament. there are two ways of solving parliament, either by a vote of two-thirds. they're never going to do that, why should they? or by a dual request from the prime minister and the president. and that certainly is possible. now, the elections are supposed to take place 60 days after the dissolution. that seems to be a short timeline, but it can be worked around. so it's possible to dissolve
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parliament, but i would like-- i would have liked the president, who has actually been the person who has really been able to preserve his credibility with the population. >> and i think, ambassador will probably push back on the reading of it because article 64, it's kind of like the constitution, you have to read it backward and forward and bring some friends to help you. >> that's right, yes. >> and that's what it is is basically one of the readings that the ambassador has to it and he is a legal scholar of great stature, i always defer to him on those issues, basically that one third of the parliament can initiate and two-thirds. >> requires a two-thirds vote.
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>> and the other the prime minister would require a dissolution of the parliament, but it has where the ambassador goes, it has after the president approves it, it has to have a two third of the parliament to approve that, but means really there is no substance to this authority that the constitution gives to the president because the parliament, so agree to do that, but i agree with you, 64 is really-- and also the ambassador always bring-- was it 56, i think? no, 56 where it gives the parliament four-year term and basically you have to interpret one with the other. so, i'm sure the floor will have many questions on that from the audience. now, joey, let me ask you in light of the same arguments that was making, basically the united states was looking at
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iraq and it has two things-- major areas to focus on. one of them is internal politics of iraq and where it is going, all of the u.s. investment in iraq and treasure and international relations or bilateral relations and the potential of u.s. and iraq relations and also the regional security, regional development, what goes on in syria, turkey and in general. what are the-- what is the order of concern the united states is looking at from possible threats and risks and possible consequences of what goes on in iraq if the scenario goes, god forbid, to something worse or something that's a prolonged process? >> well, it goes back to our fundamental goal for our policy with iraq, which is a strong, stable and sovereign iraqi government because if you've
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got that, then you've got a great environment for american businesses to work in the oil sector or in other sectors of the economy. if you've got that, then you've got a strong iraq that can push back on, as i've said before, it's totally abnormal for a special forces commander from a foreign country to be coming into another country and meeting with political party leaders and telling them anything. you know, a strong, stable and sovereign iraq should be able to push back on that and say get out of here. and to be able, also to project stability into places like syria by keeping a strong border and by enabling counterterrorism operations across the border so that organizations like isis can't resurge. so, that's our goal and what we're putting into it is well and publicly known because we have to go up to congress and
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say, may we have some money to do this? so you can look up these numbers. we're the biggest humanitarian donor, the biggest donor to the iraqi security forces, the biggest donor to the mining assistants and have been for many years. what form does iranian assistance take? who knows what that looks like. how much money are they putting into it? how much are they taking out? nobody knows these things because of the way they do business and we would like to see that change and change through a strong and sovereign iraqi government and i believe that that's exactly what the protesters are saying when they say they want a country, a nation, this that can't be translated into english precisely. they don't want to be a battlefield. they don't want to be an asset. they don't want to be a
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throughway for anybody else and we completely agree with them. >> all right. i would love to go for more, but i think i need to give the audience a chance to also ask and see what we can get in or where we can get the conversation going. >> ambassador. >> president of the gulf states institute and former ambassador to iraq and a good colleague of joey hood. this is for ambassador rahim, but also for all of you on the panel. i have been struck that the demonstratio demonstrations, the emotions have largely been in baghdad and south. one of the questions i have is what is the attitude and participation in the kurdistan region, in nineveh, in anbar,
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and how do they view and participate in this protest against government inefficiency and how are they participating in the discussions of potential reform, other than-- >> thank you, ambassador. actually this question is so central to the problems that ail iraq. and i've been thinking about this and trying to disentangle. first of all, let me just say preemptively, that there's been from the students in support, there was also a letter of support signed by about 100 kurdish members of the kurdish intelligence here in support. so where there have not been protests in kurdistan, there have been statements of
