Media Talk: Iraq – A Fragile Sovereignty

Talk Wednesday 16th July, 2008

As Iraq’s roller coaster ride continues, the next six months will be crucial in determining the future shape of the nation. The two forthcoming elections, the US election in November and the Iraqi provincial elections in October, along with US-Iraqi agreements over long-term commitments and legal status for military personnel and contactors, have major implications for the besieged state and its people.

We discuss the possible outcomes and the details of the agreements determining the US long-term commitments to Iraq as well as the divisions within Iraq itself. Are these agreements an excuse for the US to legitimise a long-term occupation of Iraq or are the Iraqis on their way towards a real, if fragile, sovereignty?

Patrick Cockburn
is the Middle East correspondent for the The Independent and has been reporting from Iraq since 1978. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting and the James Cameron Memorial Award in 2006. He is the author of The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (shortlisted for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2007), The Broken Boy, and, with Andrew Cockburn, Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein.

Major General John Batiste is a retired officer of the US Army and was involved in the early planning stages of the Iraq war. In 2002, Batiste was chosen to be commander of the First Infantry Division of the US Army, which was deployed to Iraq in December 2003, during the war.

Toby Dodge is Reader in International Politics at the Queen Mary, University of London and Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. His research concentrates on the evolution of the Iraqi state in the international system.
Toby has travelled to Iraq frequently both before and after regime change and was last in Baghdad, Fallujah and Tel Afar in March and April 2008 and Baghdad, Mahmudiyah, Latifiyah, Yusufiyah and Basra – during April 2007. He is also the author of the following books: Iraq’s Future: The Aftermath of Regime Change, Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation Building and a History Denied and Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change.

Yahia Said is Director for Middle East and North Africa for the Revenue Watch Institute and a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics. He fled Iraq in 1979 after Saddam’s assent to power. Since 2003 Mr Said traveled to Iraq frequently on missions that spanned research, activism and policy making. Most recently he led the technical team drafting the International Compact for Iraq on behalf of the UN in Baghdad. He also contributed to efforts at developing an efficient, transparent and equitable framework for managing Iraq’s hydrocarbon wealth. He is one of the editors and authors of the Oil War’s book. He is published in academic and mainstream media on issues of transition and conflict in the Middle East and the Former Soviet Union and on issues of globalisation and civil society.

Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh is the Iraqi government’s official spokesman.

Jon Snow is the main presenter for Channel 4 News.