tv Future of Iraq CSPAN February 27, 2018 8:29am-10:04am EST
being here and thank you as well for being on the panel. i have yet to good to kuwait, the last time i had been there with 1990 during the gulf war. i got to take a second picture next to the two spirit towers, this time -- what's that? there you go, liberation towers. it was good to be back, but more importantly to see this coalition come together not only in the private sector and having 64 nation there's, but also, like you said, ambassador, seeing the iraqis out front, talking about the country, talking about not only economic opportunities in iraq, but also about humanitarian situation.
one of the things -- the first day of the conference was great. the press was able to ask questions of not only prime minister abadi but also the kuwaitty prime minister and the deputy minister and the foreign mince sterp. the iraq i can press asked some of the toughest question. they warned don't go on a stage with mike pregent, he's going to ask tough questions. the iraq i can press was tough. they were grit. but their questions went unanswered. a lot of their questions were based on reconstruction in the area such as mosul and other prov vinss and the idps. why won't we delay elections to allow idps to come back, as you mentioned 2..6 million in these camps and want to vote. so the questions were great. so let's talk -- let's look at the visuals. prime minister abadi had a great
stage to -- he looked -- we use the term in the united states he looked presidential. he looked in charge of a country and had he the legitimacy of 64 countries backing him up by being there. and also the private sector companies. but there was also an air of what are we getting ourselves into of what are we get ourselves into if we do these things. not only defense contractors that are very familiar with a kickback. i set an example in 2018 when we were work with the administration of ministry to try to get an electric contract in baghdad, but because ge didn't offer a kick-back in went to simmons and simmons was only able to produce a third of that capacity. again, i say this in 2008. that's because it was of at surge, of it alkwied as
decimated, after we built the sunni resistance and the awakens. after we allowed for political accommodation and reconciliation we started focus oth what we're doing now, economic investment, capability. these important things when you have -- that you do in post conflict societies. but, again, as we all know, security is tied to economy. this is an economy that's tied to its security, the ir iraqi e. this is something the united states knows based open our time there, our investment, our blood and treasure, not to mention the iraqi sacrifice of course. i was an embedded officer in the army and we saw them fall all the time. we were in armored vehicles and then were in fdic pick yumup trucks yet they were going the same direction as the enemy. there's a lot of cost in these things and we don't want to see
security backslide. i think there was a hint of that at the conference. the good thing about the position of baghdad is that a lot of the reconstruction, as you mentioned, has been outsourced to the u.n. and it's ngos and it's other groups. i mean, i have the document that basically you cited everything that's going on in iraq where the u.n. is focused, the 54 nablds in mosul, 16 are heavily damaged, 23 are moderately damage and 14 are lightly damaged. this not what the focus of this conference was when it came to the private sector investment in iraq. this is where the u.n. was focused on. this is what unammy was focused on, and this is where the iraqi press hit baghdad hard. said where is the talk from the prime minister about these things. of course you can find these things but it wasn't out front. i had a chance to listen to them talk about economic investment
in iraq. and he talked about four main areas for economic investment, and he called iraq's oil sector the bread basket of the iraqi economy. he talked about construction, telecommunications, and transportation. again, this caution that was in the air of the conference was how much influence does aroon ha -- iran have in iraq? that's the whole conversation. just because it borders doesn't mean it have you had anymore influence than kuwait, saudi or other groups. iraq shouldn't have to lean towards its eastern border. and this conference was about that. and if you looked at the focus of the investment from saudi arabia and kuwait, kuwait's
focus was on busser, un cussa and these places because it borders the area. this is a place sure of economic investment. it also is a place to actually use leverage with not only iran but with iraq when it comes to economic investment. and the saudis, i was asked earlier or i've been asked over the last couple weeks about saudi economic investment in iraq and what does it mean. is it a u.s. lever to curb iranian influence in iraq or is it going to be what happened in lebanon and syria where iranis invest yet iraq gets do what it wants? those are the issue. we hosted a member of the row hick ma party, had a conversation, again, also warned not to meet with this reporter or this observer in iraq, but a great conversation. he said something that resonated with me and ties directly to
