tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN December 15, 2014 3:00pm-5:01pm EST
to make it more difficult to do the job in the present. >> so what you're saying, don't ask for your opinion? >> beg your pardon? >> don't ask for your opinion on gse reform? is that what you're saying? >> i expressed my opinion before i became the director, but i don't have an independent opinion now because any time i express an opinion now, people take it as the fhfa opinion. >> let me ask you for your opinion. you support eliminating fannie and freddie as they are today? >> i don't have an opinion on whether there is a fannie and freddie. i think they are roles that somebody will have to play in the process.
and you've got five trillion dollars of outstanding obligations now that somebody has to deal with. that's in the current of housing finance. that's not in the future. so, somebody has got to deal with that. and whether it's fannie or freddie or somebody else, i mean, that's, i think, a decision that congress has to make, not fhfa. >> let me switch topics here for just a minute. that has to do with the mortgage debt relief act. director watt, i don't think any state has felt the impact of falling home values more than the state of nevada. congress passed mortgage debt relief act to ensure those who owe more on their mortgages than they do on their homes are now worth would not be hit with additional income taxes. i'm not going to ask your opinion on the irs or -- >> thank you. >> on income taxes. but i think it's unfortunate.
no one gets hit more than low-income, middle-income families. i think it's unfair and i think most would concur that it's unfair, that individuals would have to pay taxes on income that they have never received. so i guess quickly, do you have any picture in your mind of what the consequences would be if we did not extend the mortgage debt relief act and retroactively for this year or extend it into next year? >> it would certainly have severe consequences for a number of decisions. but, again, that's a decision that congress has to make. i can't make it. and what i've realized is that sometimes expressing my opinion on things that i can't influence have more negative impacts than they have positive impacts. >> well, we look to you from time to time, director watt, we do look to you -- >> well, i appreciate everybody
looking to me, but it's just -- you know, i'm in a difficult position. and i don't want to have a negative outcome as a result of something that i say. so i think i try to stay in my lane doing the things that fhfa has either perceived or real control over and trying to do those well and effectively. >> director, thank you for being here today. mr. chairman, thank you. >> i would like to thank director watt for his testimony and for his on going service to our country. this hearing is adjourned.
businessman donald trump will be speaking at the economic club of washington, d.c. tonight. he's expected to talk about his political aspirations and entrance into the city's business community. the trumps, by the way, are planning to turn the post office into a high-end hotel and shopping area. you'll be able to see his comments tonight starting at 7:00 eastern on c-span, and 8:00 eastern on c-span3, a house veterans affairs subcommittee examines military cemetery operations with a close look at expanding the cemetery system and improving assistance to families. 8:00 eastern on c-span3. now, officials from the british
foreign office update the committee on the u.k.'s foreign policy on kurdistan in iraq. they answer about u.k. business invests in iraq and the role of nato in providing nonlethal weaponry support. order, order. can i welcome members of the public to the sitting of the foreign affairs select committee, it's our third and final evidence session of our committee into kurdistan and on this occasion we're taking evidence from the foreign office. and are delighted to welcome the parliamentary under secretary of state at the office. so welcome. and can i also welcome edward oakden who's the director of the middle east and foreign office. i welcome you both. minister, it's now three months
since mr. abadie was installed in baghdad. have you made any assessment of how he's getting on? what are the prosspeblths for him having a more inclunsive government? >> thank you for the opportunity to appear in front of you and thank you for the work you are doing not just in the region, the country but the middle east as well. it helps our work, the government's work, that the british parliament is engaging in trying to understand these issues in furthering british influence. i'm very grateful for what you are doing, i understand you have had a very interesting visit yourself and i'm pleased to be here. you ask a simple question. it is a short amount of time that he's been in place, but if we look back in june of this year where things stood with isil moving down the tigres and euphrates river, things looked
bleak. the mosul dam potentially could have been blown up. baghdad itself was under threat. and we look at today and we see that maliki is no longer there, abadi is in place, he has a more inclusive government than anybody expected to produce. and think if you look back at when the last time the government was formed, the length of time it took for the cabinet members be announced, i think we should be ploeased wit the progress that actually has been made.c)(ñ the coalition itself is now an international coalition that's been formed of over 60 nations, able to hold back and deter isil, allowing the space for the depleted armed forces of iraq to reinvigorate, train and themselves provide a ground capability to take on isil. i'm not complacent and we shouldn't be naive, it's going to be a long-term game here, we should not expect results
certainly overnight. but considering where we were in june to where we are today, i think we should be pleased with the progress. >> and this inquirely is about kurdistan, but have you got a view as to how reaching out to the sunni communities in iraq and getting the cohesion from the shia and sunnis? >> this is the big challenge that the new prime minister and president actually face. and the appointment of the defense minister, abadi, a sunni himself, and the speaker in the parliament as well, engaging with senior representatives is so important. we have to remember and you i'm sure will witness this on your visit of how disenfranchised that the sunnis were in the maliki regime. and this is why it's so important, that we engage not
just in anbar province, but the whole of the northwest of iraq. they have been scarred, i think, by recent events in the sunni community. we also have to remember how diverse that community is. there isn't a single sunni voice that represents everybody in the northwest of iraq and that i think is the challenge of bringing people back to the table, recognizing that the baghdad government represents them all. and looks to the future. >> there's a lot of talk about it being their last chance while you were down there. is that how you see it? >> that is, i think, a little sensationalist to say, there's no doubt that there is the frustration that we saw under maliki, you had sunni demonstrators coming out, wanting a better life, better representation, and it was the baghdad government that attacked them. so there's massive distrust, no doubt about it.
and there's the complications of the relationship that i'm pleased to see moving forward with the kurdistan region as well. i don't take away from perhaps the implication, the fact that life is very, very tough and it's good that the international community is reengaging with this part of the region in trying to facilitate a solution. >> thank you. side, while we were down there, we were well aware about the nature of the dispute between irbill and baghdad about oil revenues, payments in general. i am very happy you have been able to welcome an interim agreement on this. could you tell us about the agreement and did the u.k. play a part in brokering it or did they do it themselves? >> the grg agreement is very -- it's worth stepping back and saying that iraq has a country is fortunate to be sitting on
such enormous mineral wealth, it provides that vision, the direction of travel of where the country should aspire to spend that wealth wisely, on thursday, an interim deal was signed so this i hope will be the beginning of further discussions and agreements that will take place between baghdad and irbil. but essentially the agreement was a lump sum of $500 million which was granted to irbil and this was to pay for a number of outstanding debts, legacy debts. in addition to that, there's also a licensing agreement of 150,000 barrels to be sold with essentially the blessing of baghdad and this was perhaps the difficulty that the last couple of months that we have seen in irbil having invested in pipelines, able to secure routes to export the oil, or not being able to do it with the legitimacy perhaps the rest of the world and indeed baghdad wanted to see.
>> and on the -- i mean this is an interim agreement, there's a lot more to come, is there any role for the u.k. in helping them reach a final conclusion on this? >> well, we could be selfish and say we have a british interest in this, it's 50% of the oil production in iraq is actually thanks to british companies, bp and shell mostly, involved in that. so we want to see the country prosper. we want to see british companies do well in the region. but yes, i think there is a role. i stood up in the foreign office questions when i was asked this very same question, soosay would britain participate in facilitating discussions, and i'm pleased to say that our embassy has been very active with talks on both sides to encourage voices to come together. this is a priority for the
country, no matter where in the region you're in. the overreliance, perhaps, on hydro carbons is huge. in the region of 1% employment, but 93% of the revenues actually come from hidrocarbons, 63% of the gdp, therefore the country enormously relies on finding oil and producing it and exporting. so i'm pleased that there's an interim deal, which i hope will be the first consolidated deal in the future. not least with the disputed areas of kirkuk that still need to be reconciled. but this is the direction i hope we continue down. >> what remains british's interest. >> i think it's difficult to say we want to see british companies flo flourish there, we want a safe environment for are international companies to
operate and we want to see the oil move to parts of the world and not have legal question marksover whether or not it can be indeed purchased, and that's taking place. i think we're heading in the right direction. >> as you know, iraq and kurdistan is sitting on a lot of gas, in fact a huge amount of gas. if we piped up into europe, it would address the overreliance on russia's supplies. is there any role for britain in facilitating that? >> i think this is something that is worth investigating and worth further discussions and something i think the embassy may have some thoughts on this. but certainly, you're right to say that the potential for -- in northern iraq is actually huge, it's a lot of it is untapped and i think it will help the country for many, many years to come. >> i need to say, mr. chairman, that shell are doing a major gasification project in the south and it would be logical for they or others to look at the north as well.
