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tv   Confirmation Hearing for Saudi Arabia Iraq Ambassador Posts  CSPAN  March 8, 2019 2:00am-4:05am EST

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knox, a senate confirmation hearing on trumps choices of saudi arabia and iraq. after that, a discussion about the future of medicare. the foreign relations committee held a confirmation hearing for the attorney general's. president trumps nominees to saudi arabia and iraq is two
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hours. >> committee will come to order. today we will hear a couple of very important positions, we have a couple nominees that want to be ambassadors of saudi arabia and iraq. to introduce our nominees, we have the very distinguished guest in the great state of alaska senator sullivan who will make the introductions. the floor is yours. speak i think you mr. chairman and senator menendez. is truly an honor for me to come before the committee today on the half of my friends in the great american general u.s. army retired support. his confirmation to be u.s. ambassador to saudi arabia.
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i know you all had an opportunity to review his resume so what i want to do is to highlight a few important elements of personal background and experience i have seen firsthand. after graduating from west point, the general began his army career 1973 as an infantry platoon leader. he raced to the ranks of four- star general was the longest- serving general in the area around responsibility and at the time spanned more than 4 million square miles in africa, egypt, iraq, afghanistan, south, and central asia. as he rose through the ranks he always kept his mind sharp, he has achieved a masters from harvard university, he was a homestead scholar at the university of jordan and after
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34 years of service to his nation, he retired from the u.s. military in 2007 and is now at stanford platoon university. in 2005 i was a major in the marine corps reserves and we were called to spend close to a year and a half when he was commander. i was pretty much with him everywhere in the world during that time, iraq, afghanistan, central asia and yemen. it was a difficult time in the region, especially anorak. what i witnessed day in and day out is everything you would want in an american general and an american serving our country. a man of the highest integrity, a warrior, a scholar, a truly tested leader and yes a diplomat
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that during his time in the military garnered the deep respect of the state department who had key understanding of politics for which he was responsible. there are few people in our country who understand the currents of u.s. interest, talents, and history in the middle east that john does. he commands respect and trust from those around him, those who have served with him. i remember watching in amazement several times as a staff officer when he had meetings with leaders in the region whether it was kings or prime ministers where he would begin the meetings speaking in arabic and another element of his distinguished background occurred.
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this kind of credibility and trust was so critical in the region. he is also a man with a great sense of humor and sharp wit. i remember a time when i was outside his office in iraq waiting for him and the other individual was also a marine corps major. general mccaffrey walked out and looked at the two marine majors and said john, what is with these marines hanging around your office to which the general responded i like hanging out with marines, it makes me feel smart. the general is a classic example of an american patriot willing to serve his country for all the right reasons. he was sought out by the administration because of his
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extensive experience and knowledge of u.s. relations and the issues in the middle east. he accepted president trumps nomination because he knows at this point in time it is important to have skill to navigate such a multifaceted relationship in this very important but challenging region and yes the u.s. saudi relation is indeed complex. i know there is a lot of debate in this chamber on foreign- policy as it relates to yemen and iran and i'm sure you will ask hard but fair questions. here's an issue in which there should be no debate. we need a highly qualified ambassador and we need not person there soon. i don't think there has been a nominee before the committee who is so uniquely qualified and well-equipped to manage the relationship for which he has
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been nominated. he has been able to serve his country as he always has with integrity, honor, and distinction. i urge you all to support his decision and move to confirm him as soon as possible. thank you again mr. chairman for the opportunity to say a few words about a great american. speak i think you very much. we will hear from both of our witnesses and just a moment but the ambassador with us today has been nominated for a career member of foreign services across the middle east to serve his country since 2014. his experience navigating the complexities has given him a unique perspective on reconciliation which will no doubt serve him well and he has
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served as ambassador in his current role and is a senior diplomat in iraq. let me say just a couple of things as we have been here, as far as saudi arabia we have shared security interests in combating extremism and arabian influence and we should not lose sight of that. at the same time i think all of us have serious concern over events surrounding the saudi kingdom. it has made difficult u.s. efforts in the gulf arab unity against iran. we look forward to hearing how you plan to work with saudi officials to advance u.s. objectives on a wide range of
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issues including the role in the yemen complex and crisis with qatar and reported human right abuses. in addition to that, we welcome him regarding the iraq post that remains ongoing tensions between baghdad as we all know particularly in relationship to the ally of ours that the relationship anorak be repaired. this comes at a time when they debate a resolution that affects the u.s. military and i look forward to hearing how we can work together to communicate our shared security interests with officials in iraq to the
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breaking members. speak thank you mr. chairman. i just want to tell our distinguished friend and colleague that my marine detachment actually protect the embassy so i don't know if they want to hear that jack but in any event, thank you for both signing up to serve 2 complex countries in the united states with secure partnerships. i think it sends an important signal especially since we have not had a nominee in 2 years. while we have had 2 close door briefings they were wholly unsatisfactory in providing this committee with information. they attempted to provide a
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murder of american residents and they were insulted. i urge the committee to hold open hearings with the administration to understand actions and objectives. i ask you to work with me and the other bipartisan cosponsors on the saudi arabia yemen accountability. if the president fails to act i believe congress must. you will both face challenging environments as we discussed saudi arabia has taken a number of actions that seriously strain the relationships over the past few years actions that many had hoped for. under new management this led them to a devastating war in yemen, threatening gulf cooperation and coordination against threats from iran and regional groups and his family effectively intimidated the
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lebanese prime minister and just this week we publicly learned about the detention and potential torture of a united states citizen. i would like to acknowledge a member of his family advocates are here today. amidst all of this we continued to cooperate in confronting real and strategic threats to the united states and saudi interests. picking him does continue to face threats and no country should be expected to live with a threat of missiles being launched across the border. violent fashions only become more empowered. we cannot let these interest lined us to our values or long- term interests in stability. i have been disappointed with public administrations toward saudi arabia, our leaders can demand accountability for abuses
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and while i am weary of the militarization i believe you have the right experience with the kind of leadership we need. as we discussed you will face not only the challenge of engaging the saudi's you will have to contend with how they run their own bilateral show. giving your service to yemen has some positive challenges. we have led to promote security interests while also ensuring people have a political process to express their interest. it equitably and adequately promotes our interest.
