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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  September 18, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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halkett, al jazeera. >> and a quick reminder you can take up today any time with our website. details there the border closures in crew way shah. hungary has seen trains packed with refugees arrive from croatia. >> with syria continuing its downward spiral into destruction and death, an old ally, russia, is showing renewed support for the country's leader, bashar al-assad. putin and obama hasn't seen much in common, but the eventually
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defeat of i.s.i.l, a future syria with assad still in charge? russia jumps in, it's the "inside story." ♪ ♪ >> welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. russia is now openly sending military aid to the syrian government of bashar al-assad. it may be sending military personnel as well, how many and where is not yet clear. this represents the latest complication in an ever-more complex war. pitting assad's government against a multinational force and various militias and the islamic state of iraq and the levant, i.s.i.l. saudi arabia, gulf states, and the united states are lined up against both i.s.i.l. and assad. iran is fighting i.s.i.l. in iraq and supporting assad in
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syria. and now russia, a strong syrian ally during the cold war is back in the fight on the side of assad. we'll look at russia jumping into this fight with a report of al jazeera's jamie mcintire. >> ray, there last always been russian military presence in syria but in the last few weeks, the u.s. has been monitoring a steady influx of men and materiel. this week, it is saying that russia is building a forward air base in latakia in syria. you can't hide it, the number of cacargo and ships bringing supplies into syria. senator john mccain i says it is one more case when russia is out
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stepping the u.s. >> caution as weakness, taking advantage. according to media reports putin has deployed strike aircraft, t-90 tanks, howitzers, armed personnel carriers russian marines and housing for up to 1500 military personnel in bases in western syria. >> surveillance shows lots of construction, new runways being built, heli-pads a few helicopter gun ships but no strike aircraft yet. christine warmouth says the u.s. figures that putin is worried that syrian president bashar al-assad may be under greater threat from i.s.i.l. which has scored some advances on the ground in syria and the military buildup appears to reflect
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putin's nervesnesputin's nervoue buildup. russia is not going to be leaving soon. >> part of putin's calculus, as i.s.i.l. has advanced in places like palmyra and padmore. putin may be more nervous of the regime an trying to shore it up. >> given that how do we assess that the assadding regime may fall? >> -- assad regimes may fall? >> certainly there have been battlefield losses, and we are planning and thinking about the potential for a significant retrerchmenretrenchment but thet is the regime is not in imminent danger of falling. >> fighting i.s.i.l, russia's
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presence props up the assad regime which the u.s. says is responsible for killing far more syrians than i.s.i.l. it can further conflict the air campaign, flights over syria more problematic, the last thing u.s. wants to do is shoot down a russian plane. ray. >> joining me is ali reyes, mr. reyes when you follow developments from damascus, moscow and washington, could what's happening now bring a quicker end to the war in syria? >> first of all i want to say something about what's mentioned before the assad regime and the russian intervention. i want to bring out one thing
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what you guys call the assad regime is the official government of the syrian arabic arab republic. and the army is the official army and the legit army, the only legit forces on the ground right now. as far as your question, i think this what you call intervention or i call it support right now, is -- has been long-waited, because of the vacuum that our left, we as the west, as the american administration, we disregard all the calls and all the reports that are coming from syria since the beginning of the crisis. and that was some undisputed report that was delivered by the syrian envoy to the united nations through the security council of terrorist activity that is supported with events dates and times and copy of the
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passports of the individuals that are involved on these terrorist acts in syria. so no one listened to the syrian calls to try help in stopping the aid, and stop the support and try to tighten up the environment on the terrorist activities, an their support, the regional supporter, the facebook of syria especially turkey and saudi arabia and qatar. >> you know all these forces on the ground in syria have been fighting and killing and dying, but really, not changing the outlook very much. one side hasn't really gotten a big advantage over another. towns are lost. they're won back. they're lost again. is this russian force big enough to really change the alignment
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on the ground in a way that changes what happens on the battlefield? >> definitesly. there were -- definite. there were so many calls from the syrian government saying air strikes is not going to do anything to defeat terrorism in the area. air strikes are, even if it stays for years and years, is not going to be as effective as boots on the ground like the syrian military on the ground. they know the country. they know the details of the topography of the ground. and if they are to get some support, and training, i'm sure enough they will take care for that. >> there are reports that are coming out of syria about men disappearing from the legitimate syrian army, not showing up for duty, reductions in forces and also, losses on the battlefield. is the president able to hold on to those parts of the country he
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still controls? >> i want to point out one thing that the president bashar al-assad right now, despite all like five years of the crisis, he still represent at least 50 to 55% of the syrian spectrum, fabric. and i think when someone comes and says that assad has to step down, that means that we are ignoring this 50 or 55% much the people of syria and this is not fair. as far as people disappearing, i want to tell you that this is war. and this is not just any war. this is like a street war, where orders are submitted by field commanders where you can find the good ones and the bad ones like anywhere in the world.