this conference in cue wait. -- kuwait. he said the only way to counter iran is if they're a strong economic power. >> iraq. >> correct. iraq say strong economic power, and he's exactly right. the best way for iraq to be a strong economic power is to ensure that much like with the irgc does in iran, they're not able to do in iraq. the four main areas that the irgc has its tentacles in the you're rainian economy is oil sector, transportation, tell communications, and construction. the four areas that prime minister abadi and allor wrathgy asked investors to go into were the oil sector, telecommunications sector, transportation sector and the construction sector. so the united states as we talk
about blood and sacrifice and we talk about the optimistic levers or the optimistic way forward by using our levers is to help iraq by maybe warning iraq that investments that go into iraqi skps that have any ties to an irgc fund company will be subject to u.s. treasury sanctions. that's a strong tool. it's also an insurance policy for investors that when they go in they'll be protected knowing that the companies are doing business with have actually -- have no ties to the irgc and i'll leave of that there because there's not a lot of evidence that there are ties to that now. it's just simply if rye an's doing it it's doing it in syria's economy, in lebanon's, and it's been doing it since 2003, economic ties, but there's also questionable ones as well. an insurance policy. now, the one thing that prime minister abadi said that was
also a security blanket for investors and also something that alealeve eights a lot of their concerns is he's going to look at getting rid of this 10 to 20% kickback that secures the contract. and he is setting up a commission and he wants to see it gain a lot of momentum after the elections. and that brings me to the elections and i'll kind of try wrap up here. the upcoming elections, again, 2.6 million sunnis displaced because of the campaign against isis and what isis did asked for a delay. the iraqi press asked many questions about why isn't the election being delayed? and, of course, you want to be able to say we want to keep it on time, we want to do it the right way, the elections are important. when, mr. ambassador, when you mentioned, you know, cross
sectarian and cross ethic coalitions, we're seeing those and they need to win. the issue now is the fattah party, is that the right party that i'm talking about? the one led by -- >> yes. >> so currently that party has the militias that you warned about. ah, hezbollah, bahta core, participating in that party. and what we talk to ra hick ma, they said we don't want to work to moderate, we want to work with coalition parties to marginalize this party. am i saying it right? all right. the fattah party. the problem is now, if the fattah party -- the fattah party hasn't won yet, but it already has its minister in charge of the minister of the interior, it has the commander and deputy commander in hol lamb ray and a
des egg nated u.s. terrorists who commands hezbollah is the deputy commander of the house of ashob by. volunteers are great iraqis that did all the right things, problem is they've sort of fallen under this command and control structure. we'll talk about that later. but the issue is if fattah wins, these ministers stay in place. if they lose, do the other parties have enough power to push them out and get somebody that could send a signal not only to investors, not only to americans and nato, because nato's voiced concern before we go in we want to make sure fattah party doesn't win. we want to make sure that he is not the prime minister. those are important things. but in the forming of these coalitions during this election, in order to make the economic investment opportunity more stable, the security situation more stable, these coalitions aren't talking about replacing these ministers or getting rid
of mow behind dus as the deputy commander. one of our biggest problems is the u.s. training equip program, ten u.s. tanks fall in his hands, u.s. government denied that for the last two years and now there's evidence of it and we're trying to get it back. these aren't captured isis tanks, these are mod op contanks to militias. i just want to hear some of the political parties in iraq talking about how they're going to stop the influence and the saturation of irgs force sies like badda core, and hezbollah, when they have such prom nate position in the iraqi government today. and that's causing serns not only fortunate toe training program in high rack a-- iraq,
security backslide in iraq, they just -- they just cement that argument that iran has more influence in iraq than it should. and just a quick -- a quick ant ne doke. 27 people were killed north of baghdad. and, this is terrible, but it was cheered but some sectors of the iraqi population. the sunni arab population of minute uwa and some of the sunni kurdish population of the krg controlled areas. it end that isis killed militias and the irg militias deserved it. and that -- that right there, especially with this operation taking place in an area where
