tv Discussion on Iraq Protests Unrest CSPAN November 26, 2019 12:01pm-1:35pm EST
expert in newn have a president or leader who doesn't have knowledge and had never been in government were served in the military, you will like they would give credence to what you're saying and share an interest getting into the nuts and bolts. we are taking questions from you. guest: i am in north africa.
internet programs across the world. about iran'sl talk influence in the region and in the context of ongoing demonstrations, and how iran is working to destabilize iraq. introduce our distinguished panelists and provide information before turning to them for discussion. michael. [indiscernible] >> is this on? >> ok good. i want to introduce our analyst. and al is a senior fellow
senior intelligence office with 28 years of experience. he spent time working on iran's influence in iraq. iranians are interfering. [laughter] politicalassador is a activist. he is a founder of the iraq foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the support and promotion of democracy and human rights. >> we need technical help. ok. is that good? >> that is better. 2019 --november
[indiscernible] .epresenting iraq he is a senior fellow where he focuses on iran and iraq. resident and a fellow. before i turn it over to our panelists and i hope the mic is working, i want to make a few remarks. i hope this will friend the discussion today. that toy conviction is counter iranian power, we need to dismantle iranian soft power. with itso understand streams of messaging. power is a narrative of regional, indigenous
resistance against imperialism. it success is due two and lack -- its success is due to a lack of its -- [indiscernible] the alternative can be based on a unified measure. this is something that the ambassador will address. iraqis need to know the level of patients, bit by bit, story by story about every minister and every institution. this is something michael will look at as well. for the last bye-weeks, one and 200,000 iraqis across this country -- more than 200,000 iraqis across this country have been protesting. over 15,000 wounded. the protesters are angry about corruption, unemployment, and about iran's influence.
including secular use and working-class. i want to say that iraq and lebanon is part of a developing revolt by iran to protect its powers throughout the middle east. time istime, -- at this to listen to the protesters, listen to their demands, rather than at the behest of iran's minion. how do we do that? what about the limits of iraqi nationalism in this context? turning it over first to rank, iraqis have affirmed their desire to reverse the growing iranian influence in the country. what are the limits and challenges of the reemergence of
iraqi nationalism? it breaks a formula that was artificially influence after the united states invasion. thank you, patricia, thank you for the institution and hosting the event and hosting me. what is really extraordinary about the protests, it is now called the uprising and some people in iraq call it a revolution. is in bad debt and in the -- it is in baghdad and in the south. the thing that is really remarkable is the boldness of and the slogans they are raising -- and the
slogans they are raising against iranian influence. and against the political parties, including the malicious, that are deemed to be supported and encouraged by iran. i say this is extraordinary because it is very dangerous for these protesters. do don't openly rip down the posters of leaders, ripped down the posters of the militia leaders without fearing consequences. there are consequences. of resentmenteak attempts ofian controlling, and you spoke about soft power, there is in norma's economic control of iran -- there is a norma's economic
control -- enormous economic control of iran and this is something that has been suppressed for a long time. ofsaw this in the summer 2018. the sheer, it has reemerged -- this year, it has reemerged in a more powerful way and much more openly. this is really a turning point that shows true sentiment is. -- in she it reasons these areas in iraq, this is their way of controlling the question is, this is a popular protest movement, but it is against infringed political interest. principally, it is exercised by
our militias, who in theory and therint, follow the part of iraqi forces and come under control of the commander-in-chief, so was the prime minister, but in practice though, these malicious are not under such control. they are outside of the armed forces and they behave as a team. we have seen a reaction by these against -- we have seen a reaction by these malicious. have been in confrontation. have torn down posters and torn down the headquarters of the militia parties in a number of cities and so on and these malicious
have retaliated. from time to time, we have seen videos that clearly show the militia members, from their own headquarters, allegedly in self-defense shooting other protesters who are trying to storm those offices, so we really do have a change. that ise open defiance expressed by the protesters. you want to comment on this? >> i would agree with all of that, but i think it is going to be very difficult for the iraqi political establishment to disengage itself from iranian influence because they are so intertwined. that by a "new york times'" expose at how
deeply, financially they are intertwined. iraq does not like to spend a lot of money spending -- money building up networks. i think you always have to keep in the back of your mind, there is some sense that iran is the last resort. unclesort of the shiite who will come to your rescue if things really get unpleasant. and i think for the , the iraqion community has to become more confident and have greater national pried -- national pride. with iran is inevitable because the truth is, you know, if you put the iraqis, shiites, and iranians in the same room, the rainy and will be
-- the iranians will be acting more aggressively, which gets on your nerves. long-term, iranian but in theof iraqi, short term, i don't see an effective counterforce. certainly, the united states is not it. it is fair to say, the iranians largely beat the united states in iraq. i don't see that really reversing. mitt is largely a game among the iranians -- it is largely a game among the iranians. >> that is an excellent point that the united states has lost iran in iraq and the iraqis are trying to win it back. what is interesting about that is the lack of a strategy in
iraq has not been addressed by iraqis. it is happening now. they willing to push back against the status quo in baghdad with their lives. like they said does like you said, they are willing to die -- like you said, they are willing to die for these things, and basically standing in the square and protesting against simple things, internet, and a future prior iraqis want to see less and less of a military america all mistreated and less and less of a diplomat, want to see university professors, democrats, private sector investment in iraq and want a future. and this is an opportunity for the united states to get iraq right by doing with the protesters want, and that may be in action or nothing, but what they are asking for right now is international support and they're asking for the united states' government not to
