tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera May 26, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
overnight with a full morning brief. get a first hand look with in-depth reports and investigations. start weekday mornings with al jazeera america. open your eyes to a world in motion. on target tonight, fight for flight? the u.s. defense secretary says iraq's army has lost the will to take on isil. new questions raised about a connection between donations to the clinton foundation and arm sales approved by hillary clinton's state department. one week after being driven out by isil fighters iraq security forces launched a new operation to try and take aback the strategic city of ramadi. even if the iraqis succeed, it will take years to dislodge the group completely.
that's why the recriminations from iraq's main military backers in washington are piling up. over the weekend secretary of defense ashton carter all but blasted iraqi military units for losing ramadi in the first place. he accused them of showing, quote, no will to fight. that's despite the billions washington has spent on advisers and weapons and other military aid since last summer to roll back isil's gains in iraq. in fact, the return on the entire two and a half trillion dollar u.s. investment in iraq since 2003 looks awfully slim these days. isil which hardly existed before the u.s. decided to invade the country, still controls huge swaths of territory in northern and western iraq. makes matters worse isil controls half the territory of neighboring syria. iraqi forces have had recent success in rolling back isil in places like tikrit or kurdistan,
but the u.s.-trained iraqi military can't seem to get the job done on its own, not without backup from u.s. air strikes, iranian backed militias kurdish paramilitaries or kurdish fighters. that's the problem from the point of view of washington. the u.s. is banking on iraq's military to hold its own and keep iraq from imploding. the security vacuum left in iraq since they left in 2011 since the u.s. troops invaded in 2003 make that a pipe dream. al jazeera america national security course dents jamie mcintyre joins me from the pentagon. ash carter said over the weekend that iraqi fighters have lost their will to fight. >> ali, to say that the u.s. is disappointed in the performance of those iraqi fighters in ramadi would be to risk serious understatement. the iraqi forces have a lot of things they blame for the loss of ramadi including ineffective u.s. air strikes and lack of
support from the shia government in baghdad. pentagon officials tell a slightly different story. sources tell me by the way, that the iraqi forces in ramadi had a 10-1 numerical advantage over the advancing isil fighters. there were about 10,000 iraqi forces including 7,000 iraqi security forces and then another 3,000 federal police and special operations. the pentagon believes they should have nefr been overrun by this much smaller force of 1,000 isil fighters. so what happened? they said a series of things happened that spooked the iraqis in ramadi. there was a series of truck bomb attacks that killed more than 100 iraqis and eight attacks at once. there was an ambush of a small patrol that kind of spooked the iraqi forces there. then there was some weather problems a sort of haze over the city now that gave the impression that maybe the u.s. wouldn't be able to perform air strikes. all of these combined apparently prompted a lot to say, you know
what? it's time to leave. the u.s. believes it was a huge tactical mistake that handed isil a huge victory. now those 1,000 isil forces in ramadi reinforce from the west. >> the iraqi forces and commanders they don't make these decisions in consultation with american advisers there. there was no one there to say we're going to do this and no american to say, no don't. >> the pentagon admitted a, quote, communications breakdown but wouldn't say where it was. part of the problem is the commanders of the various forces on the dpround around talking to each other and not in good communication with baghdad. there's not a lot of coordination with the u.s. air power overhead. all of this combines to give them not a good picture of the battle space, and that created this essentially panic that had this far superior and fairly well-equipped force turn tail and leave in the face of these isil fighters. now they're faced with the
prospect of going back in and try to take it back. >> jamie mcintyre, thank you for that ifrments . iraq is defending troops against the criticism. security forces have launched a new operation to dislodge isil from ramadi. we're in baghdad with the report. >> reporter: iraqi security forces gather on the edge of ramadi preparing to retake the city which fell to fighters from the islamic state of iraq and the levant more than a week ago. it's likely to be a long operation. there are reports of isil fighters preparing to meet government security forces. they will lead the operation with backing from shia militia, many of which supported by iran and air strikes from a coalition of countries led by the united states. the iraqi army is also gearing up for other operations with the full of ramadi and isil in control of border crossings from syria to anbar, it's feared isil fighters could push into baghdad. to prevent that from happening, this man is securing the
outskirts of the capital. the town of gurma 30 kilometers from baghdad is being fortified. >> translator: we're fighting a psychological war. isil has an effective media campaign against us. we've been accused of retreating. we are not. we're backing up the troops here and preparing for the fall of ramadi. >> reporter: the forces here are mainly shia militia. since the prime minister brought them under the command of the iraqi government they fly a new flag. each militia have their own identity but all fly under this banner. fortifying baghdad comes with unique challenges. this is the bridge the last safe place to cross from anbar province into baghdad. with the operation underway it's likely to see more scenes like this. >> translator: as long as we sunnis are marginalized the fight will take a long time. there were sunni forces willing to fight, and i would join that
fight if the government accepts us. >> reporter: iraqi security forces opened and closed this bridge at random concerned that isil fighters will enter baghdad disguised as displaced people, and that increases the tejs in the capital and elsewhere. there's no doubt iraq has a huge challenge on its hands in securing western anbar province and defeating isil. it's also secured baghdad as well. many say if baghdad falls isil will have won. there are significant challenges including finding homes for these people fleeing the violence and making sure they get back home eventually. >> you've heard jamie describing the u.s. perspective on this. what's going on in iran? ash carter said that these guys showed no will to fight, despite being trained and equipped by the u.s. military. what's your sense of it? >> reporter: let me tell you what the iraqis think. look at this idea of trained and equipped.
