Christopher R. Hill, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, was U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, South Korea, Macedonia, and Poland, a U.S. special envoy for Kosovo, a negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords, and the chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea from 2005-2009. Currently Dean of the Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, he will appear at the University of South Florida’s Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at 6:30 p.m. tonight 2/5/2014, for a “wide-ranging discussion on American foreign affairs.

Q: Today was another bloody day in Iraq with a string of deadly bombings while the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant controls Fallujah. You once said Iraq had the potential to be “an enormous success.” Do you still believe that?

A: Iraq is sitting on a lot of natural resources that have limitless potential. The problem of course is that the Middle East has undergone a rather historical convulsion since the so-called Arab Spring, or Arab Thing, because no one is sure of what it is. There is a real growth of sectarian violence throughout the region, and is especially dramatic in Syria, without any signs of letting up and it is spilling over into neighboring states. It is not really an issue of whether (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-) Maliki has done enough Sunni outreach. I submit to you that this is not really an issue of Sunni outreach or the government sharing of power. It is a problem with the Sunni community, in which radical Sunni elements first go after less radical Sunnis, then come after Shi’a.

The above answer is spot on ! So we visit Kurdistan and the two parties, the PUK and KRG who have been at odds. The President of the PUK, Talibani hits the deck by having a stroke in a heated meeting with Maliki. Talibani is taken to Germany and put on ice, he is brain dead but it is kept secret. The announcement of his death would certainly cause uprisings in Kurdistan and Maliki and the Shi'a would be the blame. During this time an agreement is made that Barham Saleh will take Talibani's place, Talibani's wife and Tehran approve of Saleh UNTIL he meets privately in Washington DC, then Terhan denounces him. Saleh leaves Washington for Australia where he meets Barzani and a private meeting is held. In this meeting it is agreed with Barzani that Saleh will have Talibani's position and Barzani will retain his position for another term. AND now you have the reasoning of Maliki demanding he be given a third term. In the meantime the Goran movement in Kurdistan gained traction and won big in elections. The PUK and KRG unite as they cannot afford this tea party movement per se' to weaken their position regarding future negotiations with the Baghdad government, (let alone meddle in old family business practices)

Now the foriegn politics play a role as the US did not want ministers seated and have control of the military, the think tanks all agree that the odds were too high of a coup occurring in this early birth stage of democracy. Maliki being given the extra inch thinks he is now a RULER. Tension builds between tribal groups as they feel Maliki is marginalizing their position. Politicians and Religious leaders speak out against Maliki. ( compare it to the Sapranos TV show, this neighborhood belongs to Wings, he collects and gets his cut, big pussy is mad because the new deal cuts into his business that his family organized, and down the line it goes, never ending !) ALL SELF INTEREST !

Maliki sends his entire family to England (protection).....NOT IRAN, NOT JORDAN. Tehran denounces Maliki publicly and they are no longer showing support for Maliki through press releases.

Iran’s newly elected President Rouhani claimed he would RV the Iranian Rial 2 weeks after being sworn into office (August 2013) and it would be 25,000:1, coincidently on par with Iraq. The date was moved to January 1st when most “educated” IQD speculators thought a change in Iraq monetary policy would begin, and supported by Iraqi news outlets quoting various sources that a “RV” of some sort would start at the beginning of 2014. Mid December Big Oil companies pull personnel and contractors from the southern fields, intelligence reports indicate rebel planned attacks. January 1st 2014 rebels move into Anbar and begin the takeover of Fallujah and areas of Ramadi. It appears these Sunni extremist have a plan to interfere with Iraq executing a monetary change at the first of the year (or it’s just a coincidence) . Moving forward Iran’s President Rouhani announces they will RV the Rial in June 2014.

Yesterday 2/6/14 al leader Ahmed Abu Risha, who years ago sided with the US military and founded the Awakening movement of tribal militias against Al-Qaeda, a day earlier held a news conference during which he showed what he said were bills distributed by ISIL as their own currency.

The 100-guinea note bore the likeness of former Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on one side, and the two World Trade Centre towers attacked by the group on September 11, 2001 on the other. These currency notes are being seen spread around the city……..So fighting rebels took the time to print, import and distribute their own currency. !! ??

US Congress is calling for more sanctions on Iran, Obama is saying not while in negotiations over the nuclear development program. It appears that Congress has the report on who is training and funding these terrorist in Iraq.

Where is all this heading? It appears Iraq has just as much in order as is does in disorder. It appears that some election selections may already have been chosen, this remains to be seen. How accurate is the above information…..very accurate!

I know I have seen some reports of the new IQD being sent to banks in Iraq. This may in fact be happening but with the chaos and security spread so thin I personally find it difficult to accept that in present times they would risk losing the NEW Currency to rebel forces while in transit. My last conversation with contacts said their banks have no new currency and they have not been given any criteria showing or explaining features of a new currency (mid January). There have been over 300 IED’s roadside that have been defused ACROSS IRAQ in the PAST WEEK ALONE….that is a REAL number. Here is another: In Ramadi, meanwhile, police Lieutenant Colonel Hamid Shandukh said security forces had defused upwards of 400 roadside bombs, including dozens used to booby-trap houses. Again only my view that security is a huge issue right now.
So where are all these explosives coming from? Who is providing the ammo? This is an all out campaign and again has nothing to do with Maliki. This is an all out assault in an attempt to delay Iraqi currency reform and comes straight from Iran into Syria and then crosses the borders.
The good news to all this…….over 700 IED’s defused in one week across Iraq and the military making advancements yet keeping civilian casualties down…Anbar is sealed in a vacuum and I don’t expect much (accurate) news coming from inside Iraq for 2 or 3 days.
Contractors and military are on a sweep campaign…..My sense is that once they feel it is or can be contained we will see progress.
The $1 million question stays unanswered: what are Sunnis grievances that the Shi’a and Kurds are enjoying?? Iraq was created by outside interests and in the creation of a country including three various tribal areas that hate each other.
You can combine oil and water and stir as long as you wish and when you stop they will be separate.