tv Inside Story Al Jazeera January 3, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EST
>> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris with a look at the top stories. two-thirds of the east coast hit by the first major snowstorm of the year. now temperatures as dave just mentioned are dropping to dangerously low numbers. planes were grounded, and at least some 2600 flights were affected. new york and new jersey have declared states of emergency. the obama administration is asking the supreme court not to exempt catholic groups from offering birth control under the affordable care act. this comes after a group of catholic nuns asked the high court to block enforcement from the requirement of providing birth control. justice sotomayor gave the nuns a temporary exemption to the
rule. civilians in south sudan are looking for safe haven, americans have been told to leave the country. more than a thousand people have died in three weeks of fighting. secretary of state john kerry is meetin meeting with palestinian president mahmood abbas. he's there to broker a peace deal. but hundreds of protesters sa sy he is biased to israeli demands. we have "inside story" next on al jazeera. [♪ music ] >> the u.s. left iraq in 2011 eight years after the invasion. the deep divisions inside the society are flaring into horrifying violence. iraq today and the rough road ahead are the inside story.
>> hello, i'm ray suarez. iraq's president saddam hussein used a mix of police surveillance, terror and murder. when iraqis removed his head from his shoulders, the shia took power that it had long been denied. the united states left the country in 2011. the new government has struggled in the year since to run all of iraq in the interests of and to the satisfaction of all iraqis. recent weeks has brought resurgence in conflict. >> reporter: american forces are
gone. and in their absence iraqi you's violence escalating by the day. suicide-bomb eggs killed 14 iraqis and wounded another 34. united nations said 7,800 civilians were killed in 2013. that's the highest death toll since the u.s. surged in iraq in 2007. tensions have mounted between the government and sunnies who say they have been discriminated against. in a concession to tribal leaders, al maliki left local
police to handle security. militants then took over police stations, freed prisoners and set up check points throughout the city. since then the iraqi army has rushed in reinforcements. now comes word militants are using the sectarian strife to gain a food hold in ramadi as well as fallujah. thithis is an attack against suspected militants. they say they're fighting the group called the islamic state of iraq, combatants who are also engaged in syria's civil war. they're trying to rally the iraqi sunnies to their cause. more than 100 people have been killed in recent days. groups associated with al-qaeda are spreading violence and using the country as a transfer point to join the fighting against bashar al-assad forces in syria. >> those who know the geographical nature of the pro
since realize it's a crossing point for armed groups from iraq to syria, and from syria to iraq. >> reporter: in ramadi fighting continues today. dressed in black waving al-qaeda flags. suggestions that perhaps al maliki has picked a fight. >> let's make it clear who is responsible for the fighting. we're partnering with the iraqi government to fight the shared threat at the end of the draw we can help them fight it but we want to help them build their own came ability to do so themselves. >> reporter: the u.s. has rushed arms and surveillance technology to iraq in order to help the government combat the resurgent al-qaeda backed rebels.
>> joining us now to talk about the latest up tick of violence and the actors at play in iraq. scene director of the middle in north africa at the national endowment for democracy. from our studio in washington, james jeffrey, former ambassador to iraq. he is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the washington institute. and from ann harbor michigan, professor of the university of michigan where he teaches modern middle east history. we're watching now something like the birth pains of a new society. at the end of this violence when this conflict resolves, does it set the table for a new modern iraq, or is it something more dangerous than that? >> let's just start with iraq has been trying to put its act together since the last ten
years, since 2003 and the power vacuum that was created. iraq hats been struggling to find an acceptable framework for political interaction. i think to its credit up to this point the political process has not totally melted down. it's still holding. there is still an army, this is still government. the political parties are preparing for elections. but on the other hand very much to the disappointment of the motive of iraqis, that type of democracy has not delivered the minimum of what they've asked for, and more dangerously we don't seem to have an acceptable framework for iraq's communiti communities, with the fragile political framework, it's about to be shaken.