there's oil, there's infrastructure, and there are still isis pockets is concerning not only to investors, not only to nato allies, but also to those of us like you point out in your article, the that want to assure that this victory is permanent and not simply a reset of conditions that led to isis to begin with with an increased dynamic in that now the u.s. is no longer trusted as much by the curds and by the sunnis but also that iran's had more influence that it's ever had. and i'm happy to be wrong about all of that, i just want to be comfortable in saying i was wrong. >> thanks, mike. i actually wanted to also before i open it up on u.n. administrations sort of approach on iraq particularly on burden sharing which linda also mentioned in her comments and i did at the outset of still being the largest humanitarian and stabilization donor but not
contributing to reconstruction on the security side looking more whether nato mission could be part of ways of perhaps stepping down, sort of using engagement had the how do you see all of that combined with this? >> well, with the administration says publicly it can actually hurt what we're doing privately in iraq. when i say privately, in meetings where we're assuring guarantees and making promises to the iraqi security forces we're working with, that we're training with, and also as we try to reestablish these levers that we've had in the past with baghdad. my concern about the current administration's strategy is that in the state department iraq has fallen almost completely out of the iranian influence talk. state department has said iran's influence in syria, lebanon and yemen and left iraq out, and that's concerning to generals like the generality sitcom and generals in the department of defense. the other part of that is the
president's strategy to defeat isis, call it a victory, and get out. outsource reconstruction to iraq, maintain a minimal presence. these are parties are calling for the exit of american forces and now there's a u.s. policy where militias cannot be within 20 kilometers of american bases where americans are training iraqis. the problem is that -- these
solutions. and, again, nobody wants to stay in iraq, but we've stayed in iraq this whole time, so maybe we should stay in some capacity, some normalized treaty where there's a u.s. base there that can do exactly these things when something pops up. augment the security forces archd be able to decimate something that shouldn't have been born to begin with. >> thanks, mike. let me now ask a question to the whole panel and you're also allowed to sort of comment on each other's intervention if you want to. on one really sort of simple but hopefully a little bit difficult question would justing what in all of this do you see as the greatest challenge for iraq moving forward among all the things that we've sort of outlined here on the panel? i'll start with you, ambassador. >> well, the biggest challenge that iraq is facing is the fact that it has to address issues
with tools that need building. so, for example, one of the -- one of our difficulties in the last, you know, ten years of wars that we've had is that we were engaged in the a war that we were building our army at the same time, okay. and in order for us to address many of the issues that you raised, corruption, better services to citizens, equity, we need to strengthen our institutions. so i think the greatest guarantor of iraqi independence is not only that we will be a strong economy, we have oil, we have resources, we can do that. what i think the strongest guarantor of our being an independent nation that can stand and look any other country in the eye is if we can
strengthen our institutions. and this is actually something that we are on track and having been engaged in an iraqi institution in the last 14 years, i can tell you that i see incremental changes that are cumulative making it better. an example, early on when we were staffing the foreign ministry we had promotion exams. everybody used to pass, okay. now people flunk. there are standards being applied, okay. one of the reasons why the icts is such a successful institution in iraq is that because it applies criteria and principles that make it a strong institution. so this is the track that we're on, finding corruption is part of it. now, recently we were -- i was
in baghdad for an ambassador's conference and we were -- the focus of this conference this year was reconstruction. last year's was liberation, if you will. but just as our army is a much better institution than it was a few years ago, right now we're focusing on the institutions that we need to build up to fight the battles that we need to fight, particularly with regard to corruption. so now the institution that is the most in the lime light is our interrogative commission, which is actually making good progress. >> thanks. linda, over to. >> you thank you. i would add to the wise comments of the ambassador, i wrote a 2008 book about the surge period called "tell me how this ends" and chapter 15 has a list of things that were widely agreed to be the critical issues