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support. in the last few days, they were also some small protests that came out in support of the protests in the south. not their own protests, but these were solidarity protests. they were quickly snuffed out by iss, by the iraqi security forces. so going back to this question, why is it happening? first of all, because in sunni areas in 2012 when they protested, they were immediately branded as terrorists, and so on, and they were mercilessly crushed by maliki if you recall. and then they were accused of being the pathway, the protests were accused of being the
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pathway of dasch into iraq. and so the last thing that the people in anbar or even nineveh want to be attractions of allowing terrorists to come in, so, they are very hesitant to expose themselves to these accusations, so that's one reason. i think the deeper reason is that the shia feel this is our government. this is shia-led government. and this government, this shia-led government and let's face it, it is, came to power in 2003 to respond to our grievances as shia. to elevate us as shia from the
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oppression of saddam hussein and so on. and it was -- they have taken all the spoils, the shia leaders, we have had nothing. basra is in a dismal state and is predominantly shia. all the state is predominantly shia. there's a feeling that this government which is supposed to be ours and which is supposed to represent us has let us down. now, for the sunnis, i don't think there is the same sense that this is our government. there's much more participation by the sunnis now than we saw after 2003. and i think that the sunnis are much more part of the political process, the decision making
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process, but for the mass of sunnis, it is not yet something that they feel they can appropriate themselves. and then, of course, don't forget that all of these provinces have just come out from under dasch. thech their own problems, own needs of reconstruction of bringing home id p's. ... it can be interpreted as saying don't forget this is it just about the shia area. this is about all of iraq and all the components of iraq and
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that was a very important message to hear. >> i i just wanted to build on something which was said, you know, the constitutional reform, electoral law reform, these may all be required. i'm not an expert but iraqi constitution is not perfect, but none of them are. it's not the only country think about what you can get two-thirds vote to remove the chief of government at the moment. [laughing] but actually those will take time, a lot of time, and i don't see how they're going to address the immediate needs of these demonstrators because actually the crisis of legitimacy of iraqi government now is not one of democratic legislation or the constitution. and those were asking for, there are some, see it as we change the whole system. but what they really asking for,
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jobs, service delivery and lack of corruption. taking a year or two to change electoral law or change the constitution is not going to help with those. what i see with the problem lies is in the executive, and the service delivery, by the government, is failing. that needs to kind of, emergency counsel self gratian, emergency task force on electricity delivery, giving them the freedom if necessary some outside expertise and having an action plan and delivering, and some of keeping those immune to political interference and corruption and that kind of pulling this way and that way all the parties which has so far stymied the governments progress. >> can i respond? i hate to disagree with you but
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i think the demands of the protesters have gone beyond asking for jobs and services. i think that was true on octobe. i think as i tried to show, they have changed. now, keep in mind that i think it was october 4, the prime minister came out and said we are going to create more government jobs. the government is already in deficit, and i don't -- and the public service sector, the public sector is bloated. so i don't know how they're going to create jobs and what they're going to pay, how they're going to pay for them. the prime minister also talks about a new package, an
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additional package of social welfare. and in that speech he tried to respond to the services demands of demonstrators. but i think by then we had gone beyond that. added don't think any kind of service delivery -- they can't create better health overnight. they can't create better schooling overnight. they can't create a million jobs overnight. i think that takes more time than reforming the electoral law and, i'm not talking about the constitution reforming the electoral law, that having new elections and having a new government. i think that can be done in a shorter period of time. you also spoke about creating jobs and improving services
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without interference and the derailing effect of corruption. you're absolutely right body don't think it is possible to do that unless you have a major reform of the political system. >> always this, you have the spark and then you have the early commands, then once people are on the streets they raise the ceiling and then, just like in negotiations, then you have to go back and -- this is going to be really and ever evolving demands on counter, offers and counter offers, and also there are so many moving targets and people are trying to -- >> i think we are in agreement. my point was not that you can assuage these demonstrations by
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the government offering to hire tens of thousands of more. my point was what they want. changing the electoral law of the is not going to be enough. they see that as a means to an end perhaps, but actually you can't wait for that. i heard from a senior, one of the most senior iraqi politicians at the moment, andy described it civic what will. he said on the political front we are in a good but our two blocks and that's not what we were ten years ago. but on the economic side, we came from a system of socialist, state, centralized control for three decades plus. where the citizen had no rights, no freedoms, but jobs, , securi, service delivery and all that. we took that away and we declared in the constitution and aspiration for a market-based
