tv Inside Story Al Jazeera September 30, 2015 11:30pm-12:01am EDT
story. welcome to inside story. i'm ray suarez. today the news out of syria came fast and furious with announcements, charges, and countercharges. the parliament in moscow approved military action in syria and bombing runs began. russia said against isil near humes. the u.s. announced it too had carried out air strikes near aleppo while also casting doubt on russia's word on who and what it struck. the u.s. military announced what's called decon fliction, a process where two forces make sure they don't attack each other. al jazeera has been covering it all from the white house to the state department to the pentagon. is this being viewed as a day of
serious escalation in the syrian war? >> i don't think there's any doubt and there's still a question as to exactly what vladimir putin is up to in syria. this is not unexpected but the timing is certainly catching u.s. policymakers flat footed as they have over the course of this military buildup in syria with the aim of backing al assad. three reasons why these officials are upset, why the who, and the when. the why, the essential conflict between the u.s. and its allies and vladimir putin. putin wants to back assad. the president obviously sticking by his policy that assad has to go. there's no future for him. you cannot go to the status quo before the civil war which is now in its fifth year. as for the who, a question as to who was under those bombs dropped by 20 russian war planes. putin told the president obama
that he wanted to fight against isil. but today secretary of defense ash carter said those bombs dropped where isil fighters are simply not known to be. as it happened, secretary of state john kerry was at the united nations and issued a stark warning. >> we have also made clear that we would have grave concerns should russia strike areas where isil and al quaeda affiliated targets are not operating. strikes of that kind would question russia's real intentions fighting isil or protecting the assad regime. >> and, mike, ash carter held what seemed to be a pretty long and detailed brief, reporters today as well. >> this gets to the when question and it really points out the friction now that exists between the u.s. and russia not
only between the president, president obama and president putin which is in such obvious display on monday at the united nations but also between their respective militaries. it turns out that a russian officer went to the american embassy in baghdad not one hour before the russian planes took off and issued a demarsh. simply asserting the fact that russian airplanes were going to be taking off and u.s.-led coalition aircraft should simply get out of the way. this was the reaction from ash carter at the pentagon. >> this is not the kaiser permanented of behavior that -- kind of behavior that we should expect professionally from russian military professionally and that's one reason why i think it's a good thing to have an avenue of communication that is less unprofessional than a drop in where we can talk about
professional defense matters. >> secretary of defense ash carter. mike, our senior washington correspondent. good to talk to you. >> joining me now, jim hansen, the author of cut down the black flag. a plan to john bradshaw, executive director of the national security network and the senior fellow at new america and iraq director at the national security council during the bush and obama administrations. now, which russia are we supposed to listen more closely to? the one in the person of senior personnel saying that essentially they're on the same side as the united states or the one that sends a general to knock on the door of the american embassy in baghdad to let them know that the bombing starts in a couple of minutes in syria? >> these are the russians. they certainly know how to play
the game and how to play all the cards. none of this should surprise us though. the russians have long interest in syria. first the russians have been in syria for about 50 years. there are lots of russian nationals who are married into important syrian families. so there's a long standing tie between these two countries. second, vladimir putin has made it very clear he's not a fan of western nations doing regime change. he sees that happening and he saw an opportunity to stop that. third, you have a very serious coalition that has a serious view here. the putin government along with iran, iraq, syria, have a very simple view of what the problem is here. in their minds, the problem is sunni islamist terrorism. mostly isil but also other groups. and they intend intend to fight that wherever they find it. we can argue about how seriously they take this and how much of
this is just putting up a front and how much they really believe it but it provides them with a more complicated narrative that we have about how assad is really part of the problem so we can find another group to come in may be more true but it's also more complicated and they simply tiff. >> john brad saw, when you hear them saying we could actually be working together in this part of the world, should that be seen as a sincere offer of an ah live branch? >> first i think this idea of deconfliction has to move forward. we have some parallel interests. but in syria the u.s. has limited interest. we need to prevent isis from launching terrorist attacks against the u.s. but in terms of what's happening in syria, russia has a much deeper tie. what's happening now is they've
bought into assad's -- terrorist view is. so bombing the syrian army or isis is the same thing in their eyes. that's where we part company. but there are ways where we can cooperate more extensively. >> jim, they said they were going to bomb isil. it sounds like they didn't. would they have been actually telling the truth about being on the same side if they went to fight against the same people the united states is? doing that. they're there for one reason. russia loves its warm water port. russia likes its puppet of assad. really. i mean, it's not a net bonus for anybody who wants to see less civilians killed in syria. it's a bonus for assad who is going to survive. i think the problem we're
running into is this is another example of president obama seems to think a great strategy for that region issout sourcing to tyrants. heout sourced the fight against isis in iraq and now he's going to turn it over to putin in syria and i don't think the aftermath of either one of those is going to be good for the people who are going to be crushed under the military might of those two organizations. >> we had already outsourced running baghdad to the iranians so not too much of a stretch to outsource going after isil in iraq at least on the iraqi side of the border. this -- to imply that obama necessarily fits the facts.
