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tv   Public Affairs Events  CSPAN  November 3, 2019 2:22am-3:23am EST

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about the fiscal terms. it was not just about the rate of return, it was the structure, a service agreement where it was cost plus, and the investors became contractors. they had no intent to keep costs down. they had little incentive to innovate and optimize beyond that, because they got a dollar a barrel. the federal ministry, their current model which they have expertise in is more of the investor agreement. and they put a price on natural gas, and guarantees including with crude. many countries in the middle east have failed to price the gas, and not surprisingly there is little investment in that sector. iraq has huge potential in natural gas.
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not only to meet its own needs for power and industry, but to be a major exporter by pipeline. >> well, thank you for that. back to iran. you mentioned, i mean, i gave you so many questions and i realize that, but that what we do as academics. i'm trying to learn to be in this business. you know, because you need to really test what's there and that, you know, how doing from -- how to go from talking to students to experts, that's a different story. but let me follow up on my questions and your answers.
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people talk about two scenarios that are plausible. the demands of the protesters and many people in political parties, especially those who have their eyes on his job, and they think realistically they can have it. there are those more interested in reform. they think the resignation of the government of the prime minister will put iraq through a long tunnel, the parties would not be able to form another government for a long time. then continued protests, and protests mean a lot more destruction. , and they think realistically they can have it. there are those more interested in reform. they think the resignation of the government of the prime minister will put iraq through a the parties would not be able to form another government for a long time. protests, and protests mean a lot more destruction. the country will be halting its activities for a long time. people,l hurt so many
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especially unintended victims who are waiting to have government. and the business as well. men on theneed ground to meet the protests. theeen these two, resignation of the continuation of the government and the parliament, and have them be the agents of change and reform, where do you lean, and what do you think is the more realistic and plausible scenario? >> well, i think it's important to always keep in mind that ahmadi became prime minister as a compromise solution and that there was no single block that nominated him. it was an agreement between --
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the southern block. and they got together and chose somebody who was seen as an independent. in other words, not belonging to either of their political groups. and the outset, this looked like a sensible arrangement. and he arrived as a prime minister with a legacy of a political system that has been hobbled and dysfunctional and certainly not highly regarded by the population. so he did come with this badge or he had to deal with this baggage.
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the fact that he didn't have the backing of a single major party, rather than being an asset has now proved to be a liability because there's nobody defending him. and even who originally was a great backer came out openly a few days ago and said, he should resign. the problem is, there are mechanisms. i don't think that the restignation of the government is going to create this vacuum. the problem is not that. the problem is what is going to replace them? and if you are looking from the perspective of the protesters, it is not enough for one individual to be scapegoated and to resign if in fact the
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replacement is going to be also somebody from the powers that be. they are looking for radical change. i hate to use this term. they want to see a paradigm shift in the politics of iraq, okay? so the resignation on its own, unless it's tied to a much more far-reaching and broader vision of reform, is not going to help. the dissolution of parliament and early elections, if we follow the same electoral law with the same or a similar type of electoral commission and the same party law, political party law, and that's an important element, if those remain unchanged, we are going to reproduce the same type of parliament. all of those are not going to be
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the type of reform that people want, and they're calling for. and not only the people, but it has been very clear about the type of far-reaching radical reform that's required. we have the resignation in lebanon, okay, fine, and this is probably a tactical move because there are others in the government that he wanted to get rid of and so as he resigns, the entire government falls, and so on, so he can get rid of some faces, but in iraq, it's different. you can't have one man resigning, only to be reproduced by somebody similar. and so, what do i see? perhaps a resignation of the government. he's offered to resign once a
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replacement is found, according to the speech by the president yesterday. letter heame from a sent on the 29th. that is how the frame of -- >> now, the talk is, let's go back a few days. we're talking now in terms of days in iraq because every day, every hour seems changed. there was discussion and an agreement that they should find a replacement. there were reports by reuters and others that on wednesday in baghdad, met with them and said, no, you should not change -- so there are all sorts of interests at play here.
