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tv   Hudson Institute on Political Situation in Iraq  CSPAN  September 21, 2018 4:24pm-5:59pm EDT

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senate judiciary committee chair chuck grassley has called a hearing for monday to give supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh a long with professor ford a chance to testify. professor ford accused the judge of sexually assaulting her in high school. while she has not agreed to testify monday professor ford's lawyer says she is willing to testify sometime next week under certain conditions. we plan live coverage on monday's session on c-span scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. eastern. also available on you can listen with the c-span radioapp. we will also be live with any further meetings of the judiciary committee. next a look at the political situation in iraq after parliamentary elections were held there earlier this year. also, the u.s. involvement in iraqi security operations. the hudson institute organized this event.
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okay, thanks for coming to the hudson institute today. my name is michael pregent. i am a senior fellow here. i would like to introduce the panel. vivian salama will be mod rating. now with the "wall street journal." a lot of time in the middle east. she is the right person to moderate because she can hold us to our answers and poke holes in what we have to say. to my left, bilal wahab of the washington institute. always a pleasure to have you here. >> thank you. >> wearing a nice seersucker suit. we are going to have an all sear suck isser panel one day. and ahmad majidyar. thank you for being here. i am going to hands it over to you. and we can gwynn. >> thank you all for joining us. i am always happy to competent about a country that is very near to my heart. iraq. i was ap's iraq bureau chief
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until 2016. so it is a place that i know well and love. for those of you who are not following the day to day very closely, just a recap. it's been about 13 weeks now since iraq's parliamentary elections and talks still continue trying to sort out essentially the results. a lot of accusation of fraud and corruption surrounding the results. and those results were just certified. not changed very much from what they turned out to be during the election. and so that's basically where we stand. iraq really trying to write the next chapter of its history. but as with many thing in iraq it is a bumpy road. and so i am going to ask the panelists to really just draw out on that point and see where things stand, what the options are for iraq and for the region in general. so generally, mike, if you can
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start and maybe set things up. where do things stand today as far as the results of the parliamentary elections and the potential outcome of this? >> right. so it is my understanding based on some of the things you have actually tweeted out there that the election has been certified in 99% of it stayed the same. >> right. >> with few changes. can you bring up that slide? i like to use slides every ow now and then. we are looking at government formation. right now we don't have a commitment by other parties to actually join something. but if you look at who is starting to form in my view, you are seeing the state of law. you are seeing the fatah coalition, and prime minister abadi's nassar alliance forming. if you look at the total there is, they have 114. they would be able to form government -- they need 165 to do it, but they would make the argument that they have the best chance to start it. then we have seen the opposition, the jicama and the
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sear eun company. to the surprise of pundits in the press abadi came in in third. now you are seeing a hard line in the sand saying they will not form any government that includes mall kyi's state of law in it. the counter to that have said we will not form any government unless mall kyi is included. you are seeing mall key a pawn between the parties. this is not new, to hear saader being opposed to mall kyi being in government. he was opposed in 2010 and then came over to that side. he was opposed in 2014 and then
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came over to their side. and of course hakim is movable as well. right now we are looking at this formation. what we are trying to do is do a series of panels here where we continue to look at the iraqi elections. we did one of these panels about two months ago. james jeff res was on this panel with us. we wanted to see how right or wrong we are. we still don't know yet how right or wrong we are because nothing has happened. like you said, it's just been 13 weeks since the election. but what we are seeing is u.s. pressure to keep abadi in position and the rejection by the other party who said we will not support abadi as prime minister. he doesn't meet our requirements, he doesn't meet our -- you know the dual citizenship issue things like that. right now i am looking at government formation. along with that, because we are focused on government formation we don't see the protests coming. so the protesters are blaming
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mall kyi, blaming abadi, blaming but a waugh, blaming the status quo parties for the current economic situation in iraq where the only person that's really immune is saader. >> protests are not a new phenomenon. i used to see them when i was living in baghdad all the time. >> right. >> why are they particularly significant now? >> because they are not aligned. 60% of the population in iraq is under 30. this population is looking for a relationship with the united states that's not military. that's based on education partn partnering, university partnering, technology, invest, thing like that. and they are rejecting status quo politicians. they understand -- i talked to people that have been working with the youth. and you have influencers in iraq now that around aligned with political parties. they are university leaders. there are people this the economic sector. there are social media influencers. and they are rejecting the
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status quo politicians even though for example, the jicama party is reaching out to them and trying to harness this youth to get them to be part of something. you are still seeing some -- not a rejection, but still questions, how are you different than everybody else? so that's something that we are likely to see in the next four years. these influence remembers outside of traditional political parties. form something. form something in iraq four years down the road, especially if this government formation fails. >> can you weigh in on this issue of government formation, but also add to it, please, the kurds have been our allies in the war against isis. how is this impacting their situation also, their issues, their attempts for independence? in general how does the activities we are seeing in the rest of the country impact the whole one, the one iraq model that we knew and heard so much about a decade ago. >> thank you for your question.
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and thanks for being here. this map is actually quite helpful because the two models that we are faced with is whether we are going to have a unity government where all of the political parties are going to be part of which has been the model of all government since 2 2005. a government of everyone, therefore a government of no one. while this form of government has been very good in terms of appeasing everyone, including everyone, both sectarian and partisan inclusion just by virtue of being a unity government on one hand, it has been based on sectarian and partisan patronage. therefore some economic trickle down has been happening through these political parties where masses of the population end up working for the government. therefore -- you know, instead of being part of a social security network, part of a
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patronage network where people are paid to be police officers, teachers, bureaucrats -- so on the other hand this also has given us basically no opposition. and tlefr everyone was in it. everyone was sort of milking the cow, which is the government coffers. this form of government lasted so far. then it received some serious blows in the recent history n the reesht pascent past. one was this system, while it was good had the short-term and good at appeasing everyone and including everyone could not provide security for the country. within weeks isis managed to capture a third of the country. so having these masses of armed forces just fighting well equipped and american weapons, you did not have the software, the unity, the command and control structure in the military to be able to withstand
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a few thousands fighters on the back of pickup trucks. oernd, this goes back to the question of protests, this form of government, everyone in it and therefore no one leading it and no one taking ownership and accountability inside this government. that form of government is able to hire a police officer and hire a teacher, but it cannot offer good services, good governance, it cannot offer the kind of big national projects that result in better roads, electricity, less bureaucracy, fight corruption. so not being able to deliver in terms of governance. what we have in front of us today is a public that is very angry at this lack of services. at we governance at corruption on one hand. this don't know saddam hue sane.
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the idea that we have to be happy because the shia is rule iraq or the kurds, that kind of politics that has been popular before today doesn't fly anymore. the public wants service, they want jobs, they want the opportunities of any other of our neighbors living in in a petrol state. the election gives us the option of another unity government which will be continuation the status quo or what happens -- this is what we are seeing, some part of the ruling elite, of the rule coalitions actually becoming oppositions. we may have a serious opposition for the first time. that would be putting iraq actually on a different trajectory and closer to political maturity. the second part of your question. i think the kurds are in a way bystanders. this is mainly about intershia
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rivalry, who is going to be the core of the next government. basically, they are willing for the shia to make up their act and that they are going to join that government. in the perspective of the kurds it is being in baghdad, being in government, going back to the civil positions presidency, prime minister, some of those positions in baghdad is necessary for the politics. they are trying to reintegrate politically and economically after the referendum of last year that did not result in furthering the occurredis aspects. >> to rewiped a little bit essentially what we are saying here is that the victories against extremism, against isis that we saw from the prime minister's administration only goes so far.
