U.S. Department of State, Martin S. Indyk, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, "US Policy in the Middle East," New York City, NY April 22, 1999

U.S. Policy in the Middle East

I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today on U.S.
policy in the Middle East.  I am particularly pleased to do so here at
the Council of Foreign Relations, whose work contributes so richly to
the foreign policy debate and where some of our most trenchant
critics and defenders reside.

In the Middle East, as in the rest of the world, we stand on the
threshold of a new millenium.  But this region finds itself caught
between its turbulent, conflict-ridden past and a future of greater
peace, stability, prosperity, and popular participation.  It is not at all
clear which direction it will take because the indicators are mixed.

The stalling of the Arab-Israeli peace process on all tracks over the
past two and a half years has dramatically slowed the momentum
toward positive change and reduced the hopes of many that a
comprehensive peace would usher in a new era of coexistence and
regional cooperation.  However, elections in Israel hold out the
possibility that a broader-based government will emerge capable of
moving forward in the peace process.

Saddam Hussein's defiance of the UN Security Council threatens to
destabilize the Gulf while exacting a heavy price from the Iraqi
people.  But the Iraqi tyrant has emerged from the Desert Fox
campaign weakened and isolated and less capable of creating trouble
for his neighbors.

President Khatami's election in Iran and the recent local elections
there have made clear that a significant majority of the people of this
great nation support political liberalization, respect for the rule of
law, and a constructive role for Iran in regional and international
affairs.  But this evolution still faces strong and sometimes violent
opposition from some quarters inside Iran.  Moreover, Iran's
determined development of ballistic missiles to enable delivery of its
weapons of mass destruction over long distances has the potential to
trigger a new and dangerous arms race across the region.

Islamic extremism is now on the defensive in Algeria and Egypt after
years of bloody confrontation, and across the Arab world a gradual
process of political liberalization and economic reform is taking place.
In Morocco, the opposition has become the government; in Qatar
women have voted for the first time in a GCC state; the Palestinian
Authority is being held to account by an elected Palestinian
Legislative Council; and in Yemen and Kuwait democratic, multi-
party elections have been held. Developments in the recent Algerian
elections were a disappointment to us, but the people's desire for
political and economic reform is manifest and we hope that President
Bouteflika will be responsive.  Meanwhile, Egypt, Tunisia, and
Morocco have implemented significant and far-reaching economic

Finally, King Hussein's untimely death has underscored the fact that
a process of succession is underway across the region after decades
of unchanging rule in most Arab countries.  The transitions in Jordan
and Bahrain have been encouragingly smooth but these may be the
exceptions rather than the rule.  And we must remain cognizant of
the fact that over the next decade, leaders who have built up
credibility and legitimacy over many years will be replaced by a
younger generation that will take some time to establish themselves.

Because the Middle East is a region of vital interest to the United
States, we are committed to helping it achieve a better future in the
21st century than it has experienced in the last half of the 20th
century, when the Middle East was often a synonym for trouble and
hopelessness.  Above all, we have an intense interest in preventing it
from backsliding into another era of extremism and conflict, marked
by a new arms race in ballistic missiles and weapons of mass

In confronting these challenges, the Clinton Administration has
sought on the one hand to contain those governments or political
movements that use violence as a matter of policy to advance a
hostile agenda.  At the same time, we have mounted a steady and
determined effort to expand the breadth and depth of our
partnerships with friendly governments in the region to promote the
peace, stability, and prosperity which remain our abiding vision for
the Middle East.  We have also sought to encourage states in the
region that have developed the bad habit of acting outside of
international norms to change in ways that would permit their
reintegration into the international community.  As a consequence,
this always crisis-prone region has seen a marked decline in violence
and conflict in the past 6 years and a significant deepening of peace
and stability.

In the 6 years since Oslo, we have witnessed the signing of a peace
treaty between Jordan and Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian Interim
Agreements, the Hebron Protocol, and the Wye River Memorandum.
The PLO has revised its Charter, and Arafat has pledged that there
will be no return to violence.  The Likud-led Government of Israel
took a historically important step by agreeing to turn parts of the
West Bank over to Palestinian Authority control.  The process of
normalization and Middle East Economic Summits have resulted in
the abandonment of the secondary Arab boycott and the
establishment of commercial contacts between Israel and all but a
handful of Arab countries, including the establishment of trade
offices with Morocco, Tunisia, Oman, and Qatar.  And although
agreement was not reached, Israeli-Syrian negotiations did establish
the basis for settlement of that long-standing conflict.