support baghdad, and that is something we have seen. two weeks ago, the u.s. will supporting baghdad against the supporters. what is interesting, i got a chance to sit in meetings with strategists in a coalition in parliament,mbers of they were in agreement that this is not the time to engage baghdad. this is not the time to get a lifeline to his government. the is a chance to support protesters by putting a spotlight on it with international media. we know what the protesters want. they will anderson cooper in the square. it is simple. they want international media. their complaint is a should not be ok to kill 326 iraqis in baghdad and have the world not care because there was a
benchmark that you can kill 500. he cannot kill iranians without losing iran. but he can kill arabs in other places using iraqi militias. there are groups that were cultivated by the forces to deploy. 20,000 deployed to syria and they have had almost a thousand casualties, and now we are reports that the group are in baghdad. they are in small numbers, but they are there. this is something that is very concerning. while the iraqis are asking for is a -- but all the iraqis are asking for is a media spotlight, showing that people care. i got back from a conference
yesterday and everyone is talking about the protest in iraq. they are seeing the mismanagement of the economies in all three countries. they may not necessarily be against iran, but i would argue that it is because the mismanagement of the economy in iran, baghdad, and lebanon all tie to the main influences in these countries and we know who the main influences are in iran. state of law. party lobbiedw with another. . talking abouteen the same thing for the last four years. you see it coming and it is here. it is an opportunity now for the by simplyt iraq right
doing those two things. what is important, and i talked to an iraqi who knows this well, this gentleman right here, and everyone has blood on their hands in a rock. iraq andheir hands in iraq is asking for help here. >> just before we jump into that, i want to ask a follow-up question. with regard to the differences, can we talk about the differences between the groups when it comes to nationalism, and what is the risk of regionalism? [indiscernible] if i could backtrack a little 320 was weekse of ago. the recent figures is 450.
havetunately, we do not the statistics, but undoubtedly, the government is. they are not releasing numbers. my estimate is that it is over 450 by now. number, wethe 320 should always say this was weeks ago because we have to be realistic. in terms of what can one do, i would add that it is not just they want anderson cooper at "cnn." it is extraordinary that neither the un security council has taken up the issue. in human rights council geneva has not taken up the issue, yet we have had reports of amnesty international human rights watch, but they are not international bodies. i can tell you, a lot of the
protesters are now talking about the need for international, multi-national bodies to at least begin a process of accountability of investigation. because the iraqi government isn't doing that. and people are dying every day, and i can tell you that the intensity of violence against the protesters has actually increased just in the last week. i think there was now a push to completely quell the demonstrators. ant of like removing unmovable object, the unmovable force beginning the protesters, but i think the government now feels they really must crush this and end this and they are willing to go as far as it takes. so, these are things that we have done.
let's talk about nationalism because noel mentioned that earlier. the other thing that is salient in these protests is the that you findl everywhere in these protesters. they want a homeland. it is like a patrimony. it is something that you belong to, that you love them and that you are proud of. and and that you feel loyalty towards. and this is what they have been asking for because they have not had that in the last 16 years. one would argue they have not had that in the last 25 years or so, i may be going back, but now
wants a homeland to which they feel a sense of belonging and in which they can feel proud. that call has not divided baghdad. competent and has been throughout all the protest in all the areas. are there differences? and what does that look like? there are differences partly because bostrom feels far more deprived than any other province in iraq. theeconomic situation and services is far worse than it is in baghdad. bostrom always maintains that this is a double injustice because it provides 90% of iraq's revenue. problems contributes so
get to iraq's budget, they extremely little in terms of services -- goods and services, grievances an added in bostrom, and before the protest, there certainly was a sense of regionalism, and there were calls by the group for similar to theon kurdish region. authorities rights, , the quasi-independent the kurdish region enjoys. the people there, including politicians and professionals, wanted to re-create the same thing in their province. that regionalism was emergent. it hasn't emerged during these
protests. been in ahere, it has sense, the wave of the protest has emerged it. whether it will reemerge afterwards is not clear, but because there is this unifying of we want a patrimony, it may be a unifier in the long run, and it may actually be the alternative that we were saying that does not exist yet. it may become so. youe will turn it over to to comment. i want to ask about the role of the sunnis and why they are standing by presumably, the question being, what can be done to get the sunnis into the process and for them to define
these events for them? >> this question is asked a lot, but asked in a different way. while the sunnis protesting? there are several reasons, one of them is when the sunnis protested in 2012 and 2013, the from their government, they shot and killed them, and ofy accused the protesters being a conduit for isis, if you will remember. [indiscernible] they are rolled into one. >> just for emphasis. >> yes. ok. the sunnis are guilty until proven innocent. they do not want to come out and be accused again of isis.oducing ices --
all of the sunni provinces have just emerged from isis occupation. their cities and communities have been devastated, not as physical infrastructure, but the communities have been torn therefore,hed, and abilityility -- their to organize together is not there. i would add a third sector. protestingare because they consider the government in baghdad to be a shiite government. >> which it is. >> which it is. therefore the level of -- therefore, the level of expectation for their government is higher than the expectation of the sunnis from the shiite
government. so, there is an imbalance expectation. the shiite feels like this is our government, but what have they given us? they have robbed us. it is not exactly, and a sense, you were talking about shiite in terms of population. [indiscernible] >> i just wanted to jump in on that. what is interesting is the shiite protesters, there are two myths here. if he was the prime minister, it would not be happening. is the shiiteng youth are not tied to him. this is not an assad movement.
