While Iranian oil-tanker attacks and the downing of a U.S. drone that occurred over the summer of 2019 led many analysts to declare that the Gulf region was on the precipice of a military conflict, the recent killing of IRGC Quds force leader Qassem Soleimani is an escalation that even some of D.C.’s wisest wonks failed to predict. The ensuing hours resulted in predictions ranging from an imminent all-out war, to a triumphant reassertion of the United States’ primacy in the region. Regardless, the targeting of Soleimani, as well as a senior Iraqi PMU leader, led to extreme uncertainty as to if, and how the Islamic Republic would retaliate. In the meantime, Iraq, proclaimed the attack as a breach it’s sovereignty and the parliament subsequently voted to expel American security forces. What could the killing of Soleimani mean for the possibility of conflict in the region? How might U.S. – Iraq relations changed? What stakes exist for the onlooking GCC nations? What would war mean and how can tensions be deescalated? How might the P5+1 or other regional states work to defuse tensions?
Dr. Trita Parsi, General (Ret) Mark T. Kimmitt, Negar Mortazavi, Dr. David Pollock
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The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Trita Parsi is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He has authored three books on US foreign policy in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Iran and Israel. His first book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), won the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations. His second book, A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press) was released in early 2012 and was selected by Foreign Affairs journal as the Best Book of 2012 on the Middle East. Parsi’s latest book – Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale University Press, 2017) – reveals the behind the scenes story to the historic nuclear deal with Iran.
The Honorable General (Ret.) Mark T. Kimmitt
MTK Defense Consulting
Mark Kimmitt advises US and foreign firms on security and defense transactions in the Middle East. Until 2009, Kimmitt served as Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. In that capacity, he was responsible for worldwide State Department political-military issues with emphasis on security assistance and defense trade. From 2006 to 2008, Kimmitt served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, responsible for defense policy development and guidance throughout the region. He was instrumental in key defense decisions during that period to include operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and represented DOD in the 2008 Status of Forces negotiations with Iraq along with DOD efforts to enhance security in the Middle East through the Gulf Security Dialogue. Kimmitt served for 30 years in the US Army in a variety of command, operational, and policy positions worldwide with operational experience in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Korea, Germany, and Belgium. He commanded soldiers, rangers and paratroopers at battery, battalion, Division Artillery and Corps Artillery in the United States Army Field Artillery, retiring as a General Officer.
Iranian American Journalist
Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian-American bilingual journalist and media analyst based in Washington. She has been covering Iran and the region for over a decade and is a frequent guest commentator at US and international outlets including NPR, MSNBC, BBC, Aljazeera, CGTN and i24News. In 2017 she was named a Young Leader by Friends of Europe in Brussels, Belgium. The Guardian has named her one of the top ten people to follow on twitter for Iran news. She has a Master‘s degree from Brandeis University and a Bachelor‘s degree from University of Massachusetts. Follow her on twitter @NegarMortazavi.