>> we left a vacuum that isis failed. drew a red line and then pulled it back and putin filled that voir dire qume. that's a natural facet of the big game of power, vacuums don't last. somebody will move into them and in this case the people who moved in are not good guys by any stretch of the imagination. >> stay with us, gentlemen. are the visions of a future syria held by the long list of regional and international players so different from each other that there's no room for compromise? the u.s. has announced its concerns about russian air strikes even as it unleashed its own strikes as the united nations continues to talk about syria, did the place just get more dangerous right under its nose. not quite united nations. it's the inside story. >> you have kids here who've killed someone? >> award winning journalist
when you've got modern air forces and many of them flying around in there, is there a real risk of something going wrong in a way that really ends us all in deeper trouble if there's not deconfli deconfliction talks. >> we've got people there. all right. we've got assets there. we've got friends there. we've got allies and frenemies
there. the russians don't know where they are. the russians are bombing who they want to bomb. deconflicting the targets in the targeting boxes would be better but we can't do that because the russians are our enemy. there's an intelligence cell in baghdad meaning our intelligence about who we have been working with is now quite likely to flow to the russians. they're going to squash them flat and we've got people trying to help them. that's a little scarier than a couple of aircraft getting into a dog fight. >> where's isil in all of this? is there really still an effective fight against a pretty dangerous enemy in that part of the world? >> well, in syria, clearly, you know, the united states is still taking air power to isil. but that aside, no, we don't seem to have any proxies willing to take the fight to them. the kurds i think have
demonstrated that they're very potent in their own areas but have no interest many moving south of those. our train and equip program has been a failure. isil and nusra might fight each other but certainly not at our behest. so, no, we don't have a ground power force in syria to take the fight to the enemy. the iraqis might not be the best army on the planet but they are a reasonably effective proxy and there are several thousand of them. >> i was looking at a map of syria and where assad's government really controls the area on the ground. it's now in strips like highways, corridors between major cities. very much hugging the mediterranean coast and not penetrating much into the
country. does the addition of the russians to the equation make that much difference? >> the assad regime has been back on its heels in the past few weeks. they asked for help from the russians because of this indicating assad really is feeling the heat. but of course he's in a situation where it's very hard for him to reach any kind of an accord. it's a crisis. there's really -- it's hard for him to find anywhere to go. maybe russia. but he and his people are really facing either die or fight to the death. so it's hard to find a way that the russian intervention is really going to reverse that militarily. >> we're going to continue this conversation in a moment. does al assad have a future as syria's leader? for that matter, does syria have a future as a country. the chess pieces are in motion. the u.s. is leading an anti-assad and antiisil
we must recognize that there cannot be after so much blood shed a return to the prewar status quo. >> update on citizens of syria and so should not be involved in choosing the leadership of another country. it's syria's business. welcome back to inside story. i'm ray suarez. noted quite united nations this time on the program. even as the u.n. talks about peace, freedom, and security, they seem to be in seriously short supply around the world. syrian targets are attracting the attention of a long list of national air forces while
people -- and the national security network are still with me in washington. jim, when the smoke clears, is al assad still in charge? >> putin seems to think so and if i had to choose, sadly, between he and barack obama to see who's going to blink, i'm pretty sure obama will blink. i think we've gotten to the idea that assad will stay and potentially at this point as i mentioned we've outsourced strategy there to putin. in a painfully pragmatic way, if putin decides to go against isis, he can destroy them in ways we won't. part of the problem in iraq in the fight against isis is our rules of engagements and the restrictions on air strikes.
if they do take the fight to isis and al nusra, they could put a painful whipping on them but unfortunately a lot of civilians will die too. >> is there a role for al assad running this country? >> the virtue of the russian position is they want assad to stay. who's our dog in this fight? who do we want to run syria? we kind of, like, want to construct a dog later that we're going to back but the russian position of we want assad has the virtue of being very simple and the virtue of being the existing government. it's a lot easier to support a government that exists than to try to drew ate one from whole -- create one from whole cloth. the russian deployment in syria in some ways mirrors ours in
iraq. they're making sure the capital doesn't fall, training and equipping, bombing. no indication of ground troops in the immediate future into the fight. so you can kind of see while the purposes are very different the tactics we're using in both countries are not that dissimilar. >> but john if assad was the proximate cause of the syrian civil war how do you have a country run by him? where will his enemies go? >> well, i think assad may be part of a transitional solution and the russians have said they want to see him remain in power. but in the long run, if there are some remnants of his regime and assad himself is gone, that might be something to be negotiated. as far as what putin and the russians are doing there militarily, i think president obama has been wisely cautious about getting too involved in this potential military quagmire. there's so many different sides
to this fight and it's very difficult to find a clear military path to resolving it. now the russians have put themselves in there and maybe put their foot into a big quagmire. saying that president obama has outsourced it to putin i don't think is correct but we'll see whether putin's approach turns out to be a wiser one than president obama's more cautious and hopefully diplomatic approach. >> one that russia is willing to put more risk capital into than even an event gain payoff is down the road?
moving from iran across the sunni parts of an bar in the not too distant future flaring up into a hot war. >> i want to thank my guests. executive director of the national security network. i'll be back in a moment with a final thought on general assembly week and a peaceful world. stay with us. it's inside story.
today brought reminder after reminder that diplomacy is a game played with the most brutal of tools and the most formal of rules. today the russian military officially informed nato that it was intervening in syria on the side of president assad. who knew you even had to do that? the russian foreign minister said that his country was targeting isil and would work with partners to oppose terrorism in syria even partnering with the united states. vladimir putin's government unleashed some 20 air strikes at targets it said were associated with its true enemy in syria,
the islamic state. then several different syrian rebel groups said russian strikes weren't directed at isil at all but at their own fighters. u.s. secretary of state john kerry responded to that news by calling it a subject of grave concern. meanwhile, syria's foreign minister says his country strongly endorses the initiative of president putin and is calling french and other air strikes in syria that aren't coordinated with his own government a blatant contravention of international law. bad acts are deplayered and concerns are grave and hopes are sincere. are you reassured yet? i'm ray suarez and that's the inside story.
we agreed that the military should get into contact with each other very soon. >> defense officials on the u.s. and russia could meet as early as thursday after moscow launches air strikes in syria. >> hello. also on the program, a symbolic moment, the palestinian flag raised for the first time at the united nations. >> afghanistan says its forces have retaken one of their cities from the taliban plus, show casing the rich