but that's obviously, will need -- will be easier once there is a resolution of the share of the energy resources. >> getting a final agreement is a little more important? >> yes, sir. >> perhaps it's not going too far to use terminology such as last chance, as it was echoed by the foreign secretary in a question from the floor of the house. there is a question that this is the last chance for the politics of the situation. just very briefly, before turning to the iraqi arm. you had a new prime minister, we had elections, but are you at all concerned that the immediate -- the politicians, the administrators, the bureaucrats, have essentially remained the same? and doesn't that bode ill when it comes to trying to encourage a more inclusive foreign policy?
when you have replaced that tier below, and this is very important given the absence of the bureaucracy and the backup that we could associate, aren't you at all concerned about that? >> it depends on what you mean by concern. in one respect, having these voices participate and engage with government, it depends on the authority of the prime minister and the president of course and whether they're able to yield that authority. but we're aware, maliki now continues to be involved, but he continues to be inside the tent. there's also the question mark as i alluded to earlier, as to who are the sunni representatives. i was, i think, forth right in saying there is a diverse mix of tribes in the sunni area, they do not speak with one voice and therefore requesting the sunni leaders to actually come forward, not lead, because we're not to that yet, but half the
country is at war. it's engaging in an incredible battle, to, i'm sure we will touch on that, in the west. and therefore you want to attract these people absolutely to the table. they may not be in the position to come to the table. they continue to be -- >> but are you satisfied, minister, that there is enough tangible evidence of an inclusive approach of the new administration? at least an attempt. is there even an attempt to reach out? >> we have very much encouraged that. >> i know you have encouraged it, but are you seeing evidence of it. >> i have seen a number of posts that have been filled by sunnis that we want to see involved are yet unable to do so because of the geographical terrain. they're not able to represent or even participate. they're out in the country, they're in exile as well. but we need to be careful by wanting to pict selected, the first 11, if you like, and say
these are actually better people to have. we have done that in other countries, actually keeping alive a person who we might make as a future president of a country or a prime minister or something like that that didn't turn out to always go the way we wanted it to be. >> what i'm saying is there's been an absence of an inclusive form of government. which has alienated the sunnis in the north. that has been part of the problem. let's part from that for the moment. lets turn to the iraqi army, trained by the americans, fully equipped, brought up to their numerical strength, very strong, and yet fled at the first signs of trouble. are we being naive in believing that you can meld different tribes, different cultures, given the 600-year history of the region in one force and expect them to take on a position from which a large part of their army is recruited? >> i don't agree with your inf introduction and description of the iraqi army. >> you think the iraqis did
well. >> no, they're not as strong as you are suggesting they were, this was back in june before they sort of dropped their guns and ran. >> when they did drop their guns, they were full strength, well equipped, had been trained by the americans and equipped for a period of years and at the first sign of trouble, they ran. >> that is to gloss over the leadership that was actually looking over the iraqi forces, these were shia generals placed in there by maliki himself. he was actually running the show, perhaps he was concerned about their own power, their own authority, therefore the good sunni leaders and others who operated under a structure which you and i are very familiar with having both served, that was removed, not only was it removed, but also the support element from the americans was also removed. maliki requested that that end, and therefor these generals were answering directly to maliki's
office, and when the attack actually came in, the orders were not there to coordinate activity, and that is why many of the generals weren't sure of actually what to do to provide that mutual support. not only that, they were serving in a sunni area themselves and through that perhaps a complex environment led to the forces themselves crumbling, much faster than perhaps we would have anticipated. >> you would put this down to an issue more of an issue of leadership rather than trying to meld a united force at a different ethnic mix, religions, cultures. >> the lesson has been learned from there and what general allen is now seeking to do is to create a national guard which actually does work on what you're implying, is that there is a myriad, a complex sort of tapestry of ethnic groupings and each area will be able to
develop its own national guard but answerable to senior authority. that's the direction of travel, what the americans are now focusing on and that is what i think is best suited for that particular country. >> okay, and finally, it appears that the uk is offering little or no assistance to the isf, why is that and is there any plans for that to change? >> i wouldn't agree with that at all. we are currently involved in air strikes which is assisting the ground forces in iraq, as you are aware, there are sortes, over 80 combat missions that have taken place. we're also providing important intelligence gaining that's needed. and also, part of the coalition, so you may want to see the british flag doing x, y, or z, but we're doing what's been asked of us. if there is more to be asked, if the iraqi government wants us to do more, we will certainly
consider it, but we're part of a 60-strong coalition. and i think we are doing as much as we can and we will certainly consider any request to actually do more. >> okay. thank you. >> gentleman welcome, minister, can i just raise to the committee's attention my members' interest. i have a family business in iraq and kurdistan and advise a number of companies as well as i co-chair the party group for krg. >> thank you very much. >> for the record. thank you very much, chairman. minister, one of the first countries to offer help to both the kurdistan regional government and to the baghdad government was iran through the iranian revolutionary guards and -- in the battle against is,
i think this is the front lines we were told.rtñ across from kirkuk all the way to -- do you welcome engagement to the revolutionary guard in the battle against isis in iraq and the gifting of equipment to the kurds, we're told they had heavy artillery, and some ammunition from warhouses in baghdad? >> i'm going to invite edward to say in a second a couple of words on the relationship, the long-term relationship, because he's very familiar having served in the region. i would simply say that somtimeses we do look at iran through the british spectrum of events, and more modern events, we perhaps forget that there is a strong historical and geographical relationship between the kurds and indeed iran, the third largest ethnic grouping in iran are kurdish
themselves and therefore there will natural be a synergy and an interest. we're aware that the revolutionary guards are deployed, and we have very much kept an eye on what was actually happening here. this was during a time of huge flux, huge change that was taking place with isil pushing down as i mentioned earlier. it obviously is a decision for the iraqi government. but i believe it's best for iraqi whether they be iraqi southern iraqi or indeed pesh murgy forces to actually liberate the country and provide that security. >> and i think the only then i would add is that the iraqi government made it very clear that they don't want foreign forces of any kind on their soil and that they think it's better and we agree with them for iraqi troops to liberate their country
from isil, and we all saw the curious way in which the southern army came sort of on mobile phones, sort of as a folk hero in iran before stopping the flow, the advance of isil. but i think we're pretty clear here that while britain and iran might, if you like, share a common interest, a common challenge in confronting isil, that -- and iraq too, that that common challenge stops about there and the sort of iraq that iran would want to see is very different from the sort of inclusive iraq that its government would want to see, that the krg would want to see and that we would want to see. >> and presumably, if you look at the track record from syria,
which you end up with a sort of a sort of militias forming, that's not something that would be welcome in iraq. >> at all, and in fact, what somali was doing in the early days was going around the shia militia and organizing the shia militia in baghdad to fight isil and the way in which this militia has behaved has been pretty patchy, to put it mildly. >> thank you for that. we'll get back to talking about the peshmerga later. minister, are you satisfied that the current allied military strategy against the islamic state in iraq is working and has momeantm or are you resigned to as a longer term war with all that entails, including idps not
being able to go home. with respect to many idps with no prospect to return to their homes? >> let me take it from a sort of kinetic literary context. then talk about the idps separately. i would say please be patient, we need to be -- see this as a long-term operation not at least from the state that we're fighting, but also stabilization, peacekeeping perspective and we are in the early stages of that, this will take a lot of time in order to defeat isil in the manner we're doing. that's not to say that there are other ways that it could be done, but the other ways that the strategy at the moment which i think is the right one, which is to allow the iraqi ground forces to liberate the space in anbar province to push isil back from where they came from, which is from down the euphrates river.
indeed, it's because they were able to push back up and use that very same kit to go off to kobani and so forth. so i think we need to recognize that we, the air campaign that we're operating at the moment is providing that umbrella of support, the training that the americans are providing and the british as well, not just with i star but also counter variety and so forth and a myriad of other support coming from the region. we are seeing successes, but it is indeed going to take time. the idp is an interesting aspect. i spoke about this with the american ambassador and with general allen, i pose the question, who do you have in mind to be the mayor of mosul. when these cities and towns are liberated, who's going to come in running the police, who's going to be the head teacher, or going to run the water facilities and so forth.
