Prospects for Peace at Home and Progress with Neighbors
Ambassador David Satterfield addresses The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum.
Ambassador Satterfield's public service career has included tours as ambassador to Lebanon as well as key Middle East affairs positions with both the State Department and the National Security Council. Formerly deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, he now coordinates Iraq policy at the State Department, serving as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Dr. Robert Satloff
Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute, a post he assumed in January 1993.
An expert on Arab and Islamic politics as well as U.S. Middle East policy, Dr. Satloff has written and spoken widely on the Arab-Israeli peace process, the Islamist challenge to the growth of democracy in the region, and the need for bold and innovative public diplomacy to Arabs and Muslims.
David Satterfield is an American diplomat who served extensively in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf, Lebanon, and Iraq. He now serves as a Senior Advisor on Iraq for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
To the Washington Institute, I am Rob Satloff, the Director of the Institute, I say thatbecause we are joined today by a viewing audience throughout the Middle East live viaAlhoora and I am delighted to welcome you all to the Washington Institute.Today it is a great pleasure for me to be able to host this special session on the prospectsfor Iraqi reconciliation in the context of the new security strategy being implemented inIraq, we are joined today by a colleague of many year standing, a gentleman with decadesof experience in the Middle East and here in Washington working on the Middle East,David Satterfield is one of Americas most experienced Middle East diplomats, his careerin public services included tours as Ambassador to Lebanon as well as holding keypositions here in the National Security Council and the State Department. He served asDeputy Chief of mission at the American embassy, the US embassy in Baghdad, and nowis the coordinator of Iraq policy and the senior advisor to the Secretary of State on Iraqissues. David speaks authoritatively, speaks with knowledge, speaks with great insightand on an issue as volatile as Iraq these are attributes that we hold in high standard. It ismy pleasure to turn the podium over to Ambassador David Satterfield.Thanks very much Rob, David appreciate very much the chance to talk to you today.What I have been asked to speak to is to move a bit away from the security side of whatis taking place in Baghdad, but to look at what we hope moves ahead in parallel to thesecurity efforts being made under David Petraeus's guidance, setting partnership withIraqi security forces. Because that security surge, that security press in Baghdad andelsewhere cannot by and of itself achieve lasting stability or security for Baghdad or forIraq as a whole. What it is intended to do is to help buy time, to buy space as otherprocesses on three other fundamental tracks move forward which can, if they arepursued with sufficient vigor by Iraqi's, if they are enabled and facilitated and assistedwith sufficient thought and vigor by not just the United States but also by Iraq'sneighbors, by the region as a whole, by the international community, can put Iraq on acourse of stability, prosperity, self sustainment, self-defense and ultimately produce forboth Iraqi's and for the region as a whole and certainly for us, a better more positivefuture. And those other tracks are political reconciliation, economic development andprovision of essential services and diplomatic engagement, all need to move forward.And our approach, our strategy, the President's "New Way Forward" articulated inJanuary, is designed to press on those tracks as the military process moves ahead to try tostabilize the situation both with respect to sectarian violence but also with respect to theinsurgency. Now, political reconciliation critical to any secure, stable, prosperous Iraq,how is it doing? How much are Iraqi's doing, how much are they bringing to thisprocess? Should we optimistic, pessimistic, somewhere in between?Well, first I will restate again, it is absolutely essential that a vigorous and comprehensivepolitical reconciliation process be pursued and pursued by Iraqi's. Iraqi's have to be inthe lead on this. The US, other allies and friends can want to see progress on this trackbut at the end of the day we cannot want it more than Iraqi's prepare themselves todiscuss, come to agreement, move and implement on the ground, this is about theirfuture, this is about their country, the issues in play here are issues that relate to theirpasts with each other and to some extent with their neighbors, they have got to come for in a reconciliation.Now, how if they don't? Certain progress has been made on political reconciliationrelated issues. A national hydrocarbon framework law which has both an economiccomponent