tv Middle East Institute Annual Conference - David Hale Remarks CSPAN November 12, 2018 3:06am-3:29am EST
-congress returns tuesday. the house is back working on funding for the federal government, which runs out on december 7. the senate returns for votes on coast guard programs. watch the house live on c-span, the senate live on c-span two. >> new congress. leaders. watch the process unfold on c-span. democrats have regained control of the house. republicans retain majority control of the senate. c-span. unfold on on thursday, under secretary of state for political affairs david hale outlined the trump administration's policy on iran, u.s.-saudi arabia relations, and conflicts in syria and yemen. this is about 20 minutes.
>> good morning, everyone. i am president of the middle east institute. it is my pleasure to welcome you today to the conference entitled "the middle east in 2019, challenges and opportunities for u.s. policy. i thank you in advance for joining us today, and thank you to our panelists. this is our opportunity to bring together some of the leading policy makers experts and leaders in u.s.-middle east
relations. the event is being covered by a number of tv networks as well as being live streamed, so please silence your phones. you are encouraged to tweet at #meiconf. with today's conference, we are nearing the end of a very exciting year. we are engaged in rebuilding our headquarters. we will move in june of next year. the new building will feature large conference facilities, state of the art classrooms and ample space for various programs. in the meantime, our temporary home on 18th street has been a busy hive of activity every week with panel discussions, conferences and expert roundtables on the region's issues, a vibrant schedule of arts and cultural events, language classes and other items.
to keep up with publications or sign up for events or two into our podcast, please visit our totally revamped and new website at mei.edu. 2018 was indeed a turbulent year for the middle east and 2019 promises to be no less challenging. despite pockets of stability and growth, the middle east is still in the throes of confrontation, several ongoing civil wars, dyer refugee and he military and needs, antiterrorist organizations. the u.s. itself is going through a period of transformation in its politics, both domestic and foreign. how will the states and leaders in the middle east address the challenges facing their region? how will the u.s. administration as well as the congress shape policy in the year ahead? the four panels will explore
various aspects of this question. the first panel will be looking at challenges facing u.s. policy. the second one explores how to end the region's civil wars. the third looks at regional powers and global. the fourth highlights economic development. we have a panel of moderators to help the sixth or this issue. anchor to provide that keynote address, we are honored to have the u.s. undersecretary of state for political affairs, his excellency, ambassador david hale. he is a career member of the senior foreign service class of career minister, he has served as ambassador to pakistan, georgia and lebanon, which i think is where we first met. he has served as the special he has served as the special envoy for middle east peace and deputy assistant secretary of state in the bureau of near
eastern affairs he is the recipient of numerous state department awards. deliver his keynote a dress and then he has to leave us to attend to official business. thank you for taking the time to be with us. we look forward to hearing your views. [applause] >> thank you for that introduction. allow me to offer my congratulations on your recent appointment. will be anence invaluable asset 4-mei. mei.ur lebanon has been a big part of my life. you might not know this, but in each of those assignments, the family played a role in my life as well. , hall'sirst arrived mother was a pillar of the
american-lebanese community and in one of the few institutions still surviving that was linking america and lebanon together. , paul was myack interaction in the u.s.-oral relationship -- u.s.-lebanon relationship is getting stronger. they were hungry for information. we often took them to paul, who was willing to take his time in order to help educate american visitors on the realities of lebanon. when i went back as ambassador, i had the honor to interact more with his father, a distinguished statesman, the foreign minister whoebanon in the 1980's, had become the head of a university a prominent , educational institution in lebanon in the north. he had a special instinct and
to bring the current arriving ambassador up north, sit down and tell them some home truths about how best to conduct a relationship he cared deeply about. so the salem family has made a -- has played a big part in my life and it is an honor to reconnect with you. throughout the day i know you will hear various vigorous debate about what the united states should be doing in the middle east to address the region's many challenges. i would like to start you off with what the united states is doing in the region with a focus on the issues on which i spent my time. governments across the region face tough decisions. my job as to help our leaders is -- use the full range of power and influence to encourage regional leaders to my choices that advance our shared objectives, consistent with the president's foreign policy agenda. we are protecting americans here -- america's security at home and abroad and promoting u.s. engagement in the middle east. we are working actively with our
partners to counter the threat and --rroristic groups that sponsor terrorism. but as a president has made clear, we cannot and should not bear the sole responsibility for stabilizing and securing the region. we continue to urge our partners to do their part to promote regional stability. the challenge lies in how we balance our efforts. responding to crises and on going conflicts and addressing the trends shaping the region's future. one of the flashpoints was the killing of the saudi journalist, jamal khashoggi. many of whom i am sure you knew. i was with secretary pompeo and -- when he traveled to saudi arabia to hear directly from the king and the crown prince on how saudi arabia would handle the investigation of jamal khashoggi's murder. we asked that the saudi leadership uncover the facts and hold accountable those responsible. so far, we have seen some positive steps. more needs to be done, including identifying the individuals responsible. we are taking strong action, including revoking visas and
reviewing sanctions under the global magnitsky act. our shared strategic interests remain strong with saudi arabia. secretary pompeo said that we continue to view as achievable the twin imperatives of protecting america and holding accountable those responsible for the killing of mr. khashoggi. one of our most critical shared objectives is to impose maximum pressure on the iranian regime until it changes its malign behavior and threats. iran remains the most significant threat to individual -- to regional stability. several weeks ago, secretary pompeo outlined iran's behavior, ongoing assistance to militias who stoke conflict, support of terrorist organizations, the proliferation of ballistic missiles that threaten our partners. we also remain deeply concerned with the iranian regime's serious human rights abuses against the iranian people.