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people want jobs. people want -- the basic things that people everywhere around the world on twant. those victories got old fast. >> the isis victory wrasse huge. >> also temporary. >> exactly. we will probably get into that. >> we will get into that. >> how permanent the victory against isis is, or how sustainable the liberation of isis controlled territories are going to be. but in the eyes of -- again, he named his coalition the nassar coalition, the victory coalition, he was trying to cash in on the fact that he led iraq through liberating and defeating isis on one hand and defeating the kurdish effort at independence. >> right. >> but the poll records show that's not the priority of the iraqi people. because the capture in the first
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place was a mistake. so all that abadi did was correct the mistake rather than eye chief a victory. let's be clear. it's august. temperatures are 100, 110 fahrenheit. living in basrah, where the city accounts for 80% of the country's revenues. not having freshwater, not having electricity. in a way protest is probably the only other thing that you can do. >> right. >> the other challenge that puts people into to the straight and they look at the political line russian and look at the faces. nothing is i think -- nothing changes. the bloated bureaucracy. it takes months to get a driver's license. months to get a birth certificate. any time you go to a government office they say come back
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tomorrow. that's sort the default answer. and basic services. not having a banking sector, the quality of education is low. many of the schools have to have three shifts of schooling because there are not enough school buildings for children. these are all things that iraqis see as a paradox of being the second largest opec member on the one hand and yet not having sweet freshwater to drink. >> important points. i have a question for you. before i do, i forgot to thank our friends at east band taping this. we have c-span with us today also. we thank you for being with us. ahm ahmad, he talked about the interrivalry's going on right now in this race. immediately the question then becomes what is tehran's role in this while entire thing? of course you hear that tehran wants to influence iraq. explain how it influences iraq?
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what is the best avenues for it. why does it want to today? what benefit is there? >> for me it's all iraqi security and politics. i remember that the first event that we had here, and that was prior to the elections, i said that tehran does not play the russian roulette game in iraq putting all of its eggs in one basket it plays the french roulette, in which it puts money on almost all numbers so whichever number is lucky it haas a stake there. when the elections happened a majority of pundits here described that as a failure of iran and thought that perhaps iranian influence would be destined in iraq. but iran never saw it that way. it understands that it has its
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allies even inside the fatah coalition, which is a coalition of iranian backed militia forces which were part of the mobilization forces became soaked. they got 47, now 48 seats, actually. so it's n-- it knew that it had veto power on the government formulation in iraq. it has largely succeeded. since the election, it has also reached out to beyond just shiites. it has gone to the sunnis. it has also reached out to the kurds. interestingly, a lot of iranian officials were in their meetings with the kurdish officials. they told them that we guarantee you greater autonomy but you have to work closely with our
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allies. for the process of making a decision because they are very much disappointed with that tehran did to them particularly during the referendum. but the united states did not back it. nor did any other regional government. so some of those kurdish leaders are now amenable to tehran's offers to achieve something out of desperation. particularly the pok, and others. -- dprk and others. the point i am trying to make is iran has reached out the to different sectors of the iraqi society so no matter what kind of coalition comes into play iran will have a major stake in night what about prime minister abadi. what was that relationship like? what is it like now? >> the prime minister tried to balance iraq's kelgss with
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tehran and washington, d.c. they have the common enemy in isis that brought iran and the united states together. at least they were not in conflict with each other. now that common enemy is gone. we already see is that obviously our body is having problems keeping that balance. also the imposed sanctions, that puts prime minister abadi between the hard -- in a everyone difficult situation. he additionally said we would abide by the sanctions. we don't have a choice but we would support it. later he had to walk away from those countries. everybody who came on, major politicians, including the leader of jicama or wisdom party, al hakim, they all went to tehran's decide, which shows
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iran's growi inin ining nunes it one. >> the rising role of isis in iraq. i want you to jump in and be casual in terms of our interactions in that the united states put out a report this week citing a report of a great resurgence of isis where we have president trump here talking about isis being defeated. what is the circumstance now with isis? and is iraq -- and its neighbors, are they prepared to confront another resurgence. >> the interesting thing about isis in this campaign and to defeat isis. we destroyed fallujah twice when the u.s. was in iraq and at no time did we claim victory over fallujah.
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stage one is taking away territory. we have simple lee taken away territory by destroying infrastructure, introducing 80% of ramadi and 50% of west mosul and basically calling it victory gonzales now something that's been operating the last year and a half. there was an iraqi general in the ministry of interior who said he limited 1,000 to 4,000 fighters in iraq spread out. the u.n. report says somewhere between 20 and 30,000 forces between iraq and syria. it is 10,000 to 15,000 between the two places. quarterback was never more than 4,000 in iraq during height of the insurnt surgentsy while you were there are there.