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and the picture is becoming more complicated. will he resign? will he not resign? if he resigns, who will replace him? so on and so forth. i think an orderly transition with reforms in the electoral law, in the commission, in the party law, early elections based on those, and a caretaker government, whether it's a government that's under him or somebody else, to see it through a certain period of time is, to my mind, is the most orderly way to do it. now, the problem with the president's speech, as you
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mentioned, is it was a little short on details, but i understand because they're going through consultations and processes, but more to the point, it had no timeline. if, as some people have suggested, elections should take place in two years, i can tell you that that's not going to be satisfactory solution. there has to be a short timeline in order to light a fire under people and to keep their focus. so is it going to be a revolution? is it going to be an evolution? perhaps by mynature i'm more of an evolution, that needs to be anchored in solid steps of reform, legislation, followed by elections within six months may be, and then a review of the
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constitution. >> and the president's speech, everything has to be done through the constitutional frame work because iraq's countries countries inother the region, the only way you can have change is by some means that are extraordinary. iraq has a process in place and can serve for an evolutionary change, in fact. and joey-- oh, sure, please. >> may i comment on this. article 64 of the constitution, which my friend knows by heart, not the article, the whole constitution. [laughter] article 64, which i've read and reread in the last few days. there are two mechanism for dissolving parliament, what they said was i will agree to a -- to early elections which presumes the solutions parliament.
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there are two ways of solving parliament, either by a vote of two-thirds. they're never going to do that, why should they? or by a dual request from the prime minister and the president. and that certainly is possible. now, the elections are supposed to take place 60 days after the dissolution. that seems to be a short timeline, but it can be worked around. so it's possible to dissolve parliament, but i would like-- i would have liked the president, who has actually been the person who has really been able to preserve his credibility with the population. >> and i think, ambassador will probably push back on the reading of it because article 64, it's kind of like the
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constitution, you have to read it backward and forward and bring some friends to help you. >> that's right, yes. >> and that's what it is is basically one of the readings that the ambassador has to it and he is a legal scholar of great stature, i always defer to him on those issues, basically that one third of the parliament can initiate and two-thirds. >> requires a two-thirds vote. >> and the other the prime minister would require a dissolution of the parliament, but it has where the ambassador goes. it has after the president approves it, it has to have a two third of the parliament to approve that, but means really there is no substance to this authority that the constitution gives to the president because
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the parliament agree to do that, but i agree with you, 64 is really-- and also the ambassador always bring-- was it 56, i ? 56 where it gives the parliament four-year term and basically you have to interpret one with the otr. so, i'm sure the floor will have many questions on that from the audience. now, joey, let me ask you in light of the same arguments that she was making, basically the united states was looking at iraq and it has two things-- major areas to focus on. one of them is internal politics of iraq and where it is going, all of the u.s. investment in iraq and treasure and international relations or bilateral relations and the potential of u.s. and iraq relations and also the regional
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security, regional development, what goes on in syria, turkey and in general. what is the order of concern the united states is looking at from possible threats and risks and possible consequences of what goes on in iraq if the scenario goes, god forbid, to something worse or something that's a prolonged process? >> well, it goes back to our fundamental goal for our policy with iraq, which is a strong, stable and sovereign iraqi government because if you've got that, then you've got a great environment for american businesses to work in the oil sector or in other sectors of the economy. if you've got that, then you've got a strong iraq that can push back on, as i've said before, it's totally abnormal for a special forces commander from a foreign country to be coming into another country and meeting
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with political party leaders and telling them anything. you know, a strong, stable and sovereign iraq should be able to push back on that and say get out of here. and to be able, also to project stability into places like syria by keeping a strong border and by enabling counterterrorism operations across the border so that organizations like isis can't resurge. so, that's our goal and what we're putting into it is well and publicly known because we have to go up to congress and say, may we have some money to do this? so you can look up these numbers. we're the biggest humanitarian donor, the biggest donor to the iraqi security forces, the biggest donor to the mining assistants and have been for many years. what form does iranian
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assistance take? who knows what that looks like? how much money are they putting into it? how much are they taking out? nobody knows these things because of the way they do business and we would like to see that change and change through a strong and sovereign iraqi government, and i believe that that's exactly what the protesters are saying when they say they want a country, a nation, this that can't be translated into english precisely. they don't want to be a battlefield. they don't want to be an asset. they don't want to be a throughway for anybody else and we completely agree with them. >> all right. i would love to go for more, but i think i need to give the audience a chance to also ask and see what we can get in or where we can get the conversation going.