this was to show iraqis this is a guy we could move around. what is interesting to your point about this is the first time and when i have talked to sunnis and kurds in iraq, they don't want to protest because when they took a legal stance in the cook referendum, they were met with military force. this is the shiite youth for the 60% are under% -- the age of 30. they know what it is like to live under these conditions. one thing i'm hearing and i would like to pose this to the ambassador, is they want a presidential system partly want to be able to elect somebody with the popular vote in charge, and they don't believe the prime minister necessarily needs to be a shiite prime minister.
those are major changes. when i talked to the sunnis and kurds, they are sitting on the sidelines to see how much power the movement has. it can be sustained and can become an iraqi movement. they believe that iraqi should be free and those are big statements. the sunnis and the kurds will be hesitant to jump on board until the human rights council and other international organizations are in there. opportunity for international communities to take iraq away from iran finally. we don't have a coherent policy, but the iraqis may have one. i'm skeptical of anything
like that is going to happen in the short term. i mean, iraq is a deeply fractured place. i mean, i have the greatest sympathy for the folks down south. there are places in southern iraq where afghanistan looks a lot better. so, it is a very, very bad situation. that is the type of situation iraq can easily exploit. the whole political establishment and baghdad -- in baghdad is profoundly intertwined with iran. we certainly did not help by the way we conducted ourselves after we withdrew. so, i'm skeptical that the iranians will be disengaged anytime soon by an iraqi nationalist movement, although i think it is a very good sign, it is just one has to have patience here. developthis is going to
in aly and probably not very satisfying way. the uranium and their allies have already -- the iranians and their allies have demonstrated they are willing to use force. there is no factor on the other site capable of resisting that. so, i think we are going to have to wait this out and there are things people can do on the edges, and i think certainly, soft power loses when it comes head-to-head with hard power. there are things that can be , but it is difficult for the united states to do this because of their rhetoric so far. for example, we tend to talk, when we talk about the
middle east, we talk about iraq, iran, lebanon, and we tend to put the emphasis on economics, and that is completely wrong. i think economics and political factors are deeply intertwined and if you are going up and now, we're looking at another big call the what i will political reorientation of the potencyegion, and the representative of the government and democracy. those words are very difficult to articulate in the west, particularly in the united states where democracy promotions are out of fashion and one is exhausted by the middle east. but i think a serious mistake, and i would argue with what you are seeing across the region and has a particular shiite dimension to it, so i'm skeptical that we rhetorically are going to get this right. that doesn't mean we cannot do
certain things that can be .ighly helpful the hardest issue for me to deal with anything on iraq is what coercive measures are within the american toolbox that would be helpful? there are not many. i suppose sanctions would be one of them, but you would have to have that argument. >> there are a lot of things we can do. your point on patients. this is on inpatient response by the iraqis. they are tired of this definitely. they are finally taking this into their own hands. i believe there is momentum behind this. i believe this can actually work . iraqis are skeptical of what d.c. will do, and because of that, they are leading the way on this. as we learned in iraq, we use -- you have to look
at the problems through your eyes. it makes sense. this is an opportunity where iraqis are leading absent a coherent strategy from the u.s. and they are not asking us to do nothing then left though world this matters. i think there is an opportunity here. >> can i? first of all, there is more than just sending -- [indiscernible] -- i know this, may come up at some point about the u.s. really needs to stop dealing with corrupt iraqi politicians. now -- >> oh lord. [laughter] stopped or exposed -- if they stop or exposed corrupt officials, they would not have
to deal with any of it. just exposing the corrupt people, we would have an automatic change of government. for too long, the u.s. has been turn its fight away from the corruption that is going on. and the corruption that is going on and iraq is intimately dreadful economic situation, the lack of development, and to political ties to iran. all ofruption feeds these problems. so, i think corruption is an -- is an of u.s. important part of u.s. policy and should not be apart of this mild rhetoric that we are against u.s. correction -- we are against corruption.