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unfortunately, the president only increase some of the challenges we face. there is a growing movement with some political corners to ask american troops to leave the country. we have invested too many lives seeing too many iraqis parish with critical alliances to build that. we must work to support building institutions to promote processes and continue training security forces so that the iraqis themselves can ultimately defend their country. we must support efforts to continue to stabilize iraq to iranian political ambitions. i'm particularly concerned about permanently closing in bosnia. their job will be to keep an
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open mind and to include populations within all important relationships. i look forward to hearing from both of you. >> gentlemen, thank you for the ability to take this on in the opening statement. we tried to answer some of the questions that are really challenging about everyone who comes here both of these are very unique challenges and we hear a lot of talk from all the opinion writers about reconciling interests in strategic relationships with saudi arabia and reconciling how we are going to do that while at the same time saudi arabia has engaged in acts that
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are just simply not acceptable and unfortunately as i said, we hear a lot of descriptions about the problem, we don't hear any answers. people have been modesty suggestions, none of which will solve the problem. it is an ongoing conversation that we're having sometimes publicly or privately and likewise between the committee and the administration. knowing that you don't have a silver bullet or a magic answer, we do want to hear your thoughts and your analysis comments and maybe even helpful suggestions because everyone agrees we have to go forward and reconcile these competing things. iraq is not the similar but
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this'll make it very difficult for us but we have it to be in the interest of both countries or it won't be a relationship. we will start out with the general why don't you take the floor. >> thank you for the very overrated introduction, he is a smart marine. he is a great marine and a great senator and i value his service to the nation so much, thank you senator sullivan. i also want to say how privileged i am to be here with tough and demanding assignments. i am honored to be the next
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u.s. ambassador to the kingdom of saudi arabia. i am grateful to the president into secretary pompeo and i welcome the opportunity that my full testimony be submitted. i pledge to advance u.s. interests and values and saudi arabia. my wife kathy and my son david are both here today and my daughter is here in spirit. i think the family for their support to the nation, they continue to serve as paratroopers. we have spent too much time dealing with america's wars and it was confirmed i can play some small
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role that my grandchildren never see combat in the middle east. i am aware of both how difficult this region could be and just how essential it is and national security. is my conviction that stability in the middle east is most endangered by the continued threat of violence and iran's radical policy of expansionism. this deprives people and threatens the national security of the united states. is difficult for me to imagine that a convoy of revolutionary guards could support this unimpeded travel. the good people deserve a better future than the constant drain on the economy and to
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confront the threats united states must work with partners that cannot effectively combat these without them. the united states has a long history of cooperation and saudi arabia, and is difficult to imagine extremism to keep iran in check without engaging with the kingdom. i am not unaware of the challenges facing the partnership today with the senseless killing of jamaal. rifts in the alliance, alleged abuses of innocent people to include an american citizen and female activists. yet, in the long run we need a
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strong and mature partnership with saudi arabia. we give them promises to make the kingdom more prosperous and the region more stable. and is in our interest to make sure the relationship is sound and to assist with the vision of reform and not shy away from expressing our views and values to partners in the kingdom. if confirmed ambassador i pledge to work tirelessly with the many issues that will inevitably come between the united states and saudi arabia. it would be my great honor to lead our diplomatic team to advance u.s. interests and values in the kingdom and to counter u.s. national security. i'm grateful for the opportunity to appear before you today and i look forward to answering your questions.>> thank you very much ambassador.
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>> chairman rich, i am honored to appear before you today as president comes nominee to be the ambassador to iraq and to be here with generals. i look forward to looking with advancing interest and i'm grateful to president trump for the confidence in me. if i am confirmed by the senate i pledge to work closely to advance u.s. interests in iraq. i asked that my testimony be submitted for the record. i would like to recognize and express great consideration to my wife and who is provided steadfast support including during separation when i served in yemen and during periods where she and other family members evacuated from egypt
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and saudi arabia. denise and i have had the privilege of representing the united states abroad in many circumstances. two of our children are also here today and two of our grandchildren i would not be here today without the love and support of my family. i am grateful for your consideration to lead one of our largest diplomatic missions and if confirmed i will draw on my policy executions and success. if confirmed i will do my utmost to advance u.s. interest there is no greater priority for me than the safety and security of all americans whether it's in the homeland or the middle east. a long-standing principle objective as a sovereign and stable partner of the united
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states. we must remain engaged to ensure iraq can fend off internal and external threats including threats to sovereignty. our determination is stability in the middle east to iran's agenda which we can state institutions and we cannot turn a blind eye to iran, lebanon, syria and iraq. iran threatens our interest in the security for allies assuming their most pressing need is for continuing assistance that reinforces the privacy and strengthens their capabilities and deepens the professionalization. together we must be vigilant to prevent the return of isis or the emergence of other terrorist groups.
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this sets the conditions for more than 4 million people to return home what much more remains to ensure people are able to safely and voluntarily return to their communities and rebuild their lives? the work of our coalition is not over. we and our partners at their at the invitation of the government with two dozen other countries helping a rock against isis. this coalition must continue to assist the forces as they come back the growing insurgency. i will work hard to provide opportunities for businesses to meet the challenges that are growing. another priority of mine will support religious communities
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in this will support continued prospects for their survival in iraq. to fully stabilize iraq also needs to move toward national unity in which all of its communities play a part. iraqi nationalism remains a force and they are proud. i since wants nothing more than to divide and i will continue to support a strong government which is good to the defeat of isis. we are proud of our long- standing partnership senators, if confirmed i look forward to the support of the community in an ongoing dialogue to serve the interest of the american people, thank you for the
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opportunity to testify and i look forward to answering your questions.>> we are going to proceed to a five-minute round of questions when i get to the ranking members. speaker thank you for your testimonies and tear families because they both share in the sacrifice. we talk in the office about the administration has a habit of communicating with foreign governments including former leaders outside of traditional diplomatic channels. how do you plan to exercise your authority and will you insist on remaining fully informed and brief devol white house administration officials and other members of the royal court? >> yes, i will insist upon that and i am also an old soldier and i know my chain of command as president through the secretary of defense or secretary of state.
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i also will join with many that were, from washington and other places in our country and talk to them because i think it's important for me to explain what's going on in saudi arabia from america's point of view and to give an opportunity for them to see what's going on. i raise the question because it's very difficult to be the ambassador of chief admission and to have someone else not listen to that just to let me tell you and that would be impossible even within the chain of command. i hope you will assert yourself but it's confirmed as our ambassador you work with others but assert yourself. i don't think i need to tell you congress has become an increasing concern over the conduct in yemen, this is not to
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absolve abuses but we do not sell arms. they are not a legitimate nation to share diplomatic relations. repeated stories of u.s. supplies hitting weddings, funerals, and school buses are simply unacceptable. the administration's apparent prioritization over fundamental values is not acceptable. i have found this so incredibly challenging that i have placed a hold on weapons sales to the saudi government and complete verifiable information about how the saudi's are using american-made weapons. can you speak to me about how you will address this issue if you are confirmed as well as what will you say to the saudi's about their continuing engagement in the yemen complex?
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>> thank you senator. i think it is very important that the saudi's find a path towards peace in yemen. is in the interest of the government of yemen in the interest of the region. it is also important that in the piece that is found, it is not found in the militia that is able to operate in a free and independent yemen. as far as confidence and operations conducted by the coalition, i think they have much work to do and it's very important for us to talk to them about the way we go to hit professionalization and when mistakes were made, they talk
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about the mistakes and take corrective action necessary to gain better expertise. i'm hopeful there is a way to move forward with regard to using the humanitarian problems of yemen and we will continue to tell the saudi government i appreciate it. >> our goal is ultimately to and conflict in yemen so let me in the last seconds i have get yes or no is from you. we have seen alarming report of saudi's transforming serious u.s. origin weapon systems to third-party fighters on the ground. will you engage with the saudi's to have them understand we do not accept the transfer
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of our weapons we sell to them to others?>> yes. >> will you continue to press the government to fully account for what they have done? >> yes. >> would you ultimately commit to ensuring that the administration moves forward which i don't think it has in any type of civilian nuclear agreement that we move towards a and goal? >> yes. speaker thank you very much. thank you both for being here and i actually think this is a tough assignment in our diplomatic corps. saudi arabia is an important strategic partner on combating terrorism it's a grotesque violation both domestically and abroad and he is making it
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unobtainable. >> he is reckless and ruthless he has a foreign policy approach and he is willing to test the limits of what he can get away with in the united states. anyone would think it's an unfair assessment it seems like something out of a bond movie. he has kidnapped the prime minister of lebanon he kicked out the ambassador of canada, canceled flights to toronto and recalled all the students over a couple tweets from the canadian prime minister. he fractured an important alliance and all the evidence i believe strongly indicates he ordered new efforts to murder him and to do so in diplomatic facilities violate his domestics.
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he spent 10 years in jail and suffered 1000 lashes and then we have the case of women activists upwards of 11 at one point you have been brutally tortured and mistreated, whipped, beaded, sexually harassed in a palace of terror. he was recently stripped to his underwear, bound to a chair, all in an effort to get him to provide evidence they had their home rated in retaliation according to capitol hill and of course to top it all off which is a great shame we have google and apple and there is
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an app in saudi arabia called yes sir. it allows men to allow women to cancel their passports and look at their flight logs they are going to keep selling it and it is just stunning. the point being, i guess that is the bad news of this assignment but how do we balance this? how do we balance all of this with this important regional partnership because he has gone full gangster and it's difficult to work with this. welcome to the committee. >> is a great honor to be here.