The strength of our relationship with our Arab partners is clearly
demonstrated in our common and ongoing effort to contain Iraq.
Despite Saddam's persistent attempts to drive a wedge between the
U.S. and its Arab allies, the common resolve remains to confront what
is recognized to be a dangerous and de-legitimized regime.  Indeed,
at a time when pundits are quick to declare the collapse of the Gulf
War coalition, the reality is that all of the Arab states that stood with
us at that time still do so today, and many of the Arab and Gulf
states that sympathized with Saddam Hussein then no longer do so

We have also seen the fruits of our close cooperation in the fight
against terror.  After a sustained effort on our part, the Palestinian
Authority is moving effectively to prevent terrorist efforts to
torpedo the Middle East peace process.  The Government of Israel has
recently acknowledged this development.  And thanks in no small
part to the efforts of countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and South
Africa we have finally succeeded--after 10 long years--in bringing to
the bar of justice those individuals identified by the international
community as the prime suspects in the murder of so many
innocents aboard flight Pan Am 103.

As we look to the future of the region, the question before us is: how
can we expand engagement and reinforce containment?  How can we
widen the circle of peace while countering those who would oppose
the promotion of a more normal existence for all the people of the
region?  The answer in our minds is clear.  We must broaden the
scope and depth of our relationships with those states that share our
commitment to a more peaceful and prosperous region, working with
them to achieve our common vision.  At the same time, we must
maintain our ability to contain those states and those forces who
threaten those interests.

My purpose today is to share with you the Clinton Administration's
strategy for achieving these goals as we head into the 21st century.

Arab-Israeli Peace Process

Looking back in time, enormous progress has been made in realizing
the historic goal of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.  Some 20
years after the Israel-Egypt treaty--which remains the bedrock of all
subsequent peace progress--between Israel and all of her neighbors
is in sight.  While we are not there yet, the coming months should
offer a renewed opportunity to move forward on all tracks.
President Clinton intends to make full use of this period to bring the
parties to a settlement of final status issues.  On the Palestinian track,
we are at the moment in the throes of trying to manage the expiry of
the interim period on May 4.  It is our view that a unilateral
declaration of a state by the Palestinians will undermine final status
negotiations.  But by the same token, Wye obligations must be
fulfilled by both sides, and the final status negotiations must be
resumed immediately after the Israeli elections and be brought to a
prompt conclusion.  It is clear that these negotiations cannot be
open-ended.  And just as the President and Secretary of State were
prepared to devote themselves to an extraordinary effort at Wye to
bring those negotiations to a successful conclusion, so, too, are they
prepared to make a similar effort in the final status negotiations.

After the Israeli elections, the timing may also be propitious for a
new effort to achieve a final status agreement on the Syrian and
Lebanese tracks.  There have been no direct negotiations in 3 years;
when there were negotiations, progress was made but significant
gaps remained, particularly in the all-important area of security
arrangements.  If the parties are willing to match our effort, we are
prepared to make peace between Israel and Syria a high priority in
our Middle East diplomacy.  This is not only because of our
commitment to a comprehensive peace.  It is also because an Israel-
Syria peace agreement would have important regional benefits: a
secure Israeli-Lebanese border; the ending of the Arab-Israeli
conflict; the isolation of those parties that continue to reject peace
and reconciliation; and the easing of pressure against normalization
of  relations between the Arab world and Israel.

Dual Containment

In May of 1993, almost 6 years ago, I outlined the Clinton
Administration's dual containment policy toward Iraq and Iran.  This
policy reflected the geo-political reality at the time: the recent
conclusion of three wars--the Cold war, the Iran-Iraq war, and the
war to liberate Kuwait--had left the United States the dominant
power in the region.  It had also left both Iran and Iraq, while war-
weary and economically weakened, still militarily ambitious and
clearly hostile to the United States and our interests in the region.