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economy private sector and growth and capitalism and so on. we took two steps forward and stop, right? so we either continue and achieve that aspiration or go back to what we have. and really become socialist beginning support the citizens. if we stay in this limbo, phony state, they will not accept it and tolerated. he said that a year ago and, unfortunately, no -- >> productive hybrid of the two. ambassador. we have a microphone. >> thank you very much for the very fascinating discussion, but if i could push back again if i may, picking up on what majid was just saying, the last remarks he made. you talked about evolutionary change and you begin evolutionary asked if you're not the only evolutionary asked in iraq. the parties are also extremely,
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political parties are extremely revolutionary way that at least three different sets of electoral laws and iraq starting with the very first electoral law which the united nations to up for iraq which treated iraq as a single district, whatever it was, proportional representation. the basic parties that been elected to parliament haven't fundamentally changed, not withstand changes in the electoral laws over the last 15 years. what gives you any -- that's precisely what the parties do. every time they electoral laws change, they evolve to adapt to the new environment and come up to the top again. we have been dealing with the same personalities more or less for 16 years. what makes you optimistic that changing the electoral law will yield any of the salvatori results that you hope for? >> -- salvatori? >> it depends on what changes
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you make. and this becomes a rather technical discussion which i would love to have with you. but i think there been some ideas floated that, remember, it's not a bad thing to have political parties. there are political parties and all democracies. it is a question of how you elect your representative, and i think there have been suggestions for an electoral law that is more reflective of the voters choice. i'm sorry, i don't want to go into it because there are different models that are being -- i know in the president's office working with others they
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are looking at options. >> thank you. i fear that you can't fight somebody politically with nobody, and i worry about the demonstrations at the moment have not coalesced behind an individual or a set of principles. you said they keep moving the goalposts, and ambassador, you said things have changed from one day to another. to me, to avoid falling into more violence, i think the really need a leader. they need a ghani, maybe somebody that can coalesce the opposition behind him, behind a
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single set of demands before they can move someplace. is this right? >> so i don't know. we were actually debating this interesting global phenomenon now, that whether sudan, algeria, hong kong, chile or further afield you don't seem to get leaders anymore. they get organized to social media. it doesn't mean they can't achieve change and in the middle east algeria, lebanon, maybe iraq, they have brought down the government. but what can you do, what can you achieve the on that is not yet clear. but it seems to be, i don't know the answer, that we live in a world where you don't have any more, or maybe you don't need, i don't know, god deese and mundell and the figures here i defer to more experienced speed is i don't have more expert in revolution but --
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[laughing] but i think you can die these things together. people are coming up and protest because they feel their elected representatives are not reflective of their views and so they're coming out and yelling those views. and so that's what i reform electoral system needs to do so that people know who they voted for, who represents them in a part of it, who they where they see something they don't like. i know who i can do that too in the u.s. congress who represents me, no iraq you can say the same thing about the council of representatives. >> i'm sorry, you wanted to -- >> i want to say that there are slogans or branding, if you want. they may be not be individuals, but it was mentioned -- [inaudible] at a think that's a very
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important -- and i translate, it's not countries come it's not nations, it's more like the latin patria. it's something you owe allegiance to, that you believe in, that you're emotionally tied to. this has become a major slogan. and i think this type of branding which is, i'm sure there are people doing this and thinking of the slogans and so on, or imagine unhappy, i'm going out to claim my right. i think this is become a sort of glue for these protests that, sure, it doesn't replace no leadership but it certainly gives the protesters coherence pic and i think that may be helpful. >> right here. >> i have to my question, one
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for ambassador rend. you believe there is something missing in the demonstrations, the so-called iraqi identity? do you believe the changes that the demonstrators, they want, is going to bring a bracket identity rather than the shia or the ethnic identity for the country? and my second question, i'd like to hear your assessment about -- d do you believe he will be part of the problem or part of solution or what's happening in iraq? thank you. >> yes. [laughing] >> are you done? >> yes, i'm done. please. [laughing] >> okay. i'll answer.