to bring stability to iraq. and that list is more or less still to be done. so i think it's very important for things like the full implementation of the federalized system. there's a decent tral liezation law on the books. empla mentation has gunn begun to voflt eight ministries down to the governance but it needs to be done to give that sense of local ownership to the population, the debath fa occasion law needs to be revised, the status of occur kirk, the hydrocarbons, law, et cetera. those of you that follow iraq know the list very well. and i think it will be incumbent upon the council representatives because it is a parliamentary system, to grasp this net he will -- nete lerks and
understand that these have institutional answers and commit to building these answers. iraq is a great country, there's no reason it can't come u come through dark period, but it must find the will to do so. i firmly believe that iraqis have no wish to be the 51st state of iran. they are sufficiently confident now that they can move forward and set the appropriate limits on iranian influence. the worst thing would be for the u.s. to publicly demand or legislate "x," "y," or "z" conditions because that will ensure the inflammation of iraqi nationalism and elect the very man, michael, would you like to see not elected spot let us work in a sophisticated way, use the strategic framework agreement to put in, i think, very fairly
demand transparency conditions as the world bank does for any further aid. hopefully we will lock in a long-term security assistance agreement. they want it, it's our core competence, we have an advantage here over iran and let's press that. so that's a mouthful, but that's what i would say we have to do going forward. >> thanks, linda. one of the words we also in iran appear on a panel would be reconciliation. i wanted your practice cal experience for you to tease that out. how do we do that in practice? what do you mean when people have to do that after something such as isis? >> i left that out and i apologize. i mentioned the decent tralzation law but there's this bottom up cohesion which is the term of art being used by a lot of people pit think it's very important that these grassroots efforts be undertaken to resolve some of the conflicts in the communities at that level. also, you have to deal with the
fact that many children have been indom trin nated. there's a severe ptsd problem. people have been traumatized by life under the isis regime. i think the bottom-up era is critical to attend to. the parties will need to tackle the national, they don't like to use the word even reconciliation some of them, they call it national settlement. there are this men nuf issues, as i mentioned, that have to be dealt with and i think the parliament is the venue. but nam semistill will, the u.n. assistance mission, that's one of their main man states in adoition addressing the holding of elections and affair and freeway. i should just say this is a critical ben etch mark to make sure all those 2.6 million people get registered and are able to vote. i think it's fine for the elections who have gone ahead but it's incumbent on them to make sure everyone can in fact
vote. >> just a couple of points i wanted to make, the bearer on elections, and i should have spoken about that. you know, people tend to forget that under the circumstances what iraq has achieved is quite remarkable. in the last, you know, 14 years it might seem trooit under normal circumstances, but school exams took place on time throughout the country including recently with displaced populations. it's not a small thing except under isis of course. and one the reasons the iraqi government was intent on liberating mosul is because the first year mosul was occupied, the curricula used in the schools remain the iraqi
curricula. the second year isis developed its own curriculum. you can imagine what it's like. it would not have been wise to let them continue to brainwash our youth with it, okay. so -- and the same kind of spirit, actually, will allow us to hold the elections on time. i think the -- just as we were able to hold exams on time which require registration, students with a follow-up and ensuring an integrity of a process, elections are the same thing. i think we'll follow through. and one thing that will help us achieve these elections and in a way that will be respected and recognized is to have international observers. and so local observers as well. one of the things i'm actually trying to argue for is to increase the number of support we have to bring in
international observers, local observers to make sure these elections are as transparent and true and fair. and in the end, you know, the person who will be iraq's next prime minister will be decided for by the iraqi lector. >> that's a great -- >> whoever that might be. and i have to tell you, these are real actions. i wouldn't bet on it, i wouldn't bet -- i have my preferences, of course, as any iraqi would. my compay the yatsiots here probably also have their own preferences. but these are real elections. >> thanks, ambassador. mike, the greatest challenge but maybe also on like how we really sort of secure this time around the researgions of isis, the -- which has been a u.s. prodigy for a long time.