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unless you can shoot down aerps don't plant a black flag. any time you google a any in iraq you can fine an isis attack. some of my colleagues have done studies about the resurgence of isis. and isis is now looking for the high crawl target, the high payout target in baghdad that sends a message that they are still there. the same pargt in damascus, the same way to other parts. again, 97% of the security forces, there may not be sectarian, but they are shia. the ones that have prime's in the ministry of the interior in
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the house of about shabby are iron core aligned or -- militias are the ones that they are trying the disarm. >> economic issues are taking place on the street in iraq. wasn't that a lot of reason people joined isis in the first place? the government couldn't provide services. >> we set the conditions and let isis in in the first place. the shia themselves believe they are disenfranchised as well. i am saying that the sunni population of iraq, kurds and arab are more diss trustful than ever. isis now knows they cannot roll in, plant flags, hold public executions without the ability to be able toll shut down american aircraft. >> please. >> i just wanted to tell, that
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that number in itself is significant although that shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody who is closely watching syria and iraq. even more important than that number is now there is an issue or challenge in iraq that is even more complicated and difficult to counter than it was before. now of course isis does not control that territory that it controlled before at one point, up to 40% of al qaeda. but now it has sleeper cells. it still has its infrastructure in different parts of iraq that are invisible during the day but at night they continue their campaign of assassination, kidnapping, taking ransom from people and intimidating officials, tribal leaders and others. now it is the onus on the iraqi security forces and their international allies to go and
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find them and dismantle those cells. and that's much more difficult challenge than each it was before. and i agree with mike that although the level of violence has decreased significantly and isis has lost territorial control but the underlying challenges that led to the rise of isis or resurgence of isis then most of them they are still there. and the government doesn't have the willingness, and at times capacity, to deal with it. >> i want to talk about, you said the allies have been a big driving force in the counter-isis campaign to help it out. president trump made clear he wants out. iran is suffering an economic crisis right now. where do we stand in terms of if there is a legitimate resurgence how are we going to face it when the u.s. is reluctant to get
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involved again. you tell me, is iran capable of providing the support it did two or three years ago? >> the iraqi security forces despite some of the progress they made over the past year as a result of the they are still in no position to defend on their own. we saw that what happened after the abrupt withdrawal of the u.s. troops under the obama administration, so the hope is that the trump administration has learned from that mistake and does not leave iraq precipitously in a way that creates that vacuum that leads to another type of isis or isis 2.0 or 3.0 and that will happen because those, again, the main reasons that whether it's sectarianism, whether it's poverty, and the problem in iraq is not just between the sunnis and shias. people usually just simplify that. within communities, between
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tries, even between sunnis, there are differences. there are families in mosul, for example, that have left because just their neighbors somehow sided with isis so now they're returning there. so, the country needs a healing. the country needs a reconciliation. the country needs a very comprehensive stabilization and reconstruction process and that is what the trump administration, i think, that helps but most importantly, i think that it needs to keep troops in iraq for the long haul until the iraqi security forces are able to police their borders on their own and when it comes to iran, the iranian backed militia forces, they have a history of violence against some of the communities inside iraq and they were the main reason behind some of the sunni communities reluctantly joining isis in the first place, although they have now shifted -- changed their kind of outlook and even softened their
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tones and threats and they have become more politicians, but in reality, they are enforcers so if you leave things to them, things could exacerbate that's not an enduring solution. >> i'll add to this conversation about security. tie it back to the previous points about governance, but also the question of baghdadi relations. in terms of politics in baghdad, as i mentioned earlier, i think the kurdish leadership is waiting to go back to baghdad and try to unite, because there are a lot of issues at home with the elections being -- with the kog elections being scheduled for the end of september, on one hand, so while participation in baghdad requires a level of unity to go in with one voice, having elections at home requires, naturally, competition and rivalry, so that is sort of one area where the kurdish
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orientation is not very clear other than, yes, we are going back to baghdad. but when it comes to this question of security, i think this is the most crucial area where krg baghdad cooperation is necessary. it's become very clear that isis, as an insurgency, is trying to capitalize the grievances of the population, especially in the disputed territories, so what do they do? for example, we talked about lack of electricity and services. they went into areas and basically bombed down electricity towers, just to stoke greater disenfranchisement and anger at the government. the other thing they do is they try to stoke political disputes by, they tried to attack the headquarters of ihec where the ballots while the recount was going on are being stored. so they tried recently to put a hole in the whole electoral
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process and further delegitimize an already questionable election and the other thing they do is try to stoke arab-kurdish tensions by doing attacks on both sides and trying to make it sound as if these are, you know, the sides are fighting each other and the issue of tribes also came up, because sometimes we've seen violence between popular mobilization forces, they usually come from outside these forces, and tribal forces on the ground. we've seen clashes between these two groups and sometimes they actually come and do killings, try to blame it on one side to stoke this kind of internal conflict. so in a way, they're playing a very dirty game, to say the least. and this is where cooperation is necessary. if i have -- if isis is playing these kind of dirty games and the krg and baghdad are still distrustful of each other and refuse to have joint security operations, which is one of the main mechanisms they managed to secure in the past, we need to have that level of cooperation,
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that kind of joint security cooperation, which, by the way, the united states mediated at the time of defeating al qaeda, so that level is definitely necessary. maybe the political level is very difference for krg and baghdad to see eye to eye in terms of kurdish participation in the government, revenue sharing the question of oil and gas, the very question of disputed territories itself but when it comes to security in the disputed territories, i think neither baghdad nor the krg alone can manage security. they need to cooperate. >> what about the national forces that were supposed to be plucked from the sunni tribes in these various places? i mean, when i was based in iraq, they used to haul us out into the desert to see the training of these forces, americans would be there to help support those, that training. we know that an attempt to do a similar force in 2007, 2008 failed. where do we stand on that now, especially in light of these developments? >> so the failure of 2007, 2008,
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the sons of iraq, was they were never incorporated into the iraqi security forces. they were on contracted, temporary securities, a temporary security force that was on contract that we handed over and we've seen -- i was an intelligence officer at the time and i was dealing with the government on how to reconcile with the sunnis and how to bring the sons of iraq into the security forces. and we started seeing intel that they were actually targeting their leaders, and going after them, and you know, it's very difficult when you're talking to a general about what the prime minister is doing when that general has a face-to-face with that prime minister at a dinner or the next morning, and it was very challenging to get intel in front of a general when the general would simply say, i had dinner with him last night and he said he's not doing that. that's a very difficult situation. so we saw the dismantling of the sons of iraq and the -- and now, this attempt to do a sons of iraq lite or an awakening, a light version of it by bringing
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reporters out to an air base south of ramadi to show that sunnis are now part of the security forces. at the same time, there were posters inside those military bases of other leaders and it was an intimidation to sunnis that were coming. they were going into these camps and seeing somebody that they know is part of a militia with a very close relationship to a u.s. soldier. and when i say that, we briefed the 82nd airborne division in 2014 and asked them, how many of you have been to iraq before. if you think about this, the last time we did combat operations was really 2009, the june out of cities where everybody went back to bases so we've lost this -- we've lost the expertise, so when we ask this force, the 82nd airborne division, how many of you have
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been to iraq before, only the senior leadership raised their hands. nobody at the captain level, at the staff sergeant -- basically, nobody who was actually training the iraqi security forces had ever been to iraq before. and they didn't know who they were training. and those of us who were in the intel community that actually were looking at the iraqi security forces and militias saw they are training a militia force. they are training people that are heavily tied -- >> the popular forces. >> and that was one of our biggest problems because you would have people like case, leader of aah and others say that we can wear any uniform in the iraqi security forces we want to and the iranians learned something a long time ago, that they had an assassination campaign against iraqi pilots regardless of their sect, didn't matter, if they had a capability to fly a u.s. jet, they were a threat. so they had an assassination
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campaign to kill iraqi pilots and now, if you look at who's receiving specialized training to fly american jets to drive american tanks, they are highly vetted and they are people that will either side with the corps or be part of a system. i just have an issue with that. we are basically training a military where militias have primacy. i'm not talking about the primary mobilization units. the commander just came second in the election. >> he had been spotted here is and there in iraq recently. >> if we had that kind of intelligence in 2007 where we were able to see him actually being on the ground, we were more comfortable with him coming in for a secret meeting, more comfortable with him being some part of a coffee shop conversation in a sunni
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neighborhood, and now you see him leading victory parades. >> people running up to him and taking selfies. >> and you couldn't have asked for this treasure-trove of intel of iranian influence that you have now that's actually been ignored. this is what we were looking for in 2007, and now it's out there in front of our faces and we're doing everything we can to ignore it. >> how well has the administration here -- how well has the sitting administration of the sitting prime minister done to avoid those retaliatory, retribution attacks that were so feared. i remember going in right after it was liberated and there was farsi graffiti all over the place. that was the biggest fear and the concern was that if the shia militias were not formally integrated into the military then it was going to go wild. do you think it has been managed well enough that iran's
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influence in the military element of it has been controlled or has it -- are we seeing basically the start of potential attacks and potential -- >> sure, briefly, just if i can just add to something mike said. about the local sunni forces. even some sunni units within the popular mobilization forces, after the fight against isis was over, their numbers have dwindled. many of them have gone back to their civilian life. some of them have been integrated into security forces, but even within the security forces is the organization that have the prominent role. so if these security situation becomes worse in iraq and if there is need to send back these forces to those communities, this sunni militia forces are not in place, so again, the
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government has to send the shared forces there, which could exacerbate the sectarian tension. but coming back to your question about will the inclusion or integration of the popular mobilization forces has diminished iran's influence, and iraqi security, i would argue that has increased, actually, iran's influence because iran's suffering, first of all, economic problems, so it will have had problem to just pay the salaries of those militia forces if it had to keep them after the fight against isis. we already see inside iran that the protesters come and chant against the regime's very expensive involvement in iraq, syria, and elsewhere. so, by integrating these forces within the iraqi security forces, on the one hand, iran has expanded its influence, and secondly, also, it has removed that -- the monetary and financial burden from iran
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because they get the salary but they mostly serve the iranian interests. i would argue that has increased iranian influence within the military. >> 30 seconds on that. iran is looking to offset u.s. sanctions in iraq. they're looking to -- they've already established penetration of iraq's economic sectors and their corporate infrastructure to do just that, to be able to offset u.s. sanctions, so -- and your question earlier, will iran's situation decrease its activities in iraq? it actually makes its more necessary to have activities in iraq to be able to offset that and that's what i would say to that. >> what about the iraqi military's recent attacks against isis strongholds in syria? i mean, how does that factor into everything we just discussed? >> i've looked at this, and the isis targets have been put in quotations because it's not -- na they're not isis targets. they are the sunni opposition. so it's the same kind of thing -- >> you heard it here first, folks.