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ambassador. >> president of the gulf states institute and former ambassador to iraq and a good colleague of joey hood. this is for ambassador rahim, but also for all of you on the panel. i have been struck that the demonstrations, the emotions have largely been in baghdad and south. one of the questions i have is what is the attitude and participation in the kurdistan region, in nineveh, in anbar, and how do they view and participate in this protest against government inefficiency and how are they participating in the discussions of potential potential reform? >> thank you, ambassador. actually this question is so
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central to the problems that ail iraq. and i've been thinking about this and trying to disentangle. first of all, let me just say preemptively, that there's been from the students in support, there was also a letter of support signed by about 100 kurdish members of the kurdish intelligence here in support. so, where there have not been protests in kurdistan, there have been statements of support. in the last few days, they were also some small protests that came out in support of the protests in the south. not their own protests, but these were solidarity protests. they were quickly snuffed out by
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iss, by the iraqi security forces. so, going back to this question, why is it happening? first of all, because in sunni areas in 2012 when they protested, they were immediately branded as terrorists, and so on, and they were mercilessly crushed by maliki if you recall. and then they were accused of being the pathway, the protests were accused of being the pathway of daesh into iraq. and so the last thing that the people in anbar or even nineveh want to be attractions of -- want to attract accusations of allowing terrorists to come in, so, they are very hesitant to expose themselves to these
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accusations, so that's one reason. i think the deeper reason is that the shia feel this is our government. this is shia-led government. and this government, this shia-led government and let's face it, it is, came to power in 2003 to respond to our grievances as shia. to elevate us as shia from the oppression of saddam hussein and so on. they have taken all the spoils, the shia leaders, we have had nothing. basra is in a dismal state and is predominantly shia.
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all the south is predominantly shia. there's a feeling that this government which is supposed to be ours and which is supposed to represent us has let us down. now, for the sunnis, i don't think there is the same sense that this is our government. there's much more participation by the sunnis now than we saw after 2003. and i think that the sunnis are much more part of the political process, the decision making process, but for the mass of sunnis, it is not yet something that they feel they can appropriate themselves. and then, of course, don't forget that all of these provinces have just come out from under daesh. they have their own problems,
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their own needs of reconstruction of bringing home idp's. there really is a distinction, and this this tension goes to the heart of the problem that iraq faces today. i do not have the exact wording in front of me, but it could be interpreted as saying don't forget this is it just about the shia area. this is about all of iraq and all the components of iraq and that was a very important message to hear. >> i just wanted to build on something which was said, you know, the constitutional reform, electoral law reform, these may all be required. i am not an expert. notiraqi constitution is
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perfect, but none of them are. it's not the only country think about what you can get two-thirds vote to remove the chief of government at the moment. [laughter] but actually those will take time, a lot of time, and i don't see how they're going to address the immediate needs of these demonstrators because actually, the crisis of legitimacy of iraqi government now is not one of democratic legislation or the constitution. and those were asking for, there are some, see it as we change the whole system. but what they're really asking for, jobs, service, delivery and lack of corruption. but taking a year or two to change electoral law or change the constitution is not going to help with those. what i see with where the problem lies is in the executive, and the service delivery, by the government, is failing.
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and that needs kind of, emergency counsel self gratian, emergency task force on electricity delivery, giving them the freedom. if necessary, some outside expertise, and having an action plan and delivering. delivering, and somehow keeping -- and somehow keeping those immune to political interference and corruption and that kind of pulling this way and that way all the parties, which has so far stymied the government's progress. >> can i respond? i hate to disagree with you but i think the demands of the protesters have gone beyond asking for jobs and services. i think that was true on october 1, 2nd, 3rd. and i think, as i tried to show, they have changed. now, keep in mind that i think
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it was october 4, the prime minister came out and said we are going to create more government jobs. the government is already in deficit, and i don't -- and the public service sector, the public sector is bloated. so, i don't know how they're going to create jobs and what they're going to pay, how they're going to pay for them. the prime minister also talks about a new package, an additional package of social welfare. and in that speech, he tried to respond to the services demands of demonstrators. but i think by then, we had gone beyond that.