that we have to remember when we say on any day, 200,000 people are protesting, we have to be careful about their demands so that people who want to presidential system, people who say, we don't care if it is to shiites, we really need come up with unifying demands because they are all over the place. they want to cancel parliament, they want to tear up a constitution. we have to be a little careful about taking all of these demands as core asks. >> one thing really quickly. 2007, general in pretorius had mcmaster put together a team and i was on this team to identify the corrupt officials in the iraqi government and those tied to iran.
we presented him with 50 names. he said, i can't do this. he would basically be replacing everyone in a position. it is the same situation now. i had a conversation with him about a rock, and he said, iraq is better than it has ever been. this was a year ago. i told him, sir, everything you told me to stop is on steroids now. militias actually have privacy now. it was a much different tone. i saw him this weekend in bahrain, and a much different tone, so that is good, so leadership is getting it now. those who work cheerleaders a year ago on a rock are now protesters. >> everyone seems to agree that the fact that the u.s. is needed. i want to focus in on one point if thehing out, which is u.s. ought once the
to deny the ability of iran to use undue force? that is a question. in other words, what can a u.s. do to help level the playing field from the protection of the protesters? we talked about corruption, but are there things we can hone into identify specific things the u.s. can do? given the fact the trust issue is a big one. the u.s. is not always trusted any rock which is something i believe you pointed -- the u.s. is not always trusted in iraq, which is something you pointed upright >> pompeo's statement starting toough, sanction individuals responsible for killing protesters prior we have argued that we can give five people right now to the u.s. government and say sanction these individuals, and change
military force to go after shiite militias. we hit shiite militias when they do something. were some that were lost at an air force base and we immediately counter fire -- and we immediately did a counter fire strike and killed members of the shiite militia. there are five people. it doesn't matter who the prime minister is. one state oftter law exist. the good thing is the u.s. doesn't have to do any of that. we can sanction individuals. that will send a strong message, but iraqis are burning down the offices of the individuals -- of
these individuals. they are tearing down their pictures and rejecting the message that you will hear from their leaders. problems been causing this whole time, and you have to pass by their offices to get to the prime minister's offices, and that is a big deal. i talk to someone and i said, what if i told there is a terrorist who has in office in baghdad -- who has an office in baghdad and has access to training and equipment? he said, how was that possible? will i told him his name and every time i ask someone why he still in position, they can answer the question. so, that is an individual that the iraqis blame for getting the militia to kill protesters. there are several things we can
do. a year ago when the protesters burned down the uranian consulate, -- down the iranian condemned them. we get easy wrong all the time and it is an issue for the u.s. when you go to baghdad and you talk to bad debt politicians who give you a new story. you go to baghdad and talk to military officers who give you a good new story. i have never been an american or iraqi politician. there is no general who ever said, things have been worse on my watch. you come back with these good news stories. you see it on the streets. one of the biggest problems, and i was an intelligence officer for years, and the biggest problem is the statement that "we have not seen that in ," meaning it
doesn't exist. that is the biggest problem. we are seeing this in real time and we are waiting for everybody else to catch up. and the iraqis cannot afford to wait. obviously isn't going to be any type of military coercion by the united states. that is inconceivable that nact --nt trump woulde t that.nac the pentagon is gone-shy. un-shy.a if you can't do anything else,
you can use sanctions. but i don't want to underestimate the value of using that more. i think it has some value, but we are hamstrung by that. again, i don't think president trump could do that. has donetary of state a better job, but still, you don't really have the impression that the united states invested in any type of coherent policy. at best, it seems like an afterthought. that is surly not going to change before the election -- that is certainly not going to change before the election. dohink what you could do is incremental things the embassy tries to do. i do think the idea of the united states actually being more aggressive on the issue of corruption in iraq and elsewhere
in the middle east has some value. everybody knows that everybody is corrupt. it doesn't hurt to give that a bit of detail. sometimes, these things can snap. so, i think that is a worthwhile endeavor. the united states is much, much better about handling that type of information than it used to be. i think you have to give the united states government, particularly the treasury department and elsewhere, some credit in being able to compile and investigate these things and they have become much more sleuth for with how they approach corruption. there was something to be said, to be done there. again, i don't think it is going to be earth-shaking. i think the issue here largely for iraqis, you know, it is whether the iraqis can develop a
leadership that isn't corrupted, that isn't tied or bonded to our ron and can stay alive -- bonded to iran, and can stay alive. staying alive is important. i would agree. thatld actually say is realion by the u.s. negative results. , and ithat you mentioned littlee that this is a bit of a controversial issue, most of the problems we have are madeade by iraqis by the iraqi political class,
it is put on by the u.s. because the post-2003 war was conducted in the way that the was allowed to happen or encouraged. is notr words, the u.s. seen in iraq is the most equitable, benign entity. i agree that one has to be very cautious in taking steps, if indeed the administration of president from has any thought -- of president trump has any thought of doing anything. showing that america is taking note of this and is sanctioning
these people. need, i repeat that we do some kind of international resolve on this. it is not just a u.s. issue. at least on the human rights' question, there has to be some kind of international response to the iraqis armed forces. caution.ust say, washington is the best policy as concerned by now. it is going to be very difficult . like you said, but there is a point beyond which cannot go in supporting it. >> just a clarifying statement, i did not mean to start killing iraqis in iran. changing theing