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senator, i appreciate your concern, i know there are many difficult problems and i would like to make the current problem short-term relationship with saudi arabia is bigger than that, it's all about a nation, and the government. it's about many notes of people who are interested in moving the kingdom forward and a better way in the 21st century. i want to emphasize how much i support the kingdom and i will look for every way possible to find out what has gone on and enhanced the need to make the long-term problems work. since saudi arabia in particular has many notes of interest, these notes of
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interest need to be engaged by us in order to find ways to move the trash and solve these problems. >> one of the things that will come up is it has already been mentioned, we recently introduced legislation over agreements and he already said it will not permit enrichment i strongly encourage you as someone who has a penchant for recklessness and a school at torrey foreign policies and all the other things i have highlighted to retain the capability to be incredibly dangerous and i don't know how you have served for two years or longer and have not run into this issue at some point because i no doubt think it
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will become a prime issue.>> i appreciate that issue and i failed to acknowledge the issues concerning women's rights. i have two daughters and a wife, i will be very interested in helping in the reform effort to move the rights of 50 percent forward in a way that brings their talents and energy to the service. >> thank you.>> thank you mr. chairman and i welcome you for being willing to take on these difficult posts at this very important time. i want to add my support to everything senator rubio said and add one more concern to that. that is that the united states
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is still owed for the coalition in yemen and i think a violation is so long it is hard to comprehend what is going on there and i would like your assurances that you will consistently rise a human rights violation that expresses to the saudi's the grave concern we have in the united states about what they are doing. can you talk about how as ambassador what opportunities you have to uphold the saudi's and make them accountable for what they are doing? it's been two years. you will have concerns on some of these issues.>> this has not
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held countries accountable and it's the law to ensure the salaries what we stand for. i will ensure those ideas and values are conveyed to the government of saudi arabia. i look forward to working with them in an adversarial way that promotes our ability to have a partnership that makes the region more secure.>> i now that we have been shown the murder and there is a responsibility for the administration to
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respond to that murder. can you talk about what responsibility you might have that is faster to try and ensure administration is responsive? >> yes, the secretary of state has said on many occasions we demand transparency and it seems we will continue to do that throughout. we have to get all the facts and i will convey them to the best of my ability to the secretary and to the national command authority. >> one of the challenges that we have heard from the iraqis from our continued presence in the differences about our continued presence in iraq.
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how can you help us address concerns that the people have? that is there and the iraqi government. there are many political leaders and most importantly they understand the importance that that provides to the capability to provide training and support. we use leverage to make sure that is a contribution. >> there is an assumption with the forces we have do you have
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any view on how successful that policy can be? >> i think we face similar concerns about security threats or other outside actors there is a stabilizing presence just beyond the borders of iraq and that will defend our interests. speak out we are out of time but i hope you will address the influence with the iraqi government, inc. you. >> i want to start out by thinking the nominees for the service and sacrifice and we
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are faced with stark realities. i like the way he termed it we are going full gangster. we find the behavior unacceptable and at the same time as you said we need a sound relationship with saudi arabia. the reality is i ran as an influence i would like both of you to talk because you mentioned your testimony but how important is our relationship with saudi arabia and iran general ramsey? >> thank you sender. how important it is? it is of vital national interest that we have a sound
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relationship with saudi arabia to counter arabian influence. i think it is important for us to recognize the difference between the iranian people and the irg see apparatus it is my view that senior or later the good people will get tired of the violence of treasury and will start to move toward a better future. it is essential that as this happens, reform moves with pace. i have confidence that if we face our problems squarely with no words about it we will be able to solve it. >> let me ask you the question
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slightly differently. what are the alternatives? where do we go from there? >> senator it is sobering to imagine the region without that important security relationship, one of the main differences in my view as saudi arabia wants us engaged in helping address the region's underlying problems. iran and its proxies want us out of the region. their agendas are having united states not counter their influence. it's very important we work to ensure our influences protected. >> none of us like the situation in yemen right now but you are clearly the ambassador in my office during the meeting.
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one of the questions i ask you, we all have to have a peace process what incentive do they have to agree to a peace process? i would hate to begin but it is complicated. no one can be viewed as monolithic, there are elements out of ambition and northern tribes apply pressure to them. i hope we can trade conditions and we can of abandon the project that because it is an iranian project you are absolutely right there is no way they will voluntarily give up their weapons so we need to
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continue to come up with security pressure. >> let's face it, iran has no incentive with some kind of settlement. we have to continue to spread their influence. with that being the case, i speak of a ran with no respect talking about a divine element. the people came to understand they are far from their borders where they have no strategic interest there suffering economic hardships that perhaps people can bend their policy. >> thank you.
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your comments about the sobering thought of us being gone from saudi arabia? i think it is very insightful. having said that, i'm sure your able to make it very difficult for us. is making it very difficult for us. post willingness to serve i hope we get you to your post as quickly as possible. take you to your family as well. even those of us who have been
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the most vocal critics of saudi arabia don't wish for us to walk away from what is incredibly important relationship and a counterterrorism relationship. saudi arabia has played a role in the region between israel and the gulf states but the relationship today is completely upside down between the united states and saudi arabia. if you knew nothing about the history of this country in the history of saudi arabia and you watched the conduct of this relationship over the course of the past year you would get the impression that saudi arabia is the great power and that the united states is a dependent junior partner. after the murder of jamaal khashoggi the ecsaudi didn't co here to explain what happened our secretary of state with there to do a photo op. the person in the administration that seems to be in charge of the relationship is someone who has absolutely no history with respect to foreign policy in the region and so, the reason so many of us think it is
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necessary for us to take action to reset the relationship is not because we want to walk away from it but because we need to put ourselves back in charge of this relationship and make clear the way in which we have been treated in and our residents have been treated is unacceptable. that being said gen. john abizaid i want to turn to a slightly different part of our relationship. i we do have support and counterterrorism relationships with saudi arabia tebut saudi arabia historically has been a firefighter and arsonist when it comes to the fight against terrorism. they certainly apply pressure on the most radical elements in the region but they also have exploited a version of islam that forms the building blocks of extremist movements, conservative and intolerant islam and imthey talk about wanting to control but still
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seem to be spending a lot of time pushing money out into the region and into the world. you have written about this and you have given a lot of thought to this, how do you predict approaching this sensitive issue as ambassador? >> senator it is a very thoughtful question. the time i spent as director of the combating terrorism center at west point gave me the opportunity to look at this deeply and at least i can report to you based on my last visit out there that the situation is getting better. while we spend a lot of time talking about what the crowned prince has or hasn't done we should also say that he has sent a very clear message that he favors a more tolerant view of saudi wahhabi islam. i see evidence of that. it is
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not just him of course, it is the whole country that wants to move forward, the young people want to move forward, they are happy not to see the religious beliefs on the streets. they are happy to be able to have the opportunity for women to drive. it cannot just be a pr issue it needs to be a deep societal change issue and i believe that the country the country's leadership is committed to that and we need to help them move forward to the extent that we can. the locking up of women dissidents is not necessarily a great advertisement that you're willing to push a more tolerant version of islam but i perceive the fact that you have spent time thinking about this and i hope you continue to work on it. i wanted to ask you one specific question because you have been on the ground as our chief diplomat in and around yemen for the past several years. reports emerged a few months
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ago that are our coalition partners with the saudi's had transferred american weapons to link to fighters in yemen and in fact in the wake of these reports the uae adadmitted to having done as such let me ask you, when did the administration, when did you learn about these transfers? >> i saw the same press reports recently that you have seen and i believe we all saw them in 2015 similar reports that there had been some weapons transfers. i know the dod is investigating this trying to track down exactly where there may have been unauthorized transfers in the case of weapons we provided to the yemen forces in 2010 and 2008 we know some of those weapons systems reveille have fallen out of --
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>> what are the consequences of that? >> we take very seriously the monitoring of our weapons transfers and we expect the country to transfer weapons and to adhere closely. we don't just expect that we follow-up with systems to make sure we can track and hold countries accountable. >> thank you. >> thank you general and ambassador for being here. thank you in particular for a lifetime of service and to the greatest nation on earth and the cause of freedom. the sacrifice that you have both made in different ways but enormous sacrifice putting yourself in harm's way and in danger often being gone for long periods of time from your loved ones and the country of your heritage, that is most
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commendable and i feel it is an honor to be with you and an honor to have you willing to serve yet again in a place of great challenge. as we contemplate the outrage of what is occurring in saudi arabia and what has occurred there , as we contemplate the extraordinary harm and pain and suffering of civilians in yemen we consider much of that goes on in parts of the middle east, there is y sometimes a sentimen amongst our members and the american people to say why are t we there? why don't we just leave? why ddon't we just get out of the middle east and let the sunnis and shiites and iranians and d saudi's do what they will do and we will just stand back in our hemisphere and not worry about it? that is not a sentiment i share but in the moments we have i
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like to hear from both of you as to why we are involved in the middle east and why we are involved in yemen. what the significance is of those things for the citizens of the united states? let's begin with you matthew tueller. >> thank you senator. in the case of yemen the unite states has important interest and we want to ensure there are no terrorist groups that can arise in yemen or use the territory there to mount attacks against us or our friends and allies. we want to make sure there is freedom of navigation over strategic waterways across much of the world trade passes and of course to contemplate that i ran or hostile power i think is of great strategic interest for the united states. we want to make sure our friends and allies in the region have secure borders and that they don't feel they are threatened by groups that can act on behalf of iran as armed proxies in the country.