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you know, , i've been through really quite surprise, it's been sorted for years people say there's no iraqi identity, there's no national identity. and they say the same thing about lebanon, that nobody believes in a lebanese identity. everybody is just thinking about well, , i'm christian, i'm musl, i'm shiite. i've always -- i feel both lebanon and iraq. there is, in fact, an identity, but that it is, has been submerged by a political class whose interests is in fragmenting this identity and undermining it into primary allegiances. and i think the really good
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things about the protesters in iraq and similarly we had been talking about how iraq, lebanon, lebanon mirrors iraq and so on. but i think the healthy thing that i had seen emerge in iraq is that suddenly. [inaudible] and all the slogans and billboards and flags that carry the iraqis like as opposed to any other flag, and that declare no to sectarianism, no to fear, that this really shows that an iraqi identity exists and that it's trying to break out from the chains or the pressures that have been put on it in order to fragment it. and i think this is an extremely
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healthy sign here and if there's anything i am really encouraged by is, it is that. i'm also encouraged that christians have also shown support. some kurds have shown support. people, yes, they haven't come out and protest that i tried to explain that i believe in, but there is a national solidarity in the name of this. >> actually this question is for rend and majid, as joey is my boss twice removed. rend and majid, do you think there will be a moment with the political parties would say enough is enough, and let's
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crush the protesters even more? what's happening in iran, tehran in 2009 or in china in 89. >> you go first. >> ladies first. [laughing] >> oh, dear. >> you commented earlier about -- >> i said they would go at each other. political parties want to preserve their interests, no question about that. now, how far will they go to achieve that? we've already had hundreds of dead. nobody knows of the exact number. but certainly hundreds, thousands of ruins. how far will the armed parties can you know, the communist
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party is an armed but there are political parties that are. how far are they willing to go to quell the protests? what will a backlash be? and i think, by the way, the response of the international community is key. because when the special representative, the special representative in iraq has produced two reports. the human rights has produced one report, amnesty international has produced a report yesterday. i think the international community, heavens, mitch mcconnell mentioned it in the senate yesterday. and australia it's been raised in parliament. the response of the international community is going to be key to how far the
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repression can go. i think that is going to be a crucial element. >> i don't have much to add to that. of course everybody hopes and prays that there will not be ve and lives lost. the sheer scale of the demonstration and the fact that they are across the south gives them significant legitimacy, and any violence against them will delegitimize whoever commits it, and that needs to be taken into account. >> i agree. >> the gentleman in the middle. i didn't mean to dismiss his question but we willing to work with anyone and iraq who is willing to work for iraq. and i think what you're seeing iraqis ask for now is the same thing, but also disentangle
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religion from politics from malicious. all armed groups need to be under the control of the central government, that's a fact. and everyone agrees with that i think between u.s. government and the iraqis government. the disentangling of religion from politics, we heard try to talk about earlier how some of the coalitions and parties are now cross sectarian. there needs to be more of that so the people to look at a particular party or party leader and say they are only for the shia are the only for the sunni arabs or the kurds or whatever. that's what iraq will have evolved into a much more representative democracy and that's what you want to support. >> thank you. >> thank you very much.