these are thoughts which we need to start talking about immediately, and i'm afraid that nobody thought about them, or at least it seems that way in 2003, we went -- that's why we ended up going from liberators to occupiers because life didn't change. and that's really, really important. by i mentioned earlier that there were many sunnis who felt disenfranchised and you have christians, yazidis, and others, who are worried about retaliation, when people come back, once isil forces are pushed back. erbil recently, and they were scared. we need to make sure there's that assurance that there's an infrastructure capability that will look after them. one thought that was looked at is assuming an area is liberated, is moving the camp straight away to the outskirts, so not forcing them back to their original homes b s becaus
they may not trust their neighbor who ransacked their home or pushed them out because it was assumed the sunnis were on a roll. but basically, outside of town so they can move back in their own town, and if they end up staying there, at least it's a new community which is very closed to where they were before. >> would you say there's a reconciliation process that needs to take place if you're going to have them settling back? >> the reconciliation process was appropriate and designed, there's been a number of models, not just in south africa but in rwanda and so forth. they clearly will need to be some method in which communities can come back together and deal with the horrific facilities that will take place with individuals choosing to take up arms simply because they got
caught up in an horrific war. >> thank you very much. >> i think most would agree, as you alluded to, an air campaign alone is unlikely to defeat isil. what are needed for the troops on the ground and inclusive form of politics. could i suggest to you that with very little progress on the politics side, with very little evident progress on getting the iraqi army up to speed, this is going to be a very long campaign and there in lies the danger because the air campaign on its own could become counter productive. evidence has been taken by the committee to suggest there's concern that the longer the air campaign goes on, the more perhaps the sunnis are going to feel persecuted. perhaps civilian casualties could rise, and therein lies the prospect of it being counterproductive.
what is your view on that, and is there a plan b if the politics and the army don't click in fast enough? >> and you're very patient to see as i think everybody is, to see iraq liberated, but i don't agree with your premise that somehow there is simply an air campaign, there's an air campaign that we're involved with, but we're just one small part of the larger jigsaw and as i say, i went to pains to say that the iraqi army is being retrained. the americans are very much involved with that. we're doing our part as well. if we're asked to do more, we will consider that, but it's very important we do not make the mistakes we have made in the past of compounding the problem by putting ground forces. troops on the ground, who are then could end up making the situation worse. we have to give the space, and we are seeing evidence of iraqi armed forces successes, but it will take time. yes, that's absolutely right, we
could move nato forces in there, but you for one have a track record of being perhaps reticent about that. >> just to be clear, are you advocating that, because i would say there's no appetite in this country. you said there is. let me finish, sir. there is an appetite to support the strategy which is to give the space to the iraqi forces to develop the skillset or rather reclaim the skillsets because many of them have. one thing they spent a lot of time doing is fighting. but to coordinate that and make sure they can gain ground for which they can continue. >> one was talking about the iraqi army and getting the iraqi army up to speed. but you still haven't answered the question in this respect. are you alive to the danger of air strikes alone over time becoming counterproductive when it comes to the sunni minorities?
>> again, i don't agree with your premises. there's artillery capability, infantry and so forth. maybe i'm misunderstanding the question, but you're looking through the lens of the international perhaps kinetic contribution here, and that is a false -- >> until we get the iraqi army actually pushing forward, because we all know -- there's no substitute to boots on the ground, you and i know that particularly. until you get to that point, essentially we are relying on air strikes. maybe on artillery as well, but essentially air strikes. is the politics on the ground alive to the danger that this could become counter productive over time? we don't want to rush it, but there is a real danger that air strikes without iraqi army on the ground pushing back could become counter productive. >> i can't go further and say that there are successes happening, we are seeing the iraqi army hold ground, they're not able to push back as fast as we would like or that they will
eventually be able to, do but they have thwarted the attack by isil. it will now take time for them to go from the defensive mode into offensive. and that will simply take time. we have to allow and be patient for that to happen. >> it has been -- using drones out there, without giving away any operational capacity, is that a large part of the operation or a small part, or a microscopic part? >> it's one element. it's one element. from memory, the -- well, it's smaller -- i'm sorry. it's smaller than the number of flights that have happened, subsequent to and smaller than the number of tornado flights and from memory, they have been about 18-plus tornado flights and 20 strikes and the number of drone strikes is in the single figures at the moment. >> could i say that it's appreciate the style in which you asked the question, it makes
sense not to probe, could i suggest too much into this area because we're giving information away to the other side. >> i understand. >> i am chair of the war party group on iraq. no particular interest i also have a long association with the kurds. so i would like to ask you, after the i.s. eventually is driven out of the kurdish border area in northern iraq by the peshmerga, do you see the need for some sort of international b er, as you touched on earlier? >> i go back to the point, firstly, can i pay tribute to the work you have done? i know you have been very focused on this and supportive of all the groups and not just
the kurds themselves.çç÷á-z the national guard program that is being put in place that allows from a tribal perspective a more, a connection, a local connection between those who are doing the security capability and those who actually live there, so you do not butt in. those from another part of the country to another part, in order to provide that,vruw beca that's i think where it went wrong before. i wouldn't at this stage consider that to -- you know, introducing peacekeepers, international peacekeepers or any form of that, is not something that's being discussed at the moment. straight about the iraqi army. because i think it's been criticized unnecessarily. and it didn't just run away. there were factors present where
there was no clear command. and i think it's important to qg going back to minority groups displaced from their homes, traditional homes, yazidis, turkmen, syrians, the mandamans and so on, many of those, i think, may not want to return to their homes. because of fear of reprisals. everybody wants to go back home but that may not be realistic. they will need some kind of assurances, protections. whatever. i mean, some years ago the prince of the yazidis argued for an enclave just for the yazidis. so, you know, that feeling has been there for some time. they feel unprotected more so now of course. >> you pose such an important question.
and it's worth, perhaps, just reflecting on what part of the world we're dealing with. mesopotamia, the land between two rivers, as it's called. this is the fertile crescent. this is the birthplace of so many religions that have actually lived in relative peace for thousands of years. whether christians or a whole variety of religions stem from this corner of the world, alloites, turkmen, they have lived in peace, they have and they can do again, but we shouldn't overestimate how vulnerable they will now feel. and when i visited a number of the refugee camps, this is exactly what they were concerned about. this is why the iraqi government must be inclusive in ensuring they are represented politically but also protected physically
using the correct makeup of national guard. >> do you think those -- like the yazidis and many of whom were rescued from mt. sinjar, do they have all the assistance they need at the moment? and is there any attempt at all -- i think i've asked this question several times in the house. what is happening to the yazidi women? we were all shocked when so many of them were kidnapped. the reports of them being sold on the open market. in bazaars and so on. and it appeared it was the peshmerga themselves, and particularly peshmerga involved with syria, who actually helped the yazidis more than anybody else. i don't know whether you can confirm that or not. >> well, indeed it was the peshmerga. a particular wing of the peshmerga that was able to come in on mt. sinjar and provide
such important support at their time of need. many have now moved away and found refuge, mostly in northern iraq. but you're absolutely royalty that there is a huge concern about the plight of the women. this is one of the reason -- i traveled with justin greening to northern iraq. we visited a number of refugee camps and she made a further commitment of additional funds. britain, i think, is one of the largest donators. i don't know if we have any figures we can provide. in northern iraq to assist in this very area. >> is there any information on the women? i keep asking that question over and over again. what information do we, as the british government, have about those yazidi women? they seem to sort of disappeared without a trace. >> we will -- we'll check and let you know, but i don't think we have very much, to be honest. as the minister said, the
peshmerga themselves, i mean, not just were the ones who got them off the -- off sinjar, but then the evidence is that they were, as one would expect, the most effected people and tracing the 3,000 or so who seem to have disappeared. we're not getting, for what it's worth, an urgent request for further assistance for the -- for the yazidis at the moment. and without at all wanting to underplay what the yazidis have gone through, the pushback we're also getting from quite a lot of kurdish and iraqi groups is don't just concentrate on the yazidi women. there were lots of other women who have been taken hostage and worse by isil, too. and so it's a question of trying
to trace them all rather than just sort of concentrating on one. the figure for uk humanitarian aid to the krg at the whole is $23 million, of which some was dedicated -- $4 million, from memory, was dedicated to specifically help for women -- protection of women and minorities. >> could i say that we've -- i'm conscious we've not adequately answered your question. we will get back and do some investigation. i'm going to iraq very soon and i'll make sure that i will put this on the agenda. and we investigate a bit further and get back to you. >> thank you. i do understand it's the kurdish minister of women's affair whom we met during our visit actually told us that in some cases they were trying to by, they had bought some of the women. >> to liberate them? >> yes, to liberate them. and some of those women were being taken back, contrary to
popular opinion, taken back into their own families, despite what had happened to them. and if that is the case, it would be useful to have more information. thank you. i understand the kurdish government is planning to run local sites in disputed areas held by the peshmerga as soon as the security situation has been stabilized. how and when shall we see these elections being run? >> the keyword there is disputed -- or words, disputed areas. firstly, i think had the peshmerga not done what they did when isil advanced in the summer, there's a possibility, a probability that kirkuk could have fallen and gone the same way as mosul and fallujah. there's also, in the
constitution, there is recognition that there should be some form of referendum, i understand, article 140, if memory serves, which allows the people of kirkuk to determine their future. i think without getting too involved in this, we believe the complexities of this is, you know, where are your district boundaries? where is your -- when there's been such a churn of people and so forth, how do you actually recognize what the established electoral districts are, for example, and who qualifies to actually vote? so i think this needs to be done with -- needs to be a consensual process. it's certainly part of the process. but it needs to be inclusive so people feel involved and it seems fair and, therefore, can last. >> and should it be run by the international body or run internally?