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>> ali r eyes, thank you for joining us. secretary of state john kerry has called the new campaign over syria a positive move and while they clash over putin's aid, are there currently blocked part of a middle east peace that become possible even thinkable that these two old enemies develop a rough working relationship? russia jumps in. it's the "inside story." >> millions at stake. shady investments. limited oversight. >> super pacs are part of the wild wild west of campaign finance. >> could actor daniel craig be the latest super pac scam victim? an ali velshi, on target, special investigation.
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>> as the global refugee crisis intensifies... >> they have travelled for weeks, sometimes months. >> and the e.u. struggles to cope... >> we don't know, they stop us here. >> what's being done while lives hang in the balance?
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>> we need help now. ♪ >> you're watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. russia jumps in this time on the program. the cold war may be over for a long time but a lot of the old alliances that shake middle east rivalries live, the russia-syria link, the u.s.-saudi alliance, iran, that called the u.s. the great satan. once are there other goals in a complicated and savage fight there that the two countries could work on? secretary of defense ash carter has been in contact with his russian counterpart, sergei
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shoigou. secretary of state john kerry called an important first step. >> the president believes that mill to mill conversation is an important next step. and i think hopefully will take place very shortly. and it will help to define some of the different options that are available to us as we consider next steps in syria. >> i'm joined now by anna boyshevskaya and james jatris, deputy director of the american institute in ukraine following a career in the foreign service and on capitol hill. well, consultation is not necessarily cooperation, james, so what should we make of these high level contacts between the two countries? >> i think if people in washington are going to approach this sensibly and that's still
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an open question, consultation will have to rebuilt some of the ties between washington and moscow that went downhill because of the ukraine crisis. secondly, it means much more likely effectiveness against i.s.i.s. by the syrian army by russian support as well as the u.s. led coalition, and thirdly it basically opens the door to de facto cooperation between syria and the united states, so i think this potentially is a game-changer. >> anna, how do you cooperate with a country that wants an eventually outcome that's totally different than the one you want? >> that's a great question. first let me start with this. during the cold war, no matter who was in the white house, we always talked to the russians. the question is how? the president is president vladimir putin has perceived weakness from the obama administration from the very
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beginning and when he perceives weakness he steps in, he steps into a vacuum. we've seen that throughout the middle east, and parts of the former soviet union. the question is not to speak to the russians but how to speak to the russians. >> the perception of weakness, i've heard that from john mccain. what does that fit when americans look at that part of the world? when the syrian civil war really started to take root and the united states started to speculate about some sort of involvement there was a lot of war weariness in this country and an unwillingness broadly within the people not to get involved. is that weakness or a smart reading of where your country is at any point in time? >> in washington we look at strong versus weak not smart
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versus stupid. we're seeing the contradictions and the incoherence of our policy steering us in the face. the idea that assad must go, when it's completely unclear who in the world could possibly succeed him other than i.s.i.s. or the el nusra front which is part of al qaeda, and indeed general petraeus calling for cooperation, i wonder why it has not been validate until now. until 2013 president obama painted himself into the corner on his red lines, about chemical weapons. i think putin is doing that today because russia is genuinely concerned about i.s.i.s, islamic radicalism which is going to hurt them in the caucasus u.s, iraq or libyae
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get to decide which leaders get to be throab out, n thrown out,t is underestimated in terms of russian policy there's a strong sense in russia that russia needs to protect christians in the middle east, the church is a great force in the kremlin these days. president obama would crack if he expressed concerns about christians in the middle east. >> not that there are a lot of christians remaining in syria but i'll take your point. 2500 personnel they're talking about the equipment and some pretty potent weapons. this is not exactly afghanistan, is 2500 a force that could actually change the calculus in a place like syria? >> look, it certainly matters from a political standpoint. the military buildup we see
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certainly shows the russian cards. we are throwing the weight of our military force he behind assad. that is really problematic from the standpoint of trying to resolve the syrian conflict. because when it comes down to it, what the russians are trying to do is not going to resolve the conflict, only prolong it. >> prolong it? >> i don't agree at all. we have been saying, u.s. policy has been saying for over four years now, assad must go and his fall is almost imminent. all we have to do is have our saudi and gulf states hit him a little harder and he will collapse. that hasn't happened because there is a very substantial part of the syrian population that your earlier guest mr. reyes said it's a majority of the population. they believe and i think with good reason that if this government goes down, a lot of them are dead. or a lot of them have to flee to europe like these other people
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you already see fleeing to europe. describe the end of the war in terms of regime change where the only alternative are terrible terrorists, makes no sense. that the way to resolve this war is the way frankly that president assad has proposed. if there are any healthy syrian opposition that can work with the government in a national conciliation, great. but these foreign terrorists are not the answer. >> are all the things happening on the ground in syria word of slower success with the islamic state, the meeting with russia over syria, training a domestic force to fight in syria, nudging the united states towards what might have been unthinkable two or three years ago? acquiescence, with bashar al-assad still in charge? as they throw their weight into the fight, stay with us, it's the "inside story."
