Assistant Secretary Amb. C. David Welch speaks at The World Affairs Councils 2007 National Conference.
The Middle East continues to grow in importance on the world stage, amid much uncertainty as to its future. Its economic base may well be threatened because of growing instabilities at a political level and the changing oil markets. However, many governments, individuals, and organizations are actively pursuing a future in which the Middle East is in a position of stability and power. This conference examines the diversity of views and ideas being put forth by such voices.
Mary Jean Eisenhower, President and CEO of People to People International (PTPI), was born in Washington, D.C. during her grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower's first term as U.S. President. Since joining PTPI, Mary has visited more than 40 countries. Missions have included everything from meeting first families to distributing food to cultural and humanitarian exchanges.
Fr. Nabil Haddad
Executive Director, Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center
Amb. James R. Jones
Amb. Jim Jones was inaugurated as Chairman of World Affairs Councils of America in February 2003. CEO of ManattJones Global Strategies, he has served as US Ambassador to Mexico and currently serves as Chairman of the US-Mexico Business Council, Chairman of the International Business Council of Greater Washington, and Chairman of the Meridian Internation Center.
Previously he served as Chairman of the American Stock Exchange, Chief of Staff to President Johnson, and a Congressman representing Oklahoma. He holds a law degree from Georgetown.
Barbara Propes is President of the World Affairs Councils of America in Washington, D.C. For over thirteen years she served as Executive Director of the Alaska World Affairs Council and was a member of the World Affairs Councils of America's Board of Directors.
Amb. C. David Welch
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
C. David Welch was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs on March 18, 2005.
Mr. Welch was U.S. Ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt from August 2001 to March 2005.
So, without any further delay join me in welcoming what I think is our country's finestKorean diplomat, David Welch.Hello everybody Mr. George thank you very much for introducing this conversation thisafternoon (indiscernible) again and I am usually censored but not that aggressively,then Mark thank you for having me here this afternoon and asking me to share somethoughts on our policy in the Middle East this season, friends in the audience,(indiscernible) always nice to see you again. And as I was walking up here and Mr.Johnson here had actually gone through all the Montana because he knows that in theForeign Service and making sure, I'm taking care of their interest.Ladies and gentlemen on behalf of the Secretary of State, Condi Rice, I want to thank youfor your interest in in the state department, Americas Foreign Policy and specifically Iwould like to thank you for your interest in in the issues in the Middle East.I I think World Affairs Councils throughout our country are hugely important. It's truethat I would have liked a little more time here this afternoon but I consider this veryvaluable time for me personally. When we travel as government officials throughout theUnited States we try and stop them with our councils, wherever they are and to have adialogue with citizens about the issues of the day. And most importantly to hear yourthoughts and understand the concerns when you travel abroad such as some of - ofyou did in early 05' when I was Ambassador of Egypt, we also I think benefit fromhaving Americans come to some places in Europe you are interested in begin to learnand then share that with your membership column. There is in my judgment no nobetter grassroots organization focused on the worlds among the world's issues and nogreater asset to people [inaudible]. You will power our citizens you build support formy working you work at diplomatic engagements, you improve understanding of issuesthat are enormously complex and I hope that you encourage, that people oblige to take aninterest in our country and build alliances across the global. I really believe in themission that you all have set yourself bring in different ideas, different backgrounds, andequally sensitive issues.because I am going to kind of focus on the areas where perhaps the news hasn't been asgood as we would like. By doing so I don't want you to walk out of this room thinkingthat David Welch came to you and and said everything and what's wrong, in the MiddleEast. There is a plenty of good going on and you know that gets obscured by the coverageof the day and sometimes is forgotten by citizens and even sometimes by ourpolicy makers. But that said today I am going to focus on what are more commonlyperceived to be - what we in diplomatic language call the challenges.The region today is at a crossroads. You know on the one hand we see forces seekingreform forces urging establishment to growth of representative institutions and peoplepushing for popular legitimacy. On the other hand there are forces that seek to maintainthe status quo or even