>> isis we caveated in the paper isis has been defeated and if we were to dig down a little bit more we would say isis has lost territory, the ability to plant a black flag but still operates in the al qaeda mode will based whoon they're able to do. they still air threat and still target the iraqi security forces, they're able to conduct suicide bombings in baghdad. we've had two bammings in the last two days and then the 2007 shabby killed by isis fighters. isis has seen iraqi and syria as one continuous piece of land, piece of territory where the united states policy stops at the border. we have a policy in iraq that stops at the border of syria and we have two policies in sthooer stop east and west of the ufrayed did is, but we'll get into that later or not at all actually. so the challenges, how do we keep isis from coming back? again, this feels like 2011 all
over again, and the one your would defend president obama on, a lot of people say that because president obama left iraq this happened. this was already happening even before we left in 2011. the iraqi security forces had already been politicized by the prime minister. i served in the second iraqi army division and there wasn't a single army commander division left of that we hadn't worked with. they had been politicized. they were from areas, the majority shares of iraq. as the federal police gets replaced in mosul on the west side an the iraqi army comes in, it's important to know it's the 15th and 16th iraqi army divisions that were recruited. this training in iraqi security force was one of the reasons we didn't stand up a brand-new second iraqi army division,
third raem army division or fourth iraqi army division when they fell. that call could have been easily been made. we didn't have to retrain these -- we didn't have to train an army and put them in, we simply had to do a call for action. say, hey, the 30,000 sunnis and kurds that were kicked out of the iraqi military by mall la chi because you didn't serve a political party or agenda show up at the air base and let's replenish the third and fourth. to would have been better to go in with a division that nots area. it would have been better to go into mosul with the second army division that knows the area. again, it's comprised of local military members that know the neighborhoods, know the streets, know the travel shapes. the iraqi security forces, i would have to say one of the most important things here is there are no more herb more
units in the army with the exception of one brigade from the puk side of the house that's just south of the hook or south of row bill, actually. it's a predominately sheer force. that doesn't mean they're sectarian. i understand the country is 60% shya, but at a . point it's not and as you move into northern iraq it reflects who lives in ka cook province, who lives in on bar and others. and sunnis need in 2007 and 2008 they were crying for political accommodation and reconciliation, a term that salmon said didn't exist in arabic but existed in the -- something we engaged with on a daily basis so ensure reconciliation as way part of the political space that the surge had offered.
seems that we're there, muhammad was at the conference and he talked about reconciliation and he's the right guy to talk about it. again, when you say the right things and they're heard, just like with u.s. politics, what happens afterwards? there are actually policies that go into effect that change things. i'm concerned about security backslide. i was in mosul after the operation. i had more trouble getting through check points in the krg areas than i did getting into mosul. once wuns i got into mosul, our car wasn't stopped at all and there was a minimal military presence on the east side. and there were a lot of military jamels on the east said. basically you couldn't sell ice shish been there. there were people everywhere. i'm concerned it's ripe for security backslide, and that's one of the biggest issues. i think there should be a call by a lot of the political parties as part of the platform for these upcoming election elections to say we need to build these divisions that ooed
used to be responsible for on bar, minute uwa and ka cook province and bring back in a force. it doesn't matter if the they're sunni or kurds, all that had you matter is that they're iraqi. but we're not seeing kurdish iraqis. but i think iraqis need to see that. at least when i go to iraq i try not to talk to americans and i try not to talk to politicians, i try to talk to iraqis. and i talk to iraqis from ra maddie, fa lucia, mosul, i talk to politicians from baghdad either from the allow we side or somewhere else. i've been asking to go into bag dand talk to the other sides to get my mind changed. i'd like to be invited in to talk to them so that i can be an advocate for this one iraq narrative that's going around
and this secure environment that iraq is now in. >> it needs observers. >> i'd love to on skblerve we have a research center at the ministry of foreign affairs that would welcome you as a speaker. >> i would love to show sblup that's great about the there are lots more questions i would love to ask of this panel. you can see the spectrum of views but i also know that i can see there are people out in the audience that are really itching also to get their questions in. so i would now open it up for questions and show your hands and i'll -- we have a microphone that will come around. we'll start with this gentleman here. and please introduce yourself and try to state a relatively short question. >> peter humphrey, former diplomat. i'm wondering if any of what might be the iranian external aid entities are contributing in any way to reconstruction in
