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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  February 25, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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hard-hitting... >> today they will be arrested. >> ground-breaking... >> they're firing canisters of gas at us. >> emmy award-winning, investigative series. what's called a cessation of hostilities is supposed to begin saturday morning in syria. people are still shooting at each other now and lobbing loaded accusation. russia says the u.s. is trying to put a halt. russia u.s. is firing back that russia is already doing it. it's ready, aim and fire at
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inside story welcome to inside story. in syria you can't keep track of the players even with a score card. there are so many of them shifting alliances cricketry war aims - contradiktry war aims. many countries, i.s.i.l., at this late date even with much of syria in ruins and hundreds of thousands dead, it is hard to imagine an outcome that would allow the warring parties to disengage rather than wait for a resolution, masses of syrians fleeing for their life have now headed north an west, further internationalising the refugee crisis which has long burdened syria's neighbours. through weeks of bloody fighting
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and a human surge tide out of syria, does the promise to ceasefire carry hopes of at least a pause. a breather. al jazeera's omar alsalah reports from southern turkey. >> reporter: on the offensive and making gains, i.s.i.l. fighters say they can control i.s.i.l. in the aleppo countryside. the group says it has killed a number of civilian soldiers in this battle. the village sits on a supply route in the province. aleppo city having fighting and clashes are continuing the fighters from a number of rebel groups are fighting the syrian democratic forces which is dominated by the syrian kurdish fighters nobody as y.p.g. monitoring developments closely is turkey. with regards the y.p.g. as a terrorist group operating under the outlawed kurdistan workers
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party, the p.k.k. turkey says it won't stand by as the kurdish fighters move against the rebels. >> translation: chaos in syria provides an atmosphere for terror organizations like d.a.e.s.h., al-nusra, pyd to spread. turkey is the country suffering the most from the threats and being affected from the attacks rooted in syria. >> reporter: now there is a chance that a deal reached between the u.s. and russia will bring a ceasefire by saturday. that deal excludes i.s.i.l. and al-nusra front and all rebel groups that will not commit to a cessation of hostilities. the syrian opposition wants international guarantees that the government in damascus and russia will not target rebel groups under the pretext of continued operations against i.s.i.l. and al-nusra. while the government in damascus says it will accept the partial
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truce, it warned rebel groups not to attempt to strengthen their positions during any pause in the fighting ready, aim, stop firing, catching up with the latest in syria's bloody civil war. joining me for that conversation is ambassador, director of government relations and vice president for policy and research at the middle east institute. a cessation of hostilities. they don't want to call it a ceasefire any more, that doesn't include some of the parties who are doing much of the fighting. does it mean anything? is it worth? >> just like a lot of syrians i'm sceptical. there is a basic fundamental problem of this. who enforces the regime that is
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party responsible for the overwhelming majority of this in syria to observe the ceasefire. if the rebels violate the ceasefire they will be bombed so they have an incentive to observe the ceasefire. who will compel the regime to comply with the ceasefire? russia? they have a game plan in syria is to prop up the bashar al-assad regime. they're now also aiding and abetting the bashar al-assad regime in the military campaign. they're responsible for the killing that has happened in the country. u.n., the u.n. said that they cannot enforce a ceasefire. staffan de mistura said as much in closed door meetings. he was asking around who can enforce it. the u.n. cannot enforce it. the u.s. is the natural party who can enforce the ceasefire by putting consequences on the table if case the party does not.
