The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) continues to capture more territory and resources, effectively building a state within a state. To discuss the latest developments and their implications for Iraq, the region, and transatlantic security, as well as possible US responses, the Atlantic Council hosted a conference call with former US Ambassador Zalmay M. Khalilzad, president and CEO of Gryphon Partners and Atlantic Council board director. Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson moderated the call.
Amb. Khalilzad began by pointing out three reasons behind the current crisis in Iraq: the overall polarization of different sects, Nouri al-Maliki’s lack of respect for the Iraqi constitution, and the US military withdrawal. He argued that these factors contributed to a vacuum in Iraq, permitting foreign powers, especially Iran, to meddle in its affairs. Amb. Khalilzad suggested two possible scenarios for the future of the country if the current crisis continues. One involves a political deal between all major parties, but for this to work Maliki would have to step aside. The other scenario foresees Iraq divided into different spheres of influence, with ISIS dominating the west, the south falling in the hands of Iran, and the Kurds controlling the north.
Amb. Khalilzad served as US permanent representative to the United Nations, as well as US ambassador in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wilson previously served at the US embassy in Baghdad as executive secretary and chief of staff .