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there is another important interest americans have and that is the humanitarian situation. we don't give into hopelessness and we don't give into cynicism. i think all of us react the same way when we see pictures whether it is in yemen or other parts of the world where innocent civilians are suffering as a consequence of war or the actions in response to the government. we have an interest in th mitigating the humanitarian challenge. one of the things i feel badly about often is because we have the relationships with saudi arabia we hold them to hire account. we do focus on the consequences of the saudi actions in terms but almost 100% of the humanitarian catastrophe in yemen has been caused by the iranian backed sunnis that overthrew the government got destroyed the institutions of state, cost approximately decline in the gdp. the minds they have planted have caused more casualties by
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civilians and will cause more in the future. that is a great concern and i think the american people need to be concerned about those issues. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you senator romney. extremism and sectarian violence is the curse of the f middle east. extremism unfortunately is it just a curse for the people in the middle east but for all of us. recently you see what happens when an extremist attack happens between two nuclear armed powers like india and pakistan. we have a responsibility to do our best to help the people in the region keep extremism from gaining the upper hand when i think back to the days of ice is not far behind as it was terrifying to me to think of the idea that iraq could become an isis dominated state. extremism requires constant work on the part of the good people in the region and the
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united states helping people help themselves to defend themselves against it. as long as iranian state backed shia extremism and isis and al qaeda strike type extremism exists is important for us to stay engaged and it is important for us ito move in a direction rtthat allows the people in the region to have a better future so they don't fall prey to the extremist narrative of lies. when i think about the future of the region if countries can reform, if countries can embrace for own populations there is a chance for a much better path ahead. i do not believe in large presence of american forces in occupations. it is counterproductive to getting the job done. let's help the people in the region help themselves and in the case of saudi arabia for
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counterterrorism activities in conjunction with our own have been very meaningful in putting somewhat of a damper on the extremism that we see so frequently throughout the region. >> thank you senator. >> thank you mr. chair and congratulations to each of you. you are very well qualified for these positions and i appreciate your service. gen. john abizaid i would yolike to start with you . jamaal khashoggi was a virginia resident , his family lives in virginia and i want to raise up another individual who has a virginia connection just to exemplify the human rights challenges i hope you will grapple with as ambassador. he is a legal permanent resident of the united states, she came to richmond to study computer science at virginia commonwealth university a long time ago and got a computer science degree and ugmoved back
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to saudi arabia and is a saudi citizen who has taught computer science in saudi arabia to women for nearly 30 years. you have brought wonderful families with you today. she is a mother of five , she is a grandmother of eight and she passionately believes women should be treated as equal human beings. she has been engaged in the protest about women being able to drive, she has been very active to try to reform the guardianship system that essentially makes women surveilled property of a man. she has been very active in protests with respect to lax treatment of domestic violence by men against women all while raising her family and teaching computer science in saudi arabia. she was imprisoned in may with a group of women and men who had been advocating for the right of saudi women to drive. she was imprisoned after the driving restriction was lifted and the interpretation of that by most has been when the
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driving restriction is lifted we want to send a message that you have no right, we are giving away privilege but by imprisoning the activists men and women who had been advocating for equality and driving, it was a message to everyone that you cannot protest. you have no rights and we are doing this as a privilege and amnesty international and other organizations indicated that they have been tortured and held, they can see their families once a month, this is the grandmother of eight, a mother of five who spent her whole life educating saudi women to be computer scientists. i just will say this is an important relationship. for me it is sort of a proxy of a nation's authoritarianism, extremism, corruption if they treat women the way these women are being treated for simply
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advocating that they should have basic equal rights. you have the background to do this job and to do it well but i hope the human rights aspect and treatment of these individuals who have ties to the united states will be a top priority for you. >> senator you have my word it will be. >> thank you. >> ambassador matthew tueller is iraq an ally? >> i think the relationship between iraq and the united states is an extremely important one serving both of our interests i think i've outlined some of those interests particularly with security and i expect while i am there i will continue to work with iraq as a partner and ally of the united states. >> thank you for that and i think we are partners , i think we are allies and there is a lot of work to do to make that relation strong. as you pointed out we are in
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iraq militarily at their invitation, we are not occupying iraq we left in 2011 with the and they have asked us back. even if there is controversy about that it's not going to be a slamdunk on any issue and the iraq he government still wants the united states to be that partner would you agree? >> i think we can count on iraq to continue to want the united states to be involved. they understand after that withdrawal in 2011 that a rise of isis controlling over 55,000 square miles in iraq was deeply traumatizing and threatened iraq. they understand they need the citizens of the united states and other partners to avoid that resurgence. >> ia set a powerful thing -- too much time in the middle east and you don't want your grandchildren to be at war in
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the middle east it is interesting that iraq is now an ally and partner yet we still have two authorizations for military force against iraq that are pending, president donald trump said in his state of the union great nations don't wage endless wars, i think ray congresses shouldn't authorize endless wars . the 1991 gulf war authorization to go after saddam hussein for the invasion of kuwait is still alive and active, it is kind of a zombie authorization floated out there and it has never been repealed. the 2002 authorization to go after the government of saddam hussein is still active and live out there and has not been repealed. senator young and i have introduced today a bill to repeal both the first gulf war and the iraq authorization. there is no need to have an authorization against an ally and partner and i would hope my colleagues would see the virtue in cleaning that up. thank you mr. chair. >> thank you. >> thank you both for your testimony and for your service.
