U.S. Defense Official: Israel Not Threatening to Attack Iran in Near Term.Byline: Joyce Karam
As the Obama administration embarks on the different sets of defense challenges it faces in the Middle East, particularly ending the war in Iraq and containing the Iranian nuclear ambitions, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl explains in an interview with Al-Hayat, Washington's strategy in addressing those issues. Kahl, who participated in high level delegations to Israel and Syria this summer, says that Tel Aviv Tel Aviv (tĕl əvēv`), city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest despite its reservations about U.S. diplomacy towards Iran, "has not threatened to launch military attacks in the near term", and sees withdrawal plans from Iraq still on track and unaffected by the last signs of violence.
Following is the Q and A:
-What do you make of the security situation in Iraq, in the wake of the bombing we saw last week?
Obviously, we are following events closely and troubled by the violence last week. However, we still need to keep it somehow in perspective, the number of attacks is substantially lower than they were couple of years ago, and there is no pattern or cycle feeding on itself. Thus far, even with these periodic high profile attacks, we haven't seen people lose confidence in the Iraqi security forces Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) is the Multi-National Force-Iraq umbrella name for the military and police forces that serve under the Government of Iraq.
The armed forces are administered by the Ministry of Defense (MOD), and the Iraqi Police is administered by the Ministry of or turn into the militias, and engage in ethno sectarian sec·tar·i·an
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sect.
2. Adhering or confined to the dogmatic limits of a sect or denomination; partisan.
3. Narrow-minded; parochial.
1. retribution RETRIBUTION. 1. That which is given to another to recompense him for what has been received from him; as a rent for the hire of a house. 2. A salary paid to a person for his services. 3. The distribution of rewards and punishments. . The bombings, nevertheless, will be a wakeup call Wakeup Call is a morning radio program produced in New York City by the WBAI station of the Pacifica Radio Network. The program is hosted by Deepa Fernandes and airs Monday through Friday. for the Iraqi security.
-Do you think the Iraqi government was overconfident o·ver·con·fi·dent
Excessively confident; presumptuous.
over·con in its security capabilities?
I think the jubilation in Iraq on National Security Day after the repositioning repositioning Laparoscopic surgery The changing of a Pt's position during a procedure to improve access or visualization of the operative field, which may be linked to complications, as it changes anatomic planes of operation. Cf Laparoscopic surgery. of U.S. forces out of the cities (on June 30th ) was genuine. That is what success looks like. We always knew there will be good days and bad days. While, the Iraqi forces have performed very admirably, millions have gone to the pilgrimage safely, they'll have to make some adjustment to their tactics. I suspect that if there is some degree of complacency, the Iraqi security cannot afford to be complacent com·pla·cent
1. Contented to a fault; self-satisfied and unconcerned: He had become complacent after years of success.
2. Eager to please; complaisant. .
-What does this mean for the US withdrawal plans?
It is important to remember that the contours Contours may mean:
The peak to trough decline during a specific record period of an investment or fund. It is usually quoted as the percentage between the peak to the trough.
Notes: in 2009 recognizing that there is still challenges, and so as to have a robust presence to assist in the elections in January 2010. Once the new government gets seated, we would accelerate the drawdown.
There is nothing that has happened in Iraq so far, that caused our commanders to fundamentally alter their recommendations to the Secretary of Defense or the President. We do, nonetheless, have an agreement with the Iraqis, and if anything is to be fundamentally changed in the timetable, it will come upon the request of the Iraqi government. Nothing so far has put us off plan.
-How do you assess Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's job?
When Maliki first came to office in 2006 there were questions about him from inside Iraq, and candidly from inside the US government. If you recall former NSC NSC
National Security Council
Noun 1. NSC - a committee in the executive branch of government that advises the president on foreign and military and national security; supervises the Central Intelligence Agency advisor Stephen Hadley Stephen John Hadley (born February 13, 1947 in Toledo, Ohio) is the current U.S. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (commonly referred as National Security Advisor) for President George W. Bush. memo that was leaked to New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times, had expressed doubts about him. Since 2008, however, we have seen a stronger and more confident Maliki. The way he went after the Mehdi Militia, in Basra, Sadr City This article or section may contain a proseline.
