tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera October 1, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
the top of the hour. i'm antonio mora, see you then. bsh bsh i'm ali velshi, on target - solving syria. vladimir putin takes decisive action as president obama takes a back seat. it's america versus russia in a cold war-style struggle for influence in the middle east. russian fighter jets are dropping bombs in syria. they are upping the ante in the 4.5 year war. russia's moves are laying bear how many the united states is losing the initiative in syria, and by extension in the broader
middle east. >> for over a year president obama dropped bombs pon i.s.i.l. in both iraq and syria, simultaneously he continued to help rebels fighting to unseat i.s.i.l.'s enemy, syria's president bashar al-assad. now russia entered the fray in support of bashar al-assad, bombing i.s.i.l. and rebel targets. victoria gatenby has this report. >> reporter: russian jets attacked the town near idlib. the town is not an i.s.i.l. strong hold. they are mainly in eastern syria. the area is dominated by groups deposing president bashar al-assad, a russian ally. also hit, the town, during the second day of russian air strikes. there are concerns as to whom they are targetting. this, according to activists, was the result of wednesday's attacks. civilian casualties as bombs from dropped in homs and hamas.
and focused on posts not hold bill i.s.i.l. >> translation: we urged before that the russians are intervening in syria not to fight i.s.i.l., but to prolong the life of bashar al-assad, supporting the killing on a daily basis of the syrian civilians. >> saudi arabia criticized the russian raids and demanded that moscow stop them. western governments, including the u.k. and the u.s. questioned president vladimir putin's intentions. the russian government dismissed the concerns as part of a propaganda war. it said i.s.i.l. positions are targets, along with added groups, and added layers of confusion to a complex civil war. >> we want syria democratic, united, secular, syria, which is a home for all ethnic and confessional groups, whose rights are guaranteed. but we have some differences as for the details of how to get
there. >> the u.s. which is conducting aerial bombardment against i.s.i.l. agreed to hold talks with russia as soon as possible to avoid clashing with the military. >> we agreed on the imperative as soon as possible, perhaps even as soon as tomorrow, but as soon as possible, having a military to military deconfliction discussion meeting, conference, whatever, whatever can be done as soon as possible. it was hoped meetings between president obama and vladimir putin at the u.n. may have led to a united international response to the crisis in syria. instead russia's military intervention marks a dramatic and dangerous escalation well syria's war triggered one of the worse humanitarian crises in decades. more than 234,000 syrians died in the conflict, 12 million are
internally displaced and 4 million fled to surrounding countries, hundreds of thousands of syrian refugees flooded into europe. now with russia entering forcefully on the side of the syrian government, it's harder to see an end in sight. president obama faces a policy conundrum. for 4.5 years they have funnelled aim to the rebels. they have opened the door for i.s.i.l. to seize half of syria's territory, and i.s.i.l. has actually gained territory at the expense of the government. enter vladimir putin and the fighter jets. this week the russian president demanded world powers coordinate the fight against i.s.i.l., and throw the packing band the
syrian president. they are crying foul. they have no alternative. they may be changing their tune on the conflict. >> mary snow reports. >> reporter: this year of civil war, president obama calls on bashar al-assad to step down. and the u.s. lends support to rebels fighting to unseat the syrian president. one year later in 2012, in a warning to syria. president barack obama uses two words putting in motion the stance in syria. >> the red line for us is we see a bunch of chemical weapons moved around or utilised. that would change my calculus. >> by june 2013. the u.s. determined forces indeed used chemical weapons, including sarin, a nerve agent. with a red line drawn, president obama is ready to strike syria and u.s. force. but then a definite.