forces that are more dark - exclusionary and intolerant. This is Ibelieve an epic confrontation and struggle and the outcome our response to it ouractions as important national security implications from our country. And that's why weare here today because we think you have an interest in these things and of course so do I.I would like to touch upon four key areas and I have to say the one degree and undertheir conflicts today, I want to say something about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iwanted to say something about Iraq, Iran and Baghdad. And in each of these cases, Ibelieve you can see some reflection of that clash confrontation or tension that I mentionedbetween on the one hand, responsible voices and on the other hand extremist exposure.On the Arab-Israeli conflict this president and his government are committed to the goalof two democratic states, one called Israel, one called Palestine living side by side peaceand secure. President Bush is first American President to make it an abject national policyfor the United States to have a state called the Palestine. To achieve that goal theinternational community has united behind something called the roadmap which isliterally that a step step of sequential performance based actions placing obligationson both parties which would leave to a Palestinian state. Central to those are that thePalestinians must prevent terror attacks and dismantle terrorist infrastructure while theIsraelis must stop central expansion, remove unauthorized outposts and be mindful of theconsequences of military aggressions, what they are doing conductively.The Hamas Political Party won control of the Palestinian assembly after elections a yearago and formed the government. Today Palestinian people have seen the results ofHamas's failure to govern and its failure to promote the interests of Palestinians whereverthey are. Hamas in government just as Hamas the political party has ignored the mostbasic and unanimous demands of the international community, these are verystraightforward ladies and gentlemen (indiscernible) event and do in (indiscernible)here. What are those things? They have to renounce terror violence, they have torecognize that there is something called Israel and they have to accept existingagreements obligations and understandings, including the agreements that signed by thePLO itself. They have refused to do any or all of those things. And that refusal has led theinternational community to withdraw from the financial support of the Palestiniandevelopment. That certainly do we are mindful that Palestinians have needs and are notblame for the actions of their government. We remain United States remains the largestsingle donor of assistance to Palestinians. It's a considerable out of assistance, your taxpaid dollars nearly $500 million have been dedicated to direct assistance, includingalmost $300 million in humanitarian assistance.Just as we the president took a decision and notified congress of our intention to spendalmost $90 million to support efforts to reform the Palestinian security services. We haveAmerican army general (Keith Damon) who continues to work with the Palestinians,Egypt, Jordan on a security plan to reform the security services. This is the first time wewill ever have assisted Palestinian Security issues, a traditional training program ladiesand gentlemen its not equal assistance, we are not contributing to civil war chaos amongthe Palestinians, we are trying to build law and order there to enable responsible people ofthe Palestinian community to address the questions of violence and terror in there.We we have seen some progress and we we obviously hope for more and we areworking for more. There is a ceasefire between Israel and and the Palestinians endorsedby President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert unfortunately this doesn't as you seenin the news end in anti-violence and terror, and there was considerable violence from thepart of Palestine. There was also a positive meeting between Prime Minister Olmert ofIsrael and the Palestinian President President Abbas just a few weeks ago. My bossSecretary Rice recently returned from a trip to the region and at - during that trip weasked the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to a trilateral meeting including United Statesat the level of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Abbas, Secretary Rice so thatwe put little more venom in trying to reinforce the bilateral context that they have heldupon. And I don't I mean you all being not reflected on this recently, but its been a longtime since Palestinians and Israelis had constructive conversation about all they had Infact it has been six years since they have such negotiations and we think it's important tonow try to give credibility, strength to that effort.Tomorrow here we will hosts a meeting of something called Quartet, its not a musicalgroup, it's a United Nations, European Union, Russia and United States and we - thisgroup there are all significant players supporting the effort between the Arabs and Israelisto go in peace and then we have new Secretary General of the United Nations and theEuropean Union Honorable Presidency