Mr. Chairman, Representative Akin, Members of the Committee:
I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify today on some of the potential developments that may confront us in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and the wider world as a result of the war in Iraq. It is no exaggeration to say that the set of challenges that we have encountered in Iraq since 2003 have defied our powers of prediction over and again. The sad fact is that we should not expect that to change anytime soon. Iraq today is the center of a series of conflicts — some full-blown, others nascent — that are at once interlocking and overlaid. There is a bewildering array of drivers behind these conflicts and a panoply of triggers that might accelerate or decelerate certain trends. Prediction, in this environment, seems especially hazardous.
With that caveat, I would like to address some issues related to the terrorist threat and how it might develop in Iraq and how it will affect Iraq’s neighborhood and our own.
This is part 4 of a 4 part series by the subcommittee. Brookings experts Daniel Byman and Michael O’Hanlon testified in front of the subcommittee on this topic as well.
The objective of this kind of [safe zones] project may be described as fundamentally humanitarian, but the reality is that any number of parties, starting with the Assad regime and the Islamic State, are going to see it as a threat, and that’s going to make it a target instead of a safe place.