>> today i'm asking congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation. it never happens. congress rejects the president's authorisation forth. seizing on a power vacuum, i.s.i.l. emerges as a threat. seizing much of eastern syria and iraq. in 2014, the u.s. organises air strikes in iraq and syria, the target is i.s.i.l. the u.s. trained moderate rebels to battle i.s.i.l. this week, when tama addresses the u.n., he does not call for the ouster of the dictator, but talks about a managed transition of the rule transition or not, bashar al-assad is there and now is getting help from vladimir putin. for more on the obama policy council un -- conundrum we go to
mike viqueira. >> one of the reporters from "the washington post" asked a josh ernst, what about the notion, can you spon respond to the critics saying this is a playground moment and president obama is taking vladimir putin's lunch -- vladimir putin is taking president obama's lunch money, pushing him around, running circles around him. >> the argument is this, that russia is inflaming tensions between sunni and shia. coming down on iran and the bashar al-assad regime. inflaming sunnis, and they'll eventually face the music at home. obviously russia faced their own sectarian problems in chechnya and elsewhere. they wonder whether or not bashar al-assad - vladimir putin is positioning himself for a post-bashar al-assad syria by getting skin in the game and
accusing vladimir putin of gaining by backing the one and only ally. the last toe hold that russia has. generations between both sides, bashar al-assad and his father, dating back to the pre-berlin wall. having said all of that. the diplomacy under way here, not much with russia, giving the united states one hour's notice. before the bombs flew, and famously the awkward handshake. between president obama and vladimir putin. trying to talk about it it. russia didn't wait for that. without any such talks, the first of those talks were held today. >> mike viqueira for us at the white house. america against i.s.i.l., and against bashar al-assad. so far backing rebels. i'll look at the solution for deconstructing syria. that's coming up.
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progress. some hope moderates can find a solution. michael envisions a regional solution to syria, involving strengthening moderate forces, and joins me from i.s.i.l. part of the issue is where we are caught up in language, talking about the moderate opposition, rebel groups. some of whom would not be measured by moderates, and these are the issues of arming groups that don't share the aims and goals in the united states beyond getting rid of bashar al-assad. >> well, in fact, we are not arming groups that wants to get rid of bashar al-assad. especially the pentagon, the pentagon made it clear that any overt programme, in other words distinct from c.i.a. efforts under way, overt s programs cannoted help rebels. this is a contribution -- overt
programs cannot help rebels. this is a goal, and operational guidance for how we choose and train and equip individuals, that's a problem, how to vet the opposition, the rules we play to make them only go after i.s.i.l. with weaponry and capability that we provide. that's a big speak. i agree that moderate is a term in the eye of the beholder and we've been too string ent. i.s.i.l. is a group attacking the west, they must be tweeted. other groups that have philosophies we don't love, props we can tolerate. we have to tolerate the alawites, we can't allow a situation where bashar al-assad is overthrown, and his group is made to pay the price for his sins. in that regard some of what russia is doing is understandable. there's a lot going on. i believe there's a way to
deconstruct syria, look for regional solutions, not worry about a strong government and break the problem down. >> i want to challenge your assumption on why that is a good idea. you have written that the syrian army cannot reunify the country, but it's realistic to imagine a confederation model where syria has a government, bashar al-assad would be gone. i.s.i.l. and the al nusra front tweeted - the al qaeda fran highs in syria. that sounds as useful as my growing a full head of hair. how do you think that will work. >> i can't see your lovely head of hair, i will not comment on that. i think you heard of bosnia. it's a place where it's nobody's ideal of how a country should function. it's what i said. bosnia, what you said in response to my idea, it's the model.