to it as well as a political reconciliation component has been approved by theCouncil of Ministers, is being prepared for submittal to the Council of Representatives.The framework law is important for two different reasons. The first is substance of thelaw itself. It does represent a major step forward for Iraq in terms of developing ahydrocarbon sector which is not just open to investments from outside but which is muchmore open to greater productivity, greater development and exploitation inside Iraq. It's alaw which contemplates both Iraq at a national level in terms of management of both thesector and its resources but also management development exploitation and resourceexploitation at a local, provincial or regional level. And that's very much reflective of thecurrent reality of Iraq, a federal state with Kurdish region in the north and the potentialfor other federal regions to be developed in the future.We think it's a very positive thing; it's a positive thing for another reason, though. Itrepresents and repudiation of the argument that's often made that Iraq's divisions,sectarian, ethnic are so profound, they can never be transcended. That Iraq is doomed to afaith of adverse fragmentation and division, at best a very uneasy, uncertain and unstablegrudging coexistence. The hydrocarbon law represents a real compromise between Kurdsand non Kurds, between Sunni and Shiites, with in the Shiite community, with in theSunni community, and that's important. It's important to recall as we look at other issueswhere the dividing lines may seem quite profound if on hydrocarbons. Because the issueitself was seen as so critical to the future of all Iraqis irrespective of the ethnic or thesectarian identity that they had to get it more right than wrong, the same logic shouldapply can be made to apply to other fundamental issues as well. So it's an encouraging step.There are other measures on hydrocarbons which still need to be undertaken, includingresource management in terms of revenues. That's under way right now in terms ofdiscussion and debate, we hope very much in the weeks to come that a comprehensivehydrocarbon package can be submitted to the Council of Representatives for approvalearly this summer. Other positive steps, just yesterday, the Presidency Council submittedto the Council of Representatives for its consideration a de-Baathification reformproposal. There are several extant reform proposals that had been circulating in theCouncil of Representatives. But in the view of many Iraqis those proposals did not go farenough, they didn't go far enough to shift the focus on de-Baathification from criminalityby affiliation, exclusion from national and governmental life purely by the fact ofaffiliation with the Baath, to individual responsibility, individual criminality, individualresponsibility for specific acts committed.The new proposal advanced by President Talabani and the Council goes a considerableway to make de-Baathification reform move towards that personal accountability issue,away from affiliation as the key criteria for barring a return to participation in nationallife. This is an important reconciliation step as well, we are very encouraged by it, therewill undoubtedly be a vigorous debate with in the Council of Representative over thesemany conflicting proposals. But we do believe what the council has submitted representsa good way, a better way forward for Iraq. But there are other steps that are still out therethat need to be taken on the political process which together form the basis for a newnational understanding, a new national basis for not just coexistence, that's a de minimisrequirement, but for better cooperation towards a common future.There needs to movement forward on the provisions for provincial elections which wevery much want to see Iraqis want to see, by the end of this year. An electoral lawwhich is more open to free, fair, broad and representative participation by all of thoseinterested in advancing a peaceful political process. There needs to be work on adisarmament, demobilization and re-integration proposal for Iraq's militias unless youjust walk back a movement on where the security focus is today. The focus rightly todayis on confronting, stopping, isolating. Those elements of armed groups who are actuallyengaged in violence, intimidation and threat, that has to be the focus today, that's thepriority, stop the killing, stop the forced migrations, stop the violence, but it can't be theend of things. A political process needs to swing in and sing in properly. Once you havecleared, once you have secured populations in Baghdad and outside from immediatethreat, from immediate harm into getting at the roots of the organizations and the groupsthat are threatening and harming and intimidating. And that's where DDR process inevery post conflict state has proven over the last quarter century to be absolutely essentialwhether it's Northern Ireland or other models in Asia, in Africa or elsewhere. Thisprocess has