authorizing force with militias. department believes if we sanction their leader, it will be a unifying event for iraqis. to rest.s to be put that is not the case. simply sanctioning their leader, these groups is important. there needs to be a modification forces --olitical military forces. they have privacy in their security forces. these individuals, we cannot shiite -- we cannot trust the iraqi army. , liken as they do things intuitive director
who was fired, they are marginalized. , but theo identify national community should identify iraqis that can lead a nationalist movement. iraq thatduals in want a future, want a relationship with the west that is based on investment, private-sector, education, university because iraqis are identifying those. when i say iraqis, i mean the iraqi government. put the spotlight on those individuals. it is not hard to remember four activists who have been detained by the iraqi security forces or disappeared by the militias. that should not be difficult to remember two names. what we do not know their names, and we should know them, and i can honestly recite them, but
these people are dying and this is an important cause, and all it takes is a media spotlight. needs to be different than al thesea, sky news, all of entities are doing the right things, but they need cnn because they believe if that spotlight is put on the protest, then no one will care. on the protests, then no one will care. >> i was rereading the other op-ed, "new york times'" and my friend who worked under obama in the middle east and help shepherd the iran deal, and in that op-ed from 2007, he prognosticate it and said if trump were to reintroduce ends wouldand rainy
rally around -- iranians would rally around their leadership and united states will become the enemy. exact opposite of course happened. parallel thathat if united states decides to use sanctions, regardless of their efficacy, but decides to use them more aggressively against bad players, the one thing that we can be absolutely confident about is that iraqis will not rally around these individuals. certainly are is margin for maneuver there, and we do not have to worry about this type of an argument, which seems to predominate on the left, and it has no traction whatsoever on the ground. privilege i have the of asking the questions, i will
ask a difficult one. before opening it up for questions, but the question is are these protesters missing the point in iraqi politics? and what will iraqi politics look like a year from now? i would like each of you to answer. this is a sort of prognosis we are predicting. there are several outcomes. the protests have been going on for seven weeks now. the death toll is rising. they are several possible outcomes. that theble outcome is government and parliament will atld, and will implement least some of its demands contended to election law and someone, and therefore, there
will be a compromise on everything the protesters want, but enough for the protesters to go home. that would be sort of the rosie rosiest scenario.sie the other outcome is having a military coup in iraq, which i think is far more unlikely. have a military that is so organized and tied together that you can do that. in any case, it is not desirable. i think the region has had enough military coups over the last decade. the third scenario is the least likely.
it is that the regime will simply wear out the protesters. people in government and parliament are sitting at home, having their meals, you getting getting their -- salaries and their electricity. they have everything to lose and nothing to gain by yielding, and they can wait it out, and they can kill more people. brutality is coming. we have been witnessing it in the last week. changes,a few cosmetic in which i mean for example, there is a new electoral law being reviewed and parliament. it is a bit of a joke because it really doesn't satisfy the
legitimate demands of the protesters in any way, shape, or form. it is designed to maintain the influence of the political parties, and not to allow any new blood in. rely on the weather. meanwhile, do something slightly cosmetic, but nothing that will harm the political system. and i think that is the most likely scenario unfortunately. not a year from now, maybe next summer, we will see a reprieve with the protesters because no change will have happened. >> i will follow. next year, i will follow that poor. they will be better organized, they will be louder, and there will be a repeat of what is happening now, again on steroids. the one thing i am concerned about over the next year is the
u.s. fall for the cosmetic change, and that is something we continue to do. the united states' foreign policy establishment believes that the prime minister would've simply won reelection, let's call it reelection, none of this will be happening. all of this will be happening because it happened under him a year ago. and it is very concerning. protests die in darkness and darkness is the lack of the media spotlight and the internet. security forces are being more brutal now. they are using bullets -- militias are using bullets in these teargas cans. they just killed a protester with a rubber bullet yesterday. international communities say use rubber bullets, but you know? concerned that over the
next year, we fall into an election cycle and we continue to see this in the region, our geopolitical competitors are hoping for election outcomes at favor that, and in this case, a disinterested 2021 president that doesn't look at iraq doesn't look at syria or afghanistan as a priority instantly jumps back in the iran deal. i think a lot of this is tied over the next year to whether or not we get back into the iran deal. their behaviord in the region. you did not curve it. they built a land bridge. the best thing about building a land bridge is the protesters have occupied it. the protesters in iran are occupying the land bridge. this is the first time the
region is rejecting iran without a you was hand in it, which is great. we could only mess this up. we have to continue to look at the problems through iraqis' eyes, but make sure we are talking to the right iraqis. to your point for these movements having separate agendas, i think that is great. it is organic and it hasn't turned into one movement. itit becomes one movement, can attack other movements and become attacked. they is a strength that don't have a coherent message. that is a good thing. >> i want to ask him a follow-up question. with thet we started -- -- given that we started with the cables, how can we use that obtain that?