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it is often said and i will direct this, it is often said iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism and it has been said over and over again. i think it is often forgotten that saudi arabia is the largest state sponsor of radical islam . they act in somewhat different ways. iran is a regional player and they are involved anywhere there are shia populations and involved mostly within the middle east. in saudi arabia influence is worldwide. most of the extremists have been sunni extremists. the saudi's fund tens of thousands of including tens of thousands just within pakistan. it is said people trained in these cross the border and attack our soldiers and have killed our soldiers in afghanistan. when i hear people say they are getting better and they are letting women drive part of me thinks maybe that is a public
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relations stunt to let women drive while we imprison the activists at the same time. at the same time they are letting women drive they are sending a team of thugs with a bone saw to chop someone up at another country a writer and resident of our country. i don't think we should be fooled. i do think in the larger context of things and the reason i bring up iran and saudi arabia is it reminds me somewhat of the cold war where anyone at sided with us we turned a blind eye to the human rights violations. there were dictators throughout africa who did horrific things to their people and we just looked away and said they are on our side against the soviet union. we have divided up the middle east, iran is the largest state sponsor and we never say anything about saudi arabia. we are starting to because of this terrific murder but i think we have turned a blind eye because of oil , because they tend to side with us against iran. i think there needs to be a
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more evenhanded look at the, i'm not saying iran is good but maybe most both are actors. i think there needs to be someone saying, we talk about a middle east peace process and where it has all been about the palestinians and israel, i think it is important to ponder this question, i think the big peace process would be someday someone recognizing it would be having saudi arabia at the same table with iran if you really want to solve the middle east process. my question to you is given all of that do you think we need to make a stronger statement about the saudi's instead of saying they are getting better? saying perhaps we need to restrict arms sales until they stop funding the dross is, maybe they should have to quit funding these and we should play hardball with our weapons and say all of the things that the saudi's do maybe they don't deserve our weapons.
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>> thank you senator paul. i already indicated i think extreme is an is the curse of the middle e.east and its extremism on the sunni side and on the shia side. really sectarianism is the twin curse of the middle east and we have to move very very hard to convince the good people in the region to abandon forms of extremism. when i think of extremism in saudi arabia or extremism in any other arab country there are elements within the population that believe if they fund extremist preachers, if they fund extremist ideologies, if they fund g hottie to move to wherever the current battle might be that they are doing god's work. it is clearly not god's work. we have to keep saying it
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doesn't matter for is from saudi arabia or egypt or the uae or yemen, we have to keep saying it and we have to keep working against it, i will not shy away from that. and i will continue to tell them that. on the other hand i would also like to respectfully say they have made progress. t i remember having an opportunity to go to saudi arabia recently where i saw some very innovative and very effective programs aimed specifically at reducing terrorism both financially and on the field of battle. i appreciate that. >> ambassador matthew tueller president donald trump has often said the greatest geopolitical lender of the past 20 years was the iraq war, what is your opinion on that? >> i think the removal of a
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leader like saddam hussein in the long term serves the interest of the united states . >> you disagree with the president? >> i don't think the president, i can't take his remarks -- >> his point was removing him created a vacuum and endless wars there and i'm howard -- empowered iran. >> -- >> are they an ally? the president disagrees with you. he thinks the iraq war was a big estate and that we shouldn't have done it. >> thank you senator. >> thank you very much. ambassador matthew tueller when you were commenting on the humanitarian situation in yemen you said virtually 100% of the humanitarian problems are caused by the. i found that very surprising
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statement and there is a calera epidemic that is coming from the bombing of water systems. the united nations did a study that said 17,000 civilian deaths between 2015 and 2018, the majority 10,000 were the s result of saudi led bombings. can you explain a little bit how you read reached the conclusion that the saudi bombing of civilians somehow is responsible for 0% of the humanitarian crisis in yemen? >> senator i think any death of civilians and conflict is unacceptable and we should always -- >> that's not my question. >> i think we cannot excuse that however my remarks about is an anecdote that i often relate to people. in january 2014 the most
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important [ indiscernible - low volume ] port had 111 ships that embarked during that month and in january -- >> could you speak up please? >> in january 2015 which was before the saudi led intervention the number of ships disembark meant had fallen to nine but i was a most 100% responsible for the actions that caused a foreign investment in yemeni private sector to flee the country to stop investing in the economic activity. >> i don't want to use all of my time on the lengthiest donation there but when you say if 100% and 0% is saudi's you are giving them no responsibility for having used ammunition to attack civilian sites in saudi arabia and i find that very astounding. >> when we have seen cases where the saudi's have caused collateral damage we have spoken forcefully to them and
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we have worked to mitigate those consequences we have seen improvements. >> you are saying there is some saudi responsibility, i will have to stop there but i did find that very disturbing and to treat the saudi arabia as saying, they are our allies so we will blame someone else for all of the deaths as they are causing seems unacceptable to me. general we have really been disturbed in oregon by saudi arabia posting bail for saudi citizens and then those citizens disappearing . in 2016 a saudi national killed a 15- year-old portland native driving approximately twice the posted speed limit. saudi arabia posted bail and he
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disappeared. we had the saudi consulate post bail for fled oregon before facing trial in 20 oh 12 on multiple sex crime charges including . we have a saudi national minister who has faced charges in 2016 for striking a homeless man with his vehicle who disappeared. we have a saudi consulate posting a $500,000 security deposit for a student in oregon and saudi national who was arrested in 2015 on 10 counts of encouraging child sex abuse before fleeing the country. we have the saudi consulate posting $500,000 bond for
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another university student and a saudi national who was arrested in 2014 on a charge of . we have these crimes being committed by saudi nationals and then the saudi government posting bail and taking them out of the country, is this acceptable? >> it is certainly not t acceptable for any government to assist their citizens that have violated our laws. >> are you as disturbed as i am that essentially that at this moment the saudi nationals in the united states have a get out of jail free card that allows them to commit abuses against children, manslaughter,, and have no accountability? >> senator i think there has to be complete accountability for any government and their citizens living abroad which
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also means respecting laws of the host nation. i would in fairness like to point out that there are 80,000 saudi's living in the united states, most of whom are not the type of people you talked about. >> believe you me i am not implying that saudi nationals as a whole are committing crimes on a higher basis than anyone else, i don't have that statistic. i am making the point that when a person commits a crime in the united states we shouldn't because they are an ally who provides a lot buys a lot of stuff from us allow them to get their citizens out of your with no accountability for , child abuse and other sexual crimes like manslaughter or for any other crime. my sense is you agree with that? >> i agree that any government that assists for citizens fleeing our justice is breaking our laws. >> i know you are translating in this into a general principle but aren't you
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disturbed by these exact issues regarding saudi arabia? >> what i can't say because i don't know, i accept your stories but i don't know that the government assisted in the escape i don't know that. what we do know is that it has been the conclusion of our government that they are likely to have assisted in one case at least a passport was surrendered . something magical happened for that person to be able to return to saudi arabia. i have introduced the escape act which calls on the state department to analyze this issue and to report on it. five cases happened in oregon that we know of, there could be more we don't know of. they may have been hundreds of these cases across the country. i am surprised that the state department has not already
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investigated this. would you encourage the state department to investigate this issue and get to the bottom of it? if this is happening with other nations investigate that too f but the ones we have knowledge of all involved saudi arabia. >> senator if you confirm it i will encourage them to do so. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you gentlemen for your lifetime of service. by my reading of your many accomplishments i think you came in well prepared to not only be confirmed but to serve our country honorably and professionally. mr. ambassador i have a follow- up question pertaining to this issue of the iranian aligned which may indeed be the situation right now. they have mind the ground, they have been responsible by numerous violations of human