to get underway. It has to be attended by an amnesty proposal and the rule ofmodern history around the world has been the more comprehensive and amnesty proposalis - in general the more the successful it is in bringing about national reconciliation. Themore restrictive amnesties are the less the impact is. This will be true I think - in Iraq aswell. These are difficult issues. De-baathification is an emotional issue; it's notan easy thing for Iraqis who have suffered under the baath to address. Amnesty willsimilarly be a difficult issue for Iraqis to contemplate and we understand that. But thegoal of getting at the roots of extra governmental armed groups of militias ofestablishing the government and only the government as having a monopoly on force, amonopoly on the gun that's critical. It's critical for Iraq as it has been critical for everyother conflict resolution process around the world and we have to move forward in Iraqas well. These are real challenges. They are challenges for a political leadership ingovernment and outside government which had many, many things to do with theenvironment, is not a calm one. It's an environment in which the challenged by terror andthe challenged by insurgent violence continues. Al Qaeda's tactic of attempting toprovoke over and over and over, Sectarian violence - as a means of in Zarqawi and hisfollower's mad vision but a vision which appears to have a terrible fascination for manyof a civil war - sectarian war that would result in the establishment of the Sunni Khilafatin Iraq. Still has resonance and that resonance is translated into those terrible images thatwe see almost everyday on our television screens of suicide bombers, of dead innocentIraqis. That's the back drop. The back drop is the Sunni insurgency which continuesto inflict harm above all. Not just on coalition forces, on US forces, on innocent Iraqisecurity forces but harm above all on Sunnis - on the fabric of Sunni life and Anbar andSala Ah Din and Diyala provinces. Sunnis are literally killing their own future throughthis violence and it has to stop. We are encouraged as we had seen over the last sixmonths, a movement of key elements in the conflict province most affected by theinsurgency Anbar and most affected by Al Qaeda violence Anbar. By tribal elements whowere responding to this killing by degrees of their life and their future moving against theinsurgency against Al Qaeda and that is something we very much hope continues. Butmore is needed here. And here we talk about the need for economic progress and forhelping assistance from outside Iraq. The Iraqi government must be made relevant againin the lives of the citizens. And that doesn't just come from pursuit of the national agendaon the part of Iraq security forces. It comes from a government which is seen as able andwilling to extend its central services to all of its people particularly those people mostprior to those services, storage, water, electricity employment. It's Baghdad, it's theconflict areas. Its other parts of the country where the central government isn't reallyrelevant anymore it's not that it's performing a negative role, it's just not performing. Wewant to see an Iraq in which local governance is as strong as possible because our modelour lesson has been local authority's tension know better. What is needed by the peoplein those areas that a central government does? Whether it's Washington or Baghdad? Butthat fact not withstanding. The central government does today in the near-term have acritical role to play on these basic essential services, the government needs to do more.Can the government do more? It has resources; the government has $12.5 billion inmoneys in its current accounts.Now we have gone to the congress and asked in the '07 supplement and in the '08 regularbudget request for almost $4 billion. That's an extraordinary thing to do. We will have acountry with billions of dollars in resources in its current accounts yet we are asking fortax spare moneys for that government. Why? We are asking it for a simple reason. Thegovernment of Iraq is not capable of executing a capital investment budget which movesits own extant resources to the places where those resources are needed. Not for politicalreasons, not for reasons related to the security situation but because it literally lacks themechanisms and tools to put its own money into play. This is not a sustainable situation;not for us, not for the Iraqis. What we are doing is focusing intently on giving the Iraqisthe skills - the tools they need to execute their own budget particularly on capitalinvestments. Why are we asking the Congress for this extraordinary level of assistancebecause we believe it is so vital to move now in a real time '07 context. Critical moneysthat help stabilize the clear and secure phase of our military plan to translate that into athird phase built. Build Iraqi presences, build social services, build economicopportunities that capitalize on what the military have done to stabilize