Please help [ convert this timeline] into prose or, if necessary, a . , and later in Ammara, revelead not only confidence, but also a willingness to go after the Shia militias. A lot of Iraqis saw that as a turning point about him, in becoming a national leader, and not favoring one sectarian group over another. In the provincial elections as well, he ran on a national platform. The thing to look for in the coming months is what kind of coalition he puts together and what makes his platform... Our message to all Iraqis is to move Iraq past an age of ethno-sectarian divisions, it is important for all coalitions to be based on platforms rooted around interests rather not identities.
-How was your visit to Syria?
It was a good visit. We had productive conversations, on the path of continuing a dialogue we started in June with the Syrians about the need for us to cooperate together to address the threat that extremists networks pose to the region. That includes al-Qaeda and other extremists groups that flow through Syria into Iraq, and extremists groups that pose a threat to the Syrian government itself and groups that are active elsewhere. I think as our forces draw down, Syria has an interest in seeing a stable and secure Iraq and have commercial and energy ties with Baghdad. It's in their government's interest not to let fighters and facilitators into Iraq.
-Are they doing that?
The jury is still out. Our best intelligence suggests that the flow of foreign fighters across the border is down considerably from where it was a year or so ago. That's good news. The reasons behind that, however, is open to some debate. Part of it is because Al-Qaeda network inside Iraq has been pretty disrupted: some of the operations that Al-Qaeda is focusing on globally have shifted to another theater, whether it'd be in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or Yemen or other places. The demand for al-Qaeda fighters is decreasing; and another part of it is that the Syrians have taken some steps.
-What do you make of recalling the Syrian ambassador from Baghdad?
It is related to the bombing. After the videotape videotape
Magnetic tape used to record visual images and sound, or the recording itself. There are two types of videotape recorders, the transverse (or quad) and the helical. confession by a ring leader in Iraq suggesting he is former Baathist and has ties to people in Syria, this has created a diplomatic spat spat
juvenile aquatic shellfish, especially oysters ready for settlement on solid surfaces—'spat fall'. . Maliki made a point while in Damascus last week to tell the Syrians not to allow Iraqi Baathists to formant for·mant
Any of several frequency regions of relatively great intensity in a sound spectrum, which together determine the characteristic quality of a vowel sound. violence and instability in Baghdad. We're still early in this process and we'll have to see how it plays out.
-Regarding the Baathists, last March, Maliki had a plan to reintegrate re·in·te·grate
tr.v. re·in·te·grat·ed, re·in·te·grat·ing, re·in·te·grates
To restore to a condition of integration or unity.
re former Baathists back into the political system under a different name but then later he withdrew the whole legislation. What would you like to see from Iraq on that matter?
First of all the decision is theirs, it's up to the Iraqi government and the vision that Iraqi leaders have for their society. The President (Barack Obama), said he'd like to see Iraq as an accountable and representative country that lives in accordance to the rule of law and reflects all of Iraq's diverse ethno-sectarian communities. That means there is a significant role that Sunni Arabs need to be playing in government. What we encourage the Iraqi government is to take steps to take action; to move in a matter.
See also: Step that show meaningful integration of the Sunni Arab community into the institution of government, that means the security institutions, and important ministries. It sends a message to the Sunni community that they will not be left out. Ambassador Crocker used to say:"the Shia fear the past, the Sunni fear the future and the Kurds fear both"... the communal groups have a long history, and the Iraqi leadership has to have a single Iraqi vision for everyone that emphasizes Iraqi identity. One of the litmus tests litmus test
A test for chemical acidity or basicity using litmus paper. will be their outreach to Sunni communities.