these abuses include iran's continued arbitrary arrest of individuals solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, opinion, beliefs, association, and peaceful assembly as well as its detention of foreigners and a dual nationals. we think international support of efforts to change iranian behavior -- support for the iranian people and we want every single country on board. in the wake of the president decision to cease participation in the jcpoa, we completed the -- countries now face a choice. earlier this week we completed the reimposition of sanctions that had previously been lifted. we have reimposed sanctions on the purchase of iranian petroleum and petrochemicals and products from iran. the sanctions over the past two years are the toughest sanctions ever on the iranian regime. the sanctions target the iranian
regime and its enablers. our economic pressure is directed at the regime and its malign proxies, not the iranian people. the regime's longest suffering victims are its own people and america supports them in their quest for a better life. iranian support for militias in places like syria and yemen prolongs regional conflict and exacerbates human suffering. in both cases, we are pressing iran to end its control of the conflicts while reducing our efforts to resolve these conflicts that if left him address --if left on left unaddressed-- in syria, we have three critical priorities. the defeat of isis, which requires not just battlefield decree but civilization, so isis cannot emerge. any military presence of iran and its proxies, which are significant forces of instability in syria and the neighborhood. we want to see syrian political
process progress. because without it, syria will not achieve stability and prosperity. syria will need to end its support of terrorism and eliminate wmd stockpiles. that is essential to create the conditions for a dignified return for refugees and internally displaced persons. in yemen, we are pressing all parties to join in a cessation of hostilities, including missile and uav strikes from houthi-controlled areas. subsequently, coalition airstrikes must seek in all populated areas -- cease in all populated areas. we support the efforts of the un's russian envoy, morgan griffith and encourage all signs to find a political framework to a resolution of the conflict. secretary pompeo has said that substantive consultations must commence this month, to implement measures to address
underlying issues of the conflict. we urge all sides of the conflict including our partners in the saudi-led coalition to avoid civilian casualties. we are also working to address yemen's humanitarian tragedy. more than 18 million yemenis don't know where the next meal will come from. this lack of food could become one of the world's worst instances of mass famine. over the past two years, we have provided $1.2 billion in humanitarian assistance for yemen. we urge all sides to allow all yemenis access to humanitarian .id our engagement with partners in iraq and the gulf is also helping to mitigate iran's malign influence. following democratic elections, iraq is experiencing a peaceful transition to power.