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rights laws but i think it is helpful that we remember recent history. over the last few years our saudi partners working with the and the united states of america who assisted with refueling targeting assistance, military training and other activities, it has also been party to some actions that per my many briefings on the subject classified and unclassified settings is up to radicalize part of the houthi population. they have blocked the area where 80% of food and water is delivered. they have the bombing campaigns where they have been indiscriminately bombed civilians is something that i
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hope moving forward we will continue to recognize and help to exacerbate what remains of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. yes the saudi's must remain security partners. they will be complicated partners moving forward especially with their current leadership and their crowned prince who is impulsive and sometimes reckless with his behavior by this reading. i think it is very important that we are reminded of this and are sober minded as we continue to try to finesse this relationship. senator shaheen brought up the lack of responsiveness we have seen by the administration under the global magnet ski act. general i remain frustrated by the administration's unwillingness to follow another law specifically the national defense authorization act and
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section 1290 which my colleagues and i worked on. there is a provision in section 1290 which requires the secretary to certify that the governments of saudi arabia and uae are undertaking a number of actions . the provision also includes a detailed requirement for yemen related briefings to congress and requires the administration to submit to congress a strategy for yemen. i have not yet received in congress has not yet received a credible certification from the administration and i don't intend to remain silent on this. this is the law of the land and i want it to be followed. general would you commit to providing myself and other members of this committee a monthly update on the following? a description of saudi arabia military and political objectives in yemen and whether the united states assistance to
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the saudi led coalition has resulted in significant progress towards meeting those objectives? a description of efforts by the government of saudi arabia to avoid disproportionate harm to civilians and civilian objects in yemen. an assessment for the need of existing secondary inspections and clearance processes and transshipment requirements on humanitarian and commercial vessels that have been cleared by the un verification and inspection mechanism. a description of the sources of external support for the houthi forces including financial assistance, weapons transfers, operational planning training and advisory assistance . an assessment of the applicability of the u.s. and international sanctions to houthi forces who have committed human rights abuses , obstructed humanitarian aid and launched missiles into our lpartners territory. the effect of the military
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operations lead in yemen on the efforts of the u.s. to defeat and the islamic state. general would you commit to providing that information on a monthly basis to this committee? >> thank you senator. as a citizen of the great state of nevada i have nothing to say about that. if you confirm me i become a member of the administration i can't commit to assisting the administration in answering those questions. >> i thought you would answer it somewhere along those lines. let me just note before yielding back to the good chairman that if the administration is not already tracking each of the different things i have requested of you it would be a matter of sort of diplomatic malpractice, security malpractice from my perspective and it is my hope that the administration will follow the law and finally
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provide a credible certification as required under the law. thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. gentlemen thank you both for your service and congratulations on the nominations you have received and thank you also for being willing to serve the countries in which you have been nominated are easy postings not easy postings nor are they safe postings. we are grateful for both of you being called to serve your nation. gen. john abizaid i want to start with you . saudi arabia is in my judgment a deeply problematic ally their human rights record has been sorely lacking, they have for many
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years been willing to fund jihadism on the principle that if you feed the crocodile perhaps it will eat you last . their conduct with regard to jamaal khashoggi was abominable and unacceptable . on all of those fronts i think we should be clear and explicit condemning their actions. at the same time they are none the less an ally and critically they are a vital counterpoint to the nation of iran. as i look to the middle east the rivalry between iran and saudi arabia, any conduct that the united states congress does to we can saudi arabia weaken saudi arabia, to my mind is harming the national security interest of america.
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a stronger iran with an pledging death to america, funding terrorists actively trying to murder americans, a stronger iran makes for a more dangerous world. do you share that assessment and what role do you believe saudi arabia plays in counterbalancing iran? >> thank you senator cruz for the question. i certainly share your sentiments in your description about iran. maybe 15 years ago maybe i would have shared your description about saudi arabia, it was absolutely too much turning a blind eye towards extremists leaving the country and causing problems elsewhere. as i look at it today i don't
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think the problem was solved but i think it is getting better. there are joint task forces for combating terrorism, there are joint task forces looking at the economic flows of money into the terrorism networks. we noticed recently that bin laden was stripped of his citizenship and that others have been forced to pay a price for their support of terrorism, to al qaeda, to isis or indeed even supporting the iranian state. it is incumbent upon the united states to continue to press the case that good allies do not support terrorism anywhere. >> can you describe the importance of a strong saudi arabia as a check to iran? >> senator i think you did a good job of that i don't know what i could add . >> is there any coherent or
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rational argument that saudi arabia poses a comparable threat to athe united states? >> senator when i look at the reform vision of 2030 if we can support it moving forward it is a plan for diversification of the economy, it is a plan to begin the empowerment of women. it is a plan to make the armed forces ivmore professional. it is a plan to give the young people of saudi arabia a hope for a better future. if that plan can't succeed with the support of the international community i believe we will see a change an important change that will be good for all of us in saudi arabia. >> what you believe iran is trying to accomplish in the
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middle east? >> senator we have had this conversation before and i appreciate it and as we have noted before i firmly believe the good people of iran are just putting up with the government. given the opportunity for a better future just like the saudi's if they had a vision for a reform movement, if they had sa vision for a better future the people would move in that direction. right now the radicals are in charge and we need to keep the pressure to cause them to ultimately be deposed by their own people. >> i agree with you. ambassador matthew tueller one of the more troubling developments in iraq has been the growing influence of the iranians both the shia militia and also direct or indirect iranian control of the iraq he institutions of government.
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how significant do you assess that threat and what should we be doing about it? >> senator i think it is a great threat and it is one that concerns us and i know it concerns the iraqi people. one of the most powerful forces in iraq aside to the sectarian influences and political parties is the iraq he is a strong sense of pride in their identity. they do not want to see their country infringed upon and they see a major threat of that coming from iran. as we empower them to build the future they want that is what we have to build on. >> talk to me briefly about the kurds. they have been loyal allies and they have spilled blood supporting the united states of america. they have i think been neglected and mistreated far too often by united states foreign policy. you talk about the importance of assuring that we don't
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abandon the kurds once again and leave them subject to their neighbors. >> senator that relationship is a historic one that is long- lasting and i think it is a very important one. i intend if i am confirmed to make sure olthat relationship i one that is solid and gives the kurds the sense of security they need that they will never again be dominated by the type of regime of saddam hussein that he represented in baghdad. at the same time it is important for us to see good solid relationships and i intend to do all i can to make sure that relationship is a positive one. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you both for your service to this country and your willingness to serve. this country truly is grateful for your service. continuing on the conversation you had with senator cruz there are certain issues and
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resolutions that this congress may be voting on regarding yemen and other resolutions, how would that affect or change relationships with saudi arabia , perhaps empowering iran? >> senator first of all i am sorry we missed our appointment. i understand you're snowed in badly in ancolorado. >> united once again proved they were in charge. >> senator it is a good question and i don't think it is good for me as a private citizen at this point to comment on legislation. i would prefer to say it is very important for us to set the stage that allows for reform in saudi arabia, that allows ultimately someday for reform in iran and allows for a better solution to the many problems that are transparent and obvious in yemen. one thing we can't afford in
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yemen, we can't afford to withdraw u.s. expertise to the coalition about how to fight. if we want them to fight right we need to continue giving them that expertise. another thing we can't afford is that the hezbollah like pro- iranian militia were to form in yemen, it would be a lethal threat to the region and one that we couldn't ignore and certainly one that saudi arabia couldn't ignore so it is important that we work in the right way in your legislation and i know you are. again but how would be done is out of my place. >> could you talk more about the civilian nuclear agreement and what parameters ought to be in place to ensure true civilian nuclear agreement if