and secure. Thisis classic counter insurgency strategy. It is very much the approach which Dave Petraeusembarked upon, it is a critical part of the toolset he will require. But it's bridging and it'stransitional in its very character. It is looking at '07 as a year in which Arab moneys helpto jumpstart and push forward the bill part of clear secured bill. As Iraqis come in asquickly as possible with their resources and more importantly, we help, the InternationalCommunity helps Iraq built its capacity to execute its own budget. So that when Iraq as ithas done passes a budget with $10 billion, assigned for development and reconstruction itactually can move those moneys. And that in '08 when we speak to these issues, a yearfrom now to the Congress, to the American people. We don't have to say that theministry of Oil had $3.5 billion in its capital investment budget, real money which wouldhave tripled, the amount of return of those $3.5 billion over a one to two year period interms of increased exports and productions, but it couldn't spend more than six percent ofthose funds because it didn't not know how to execute a budget. You can say it once, youcan't say credibly again. This is got to be a fundamental Europe budget execution profit capacity.We turn now to an issue that shifts the focus away from the US to the neighbors of Iraq,to the broader Middle East and to the International Community because they've got a roleas well and a critical role to play. And a role which is not on the whole been played in amanner which has been supportive of the peaceful, stable, prosperous Iraq and a goodneighbor to all of those in the Middle East and ally in the war against terror. Iraq needshelp. We are committed, the administration, as the coalition is committed to providinghelp in this bridging transitional fashion on security; on economic issues. But the regionhas to step forward, Iraq's neighbors have to step forward and so does the broaderInternational Community. And let me walk from that outer ring, the InternationalCommunity back down to the neighbors.Last week in New York, the text of the International Compact for Iraq was formallyclosed. This is an extraordinary document because the product of almost a years worth ofdiscussion and negotiation within the government of Iraq, between the government ofIraq and the World Bank, and the UN as an institution. It has had the active participationof a number of key states, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, othercritical neighbors and friends of Iraq who have together created not just anextraordinarily forward looking document which lays out an economic and developmentcourse for the Iraqi nation but which also contains commitments and pledges on security,on a national agenda with respect to political reconciliation, an overall vision of Iraq as astable, peaceful, prosperous entity. It's more than just a good document. Much of thatdocument on the economic side has already been implemented or is being implemented.The Iraqis did not wait for the formal closure of the text. Because of the importance oftaking steps on an investment law on hydrocarbons, on removing subsidies from fuels andproduct, Iraq has moved forward consistently over the last year on these basic economictrade and commercial issues at a more vigorous pace than it has on other questions, andin that we find a source of encouragement.But Iraq needs support in response to these measures from outside. The purpose of thecommitments Iraq has made in the compact is not just to send a roadmap to its owngovernment, to its own people about where the state is going but also to elicit from thebroader international community, meaningful public and private sector support. Now inMadrid, it seems many years ago, over $31 billion were pledged by the internationalcommunity to the Iraq in terms of grants, soft loans, debt forgiveness. Some states havecome forward very generously, the UK, the European Union, Japan with commitments.Others have not, debt forgiveness by the key gulf debt holders has not moved and it needs to.The international community, the region, Iraq's neighbors need to tangibly demonstratetheir support for a stable, peaceful and prosperous Iraq. We hear and we listen to theconcerns expressed by many of Iraq's neighbors, many of whom are good friends of theUnited States, that they are deeply worried about the growth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, thatthey are deeply concerned at negative Iranian influence spreading in Iraq. These are realconcerns, we understand - we are sympathetic with them. But the way to address theseconcerns is not by turning ones back on Iraq, it is not by walking away, it is not byisolating a moderate government as it pursues a national, not a sectarian agenda. That is aguarantee for the outcome with which those states are so rightly and we are so rightlyconcerned. They need to do more. We hope that through the process of moving forwardthe international compact and the other process which