following democratic elections, iraq is experiencing a peaceful transition to power. i join secretary pompeo in congratulating the new president, the new prime minister and the speaker as a they assume their new offices. these leaders are supportive of coalition efforts and we look forward to working with them. iraq is not malnourished and never should be another nation's vassal. based on our strategic framework agreement, we will help iraq is build theiraquis constitutional capacity, and providing for their own security while fully respecting iraqi sovereignty. ultimately, a united iraq is the strongest iraq, and we continue to urge the parties to find peaceful solutions to their differences. the continued risk not only door, but reduces the
region's ability to work on challenges. positive vision for regional collaboration. it is called the middle east strategic alliance. the president outlined it. a strategic alliance with jordan and egypt to advance prosperity, stability, and security in the region. it holds the potential to improve how these states work together on internal and external threats, economic trade linkages, and economic security. secretary pompeo brought the gcc foreign ministers together for the first time since the rift began to discuss this international unity. our work to resolve these conflicts and build partnerships helps us to stabilize the region, contain threats to america, and close the opportunities iran is using to expand its influence. beyond our strategic efforts to counter the influence, we are addressing some of the region's
other regional conflicts. as we have seen, they radiate instability, threatening the security of our closest allies in europe and elsewhere. in libya we are working with a you and support mission to advance political reconciliation towards an inclusive constitutional process and credible elections. we support elections as soon as possible but artificial deadlines and a rushed process would be counterproductive. u.n. focusesf the on the technical and security groundwork for elections. the international community will be most effective when it speaks with one voice in support of special representative salameh, curb a. mediation and to nonmilitary solution which will only plunge libya into further chaos. it must be coupled with security
and economic reform. without stability in tripoli, no effective political mediation, much less solution, can happen. instability also opens the door for isis and al qaeda resurgence. we support copperheads of currency and subsidy reform to revitalize the economy in libya and we have collaborated with the u.n. to facilitate a much-needed, libya-led dialogue on long-standing grievances on distribution. the administration has also stepped up its engagement on the western sahara conflict. i met with both moroccan and algerian officials and ministers and i am encouraged by them to -- there -- to participate in upcoming talks in a geneva. direct negotiations under the auspices of the personal envoy of the secretary-general can lead to a lasting political mediation resolving the conflict will unlock greater regional integration and cooperation. as you just heard, we have our
hands full with the region's many conflicts and ongoing crises. yet we cannot neglect their broader trends that will shape our engagement in the middle east for years to come. there are two trends in particular to which i pay close attention. the first is the slow, methodical and renewed effort of other external powers vying for influence in the region. the president's national security strategy identifies an area of great power competition. the middle east is one of the prime arenas of that competition as it has been historically. russia seeks to undermine political influence in the institution of national order worldwide. the middle east is no exception. russia's intervention in syria saved the assad regime from near -- from certain defeat. we do seek common ground with russia to end the conflict and advance the goal of a syria freed from the presence of
iranian and proxy security forces. those forces destabilize the entire region and serve only the interests of tehran, not those of the syrian people. we must engage russia while assessing actions and follow-through of its commitments, starting with russia's commitment to implement un security council resolution 2254. in afghanistan, russia continues disrupt negotiations rather than lead peaceful negotiations. we have also seen in libya how russia is encouraging parties to keep fighting just when the rest of us are urging them to come to the negotiating table. china is also seeking to expand its influence in the region primarily through investment, trade, and infrastructure deals. while china's belt and broad initiative is focused on east and south asia, it does extend into parts of the middle east. china is already the largest customer of saudi arabia and oil. they pledged a record $1 billion in investments in the port free-trade zone. as we have seen elsewhere,
chinese trade and investment comes with strings and can produce a death trap, a deliberate strategy to create long-term dependencies that benefit the interests of the chinese estate and its economic institutions, not the recipients of the loans. by chinese influence runs counter to our model in which we incentivize market-based reforms, build local capacity and help nations grow economically without jeopardizing their sovereignty. in contrast, we have encouraged commercial ties between the u.s. private sector and the region. encouraging companies to invest in iraq, selling power generation equipment in libya, algeria, or iraq to increase electricity output. american investments help us and our partners. the socioeconomic pressures facing the region are great, which is the second long-term challenge i am focused on. corrupt systems that serve elites have taken a toll.
lasting stability is possible only when governments face up to these challenges. america can only do so much. we offer assistance to our partners. we ask our partners to make necessary reforms. only the private sector can create the level of job growth needed by an ever burgeoning population. attracting that level of private sector investment requires moving from an economic model that protects the status quo to a sensibly regulated environment that encourages private sector growth and opportunity. we support reforms that unlock that opportunity, increase transparency, and improve the delivery of basic services. we stand ready to work with our partners and encourage the leadership to do just that, to address these challenges as we seek the stability, peace and prosperity of the people in the middle east. their leaders and sometimes their neighbors have all too
often fail to deliver. thank you very much for your time today. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, very much. >> former government officials and diplomats talked about the conflict in yemen and relations with saudi arabia. this is an hour and 20 minutes. >> am going to be introducing a moderator and our panelists. as the moderator of our first