the German Presidency, so all group togetherhere tomorrow and to continue our effort to support this by bringing together people inthe international community and Secretary Rice will host this gathering, meetings andlunch tomorrow.I mentioned this - this issue the offset of course because it's the most galvanizing inMiddle East and many people consider to be most important. I think prejudging others Ithink it will certainly work that the considerable investment (indiscernible) by the UnitedStates and we intend to do that.Iran is another subject that I would like to touch upon. We don't have any differenceswith Iranian people. We think they deserve to live - freedom without fear especially from theirown government and they deserve to be within democracy too. We respect the nation.Our differences are with the regime there and particularly its current leadershipseems to have cornered provocative and shocking statements. We have some reallyserious laws and policy differences with the Iranian Government. We have very, veryproblem with their nuclear program. We do not object ladies and gentlemen to themhaving a peaceful nuclear energy program, but because of the hard condition which wethink is broadly shared in the international community that they are using this privilegefor the sake of pursuing a nuclear weapon.We believe that some additional controls have to be established.Iranian regime also supports terrorism. It has an appalling human rights recordparticularly with respect to minorities especially religious and minorities here on is deeplyaggressive against any effort from the peace process and interferes actively in trying toavoid these and it has unfortunately also played a very complex and dangerous role inside Iraq.The nuclear program is a strategic matter. To address the Iranian nuclear program wework very closely to the international partners within the United Kingdom, France andGermany who will lead Europe's negotiation with the bomb - this issue. The purpose is toget to abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapon. We we don't object of them havingpeaceful nuclear technology, but not a complete fuel cycle, because that presents thehighest proliferation risks that had access to nuclear material, that's weapons grade thenthey broke (inaudible) nuclear bomb and we don't want that to happen. We broughtRussia and China into this circle and working with them to try to resolve these concerns.We think that there is plenty of opportunity to do that in a manner that is peaceful andusing diplomacy.We have good support as I said internationally. There is a resolution passed by theSecurity Council, those of you (indiscernible) some resolutions, Number 1707 which putinto International Law, what are the requirements for Iran for its nuclear requirement? Sofar they have failed to be used requirements therefore we have begun to put in place somecertain sanctions instead. If they were to move to negotiations then we wouldn't have toproceed those path. Shortly they declined to respond the International Atomic Energy(indiscernible) stand regard to Iran's compliance in the event which I believe is likely thatIran has failed to comply then we will consider taking new actions, perhaps in theSecurity Council.Iran is also the leading sponsors State sponsor of terrorism in the world. It gives money,weapons, training to several terrorist groups including Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon andcertain Palestinian insurgent groups headquartered in Damascus, Syria. What is the mostimmediate threat and into the danger to coalition soldiers, they also believe we alsobelieve they sponsor networks in Iraq that they are going to have and used improvisedexplosives the very high caliber technology against our troops. There are some seniorAl-Qaeda leaders who are wanted for murdering Americans (indiscernible) lousy and thegovernment there continues to conduct numerous abuses and doing summary executions,disappearances, torture (indiscernible) to treatment not to mention control of all electionsand possessions of press and lack of any respect for the right of religious worship.Journalists are less entertained, activists are harassed, sometimes worse and then you caneven undergo the penalty of a death sentence for having political views or worshipping ina different faith.We as Americans and as administration we support Iran's people's desire for freedomof speech, press, assembly, association, religion and we are we are ready to cooperate inany respect with our knowledge trying to find any possible way to bring them intocompliance with Security Council resolutions.I like to also talk a little bit about Lebanon last week we were, the Secretary of State ina conference in Paris support Lebanon for significant contribution and pledges Americanassistance. We think we are doing this for purpose because we think that supporting thedemocratically elected government is vital to peace and stability in the region and theopportunity for Lebanese people. We will request from Congress very soon nearly $770million comprehensive assistance program for Lebanon. As you know there was a warinitiated last summer by Hezbollah Party which attacked Israel, captured some