>> well, that's a very good question. i think it gets something for the iraqi people, ultimately, to operate. and should they request assistance from the international com=áj+vi'm sure that assistance will be forthcoming. >> thank you. >> minister, the issue of the cities in the summer got a quick headline saying we didn't have a strategy to protect christians in the middle east, but this was ran the time mt. sinjar. can one have a strategy to protect christians abroad? >> i would hope that there is -- edward, you may have thoughts on this. but i hope there would already be a strategy, which is inclusive of christians, which is already incorporated. we have a set of human rights values we believe. we have a set of government values we believe in.
and support to ethnic minorities and so forth. if we start being specific about any particular religion, you could ask the next group demand one as well. therefore thereteáñ needs to be something that is all enough encompassing that recognizes that. in the same way the kurds are actually the largest minority population in the world. without a country themselves. but, therefore, the same question could be posed for them. >> not sure it will be long. >> could i ask about the peshmerga, the kurdistan regional government was there was desperate need for further equipment, especially with training and advice. what's the uk's government response to that? >> can i throw that back to you and ask you, is it possible to elaborate on what specifically they requested? >> they had the heavy machine guns type. we saw that.
but they want further armored vehicles and things like that to assist them. i believe they were formulating a request to the uk government at that time. >> well, the defense secretary just visited recently. and has been covered by the media, we have given a number of weapons systems, not the least some heavy machine guns, 40 machine guns which comes with training as well. they're quite complicated weapons to fire, 50 cal. so i think the regimen has gone out to help with the training. i have a little bit of concern here. and i just express this carefully. this has been their hour of need, no doubt about it. the peshmerga were up against it and the world responded. by providing weapon systems and, indeed, some training to make sure that the line could actually be held. we're now in a situation whereby
they are, quite rightly, wanting to bolster their capability. but we are -- we ourselves have been involved in taking munitions from romania and bulgaria, which we've air lifted, in fact. they used warsaw pact standard rounds, 7.62. and we ended up transferring those across. they now have a regular drum beat of airplane landing providing more weapon systems. my worry is, and i just share this, you know, with the committee that, you know, this is in a tough neighborhood. it's the peshmerga, you're giving it to the peshmerga which itself is made up of -- split into two with a political wing as well. those political wings were at war, civil war in the '90s. and yet there is an awful lot of weapon systems coming into the country itself.
as i say, i have no problem with the fact that we are arming that moment of need. what i would encourage, and i've said this and been very frank with the kurdish government, is somehow, squirreled away or disappear. worst case scenario, let's look at libya. not saying it would end up that way. but it's so flush with weapon systems now, it's actually very, very difficult. everybody feels the need to own -- i don't know how many are in the country compared -- it's about three times the population of actual weapon systems. so i would just say on the arming of the peshmerga, that i would like to see -- is actually upgrading the transparency, the capability and the accountability of the peshmerga to the kurdish government. and i think they understand that
as well. and britain stands ready to support in that request. that said, as i say, we have provided a number of weapon systems and most importantly, counter ied training, which is one of the things they have requested to us. we stand ready to answer any other questions that come britain's way. >> you mentioned the peshmerga. any other conditions put on the support that's been given? for example, the reform of the peshmerga? >> i'm not aware of any conditions as such. but as i say, i've been very, very frank with the peshmerga and, indeed, the government themselves to say this is your hour of need. we recognize that. but also we're -- we've seen all sorts of containers come in from around the world because requests are made right across the board. there also -- for their own capability, anybody that served or been near the armed forces or done the armed forces parliamentary scheme are aware you need a standard set of
equipment, which your forces then become familiar with rather than ad hoc bits, which come from nato standard or warsaw pact or chinese weapon systems. it can be very confusing. if in the long term you want capability. >> in terms of the two main factions, the peshmerga, i think there's quite a consensus that needs to reform weapon structure. i think that's why -- >> i beg your pardon. i absolutely agree. that's what we've been encouraging to do. so, you have one -- the peshmerga, the ministry of the peshmerga is simply answering to the government rather than any particular party. you forget there's a third party, the grand party, which is also developing.
do they want a wing -- their own military themselves? that's not the direction of travel we would want to see. >> thank you for that. >> sorry, edward. if i could, with sir john stanley sitting here, just say that all of our gifted equipment we asked be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. used to meet urgent operational needs, including the defense of civilian populations, not to be stockpiled, to remain in iraq and not to be sold or transferred to third parties. then we got assurances back from the kurdish regional government that they would observe those requirements. >> thank you. did you feel that the eu was playing a fifth part in supporting the peshmerga? >> i think this is something the foreign secretary raised last week in brussels. at the foreign affairs council. he's asked for it to come on the
agenda for -- is it december's meeting? >> yes. >> december's meeting. so the eu itself will be obliged to address this to say, whether there be more that can actually be done? from the nato requirement, i think the wales summit came out with a statement, if memory serves. i may have to write with you the details. edward -- >> essentially, nato was looking at how best it could contribute to the iraqi and syria mission, if you like, overall. particularly in respect of training. but also coming back to earlier parts of the skrugs whether there were ways in which we can use the coordination mechanisms that already exist within nato to ensure a proper sensible division of labor in terms of who supplies what. for example, the germans have supplied a lot of weapons and ammunition to the peshmerga. it would make no sense for us to then provide the same thing.
so we're trying to use the capabilities where they would add value but only where that would be the case. >> if i could add. there needs to be synergy between what the iraqi forces are doing as well. i'm pleased to see they have come together, not something they do a lot but a synergy equipment needs to take place. that's also happening in kobani as well. >> it requires a different kind of training as well. they are, you know, taking the fight to the enemy and such. i'm sure will no doubt lead to further requests of support for equipment and training. >> thank you. >> that is where i want to go, syria. we seem to be happy that the iraqi kurdish peshmerga are fighting to liberate kobani from i.s. the caliphate. we seem to be happy that the americans are bombing the fashionist jihadi caliphate but we don't seem to be doing
anything about it ourselves. can i declare an interest as somebody who tabled an early day motion number 500 last week? it calls for all parties to give solidarity to the kurds in syria as well as in iraq. also, i went last year with a group to irbil and i want to declare that as well, i guess. can i ask you, is there not some level absurdity in the position whereby we know that the heart of this organization is carrying out beheadings, they are trying to seize the areas which are currently under the control of the pyd, ypg, the syrian kurds? and yet, we have got this self-denying position that somehow britain is not going to be involved in syria. would you agree with me that this is illogical? >> i wouldn't for a number of reasons. if i could qualify why i think i
disagree. firstly, there is -- i think you are following the same chapter john did. >> i don't think the same. >> different traps. >> i think we have different positions. >> very close to each other. just looking through the priz dgs prism of britain. we should be in iraq and syria. that's a logical conclusion to draw. but you forget that we are part of a coalition. the americans, john allen, general allen, has not requested us to participate in there. they don't -- it's not that they are short of have too many targets and require british
airplanes to participate in a campaign. they don't. what they need from us and what we are providing is intelligence gathering. we're able importantly to provide that. there's also a legal aspect of that which i think the committee will be well familiar with. we are in iraq because of the invitation of the iraqi government. therefore, there is a legal step that we would have to go through. the americans are able to justify it through their attorney general. not only that, but the prime minister made it clear that were we to advance to include syria in the manner in which you describe, it would require a further vote in the house of commons.