Dual containment was premised on the notion that the U.S. needed to
shift away from our earlier policy of relying on one of these regional
powers to balance the other, a policy we had followed throughout the
previous decade with disastrous results.  Rather, we would now focus
our efforts on containing Saddam Hussein's threats to his neighbors
and his own people, while at the same time pursuing multilateral
efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring and developing weapons of
mass destruction and the ballistic missiles necessary to deliver them.
Our policy vis- -vis Iran was also based on continuing to seek change
in dangerous Iranian policies--including support for terrorism,
subversion of friendly governments, and violent opposition to the
Middle East peace process--through economic pressure aimed mainly
at Iran's oil industry.

Dual containment, however, never prescribed identical policies
toward Iraq and Iran, nor was dual containment designed to be static
or inflexible over time.  Indeed, it is quite natural that these two
states would evolve differently, and that our policies would evolve in
response.  Nor was dual containment meant to impose a kind of pax-
Americana on the region, in which Iran and Iraq--both large and
important regional players--would permanently be excluded from
making positive and constructive contributions to the economics,
politics, and security of the region, should they be inclined to change
their hostile ways.

Over the past 6 years we have in fact seen pronounced differences in
the evolution of both the external and internal policies of these two
regional powers. And U.S. policy has adapted in response.  Iraq,
under Saddam Hussein, remains dangerous, unreconstructed, defiant,
and isolated.  We have come to the conclusion, after more than 7
years of effort at seeking Saddam's compliance with UN Security
Council resolutions, that his regime will never be able to be
rehabilitated or reintegrated into the community of nations.  This
conclusion is based on what Saddam's record makes manifest--that
he will never relinquish what remains of his WMD arsenal, and that
he will never cease being a threat to the region, U.S. interests, and his
own people.  It is based on Saddam's policies, not on any
predetermined policy of our own.  Thus, in November of last year,
President Clinton announced a new policy with regard to Iraq:
henceforth, we would contain Saddam Hussein until a new regime
can govern in Baghdad.  The President committed the United States
to support those Iraqis--inside and outside Iraq--who seek a better
future and a new government for the people of Iraq.

The evolution in Iran, and hence our own response, has been
markedly different.  In recent years, the Iranian people have
demonstrated a desire for greater participation in their governance,
freedom from undue interference by the state in their private
affairs, and greater openness and contact with the outside world.
Iran's leaders have taken steps to address these concerns, conducting
free and fair presidential and local elections, allowing increased
public debate, and publicly shifting from a foreign policy of
confrontation to one of dialogue and cooperation.  Despite these
positive developments, we continue to have serious concerns about
some Iranian policies that violate international norms and threaten
our interests and those of our allies.

We would be remiss, however, were we to fail to adjust our approach
to the changing reality in Iran.  As Iran's leaders have shown an
interest in re-engaging with the international community, we have
sought to respond by highlighting our interest in engaging Iran in a
dialogue, an approach first enunciated by Secretary Albright last
June in her speech to the Asia Society here in New York.

Let me lay out our current policies toward Iraq and Iran in more


Some 8 years after the Gulf War and Saddam's persistent defiance of
the international community, we are under no illusions that Iraq
under Saddam Hussein will comply with UNSC resolutions on
disarmament, human rights, accounting for POW's, and the return of
stolen property.

In view of this reality, our policy rests on three pillars. First, we will
contain Saddam Hussein in order to reduce the threat he poses both
to Iraq's neighbors and to the Iraqi people. Second, we will seek to
alleviate the humanitarian cost to the Iraqi people of containment.
Finally, we will work with forces inside and outside Iraq, as well as
Iraq's neighbors, to help a stable, peaceful Iraq rejoin the community
of nations when the departure of Saddam Hussein makes this

Our containment policy is designed to protect the citizens of Iraq and
its neighbors from an aggressive and hostile regime.  Sanctions
prevent Saddam Hussein from reconstituting his military or WMD
capabilities.  Operations Northern and Southern Watch prevent
Saddam from using his air force against the civilian populations
north of the 36th parallel and south of the 33rd.  We maintain a
robust force in the region, which we have made clear we are
prepared to use should Saddam cross our well-established redlines.
Those redlines include:  should he reconstitute or deploy weapons of
mass destruction; should he again threaten his neighbors or our
forces in the region; should he move against his own people,
especially in the north; or, should he challenge us in the no-fly zones.
We are also committed to maintaining sanctions against the Iraqi
regime that is in defiance of the UNSC resolutions, while lifting the
burden of sanctions off the backs of the Iraqi people through the
expansion and streamlining of the oil-for-food program.