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and i don't think any kind of service delivery -- they can't create better health overnight. they can't create better schooling overnight. they can't create a million jobs overnight. i think that takes more time than reforming the electoral law and, i'm not talking about the constitution, reforming the electoral law, that having new elections and having a new government. i think that can be done in a shorter period of time. you also spoke about creating jobs and improving services without the interference and the derailing effect of corruption. that you're absolutely right, but i don't think it's possible to do that unless you have a
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major reform of the political system. >> always this, you have the spark and then you have the early commands, then once people are on the streets, they raise the ceiling and then, just like in negotiations, then you have to go back and -- this is going to be really an ever evolving demands on counter, offers and counter offers, and also there are so many moving targets and people are trying to -- >> i think we are in agreement. my point was not that you can assuage these demonstrations by the government offering to hire tens of thousands of more. my point was what they want. that, you know, changing the electoral law alone is not going to be enough. they see that as a means to an end, perhaps, but actually you can't wait for that. i heard from a senior, one of the most senior iraqi politicians at the moment, andy -- and he described it quite
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well. he said on the political front, we are actually in a good place. and that's not what we were ten -- 10 years ago. but on the economic side, we came from a system of socialist, state, centralized control for three decades plus, where the citizen had no rights, no freedoms, but job security, service delivery, and all that. we took that away and we declared in the constitution and aspiration for a market-based economy private sector and growth and capitalism and so on. we took two steps forward and stop, right? so we either continue and achieve that aspiration or go back to what we have. and really, you know, become
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socialists again, beginning support the citizens. if we stay in this limbo, phony state, they will not accept it and tolerated. he said that a year ago and, unfortunately, no -- productive hybrid of the two. ambassador. we have a microphone. >> thank you very much for the very fascinating discussion, but if i could push back a bit again if i may, picking up on what majid was just saying, the last few remarks he made. you talked about evolutionary change and you begin evolutionary asked if you're not the only evolutionary asked in iraq. the parties are also extremely, political parties are extremely revolutionary way that at least three different sets of electoral laws in iraq starting with the very first electoral law which the united nations to up for iraq, which treated iraq as a single district, whatever it was, proportional representation. the basic parties that been
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-- that have elected to parliament haven't fundamentally changed, notwithstanding changes in the electoral laws over the last 15 years. what gives you any -- and that's precisely what the parties do. every time they electoral laws change, they evolve to adapt to the new environment and come up to the top again. and we've been dealing with the same personalities, more or less , for years. 16 what makes you optimistic that changing the electoral law will yield any of the salvatori results that you hope for? >> it depends on what changes you make. and this becomes a rather technical discussion, which i would love to have with you. but i think there had been some ideas floated that, remember, it's not a bad thing to have political parties.
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and you know, there are political parties in all democracies. it is a question of how you elect your representatives. and i think there have been suggestions for an electoral law that is more reflective of the voters' choice. i'm sorry, i don't want to go into it because there are different models that are being -- and i know in the president's office working with others they are looking at options. thank -- looking at options. sir? >> thank you. i fear that you can't fight somebody politically with nobody, and i worry about the
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demonstrations at the moment have not coalesced behind an individual or a set of principles. and i think you said they keep moving the goalposts, and ambassador, you said things have changed from one day to another. to me, to avoid falling into more violence, i think the -- they really need a leader. gandhi, somebody that can coalesce the opposition behind him, behind a single set of demands before they can move someplace. is this right? >> so, i don't know. we were actually debating this interesting global phenomenon now, that whether it's rack, let -- whether it's iraq, lebanon,
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-- algeria, hong kong, chile or further afield you don't seem to get leaders anymore. they get organized to social media. it doesn't mean they can't achieve change and in the middle east algeria, lebanon, maybe iraq, they've brought down the government. but what you can achieve beyond that is not yet clear. but it seems to be, i don't know the answer. but we live in a world where you don't have any more, or maybe you don't need, i don't know, -- mondelloondello -- mandela and the figures here i defer to more experienced speed is i don't have more expert in revolution but -- expert in revolution but -- -- [laughter] but i think you can die these things together. -- ty -- tie these things together.
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people are coming up and protest because they feel their elected representatives are not reflective of their views and so they're coming out and yelling those views. and so that's what i reform electoral system needs to do so that people know who they voted for, who represents them in a part of it, who they where they see something they don't like. i know who i can do that too in the u.s. congress who represents me, but no iraqi can say the same thing about the council of representatives. >> i'm sorry, you wanted to -- >> i want to say that there are slogans, or branding, if you want. they may be not be individuals, but jerry mentioned -- and i think that's a very important -- and i translate, it's not country. it's not nation. it's more like the latin patria. so, it's something you owe allegiance to, that you believe in, that you're emotionally tied to. this has become a major slogan.