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>> it's the same thing you saw in iraq, again. our administration said we killed 50,000 isis fighters in iraq. there were never more than 10,000 to 15,000 isis fighters in iraq at the start of the campaign, through the campaign. i isis works on a billet system. quickly after a year of operations, dwindled down to $50 a month, and you were being conscripted into those positions to fill billets that had expired because people were killed or fled or isis killed them themselves. the iraqi air force is targeting assets in syria using the same thing that assad says, doing the same thing that iran says, that they are targeting -- and i'm going to say something nice here after this, that they are targeting sunnis or targeting isis, but i would argue that iraq should have the best intel on where isis fighters are in
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iraq, because the core group around baghdadi was iraqi. you know, there was an attempt to try to get baghdadi before the election in order to demonstrate a capability to do things, so i would say that iraqi intel should be able to pinpoint baghdadi. we've seen reports recently that he's been injured and that he can no longer lead the movement and as an intelligence officer, you're always in this situation, if an intelligence organization is wrong 90% of the time, and then they're right the one time, do you find yourself disregarding what they said? and we're doing that. we're discarding what iraqi intel is saying about the death of baghdadi because they've been wrong 90% of the time. same thing happened to afghanistan. afghan intel said we know where osama l osama bin laden is and 97% of the time, they were wrong. >> i have a question for bilal, but before i get to that.
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where do we stand on al qaeda now? is there a resurgence? that was what the u.n. report suggested. do any of you have thoughts on that? are we seeing any, like, substantial al qaeda presence that can -- that can be distinguished from isis? >> i would just say that the isis would take anybody into the organization. and you know, they were -- they wanted to actually have al qaeda type qualifications, meaning you have to be versed in the ideology, you have to have skills, you have to have tactics, so i would say that there is an al qaeda resurgence, and it doesn't matter how big it is, they will be smarter. they will be the ones that have the skills and the relationships. one of the biggest problems with isis is there was no consistency across the governance. there was so much competition, the iraqis insulated baghdadi from meeting with other groups, other isis members from other
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countries. al qaeda doesn't do that. al qaeda wants somebody who's qualified to do things so if they do have a -- they do have a resurgence, yes, but i don't put them in the 30,000 to 50,000 number that the u.n. came out with. they are assessing talent. this is something that if you look at the osama bin laden exploitation documents, osama bin laden said go to syria and find out who the talent is and bring the talent into the organization. they want leaders, charismatic leaders that can actually move people and do things, and that's who they're looking for. they are better at vetting individuals than isis was. >> okay. >> very quickly. to add that when we talk about al qaeda presence in iraq, if we mean by al qaeda core, which is now ran by zawahari, it does not have a significant presence in iraq. based on my own talks with iraqi officials, they don't see that as a major threat. but let's also take into account
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that the al qaeda organization has decentralized over the past years, so there are smaller organizations and small franchises inside iraq that have some sort of cooperation with al qaeda. so, they are their affiliates and the iraqi government, they're not very much concerned about whether it's al qaeda or whether it's isis. the ideology is there, and also that the conditions can help them to resurge still there, so whether it's isis or al qaeda, for them, it's just those extremists that take different names at different times. >> sure. i mean, the reason -- just to clarify, the reason i'm asking for those who don't follow it closely is there is a significant ideological break between the two where al qaeda spoke out against isis going after shias. in syria, we've seen them go at it with each other and really take each other on, so it would
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be another element to an already complicated security landscape. >> al qaeda's senior leadership was against what was happening in iraq, the golden mosque bombing, the brutality displayed against other sunnis,and there's some conversation within -- behind walls with no windows that because he was so out of control and wasn't listening to osama bin laden and key leadership, that maybe that was some of the reasons we were able to target him to begin with. and isis has been as brutal as he was. they are actually known as coming from the movement of al qaeda to be able to target sunnis, target shias, foment sectarian strife, do these things, and that's, i think, the difference. al qaeda has a slower method to what they're doing, and isis just is come one, come all, let's go do this and that's why you saw foreign fighters join isis when it was having successes but not reinforce it when it was being defeat.