iraq? for example, maybe the bone yards are reconstructing shia mosques, maybe even simple engineering projects spt there anything going on on what we might call the foreign aid account from iran? >> let's grab a couple of questions. let's start here in the corner. that one over there. you got it, yeah. >> turk did i was one of the biggest contributors in kuwait. what does it mean to you and can we say a new page is opening between two countries? >> thanks. and now let's grab a third one down here. front here. >> marc kim monman, i do private business in iraq. mike, let's flash forward for about nine months. a new government has been formed, it's led by allamy. >> right. >> what should the u.s. policy
be at that point? >> so i have turkey, dhink would be ambassador, the new role and large role in reconstruction. and the question of iran and organizations that actually provide maybe linda. and then ambassador. and then mike, you on the third question. >> sure. >> well, on turkey, you know, it's really interesting comparison between turkey and iran. you know, early on the turks were very reluctant to get involved in iraq but they were purkd by their private sector which did extremely well. we have billions of dollars in commercial exchange with turkey. and that pledge will only serve to enhance that. i mentioned the ambassador's conference i attended, we were lodged at the prime minister's guest house which was built, in
fact, by a turkish company. on the iranian involvement and reconstruction ef iraq, i note many iranian companies have bid on several major projects. one i was familiar with was the monther is ria power plant when they compete the -- when they competed with a french company. eventual lirt french company did win, but they also haved bid oa number of schools and i'm sure that they are very much involved in the rebuilding and redevelopment of -- and i mean ivan actually a major source of revenue to iraq if only because of the religious tourism that iraqi cities are graced to receive many millions of
iranian -- >> that's aid. >> that's not aid, that's commerce trade. on aid -- on aid, i don't think that the iranians pledge anything at the conference in kuwait. >> linda, over to you. >> yes. and i think that is the formal answer to your exact question regarding iranian aid pledges. but, of course, as you probably well know, they've, you know, been involved in many areas in this model of kind of militias, the hezbollah model of offering social services and so forth. they work through, though, a lot of locals. i mean, obviously costs them so money's been visible out in the battlefield, but i think that it's very interesting to watch how they have, i think, very effectively used their ties into the popular mobilization forces to conduct a va varieriety of wu
might call influences. and agile also in reaching out in the sunni areas to recruit sunni population. i guess if you widen the april ture a b -- aperture a bit, there's a whole spectrum that runs the gamete of the dip plattic, military space. >> that's the way things should be when you have god knows thousands of kilometers of common borders, historic ties, you zblo and by saying that i'm not labeling that all as nefarious. i don't want to be -- i think that it's very important to understand that iran has a natural level of influence and engagement that whether we like it or not is going to occur. and i'll just cite ryan crocker who is one of my great teachers on the matter of iraq. it's just a fact of life and
there is the religious tourism, there's a lot. but there's also a legacy of a bitter war, there's the arab/persian divide. we need to be a little more sophisticated about our understanding of the iran/iraq relationship. and, you know, historically the u.s. role in the region has either inflamed or made use of that kind of tension in the counterweight issue. my only real add crowe video casey is that the u.s. not turn its back, walk away from iraq and seed the playing field to iran. that would not serve the u.s. interests and we're in danger of that as we turn our attention to other challenges around the world. >> mike there are was a direct question to you and then of course chime in on some of the other issues. >> the interesting thing about your last comment, that's exactly what the fattah party is
asking for is for the u.s. to get out. not to turn its back but to exit and that's an issue. so let's go back to your question were nine months from now abadi wins -- >> aamodt did i. >> i'm sorry. i thought you said abadi win, did you say anommy wins in that question sfl yeah. >> all right. let me just talk about what iran's been able to do nund abadi, been able to do whatever they wanted to over abadi over the last four months -- or four years. so if hod dialmonthny wins, we'll have round dabls like this where we'll see he's not as bad. and we've worked with him before, general bar bear-a-as an adviser to him. i sat next to the general when he was talking to him and said he's a commander of bahta core and the general said, no, he's not. the general now says yes are he is.