bodneya didn't have jihadists trying to blow people up or the degree of death and devastation. it had a per capita amount of suffering similar to what syria experienced. ultimately a force went in, deploying along the ethnic separation lines, and helped a weak central government. it would be harder in syria for 1,000 reasons, but it's the right model. >> the part i want to ask you about is the danger, if you look at afghanistan, you look at libya, iraq. all of these places have been left after a form of war governing over ethnic groups, is that not the model of danger here? >> i don't think the same diagnosis can be applied to each of those cases. in iraq, the prop is there was
never a government seen as legitimate. the army and police were put under baghdad. they were seen as taken over by the shia majority, by iran and irani sympathizers. it was a different problem. >> in libya we overthrew muammar gaddafi, and walked away. similar to where we are in syria now. i'm proposing we'd have to deploy an international peacekeeping force to uphold the deal i'm talking about. we are not ready for that, and obviously the central cities will be hard with this kind of a model. they'll remain intermixed and require extra attention from peacekeepers. it's the best model from all the bad actions russia's involvement. i appreciate you are putting a model forward. maybe russia rendered the idea, ert by seizing the initiative,
the foti of the united states opposing i.s.i.l. and the regime, when those two forces oppose each other. i can't imagine endorsing a few that everyone walked away like we did in libya, but the u.s.'s position is a little bit illogical. >> i agree. >> i don't know if our position can be made compatible with russia's, if russia's interests are fundamentally to retain access to the naval base, making sure that she is are not tweeted and doesn't care about keeping bashar al-assad in power. we may be able to de-conflict the dolls. in the end the model i'm proposing would allow for a strong alawite sector, it would allow for the alawites to have a role in the central government. and bashar al-assad, for all i
care, could live in the alawite sector, or go into exile in russia, and in may be a compromise russia would be happy with, achieving their aim and ours. >> michael o-hanlon, we appreciate that idea. america has been down the road before, coming up, the lessons the u.s. should have learnt from iraq, from someone there on the ground. complz . >> good evening, i'm antonio mora, coming up after "on target" on al jazeera america, a gunman opens fire at an american college. president obama says the country is numb to the violence. >> russia says it's going after i.s.i.l. fighters in syria. after two days of air strikes the focus of russia's attacks are not i.s.i.l. how mexico's economy and drug
wash hurt attempts to protect a dangerous species of turtle. that and more at the top of the hour. best day of my life. i told my co-workers, i'm gonna marry her... when my past caught up with me and made us all pay the price. >> it was very confusing... they were just, "where is it? where did he put it"? the social worker said, "i'm gonna have to take the baby". you're gonna have to kill me to take my child. they took my family. he's like, "they're using your child as leverage". the day i think i'm getting sarah back, my public defender tells me they're gonna take me to trial. i don't know how i'm gonna do it but... i need another lawyer. >> that judge is not known for his compassion. >> if at any point i'm not fighting for my family, i don't know what that would do to me. >> families don't survive this.
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>> is there still a blue wall of silence in american cities? >> did somebody get shot? fault lines baltimore rising only on al jazeera america president obama's decision not to get involved in the syrian conflict seemed to make sense. americans were tired of war in afghanistan. this retired general, who served in iraq and wrote books on counterinsurgency believes that the u.s. missed an opportunity to arm moderate rebels, and now the u.s. is left with few good options. good to see you again. you heard my conversation with mr o-hanlon, who argues that
iraq and syria are different the but they have a similar problem, and that is that they have i.s.i.l. gaining on a central government. what should the u.s. have done to avoid this? >> well, back in 2011, president obama decided to withdraw all american troops from iraq, against the advice of his security team, he was trying to fulfil a campaign promise, allowing i.s.i.s. room to grow. al qaeda, 3.0, the successor organization to al qaeda in iraq, 2.0. six months later, during a presidential cam feign, the president ignored the advice of his team, telling him to arm, trade and equip moderate rebels in that country. >> he chose not to do that, he didn't want to get involved in a war in the middle east. those not raid rebels were the
best hope for a stable future for syria. >> all right. and that probably would have been the hope that permitted america to have a role here a meaning frl role. we know how hard it is to get out of conflict, and that america committed in many cases to regime change, but does not do follow through. in the case of iraq, you argue that america's going to have to have troops in there and we'll have to do more and be there for a long time. are we committed to that reality, is there a better solution. >> in order to defeat the islamic state in iraq and syria, in the borders of iraq, we'll have to put a lot more troops in there than are fighting in support of the iraqi government and kurdish forces. we have 3,335. we need five to 10 times that number and they need to get more involved in the fighting.
