Saturday, September 09, 2006

IISS Global Strategic Review

Geneva this weekend is the site for the big Global Strategic Review conference organized by the International Institite for Strategic Studies.

And being a member of the Council of the IISS I'm here, and also have to speak about peacekeeping and stability operations in one of the sessions today.

But we started yesterday evening by listening to a speech by Sheik Humam Hamoudi, who is Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Baghdad and was a key man in negotiating the constitition of the country.

His assessment of Iraq was not without its problematic sides, but basically positive. He categorically ruled out dividing the country, although it was interesting to note that he believed US policy was drifting in that direction. And he saw the centralized control of oil revenues as the key means to assure that this did not happen.

Security would improve over time, he thought, as Iraqis saw that they are now truly governing themselves. But he complained somewhat that US and Iraqi priorities are somewhat different, with him stressing the need to improve basic services, while he said the US was more focused omn fighting the different militias.

Today we continue the discussion with listening to more of those actually doing things in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11, all know that success or failure in Iraq and Afganistan will have profound implications for the future of the entire region.