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wonderful discussion. i have to my questions to majid. iraq you protesters have been nonviolent, particularly in -- [inaudible] just to make days ago following, i'm sure you're watching every detail and iraq, just to make days ago i heard that somebody, the protesters, calling to go to oilfields. we know that. some of the protesters have closed city councils in the name of the iraqis people, you know. is that i may come to what extent you see this really serious and may influence the political scenes and the economy in iraq? >> so there were different -- i have been india's over the last few days and probably quite a lot but what i have read is the
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recent reports that came out that said, the workers had gone on strike, but actually it turned out that they were demonstrated on their day off, which was amazingly responsible. so the did not -- no, i mean they didn't want to harm iraq's production but at the same time they wore their uniforms and that cause the confusion. they wore their overalls and hardhats and they marched together with their company slogan in support of what the demonstration, but they did on the day off. so far there hasn't been any impact. there have been in the past of course roadblocks, demonstrations outside facilities and this is because they know that this is a huge concern to the government and this will get into national attention very quickly, which it does. in 79, once an ioc workers went on strike, bashar l within 24
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hours because that's the lifeblood as i said unfortunate of these economies is still the oil and gas. but we have seen any impact yet, and what we have seen has been peaceful protests and not violence against indy international investors or around these facilities, as far as i have heard. >> thank you. i am the krg representative. thank you. it's been a very educational and fascinating discussion. absolutely i think there's total sympathy and empathy with the protesters across kurdistan, some of the political leaders have also made statements that their grievances are legitimate, also called for an end to violence on both sides. i want to make one short comment and then ask the question.
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i would argue that the sunnis and kurds have already had their protests. as rend mention the sunnis previously protest and they were crushed brutally. you could argue that the kurdish referendum on independence was a form of protest. is also a positive thing. we have a spirit of independence, i've been told like texas, but also i think it was a protest. there was a protest against being not really part of the system and not really being represented. so i would argue that the kurds and sunnis have had their protests. they were dealt with in whatever way they were dealt with. now it's the turn of the shia come and help their protests will be listened to and will, in fact, improve things for all of us in iraq, who ever we are. now, my question is, how would you assess -- to all of the panel -- how would you assess
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the reaction of the immediate neighbors of iraq? is their reaction a cause for celebration or commiseration? >> white? >> immediate neighbors of iraq, how has the reaction to the protests? >> you not going to talk about iran. >> go ahead. >> i'm not going to assess the reaction of kuwait, you do, to the protests. we have seen all the reports as i mentioned earlier, soleimani flying in a giving advice. if i were a protester, this is exactly what i would be saying. i would be pointed to ansi this is what i don't want. i want my own country. i don't want someone else come in your telling us how to run it. and i think you have seen from the regime in tehran over the years have deal with protests. the iraqis people are saying we are not going to have that.
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there had been a couple hundred deaths that we have deplored,, and the iraqi people have said we're not going home, with not going to be cowed by that. so i think if the rains are thinking of trying to handle the protests and iraq the way to do in the own country, they need to think again. and i wish that they would not interfere in this and allow the iraqis to peacefully demonstrate and tell there, how they feel. >> if you sort of look around iraq's neighbors, who do we have? the kuwaitis certainly did not want to get involved in any way. nor do the saudis, moving, you know. though jordanians of course are impacted because there's a disruption in iraq which affects the trade and so on and so forth.