in syria, we are in a tougher situation we know we have to win. in syria, there's no good options. i think i might be getting to what your answer is. as a military man, is it better to go with the devil you know. >> i'm afraid that as bad as bashar al-assad is, a tyrant, torturer of my own, the vast majority of crisis, bashar al-assad is not as bad as i.s.i.s. is, with russia backing bashar al-assad, it's harder for bashar al-assad to beoverthrown and some pd kind of negotiated solution with the alawites, with bashar al-assad's people is going to be the only possible solution. one thing that you made a point is some are saying they are taking a lead on something.
they decided they do not share the goal of regime change. the problem is they seem to target the american backed moderate rebels. who you say we should have been involved with in 2023 and 13. that is -- 2012 and "13. we are arming and training rebels who the russians are bombing. >> and we have remarkably little leverage against russia in that scenario. there is some hope that russia will be bogged down in this fight, that it's going to be another afghanistan for russia, but there's no guarantee of that. right now the russians are putting just enough forces on the ground. mostly air power, mechanics and specialists to keep bashar al-assad alive. not enough. they understand there's a line they can't cross and are making sure they don't do enough to get the united states involved against them. >> and not create a proxy war where you have american trained
forces or funded forces working against russian troops on the ground. if you are in the white house or at the pentagon, is there somebody sitting here, as much as the public pronouncements are that russians shouldn't do this, saying russians are doing our dirty work for us. >> there is some hope that russia will use forces against i.s.i.l. that's not proven to be the case, i don't think that's russia's priority. the reason it's there is to preserve bashar al-assad and bases in the region. the interests do not align directly with the united states. at best they are tank nen shall. -- tanken shall. >> talking military, you say we need 5-10 times the troops in iraq. we are in an election season, that would not go over well, with a war-weary american public. when it comes to syria, fighting i.s.i.l. and are in syria, what is the u.s. military involvement.
what does it look like to you? >> there's likely to be no direct u.s. military involvement. there are other agencies that do things that we can deny plausibly. it's likely that some of those will be involved covertly. we'll not get involved in syria in a big way. the administration, i don't think, will get involved in iraq. i'm afraid all the problems will be handed over to the next administration to deal with, and the region in the middle east will continue to burn, and refugees fleeing the fighting. people of mosul, iraq's second-largest city will suffer under i.s.i.s. occupation and torture, and i.s.i.s. will continue to grow for a care organization, holding more territory that any groups have in the history of man. >> john, a retired army lieutenant colonel, the headmaster. on target tomorrow - the other
still burning issue in the middle east. the prospects between israelis and palestinian peace. mahmoud abbas says israel has not lived up to its end of the bargain in negotiating a final 2-stage solution. binyamin netanyahu says israel will negotiate without preconditions. >> the americans need to comment the israelis, and i think binyamin netanyahu's resigned himself to the fact that the agreement is reality. that's number one. number two is the problem of iraq in syria right now. and russian - russia's insertion of itself into an already complicated situation. those are the two major priorities right now that the u.s. has. israeli palestinian peace is not one of them. it was a convoluted sentence, i can tell you hear that he was - he did intend to say that the palestinians walk away from the agreement, but under pressure
from the united states and also jordan and egypt. he took it back and put it on continual. >> that's on target tomorrow. 10:30 eastern. that is our show for today, i'm ali velshi. thank you for joining us. campus massacre. >> i hear screaming after the first gunshot, and - i looked out and saw the people running, and i said to the teacher "we need to get out of here now." >> a gun main goes on a rampage killing nine people at a college in oregon. >> air raid. >> if it looks like a terror. >>, if it walks like a ter troist, fights line a terrorist - it's a