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Good afternoon and welcome to today's meeting of The Commonwealth Club of California. I am Mary Bitterman, a member of The Club's Board of Governors and President of The Bernard Osher Foundation. It is my pleasure to introduce our distinguish speaker Mr. Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi. Mr. Allawi, born in Baghdad, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He did Post-graduate studies in Regional Planning at the London School of Economics and then obtained at Masters of Business Administration degree from Harvard University. Mr. Allawi was active in the opposition to the Baathist regime in Iraq from 1968 onwards. He spent a number of years in finance and various positions outside Iraq including a position at the World Bank. In 1978 he co-founded Arab International Finance Merchant Bank based in London and in 1992 he founded another financial group which manages to hedge funds. From 1999 to 2002 Mr. Allawi was a Senior Associate Member at St. Anthony's College, Oxford University. Mr. Allawi was Minister of Trade and Minister of Defense in the cabinet appointed by the Interim Iraq Governing Council from 2003 to 2004. And then became Minister of Finance in The Iraqi Transitional Government from 2005 to 2006. His book "The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace" was published this year by Yale University press. Ladies and gentleman please join me in welcoming Mr. Ali Allawi to the podium. Mr. Allawi. Thank you very much for this introduction Mary and good after ladies and gentlemen. When I first went to Baghdad; it was not really my intention to write a book. I went there to serve and to try to see how we can reconstruct a new order, a new system in the country of my birth and to try to break the cycle in this history of violence, depression in wars. Iraq has been one of the most invaded countries in the world and over the last several millennium it has been the battle ground for all kinds of civilizations, army's passing through from the Babylonian, Assyrian days right through the pre-Islamic period. And then it was a center of the Global Empire, the Abbasid Empire which stretched on the Atlantic to India. And was then the center of the civilized world. So it has a very long and tumultuous legacy. But towards the middle period, the Middle Islamic period sometimes along the 13th 14th century Iraq sank into obscurity, as a forgotten problems of the Ottoman Empire only to reemerge after World War I, after the break of the Ottoman Empire as an independent nation state. As a monarchy which was to their large extent the creation of the British and outside monarchy the king was imported, a great that might had imported from what was then the Hejaz northern Saudi Arabia and put on top of this country which has, which had in it and continues to have a mosaic of peoples and nations of ethnicities and sectarian groups. This country was never united or ruled as an entity within these present geopolitical boundaries prior to World War I. In some cases people may think that this is a contrived country, it's a country that has been created out of, the request of the Ottoman Empire and therefore it does not have the (indiscernible) those of being a nation. But the reality in my mind is small complex as everything in Iraq. So a brief survey of our modern history which show that the country was ruled by a small minority attached to the ruling kingdom, mainly drawn from the Sunni Arab Community, which presided over a majority population that was Tribal Arab and Shia, with the significant non Arab component in the country the Kurds. This kind of imbalance was accepted to a very large degree; by nearly all the main political elites that form the political class of pre republican Iraq. It was based on a type of a unwritten agreement that the Sunni Arab community would maintain their control over the main organs of the state as it were, would maintain that control over the key positions of power, but would allow the more ambitious Shia elite a place in the political order and would allow them some space within which they could play out their political ambitions. The other side of the equation was that the state or the government would not infringe on the institutions of the Shia in Iraq, educational, cultural, mercantile the Shia were very important business men in the 19th, throughout the 19th and 20th century. But above all it could not encroach on the religious institutions, the so called (unidentified) or the Supreme Religious Council of the Shia which is identified and identifies itself where the legacy of Shia Islam, it is very difficult to think of Shia Islam without thinking of the clerical or religious leadership. This system was shaken by the coup of 1958 which drove me and my family to exile. My own family, my extended family had been involved in the History of Iraq, since it's foundation with Ambassador's, Minister's, Governor's, Senator's, that came to an end in 1958. And I left Iraq into what was then a useful. Within a few years my own family made their peace with the new republican order and they came back into Iraq. I continued to study aboard but as a student I was an exile. And then the coup of July 1968 which brought the Baath Party into government, made it clear to me that a chapter has ended in the Iraq's history. Because