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>> bilal, talk to us about the iraqi kurdish forces. who are their friends right now? is the trump administration helping them out? are they in a position they could defend the kurdish region if there is a resurgence? your silence is deafening. >> they are -- i mean, okay, so the kurdish -- the structural problem is that they're partisan. the command and control and loyalty are to the -- >> you mean all the kurds are not loyal to just one leader? >> factionalism is probably over sports in kurdistan. i think some 40 parties have registered for the september elections. like 40 parties in a small region. >> i kid, of course. >> and yet the power structure has been the same since 1992. so i guess there's a business of being in a political party in
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kurdistan but that's a different conversation. >> both a strength and weakness. >> yeah. but the challenge with the pashmerga is these are the fighters that came down from the mountains where the party and the pashmerga were two faces of the same coin. they formed the government in 1992, fought the civil war in 1994 and although they have been the government, are the government, they have refused to surrender their own pashmerga to their own government. and this has been the challenge of governance in kurdistan. this does not mean that they're not effective because they've been very effective in protecting kurdistan from isis. they've been very effective in participating in being a member of the coalition against isis. they have been -- they have actually had better command and control structure and following
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orders from their leaders in the battle of mosul, in helping out with the -- courting with the u.s. forces, courting with the iraqi security forces and in liberating places, for example. so they're effective but are they a force for protecting all of kurdistan or do they remain partisan? the recent events, 2014 when isis came, the peshmerga alone could not defend kurdistan. they needed iranian help, first of all, and then later american help. so as an army that is able to defend kurdistan alone, that was put to test and i don't think that they passed that test. and then fast forward last year after the referendum, october of last year, when the iraqi military attacked them kirkook. the kurdish peshmerga either did
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not put up a fight with the iraqi security forces, because they didn't want to, or chances are the peshmerga is no match for the american -- for the iraqi security forces with all of their air power and the american tanks. >> they were told not to as well. >> so, did they choose not to fight or were they no match for the iraqi security forces and i think there is a bit of both. again, just not having an air force in itself is an imbalance of power for the -- vis-a-vis the iraqi security forces so there was the proper role of the peshmerga. the proper role of the peshmerga is to protect kurdistan and do the protections, so when it comes to security and policing, they have been very capable. in fact, in terms of policing and security, even more capable, like, definitely more capable than the iraqi security forces, for example, it was a lot safer when the kurdish peshmerga was controlling it than when the iraqi security forces were. there were like some 40 car
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bombs in a month when the iraqi security forces were in charge and that basically came down to not when the kurdish peshmerga was in charge so they're very good with internal security. as a defense force against an outside force, they have proved to be less capable. when it comes to internal kurdish politics, the duopoly of power, and the fact that reform in the krg has been so difficult also emerges from the fact that the kurdish peshmerga is not kurdistan's national army. they can act like the national army, so for example, against isis, the united states created units within the kurdish peshmerga to say the united states is only going to form and arm brigades within the kurdish peshmerga that report to the government and not to the political party. that was incentive enough for the krg for two parties to unite some brigades and put them under the krg's command but as soon as that incentive was gone, these brigades basically went to their
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home bases, to the partisan home bases and that's been the challenge for reform in kurdistan because when the political parties in power feel threatened, they have the wherewithal to coerce the opposition and we see this often after, like, after elections, during elections, before elections, when a party feels threatened, then they basically pull back their troops from the front lines and use them against an opposition party. so this is the challenge for the future of kurdistan. politically, but also security. i think these two incidents, the october 2017 after the referendum, vis-a-vis the iraqi army and 2014 vis-a-vis isis should be a wake-up call that yes, the kurdish peshmerga is going to be loyal to the parties and to the kurdish leadership, but at least it's time to formalize them under the krg command and control so the krg actually be treated as a legal and better representative of the kurdish people by having an army that's actually responsible and accountable to the government and not to some political bureau
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or leader. >> how would you describe right now the complicated relationship between the kurdish government and turkey? >> oh, it's very complicated. we cannot just talk about it in terms of the kurdish and the kurdish government and the turkish government because when it comes to relationships, we have to then get a level deeper. you know, which party, which kurds are we talking about? for example, the kdp, the kurdistan democratic party, which is the largest party in kurdistan, in charge of the government right now because the prime minister is from that party and they control two of the three provinces, they have better relations with turkey than the puk, the patriotic union of kurdistan. in fact, turkish airlines, while they fly there, they don't fly to one city because the turkish government accuses the puk of supporting the pkk and the pkk
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offshoots in syria. so that was enough of a grievance for turkey not to -- to ban turkish airline flights. and then on the other hand, because the parties there broadly speaking or the puk feels it has lost the balance of power, they have this relationship with the pkk because it's one way of balancing the kdp's power. so internally, if the question of sort of transnational kurdish relations plays into politics itself. but broadly speaking, there is a general commitment from both sides that krg proper should not be used as a base for either the pkk to attack turkey or for the iranian kurdish opposition parties, which have been increasingly active, to use the krg as a base to attack iran. because these two countries not only theoretically but as we saw
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after the referendum, practically can hurt the krg, can squeeze it economically, they can, as we saw tehran and ankora allied, so these neighbors, while they can be friendly, like turkey has been friendly to the krg by allowing independent oil exports, by never closing the -- shutting down the borders, by being a lifeline for, you know, exit and access to the international community, they can come together and they can hurt kurdistan when they cross a line that they put for them. and iran, that's also true for iran. yesterday -- two days ago, turkish jets bombarded a town because they were targeting some actually iraqi groups that are on iraqi government payroll and part of the popular mobilization forces but they are an offshoot of the pkk. iran, on the other hand,
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bombards the villages and iraqi villages at the iran-iraq border every now and then under the pretext of fighting terrorism, fighting their own opposition groups, under the guise of security. so kurdistan is quite vulnerable. they also need to do this delicate dance of maintaining the relationships on one hand and yet not being seen as anti-kurdish. >> and i suppose that was the missing point to target a specific question for all of you, which is, kirkuk, we saw recently, again, general solomani was there and there was concern that some of the shia militias would make a run for kirkuk because of its oil wealth so in the grander discussion of the political landscape, the fight over resources in iraq, what is the sort of situation today with kirkuk and is there any discussion of that in the midst of all of this -- the
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parliamentary issues as well? >> kirkuk is -- so, we have a constitutional article, article of the constitution that specifically puts a road map to settle the disputed territories, and while it's called disputed territories because kirkuk is not the only one but it's definitely the sore thumb there. the process in the constitution is simple, has three phases -- i should not say simple. >> on paper, it's simple, maybe. >> that's why i immediately corrected myself. i should never use simple and iraq in the same sentence, ever again. that's a mistake. >> if you use complicated, we never do anything about it. >> how about complex. >> well, i'd argue complex as well. but yes. >> so, the constitution put a road map. neither the iraqi side -- so, when it was under the iraqi government prerogative to implement the constitution, okay, so the three phases would be normalization, which basically means that people who
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are forcibly forced out of these disputed territories should be able to come back, people who were forcibly brought in should be returned to their provinces. two, a census, so we can -- so we know what is there and how many people. and by the way, last time iraq had a census was, like, 50, 60 years ago, so knowledge and transparency is a very dangerous thing in iraq, because -- >> and displacements make sense. >> if you ask iraqis, the shia are 70% and the sunnis are 60% and the kurds are 105%. so that amounts to some sort of magical number and no one. s to know because if you know then, again, knowledge can be dangerous. so, anyway, census, and then the final stage would be a referendum where you ask the people in these provinces where do they want to be. do they want to be part of iraq, do they want to be part of kurdistan, do they want to be independent. this never happened. it had, actually, an expiration date as well, so there's always
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this debate between -- this blame game between krg and baghdad, who is responsible for implementing the constitution. i think that's a question that no one has an answer for yet. somebody described the constitution as being an aspirational document. but what has replaced the constitutional and the legal process has been politics, has been basically status quo. the iraqi government said, we're here, the deadline passed, and therefore there is no need for a referendum. i mean, that was basically the prime minister's attitude. and then after isis attack and there was a vacuum left and the kurdish peshmerga forces went and took kirkuk because it was basically whether the peshmerga will take it or isis will take it, so they protected kirkuk and the kurdish peshmerga has been in control of kirkuk from 2014 until october of 2016. and then what did the kurds say? they didn't say, okay, we have an opportunity now actually implement the constitution and do steps one, two, three. they said, no need for the constitution. we're here, and this is the
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implementation of the constitution and then when there was a referendum for independence, kirkuk was included as if there was no constitution article that talks about normalization, census, and referendum. so, kirkuk was included in the referendum. that obviously angered not only baghdad but of course turkey as well, and now the iraqi government military is back and they say, all right, we're here now, so this game of, i'm here, and therefore, i am right, and you know, might makes right, has really proven unstable, and i hope that the iraqi leadership and the kurdish leadership realize that they need to sit down and negotiate and actually settle this on more solid ground, and by the way, this point also applies to the question of oil and gas management and revenue management. you know, again, when the kurdish forces were in kirkuk, they were taking kirkuk's oil. when the iraqi government was in kirkuk, they were taking "cobra kai's"
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kirkuk's oil and all of a sudden it doesn't matter that the constitution says the oil and gas is a property of all the people of iraq so. this game of balance of power has been played over and over again, and has resulted in more instability and yet the people of kirkuk actually continue to suffer from violence, from lack of jobs, from lack of security. >> security degradation, isis, and now it's come to the point where the iraqi security forces and others -- >> took cooks. >> they're there and they're not able to secure it. what we've learned about iraq over the last 15 years is that the only people that are capable of providing security are people from that area, that know the back streets, that know the tribes and know the people, and we continue to think that the iraqi army is a national army where you can move one unit from one province to another and them be effective. the peshmerga learned that when they were in mosul and that's why they didn't want to take part in the mosul operations because they would be rejected by the majority of the sunni population there.