that takes us into another world as to whether or not that would be successful. >> i can understand the political reasons. i'm not asking you to sort of say that the government would act without consent. but surly if the americans think it's legal to be bombing isil inside syria, what's the inhibition on the uk doing it? do we have different legal standards than the u.s.? >> you're saying why aren't we bombing? because the americans are bombing. if the americans are able to do the bombing that's required, should we not use our assets to support and focus on areas where, from a coalition perspective, there is a need? >> okay. all right. let's try a different way. we have given support in terms of non-lethal equipment to the free syrian army. the free syrian army, as far as i understand it, is not engaged directly in many areas where it is fighting against isil.
it may be fighting against the outside regime, but from what i understand -- you can correct me if i'm wrong -- the people in syria who are actually fighting against isil are syrian kurds. why don't we give assistance to the syrian kurdish forces who are actually engaged in fighting against isil? >> first let's go back to the free syrian army. you are right. where he providing non-lethal equipment. it's equipment which can be of service to them. they are providing and protecting the space in the north of syria. we're providing support to the police in that area as well. that sits next to the humanitarian support that's not only just provided into that
space but also into as many parts of syria as a whole as we can actually get into. the question as i go back to is, what is our contribution to the actual coalition itself? you are wanting us to jump ahead. >> no. >> yes, you are. >> i'm wanting us to take a view with regard to people -- if we are prepared to support some syrians against isil -- i want an explanation as to we are prepared to support the kurdish peshmerga and the americans are but why aren't we providing support to the kurds in their existential fight which they are engaged in in kobani and elsewhere? >> i go back to the legality. there's no legal case for us to do that. the people that are doing that and are gaining support from us and we have been through this in a previous question is the peshmerga. they are now moving to kobani,
moving through turkey. that's been agreed. they are taking on that fight themselves. >> i don't understand the argument about legal case. can you clarify that? >> as i say, when the -- we looked at this. it may be that we return to this when there comes another vote. there has to be legal justification for us to be able to enter syria without their permission. >> i'm not asking for us to enter syria. what is the legal objection for us providing support as we have done to the free syrian army to the pyd or other kurdish opposition to isil and the asad regime? >> i'm not aware of any request from the pyd to -- >> but you said there were legal problems. i'm not clear what the legal objection would be. if we're prepared to support the free syrian army, why are we not prepared to support kurds? >> the list that i read out involving in low level
communications, flak jackets, we are able do this. it's not arming in that sense. >> final question. is it our priority to defeat isil in syria or to remove the asad regime in syria? which is more important? >> the international coalition's objective is to militarily defeat isil. we then need to create the space in order for sunni engagement to take over that space. that is the objective. now, that will, of course, involve operations on both sides of the border itself. we are participating in one particular aspect of that, which i mentioned earlier. asad -- he is aware of this -- is contributing to the success of isil by creating the space and denying moderate sunnis the ability to have a voice because there is no voice, they have gone and rallied against him. you mentioned an example of
that. asad himself is somebody that we believe has caused this. therefore, that's why it isn't a choice because there is -- it's so binary that we need to switch from one to the other. because isil is developed into a greater threat, we need to support assad. >> let me be clear. you are saying that the priority is to get rid of isil? and we all accept that this is not going to be immediate. this is a long-term process. that presumably means, whereas two years ago the government was talking about the imminent end of the assad regime, where he envisioning assad in some form controlling considerable parts of syrian territory for perhaps years or even longer to come? >> i will return to this in a second. >> i think the answer to that is no, we're not.
we do think that, if you like, the first concentration of our intervention should be against isil. but the effect of that mustn't be that we thereby strengthen assad or that while we fight with others isil that the flame of the syrian opposition is sort of extinguished. and, therefore, we have to be able to do both concurrently. and we have i think always also
recognized that in syria, you need -- you can't have simply a military solution. that there needs to be a political process going as well. one of the things we're doing at the moment is trying to react to that political process which sort of comes after the failure of geneva 2 to get a sense of forward movement and to underline, despite all the international discussion around this, that we can't see a future for syria in which assad is a part after everything that's happened. so how do we -- we as part of the international community move both the military, if you like, intervention forward but also -- the military part of it, but
also the political as well? they have to go hand in hand. >> let me add to that, there's no doubt that what is happening in syria is complex and it's multi-faceted. it's also unpredictable to some extent. what is happening is that -- from an isis perspective, there's people from around the world who continue to join the forces of isil. the same isn't -- the same cannot be said for assad. his officer class is being depleted. therefore, there could be a moment in the future whereby there are big decisions to be made about -- for the people under the assad regime as to whether they still believe they should continue supporting him. that is a very, very important moment to recognize when it will be and what -- how the international community will respond. if we were to take assad's regime, the space which is -- a lost of warlordism is taking place. if it was a patient, do we want to patient to die completely, for assad to be overrun? and with all the criminality and the vacuum of power which would be filled in by isil, or do we want the patient to remain alive that we can have the infrastructure and the state capability there for whether it be the syrian coalition government or indeed others -- sunnis who are the quiet voices
who no longer believe that the future is with assad are able to move forward rather than have the state collapse completely, which i think would be terrible for the entire region. >> thank you. >> what's the estimated figure of the total number of fighters in syria plus those in iraq? >> the figures vary. do we have some numbers? they are continually being replenished, sadly, because many -- many from around the region are joining forces or being trained in small numbers. so anything between 20 and 30,000. >> you reject the recent reports
that have been made that the british government's figures are massively understating the number of fight sneakers. >> i'm not sure what you mean. the number of britains who have chosen to leave here and go there? >> the total number of fighters. there have been reports that the british government stated figures are massively underestimating the item number. >> i don't -- i don't think we are going to get an exact figure on. there isn't a roll call that we can lean on. >> i understand. >> these are estimates. >> i understand that. we're not talking about marginal
differences. we're talking about quantum number differences. your official may recognize the reports i am referring to which is six-figure numbers rather than five-figure numbers. >> i think what sir john is referring is the alleging that the islamic state has an army of 200,000. he was directing his ire at the americans as much as anyone, i think. i think i have to say our effort accident support that in the terms in which he said it. the point he was trying to make is that so-called -- they control an area a third of syria or a third of iraq that includes some several million people and how could a -- such a small number of fighters control that? first thing -- i think to
analyze the structure of the -- it's got what they call the tip of the speer, which are the people that do the fighting. it's probably thousands. then you have the people who come in afterwards. then you have the great mass who go along with. the numbers who sustain. the incidental evidence -- it's difficult to get hard facts on all of this. as the number of people who actually, for example, run the i.s. administration in mosul is very small. so by any standards, this figure of 200,000 looks massively inflated. >> thank you. >> i think there are tribes who have chosen to put their hands up and say i support isil. they have come through my neck of the woods and come down the river, i don't want to fight with them, i'm a sunni. i feel better off. i'm happy because they seem to
be on the winning side. they seem to be the winning side at the moment. i will support them. do you include those as well as fighters or supporters? there is a gray area when you count the numbers up. >> lastly, does the government agree that within the i.s. areas in syria and in iraq, the i.s. is trying to carry out effectively and enforce program of additional fighters from men and young adolescent boys? >> i think it is fair to say that's what's happening. there's a sense of fear that the isil uses in order to force individuals who perhaps when they are -- with intent to fight. britains, some of them who have returned or come back to europe have said that they were monitored and if they were seen not to continue to fight with the same level of energy that they went out there, then they
would actually be killed or somehow persecuted. you are right. i think there's a massive amount of fear and brutality that isil is using in order to contain the ranks. >> at the moment, the consulate is running from a seventh floor. is that good enough? doest allow service? >> i visited. when we arrived, i share my surprise that we had arrived at the consulate's location. what is fair to say is that where things were in june, where the country was -- where the kurdish region was going in june is in a very different place as to where we are today.