since before the fall of mosul nearly a year ago, the iraqis have complained that the americans have held up everything they need to take the fight to isil. there were isil fighters known as the islamic state around mosul. they knew they were there and complained to the americans. they said we need to hurry up the delivery of f-16s. can't you bring them here and have american pilots show our guys how to use them and train? step up the training quicker? we need them. these f-16s still haven't been delivered. the rest of the equipment is antiquated. a lot was left behind by the american forces. as they left the status of forces agreement. that was negotiated when the americans left was weak. also, there wasn't much training going on in the year since they left, and the iraqis have always complained about this. they've also said how dare they say something like this. our soldiers gave their lives in the front lines against isil.
they have died in the deserts of anbar province and month sul, and this is just insulting. lots of real anger and a blame game continuing. you heard from the correspondent there, a very damning excitement of what the americans think. it's equally damning in iraq. >> we have the u.s. investment in this is now $2.5 trillion. the u.s. is deploying more and more american advisers although experts say it doesn't matter. unless there's a threshold under which it stent matter how many advisers the u.s. puts in. at this point the investment is deep and the goal is very similar with regard to isil. what has to happen here? a coordinated effort? what's the answer? >> well what we hear from a lot of people military experts and within the military itself is that the shia ma lishs ya the key to take anbar province. they're a very disciplined force
and have successes in the past year against isil-held areas, particularly down in the south and up towards the north. they know the isil tactics. they also are very motivated. they belong to very religious organizations and they have that motivation as well. similar to isil actually. so the shia militia is a key but they're iranian-back. you're in a position now where u.s.-led coalition air strikes back iranian shia militia troops. is there any coordination going on between the iranians and americans. i doubt it. there's probably some sort of communication so they don't bomb the people they're supporting. that's a real issue as well. and the iraqis want that laid on the table. they want to know how that is going to work. there's a lot of complaints about the fact that isil is called the islamic state of iraq and the levant. for the islamic state it's one country. there's a different policy in syria as to iraq.
that's a real issue. without a political solution in syria, without a solution in syria, you're not going to sourt out the problem of isil there. you bomb them in iraq but you leave them along because you think it will help the president in syria. that's a reach issue. they're part and parcel of the same territory. >> that's an interesting point you make. they need a coordinated everett in both places. tell me about the situation as it reflects to baghdad. a lot is made in the west that ramadi is one of the closest centers to baghdad. does that worry anybody in baghdad these people are closer and closer to the capitol? >> it's a really concern to a lot of people in baghdad, so much so they fortify the towns around baghdad to try and stop isil from coming in. there's a real concern. in ramadi you're right that the iraq security forces up and left. the iraqi security forces call that a tactical withdrawal. there wasn't much coordination
going on and they feared for their lives. the iraqi security forces i spoke to them. they said we're prepared for the car bombs now and the type of attack against us and fortify the areas around baghdad so they can't come in and we're supplying all the troops into anbar province. we hope ramadi will fall down. there's a real concern about it. >> thank you so much for your reporting from baghdad. don't worry. calm down. headlines to the controversy. isil is not winning at least a according to my next guest. we're back in two minutes.
