tv White House Briefing CSPAN February 23, 2016 10:38pm-11:19pm EST
america line for us to look up to the envelope at the back of your phonecall, who you called, when or how long also was essentially the outside and below. >> every election cycle will remind us how important it is for citizens to be informed. >> the home for political junkies and away to check the government as it happens. >> it's a great way for us to say in foreign. >> there a lot of c-span fans on the hill.
>> is so much more the c-span does to make sure people outside how it's going on inside. ponsa. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon everybody. before we get started here i would like to introduce the president of special envoy to our global counter isil quotient and he's prepared materials to discuss the process we are seeing on the ground against iphone and iraq and syria and he is a time afterwards to take a handful of questions from all of you. so we will do that before we go back to our regularly-scheduled
program. i will turn it over to you. >> i thought it would take 10 minutes to put you in a picture of what we are seeing day-to-day in this very difficult extraordinary complex fight against isil. i can't overstate the complexity of this and yet despite that we now have some real traction against this very serious enemy. we define the isis is a global organization and that's why we built a global coalition to fight it. it is to find the corps in iraq and the phony caliphate. there are global networks are up again the networks for an fighter networks by nancy networks although we have gotten a handle on those and affiliates, about eight of them around the world. of course libya is the one where particular concern about and we took action there this week. we want to focus on today is the
core in iraq and syria because there has been a great deal of focus on that. the president has said we have to defeat them in the core and show that this is not an expanding movement greatest actually a shrinking movement so how you unravel the entire global network and we have begun to see some concrete ways. i will go-round briefly clockwise to describe what's happening and how complex it is and what we are working to do. number one is what we call the the -- the 98 kilometer border with turkey. is the last remaining isil territory with the outside world. turkey has done a very good job of beginning to close down the border and the president spoke with president erdogan this week and it was one of the topics of conversation. orange are the areas that isil controls and green appears they
have lost. into the construction of the -- constriction. number one is where they tried to push out. recall that the line and they have been trying to push out their per year. think we have halted the flow but the russian air campaign in this part of a country is dramatically complicated the picture. the russians working with the regime have cut off the mains supply cord are coming turkey and aleppo. russians say that's primarily humanitarian corridor and this is really creating humanitarian crisis. it is completely shaken up the situation north of there to the turkish border and one of the most complex areas which i'm happy to talk a lot more detail. number two is rocco. raqqa of course is their main headquarters where we think most of the readers are and where plots like paris and played accordion so we are focused on eliminating the enemy every day.
we are fusing information of the government and across the coalition about what we know about this enemy. how it communicates and funds itself. we know now more than we did before we are beginning to constrict his hold on raqqa. the dam to the northwest that was the main roadway to raqqa. sliced often isil can no longer access that. if i moved to number three, number three is the town of el-shaddai the. should that he operation started three or four days ago and it's very complex operation and includes thousands of fighters. i won't get into the specific numbers that 40% of them are non-kurd and 60% are curd. when i was in kobani a couple of weeks ago the main focus was in getting all these disparate groups together and putting them together to consolidate with
coherence in math to move on isil particularly el-shaddai the. if you think about it a lot of groups are shards of wood that want to fight isil and it's our job to pull it together notches in the bundle but in fact and what you have going is the baseball bat. it's kurd arabs and christians with good command and control and coordination with their airpower and they're having real effect. there is a military side of what i'm focused on is the politics of this who is going to govern us about the which is ag garre patel to make sure arabs are in control once it's cleared of isil. so far it's going fairly well. number four is sinjar. sinjar was the name -- main connector between rockland mosul. shah.he is the cutting off connection between iraq and mosul and making sure they cannot travel those roads
anymore and so it's been sinjar, shabad the cutting off the connection between raqqa and mosul. sinjar is where isil broke into the international scene with everything we know about the yazidis. in fact they used to take, they would take these young women off of sinjar would mount and collect them separate them and bring them to shah.he and trade them as slaves. what we are we are doing here is not only a military operation but a moral imperative to take these areas away from isil. sinjar was very important because it cut off the main highway into muscle. muscle everybody else about. we are -- we don't put a timeline on it that mosul has started. we are working to constrict it. we are cooling -- pooling our information intelligence to basically learn more about them
based upon that intelligence in again most importantly working local politics. i'm in constant touch with the diplomats in the field in erbil taking the shards of wood together and turning them into a stall that. what we have done for mosul that's where we are setting up a joint headquarters pooling all of these fighters that will fight isil. it's innate drives and iraqi peshmerga and iraqi army. in munich last week the president of the kurdistan region at present of botany -- abbadi set together. it's actually coming along fairly well. the seventh is tikrit. tikrit and iconic city where isil moved in totally to
, and now we are looking to do the same thing in the body. security operations finished a few weeks ago. the now we are focused on the stabilization, trying to get people back into homes, trying to get ied's out. i was in baghdad about ten weeks ago. every 2nd or 3rd home is wired with ied's and landmines. they have to get the de- mining teams in. the foreign minister of norway will be here later this week. norway has taken a global leadership role. setting up the conditions has already started. we have about 36 electronic electricity generators that
have come in. very hard, painstaking, tedious part requires the government to delegate authority which is something we are working on. on. the stabilization piece of what comes after isil is a focus. number nine, early on in this campaign pres. obama made the decision to put our forces out at how a sod airbase. it was really wild west territory. very difficult. this entire area would be controlled by isil. we are working with two or three tribes who are now fully mobilized. about 10,000 tribal fighters not only defending but moving in operating on offensive operations because