Israelisoldiers and the damages of the war had a very significant in Lebanon. So if youaccumulate what we have done for Lebanon time since the war that comes to over $1.1billion. This is a very significant amount of assistance it shows the importance we placeon helping this country and Lebanese people.We want to all the Security Council Resolutions was there, especially the one thatbrought the war to a close last summer resolution 1701 and we have encouraged LebaneseGovernment to continue to maintain a military presence in the South Lebanon so thisconflict doesn't ever escalate yet again. We also have excellent support for this policyfrom our allies in Europe, Germany, Italy, and France. Tikrit have contributed significanttroops to the United Nations presence in Southern Lebanon making a very robustpeacekeeping operation. We are concerned that the Hezbollah group will try to renewthem and we there are reports of continued weapon shipments to them. There is armsembargoes established in this U.N. Resolution and we call upon all states to observe that.That's an obligation of the international law and particularly concerned about Syria andIran that they should not be in a position that they provide weapons to Hezbollah which isprohibited in the international world. And we also want to support Lebanon in its effort toget to fight over former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, a crime that happened right aboutthe time you all were visiting us in Egypt. You know Lebanon seen too much pain andsuffering over the past nearly three decades and this program of political assassinationslooks unfortunately to have reasons again not too long ago minister the government waskilled by this people who stopped his car and then shot him. There is an internationalinvestigation underway to solve these crimes and in addition to that investigation theSecurity Council has agreed in establishing a tribunal to assist Lebanon in prosecutingwhoever may be behind the crimes when the evidence is produced.I kind of would like to turn to Iraq now. You know clearly if you are watchingeverything in the (indiscernible). It is certainly an issue that has come to dominate ourattention. Here in the administration very conscious of the enormous cause accordingto America of our (indiscernible). I hope that we are attentive to reasons that we askAmericans to share this effort. Is this a very delicate and hotly debated issue? I amconfident that probably or at least as many views on it as there are people in this room.The situation there not exactly (indiscernible) and as the president has said theconsequences of failure are enormous.President Bush proposed a new Iraq strategy which is based on several key elementsespecially that Iraqis take the lead what we do our best to support them, to helpprotect the Iraqi population. We think that that proposal represents the best chance toisolate the enemy's stability and security there and to create the space that's necessary forpolitical and economic changes that could help rebuild the spirit, the sentiment among allIraqis about the future. Baghdad is the center of this problem, not the only part of it butcertainly the center and while Iraqi and the coalition forces will continue operationsagainst the insurgents and the terrorists elsewhere, there is a necessity for somestrengthening of the coalition forces to deal with this and particularly the growingsectorial violence and we now believe it represents a strategic threat. This is principallytrue in Baghdad. And what we proposed to do there is to help to clear some areas in thecity, of those who are engaged in this combat for those areas and bring in the supporteconomic and political to change that.This is not a military effort alone. It is a political and diplomatic and economic effort. Inthe state department we are talking about the strength of what we call provincialreconstruction teams, this is in effect out region to the provinces which will help localpeople and to provide better services, again to support those moderate forces out there.Our president's plan requires the Iraqi government to act aggressively. And it has to becommitted to delivering economic and central services to all communities without anydistinction among if they had to pass a (indiscernible) a hydrocarbon smoke becausethat's essential for attracting investors and to using this both national resources morecreatively and responsibly, you have to strengthen national reconciliation and the Iraqisunfortunately are deeply angry with each other and too often to resort to mines. Iraqigovernment also needs to use its resources and it does have some to build that ondevelopment. They have been pledged to this task in this regard and we intent to holdthem accountable to those pledges.Let me conclude with a few words on the promotion of democracy moving forward. As Isaid earlier the region is at a crossroads. And I know that some think that everythingabout the Middle East is in some sense bad, it's not as I said earlier to be true. But thereare certain very serious developments gaps in this area. One of the most importantchallenges for the region is that the huge majority of the populations are young. In fact ifyou consider