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we -- during this isis campaign and during our actual time in iraq, since the beginning, we never empowered local forces to provide local security and understood that that's how the iraqi security forces work. much like the peshmerga, they can defend locally. they can defend territory that they're tied to through tribes, tied to through some political issue sorry some vendetta. they can do that. they can go in and hold it. they have to be willing to fight and die in mosul and that's why in 2014, the predominantly shia leadership of the second iraqi army division said i'm not willing to die in mosul. i'm going to fall back to baghdad and the forces went away. they blended back into the population. there's security degradation in iraq because now we're talking about politics. we're talking about politics as though the security situation is stable. it's not stable. especially in the areas that isis control but there's a new dynamic here and we talk about the trump administration and
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talk about iraq policy, i focus on how do we get administrations to put something concrete in place that doesn't go away when the next president comes in. something that prevents 10-year-old americans from fighting in iraq when they're 20-year-olds and i see 10-year-old americans fighting in iraq against the next iteration of isis or al qaeda with a syria dynamic in that baghdad won't invite us in. that we have to go in because there's an existential threat in iraq that keeps emerging. and baghdad, if these parties take hold again, both reformist parties or moderate parties and hard line parties are asking for the u.s. to exit. whether immediately or over time, but definitely to have a smaller footprint. and when that happens, we continue to see -- it is in the best interest of militias and the peshmerga for there to be some sort of instability in the sunni areas, because it validates militia presence and
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foreign interference and iran's prince, and it allows them to stay in place long enough to twist some arms to form government and these are the issues that we don't get right because we're constantly looking at the 50-meter target and not looking at what's coming. >> this is actually a great way to set up one of the last two questions that i had, although in the reverse order, which is, i wanted, before we open the floor to the audience, to ask about the trump administration's policy. and the u.s. policy in general, where you're saying that you want to somehow prevent 20-year-old iraqis down the line from having to fight in wars or for that matter, for americans to be sent back for another war. president trump has made clear that he is not interested in state building. he does not want to get involved. he wants to bring our boys home. but when we have evidence of a resurgence of a group like isis, where -- what is the solution then? if not an american presence,
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then what? >> the issue here is it's interesting because we're getting into campaign bumper sticker mode now where the president can say the economy is on the rise, isis is defeated and we're getting out of syria. the president is -- has also told his national security team, at least he did under the mcmaster era, do not give me my own war in the middle east. well, you don't get to say that, because your enemies get to pick -- get to choose whether or not we're voinvolved and the reason i say that is obama didn't want his war in iraq and got it. the trump administration doesn't want their war in afghanistan and they have it. we don't get to decide. american interests will continue to push us there as long as we have allies, as long as they are resources that are in our national interest and as long as governments invite us in. right now, we're looking at a situation where we're going to -- president's going to have to think about this very hard.
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he criticized obama for leaving iraq and said because obama left iraq, isis came back. ta at the same time, the president is saying that isis is 98% defeated and wanting to leave syria and wanting to get out of iraq. he runs the risk in 2020 of being in the position he criticized obama for. leaving too soon and allowing the resurgence. and the thing is, we're already seeing metrics and indicators that isis is back. >> and not just that, but also opening opportunities for others to step in. iran has formed an alliance with the russians in -- well, that's quasi-alliance with the russians in syria. so, why not let the russians come and do what the americans don't want to do and is that a risk as well? >> well, there's a defense -- >> it doesn't have to be just the russians. >> there's intelligence sharing, there's join the operations between russian forces, you know, moscow, baghdad, tehran, and damascus have an intelligence sharing program. they also have the underpinnings of a defense pact.
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we've seen the russians try to sell the iraqis as 400s, that's a u.s. red line. we now see they're selling them to turkey. they're there to protect against a western strike on iranian nuclear facilities. they are not there to protect the offensive operations against israel and syria, something that surprised him when israel was able to conduct a six-hour air strike and set back his infrastructure three years. so there are a lot of things happening. like you said, the kurds are looking toward the strongest tribe. the sunni and romadi said they're going to pick the strongest horse. you're wavering. they even said we're even willing to talk to the russians and we've seen that happen. we've seen that happen with our traditional gu traditional gulf allies all the way from egypt saying they're going to court russia as the u.s. continues to back out.
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but the biggest problem we have, as soon as we get into something, we automatically tell everyone when we're leaving, and what that fails to do is build trust and build commitment with the force you're working with to do very difficult things. trust is based on frequency and proximity. the more you see me, the more you can reach out and touch me, the more trust is built. but if i come and ask you to do very difficult things, pit yourself against iran, isis, against these forces, and i'm leaving in six months, you weigh your options. you say, i'll do just so much while you're here but i'm not going to put myself in a situation where you have a permanent enemy like the taliban in afghanistan or you have a permanent influence, now a growing influence, in iran with a political party tied to the force that came in second in iraq's politics. >> and while a lot of iraqis, like you said, are too young to remember the saddam hussein era, they're not too young to remember the invasion of 2003. so that's an issue that needs some time, i guess, to get over. bilal, you were scribbling some
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notes. did you want to jump in here? >> no, i just wrote what mike said. trust depends on proximity and frequency. i like that. >> do either of you feel like there are opportunities for other players to step in? >> i'll say one sentence here. russian is already stepping into the krg. they bought the pipeline. >> and i heard russian spoken in the hotels. it's everywhere. >> not just russia, other players too, particularly china, because right now they're trying to encourage china to make iran as part of its road and belt initiative, use iran and also iraq and syria all the way to eastern mediterranean. whenever we talk about this iranian land bridge -- >> it sounds better when it's called a silk road. >> iran sees that as an economic route so it wants to bring china as well and i agree with mike that this engaging from iraq at
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this critical time would jeopardize all the security and counterterrorism gains of the past three and four years, and also it will make -- it will also undermine the trump administration's strategy of or at least it's saying that it's pushing back against iranian expansionism in the region because the more stable iraq is, the more strong and independent security and political institution it has, the less the ir iranian influence there will be. right now, the trump administration's policy is narrowly focused on counterterrorism and also when it comes to the political issues, it's about just making sure that the prime minister wins a second term. it needs to have a plan b in case he does not win because he's already been weakened, and also it has to think long-term,
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just isis to make sure it's strategic interest in that country are secured. >> just one quick follow-up. i think we run the risk of -- we'll be making mistake if the prime minister simply becomes the prime minister and saying all is well in iraq. soleimani was able to do everything he wanted to do under that tenure. and the one thing that i would say about iranian influencing iraq, they're so comfortable that they are now training houthis in iraq to conduct attacks in yemen. they've trained bahraini militias in iraq to foment sectarian violence in bahrain. that's how comfortable they are. if we have this ability to see this as intelligence officers in 2007, we would have targeted. we would have attacked it. we would have put pressure on baghdad to do it. but you're opening store front offices in baghdad. you have a houthi office next to the hotel, the main hotel in baghdad, the presidential one, and then you have another one.