i'm pleased that there are reinforcements coming in that have bolstered the numbers. i will get back to you with more information on the location. i don't want to commit ourselves to a new building. but there is a question as to whether that's the right location for it, baring in mind the increase involvement and commitment that we are having to northern iraq. >> there is going to be -- there is an undertaking for a new building. it's supposed to open in the second part of next year. is that correct? >> i don't know the time. >> why is it taking so long? >> there is a plot of land. there was and still is an existing plan to build a consulate general that would have been adequate to the circumstances before the isil
onslaught. why was that taking so long to get off the ground? because we were having a number of issues with the local kurdish authorities about land use, getting the necessary utilities tied in, getting the necessary permissions to build and so on and so forth. it became clear after everything that happened in june and july, august that we were going to go into a spike of activity. and what we are trying to judge is where the new normal going to be for 2016, '17, onward. so what sort of building do we need that will be adequate to the requirements? we are sure what we were going to build -- >> does that mean you are telling the committee that there is no agreement to open a new office, new consulate in 2015? because that's what the committee was told. are you saying that's not the case? >> we cannot physically meet the timetable to build -- hold on.
if i may. the timetable to complete a new consulate building by the june -- by summer of next year, was about -- became impractical about seven or eight months ago. that timetable was going to take another, i don't know, six months or nine months. the point is that the building as it would produce now is no longer large enough for what we will need. so what we are trying to do is urgently work out what sort of a new building we would need. are the present facilities adequate? no. we recognize that. that's why we were trying to build a new building. >> so the plan to move by 2015, second part of 2015 has now been stopped? >> well, the timetable to achieve that by the 2015 is no
longer practical for the reasons i have explained. but it was never -- from about seven months ago when we couldn't get necessary permissions, it wasn't going to be anyway. >> can you understand the local frustration, for example, the fact that is took so long to look at the last building, the russians -- the building and know they are talking about another extension because when we were there, we were well under the impression that this building was going to open in 2015? can you understand local politician frustration when you look at how they perceive the united kingdom to be dragging their heels on this particular project? >> you make an important point. i hear that loud and clear. i would like to think that local
politicians judge britain on our commitment, our investment and our relationship not just on the building itself. if i may, i will investigate further. if i can, i will write to the committee to explain what is actually happening with the plans. bearing in mind that from june to today, there's an increase in the number of -- size of accommodation has grown from what was needed before, because we have upgraded the number of staff that will work in northern iraq. >> we saw the germans with a new building. >> the promise that it would be set up, which we were told about again when we were there. can you advise us to where this is a case whether the joint committee super and running? >> could you repeat the question. the committee that was supposed
to be set up after the visit here by kurdish politicians. where are we on the joint committee? has it been set up? >> when the prime minister was here in may and we agreed then that we would set up this committee it not surprisingly the kurdish government have had other things to focus on since then. when we have seen him in the krg since, when the foreign secretary was there, we agreed that it is something we needed to press ahead with. >> so just to clarify, it's not been set up and started yet? >> it hasn't met for first time yet. >> it's not -- yeah. okay. >> sounds like the consulate building.
okay. we will try something else. can you update as to whether there are any plans to update kurdistan government on local delivery? there are a -- not just security that we are trying to endeavor to strengthen relationships. this is something britain does very well. indeed, i think there is training taking place. you can ask me have they started? i'm not sure. >> i think we get the drift here. >> i got the flavor of it. but we are training civil servants in various ministries and working with them in order to improve government's transparency and accountability. >> locally? >> yes. >> do you think the uk's business footprint is as large as it could be?
>> it's worth mentioning the vision 2020 document in relation to that last question. it's related to this one as well. can i ask why you asked the question? >> why do i ask the question? because it's the job of this committee to exercise foreign office policy. >> that is no doubt. britain, i think, has the largest number of businesses that actually are operating in northern iraq than any other country. that's why i ask. we are in a very, very strong. but, obviously, we want to do more. >> let me give you more detail. we picked up the vibes that the uk's presence was not as strong as it could be and other companies -- country's corporations were more active. there's our travel advice. there's the uk irbil airport and
the lack of direct link to the uk. >> there already exists a huge footprint. britain is very well established both in northern iraq but also in with the hydro carbons. there has been on -- staying with the oil and gas industry, there has been difficulties because of the licensing agreements and the approval of baghdad, which is why some companies have chosen to focus on the oil refineries and not bothered or near irbil because of the differences. that i hope is advancing and with the oil agreement we have got we can see companies being able to do both and not feeling they have been shunted away. there's more work that we can do. we are looking to put more businesses out. ukti is soon to be established.
we will bring more businesses to irbil in order to introduce them to the opportunities that are there. in particular sectors we want to invest in or did invest in is healthcare, education, infrastructure, legal and financial services. >> director links? >> sorry? >> direct air links? >> something that needs to happen. there's more frustration than stopping off at vienna along the way and so forth. there's a note on this i remember reading. there are some issues to do with british -- the british being able to check on the air side of the irbil terminal. if we can get these sorted, then from a british perspective we are very keen for direct flights to happen. but it then requires an airline to pick this up.
but there are just some issues to deal with, certification of standard of security from a british perspective, which are very high as you would appreciate. once there's a confirm, then i hope any airline, but british airlines in particular, will pick up and have a direct flight from irbil. i appreciate as much as everybody the important of direct flights. >> are there any plans to review the travel advise? >> it's constantly under review. it's something i have to sign off myself. i'm aware of that. will look at it. i think we looked at it recently. but i will look at it from this committee. we have to bear in mind the environment that we're dealing with. but i very much -- i hope it has been proved to the extent that i am very keen for british business to flourish in iraq and in northern iraq and certainly for kurdistan to do as well as possible and for britain to participate in that.
if there is a possibility of reducing the threats and the travel advice, i will engage there that. >> getting back to the question about regional government, i and i think other colleagues rather pick up the vibe that once the financial differences between irbil and baghdad were sorted out and you -- they have made good progress on this, there's the possibility there may be an independence referendum in kurdistan. do you think that's possible? >> i think there's a lot of work to be done in other areas. i'm aware that this is something the people want to approach. i think it's also in the constitution as well to be considered. i believe this is a difficult
neighborhood. i believe the government believes that the -- the country is stronger by having the influence of the kurds in baghdad. i think the integrity, security, economic prosperity is better pursued with the country remaining as it is. >> i just pinched the question on that. apologies. do you want to come back on it now? >> yes. thank you. minister, the nation of iraq was an artificial construction. the reality is that the people of kurdistan would like to have independence at some point. there's no doubt about that. is it not time for the uk to think about how in the long-term the region can be changed, the boundaries of the nations can be changed and recreated to ensure that there is more stability and that there is more ability to create stronger nations longer term than the instability which i don't think can ever be
resolved on the current boundaries? >> i think i can only repeat just what i just said. it's our view that the country is far stronger, the kurds have a pragmatic approach with the other two major players here, the shiites and sunnis in providing collective transparent integrated government in baghdad. that's why i believe the country itself, but not only that but the region itself is from a security perspective, economic prosperity and so forth is better met by the country staying as one. >> i understand that point. it's a very valid point. but as time goes on, is it fair to expect the kurds to tie themselves to an artificial construction of which they don't
feel part of when they have proved themselves to be able to run a successful state independently of that? surely, we should give the people of kurdistan the right to have self-determination as we would with anywhere else in the world. >> you answered your own question there in the sense that anywhere else in the world can follow our example that we had not long ago here in scotland. that was done with the consent of the entire country. it was done in a manner which had a result and then we honored. that's important that anywhere in the world who wishes to pursue testing, whether or not a part of the country should go
down the independence route, should honor. >> i'm not 100% certain it was with the consent of the rest of the united kingdom that scotland was going to be independent potentially. >> are you saying if there was a vote in england to keep scotland, there might have been a different end. zswz >> we announced scotland to make its own choice. my point is -- >> rather dangerous one. >> indeed. my point being very simply, the people of kurdistan or the kurdish region of iraq, what criteria if the uk government were to support them to become independent, what criteria would there need to be laid down before such a decision was made? >> i think we're moving into a hypothesis here. it would be dangerous for any government to build parameters to do with what might or might not take part if a particular
part of a country wanted to seek independence. i cannot stress that this is a tough neighborhood. the kurds are a powerful influencing force, a power fbl stabilizing force in iraq as a hole. the strong is stronger for it. >> are we against any possibilities in principal that iraq must stay together, or is there circumstances that you could see in the future where maybe not only in kurds' interests but in the uk interests to allow separate states to evolve from the ashes of what we see in the middle east at the moment? >> i invite you to ask the same question as many times. i'm afraid it's the same answer. i feel the country is far stronger as one integral solid iraq. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. minister, in february 2013 on a motion from myself, the house resolved without division that this house recognizes the genocide against the people of
iraq, kurdistan and encourages the people -- the minister did not oppose the motion and said we could have further meetings to look at this. although the government's position remained the same. it is not for the government to decide whether genocide has been committed in this case. we have heard some evidence in our inquiry that the uk's policy of non-recognition, the government's policy may damage the standing of the uk in kurdistan. what would be your response to that? >> firstly, i think that this monstrosity should never be forgotten. i'm grateful to the london higher representative who took a delegation to the memorial. it is moving, as it always is, to go to any of the locations and learn about the history. it's important that we do not forget, we learn from it.