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unfortunately, the u.s. doesn't seem to be interested in doing that. we are deeply sceptical. there are no guarantees is that true that russia has no interest in making sure its partners stop shooting? >> russia primarily at this point wants to support the bashar al-assad regime. it wants to be sure the bashar al-assad regime captures aleppo. russia would like to be a major factor in whatever international political solution is developed for syria, wants to be a major player, but in terms of the cessation of hostilities, it is not a particular russian goal right now but they just went through weeks of high-level diplomacy. was it all just pantomime? >> russia is concerned that its image around the world has taken a beating because of bombing in syria. it wants to stop that perception
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so is looking for a political solution ostensibly. a political solution is still premature in the russian perception because the sides have not exhaustd from fighting. when we achieve the daton accord for bosnia, the sides were exhausted. syria is not in that situation yet. russia recognises that i'm not sure whether the shooting the top saturday morning. >> i think the russians hold most of the cards and the americans cold almost no cards. it very much depends what games the russians are playing it was suggested that they could enforce the cessation of hostilities. you're saying they have no cause? >> they could bring cards and bring them on the table but that would involve commitment of no fly zones facing down the russian and the syrian air force things that this administration has chosen not to do. without doing that their cards are only diplomatic and very
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weak ones. what we've seen the russians do so far in syria is not only back the regime, but encourage the regime to go back on the offensive and too p to try to seize aleppo and other and put as a long-term goal the recapture of the majority of syrian territory overall. in that perspective, this could be a laj kal truce-- laj can kal d-- logical truce for them to control the areas they've just captured and as in many long military campaigns, truces are part of the logic of warfare. on the other hand if the president vladimir putin feels that the diplomatic cost in terms of his reputation and questions of the refugees, becomes too high, he might lean on the regime to seriously enforce a ceasefire. at this point today the evidence
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leads towards saying the russians and iranians will continue this campaign even if we have a week or two of rest every time i hear a know fly zone suggested, i wonder if the u.s. would put itself in a position to shoot down a russian plane in a third party territory. wouldn't that be a pretty high wire act? >> now that they've into syria, the risks of that kind of incident would be much higher. not only the russian combat aircraft but also surface to air missiles are very capable. at this point that is risky. on the other hand if the west wants to bring something to the table and forcing a no fly zone or a broader safe zone, if you will, will be one step. another step would be to do what the u.s. did in afghanistan and that would be to supply the rebels not only anti tank
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weapons but also anti air weapons. thus far the u.s. has not been willing to do that if the u.s. continues not to be willing to do that, the likelihood is that any cessation of hostilities will result in a military imbalances and that would be destabilizing you've been a critic of u.s. policy. i want to give you a chance. ready, aim, stop firing. stay with us. it's inside story.
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you're watching inside story. we're catching up with the promised ceasefire in syria with my guests. >> the question why did the russians go through the motions, was it a waste of time? no. they built a lot of leverage and when they amassed a lot of leverage, they introduced this political aspect because their plan in syria, their game in syria, doesn't have a political aspect. what they're trying to do through this cessation of hostilities is consolidate and protect the military gapes they have made since september 30 when they started their campaign in syria. besides that, the so-called cessation of hostilities have loopholes that can and will enable the russians to p continue their campaign in syria. it is a good thing you tie the rebel hands and the ceasefire
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continue to bomb moderate opposition under the guise of going after i.s.i.l. so at the same time you have a lot of very lrnlg large loopholes. you can get whole rej meants of russian - you can get a lot of things through the loopholes to consolidate your control, and protect the gains that you've made recently. at the same time you can buy time to help your that teams consolidate control. i under the phrases, but i'm wondering what it is that at the end game, if you've consolidated your gains in a country that is now fractured, depopulated, with a destroyed economy and a rump government, what have you won? you have won but what did you win? >> for the president vladimir putin the model might by that when you win, it is a ruined economy and infrastructure, but you win and you set up or proper up a - prop up a dictator and a
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ruler that answers to you. from putin's view, a state cannot be over thrown from popular will, second he wants to get rid of any radical sun ee islamic groups that he seize as a threat-- sees as a threat and to reintroduce russia as a global player that can project power beyond its borders. i think the gains is clear. i think on the positive side that there is something in this agreement that could be built n on. there are elements saying that u.s. and russia will de-lyn yat where-- de-lyn yat where delineate where they will be. if they move quickly on this element of the agreement and delineate areas where it can ensure that there isn't al-nusra
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and i.s.i.l., they can guarantee that they're not here and we're warning you not to bring in syrian air forces or barrel bombs and we're asking you not to enter this airspace. there is room there for a robust action. i doubt this administration will do so, but i think there are opportunities here does that get unwound by the complexity turkey, yes, wants i.s.i.l. rolled up. there's no friend of bashar al-assad, but seems to be worried more about the kurds than about taking down the as add regime. -- bashar al-assad regime. the u.s. trying to do four or five things at once with the factor of russia, russia playing its own game and iran playing yet another game >> this is more complex. again to make an analogy with the bosnian situation in the
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1990s, many more external regional players as well as great players on the outside. it is very hard to do. the united states is not going to be putting a lot of force into syria, whether it's this administration or the next administration no matter who wins? >> no matter who wins. this is because syria is not a close high strategic priority for the u.s. the next-door neighbor israeli >> arming the rebels is one step it can take. even the democratic president might do that, but for the united states it is important to try to find a political solution in part because it's not going to put a lot of force in the situation. the united states is aware, as my colleague pointed out in the wall street journal this morning, two-thirds of the insurgency since world war ii
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have led to solutions. the u.s. won't be in that ballpark. it was a solution. it calculates that the russians will too because they don't have confidence in bashar al-assad he also said that the average life expectancy for these insurgencies was 10 years. i don't think they want that to go on for another five years either. >> but it may well happen because at this point no-one, none of the contestants is exhausted from fighting. >> the united states of america doesn't want a political solution in syria, but they don't have the ability to shape it. they are imposing the terms of whatever diplomatic or political agreement there could or will be. they're saying it doesn't want that but it is not putting the money where their mouth is.
