It is not at all clear what the government will favor in terms of this long list of issues and undoubtedly positions on the disputed areas as particularly [???] would be a vital part in the coalition building and lot of negotiation.  So you are talking about a caretaker government until the end of this summer of this point.  What happens after that?  Well I think there are some things that are on the horizon, one is I don’t think that we are – we, the United States is going to withdraw all of the troops, the 100,000 that we have left in Iraq by the end of 2011, which is provided for in this status of forces agreement or the withdrawal agreement.  Why?  Because we are going to have to retain troops there for training and then we have to train troops there for counter terrorism purposes and it isn’t clear at this point that since the Iraqis virtually lack an air force and the Navy were going to need to help provide border security and so I think a common expectation is after the Iraqis form a government and secondly after US mid-term elections in November 2010 there will be a negotiation of a follow on status of the forces agreement that will deal with these various issues.  So secretary Gates has already sort of projected this.  In the longer term it is not at all clear too what is going to happen, if you look at Iraqi history, Iraq has had periods of democracy from 1920 onward, but particularly since 1932 when the British formally turned over the mandate and the democratic periods have been characterized by chaotic parliamentary politics by strongmen coming to the fore in one way or another and the British actually had to go back and step in in 1941 when a group of military officers sympathetic to their German [???] took over and the British cleared them out in about 3 days.  So bottom line here is we may have a new culture, but it is not at all clear how they are going to solve the problems and it will probably remain an emerging democracy for some time.  This takes a long time.

I spent some time with some Iraqi friends while I was in Kuwait and one of them said that this was going to be the defining year for Iraq and I said, what I want to know is this going to be the last defining year for Iraq and he smiled and said well he didn’t think so, there will be a few more hit.  So this as a story is still unfolding.  I would like to move on to Iran and here I think we are to juncture, in many ways policy has been set, but when policy was set it was also built in with a decision [???].  Basically policy as the administration has [???] engagement with Iran and then on the other hand pressure if engagement didn’t work.  Well the president said that he would re-evaluate policy at the end of year that is the end of 2009, basically this was a rolling engagement and it was quite clear by the end of 2009 that there was not much results if any, positive results in regards to engagement with Iran and so since then there has been putting in place various instruments of pressure.  Another question I had was is this going to be, this is rather a conference I attended, is this going to be the era of real politic?  Well I am not sure that it is an era of real politic but it does mean that the president is going to face some choices about the harder instruments of power.  What is happening?  Well in the two weeks that I was in the Middle East there was basically a flanks of administration officials, there as secretary of state, Clinton, there was the deputy secretary of treasury, there was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, there was undersecretary of the state, Burns and there were other lesser lights from the national security establishment, I should leave out the national security advisor.

All these people within the period of two weeks were visiting one part or another of this Middle East region and while they had a lot of things to talk about, Iran was sort of at the top of the list.  What I think is happening – I think that we the United States are attempting to put together a containment strategy and there is an article in the new foreign affairs written by Lindsey and [???] who is in essence marveled after the famous Mr. X article that launched containment of the Soviet Union and many of the arguments are much the same, but adaptations to Iran.  I think there will be first of all sanctions.  It seems inevitable that there will be greater unilateral sanctions of the United States bills, passed by voice votes in both the house in the senate and they are now in reconciliation.  Now the only reason that they haven’t gone further is because the administration has two problems with it.  One theory is that it will interfere with coming up of multilateral sanctions and two many of the sanctions are not easily enforceable and maybe not enforceable at all because the limits are too low.  Basically these sanctions will do two things, one of them is that they will try to embargo refine fuels, the shipment that refines fuels to Iran and secondly it will prohibit firms, foreign firms who do business with Iran in the so called crucial sectors, the national security sectors, oil, military, and revolutionary guard communication and so and so forth, they would be prohibited from doing business in the United States.