the Baath was determine to impose its own totalitarian rule over the country. And in a kind of modernizing project, they wrong rough shot over all the institutions of Iraq's civil society. And particular they began to declare war, at first quietly and then more openly, embarrassingly against the main props of the Shia identity in Iraq. And throughput the 1970's they encroached more and more on the, not only on the state but on the society. There was a near successful interruption by the (indiscernible) and in mid 70's which ended in tears as the Shah of Iran withdrew his support from the Kurdish minority from to that might add by Henry Kissinger and by shifting US policy towards Iraq. So this was the first serious experience of Iraq had with the United States, prior to that we were part of the anti-communist, Baghdad back alliance. But the US was an observer, rather than a active well it wasn't active member, but it was an observer of the pact. Throughout the 1970's there were few Iraqis in exile and most Iraqis basically accepted the terms of the new relationship with this centralizing tyrannical party but which one, which also presided over a huge expansion in the Iraq's revenues and it's oil base. And in 1970's we are seeing many days and many places has been as it were the (indiscernible) days of Iraq. That ended in the end of the, decade of 1970's. Well we had Saddam Hussein who was then a main player in the firmament of Baathist political leaders, assume power. And he then began to instill a new kind of order, not a party order driven by an ideology but rather a personal dictatorship based on his own family, his own region and his own tribal, affinities. Then we had another tremendous event which colored the Iraqi history and colored the development of the political apposition and that was the Iranian revolution which created another class of refugees that expanded the base of the Iraqi opposition in exile. Throughout the 1970's Saddam also began to take very serious measures against the Shia clerical leadership and the Shia Islamic parties which culminated in the execution in 1980 of Grand Ayatollah Baqir al Sadr. This was the first time in modern history that a person of that stature was center to the hang (indiscernible). In the 1980's Iraqi opposition was built around exiles of the Islamic parties, a few smattering of liberals and democrats and Kurds. And the fortunes of the opposition rose and fell with the outcome of the battles between Iraq and Iran. But I think the opposition was very poorly informed because the entire world was supporting Saddam then and not only the regional powers but also the United States and the scale of this support that was given to Iraq and the Iraq-Iran war become when he clear afterwards. When the war ended, it ended with a terrible massacre genocidal massacre of the Kurdish; Kurdish population of Northern Iraq the infamous and file campaign, there was not much of an opposition we are speaking about. This again took another twist after his misadventures; Saddam's misadventures in Kuwait were the United States was now drawn in rather than a defender of the Iraqi regime but now is its nemesis and we all know what happened and Iraq was expelled from Kuwait. But the result of the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait did not lead to the desired result of overthrowing the regime for verity of reasons. Mainly to do with the fear of the connection between the Shia and the Iran, the Western Army or the US army did not march on to Baghdad. And hoped for a coup de'tat that would maintain the poly structures of Iraq relatively intact. At that point the Iraqi opposition which was forgotten for long, we were not allowed to, the US state department was not allowed to establish contacts with the Iraqi opposition until the Kuwait war. This was suddenly had another lease on life; and this time we had huge numbers of people who came out of Iraq as a result of the terrible violence and depression that Saddam use to quell the uprisings of March 1991. So throughout the 1990's the Iraqi opposition in one shape or form was becoming, drawn in into the US confrontation with Saddam. Two very important events happened in the 1990's which were not really given due credence. But which played a very large part in affecting the political landscape after the invasion and occupation/liberation of Iraq. The first one is as I said earlier the violence used to quell the uprisings, nearly 300,000 people, Shia Arabs were killed and this documented not only by Human Rights Watch Amnesty International but also by physical evidence of exhumations of mass graves. It fundamentally affected the psyche of the Shia and made them, in the past they may have been partly loyal to the state, certainly loyal to the country. This time I think they lost their loyalty to the state and continued of course to be loyal to the country. So when the American army moved into Baghdad in April 9th, they came into the country that had been really terribly rocked by not only wars, the Iran Iraq war but also by the violence used by the regime that there is various segments of population as well as the sanction period of the 1990's which destroyed the fabric of the Iraqi society, basically destroyed the middleclass, and the middleclass or the existence of the middleclass was the backbone of the US project if there was one. And