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and i'm sure the jordanians are also afraid that the breakdown can allow daesh to make renewed inroads in iraq. this is always a fear. then you cut syria syria has its own problems. turkey, which for home whom the kurdish issue is that permit issue as you very well know. and therefore syria and turkey, that is their primary concern right now, which again leads us with iran. i would say iran is the one neighbor that has a direct, imminent interest in what is going on in iraq. you know, i don't want to go too far in assigning responsibility, but when you look at, you sort of do a parable of the iraqis
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surroundings, you will see either people, either coaches don't want to get involved, just keep me away, or they are too busy with other stuff right now. that leads iran unfortunately -- either countries -- iran has a very strong interest in maintaining the status quo. that's just the fact. >> i don't have anything to add. i think what's interesting is every some iraqis had demonstrations which were triggered by electricity, , 50 degrees, no electricity, people are fed up, and you always historically, you know, monarchy fell in july, july seem to be hot mustard what's interesting it was a triggered by victor iraq had a much better some of electricity this year. we're in november. it's not a time when the temperatures and associate temperatures are high so does seem to be really about, as rend
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said, there's something systemic that's wrong that is felt that is wrong and they need the system to change. because the way it's going out it's not delivering on their aspirations. >> right. speaking of electricity actually last night we lost power and i had all night long to this point i got ready on candlelight and i've never done that. then i was looking, i called louis and i said we don't have electricity. he said i will get to you once i -- ben wittes restored their i will get to you. you are right. it's really deeper than just electricity. we have one last question and then i will have three quick questions and we will wrap up. yes. [inaudible] >> lee meredith from energy and intelligence. i was hoping you could talk about, we heard the u.s. prevail
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upon iraq to become more energy independent. what you've seen in terms of progress and what else washington is looking for on that issue. >> i wish i could point to more progress. there have been a few deals signed with european and american companies, but we need to see more progress as quickly as possible. it's just unconscionable that iraq flares so much gas into the atmosphere that could be captured and turned into electricity for its people and then turned around and purchase of electricity and natural gas from iran. that's exact like carrying coal to the newcastle. the are plenty of american companies with the technology available to help them do that, and we think that's the best route when you looking to reduce corruption is so because
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american companies have a strong reputation for transparency. but i would also say that iraq has shown its capability as you mentioned, majid. it's producing at historic levels. has never produce this much will. so things can be done they just need to be a series focus on it, and that's again with the poachers is i think have been saying, that nobody is taking seriously what we are asking for. hopefully they will now. >> so i think the key is to focus on costs as far as iraq to budget and reliability. absent politics. joey is right, there's plenty of local gas resources which could fuel electricity. you mention the flaring in the southcom but also in the center and the north there's a lot of associate aghast. we are now producing 400,000,00y in the kurdistan region.
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there are some power plants that are affiliate built one of, you do, less than 100 kilometers within federal iraq which are dd gas. we're taking our production up to a billion cubic feet a day over the next few years. party that could be supplied to federal iraq, a fraction of the cost of imported gas. as i mentioned the arab blocs, there's gas fields there and we initialed those contracts over yuriko and you're waiting for the signatures so we can get on. within a year he can be producing a couple hundred billion cubic feet of gas. the shortages are further north and there's gas there. none of those -- it could be rapidly brought on, just need some decisions to move forward. >> very short answers but not yet become i know. try to come iraqi energy
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independence, a short-term, midterm, or long-term, or hopefully not never? >> could and should be short term. i that i meet a couple of years. it really doesn't, it really shouldn't take more than that to enable self-sufficiency. and import was supposed to be temporary anyway. at least that's how it was declared way back when. colton newcastle when he heard some ideas, maybe import elegy or import from the neighbors, come on, that makes no sense. >> joey, i know you have a meeting to go to. quick question really. we are speaking about possibilities of getting the basrah country open with the current situation or do you think you will continue to speak about that or do you think this is a possibility? the consulate did a lot of work in iraq actually from days of
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steve. where do you think that is speech you said i can't say yes, and i can't say no. can i say maybe? know, the united states remains committed to our presence presd iraq. that's one of the reasons we are building a state-of-the-art facility for a new consulate in irbil. were not going anywhere, but right now we can't talk about taking the consulate off of the suspension of operations, but we hope to be able to have that conversation soon when there's peace, stability, a strong sovereign government that is in charge of security throughout all of iraq and not other actors. >> and rend, do you see a finish of the term of the government are --
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[inaudible] roadmap in his speech accomplished by the protesters will have their voice? >> the roadmap is designed to meet the protesters demands but it doesn't go far enough and is not specific enough. so if that is developed and if they can get precision going and so, then i think there is a possibility of comforting the protesters. but all i can say is i don't know. because things are dynamic. they are changing and we don't know. >> one step far away from joey. >> but i think we have to be honest. >> a fascinating discussion. thank you for our panel.