This humanitarian relief program is the second pillar of our policy.
Sanctions were never directed against the Iraqi people.  In fact, food
and medicine are specifically exempt from sanctions. Iraq has always
been free to buy and import these goods, but Saddam Hussein has
chosen not to do so in order to manipulate public opinion by
deliberately causing the suffering of his own citizens.  Our response
has been to first establish and then expand the oil-for-food program,
which provides a mechanism for the international community to use
revenues from the sale of Iraqi oil for the purchase of humanitarian
supplies for the Iraqi people.  Despite attempts at interference by the
regime, the oil-for-food program has ensured that the people of Iraq
receive the food and medicine, which their own government denies
them.  There is a fundamental principle at work here.  As long as
Saddam is in defiance of the UNSC resolutions, we will never allow
him to regain control of Iraq's oil revenues.  They will continue to be
escrowed by the UN and their uses controlled by the UN sanctions

Although effective, containment has its costs.  As we have seen
repeatedly since 1991, a contained Iraq under the leadership of
Saddam Hussein remains a threat both to the region and to the Iraqi
people.  Both are paying a very high price for Saddam's continued
rule.  In our judgment, both deserve better.

For these reasons, President Clinton announced in November that the
United States would work with the Iraqi people toward a
government in Iraq which is prepared to live in peace with its
neighbors and respect the rights of its people.  Make no mistake: we
are now clearly committed to supporting the Iraqi people in bringing
about a change of regime in Baghdad.

In pursuit of this objective, the United States will adhere to two
important principles: one, we will uphold the territorial integrity of
Iraq; and two, we will not seek to impose from the outside a
particular government or leaders on the people of Iraq.  We do
support a change of government that will be responsive to the
aspirations of the Iraqi people--one that takes meaningful steps
toward a democratic future for the country and can represent fairly
the concerns of all of Iraq's communities.  And we will work with a
new Iraqi government, as it fulfills its international obligations, to lift
the sanctions, to deal with the large debt burden, and to reintegrate
Iraq into the international community.

If it is to be successful, change must come from within, from the
Iraqis themselves.  It cannot be "made in America."  The support of
Iraqi exiles, including the politically active opposition, along with
neighboring states, however, is indispensable.  Our approach is to
work in an intensive and coordinated way with these partners to
support the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a new Iraq under new
leadership.  Free Iraqis--those in exile and those who live in relative
freedom in northern Iraq--bear a special responsibility to develop a
coherent vision for a brighter future.  They must take the lead in
developing and promoting an alternative vision based on the
restoration of civil society, the rebuilding of the economy, and the
promotion of a new role for Iraq as a force for peace and
reconciliation in the region.  They can also play an effective role in
delegitimizing Saddam, in helping to build the case for his
prosecution as a war criminal, and in getting the truth into and out of

Congress has provided the Administration with a number of
important tools to support Iraqis who are working toward a better
future for Iraq. These include $8 million in Economic Support Funds.
We are using these funds to strengthen opposition political unity, to
support the Iraq war crimes initiative, to support humanitarian
programs and the development of civil society, and for activities
inside Iraq.

We have established Radio Free Iraq, which operates independently
and broadcasts daily in Arabic uncensored news and information to
the Iraqi people.

We have named a Special Coordinator for Transition in Iraq, Frank
Ricciardone, who is managing the overall effort.  Mr. Ricciardone has
already had some success in helping some of the disparate opposition
groups work together and elect a new interim leadership that will
now prepare the way for an Iraqi opposition conference that will
have as broad participation as possible.