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and i think that this type of branding, which is, i'm sure there are people doing this and thinking up these slogans and so on, or imagine unhappy, i'm going out to claim my rights. i think this has become a sort of glue for these protests that, sure, it doesn't replace no leadership, but it certainly gives the protests coherence pic -- a certain coherence. and i think that may be helpful. >> right here. two questions, one for the ambassador. you believe there is something missing in the demonstrations, the so-called iraqi identity? do you believe that the changes that the demonstrators, they want, is going to bring a
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iraqi identityan rather than the shia or the ethnic identity for the country? and my second question for joey, i'd like to hear your assessment about -- do you believe he will be part of the problem or part of solution or what's happening in iraq? thank you. >> yes. [laughing] >> you're done? >> oh yes, i'm done. please. [laughing] >> ok. i'll answer. >> please go ahead. you know, i've been really quite surprised. it's been sorted for years people say there's no iraqi identity, there's no national identity. and they say the same thing about lebanon, that nobody
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believes in a lebanese identity. everybody's just thinking about well, i'm christian, i'm muslim, i'm shiite. everybody has just doubted that. i've always -- i feel both lebanon and iraq. there is, in fact, an identity, but that it has been submerged by a political class whose interests is in fragmenting this identity and undermining it into primary allegiances. and i think the really good things about the protesters in iraq and similarly, we've been talking about how iraq, lebanon, lebanon mirrors iraq and so on. but i think the healthy thing that i've been seeing emerge in
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iraq is that suddenly [inaudible] and all the slogans and billboards and flags that carry the iraqi flag as opposed to any other flag, and that declare no to sectarianism, no to fear, that this really shows that an iraqi identity exists and that it's trying to break out from the chains or the pressures that have been put on it in order to fragment it. and i think this is an extremely healthy, healthy sign here and if there's anything i'm really encouraged by is, it's that. i'm also encouraged that christians have also shown support. some kurds have shown support. people in him on have -- in him
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on have shown support. yes, they haven't come out and protest that i tried to explain that i believe in, but there is a national solidarity in the name of this. actually this -- the name of this. >> actually, this question is for rend and for majid, as joey is my boss twice removed. rend and majid, do you think there will be a moment where the political parties would say enough is enough, and let's crush the protesters even more? a la what's happening in iran, in tehran in 2009 or in china in 1989? >> you go first. >> ladies first. [laughing] >> oh, dear. >> you commented earlier about
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-- >> i said they'd go at each other. political parties want to preserve their interests, there's no question about that. now, how far will they go to achieve that? we've already had hundreds of dead. nobody knows the exact number. but certainly hundreds, thousands of ruins. -- of wounded. how far will the armed political parties, can you know, the communist party is an armed but there are political parties that are. how far are they willing to go to quell the protests? what will the backlash be? and i think, by the way, the -- here, that the response of the international community is key. because when the special
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representative, the special representative in iraq has produced two reports. the human rights repertoire has --duced one report if it produced one report. . amnesty international has produced a report yesterday. i think the international community, heavens, mitch mcconnell mentioned it in the senate yesterday. in australia, it's been raised in parliament. the response of the international community is going to be key to how far the repression can go. i think that is going to be a crucial element. >> i don't have much to add to that. >> of course, everybody hopes
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and prays that there will not be violence and lives lost. the sheer scale of the demonstration and the fact that they are across the south gives them significant legitimacy, and any violence against them will delegitimize whoever commits it, and their backers. and that needs to be taken into account. >> i agree. the gentleman in the middle -->> the gentleman in the middle there, i didn't mean to dismiss his question. but we're willing to work with anyone and iraq who is willing to work for iraq. and i think what you're seeing -- seeing iraqis ask for now is the same thing, but also disentangle religion from politics from malicious. all armed groups need to be under the control of the central government. that's a fact. and everyone agrees with that i think, between u.s. government and the iraqi government.
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the disentangling of religion from politics, we heard try to talk about earlier how some of the coalitions and parties are now cross sectarian. there needs to be more of that so the people to look at a particular party or party leader and say they're only for the sheer or their -- they are only for the sunni arabs or the kurds or whatever. that's what iraq will have evolved into a much more representative democracy and that's what you want to support. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. wonderful discussion. i have two questions to majid. iraqi protesters have been nonviolent, particularly in -- just two days ago following, i'm sure you're watching every
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detail in iraq, just two make days ago i heard that somebody, the protesters, calling to go to the oilfields. and we know that. some of the protesters have closed city councils in the name of the iraqi people, you know. to what extent you see this really serious and may influence the political scenes and the economy in iraq? -- i can'te were claim to be fully up-to-date. i've actually been in the u.s. the last couple of days and traveled a lot, but what i have read is the recent reports that came out that said the workers had gone on strike. but actually it turned out that they were demonstrated on their day off, which was amazingly responsible. [laughter] so the did not -- no, i mean they didn't want to harm iraq's production.