documents show the level of your rainy and infiltration -- show the level of iranian infiltration. it also shows specific individuals on the payroll. these are individuals we know inside of the intelligence community. there is an effort to get these translated. the people denying this is happening cannot deny it anymore. that is another positive thing. we have three categories in d.c., the cheerleaders, the cassondra's and the cautious decision-makers who say it is complex.
the same individuals in 2015 of the same individuals killing protesters now. .he same individuals -- they cane late move the program. this favor campaign is what iraqis are giving bad ted and the u.s. needs to follow -- are giving baghdad in the u.s. needs to follow suit. >> yeah, i mean, it is pretty hard. we don't have the perspective to know if he reached the tipping point in iraq. history.ial to modern you know, i would say, i would take a wild, wild guess and say
that it has been a very bad year for the islam and republic. i think you do see in lebanon and iraq and iran, most importantly, you do see a certain shiite distemper, certain state of the clerical regimes. i don't think that is going away. , thepeed of acceleration regime striking back, you know, , the carde shiites iran has largely played, is distinctly different from the revolutionary approach, which actually tried to seek out sunnis more than shiites. obtained ay have great deal of success, but it
might overreached its payback. and now, it has to deal with the after taste of that. on that note, i'm optimistic and i would say that if we are on have some typen translation, which is conceivable now, that has to be good news for iraq because it takes away one of the factors, iranian hard to see how factors in iraq has any positive side effects. so, if that happens, if we are seeing a weakening of iran's position through the region, then that is a very good thing. i am not unconvinced we are. it is possible.
i think what we have seen certainly in the arab-she had a , and onces cheer again, iran has erupted, and i think it is a mistake to view this islamic republic as stable. it is a very large cold era, and it could blow. and if it does, then the ramifications of that will be profound, and certainly for iraq, i would argue, it would be like a tidal wave. >> can i just say one thing? in talkingd why about iraq, we are always talking about iraq. the best waylways to think of iraq. iraq is not a function of iran,
as we often treat it in washington. and when we treated that way, we only reinforce an existing problem. iraqnk we need to think of separately from iran. that ats no question the moment there is a strong link. u.s. policy seems to be more focused on iran and the byproduct. iraq is one of the byproducts of the focus on iran. rightt think it would be to continue to think of iraq as a function of policies towards iran. >> demos are resonated with people in the department of
defense, the state department because they have not put them in the sphere of that influence. it is recently that your rainy and -- it is only recently that put back ine been that conversation. the narrative has been that of course they will have influence. canada is our neighbor, but doesn't pick our president. that it is back in the conversation because if you said that to anyone in the last several years, it would resonate with them because i have not heard anyone in the administration talk about iraq in the iran sphere of influence. it is a good thing we're talking about the level of iranian influence in iraq now so we can remove iraq, or help remove iraq from that sphere of influence. not the united states, helping the iraqis doing it and they are
doing it with their lives. >> thank you. i will open it up for discussion and for questions from the audience. please tell us who you are. wait for the microphone to get to you in keep it to a short comment in question. >> thank you for hosting these. as you know, there are tens in the now, demanding government's role and demanding an amendment to the constitution . the kurdish people -- just one
question now, do you believe there is a kind of agenda that is been playing political games? extent, it is related to the demands of iraq. [indiscernible] thank you very much. >> i have heard some concerns about what happens if parliament is dismantled, and kyrgyzstan will lose influence. i think that is the cost of freedom, the cost of liberation, the cost of liberating iraq from iran. if you dismantle parliament, you get rid of the current iraqi government and get rid of the laws. that would hurt the rest of
the kurds could object, but there is no obvious reason why improving the system should have an adverse impact on the kurds. no reason i could see. see. >> i just have a historical rule if it is possible for something to go rule, it will go wrong for the kurds. that is my historical rule. >> when you ask a question, i would urge you to directed to a panel or panelist in particular, if you could. texas. from austin, this question is for michael if anyone could jump in. if these protests continue, could you foresee a situation dedicate moreld
conventional or unconventional forces to put down the bailouts? >> what we are seeing now is it is primarily the ministry of interior that are tied to iran. i think they are getting their offices burned out, getting beat up on video. iraqis are not afraid to beat up captured fighters and execute them, that is where the violence can take the long road and help the government when they say this individual executed this militia leader in the back of an ambulance, but that is what happens when your government will not stand in to protect you . --hink we have already seen move into iraq and we have seen iraqi militias put down
protesters in iran. i keep hearing -- i have not been able to verify, but i have heard of multiple sources that of militias in syria moved into iraq and militias in syria moved into iran. these are afghan militia men paid by the secret force that receive military training and use it in syria and iraq and other places. the more the militias are involved in killing protesters, the more it will benefit the protesters, the more it will benefit the narrative that iran is responsible for these types of things. we need not confuse iraqi security forces when it comes to the ministry of interior forces. counterterrorism forces should not be used to go against protesters. these are the things we just need to highlight.