that the majority of the people are say under the age of 25 and then youlook at the recent history of the Middle East, basically their average young persons fromtheir memories are all on the (indiscernible) and they need to see hope in their future.Hope in an economic sense, hope in a social sense, hope in a political sense. But noteverything is going forward, maybe because you all are paying a lot more for yourgasoline and oil prices are high, regional economies begun to do bad. They are not justyour economies by the way; there is significant growth out in most of the Arab countries.In Egypt for example, where I was ambassador when I arrived there, the record was inrecent years, people were doing worse each year. This year there is positive economicgrowth for each Egyptian. There was a good reform team in charge there and I think thatthe prospects for economic growth in this - the biggest country in the Arab world arepretty good. And this means that as that economy grows the young people who come intothe workforce each year have a better chance to get a job. If they get a job then a betterchance to build the future for themselves and for others.More broadly I think a lot of those (indiscernible) starts in a given place. There is ageneral trend in the region to listening more to the voice of the people. Now here in theUnited States we are used to this we have to every couple of years our nationalrepresentatives have to defend themselves of (indiscernible) to be heard by the voters. Butit's not the common experience in the Middle East. Yet elections there are more frequent.So is international attention and domestic attention to those elections. Any time you havean election now in the Middle East there are international monitors all over the placethere, domestic pressure groups that are interested in the elections it's very transparent.And this is good news basically.In Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar women can vote. Saudi Arabia, Iran and othersshowing different forms of reform, I am not saying everything has to be examined beforeeach of these countries but it's important that overall there are steps forward. We thinkthat this is enormously positive, it's the one reason why we invest in it, we think it meansthe something now for development in these societies but it has to pay off, however wedirect for our securities work. Again to the extent that these reformers succeed, to theextent that there is a broadening of the political space, then those voices of extremism arenot going to be as loud. They will have to struggle with their negative ideology againstan ideology of hope.And most people want a good life; they don't want a life of violence and negativism. Wewill continue to approach through greater openness, transparency, we want theseeconomic reforms, we want political reforms, we have to, as Americans, I think, supportthat trend. I realize that our country sometimes when you look at things like opening upfor liberalizing trade, that public depression here maybe that there is a cost forAmericans. Consider this that we are also sharing the benefit of our prosperity with othersand everyone will realize a gain.I think that for these trends are there, there is also resistance to it. Trust me, for everyvoice for change there is a voice against it. And those factors that push governments toreform also frighten people and cause them concern and sometimes lead them in thewrong direction. We have to make this pay off for those who want the positive change.By countenance that at least those who don't want to succeed. This is why we have whatwe call a freedom agenda. It isn't because we are trying to sell our method of governmentto anyone. It is because having people greater security in their economic and politicalfreedoms is a benefit to our security.Ladies and gentlemen let me just conclude by saying that I am glad to register in theseissues. I think American foreign policy perhaps has got a little more attention than we allmight have thought in recent years. Not - not always for happy reasons but I would liketo think that this has also earned among our citizenry a certain respect for the importanceof these things to United States and I like being introduced as a diplomat. I hope I do agood job at it. I happen to think that diplomacy is not a bad word. I don't think diplomacymeans promiscuous compromise any of our interests. It is, trust me, an aggressive effortto advance our relations, priorities and do so in a responsible way, sensitive to theenvironment which we work both here at home and abroad.I think having a professional diplomatic word is an important part of that. Mark Johnsonthinks that I have done a good job and that's a good thing. I hope you support yourdiplomats, they are as exposed, trust me, as some of our soldiers and we live and work invery dangerous places, in some cases. In the area of law for which I am responsible wehave got some nice countries. But regrettably nearly 40 percent of the assignments that Ihave under my area of responsibility you can't take your family or your wife to, sorecruiting for these places is a real challenge. I don't have to worry if I would do it theyall volunteer.Thank you very much.