so if he wins, it's actually bad for iran in that nato is warning about his victory. nato is not concerned about having a train and equip program that's under the premiership of iran's premier proxsy in iraq, the bahta core. so if iran was smart, you'd want abadi to win because, again, iran has been able to do everything it's wanted to over the last four years and will continue do so with the blessing of the united states, state department and department of the defense as we continue to obvious skate what you and i talked about off the past years. where dod said no, department of state said no, and now they're saying, yes in fact they have and we want to get those tanks back. it's not only the tanks, it's the selection of who is trained on the tanks. it's the selection of who's trained to fly american
f-sixteens. thank you nops important during 2005 and 2006 when they were conducting an assassination campaign in iraq ha is that he targeted iraqi pilots regardless of their sects. shia, subny and christian pilots were assassinated by irgc proxies. they do not want to ever see iraq be a threat to the iran. the best way to do that is to be able to influence what happens in the mod and the moi. again, if a.m. morery wins, bad for iran. would there also be a concerted effort by people that will say he's not that bad because he's not case ka zally. i argue that he is that bad because he's acceptable to us and he also answers direct will to iran. >> thank you. >> i can -- >> and then of course i expect to be balanced. or i'm sorry, countered.
>> you want a quick follow-up? or ambassador -- >> i just -- >> wait for the mike because otherwise we have have to -- >> you can delay the mike for about five minutes? >> let me just restate if there is a prime minister who leans more towards iran than towards the coalition/united states, what should the u.s. policy be? >> okay. the u.s. policy should be at that time, and we've made this a policy recommendation, to move the u.s. training equip program to or bill. so move the u.s. j sock to a bill to establish a sunni kurdish and arab security force that keeps isis from coming back to sunni areas and also stops the northern land ridge that iran is trying to establish in iraq. that would be the military security policy recommendation. and that would actually give leverage over baghdad over time. again, if you want to use leverage of u.s. treasury,
secondary sanctions, being able to do certain things, you'd be able to do that. iran should rest assured that we're not going to do any of that. we're not going to do any of that. we will promote the next prime minister regardless of who it is. yet, when you look at the actual makeup of the iraqi security forces you wonlt find it. when you look at the ha shob by, the ones that control the budget, you will have a friend in the united states defense department and dos that will say it's not happening. >> thanks, mike. i'll have the ambassador comment and then i'll just let others that want for the last round of questions and i note your fingers to ambassador first. >> i have to say what i have to say is that, you know, the next prime minister of iraq will be chosen by the iraqi electorate
and people will have to deal with it, no matter what. >> exactly. exactly. >> you know, as this country proves, you can't predict that too well. >> sure. >> that's a good point here. >> may i just also add what i believe the ambassador should also say is that any placement of u.s. forces in the territory of iraq will be determined by baghdad and not you are bee bea >> question over here. >> thank you very much alexander kravitz and thank you for the panel as very wise comments as lind an described. i'd like to ask two questions, one is whether the ambassador could comment on the bag deal oour beal dialogue, there's been some talk about the opening of the airports, there's been some talk that baghdad might move on
the her beulah field. i wonder if he might give us some insights into that. then i'd like to ask about the elections because all of the splechbt and everything is is going to be contingent -- everything's going to wait until the results of the election. and i wonder if, again, maybe perhaps the ambassador would give us some -- walk us through, if you will, on how the 2.6 million idps are being registered and perhaps more important how are they going to be able to vote? shou it going to work if you're an embodied idp in the pakistan region how are you going to be able to vote for your representatives? >> thanks. that was two questions. >> over here now. and last one on the end, i'm only going to take three sorry for the rest of you. and please a short question. >> this one's for michael.