the backbone of the liberal democratic project, liberal democratic Iraqi project if there was one. Without a middleclass it would have been next impossible to establish a democratic order that could be routed in society. None of this was taken into account frankly in all of the opposition conferences and seminars and meeting that we had either independently or at the US administration. The US administration contrary to what people think was not really influence by the Iraqi opposition. Especially some names (indiscernible) his affect on the US policy, this is really I think putting the cart before the horse. US policy was driven in by people of Washington not by visual thinking and representations of the Iraqi opposition. But I could sense even that later day, when we came clearly that the United States was going to embark on the invasion and occupation of Iraq that there was no coherence, there was no structure to the American Project. The history of weapons of mass destruction really it didn't feature whatsoever and are thinking of Iraqi figures before the war. To us it was just a very good excuse to have the United States on our side and get them to do the heavy lifting of over therein a regime which would be an impossible in my opinion to over front and then the other way. The Iraqi opposition simply did not have the evidence to do that. All was, we were not given the evidence to do that. So when the American army entered Baghdad four years ago we felt that we were going build a new democratic liberal order based on notion or citizenship and that would be inclusive based on the notion of the tolerance society. And we were rudely shaken by what we saw there. The CPA which came into power in Iraq as a result of the failure of the first American led administration of Iraq, the so called (indiscernible) which was led by General (indiscernible) came into Iraq really not knowing what to expect, not knowing anything about the country but still guided the midst of the existence of this ephemeral middleclass and through a constant reputation of notion such as liberty, democracy, human rights, things like that, they thought they will into the country a kind of west leaning fertility. What happened was at the CPA become increasingly more, disoriented, increasingly more incoherent and the entire American project in Iraq began to falter very, very early on. In writing my book I kept a diary which was really very important tool for me in remembering and trying to reconstruct events and my responses to them. And I remember writing in October 2003, just after an attack on Wolfowitz was then staying at the Rasheed Hotel inside the Green Zone that this project is going to fail. It is going to fail because of the, there was no structure to it, there was no end purpose to it and it did not seem to be something that had a specific end result to which the United State was going commit itself, commit its power and the Iraqi opposition very quickly timed into fractions that were vying for power and seeking to establish the relative power vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â -vis each other why abandoning the notion of creating a kind of common vision for the country. The milestones that we imposed on the political process, primarily as a result of the domestic American political pressures, these specific milestones, transfer of sovereignty to Iraqi government before the end of June. The elections to be held before the end of January 2005, a constitution to be negotiated by August 2005 and a referendum to be applied in October 2005 and another set of elections in December of 2005. All of these were milestones that were imposed on a very unstable political foundation, a very unstable and shifting political foundation. Not taking into account the enormous consequences that arose inside Iraq and in the region as the result of the American invasion and occupation of the country. It basically up ended power structures that had been in place for decades if not centuries and created a situation inside the Middle East where countries had to recon with the transfer of Iraq from one category of country to another category of country and had to recon with the presents of large American troops and the effects of these troops on their own internal security. The transfer of sovereignty which was supposed to put into place a more responsive Iraqi government, in fact deepened in many ways, the device inside the country, deepened the fishers inside the country. And set the times of politics rather than in times of issues but more in times of ethnicity and sect. Now whether this was inevitable or not, in given the history of violence of the state against its own population and the history of discrimination and advantage and disadvantage as another issue. But the terms of politics were set in a specific way as a result of the, this milestone approach. By the time the constitution was being negotiated, it became clear that this was not a document, it is going to be a kind of founding national compact that you had in this country with the your own constitution. It was more a series of deals that were broke up by the political figures, each one trying to maximize his group or his particular sectarian or ethnic perspective. In fact the constitution if true to be told was written effectively in less than 4 or 5 weeks. It's literally, inexplicable