what happened in 1988, it is for the criminal courts. it's a judicial matter. rather than any government -- the criminal court made that clear. there's a statute which actually means that i understand anything predating 2002 from when the criminal court was established, you can't go back in retrospect and use that judicial term itself. they have their reasons for coming out with that line of only looking to events that happen once the court was established. with that said, i think it's important that we mark the day. my predecessor attended the
event last april. i would hope to do so next year. it's important we do not forget what happened back in 1988. >> further to your early aside about asking questions in a -- your confusion about traps. our job is to actually scrutinize our own government. having said that, we frame the questions as broadly as possible taking into account regional alliances. in that vein, when it comes to the defense of the people of kurdistan against isil, we haven't touched upon our regional allies of what more
could we do to encourage a broader approach, a greater support. what is the british government doing? what is the west doing in order to encourage more regional support to achieve our overall objectives given we all accept air strikes will not achieve the task and we don't want to put western troops on the ground? >> firstly, to answer mill tear require aspect, i repeat what i said before, we are part of a wider equation. the offering that we provide is what has been requested of us. if there are further requests, for example, to participate in syria, then they will be taken on board. if requiring a vote in parliament, so will be. we have to remember that we have to take the nation with us on this and have the support of the nation, which is why the prime minister brought this to parliament in the first case. you ask a very important question, which i don't think is asked enough. it's easy to defeat militarily any insurgency.
but you won't defeat the idea. you won't defeat that vacuum can be quickly refilled unless another ideology -- accepted ideology that everybody else accepts comes in. i think not enough is done to discredit isil or delegitimize the ideology. i think it's for the region itself, it's the moderate sunni voices to offer and say that islam is a peaceful religion. this isn't what we stand for. this isn't who we are. this is not the calling that you should be listening to. pursue a different ideology, a different one which will see peace in iraq and syria. >> i think that's a fair point. you have to take on the ideology as well as the force on the ground. but the immediate threat when it
comes to kurdistan is the isil threat in front of them. now, you have sidetracked the question. coming back to military support, coming back to any other support, one accepts the point about ideology. but is there more our regional allies could do to help in taking on isil on the ground? >> i would say that the strategy at the moment, which is allowing the space for both the peshmerga and the iraqi national forces is working. i would say that the air campaign is providing the attrition we need to hold back isil in iraq itself. i think syria, as has been exposed, is a bigger challenge. there's no doubt about it. but i think in what we're seeing there, we are -- the strategy is
working. >> they are not needed? >> i'm sorry? >> they are not needed? regional ally support is not needed? >> i didn't say that. i think that the strategy is working. what then can be -- what we don't want to -- iraq doesn't want to see any other country with -- other countries bringing in and putting boots on the ground. that would compound the matter. they must answer and take over of the space, push back the ideology and provide that security environment for the country to move forward peacefully. having said that, there is more support that can be done militarily to the peshmerga. from the north itself. there's more military capability, more training. that can come from a variety of sources. germany has brought in some more equipment. milan -- anti-tank weapon systems. regionally i would like to see more done as well. >> minister, you mentioned
whatever happens that the idea is is still around as far as i.s. is concerned, the ideology would still be there. isn't it also helped by the fact that i.s. got considerable financial resources made available to them now, but they've got so much oil on the black market that's being sold and obviously they have taken over banks and the like to get currency as well. isn't that part of the equation in terms of winning over a population and making sure even though they might not like the ideology, they are prepared to live under it? >> i think you raise an important point. there are many that are tolerating it because they feel that they have no other choice. this goes back to the situation that developed under assad where the sunnis were not given the
free space. therefore, they ended up rallying around a flag which ended up being extremist. that complicates the challenge that we face. >> do you think that challenge is insurmountable? do you think we can win this from the air with help on the ground? >> sir, i think you oversimplify what is happening on the ground as opposed to what we are actually doing to contribute. it isn't simply an air campaign6 there is an awful lot of multi-facetted approach to take on the capability, not the least in supporting indigenous ground troops to take on the fight themselves. >> how long do you think it will last? >> i wouldn't like to speculate. i should perhaps cause in expecting anything in months or years. i think this is going to take a number of years in the same way that al qaeda as an ideology remains with us. in fact, there are this competition that we see between
isil and aq at the moment. it remains with us even though the leader itself was killed in pakistan a number of years ago. >> forgive me for not being present when you began your evidence, minister. president obama, when asked to say how long he thought it would take, said something like two or three years. there's corroboration from what you just said from across the atlantic. >> glad to know he is in agreement with me. >> i'm sure he is quite relieved as well. the question i want to ask is this. how far do you think success would be easier if there could be serious disruption of the black market in oil in which isis is profiting? >> we are aware oil is being bought by assad himself.
and there's a lot that are going through in other courses on the black market itself, enormous borders with jordan and turkey and so forth, it's difficult to ensure that they are policed. there's hostage taking as well. we are aware we have our own hostage situation. isil is -- has many lebanese hostages. from much lower levels of payments which keeps the money coming in as well. these are -- they are paid off because they are smaller amounts. there's also, sadly, many individual donors from around the world that continue to fund this ideology and fund isil. one of the reasons why u.n. security council resolution -- 182170 took place is because -- to prevent individuals from any country breaking the law that
you can stop individuals rather than countries, can continue to fund terrorism in this manner. >> i understand all of that. really, i should have asked a more direct question. is there any action being taken to try and disrupt the black market in oil? >> there's a number of sites, without giving too much away, but there are -- >> i understand. >> i think you said on an earlier committee which looks into this as well, there are operationally we are trying to disturb the oil patterns. >> i'm content to leave it at that. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. it's really helpful to have these sessions like this where we can speak quite openly and freely and get the evidence that we need. it's been very helpful. >> as long as we keep it to ourselves. >> i'm afraid i can't assure you
on that. order, order. >> thank you. donald trump is speaking tonight. he's expected to talk about his political aspirations and entrance to the business community. the trumps are rehabbing the old pennsylvania avenue post office turning it into a high end hotel and shopping area. you can see comments live at 7:00 eastern on c-span. and then at 8:00 eastern here on c-span 3, a subcommittee looks at military cemetery operations with a close look at expanding the system and improving assistance to families. good afternoon and welcome.
my name is byron, an adjunct professor at the university school of media and public affairs and former bureau chief with the associated press and the 107th president of the national press club. the national press club is the world's leading -- committed to our profession's future through our programming, with events such as this, while fostering a free press worldwide. for more information about the national press club, please visit our website at press.org. on behalf of our members worldwide, i would like to welcome our speaker and those of you attending today's event. our head table includes guests of our speaker as well as working journalists who are club members, if you hear applause in our audience, note that members of the public are attending. so it is not necessarily evidence of a lack of journalistic activity if you
hear applause. i would also like to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences, after our guest speech concludes, we'll have a question and answer period and we'll ask as many questions as time permits. now it's time to introduce our head table guests. i would like each of you to stand as your name is announced. let me begin on the right. jean thai. elizabeth smith brownstein, a member of the press club's history and heritage committee and a writer of our online newsletters this week in the national press club history. doris margolis, president of editorial associates and a member of the speaker's committee. yasmine el sabowi. multimedia journalist and washington correspondent for the kuwait news agency. nick apostali ty deputy ceo of the visitor's center and pro
organizer of this luncheon. adrian arst, leading arts philanthropist who is a major funder of the adrian arst musical theater fund at the center and a guest of our speaker. jerry zerimski, buffalo news washington chief chairman of the speak are's committee and former president of the national press club. skipping over our speaker for a moment, amy henderson, historical emeritus at the national portrait gallery and co-organizer of this luncheon. helen lee, henderson. important philanthropist who serves on the board of the kennedy center national orchestra, she too is a guest of our speaker.