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that is indeed the case? >> senator i have had this discussion with many of you in our consultations. i certainly think in some future there can be nuclear power in saudi arabia but i think any time the u.s. provides nuclear power to anybody it is to be done of the strictest control as possible with the standard goldplated agreements that have been -- >> -- >> guess that is the standard but the issue is the let's not allow plutonium or any other type of weapon or substance move to somewhere where it can be used as a bomb. >> right. thank you. ambassador matthew tueller we discussed some of the challenges i iraq in iraq how does united states see government corruption and what are the tools you can bring to the position? >> senator again our engagement
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whether it is advocating for u.s. businesses to be present competing for contracts or the responsibility and transparency u.s. companies bring when they are engaged in a economy. i think we need to continue to empower the iraq a constant that have been able to continue to exist within the new iraq and are intent on promoting greater transparency. the issue of corruption is throughout the region and for many developing countries it is one as diplomats we see how toxic it is and i think the government by encouraging greater transparency helps the citizens of those countries. >> what effects do you see remaining from the separations of the [ indiscernible - low -- volume ] the attempt last year i believe --? >> of course they call for a referendum and we opposed to
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that and we thought it was provocative and unnecessary. what i am pleased to to say is we are seeing that relationship already improving. i know there is a good relationship between the kurdish leaders and the current president and current prime minister as well and some steps are being taken to repair that damage and put the relationship on a better footing. >> thank you. >> thank you senator gardner. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you to both of the witnesses here today, i appreciate your testimony. these first two questions are for both of you. last fall ambassador james jeffrey the special representative to syria stated during a defense conference and i quote here, it requires stability ops to break meddling influence. jeffrey continued saying iran will create a new if we don't get at the underlying problem. he cris referring to an arabic
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acronym for isis. this is an odd position giving the psunni terrorist organization in tackling iran he said we have no better partner than saudi arabia but we couldn't be doing what we are doing in the region without them yet we know funding from saudi arabia donors flow towards and many clerics were an inspiration to isis leaders. saudi arabia has also been implicated in the murder of trent eight and is directly responsible for one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history in yemen. comments like these and those of secretary pompeo and president donald trump last year trying to frame iran as a supporter of al qaeda and other sunni terrorists without proof . should get our attention. just last year it was reported
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that the u.s. would withdrawal in may iran t said supports tariff proxies and militias such as al qaeda" in a speech last week he said, today we asked the iranian people is this what you want your country to be known for? for being a co-conspirator with hezbollah, hamas and al qaeda. the same report they noted that a study cast doubts on these claims, claims if true would give the president legal argument to say that the 9/11 applies to iran. a claim that i as a member of congress who voted in favor of the 9/11 find to be without any basis in reality. my first question to both of you is do you believe a war with iran is in the best interest of the united states
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or either country were nominated to serve in? >> no. no senator i do not. >> do either of you believe that the 9/11 a um up extends to iran or the congress intended to use the 911 to take on iran? >> i would have to deter to the state park in legal advisor to address any issue about the use of military force. >> i would have to defer to the legal experts as i don't have any expertise in the issue. >> you guys were both around when all of this happened and you know how targeted we were with the 911 aumf and what our objectives were which we long ago onlong ago have achieved. i find that a little discouraging that you are gu punting on that one.
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center >> senator i would say i am a soldier and we go were you tell us to go. >> i understand that you are also a very smart gentleman. you understand the realities of the congress, the congress that has the authority under the constitution to declare war and it is also congress that if it decides to do so and thinks it is appropriate that it will end war. the 911 aumf that has been in place since 2001 and is being used around the world as the reason for thgoing into countri i think is something you should be worried about as a soldier and something you should have looked into. anyway we all know climate change israel and result in places like mexico and iraq there is less water for all to go around.
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we must adjust to this reality. there are real and persistent water challenges and iraq including the mosul dam and lack of drinking water supplies and trained staff to manage these important infrastructure investments. what role can the united states play and what role can you play to help facilitate a sufficient water supply in iraq, including the mosul dam stabilization so the region avoid conflict over water resources? >> that is an excellent question and one that applies in iraq and when i have seen come into play in yemen which faces the places depletion of its water resources. throughout the middle east you often find water resources are underlying as part of the ongoing conflict. i take it is important with respect to the mosul dam that the the united states army corps of engineers has been involved in some of the efforts to stabilize the dam. the iraqis are taking on greater responsibility for that and it is a tremendous one that we all need to remain vigilant on. >> thank you.
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>> sir i would only say that the water problems in the middle east are great and the number one thing we can do to help solve them is first get these conflicts under control to the best of our ability. when we do that other things will follow. >> i hope we can do that and i hope we can work on this the infrastructure for water resources and the other things that are needed for stability in order to like you say move forward. >> i agree with you senator. >> thank you for your courtesies. >> -- >> it is time to bow down and apologize. >> there will be more. >> i am sorry i passed you over earlier. >> [ indiscernible - low volume ] >> thank you senators and thank you mr. chairman. ambassador matthew tueller how extensive is iran's influence
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over iraq? >> of course the two countries share a long border and a fairly long economic history but i think it is missed if you look at it broader the iraqi nationalism and the ilfact that the iraq he shia clergy have their own standing credibility and legitimacy within the country so i think it is important not to overstate or to overreact to what is iran's presence and relationship. i would say we are not trying to sever the relationship between iran and iraq, what we want to see is a normal healthy relationship based on respect for sovereignty and iraq wanting to build as we want to build an strong stable and saw burn. >> in terms of iran they have armed militias who have provided revolutionary guard forces to assist with the fighting against isis orin iraq
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i'm looking at the current role of the iranian forces in iraq and what you see in terms of the fourth activity there? >> the issue of mobilization forces that exist in iran is one that is complicated. i know the prime minister and other government officials are trying to bring all of those forces under the control of the government, many of those forces in fact are under the control of the prime minister. what we are concerned about are those popular mobilization forces that are not responsive to the iraq he government but taking their directions and leadership from not just iran but from the the revolutionary forces and that is what is going to propose a great challenge i think moving forward for iraq to emerge as a strong sovereign normal country that has to deal with that issue. >> the united states has been encouraging iraq to end its energy dependence on iran . there was a wall street journal
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article from november headlining u.s. pushes iraq to wean itself off iranian energy but despite its role as a major energy producer itself iraq, it does rely on iran for imported natural gas to use in turbine power plant. iranian generates 45% of iraq's electricity and upon the rehabilitation reimplementation of they have been provided waivers. do you believe iraq is serious about ending his dependence on iran for energy and what efforts is iraq taking to reduce or end its energy dependency on iran? >> that is correct not only is it significant imports of natural gas but also electric a lot of electricity itself so it is important for example that iraq received capital to capture its own national gas so we can be used to generate electricity. in the past several months
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there has been some progress in that respect but it is time- consuming and not enough has happened yet i think an important ing to try to use if i am confirmed as ambassador is to encourage the u.s. companies to play a role in helping the energy sector to capture that natural gas to use for electric. >> and be less dependent upon iran. if i could the blockade in qatar in june 2017, saudi arabia entered and did the diplomatic relationships with qatar and saudi arabia led a insurgents and you know the things that happened sthere. can you talk about what the current status is of this dispute with saudi arabia and qatar? what progress has been there in terms of resolving the dispute? >> to be honest the senator i don't think there has been much progress in resolving the
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dispute. i know there have been some forums especially in the defense arena where representatives were allowed to attend opportunities to meet with their colleagues. my opinion is that it is important to solve this problem having gulf states be antagonistic and at each other's throats, to me that doesn't make geopolitical sense. crack between forces of -- that they face, and they have a small crack because of this dispute. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. ambassador, i think what the senator raised about the iranian influence in iraq is a really serious concern to all of us. we keep hearing more and more reports of that, not only in this committee, but other committees that i serve on.