if this falls apart, then of course iraq would go into a dark tunnel. >> professor cole, what does the violence tell you about the state of play in iraq. >> reporter: iraq is divided not own between the sunni and the shia, but within the sunni there is a an enormous division. what is not coming out in our reporting in english is this fighting in ramadi and fallujah, on one hand, what are being called terrorists, muslim extremists, on the other hand the awakening counsels who are allied with prime minister nouri al-maliki are taking the side of the police and fighting against the sunni extremists. we're
going back to a situation that we saw in 2007-2008 where the sunni arabs are themselves divided, and some of them are on the side of the government. >> ambassador jeffries, is this frustrating for to you see something like the precursor to the so-called sunni awakening that happened in the last decade? are we right back where we started from? >> this is a serious situation as my two colleagues have underlined. but at the same time there is still hope that the iraqis can work their way out of this as they've worked their way out of it in the past. this is not a shia-sunni civil warlike we see in syria. the shia population is not rising up against its sunni brethren. you have two or three-sided struggle between tribes and local police vaguely supporting al maliki, but also very unhappy
with the steps that al maliki has taken. iraq is under tremendous pressure because of syria and foolish moves by the iraqi government, but it is still holding together as a constitutional construct. for example, they're working better together in some respects than they have in the past. >> both you and professor cole has cited the syrian war. how does that complicate matters next door in iraq. >> the divide that really frightens iraqis and frightens us because it goes back t to 2006-2007. secondly, it creates a free idea for al-qaeda forces, the iraqi state of iraq and lavan in syria
to operate, gain weapons, and to reinforce the remnants of the al-qaeda movement in iraq since 2007. it has put great pressure on the government. >> so l athe kuba between regional powers of iran and saudi arabia. >> it's a not just an internal one but where the sunnies and the it's under threat. as far as iran is concerned this is a strategic battle. iraq is not in position to become a player at all. iraq is weak. it is basically at the receiving
end of the bigger players in the region. i think the development that took place in front of the whole world without any intervention to stop it was the return of al-qaeda in the islamic state of iraq, in such a big way with thousands and thousands of fighters. this will not disappear in a month or in a few months, or even in a year or two years. this is really a shift in the power play. now we have a new player on the stage other than the local government. we really have a force to be reakennereckoned with which wile things much, much harder. >> if there is an end game in syria, can iraq then also take a little time to figure out it's medium- and long-term future? >> oh, certainly, if there were
a resolution in syria, it would have a positive impact on iraq. really what is happening in iraq is that a group of sunni arabs has launched guerrilla war, an insurgency. this insurgency has been going on now for many years. and we know from the history of insurgencies. once they start, once they get going they have funding, they have training, they have arms, they stay for 20 years. we're still midway through this process. and the sunni arab guerrillas in iraq will join the he is lambic state of iraq and syria, fight on both sides of the borders. they appear to get funding from private billionaires in the gulf in places like kuwait and united emirates. and they're getting battlefield training. it is this extreme insurgency that is at the root of these
violent incidents. to which i think the iraqi government has not reached out to the sunni population politically the way it needs to. >> we're going to take a short break. when we come back we'll talk about america's role in the recent past of iraq. did the way the u.s. left iraq leave it in the situation that it finds itself today. this is "inside story" " >> every sunday night, al jazeera america presents extraordinary films from the worlds top documentary directors this week: is love enough? >> that was a dream of ours... four children.... >> a little girl, removed from everything she's ever known... >> she's gone through a ton of orphan stuff... >> if their hopes don't turn out to be the reality...are they gonna crash? >> an unflinching look at a family learning to love >> i think she could have used a hug... >> dark matter of love on al jazeera america
>> welcome back no itself stor . i'm ray suarez. we're talking about the sectarian violence in iraq. right now it appears a bad situation is getting worse. the tribal shake in ramadi. and there is a quote that americans left iraq without finishing the job. even with us out of that country for several years now, is there american countability on the ground. >> i would say yes america left iraq when we were able to turn over the residual fighting that had gone down to a terrorist
level to the iraqi armed forces. who have some 600,000 troops. i advocated as well as the military commander general austin a training force to help iraqis know how to better carry out military operations against these people. it's a shame we didn't have it. but the main purpose was more subtle. we would have had more leverage on the iraqi government to coach them not to do foolish things. we woul would have had more influence, and when you have the ability to produce cross-cutting delivery of equipment, personnel, authorities, drones, weaponry, going through the red tame that normally ties everything down is enormously greater than if you just had an
embassy. we would be in a greater position if we had a military presence but we still would have been facing this because of syria and the mistakes of the iraqi government. >> going back to the days when they were getting ready to leave, they could not make a deal with the government chosen by the american people. we could not work out our differences over that force the they're talking about. is that part of what is plaguing the country today? >> well, i've heard many stories about what went wrong, and i think in hindsight everybody acknowledged that i think the u.s. grossly under estimated the importance of keeping that residual force as ambassador jeffrey just pointed out. i think this had direct consequence on what is taking place now. we all know this is not to do simply with fighting terrorism.