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but at the same time, they wore their uniforms and that caused the confusion. they wore their overalls and hard hats and they marched together with their company slogan in support of what the demonstration, but they did on the day off. so far, there hasn't been any impact. there has been, in the past of course, roadblocks, demonstrations outside facilities and this is because they know that this is a huge concern to the government and this will get into national attention very quickly, which it does. in 1979, once an ioc workers went on strike, bashar fell within 24 hours because that's the lifeblood, as i said, unfortunate of these economies is still the oil and gas. but we haven't seen any impact yet, and what we have seen has been peaceful protests and not violence against indy international investors or
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around these facilities, as far as i've heard. >> thank you. i'm the krg representative. thank you. it's been a very educational and fascinating discussion. absolutely, i think there's total sympathy and empathy with the protesters across kurdistan, some of the political leaders have also made statements that their grievances are legitimate, also calling for an end to violence on both sides. i want to make one short comment and then ask the question. i would argue that the sunnis and kurds have already had their protests. as rend, you mentioned the sunnis previously protested and they were crushed brutally. you could argue that the kurdish referendum on independence was a form of protest. it was also a positive thing. we have a spirit of
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independence, i've been told like texas. but also, i think it was a protest. it was a protest against being not really part of the system and not really being represented. so, i would argue that the kurds and sunnis have had their protests. they were dealt with in whatever way they were dealt with. now it's the turn of the shia and i hope their protests will be listened to and will, in fact, improve things for all of us in iraq, whoever we are. now, my question is, how would you assess -- to all of the panel -- how would you assess the reaction of the immediate neighbors of iraq? is their reaction a cause for celebration or commiseration? >> immediate what? >> immediate neighbors of iraq. how has been there reaction to the protests? >> you know i'm going to talk about iran. >> go ahead.
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>> i'm not going to assess the reaction of kuwait to the protest. we've seen all the reports as i mentioned earlier, soleimani flying in and giving advice. if i were a protester, this is exactly what i would be saying. i'd be pointed to and saying this is what i don't want. i want my own country. i don't want someone else come in your telling us how to run it. and i think you've seen from the regime in tehran over the years have dealt with protests. -- the recce people iraqi people are saying we're not going to have that. there had been a couple hundred deaths that we have deplored, and the iraqi people have said
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we're not going home, we're not going to be cowed by that. iranians aref the thinking of trying to handle the protests and iraq the way to do in the own country, they need to think again. and i wish that they would not interfere in this and allow the iraqis to peacefully demonstrate and tell there, how they feel. >> if you sort of look around iraq's neighbors, who do we have? the kuwaitis certainly did not want to get involved in any way. nor do the saudis, moving, you know. the jordanians, of course, are impacted because there's a disruption in iraq, which affects the trade and so on and so forth. and i'm sure the jordanians are also afraid that the breakdown can allow daesh to make renewed inroads in iraq. this is always a fear.
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then you've got syria. syria's got its own problems. turkey, which for whom the kurdish issue is the paramount issue, as you very well know. and therefore, syria and turkey, that is their primary concern right now, which again leads us to iran. i would say iran is the one neighbor that has a direct, imminent interest in what is going on in iraq. you know, i don't want to go too far in assigning responsibility, but when you look at, you sort of do a para plum of iraqi surroundings, you will see either people, either coaches -- countries don't want to get involved. just keep me away. or they're too busy with other stuff right now. and that leaves iran. fortunately iran has a very strong interest in maintaining
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the status quo. that's just a fact. >> i don't have anything to add. i think what's interesting is every time iraqis had demonstrations which were triggered by electricity, 50 degrees, no electricity, people are fed up, and you always historically, you know, monarchy fell in july, july seem to be hot month. what's interesting is that was a triggered by iraq. iraq had a much better some of electricity this year. we're in november. it's not a time when the temperatures and associate temperatures are high so does seem to be really about, as rend said, there's something systemic that's wrong, that is felt that is wrong, and they need the system to change. because the way it's going out it's not delivering on their aspirations. >> right. speaking of electricity,
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actually last night we lost power and i had all night long to this point i got ready on candlelight and i've never done that. then i was looking, i called louis and i said we don't have electricity. he said i will get to you once i -- you are right. it's really deeper than just electricity. we have one last question and then i will have three quick questions and we will wrap up. yes. >> that was the minister of electricity in iraq. >> i'm emily meredith from energy and intelligence. i was hoping you could talk about, we heard the u.s. prevail upon iraq to become more energy independent. what you've seen in terms of progress and what else washington is looking for on that issue. >> well, i wish i could point to more progress. there have been a few deals signed with european and american companies, but we need
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to see more progress as quickly as possible. it's just unconscionable that iraq flares so much gas into the atmosphere that could be captured and turned into electricity for its people and then turns around and purchases electricity and natural gas from iran. that's exact like carrying coal to the newcastle. there are plenty of american companies with the technology available to help them do that, and we think that's the best route when you're looking to reduce corruption, as well because american companies have a strong reputation for transparency. but i would also say that iraq has shown its capability, as you mentioned, majid. it's producing at historic levels.