-There is a growing fear among Arab governments that Iran might take over Iraq after the U.S. withdrawal. How do you address this?
It is clearly a sense that one gets when traveling the region, especially among Sunni Arab neighbors. There are couple things that push back against that narrative. One, I think it underestimates the power of Iraqi Nationalism. Seeing Maliki becoming more national, the last provincial elections, and that parties which are closely affiliated with Iran did not perform very well. We have to keep in mind the bloodiest conflict in the late twentieth century is fought between Iran and Iraq and there were Shia on both sides. There is a degree of Arab nationalism Arab nationalism is a common nationalist ideology in the 20th century.It is based on the premise that nations from Morocco to the Arabian peninsula are united by their common linguistic, cultural and historical heritage. that provides a certain antibody to Iranian domination. I think if we can keep the Iraqi government itself and in its institutions strong then it s unlikely that Iran will dominate Iraq.
The second point is that if Arab governments are concerned about Iran filling the void, then go to Baghdad. We have this conversation with Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. all the time. Saudi Arabia had clearly showed that it can push back Iranian influence in places like Lebanon. They have the motivation, and the resources to make sure that Iraq doesn't tilt towards Iran.
-You've been to Israel lately. On the nuclear issue with Iran, do you fear that Israel would go and strike unilaterally before the end of the year if negotiations don t start.
You'll have to ask the Israelis what their intentions are. The signals that they are sending in the press and some that we are hearing are based on two concerns. One that they are very concerned about Iran's nuclear program, they see it as a significant and some would argue as an existential ex·is·ten·tial
1. Of, relating to, or dealing with existence.
2. Based on experience; empirical.
3. Of or as conceived by existentialism or existentialists: threat. They show reservations on whether diplomacy can solve the impasse im·passe
1. A road or passage having no exit; a cul-de-sac.
2. A situation that is so difficult that no progress can be made; a deadlock or a stalemate: reached an impasse in the negotiations. . But they are not threatening to launch military attacks in the near term as far as I can tell. Our policy is fairly clear, Secretary (Robert Gates) and Chairman (Admiral Milke Mullen) have stated many times that military action at this stage would be destabilizing in its effects. Israel is a sovereign country and will make its own calculation. However, we have vital interest in this region, and because Israel is a friend of ours and a strong ally, we would expect as they're going through their calculations that are necessary to advance their interest, they would factor in ours.
-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has talked about a defense umbrella extended to countries in the region to counter Iran's nuclear ambition, can you tell me more about this. Does it mean an increase in military aid?
She clarified her remarks and said Iran has a choice. They can choose to come to the table and have a talk about their nuclear program. We are willing to be on the table, no strings attached, to have a conversation about nuclear program and try to find a diplomatic solution. And if they do that, then the door is open to improving the relations with us, sanctions being reduced or eliminated, investments flowing...all of these things, these offers have been on the table for a long time.
But we are also as clear; if Iran decides not to go in that direction, then it is going to face increasing international isolation. The Iranian quest for Verb 1. quest for - go in search of or hunt for; "pursue a hobby"
quest after, go after, pursue
look for, search, seek - try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of; "The police are searching for clues"; "They are searching for the nuclear capability is in part driven by some calculation that it will make them safer. We don t think that's right. It is likely to make them less safe, in part because it'll create huge suspicion among their neighbors, and it is a threat to other countries.
So we work closely with our allies in the Gulf and in the region to build up their defense capabilities, and not offensive capabilities, we are talking about air and missile defense Missile defence is an air defence system, weapon program, or technology involved in the detection, tracking, interception and destruction of attacking missiles. Originally conceived as a defence against nuclear-armed ICBMs, its application has broadened to include shorter-ranged so they can protect themselves. The message to Iran is that pursuing the path of isolation and continued confrontation in the region; the neighbors will build up, and it is not going to make Iran safer.
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