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i. >> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. as russia jumps into the syrian civil war against i.s.i.l. and for assad, is the unthinkable now looking a little more thinkable? that is, a syria still led by bashar al-assad? anna and james are still with me, certainly that's part of russia's calculation, right? they want a syria led by an assad when this is all over.
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>> absolutely and there are many reasons for this. first of all, if any other government that comes after assad is not going to be friendly to the russian regime, that's the last thing vladimir putin wants right? they're not going to forgive his support for assad. ultimately though this is not just with about syria for putin. this is about control of the middle east, it's about pushing the west, the united states out of middle east. we like to think of win win scenarios for putin. if we just sit around the table we can work it out and everybody can win. but putin doesn't look at it that way. it's zero sum, i win, you lose. that's what he's trying to do. >> to get enough of an outcome to walk away from the table happy? >> anna expressed that very well, the goals of american policy is, the goals are what
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are causing us a problem. certainly a new regime in damascus would not be friendly to moscow. i don't know if it would be friendly to us either, or i.s.i.s. or el nusra. we overthrow libya we end up with chaos, the idea of pressing ahead with what we set out years ago as the only possible outcome is staring us in the face with failure. and i think in a way we would be much better off looking at the russian action not as a win-lose for us but as well a win for them and maybe if we rethought some of our priorities maybe not a bad thing for us either. >> anna when you put it that way, i'm wondering if at the state department a few blocks away from where we're sitting here in washington, is it a shadow of a russian win that makes us as a country less reluctant to rethink syria?
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>> i wouldn't agree with that. look at the situation, putin is coming to new york to speak at the u.n. at the end of the month. focusing on global terrorism. he has been speaking for several weeks now of forming a coalition to fight terrorism. however, that is not his ultimate gain. what he's trying to do is deflect attention from the ukraine crisis, what he did in crimea, and focus on a common area. in ukraine, other than that let's fight this global terrorist threat. that's really not what he wants to do, and that's the problem. if putin wanted to truly fight terrorism that would be a different store but he is cynically trying to score political points and get himself out of international isolation and he's not intent on fighting i.s.i.s. his support for assad, predated
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terrorist groups when terrorists were peaceful. >> let me give james a quick chance for a comment. >> i don't agrees that he is not genuinely concerned about fighting islamic radicalism. i think he's been quite consistent on that score. i think we're the ones with the problem. answer your question are the people at the state department they just don't want to give the win to the russians, i think that's a huge part, that in some sense russia is more the ultimate target than even assad is, i wouldn't put it past some of the people who know very well our connection with the radical forces that would even want to feed the forces to bleed the russians like afghanistan, i don't see how that helps us. >> james, anna, i'll be back in a moment with a final thought on not getting everything you want in foreign policy.
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stay with us.
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>> for better or worse, syria was a functional state before the arab spring sent shock waves across the middle east and north africa. a tense balancing act that kept a continuum, no equilibrium. bashar al-assad hundreds of thousands of syrians are now
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dead and as horrifying as that is, there is no sign of that abating. states that still exist, failed states, are dangerous to people in neighboring countries because the dysfunction can't be quietly sealed inside borders, the vacuum has moved chaos made in syria into turkey, lebron to non-jordan, iraq, now greece, hungary, croatia and others. rampage against people of two countries is fueled by a syria that touches so many others falling to pieces. look at what somalia's failure as a functioning state has meant to its neighbors. syria's neighborhood is war torn crowded strategic a flash point between sunni and shia allies. as unwilling as western policy makers may be to let assa assady
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on as leader you have to confront the real possibility it might be worse without him. i'm ray suarez and that's the "inside story."


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