iraq security forces are trying to take about the strategic city of ramadi only a week after iraqi military units were driven out by isil fighters. it sent recriminations through the pentagon which sent advisers weapons and funds to beef up the u.s.-trained iraqi military. my next guest basically says don't worry so much. despite recent setbacks the iraqi military is perfectly capable of taking the fight to isil. eric guftason joins us now. good to see you. thank you for being with us. i've spoken to people involved in the training of these iraqi soldiers and say they're nowhere close to fighting it off on their own. many argue while it's not politically appetizing we need a good number of u.s. troops on the ground. what you say is different from
what i hear from official sources. >> let me be really clear. the performance is disappointing. i mean we had this special forces of iraq withdraw fairly early in the fight. hoefr however, you have to put things in perspective. ramadi has been contested for nearly 17 months now. it's a city that has stained over 1200 casualties and with the recent fighting that was a multi multi-pronged and there's 30 major car bombs. there was also sleeper units that were activated inside the city. and you still had people staying and fighting for days sustaining hundreds of casualties, fatality fatalities and -- actually deaths before some broke through a siege and tried to withdraw and regroup. >> eric what you're saying is this is playing out in western media as a city west of baghdad
getting closer to baghdad with only one major city in between. it sounds like a great defeat but you say this was contested and in the works? >> well also let me be clear. this is the most serious setback that the coalition fighting isis that we've seen since the fall of month sul. it is serious, but we have to put things in perspective. isis is not invincible. >> your colleague wrote that the attack on ramadi was a sign of desperation and not of strength. explain that. >> well i think part of what isis needs right now is a victory, because they've had setbacks of their own. losing tikrit and other territory. look at how much they put in trying to hold kobani and they weren't able to -- how much they tried to put toward taking kobani and they never were able to take kobani. they needed a victory, and so they really put through everything that they had to try to take ramadi. >> we're looking at pictures of
u.s.-air strikes in the region. it doesn't seem that the us air strikes are doing enough on its own. this is a long-standing issue about how effective america can be. let's take a look at a map of isil-controlled territory. isil still controls much of the same territory it has for some time. it begs the question how is it that you defend isil without sending actual u.s. ground troops in if, in fact, what we hear from the pentagon is correct? in ramadi the iraqi troops the american-trained iraqi troops had a 10-1 advantage over isil? >> if you look at just the iraqi security forces i believe there's at least 15 brigades in baghdad alone. so the iraqi government actually has security forces that they could put into the fight as well as tribal forces. part of it is actually working together to be able to have i think, a broad coalition that even includes some of the shia
popular militias working alongside the more sunni arab tribal forces as well as security forces and police. it's a matter of better coordination and devoting more resources to the fight. >> this is an interesting point. i was speaking with jamie mcintyre at the pentagon earlier today, and both talk about this breakdown in communication. better coordination. at some point we've all been in iraq for a long time. this can't be that hard to figure out. what's holding everybody back? there seems to be a lot of people from different places different organizations, different countries who would like the same solution. have stability in iraq and syria and defeat isil. why is it this can't be done? >>le with well it's because of the challenges. it's not only a complex conflict but the political challenges. ty take time to build it up. i think the argument that many make is that rather than trying
to reach for another short-term fix, what's needed is a long-term strategy for piece and development in iraq. i think that will ultimately address not only the conflict but the police cal challenges and the environment that gave rise to isis. >> thank you for being with us. eric is the director of education for peace in iraq center. up next more questions about the link between donations to the clinton foundation and hillary clinton's tenure at the state department. this team they're about the timing of arm sales to countries that gave money to the clinton foundation. the man behind the exclusive investigative report joins me in two minutes. heavy rains and flooding have paralyzed parts of texas and may have kimmed more than a dozen people. we'll have the latest from some of the hardest-hit areas. iraqi troops started a new operation to take back territory and reversing isil's recent
raging in the middle east is a tricky issue for any candidate runs for president in 2016. an exclusive investigation published today in the international business times says that under hillary clinton's leadership the state department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arm sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the clinton foundation at some time. the article also says clinton's state department also authorized $151 billion of separate pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the clinton foundation. both figures represent significant increases over the same period during the bush administration. the story says that at least seven foreign governments that received state department clearance for american arms donated money to the clinton foundation while hillary clinton was the secretary of state. those countries are algeria, oman qatar, kuwait thailand
norway and australia. the government of qatar owns this network. joins me from denver to discuss the article and what it suggests is david sorotta. david, thank you so much for joining us. slate said in a blog post today that in the end, quote, the ibt piece doesn't reveal any smoking gun evidence of a corrupt quid pro quo transaction. that's the end of the quote. the most you can say about this is the clintons didn't pay enough attention to the appearance of conflicts of interest. you have to get in line if you want to make that allegations. it seems like everybody is doing that right now. we haven't got a connection. it doesn't seem to be causal. >> well i think the question of our article was is there a conflict with foreign governments pumping money into hillary clinton's foundation at some point sponsors events and paying bill clinton personal money.