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and i hope you will pay close attention to committees that i serve on. and i hope you'll pay close attention to it, we all know their malign intent, and we realize it's complicated, like you said, but it's discouraging to hear the inroads they continue to make into the iraqi infrastructure. i hope you keep an eye on that. >> thank you mister chairman. general, i'm inclined to support your nomination, but i heard a few answers here that create cause for concern for me. let me try to follow up with you. in several answers you said we can't afford, and went on to describe elements that we can't afford, saudi arabia not to do xyz, my perspective, we can't afford to continue to allow the saudi's fighting in yemen,
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indiscriminately bombing civilians and ultimately violating international law. we cannot afford to allow the killing of american resident journalist, with impunity. and no consequence for that. we can't afford to allow u.s. citizens, permanent residents, to be detained and if some of these allegations are true, tortured. er without consequence. and the list goes on. so, yes, many of us understand that the saudi relationship is important, in our broader national security question, to but that doesn't mean that we cannot challenge our relationship with a nation, even when our security interests me a line. is that your view? that we can challenge and seek to change the nature of the
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relationship? or is it that we have to accept what they have done in order to pursue our greater national security goals? >> senator, i thought i was clear in saying we should not accept these outrageous problems such as the killing of jamal khashoggi. that we should not accept the torture, the alleged torture and attention of an american citizen, and so many other things as i mentioned in my opening statement. these short-term problems have to be solved now. and it requires forceful discussions on the behalf of the united states with the government of saudi arabia. i'm prepared to have those discussions if you confirm you. >> that's important, because i get concerned that somehow, we create this or other the
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relationship is so important that we cannot challenge those things that are hardly wrong about it. i don't buy that. at the end of the day, you can kill a journalist, with impunity, and because of our interest, we will look the other way? that's a dangerous message to send across the globe. and it's a dangerous message to send to any other country for which we may have an interest, o that you can act with impunity as long as you pursue a certain interest we might have with you. that's not who we are as a nation. i want to make sure you will have no problem pursuing those challenges. >> i have no problem saying what i need to say. in that regard. >> in that regard, will you press the saudi government on the continued detection of american omcitizens? and will you commit to request to visit women rights activist who've been unjustly detained? >> finally, let me turn, i let me not think i have no affection for you, in this
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hearing, let me just ask you, what does success look like for us? in iraq? how do we achieve that? what tools do we have to try to achieve it? >> so singly, give me a sense of that. is a edbroad statement of the message, of the mission, but i'd like to get a sense of what it is that we are working towards. >> i believe we need to be guided by a long-term strategic vision, i think it's a vision that sees iraq as a pillar of stability in the region. and we achieve that by working with iraqis to build up their security institutions, by building up their economy and combating the influence of terrorism, by combating issues like corruption or lack of transparency in the economy. we seek that vision, where as you look at the contrasting agenda of iran, and iraq that week this divided the doesn't have sovereignty over its
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territory and forces, we are working to bring about an era of iraq it has clean drinking water and government services to people who are flooding the market with heroin or other dangerous products. we need to be projecting a positive vision for iraq, and i have no saproblem doing that. >> with her leverage to achieve those things? >> we have allies and partners who want that, iraqis who want that vision and working with them whether they are from kurds or political alliances, wherever they come from, those iraqis that want to see a strong, unified sovereign iraq those of the people that we will work with. >> thank you, we hear a lot of partisan talk appear, so there's no mistake, i think the ranking number articulated this clearly, as it is possible, when we have an ally, we try to support those allies as best we can. but the kinds of things that make been happening lately it very difficult, and we
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cannot look the other way. thank you for those remarks, senator. >> thank you very much, thank you for giving us the opportunity to have a short round, i appreciate your follow- up answer, i was a bit concerned with, and unexpected robust defense arat times of th saudi regime, so i appreciate your clarification. my 2nd round goes for you, the cooties that bear significant responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe until this day, but you are the 1st diplomat with jurisdiction over the crisis in yemen that i have ever heard a sign 0% responsibility for the humanitarian disaster inside yemen to the saudi's, and it seemed as if you resisted amending that answer in the follow-up from senator, and
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although senator young didn't ask your question, you understood the beginning of his query to you. just because one party starts a war, does not give carte blanche to the other side to conduct themselves in a manner that makes the humanitarian situation on the ground worse. and by saying that the saudi's bear no responsibility, for what has happened there, is a permission slip, to the saudi's and anyone twho is a contestan to the conflict to behave as irresponsibly as they like because they might not have been the instigator. i can recite you the statistics that senator merkley did, but they are overwhelming in terms of the consensus among the international community as to the effect that the bombing campaign targeting civilians, the month-long blockade, head on the worsening humanitarian situation. i want to give you one last shot before we end here, to
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amend your answer that tthe saudi's, that they bear 100% responsibility for the civilian nightmare that has happened inside yemen. >> thank you for the question, and in describing what is an analytical position as to exactly what is happening to the economy itin yemen, that in no way excuses the saudi's when they violate the conflict or conduct their military operations in a manner that doesn't give due regard for civilian life. what i'm describing is a situation in yemen already the poorest country in the world with measures of famine that existed before 2014, that is absolutely head the economy, the legs of the economy kicked out from under by the actions of the iranian backed proxies. the un humanitarian coordinator describe the situation best, she said yemen is not suffering from a famine of food.
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yemen is suffering from a famine of incomes. in that is what is really driving most of the humanitarian suffering that we are witnessing. yemenis have lost their incomes because closure of private sector enterprises who have lost their government salaries, the government has lost income. >> i get it, that's my question. i understand what's happening. the question is whether the saudi's there something above 0% responsibility for what has happened. >> senator, i understand, and i wouldn't minimize that when t there have been targeting of infrastructures, such as roads or bridges or transportation and that has had a impact on the economy, but if you're looking for a solution of how we are going to address the humanitarian situation, it will be able to find a way to leverage and enter into a peaceful power-sharing, it's not going to happen as a result of what the saudi's are doing. the answers lie in the yemenis, so i think many yemenis will
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tell you exactly the same thing that i said here today. >> so, help me figure this out. are you changing your answer? or not? this is a problem. s for you moving forward, if you can't commit to us that the saudi's have some responsibility for what happened there, as almost everyone has testified before this committee before you, has said. are you changing your answer or not? >> with a war going on, and the saudi's as one of the participants, of course they've had an impact on the humanitarian suffering. i'm not saying, and i think again, going to the specific question, when there have been violations of armed conflict or undue consideration for damage, we can't overlook that or excuse that, but when i'm looking for answers of how we are going to dissolve the humanitarian crisis, got look to the underlying causes of what's happening, responsibility of all the parties, and what we
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are going to do so that the civilians don't continue this suffering. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. with that, thank you to both of you, and your families, you've been very patient with us, and we appreciate that. for information, the record will remain open until close of business on thursday, including for members to submit questions for the record. the thanks of the committee, this hearing is now adjourned. [inaudible conversation]
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[inaudible conversation]
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>> saturday night on book tv, at age 50 eastern. the claremont institute john marini discusses unmasking the administrative state. >> congress had adapted itself to the ministry to state, but nobody understood at that time that in accepting the legitimacy of the administered state, you had abandoned, the necessity of establishing separation of powers as a viable way of working our national government. >> saturday, at 11 eastern. is the 20th annual frederick douglass book prize awarded by the gilder lehrman institute of american history. this year's winners are eric armstrong dunbar, for never caught, and tie a mild, for the dawn of detroit. sunday night at nine, afterwards, alabama democratic senator doug jones recounts his prosecution of former [null] members who were involved in
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the 1963 birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls. his book is called bending toward justice. he's interviewed by author and journalist diane mcwhorter. >> you were able to, the motive was to stop the desegregation of the school. >> absolutely. >> and then that gives you the whole theme of the trials with the children. >> absolutely, no question. it was the year of the child. fire hoses and dogs in april and may of that year, in birmingham, which started the whole process, the school integration, hope was alive in many corners, but for some people in birmingham, were seeing a segregated lay of way of life sliding away, they had to take matters into their own hands >> watch book tv this weekend on c-span two. >> the senator committee held a hearing with the commanders of u.s. european command and u.s. transportation command. talking about the respective operations. this is two hours.


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