has just moved underway, aregional engagement by Iraq's neighbors and a broader collective of the internationalcommunity a preparatory meeting for which was held on March 10th in Baghdad, that wecan see a positive, constructed and tangible supportive relationship between Iraq's friendsin its neighboring familiar in the broader middle east and the internationalcommunity, that has been the case in the past, we want to see this process move forward,Iraq wants to see the process move forward. We hope very much there can be ministerialmeetings of Iraq's neighbors and associated international partners and of the internationalcombat participants in the very near future, perhaps in the weeks ahead. This momentumneeds to be sustainted. It is a positive regional engagement. Something else is neededfrom Iraq's neighbors.Syria and Iran had not contributed constructively to a stable, peaceful and progressiveIraq. They have not helped in addressing the concerns felt by innocent Iraqis subject toviolence indeed, in both cases, either actions or inactions or a combination of the twohave contributed to the suffering in that country. And have contributed, in the case ofIran, very immediately and directly to the death of American soldiers and coalitionsoldiers. This is not a situation which can be allowed to continue. Iraq has made clearusing both direct channels and the vehicle of this new regional engagement, to make clearto all that its sovereignty, its borders, its desires for peace at home need to be respected,that it welcomes positive relationships with all of its neighbors as indeed do we. But thatneighbors who wish to have a positive relationship with Iraq must do so on the basis ofmutual respect, for sovereignty and for the integrity of borders, and we think that's a verysolid basis for a positive relationship to emerge.The US has its own bi-lateral issues with Iran. The US has broad concerns over activitiesand inactions taken by the government of Syria. And we hope those concerns areaddressed seriously with respect to the challenge posed by Iranian engagement - stateengagement, in providing explosively foreign projectiles, other material, training, whichare being used by Iraqi elements to attack, to kill US forces and we have stated I thinkas clearly as we can, that we will not stand idly by and allow those attacks to continue.We will act to defend, our forces, those are actions which we believe very much can bepursued in the context of Iraq and not more broadly. But we would hope that Iranunderstands that they cannot continue these activities unchallenged, that if there is abelief on the part of the government in Teheran that the United States will not respond,that they are wrong, there has been a response, there will continue to be responses.We would hope that the Syrian Government understands well that its rhetoric which isquite clear of support for a peaceful stable prosperous Iraq has been matched by actionsand above all first and foremost they stopped the transit across the Syrian boarder ofJihadists who are committing those terrible acts of violence which are killing innocent Iraqis.90 percent of the suicide bombers today as over the last several years are not Iraqis, theyare foreigners. And while the mix of which countries are providing those bomberschanges as the months and years change. A fact that hasn't shifted over the years is thatsome 85 to 90 percent of all suicide bombers come across one boarder that of Syria.There is a reason for that. It is not coincidental. They see Syria as a more accommodatingcountry through which to transit across this boarder to come into Iraq to perpetrate theirterror that has to stop. It is not in Syria's long-term interest to see this violence continue.It needs to be brought to a halt. Are we optimistic? I'm often asked. The answer is yes.We are optimistic cautiously so of course. Nothing is assured in Iraq. Success in thatcountry however, success is defined depends first and foremost on Iraqi actions. Wewill do our part. It is why we have asked congress to provide the support on the militaryand on the civilian side that we need that our commanders need that the mission needs tosucceed. But at the end of the day all of that support can only enable and facilitate andassist Iraqi lead and Iraqi actions. We have seen positive changes in Iraq's leadership, wehave seen a national agenda being pursued more vigorously than in the past that is veryencouraging but much more on political reconciliation, on economic development andprovision of the essential services needs to be done and much more needs to done interms of mobilizing the positive response the positive engagement of all of Iraq's neighborsof the region as a whole and of the international community but with that we do believesuccess in Iraq is possible and the stakes of that success for the United States here inAmerica are so significant that we believe every possible effort needs to continue to beexerted to see that the positive goal is achieved. Thank you all.