we have americans on the ground noticing any time an iraqi general hints at being out -- able to take out militias, that general gets moved out of position, goes away. that officer goes away and that is something we need to keep an eye on. >> obviously the iranians have a great deal of presence inside iraq. i am skeptical they try to replicate the kind of force structure they have in, say, syria. i don't think that would play well in iraq. i think they have to be sentiment andocal the possibility of severe backlash. that is not to say they won't continue to build bases. i think they are building bases .nd that is not going to stop enough to-- is wise
know his bad arabic can over go -- can only go so far. , i am with the media network, a kurdish news outlet to read i have two questions. -- outlet. i have two questions. alongralizing iraq geographical lines -- every authorityas its own like you have states in america. why haven't -- hasn't that been talked about? don't you see that could be a good solution for the problems in iraq today? and my second question is about the recent visit -- mike pence's recent visit to iraq. was a good he did not go to baghdad to meet face-to-face with the prime minister?
>> the problems we have in iraq are not -- did not arise because we did not have regions. they arose because we have a political class that is in cahoots with each other and pillaget to pledge -- the country and they simply won't give up power. money and power is closely intertwined. and this is not only true of the political parties who exercise power in baghdad for the provinces.in the governments in the provinces
are no less corrupt and power-hungry and unwilling to relinquish. , the demands for a region over the last several years, it has always been if we had our own region, we would not be so poor, we would not be so deprived, we would not be like the kurdish region. that is utter nonsense. government'sal l, equallyequally vena uninterested in delivering services. receivedself has billions of dollars to -- for reconstruction. they have been given authorities, they have not done
anything. , is not am, really question whether there are regions or decentralization, it is a question of a political system that is not there to serve anyone but those who are not in power. i think we should really begin to think very carefully about tos whole issue of how devolve authority while maintaining a certain level of accountability on the provinces. it doesn't exist in a kurdish region. i am not declaring any unknown -- any secrets when i say there is discontent in the kurdish region again also about corruption, about the fact the political class lines its own
pocket before it goes into -- intoe the money goes services and reconstruction and so on. answer.ism is not the it is reform you really want. >> the significant of pence's visit, i think it sends a message. right now, it is resonating inside the white house, at least the counter isis coalition was basically rubs france, germany, and england, now is not the time to legitimize the iraqi government, it is time to support the protesters. how do you do that? we don't know. this trip to iraq where the vice president visits american soldiers, it sends a message. it could be accidental, but the best thing about working in the
middle east, whether it is true or not, if iraqis believe it, you have to deal with it. i love perception. in this case, it works in our favor, in liberty's favor. >> a lot of iraqis and where you stand determines your perspective. a lot of iraqis say vice president pence came to iraq, it is disrespectful of all iraqis for the vice president not to go to baghdad. >> have we heard this? >> i have. -- may be the most prominent person who put out a statement. you have to also step over and turn around and look at the same .vent with different eyes
it is not a black-and-white case, there are different ways of looking at it and some people say this is not disrespecting the government, this is and it hasng iraqis to be very, very careful. >> i am hearing the opposite of that. there are rose-colored glasses. >> i am sure you are hearing iraqis on both sides. >> visiting baghdad sent the wrong message to the protesters, but this is the vice president. i have not heard the back channels yet. it sounds like it was an accidental success. >> it is a very tricky situation. >> right, right. consultancy firm and i recently moved to d.c.
you touched on the idea of having the international focus on iraq to see what is happening. over the best -- past two days, --qi banned media from what i see, i know the u.s. government is not interested in iraq, they are busy with impeachments and everything else and it is unfortunate for iraqis , this happening at this time because there is not enough light being put on iraq to see what has been happening. you may not have the answer, but congress ory to get the u.s. government to shed more light on what is happening in
iraq? i know for a fact some iraqi born european members of parliament have been taking some real cases, including the recent -- i don't know if you heard about the defense minister to the european parliament to debate what has been happening in iraq. fortunately, i have not seen any of that happening in the u.s.. do you have any idea how we can push that forward to the governmental organization within this country? not from a political point of view, but the ethical side, pluse have been dying, 400 -- 400,000 plus injured. how can we take that forward? imagine a democratic presidential candidate attacking donald trump and saying you aren't doing enough in iraq? that would be powerful if that
happened. i don't even know if it would be effective, i could see donald trump's response would not be helpful. >> i don't think it would have any impact domestically. you raise a good point. congress occasionally comes up with nonbinding resolutions and these nonbinding resolutions don't require any action by the u.s. government, but they express a symptom. i think a nonbinding resolution -- condemning and it has to be on human rights grounds -- condemning the violations of human rights in iraq. this is perpetrated by unknown forces who are likely associated with the isf. i think it doesn't have an impact in the u.s., but it has a good impact inside iraq.