it is to do with keeping some basic political reactions under check in iraq. and without u.s. presence i think we've unleashed a dynamic that no one expected. politicians in iraq don't seem to be mature enough to live up to that opportunity. political calculus is taking place. and political parties are is the consideration, and i think the dynamic would have changed dramatically if the u.s. had some presence in iraq. again, it's not about the military, but it's about the political clout and the ability to influence and keep some at check. >> you heard the suggestion of lack of political maturity, no matter what the circumstances of the american depasture was, there was iraqi accountability
as well, wasn't there, for the way things went down after the u.s. left? >> well, i'm reluctant to let the united states too much off the hook here. they invaded iraq without a basis in international law. it overthrew the government. it abolished the military. it pursued a vindicative policy of having sunni members of the baath party fired from their jobs. it abolished the state factories, hoping some miraculous magical hand would create an entrepreneurial class. it through people in unemployment and upset the social order. the message to the sunni in iraq from the united states, they now were unemployed. they might get to be janitors if they behave themselves. and the sunni arabs in iraq were
elite, and they're not going to put up with being treated this way. nouri al-maliki prime minister sent a s.w.a.t. team to a member of the sitting parliament. they arrested him, dragged him off in shackles because they met resistence from his guards there was a fire fight, and his brother and possibly his sister were killed. then 44 members of particle part have sent in their resignations. some of the important part of the structural problems must be laid at the feet of the united states. >> we're going take a short break. when we come back we'll talk about what the best you can hope for in iraq in the coming years. what needs to happen inside the country to move forward from today? stay with us. this is inside story.
>> welcome back to sympathy story. i'm ray suarez. on this edition of the program we've been discussing the way forward for iraq and how the violence there effected the broader middle east, ambassador, you wanted to respond. >> yes sure, to understand the problems before us we have to realize in contrast to what the professor said, it wasn't a paradise up until that time. saddam has invaded two of his neighbors, he had fired rockets all over the middle east. he had one of the broadest
chemical weapons seen in the region, and he had killed far more of his own citizens than those who have died since 2003, hundreds of thousands by chemicals weapons. it was a complicated and difficult situation at the genesis of th of the american intervention. did we make it better? in some respects, yes, and some respects, no. >> how do we fix the place and get it more on a stable, predictable moving forward. what is your prescription for your country? >> well, there is something to be mentioned here. northern iraq is stable and is out of the equation. beneath to look at the rest of iraq. thi think the only way for that part of the country to be stable is to have a strong government.
but that's a catch 22. you cannot have a strong government, especially if you have a political system evolving, unless you have some strong political parties. and we do not have strong political parties. that needs to be an agonizing process, especially among the majority, to try to find the right politician who is can lead them. the alternative if iraq develops strong institutions, then the state has exert some authority. without seeing those two elements, the political process and the strength of the state iraq will not be stable. i think looking at the population just that solution has to emerge from within the iraqi shias. they do form the majority so long as their politics is not of sufficient quality, just
narrowed down to say religious party, some affiliated to iran. iraq cannot pull itself through. there ought to be national politics among the shia population in particular. >> professor cole, can iraq evolve. national parties that aren't organized on sectarian or regional lines but perhaps on ideological lines. what part of iraq should be political? >> right, well, the best thing would have been if a labor move and socialist party had survived iraq that denied people across the working class of the sectarian barriers. there wasn't a strong left. the baath party functioned as a form of fascism, so they're starting from ground zero.
what people had and still have were sectarian identities. it would require constitutional changes to encourage the formation of parties across those sectarian lines. so far there is not a good sign of it. >> will that vindicate the american enterprise in iraq, ambassador, if in five years, ten years there is a stable, properly-working country. >> um, looking back we could have done many things differently. right now we have a country that in the mid-of total chaos in the region from iran to afghanistan to egypt, it does have its constitutional order. 80% of the population is kurdish is living in peace aside from occasional al-qaeda attacks, and all three sides are trying to hold together this constitutional order. with tweaks with what the iraqi
government is doing, i believe they can come through this, but i think it's a very desperate and difficult time. >> thank you for joining us on "inside story." that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story." thanks for being with us. now, the program may be over, but the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about this or any day's program. you can leave comments on our facebook page or send us thoughts through twitter. see you for next inside story. in washington, i'm ray suarez.
and your discipline has released me to stand before you today. >> i never heard him say that he was grateful to the united states. >> the cold war mentality of the 1980s defined the u.s. relationship with south africa's apartheid rulers and others across the country says former president jimmy carter. >> all the other presidents were in bed with military dictators. >> he is in the country to