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that group is there. and you can't have that level of store front terrorist organizations. i mean, again, maybe not designated yet but in the process of being designated or at least being argued to be designated. that out in the open. and that's what we have now with hezbollah. you have that, and again, like you said earlier, soleimani can walk the streets of baghdad and not even worry. >> but i think the administration should also encourage involvement of countries in iraq, particularly in iraq's reconstruction. >> repeat that? of what? >> encourage regional countries to become more involved in iraq. bolster the relations there and also particularly in the economy, because the more diversified iraq's economy is, and its trade and commercial ties with other countries, the less dependent it will be approximaon iran. because right now the trump
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administration wants iraq to strictly enforce the sanctions on iran, it has been difficult for the iraqi government because it depends on iran a great deal when it comes to electricity and gas and food stuff, but if it has better relations with the regional countries, particularly the gulf states, then it will be less reliant and less vulnerable to iranian dictation and also influence there. >> we'd like to see an iraq that has a relationship with iran like we have with canada and mexico. the islamic republic of mexico does not have primacy over our security forces. the islamic republic of canada does not decide who our president is. so, we'd like to trade goods. we'd like to see that relationship with iran, but i don't buy into the argument that just because iran is a neighbor, that we have this situation. >> but it needs to be a balanced relations because right now, there is about 12 million trade between the two countries. but that's completely disproportionately in favor of iran. there is about $6 billion
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non-oil goods coming to iraq, but the level of iraqi exports into iran is just near a few millions. so, while the cheap iranian food stuff which comes to iran that helps partly iraq but at the same time, that cripples and stifles the local business and local communities. and also, whether it's water issue, whether it's energy issue, tehran has at times used as a leverage to seek political concessions, so that's why i think that, yeah, the more stable, the stronger iraq is and the more it has relations with different regional countries, including turkey, saudi arabia, united arab emirates and others, then they will have a more kind of balanced and healthy relationship with iran. of course they will always have relations, they share 1,500 kilometers. they both are shared majority countries that are historical ties between the two countries and people, and there should be, but it needs to be a healthy --
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>> they shouldn't pick presidents and they shouldn't have primacy. >> i just want to ask before i open it to questions, i just want to ask to be sure, what about the reimplementation of sanction business washington on iran? how is that going to influence iran? not just its influence on iraq but the whole region. >> i'll take a one-minute answer to that then while we have a minute and then leave the rest of the time. i think it would -- there is some wishful thinking in believing that iraq is going to simply say yes to american demands when it comes to implementing iranian -- like sanctions on iran. because iran has the ability to sabotage the iraqi economy, especially the oil infrastructure in the south. >> ahmed, did you want to say something? >> yes, just going beyond iraq. iraq is important because iran and afghanistan could become the
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unintentional casualty of these sanctions and both countries have very weak economies and they're in conflict situations, but other regional countries would also not abide by the u.s. sanctions completely. we see, for example, china and india, they will continue to import iranian oil, although south korea, japan, and many european countries would significantly reduce that. so, in india, for example, they have elections coming up, so they already -- the rupee, indian rupee, is dropping so it would be difficult for them to do it just at once. and right now, both afghanistan and iraq, they are trying to lobby with the administration here to give them some exemptions, that all these sanctions should not just apply right away and they should give them some time to accommodate that and to work out an alternative for us to meet their demands because if that happens just right away, that completely cripples the economy of both countries. >> it will interesting to see
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what the iran task force looks at when it comes to looking at countries that are affected by u.s. sanctions on iran and also how to put pressure on those countries to not violate u.s. sanctions. again, the disconnect between governments and the private sector, the private sector hears the whispers coming out of the u.s. treesh and they say we're not going to do it, despite the government saying go ahead and test it, go ahead and do it. >> but i'm sure, mike, you are seeing that when you were in iraq, under the obama administration, that it's not just a lesser trade between the two countries, for example. you sanction the iraq -- >> i'm okay with fruit, gas, electricity. >> yeah. a network and the expansion of increasing role of the popular mobilization forces that helps that irgc's network to do that. and also, even if the problem for the administration here is that even if they give exemptions to certain things, even targeted sanctions become more difficult, because most of these economic projects that iran has in that -- those
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companies, even if they are under the guise of being companies, they have affiliation with the irgc so they would be somehow target bed by the u.s. administration. >> i guess the theme of our panel is that it's complicated, basically. i'm sorry, but we're going to open the floor to questions now. i ask, please, that you ask a question and let's keep it brief so we can get as many as possible, and so, i will start right here. sir? >> check, check. thanks so much for the panel. my name is cam ericson. my question is that relations with turkey and the united states have really hit an all-time low. the lira is really taking a hit. it seems to be weighed down. how do you see this impacting relations with the krg and other iraqi parties as a whole?
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>> any of you just jump in. >> iraq and the krg, when it comes to the economy, they're basically price takers being influenced. they don't have much of a tool kit to really deal with larger events that go on in the neighborhood. as long as the iraqi government continues to sell oil and oil prices are high and therefore more dollars are coming in, that lower exchange rate could be in iraqi's interest in the short-term, but if the turkish economy or for that matter the iranian economy is going to be crippled by these sanctions or by a weak lira, which perhaps results in lower productivity, then, you know, the iraqi economy basically, for basic food, is dependent on imports of food stuffs from turkey and iran and therefore in the long-term,
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having two instable neighbors is going to have spillover -- is going to spill over into iraq and the krg economy as well. >> ma'am? >> i just want to get a feeling of what's the difference. they say that iraq system and american system, the elections, whether it is different. if you went to a varied economy, sometimes that's very misleading, just a gdp and you have a higher employment rate but if the people are hired to do the corruption things, that's disservice. can you -- can a system that has some change different from america so you have a pick up something with quality and capability to lead the society forward although maybe gdp is
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lower but actually -- >> is there somehow -- is there some way to incorporate american -- >> maybe it's different from american. i want a system they have established the trustworthy so people can have a happy life rather than being rip off once you have a whole life effort to build some of your wealth. >> so the constitution and the rule of law. the constitution is often shelved. we've seen that. and the rule of law that -- we're good. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> the constitution and the rule of law are things that the iraqi government uses when it benefit them and shelves when it does not and that's one of the biggest problems. that's why you see the youth protests in the south, the 80% o. country dissatisfied with the continuation of these political parties, based on your question, that fairness, that economic opportunity, they're not seeing it because absent a rule of law in the constitution, the people actually adhere to, you get corruption. so the only way to really do things is through corruption. >> yep.