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they do all for attending. i i appreciate it. thanks a lot. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> that wraps up our live coverage of this event. it is available to view online right now on our website just type atlantic council in the video search box which you will find at the top of her
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homepage, more like programming coming up today when the smithsonian institution holds a a ceremonyr its new secretary as the leader of the since morning he received 19 museums, 21 libraries in the national national zoo. he previously served as a director of the national museum of african american history and culture in washington, d.c. you can see live coverage starting at 3 p.m. eastern on c-span. looking at her campaign 2020 coverage, democratic presidential contenders are expected to speak at the iowa democratic party annual liberty and justice celebration dinner tonight from the state capital of des moines. live coverage tonight at 7:30 p.m. eastern. president trump holte campaign rallies this evening in mississippi. you can see that life tonight at eight eastern on c-span2, online at c-span2, online at, or listen live with the free c-span radio app.
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some news, the labor department released octobers jobs numbers. 120,000 jobs were added last month but the overall rate went up to 3.6%. the ap notes the that figure ws held down by a now settle strike against general motors that cost several thousand workers to be temporarily counted as unemployed. additionally for the second straight month average hourly wages rose 3% from a year ago. >> we are making it easy for you to follow the impeachment inquiry on search our coverage for video on demand of all the congressional briefings and hearings as well as of the administrations response during the impeachment inquiry process. log on to our impeachment inquiry webpage at your fast and easy way to watch c-span's unfiltered coverage anytime. >> sunday live at noon eastern
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on "in depth," princeton university professor joint is to talk about african-american history and racial inequality. >> my mother came of age in jim crow alabama, so my mother lived our youth through a white nationalist society and it has come back speech opened officially white nationalist society. >> yes. and it has reared its head again. >> her most recent book is brief, a letter to my sons. join the interactive conversation with your phone calls, tweets and facebook messages. at 9 p.m. eastern on "after words" ," the secretary of veterans affairs in the trump administration. >> the governments involvement in the a healthcare is the most
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effective way of honoring our nations commitment to our veterans. that does not mean that veterans shouldn't have the ability to go into the private sector when it's in their best interest, when the care is better or specialized care is available that's not in the v.a. we all believe that should be available. >> watch booktv every weekend on c-span2. >> and now a house modernization committee hearing on congressional mailing roles. members hear about how social media and technology will impact the way members of congress communicate with their constituents. from yesterday, this is just over an hour. [inaudible conversations]
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>> the hearing will come to order. this hearing is entitled "congress and the frank: bringing congressional mailing standards into the 21st century." i now recognize myself for five minutes to give an opening statement. happy halloween everybody. i am dressed as america's most maligned superhero, congressman, to be able to fly across the country in six hours on alaska airlines. we were thinking about titling this hearing frankenstein, have houses ghoulish mailing standards have haunted members for decades, but i suppose we should go with the official on spooky title for the record. like most of the issues that fall into this commencement date, it's very inside baseball. to most people frank is a name or aam hot dog but the reality s
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for members of congress, congressional frank is actually fundamental to how we can indicate with our constituents and every time we respond to constituent request or send newsletters or send synopsis te upcoming town halls we use frank. so surprised with the rise of social media congress has an overall decline in members use of the frankfort continue to commit was spent an average of $58,000 on frank mail and today's number spent an average of 26,000. there's a lot of variation by district and by member but still is a getting on the fact social media has had to ms. impact on how congress communicates with its contenders. congress didn't have a digital media staff ten years ago and today almost everything he has one including ours. given these changes in the way congress and the american people to make it today's hearing is important.y if history is any indicator key vacations platforms will continue to rapidly evolve and congress needs to adapt so members can to make it as effective as possible withhe


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