Beirut Institute Summit e-Policy Circle 40

On Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 Beirut Institute hosted e-Policy Circle 40 with HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal, Chairman of the Board King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Co-Chair of Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi, and formerly Saudi Arabia’s Director of General Intelligence and Ambassador to the UK and the US, The Rt Hon. Tobias Ellwood, Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East, Chair of the Defence Select Committee, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel, and former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Africa,  HE Hoshyar Zebari, former Deputy Prime Minister, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Finance Minister of Iraq,  and Michael Knights, fellow at The Washington Institute, specializing in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran,Yemen, and the Gulf Arab states.

This 40th episode of the e-Policy Circles is part of the run-up program to the Beirut Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi Edition IV, under the theme Stability Redefined – Who Authors the Future? 

This global conversation, which focused on recent developments in Iraq, resulted in excellent points around the following issues, among many points: 

HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal

“From Saudi Arabia’s point of view [on Iran], whatever comes out is going to be malformed and missing important elements from it which is Iran’s extraterritorial ambitions not just on the Arab World, but also as we see now, they announced that they are establishing al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Afghanistan” 

HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal

“This is what happens with every tool that Iran uses, the al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Afghanistan is not going to be under the control either of the Taliban if they ever succeed in Kabul or any form of government that succeeds the Americans.” 

HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal

This [the Iranian attacks on Saudi Arabia] is not something that Saudi Arabia can simply discard and believe someone like Raisi, who If you look at his history […] is one of the most extreme of extremes in the kaleidoscope of Iranian direction under the so-called Islamic revolution. I don’t think there will be much going forward unless Iran changes the way it does things.”

HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal

“If the Kabul government can get western support, particularly American air support in their opposition to the Taliban, they can last and negotiate from a stronger point than they seem to be able to now, but that is a big If.” 

The Rt Hon. Tobias Ellwood

“You have the West as a collective identity becoming too risk averse, losing what we believe in, what we stand for, what we’re willing to defend and if ever there is an example for that, it’s in Afghanistan.” 

The Rt Hon. Tobias Ellwood

“Twenty years we now depart […] handing it back to the very insurgency we wanted to defeat […] What is clear to me is that you can never beat an insurgency by military means alone.” 

The Rt Hon. Tobias Ellwood

“China is taking full advantage of the gaps left, right and center, even in places like Lebanon as well, where they’re gifting military equipment, so there is I’m afraid a soft war that is looming between China which we hoped would mature into an international global citizen.”  

HE Hoshyar Zebari

“ISIS is not a local phenomenon as Taliban, it was more confined to geographical territory. ISIS was an international challenge not only to Iraq but to the world” […] we believe there is still a need for this continued engagement and this has been our message to the Biden administration.”

HE Hoshyar Zebari

“It was very clear they [Iran] are nervous, they are not comfortable about the US leaving Afghanistan and the Taliban taking their border. […] They already started establishing al-Hashd al-Shaabi, this is an indication that they are not comfortable with this development.”

Michael Knights

“It is an amazing thing that an Iraqi prime minister has visited the Oval Office twice in two years, two different presidents. This strategic dialogue does give us a regular set of events to build a better and closer relationship. […] It doesn’t work very quickly but it provides everything with a skeleton and a framework to build on.”

Michael Knights

“The Iraqis come out of it relatively really well. There will be no US military withdrawal from Iraq. […] It is a recategorization of the role of US forces in Iraq from combat to non-combat and the fact is, they’re already non-combat.” 

Michael Knights

“They [the militias] will keep firing rockets and drones at the US and Iraqi government, at Saudi Arabia from Iran but they are getting increasingly isolated whereas the US Iraq relationship is continuing to get a lot stronger.”

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