i'm fred bonnet. you alluded when we left iraq did it not cause the iraqi people to then take responsibility for their own heavy lift and in the end turn out to be the thing that most united them and would it be the same if we were stlil through that whole time period doing the heavy lifting? >> good question. and then down here all the way in the back. that's our last question. >> steven rosha from the cath click lick church in iraq. this is to the ambassador. could you speak just briefly in the time we have about cultural pluralism and especially as it affects religious minorities to the social reconstruction as opposed to just the physical infrastructure? it's a topic we've spoken on before but for the record if you could speak regarding the iraqi
government's view on that. thank you very much. >> ambassador, i'll let you start and then the rest of the panel with any other final mino official view of the iraqi government is iraq is not iraq w without its minorities, and so to me, personally, i think the status and the position of minorities going forward is going to be one of the signatures of how well we've succeeded. actually, this afternoon, i'm meeting with the senator who is going to iraq to follow up on this issue. there's nothing i can say to, you know, stress the importance of this issue to iraq. and the good thing that i can tell you is that we have a strong diaspora in which these minorities are very present, and they are engaged in the
reconstruction of iraq. recently, during one of the reconstruction conferences in washington, the person in charge of the liberated areas in iraq received two people who represented caldean businessmen from detroit who were really interested in rebuilding their ancestral villages and churches. so, you know, this is important to us. i think, if you go through the roster of electoral lists, you'll find the iraqi minorities are very, very present. the local electoral laws, i think, will guarantee them at least five seats. so, i can't say it better than saying that iraq is not iraq without its minorities. >> on the registration of idps and voting.
>> well, the -- i mean, the good thing is that the idps aren't really all scattered. they're in localized places and camps with presence of international organizations, so registration can take place. i know for a fact that the iraqi electoral system is trying to develop an advanced decentralized i.t. system for registration, which should be able to incorporate people in different areas, not in their homes, in kurdistan or other places. there's one point i wanted to address, which is the relationships between baghdad and -- >> yes. >> i'm not -- because the details and discussions evolve, but i can tell you that i recently was present when prime
minister abadi met with the pm and the meetings they had were extremely cordial. there's an ongoing process, and i am hopeful that all of the issues that need to be resolved will be resolved. >> i'll give the ambassador the balance of my time. the question about 2011, when we left, what happened? >> syria happened. >> syria happened. and they looked over their left shoulder and said, if we can do that here, we can do that in iraq and moved in. we just got to keep that from happening again, collectively. and all i would say is that we look through sophisticated lens at iraq, we shouldn't be shocked when we see facts, warnings and indicators of back slide and iranian influence. >> i will add to this common
theme. i think there's also always been a majority iraqi membership of the isis animal, so it isn't just a syria beast, and attending to the grievances of the people that have been left out, i think, is the burden for the iraqi government, and i think that there's, with regard to the discussion, it's very important, i think, to note there was quite a backlash on social media and so forth at that very brief alliance that was announced, and one of the analysts, iraqis -- and one of the iraqi analysts said to me, you know, people were very grateful for the role that the pmf played, but they don't necessarily want that to be their government. so, i do, again, i think holding free and fair elections is going to produce a result that might surprise some of the skeptics but nonetheless, iraq merits
continued attention, as my main message. >> thanks, linda. and actually, the ambassador had one -- >> on the relationship between iraq and the united states, you know, listening to us, one might conclude that our relationship, ideally, would be nothing but military security. nothing could be farther from the truth. as an anecdote, the day the travel ban was announced in early last year, the iraqi foreign ministry had convened all the members of the committees that would sit -- that would be involved in the strategic framework agreement with the united states. what we would like to see is an evolution of our relationship from something that is essentially military to something that is way more than that. i graduated from a high school that was founded by american
jesuits. my uncle is a graduate of the university of michigan. you know, we would like to see more of this kind of involvement in iraq. one of the biggest successes that i can count in iraq is the american university, and i can tell you that there are discussions now in baghdad to set up an american university in baghdad. this is the kind of relationship that we're eager to see. we're also eager to see your fortune 500 companies to come and put shop and help us rebuild our country, because at least we'll be insured to be implementing best practice. >> 60% of the population is under the age of 25, so it's ripe for that kind of relationship. >> yeah. >> that's, i think, a great way to end our panel discussion today on reconstructing iraq. it happens every day now in iraq, that this work takes forward and as you can see here,
we had a great debate on it. i enjoyed being up here on -- with our panelists that had a lot of knowledge and expertise on this, and you all had a lot of questions. i know there are more that wanted to ask something, but we have bring it to a close, and i want you all to end by thanking our panelists together here.