We have also made progress working with the two major Kurdish
factions in the North, the PUK and the KDP, to help them reconcile
their differences and better provide for all the people of northern

Finally, there is the Iraq Liberation Act, which provides discretionary
authority to the President to direct up to $97 million in Defense
Department drawdown and training for designated Iraqi opposition

Many have called on the President to use this authority to arm the
Iraqi opposition and support military action against Saddam Hussein.
We believe such action is premature.  There are a host of issues that
must be resolved before such equipment and training could be
provided with confidence that it would advance our objectives of
promoting a change of regime and not just lead to more Iraqis being
killed unnecessarily.  One requirement is a credible, broad-based,
Iraqi political umbrella movement, based on consensus, that can
authoritatively articulate a future vision for those Iraqis who now
lack a voice in their own fate.  Through such a movement, it will
become possible to channel substantial assistance to those resisting
Saddam's oppression inside Iraq.

We also need the cooperation of Iraq's Arab neighbors and Turkey if
we are to provide effective support to the internal Iraqi opposition.
Although they would all prefer Saddam gone, they have strong views
about a post-Saddam Iraq which have to be taken into account.  We
are working closely with them to achieve our common objective of an
Iraq that can assume its rightful place in the region as a constructive
and stabilizing power.


Turning to Iran, Secretary Albright discussed our policy toward Iran
at length in her Asia Society speech last June.  The main point the
Secretary made was that we are prepared to develop with the
Islamic Republic, when it is ready, a road map in which both sides
would take parallel steps leading to normal relations.  Unfortunately,
the Iranian Government has made it clear that at this stage it is not
ready to engage, insisting instead that the U.S. first take a number of
unilateral steps.

Given Iran's reluctance to begin a bilateral dialogue, we have
pursued other avenues that can serve to broaden our engagement
with Iran.  We have worked constructively with Iran in multilateral
settings on issues of common concern, such as the spread of narcotics
and the situation in Afghanistan.  Last year, Iran's eradication of its
poppy crop made it possible for us to remove Iran from our list of
major drug producers, and we fully support the UN Drug Control
Program's plans to increase its activities in Iran.   This is a case
where positive Iranian actions have been met with a positive U.S.
response.  We also continue to work with Iran in the six-plus-two
forum at the United Nations on Afghanistan, where the Islamic
Republic has played a constructive role in the search for a peaceful
solution to the civil strife in that war-torn country.  As chair of the
Organization of the Islamic Conference, Iran has become more
actively involved in the search for diplomatic solutions to other
world crises, and we welcome that as well, including the OIC's
support for efforts in Kosovo.

We have also supported greater contact between our two peoples, for
we believe that such exchanges can increase mutual understanding
and respect and can help overcome decades of mistrust.   We have
streamlined our visa policies and supported academic and athletic
exchanges.  We have hosted wrestling teams, newspaper editors, film
directors and musicians, and numerous Iranian scholars.  We have
also on occasion relaxed the 25-mile travel limit for Iranian officials
assigned to Iran's Mission to the United Nations, allowing Iran's
ambassador to the United Nations and other officials to speak to
American audiences in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania and

We are pleased that Iran has opened its doors to increasing numbers
of American visitors--wrestling teams, scholars, graduate students,
and museum officials.  But we are disappointed that the Iranian
Government has not yet shown the same readiness for the Iranian
public to hear directly from U.S. officials, or even ex-officials, about
our perspectives on the way forward.

Given the intense interest in U.S. sanctions policy with respect to
Iran, I would like to remind you of the rationale for the sanctions as
well as our reasons for some decisions we have made recently in this
regard.  First, U.S. sanctions are a response to Iranian Government
practices that violate international norms and threaten our interests
and those of our allies.  Their intent is to deprive Iran of the
resources to pursue those activities and to demonstrate to Iran's
leaders that pursuing such policies comes at a price.

Some of these objectionable Iranian Government practices
unfortunately have continued, although not to the same degree in all
areas, under the present government.  Iran remains on this year's
State Department list of state supporters of terrorism.  While we
have seen some diminution in the number of assassinations of
Iranian dissidents abroad, and condemnation by Iranian officials of
certain terrorist attacks, Iran continues to provide support to a
variety of terrorist groups, particularly some of those that violently
oppose progress in the Middle East peace process.  President Khatami
has publicly denounced terrorism and condemned the killing of
innocents, including Israelis; the Iranian Government has also stated
that Iran would accept peace acceptable to the Palestinians.  We
assume that these statements are sincerely made, and it is therefore
also reasonable for us to expect that the actions and policies of the
Islamic Republic should reflect them.  Unfortunately, so far this has
not been the case.