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it's never produced this much oil. so, these things can be done. they just need to be a series focus on it, and that's again with the poachers is i think have been saying, that nobody is taking seriously what we are asking for. hopefully they will now. so i -- so, i think the key is to focus on costs as far as iraq to budget and reliability. absent politics. joey's right, there's plenty of local gas resources which could fuel electricity. you mention the flaring in the south, but also in the center and the north there's a lot of associated gas. we're now producing 400,000,000 cubic feet per day in the kurdistan region. there are some power plants that are affiliate built one of, you do, less than 100 kilometers within federal iraq which are dd gas. we're taking our production up to a billion cubic feet a day over the next few years. and part of that could be supplied to federal iraq, a fraction of the cost of imported
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gas. but i mentioned the arab blocs, there's gas fields there and we initialed those contracts over a year ago, still waiting for just the signatures so we can get on. within a year, we can be producing a couple hundred billion cubic feet of gas. it's definitely important it actually the shortages are -- but actually the shortages are further north and there's gas there. none of those -- it could be rapidly brought on, just need some decisions to move forward. >> very short answers, but not yet become i know. try to come iraqi energy independence, a short-term, midterm, or long-term, or hopefully not never? >> could and should be short term. and by that i mean a couple of years. it really shouldn't take more than that to enable self-sufficiency. and the import was supposed to be temporary anyway.
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at least that's how it was declared way back when. and, you know, colton newcastle -- when we heard some ideas, maybe import elegy or import from the neighbors, come on, that makes no sense at all. >> joey, i know you have a meeting to go to. quick question really. we're speaking about possibilities of getting the basrah country open, now with the current situation. do you think you will continue to speak about that or do you think this is a possibility? the consulate did a lot of work in iraq, actually, from days of steve walker. where do you think that is ? >> you said i can't say yes, and i can't say no. can i say maybe? [laughter] no, the united states remains committed to our presence
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in iraq. that's one of the reasons we are building a state-of-the-art facility for a new consulate in irbil. were not going anywhere, but right now we can't talk about taking the consulate off of the suspension of operations, but we hope to be able to have that conversation soon when there's peace, there's stability, there's a strong sovereign government that's in charge of security throughout all of iraq and not other actors. >> and rend, do you see a finish of the term of the government roadmap in hist speech accomplished by the -- or the protesters will have their way? >> the roadmap is designed to meet the protesters' demands but it doesn't go far enough and is not specific enough.
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so, if that is developed, and if the president can actually get the protesters going then i think there is a possibility of comforting the protesters. but all i can say is i don't know. it's because things are dynamic. they're changing and we don't know. >> that's one step far away from joey's maybe. >> but i think we have to be honest. >> it has been a fascinating discussion. thank you for our panel. they do all for attending. i appreciate it. thanks a lot. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> c spence washington journal live every day with news and
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policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, we talk about the budget deficit with the american enterprise institute and the discussion of the anniversary of the iran hostage crisis. the former hostage and former white house policy advisor. be sure to watch see spence washington journal live at 7:00 p.m. eastern this morning. join the discussion. >> the white house did not release a weekly statement from the president. chairman eliot engel of new york made the democratic address , highlighting a bill that imposes sanctions on turkey for its invasion on northern syria following the president's decision to withdraw u.s. troops from the region.


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