Manama Dialogue 2012: The US Role in the Middle East – Charles Ruppersberger

Published: January 4, 2013

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SPECIAL REPORT

[This is the fifth of six reports resulting from the IISS Manama Dialogue regional security summit.]

Editor’s Note:

The International Institute for Strategic Studies convened the 8th Manama Dialogue regional security summit, bringing together 30 delegations to “engage in high level international defense diplomacy on regional security issues.” The Manama Dialogues in Bahrain were launched in 2004 and have become an important opportunity for heads of state, foreign and defense ministers, other officials, military officers, specialists and others to gather to examine the critical issues of the day. The Dialogue is preceded by “Sherpa Meetings,” this year held in February and October, which lay the groundwork for the Dialogue sessions as well as providing “a unique opportunity for delegates who have high-level responsibility for foreign and security policy to engage in an off-the record, substantive exchange of ideas and information about regional security.”

The Manama Dialogue itself opened with an evening plenary session on December 7, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain, followed by two full days of plenary and special (closed) sessions. The opening session tabled “Global Views on Syria.” Subsequent plenary sessions addressed: “The U.S. and the Region”; “Priorities for Regional Security”; “Intervention and Mediation”; “The Influence of Sectarian Politics in Regional Security”; and “Middle East Security in a Global Context.”

It is rare to see so many senior U.S. officials participating in a single, open event in the Gulf of the stature of the Manama Dialogue.  Americans participating in the conference included: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Senator John McCainCongressman Michael Rogers and Congressman Charles Ruppersberger. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Al Saud led the Saudi delegation. Presentations from each of these participants, as well as an interview with IISS Director General John Chipman, courtesy of The Majalla, are provided today including this presentation from Congressman Ruppersberger, Ranking Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, US House of Representatives.

US Congressman Charges Ruppersberger

Mr. Ruppersberger spoke on the “U.S. and the Region” panel at the Manama Dialogue and shared brief remarks on the landscape in the region and continuing American commitment to the region despite talk of an “Asian pivot.” Ruppersberger, who holds a key Congressional post in the field of intelligence, called the fight to defeat “terrorism” as common ground for all and stepped through the issues confronting the US in Egypt, Syria and Iran.

Today we present for your consideration six reports including video presentations of plenary sessions from the Manama Dialogue and an interview with IISS chief Dr. John Chipman, and commend your attention to the IISS Manama Dialogue web site for more presentations and materials that provide background, context and insight into the Gulf security paradigm. There are links to all pertinent materials following this presentation as well as all of the SUSRIS reports today including:

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Charles Ruppersberger
Ranking Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,
US House of Representatives
The 8th IISS Regional Security Summit - The Manama Dialogue
First Plenary Session – The U.S. and the Region
Manama, Bahrain
December 8, 2012

[Prepared remarks]

Good Morning.

Thank you for being here today.

It is an honor to be part of this great conference hosted by IISS. Deputy Secretary of State Burns and Senator John McCain, thank you both for being here, and thanks for that great overview of the region.

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We are in a pivotal time in the Middle East. We’ve entered into a new era where Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and others are trying to make a difference in the region. Lots of changes are underway. The Arab Spring ushered in new governments in Egypt and Libya. Syria’s civil conflict has transformed into a full out war. Iran is flexing its muscles and trying to derail the region. The Obama Administration recently announced a strategic pivot to Asia. We all read about it in the paper.

But I am here today to say we will NOT pack up and leave the region. We are committed to the Persian Gulf. We have a history of long term, strategic partnership with the countries of the region and that will continue. We are committed to working with our partners in the Gulf.

I am the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee in the United States. Our Committee is committed to providing our intelligence professionals the resources, capabilities and authorities they need to keep America and the world safe. But we must do this together.

Our common ground is the fight against terrorism. Terrorists all across the world are trying to take advantage of this period of change in the Gulf and explode it to kill and scare people. This affects security not just for America, but for the world. Members of Congress know it is critical that the United States work with our partner nations across the globe to keep the world safe.

Egypt’s new governments is finding its way in the world. For decades, Egypt has been a staunch ally of the United States. We need it to stay that way. The newly elected President, Mohammed Morsi, was instrumental in brokering a recent peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It was a telling moment. But at the same time he has been criticized for a Constitutional power grab. Every year, Congress invests billions in aid to Egypt.

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We want to make sure that Egypt continues to be a good partner in helping us battle terrorism around the globe.

Then there is Syria, where a civil war has escalated almost out of control. Syrian leader Assad has murdered thousands of his own people. Published reports say Syria is preparing chemical weapons. Assad must not use them on his own people. President Obama has warned Assad that using them on his people will force America to act.

The press reported that Russia was able to calm down the situation a few months ago. I hope Russia can do it again.

The Intelligence Community is worried that Al-Qaeda is trying to infiltrate these opposition groups in Syria, especially the Nusrah Front, a group affiliated with the terrorist network.

And then you have Iran. Iran is getting bolder and more belligerent as these changes affect the region. There are indications it may be trying to gain a nuclear capability. And add to that, Iran is exporting terrorism and using Hezbollah as its proxy. To topple these and other threats, the United States must work hand in hand with Gulf nations for the good of the world.

We need the Gulf States to be strategic, long term partners in the region.

Thank you.

Source: IISS

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