Of greatest concern to us, however, is Iran's continued drive to
develop weapons of mass destruction and the ballistic missiles
necessary to deliver them. Clandestine efforts to procure nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons continue despite Iran's adherence to
relevant international nonproliferation conventions.  In this regard,
we are particularly concerned about Iran's nuclear drive.  Last
summer, Iran also tested a ballistic missile--the Shehab III--capable
of delivering warheads 800 miles.  We have reports that Iran is close
to producing a missile with an even greater range.  These
developments pose significant potential threats to U.S. forces and our
friends in the region.  Clearly, our concern about Iranian WMD and
missile development must be considered in a regional context.  We
continue to support a Middle East free of all WMD.  But the kind of
proliferation we see in the region today--be it in Iran, India, or
Pakistan--is leading exactly in the wrong direction.  Proliferation on
the eastern side of the Persian Gulf is, among other things, increasing
nervousness on the other side of the Gulf and could drive other
countries to seek their own weapons systems.

We have to act quickly to forestall this imminent arms race in
ballistic missiles and WMD by working with our friends in the region
including the GCC, Jordan, and Israel, to develop effective responses
to the emerging threat.  These responses include:  strengthening
active and passive defenses; enhancing deterrence; slowing down
proliferation; and if possible, moderating the policies of those
regimes that are trying to acquire these systems.

Iran's efforts to develop WMD and ballistic missiles together with its
other ongoing  policies of concern are the reason we oppose
investment in Iran's petroleum sector, Iran's participation in the
development of Caspian resources, multilateral lending to Iran, and
Iran's full integration in international economic fora.  A change in the
U.S. position on these issues will require Iran to bring its practices
into line with international norms, or at least demonstrate a
willingness to begin such a process.  We look forward to a time when
greater economic interaction with Iran will be possible, but this
depends not just on us, but on the Iranian Government's willingness
to address practices that, in our view, continue to disqualify Iran
from enjoying the full economic and commercial advantages that
come with responsible membership in the international community.

Finally, we continue to observe with great interest internal
developments in Iran.  As we have often said, we fully respect Iran's
sovereignty and the right of the Iranian people to choose their
system of government as they see fit.  That said, we will not shy
away from expressing our support for values that we believe to be
universal: human rights, rule of law, free markets, and democracy.
In this regard, both the presidential election in 1997 and the recent
municipal elections were remarkable for their openness and the level
of participation of the Iranian people.  We continue to believe that
nations living according to democratic and pluralistic values
internally will also abide more fully and more naturally with
internationally accepted norms of behavior in their foreign policies.
This is a principle that underlines our approaches to both Iran and


At the close of the 20th century, the United States occupies a unique
position in the history of international relations.  We are both the
world's leading democracy and its sole superpower.  As the world's
foremost democracy, the people of the United States expect their
country will act in defense of the values and beliefs it represents.  As
the single remaining superpower, we have a responsibility to use our
power in the interests of international peace and security.

For this reason, we now find ourselves facing demands for
intervention in ways and in places that are unprecedented.  As befits
our unique position in the world, and consistent with our national
interests, we must be responsive.

The history of the post-Cold war world has demonstrated, however,
that we cannot effectively impose solutions on unwilling partners or
hostile adversaries unilaterally.  Our preponderant economic and
military strength notwithstanding, advancing national interests and
fulfilling the responsibilities of a superpower is a multilateral
exercise.  Simply put, while we will and must lead, we should not go
it alone.

Containing Saddam Hussein; working for a new government in Iraq;
promoting an Arab-Israeli peace; fighting terrorism and the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction requires the support
and cooperation of our regional friends and allies.  Over the course of
years of sustained diplomacy, we have developed a level of trust and
confidence with the key states of the region.  This gives us
confidence that our policies of expanded engagement and
strengthened containment will prevail over time.

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