is there a conflict between that happens and the state department having weapons business with those countries. i think that a lot of people in our article said yes, there is a conflict there. then when you look at the sequence of some donations coming into the foundation and large increases in weapons export authorizations from the clinton state department in the same months or years of the time it raises questions about what was happening. were these influential? was there some sort of influence? >> i don't think you'd get opposition from people that say there's a conflict here in the way these things were conducted. let me ask you this. you make a big point of notes that the $165 billion in commercial arms deals authorized by the state department whether hillary clinton was the secretary of state involving countries that gave money to the clinton foundation is nearly double the amount during the same period of the second bush administration.
now, the implication here david, is that the increase is explained by those donations, but as i say, we don't -- you've implied it and i get it and see where the perceived conflict is but we don't have a link. am i right? >> i think the issue is that what kind -- as one source said to us what is this money buying? is it buying goodwill? is it buying favors? i think weapons deals are predicated on lots of different factors. clearly the donors to clinton foundation were donating and doing business with the state department. were there direct e-mails saying i'm giving you money to get the weapons deals? you're right, we don't know. i think the point here is that the public evaluating whether hillary clinton is right to be president and who her loyalties will be with has a right to know that money with interest before with her department when she was running that department was going into her foundation and in
some cases bill clinton making decisions about public policy and national security policy. >> it's a messy business. you note that some of the countries receiving arms from u.s. contractors, including qatar, that owns this network, have been criticized by the american government including human rights abuses or not cooperating with counterterrorism efforts. again the suggestion which i found interesting, is it's contradictory in hip pock see, the fact is that the u.s. frequently does business with administrations and nations whose human rights it criticizes. the one that comes to mind is china, but we have saudi arabia and now we have cuba. again, i'm having difficulty making the connection. i see your point. >> look again, i think that what we're talking about here is a culture, a culture of money going in and then government business going out. i think richard lieuinguger had a
powerful thing when he said in 2009 during her confirmation hearings he said essentially, that he was afraid that foreign governments would see the clinton foundation as a way to influence state department decisions. so i think, again, huge amounts of money going in and huge amounts of deals going out. the question for the state department is how is this not a conflict? how were these approved? there were structures put in place, processes put in place to not allow such deals to go on if there was a conflict at work. clearly if you do business with the state department and you give it to the secretary of state family foundation and in some cases paying your husband, that seems to represent a conflict. >> what's interesting to me is neither hillary clinton's campaign or the clinton foundation or any of the countries you contacted, including qatar, responded to your request for comment. what do you take from that? they don't think the public
cares that match about these perceived conflicts of interest or perceived attempts to buy influence our suggesting -- you're suggesting? >> i don't know. maybe on the clinton campaign's behalf they think, hey, it's better not to comment than to try to explain what's going on here. i don't know what a good explanation is. i think that the clinton campaign is probably expecting these stories and others like them that we've reported and others reported to simply go away. the news cycle is short. i think in aggregate all of these questions that have been building up about money going into the clinton campaign and some into the clinton family itself while she was secretary of state and dealing with these donors in terms of public policy, i think the aggregate effect of it could be could be that the public starts to ask the question of where are the loyalties of the clintons? i think that's the question. are the loyalties with the public or are the loyalties withle people and the interest donates to the foundation and for the family itself.
>> good discussion david. thank you for joining me. he's a senior editor at the international business tiemdz. that's our show for today. i'll ali velshi. thank you for joining us. disaster zone. >> i witnessed firsthand the devastation of the tsunami style river rise. >> record-setting rain and unprecedented flooding bring death and destruction to texas. swing reform. >> but let me be clear in light of the work that has brought us here today, i am deeply optimistic that transform saying coming to cleveland. >> cleveland's police department accepts tough new rules from