if we are talking about the u.s. doing things that are cautious and can give moral support to people inside iraq, that could be one of them. >> if that is a conceivable isnario and i am not sure it -- that only happens if you bring up the iran angle, that is the key angle to bring up to galvanize specific supporting to --e any type of rhetorical these revolutions across the middle east, these protests are built for western democracy support, human rights
violations, suppression of the press, suppression of the internet and not allowing iraqis to express concerns. to gripe -- go after president trump, go after him here? why are you training and equipping a force dominated by iranian proxies killing iraqis ? there are tools we can use here. this would be built for democrat support and republican support if they both understood what was going on in iraq. time for one more. >> we have 6 more minutes. questions or i will just talk? i am just kidding. >> is there anything you would like to add? >> yeah, i would like to add
something. i know the intention of the u.s. called -- is it bandwidth is limited under the best of circumstances and even more limited right now because of what is going on in but we talked about what will happen in a year's time. one of the things i did not mention is my greatest fear, by the way -- ultimately, my greatest fear -- in a years time, the protesters will have learned their lessons and armed we will haved what in baghdad and the south between the militias and the protesters, which is an
extremely -- it is a dangerous situation for the u.s. because the south is where the oil is. i know we don't import oil anymore, but we still have an interest in the oil market being stable, oil flowing and so on. there is a potentially dangerous situation that could materialize in a year's time. the other worst-case scenario i -- if violence is in testified -- intensified right now, they will push for declaration of a state of and ancy, martial law by youd decree ordered know who. for thee consequences
u.s. not paying any attention at all. i think there are good reasons why the u.s. should look at iraq as iraq. actions -- inad action by the united states could cause problems. civil war happens when a government oppresses the people, kills the people, silences the media, takes away the internet, takes a city that exports 3.6 million barrels of oil a day and does not give it water, electricity, or the internet. that armed conflict you talk about a year from now -- >> possible. >> it is possible, but that will happen based on inaction action by the international community, based on bad actions, wrong
actions by the united states. this is a volatile moment and an important moment in iraq and whether or not this is a tipping point or whether we should be patient, i think your scenario militarye call in the the most dangerous course of action. when it turns into the most likely course of action based on inaction, we will have what you are talking about. if not next year, the year after that and we need to get to a place where when 2022 comes around, we identify iraqis that don't have political parties these, not a part of traditional organizations and that is the opportunity, to have the international community -- people that should care about iraq actually provide momentum for the iraqis that want their own voice tired of being tied to
religious parties or corrupt .arties >> on the other hand, i hear messages that are mixed in some ways because we are talking about intervention and treating iraq -- as its own case study, talking about what is possible and what is not with the inclination of what is not possible. at the same time, we are saying in a year from now, if we don't do anything, there will be armed conflict in iraq, which is significant. the question is -- to come back to your scenario, your rosie asked scenario -- rosiest scenario was the one that is basically the same with some
tweaks. where are we left? with thesically left best of the worse world or the risk of conflict? i am just being provocative. what are the other options? >> i think the reason we all have different views is because we have not seen a spotlight on this yet. if we put a light on what is going on in iraq and the international community looks at it, we will see opportunities. we will see solutions, but it is hard to see solutions in the dark, and that is bad guy --baghdad's goal. >> i think the issue is whether you can capitalize oil production in iraq. in tends to be discovered trouble spots. whatever the international community is, and i have no idea what that is anymore, i think
you can tolerate a great deal of mayhem in iraq. i is terrible for iraqis, but think we have already fundamentally practically ced ed. anda-vis the united states this struggle, i think we more or less have seated -- ceded iraq to iran. the israelis may fight, and they are, but the united states is not going to do that. i think oil, which is a blessing and a curse is a more interesting issue in iraq. mays not clear to me, you be able to tolerate high levels of mayhem and oil production .ill be okay
that is a big question. >> i think if you have been following the news, you have not followed the disruption of the oil industry in the last month. -- cannot can't denies cantonize it. > the oil company is remarkable how they are able to adjust themselves. if we discover the oil industry in iraq breaks down, then that will bring a spotlight. i am not convinced that spotlight will be helpful for all of iraq, but it will bring a spotlight to southern iraq. i think the disinterest in iraq will remain in washington and europe quite profound.
that is the reason for the protests. that is why iraqis are protesting and i will leave it at that. >> thank you to our panelists and thank you to our c-span audience. >> thank you, ambassador. thanks for doing this. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
live you missed any of our coverage, it is available to view online right now at our website, c-span.org. just type hudson institute in the video search box at the top of our homepage. a live look at the u.s. capitol, the house is not in session, but there will be a brief pro forma session with no votes scheduled. that will be at 2:00 eastern. when that is wrapped up, we go to the white house where a willent trump and melani continue the 30 year tradition of the turkey pardoning. two turkeys will be featured, bread and butter. you can watch that live after the house at 2:00 p.m.
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