Allan: I’m Allan [PH] Peasewheather.  I’m a scholar from Middle East Institute of Consultant of CNL Resources and like our guest, Ambassador David Newton.  I’m a retired board and service officer of space life in Middle East.  We’re particularly honored to have Ambassador Newton with us today.  This is a special day in Iraq.  The day that the US troops officially withdraw from the cities and which Prime Minister Maliki is designated as [PH] sovereign today.  Ambassador Newton has been associated with Iraq for a long time and in many ways.  He was our first ambassador to Iraq in 1984.  He also has headed radio-free Iraq for six years being its first director.  He is a long time scholar of the Middle East, a long time diplomat that has dealt with various parts of the Middle East, and so with that introduction, I’d like to introduce David, Iraq a personal view.

David:    Okay.  You can see I’ve been around a long time [Laughing] too long but I would like to thank the Rumi Forum for inviting me here.  I had the pleasure of making a trip to Turkey with the [PH] Marilyn Institute for dialogue a couple of years ago.  Wonderful trip and I have a great admiration for what they’re trying to do and I only wish that having spent so many years in the Arab world that I could see more of the spirit of tolerance exhibited in the Arab countries and I hope it will be in the future.  Ah, I brought along a few things that I thought might be worth keeping, a general map of Iraq because I think- I’m sure many of you are familiar with it but if you look at the little one you can see in general the population distribution.  Now, of course, a lot of it’s mixed in the cities but one striking thing is the relatively small area actually occupied by the Sunnis.  The other interesting thing, of course, and this was a very important factor in the war with Iran that the population is almost entirely in the eastern half of the country except for this very narrow valley of the Euphrates that runs off into Syria.  It’s a country with a quite a mix population with a long history we can talk about it if you would like to, but let me go on to say some of the obvious points why Iraq is important for us and why it is important for the west and for the world and, of course, the most important reason is for the world economy is the oil in Iraq.  Iraq is not only the world’s- as the world’s third largest reserves but it is the least well explored of any of these major countries and is very good prospects.  There’s a lot more oil in Iraq.  Oil, it’s also very easy to extract.  Say, it’s a country with great potential.

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