given the nature of the problems of the country. Many cases that went through and the elections of December 2005 set basically in concrete the nature of politics which is going to be driven by sectarian and ethnic considerations. What we have now is a situation where it is very unlikely that you can overcome the results of one of the few positive results or affects in the Iraq of the overthrow of the regime. If we make a balance sheet along side of course the huge advantage to Iraq and Iraqis a removal of the dictatorship and the tyranny, of empowering certain people who were disembarked and giving rights that did not exists before. Maybe these rights are only couched in technical or theoretical terms. But they have set the framework I think for future political structure of the country. But if you compare it to the other side of the equation these are the positive. If you compare it to the other side of the equation of course you see violence, you see mayhem, you see killings on the huge scale, you see endless terrorism and outrageous and bombings, population displacements, refugees and new refugee crisis emerging. And you wonder whether the whole thing really holds together, whether one would cancel the other out. Before what was in my mind a very clear and consistent reality which is actually as we always through a tyranny, we always through a dictatorship and we empowered, the groups were disempowered. Overtime became whittled away by the missteps and just simple incoherence of all the policies that were pursued by the United States and the narrowness and the self-centeredness of the Iraqi political class that emerged to act as interlocuters. There is a huge range of issues now that need to be looked out from the Iraqi perspective and they range from the political securities issues, economics issues, constitutions issues, institutional issues, each of these are enormously complex and have their own range of problems, their own range of complexities. For example if you look at the security problems facing the government right now, we have issues like the surge, we have issues like civilization, we have issues like the state of the military, our own military the capability on the Iraqi military to confirm this challenges. The insurgency what is the so called nationalist or "legitimate insurgency" what scale is it, we have this issue of Al Qaeda and terrorism. The political fissures inside the ruling political condition is also extremely problematic and has recedes in my mind of further conflict. Well then the Shia ruled between the Shia's and the Sunni's and so on. The certain fundamental questions that need to be asked can these two main communities, the Shia's and the Sunni's the Arab's, they are both Arab's. Can they coexist in the context of Iraq? We now know I think that the clots have opted out of any other identity apart from their own national identity. So to get to think them in Iraqi context you may have to coach them over a long period of time to do that. Can the Arabs of the region, especially the Sunni Arab powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey to some extent, its not a non Arab country, can they adjust to the changed realities inside Iraq. Can Iran which has been in part undoubtedly has seen this part and influence expand as a result of the overflow of the regime. And as the result of the reweaving of the nexus of this relationship with the Shia of Iraq, can the Iran's power be somehow contained accommodated or in somewhere or another adjusted, and how does US fit into all of this. I mean ultimately we have to ask ourselves what this United States want from Iraq after this terribly expensive investment. Terribly expensive investment in money and not let alone that blood that has been shed. We are talking about nearly probably a trillion dollars would be spend by the United States after this exercises is over. What do you get out of that and what do you want from Iraq after that? I mean if you take the entirety of Iraq's oil production for free for the next 50 years and probably would not compensate for the trillion dollars that would be spent on this war. We have to ask ourselves what this, what are realistic goals that the United States expects in Iraq. And how the imbalances inside Iraq partly created by the United States, partly created by the failure of the Iraqi political class. How are these going to be accommodated and adjusted and a new order that would ensure stability inside the country and that would give the region, regional powers some element of concern, some element of safety about their concerns. All of these I think are issues that are enlarged by the reductionism that comes from talking about whether the surge will succeed or fail or whether the United States should keep or pull out it's troops. These are obviously very important and maybe the only important issues for the United States as of today. But from the Iraqi point of view, I ask myself when and if United States decides what it does decide, does it take into account what it had done, the consequences of what it has done and how the region and the Iraqi people going to adjust to that. Without really knowing how all this is going to fit together, I think this reductions argument will really yield a very little results from an Iraqi perspective except more insecurity and more instability. Thank you.