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sir? right here. >> mike's coming to you. >> paul davis. i like your concept that the kurds are bystanders now and not king makers, but my question is based on a couple of recent activities, one is the united states just broke ground to build the single largest consulate the u.s. has in the world. iraq is now talking about putting a customs border between baghdad and there and the iraqis and the turks have just talked about opening up another border crossing with turkey that does not have anything to do with the krg or the kurds to bypass all that. where does that leave the kurds as far as getting involved in the government in baghdad or trying to build a international
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con sen consensus for kurdish independence. >> the kurdish independence agenda has received a serious blow with the referendum and the aftermath of the referendum, because before the referendum and before october 16 of 2017, last year, there were a lot of questions of what will happen if, right? there were all of these if questions, what will happen if the kurds go for independence, what will happen if the people vote for independence, what will turkey do, what will iran do, what will iraq do, what would the united states' reaction be. now we know. and the answers are not in krg's favor. however, you don't -- i'm not, at least, seeing much of reflection of this in the krg, because, you know, the kurds realize that the only stable thing about the middle east is instability. so, they're just going to stick around and wait and, you know, you hear kurdish leaders basically say we did this, it was the right thing to do, the circumstances are not in our
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favor, no one likes this, but hey, just wait and see. it's like london weather. it may change. maybe no. so maybe not today, maybe not this generation, in fact, the president the other day say -- the president of kdp said maybe not this generation, maybe not the next generation, but the one after it will see the results of this referendum. it's a luxury to be able to make that kind of statement but that just tells you the attitude of the kurdish leadership, that this referendum was the right thing to do and it will pay off sometime. what worries me, let me just talk for myself, is that with this attitude, then we're not going to have projects that will result in better cooperation on issues in areas where cooperation with baghdad is going -- is necessary. i mean, i mentioned cooperation being necessary over the security gap in kirkuk and the disputed territories. baghdad cannot maintain security alone, krg cannot maintain security alone.
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they need to do it together. if the krg attitude is still independence and eyeing the exit door, then there is less incentive for the krg to go and talk to baghdad and if baghdad basically sees the krg is as, you know, still eyeing the door, then they don't have many reasons to actually trust the krg on the other hand. i mean, that trust factor is going to be very important. this also applies to the neighbors. i think when turkey and iran deal with and for that matter, the united states, deal with the krg, they will be more careful about empowering the krg if the krg's goal is going to be independence because what's true today is probably going to, in the eyes of washington, tehran, and ankara, will be true in 20 years. so that is why i'm not sure how the future is going to be any better than the present and the past. because the attitude in baghdad is one of victory, we crushed them, we defeated them, rather than, let's make this work, and
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the attitude in kurdistan is, this is not -- this was a setback, not a defeat, so we're going to start over again, start again, maybe not me, maybe my family, maybe my party will start again. so i'm very doubtful about this relationship works. i mentioned kirkuk security. the other question is the question of revenue sharing, looking at the economy, coming up with win-win solutions to managing, for example, kirkuk's oil. right now, believe it or not, there is 300,000 barrels of kirkuk oil that is being shut in, and not seeing the international markets. why? because the only way out of that -- for that oil is through the kurdish pipeline and baghdad says, no, i'm not going to use kurdish pipeline because that's a sign of concession. so at the time that iran is being sanctioned and perhaps oil markets are going to be destabilized by some million barrels of, like, 2 million barrels of iranian oil probably not seeing the market, that 300,000 is a lot of leverage
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that the iraqi and the kurdish government have but petty politics, sometimes personality issues and personal issues, come into the way of achieving win-win solutions, and the political atmosphere also of
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>> finally putting its act together when it comes to having a clear policy because investor jeffrey is a serious diplomat.
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on the one hand he is a realist , he goes in with his eyes wide open and again to stabilize syria, the united states needs to work with iraq, turkey and russia, iran, one area where iran has been a disadvantage is iraq policy has been second to a iran policy, the focus fully on sanctions. isis policy where the focus has mainly been on security and military. i think by focusing, by having the message he will have the holistic view, comprehensive view looking at politics, security, isis resurgence but also his knowledge of politics
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in iraq and turkey, iraq will also be able to be a standalone policy. >> exactly the point i want -- the key task in syria because right now of course turkey, iran and russia are taking initiatives leading all those efforts so i think he would be tasked to re-energize that kind of more international conscious effort for any kind of political sentiment future political future of syria although i personally am not very optimistic about that. >> sadly we have run out of time. we have just scratched the surface on iraq he issues but i
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appreciate all you being here. thanks for the great discussion. thank you very much, everyone. >> tonight on american history tv the archival film series "real america" featuring world war ii films, crated by the u.s. army signal corps, under the supervision of academy award-winning film maker frank capra. the films were designed to show the causes of the conflict to u.s. troops. the first film in the why we fight series was covers the outbreak of world war ii to the pearl harbor attack and explores the rise in germany, italy and japan. american history tv begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span three,
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saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on real america. >> we are privileged to witness tonight a significant achievement in the cause of peace the achievement none thought possible a year ago or even a month ago. in achievement that reflects the courage and wisdom of these two leaders for the 1978 film framework piece on the camp david peace accord. and sunday at 6:00 p.m. on american artifacts, a look back on the 1998 bombings of the u.s. embassy in nairobi, kenya and tanzania. >> meeting with the minister of commerce. we heard an explosion. went to the window, 10 seconds later a freight train sounding impact of high energy sent all
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of us 213 people instantly killed. 48 employees of the united states government. >> watch on american history tv this weekend on c-span three. >> this weekend on book tv. saturday, at 4:15 p.m. eastern, bob woodward's interview on his new book, "fear colin truck in the white house ". >> someone in office called me and said everyone knows what you have in this book is 1000% correct at 9:00 p.m. eastern former independent council ken starr discusses his book, contempt.
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>> what i am saying about the clinton experience we learn from our history as a free people and impeachment was not a wise way to go. >> sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, former secretary of state john kerry discusses his book, every day is extra. he is interviewed by former congresswoman and president and ceo of the wilson center, jane harman. >> john and i were flying to kuwait on an airplane. we did known each other very well at all but we were seated opposite each other by seniority. it worked because it brought us together and we had a conversation through the night, talking about annapolis and his father and grandparents, his family and his own service and his time as a prisoner. he wanted to learn more about what happened with us, how we fought and what it was like and so forth. we pledged to each other right then that the country was still too divided over the war.
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we thought we needed to find a way to not just make peace with vietnam but make peace at home. >> watch this weekend on c-span 2's book tv. senate judiciary chair chuck grassley has called for hearing on monday again supreme court nominee brett kavanugh along with christine blasey ford a chance to testify. professor ford accuse the judge of sexually assaulting her in high school. oshie has not agreed to testify, monday. professor ford's lawyer says she is willing to testify sometime next week under certain conditions. the planned live coverage scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. eastern also available at c- span .org. you can listen with the free c- span radio at. we will also be like for any further meetings of the judiciary committee. >> earlier this month a congressional his panic caucus institute held a leo


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