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secretary kerry is relying on the decency and goodwill of mr putin. i'm not sure that mr putin has a plethora of that do you have a sense that americans want to get more involved? >> i think americans are concerned about i.s.i.s. and i think there is a sense in this country too that the administration policy against i.s.i.s. is not working. i think if - syria experts know to get rid of them you have to get of bashar al-assad. so long as there's a system in this country, bombing people, this will continue to be fertile ground for extremism. you will not be able to addressisise effectively unless you address authoritarianism. i think they will demand or request of future administrations to have more robust policies to syria read aim stop firing. it's inside story.
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is welcome back to inside story. today in syria the al-nusra front fired mortars into
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neighborho neighborhoods. kerry credit ecredited-- a cess hostilities is supposed to begin saturday. my guests are with me. we saw erdogan, the turkish leader, earlier in the program, he talked all about the kurds. is he even involved in a struggle that ends with the toppling of the bashar al-assad regime? >> as you mentioned earlier, he has three major concerns and, perhaps, the kurds are the biggest of those. they have been the biggest winners in syria so far. they've carved out an independent area in two parts of northern syria. they're trying in cooperation some what with the regime to
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close the border. they're trying to secure an uninterrupted very long stretch along the turkish border. they hook up in northern iraq. this is the biggest resurgence of autonomy or empowerment since the century. since there's so many inside turkey and the peace process between erdogan and the p.k.k., that is broken down and represents a threat as erdogan views to turkey's existence of theisise is a threat and they've been sending bombings into turkey and the bashar al-assad regime is the root cause of all of these other problems they estimate. so turkey is in a very complex situation. turkish u.s. relations are at an all-time low. levels of cooperation are very,
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very low and there is contradictions on what they're doing on the ground. i would like to make one comment about what u.s. issues are. the two threats that have emerged are major national security threats to the u.s., the first obviously is the biggest terrorist group in recent history, much bigger and probably more dangerous than al-qaeda has emerged occupying massive areas of territory in iraq, syria and libya and parts of yemen and afghanistan and so on. this cannot stand and the next president will have to deal with it. secondly, you have the largest refugee flow into our ally western europe since world war ii with major effects on europe's structure, on europe security. so far the u.s. has tried to say that's their problem, but what is europe's problem i think is u.s.'s problem as well so i will look to you to two
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gentlemen as we close out the conversation with a plausible end game for all the major parties. if i'm sitting looking at a map and i'm sitting with a chart with all the different interests at play, where do we end up with the syria that isn't at constant war and is surrounding countries that are not at war either >> one issue is going to be the russia strategy. they're over extended in syria. they're weak end internally and economically and politically it has never been so isolated from the west. they will want a political solution at in spoint in the not too distant future is that a reasonable expectation? >> not unreasonable. the west will want a democratic transition in syria. russia doesn't have any
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confidence that is going to take place. russia would prefer to have a better strong man in syria than bashar al-assad. he was a loser before the russians came in. the russians would like to work with the u.s. on some kind of a transition to a more stable situation, probably involving some kind of strong rule until some democratic transition occurs and russian is not sure that will ever occur the u.s. would love to see a democrat transition in russia too. >> an end game move is to remove bashar al-assad from power. so long as he continues to be in power the conflict will continue there's no room for him there. >> as long as they continue in power, there will be groups fighting bashar al-assad and the fighting will not stop. we either address this issue and put the issue on the table and we acknowledge this is the root cause of what is happening in syria, or turning a blind eye and continue to deal with
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refugees. then we had issues before this, but in movement start march 201511 with the movement against bashar al-assad. until this issue is addressed, until we stop bashar al-assad from being bombing people in the country and until we address these grievances-- it sounds great. the bottom lines both feature bashar al-assad not leaving power at the point of the bayonet >> then the international community will have to step in and say we cannot have or allow or afford this conflict to continue for decades because-- a quick final comment >> in this term, until the final solution which might take five or 10 years, there is a possibility with this opening for a kind of a stable state to
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be enforced. if there are zones that are declared by both super powers as free, i think there are ways to use western influence to make sure that those are safe zones, similar to what happened in iraq under sudam. people could go about their lives until a solution was found for the dictator. i don't think open warfare should be the only option i want to thank my guests. we will look at campaign finance law. is it clear what they want in return is look at next issue. thanks for joining us. goodnight.
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>> this is aljazeera america. live from new york city, i'm richelle carey. tony harris has the night off. apple's argument, the tech giant's illegal case against unlocking an iphone for the fbi. the threat facing the united states, what secretary ashe carter is concerned about. detained in iran, his an-year-old father.

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