maria resio, arts and culture. ken melgren, chairman of the board of governors of the national press club, former chair of the broadcast committee and a retired staffer from the associated p2eíbroadcast division and michael phelps, former publisher of the washington examiner and news media executives. please, a round of applause. a year before his death, president john f. kennedy spoke on behalf of the national cultural center that would ultimately bear his name.
quote, after the dust of centuries has passed, he said, we too will be remembered, not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit, unquote. this september deborah rutter became president of the john f. kennedy center for the performing arts. the first woman to serve in that office and the first to come from the world of orchestras. she grew up in a family that loved music, her father was a founder of the los angeles master correll. rutter began playing the violin as a child and she said that playing the violin is how i found out who i was. rutter comes to washington from chicago, where she was president of the chicago symphony orchestra association, she said she was drawn to the kennedy center for the opportunity to use arts to affect the rest of ñ the world. she wants to develop greater collaborations with other arts associations, including museums, theaters and untraditional groups.
she said the kennedy center should have a seat at the table in dealing with challenging social and cultural issues. rutter is a prolific fund-raiser known for recruiting top talent. and boosting outreach to new audiences. here she will serve as artistic and administrative leader for dance, chamber music and jazz. she will also oversee the national symphony orchestra and the washington national opera. she will be inheriting an ambitious $100 million renovation that is expected to be complete on john f. kennedy's 100 birthday. please join me in welcoming the new president of the kennedy center, deborah rutter.#ñc
>> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> thank you. i think he said it all. so we're done now, we can all have a nice afternoon. thank you, myron for the invitation to be here, thank you, nick, thank you, amy, for the opportunity to be here and and for your very generous words. you've done great research also, i understand. it is a pleasure and an honor for me to be here. when you don't live in washington, d.c., this place jy d.c., but this place is a very famous sort of awe-inspiring place. so it is really a great honor for me to be here. and i am very grateful for my friends who are here from the kennedy center, and who care about the arts in our society. i want to say thank you to adrian and to helen for being my stallworths. they're great friends and support. i've been thinking a lot about story-telling recently.
i'm not exactly sure why, but as i think about it, there's some sign posts, perhaps. this has been a year of major transition for me and my family. and as one says farewell to one home, a community and the friends there, it leads you to reflect to some degree, and to commemorate your time there. last spring i had many, many opportunities to share memories, tellé'b[ stories, and laugh ab shared history. also, in moving, you know the trauma of moving. you uncover all kinds of things. and we've come across countless boxes of memorabilia, some recent, some really ancient. all of which jogs one's memory of stories that are told, and some untold. then, of course, my daughter, who has the same propensity to keep things that her mother has, has childhood storybooks, and
they're plentiful, recalling for me the moments of joy, and intimacy and wonder in the telling and retelling of those wonderful stories. so perhaps this is why i have a preoccupation with story-telling right now. arriving in washington has been an adventure for all of us, meeting new friends, and colleagues, such as here today, keskting with old friends, which has been really wonderful for me. learning the system of how the city works. my daughter finding her new ways around her school, and for me, a new place to work. and let me tell you, that is a real study, figuring out how to get around there. again, stories are plentiful. as i introduce myself, and hear about the history and the people of our new home. you might say, well, that's what washington, d.cnylçñ all about. but i would say, that this is what our world is all about.
not just washington, but our world. it's about story-telling. story-telling is the way we share who we are with others. it is a way to reveal onesself, to communicate feelings and ideas. with our stories we share history, get to know one another. story-telling connects us, andu represents the draw strings of our lives. all of us are w6xmñstory-tellere form or another. m÷ of us are betterr than others, some of us more err colorful and creative, others more liberal and concise, but we're all telling one story or another. just to make sure i was on the right track i went to theh1bku ultimate source and typed in the definition of story telling on my internet browser. the result, story telling is the conveying of events in words and images, often by)çaç improvisat or embellishment. stories or narratives have been
shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values. i didn't have to look far to find out exact hi what i was looking for in terms of that definition. so with this definition, it argues that journalists are true professional storytellers. hopefully without too much embellishment or improvisation. journalists provide the heroic role of documenting our collective lives, our shared history. you are the ones we engage with every day, or hopefully every day -- every day in my case. your work provides the recorded history we reflect back on to understand who we are as a culture, what actions were taken, what decisions were made, what we have done as a result of those decisions, how we reached how the larger world has
responded. so i put forthvb(w to you that is just another form of story telling. it provides the narrative to our lives, a way of advancing as well as preserving our culture. a story as conveyed through artistic expression comes in varying forms. sometimes it's literal, sometimes it's obscure, or initially beyond understanding. it can be fun, and entertaining. engrossing, and provocative. no matter the medium or the actual story, it is always making one think and feel.i"-] theater, opera, dance, music, film and the visual arts, all of these are telling us stories. sure, often there is just pure entertainment]wqz be enjoyed a well. who doesn't need that maybe now more than ever. but an evening of so-called pure entertainment is likely also a time when other emotions and ideas are bubbling inside.
i saw evita with my daughter and her friend recently at the opera house at the kennedy center. this is an evening where one will say i'll see great tunes, sets and costumes, it will be fun. but the truth, yes, great music, wonderful actors, telling a story, what is that story about. the struggle of lower class to break out of its cycle of poverty, overwhelming narcissism, greed, consuming power, that brings down not just a woman and a family, but a whole country. yes, evita is a story about history, using the theater to convey not just the details, but emotions, insights and values. the performing arts highlight all of the emotions of our world, shine a spotlight on the topics we sometimes dare not to debate, force us to experience
feelings we may want to brush allows us to enter a world simultaneously shared with others, in the audience, and yet experience individually in our heart and our mind. with evita, we look back on an era of a country, its history. in the case of tony cushner's movie, we are faced with another part of our society. the plague changed the way we talk about gay life and aids. while he was perhaps shocking when it premiered in its format, dialogue and frank treatment of the issues, it ultimately was one of the first and most important artistic expressions on that topic, using the theater, again, as a way to explore social issues. so think about swan lake, reflect on the rite of spring,
consider bach's st. matthew's passion, which i love so much. all are stories to be told using the performing arts to communicate beauty, perspective, thoughtfulness, spirituality. they also challenge us as we sit in the darkened theater to understand ourselves, consider our society, and our environment. my argument, art is certainly for art's sake. i really agree with that statement, and i support all who utter it. but i also fervently believe in art for life's sake, that we cannot live or share this world without art. art is the way we tell the stories of our lives, to offer commentary on the world we live in, to provide a sanctuary for personal, spiritual reflection, an opportunity to state more boldly those ideas that may feel too difficult, too dangerous for
whatever reason to personal or socially challenging. or better yet, the joy and the exhalation of ÷@k#ñlive. bach, andrew lloyd weber may seem obvious of the importance of art and story telling, but i want to tell you now of quite a different example. when we announced in chicago that ricardo mutti would become our tenth music director, he surprised us, not for the first nor the last time, i should say, by announcing at his introductory press conference that he wanted to take the orchestra to all parts of chicago, especially those without access to music, even to prisons. he and i spoke often of his interest in sharing the resources, the music-making of the orchestra in the community, but the prisons was a bit of a
surprise to us. our team took the challenge and after some consideration developed a really special program. we chose to go to a juvenile detention center toayv work wit young women in partnership with story catcher's theater. every week, every week, two members of our chorus go to the illinois state detention center in warrenville, working side by side with the theater teaching artists, developing stories and lyrics written by the girls, the inmates themselves. their stories. stories that are hard to tell, stories hard to hear. after four months of preparation like this, the cso composer in residence also goes to the center for residency, and works on developing songs with the girls. they write the tunes, and@ç=q s helps orchestrate it. she arranges those songs for