of grid operators.operators. number ten is the highway from them on to baghdad. we had a team last week. we saw the king last week with his entire interagency team, chiefteam, chief of defense, intelligence chief to talk about western anbar province and jordan and the role that jordan can play in the importance of opening up thisof this economic lifeline which is something we will be looking to do. opening up the economic interconnections between the places. i will focus lastly on palmyra. the dark red very difficult not to take territory. the last major offensive operation was in a that's
also somethingsocial something we are focused very much of the germanium partners on. we lookwe look forward to seeing him. all of this, military, economic. extraordinarily complex. we have made a great deal of progress on the last six months and ii think you'll see more of that coming into shape. something that is happening this week. and of course to pull this altogether we are in constant communication with our national security team and the president the president becoming the state department on thursday. we have meetings constantly. that is the core, shrinking
the court which is fundamental to our overall strategy and at the same time drawing up to global networks and focusing on the affiliates. one thing i will say about the global networks' finances. i think you have been briefed by my colleagues. it took a long time to figure out how the organization is financing and so. that was a very intensive, intelligence driven exercise ._an awful lot and we began to systematically work with our dod colleagues. cutting the salary and i think you'll see that continue to decrease. their ability to fund themselves is taken a substantial hit. with that, thatthat, that is
a short overview but an extraordinarily complex situation. >> what we say that the current numbers of foreign fighters? and we have been hearing a lot about saudi arabia. what can you say about that? >> foreign fighters, it's a great question because the foreign fighter question exemplifies why we have never seen something like this. we have gotten it down to the high investment. but thatinvestment. put that in perspective, following assuming afghanistan days, it's about twice as many command that was only a handful of countries. that is why this is such a
global threat. what are we trying to do? not only working with partners in turkey and the turks have done a good job that recently, but also the source countries hundred 20 countries around the world and we need those countries to share information with turkey. it is an extraordinary challenge. we want to make sure they can get into syria. we are seeing some of them turning of olivia. those that get in thisthey get in this area are finding a pretty miserable golf it. saudi arabia is also a key partner in the coalition. a real leader in terms of the counter messaging that we obviously cannot take the lead on. we very much encourage that.
when they come with ideas we are open because we want them to be a part of the campaign. >> you mentioned in terms of the capability that isil had the plot or orchestrate the attack in paris to what degree is that ability? do you not know whether they have the same capability? >> it is a great question. we know more about it now. as we have shown comeau we will learn about. what makes itwhat makes it a little different as it is a state like entity. it plans operations and rocker, since operatives from rocker of jeanette pocket.
it is harder for them to get out now, so we want to do two things, make sure the border is sealed and take territory away. as the map shows, from rocker with sally used ago. that is where we had to take away that. it's much harder to move now. continue doing that. as we know as part of the no who is part of the network will target. >> physically moving out. able to trace. money cutting salaries, some fighters. the kind of thing i'm looking for. >> they try to inspire. we have. we worked very closely with
the private sector, twitter, facebook. butbut that is kind of lone wolf one off attacks. they also are planning bigger things. paris was planned and rocker. but again we find these people and are able to kill them.them. johnny john was one of the main guys on the internet trying to inspire lone wolf attacks. to find them in. >> just wondering in your diplomatic engagement what you say to syrian rebels who think that the united states is not been unreliable ally. people have been publicly saying the us is nothing able to step in and save.
>> i think we are doing an awful lot. they are working hard at the cessation of hostilities. hostilities. no one is under any illusions how difficult this would be. my colleague is talking all the groups now. we are working particularly in this area is moderate opposition groups. if the cessation of hostilities is the take root and hold we should see a series the escalation of violence. the conflict in syria command we have had ahad a lot of discussions on our partners with this in the russians the land is the type of conflict that can go on and on forever. if you look at the open-source numbers about a hundred thousand combatants
have been killed. this is something that can go on and on forever. if the russians don't make changes in their behavior and we can have a serious political process which is now locked in this will go on forever. so we are trying to do is de-escalate the conflict and lock in the cessation of hostilities which will begin to change the dynamic. we have seen progress. that is one reason we are working so hard. we'll no more next week. >> the cease-fire, cessation of hostilities doesn't hold, as the us credibility among those rebel groups further damaged? >> i think that was spoken to. they're preparing for all
contingencies. >> hey. you saw some car bombs in damascus this week. is it the us assessment that isil has been able to implement what has been an assault stronghold and if you could talk to what you're seeing in libya, how's the growth of foreign fighters they're andin the structure they are building different than what is happening in syria? >> so isil took credit for those car bombings. we bombings. we have no reason to doubt it was then based on the number of attacks. it is really a threat to everybody. all of our partners in the region and we try to make this point all the time. it is a threat to absolutely everybody.
it is why we want to unite as much as possible. just a bit of a different situation. you don't have the sectarian dynamic that we do see them using the same tactics that he used in syria. it establishes itself, eliminates all competitors and tries to attract foreign fighters and olivia. it is its own open-source propaganda telling people not to go in the caliphate in syria. it is trying to attract as many foreign fighters as possible. where it has roots it eliminates its competitors. it is trying to project outwards. it is a serious threat and something that obviously we are focused on everyday. the sequence of events we want to see is to have the
libyan political process completed. from which the whole international community, support that government and health get off their feet. as the more of a focus not only on the affiliates on how the affiliates act externally. >> yes. when we had the coalition in rome and the main topic of conversation was libya we will we are now, the italians announce yesterday. lydia is iflibya is if you choke us. they already launched extra attacks. watch the attack the other day because when you see a
training camp and we see them doing push-ups they are not there to lose weight. >> the effort to fight isil in syria. the syrian regime, etc. that part of this cessation of hostilities. where are we now? but also one part sure you saw yesterday they identified areas. so how difficult for all parties to target the syrian opposition.
>> it is an excellent question.question. we have not seen them launch major operations for some time. it is doing some things right now. that sort of stuff goes on day-to-day. but delineating is fairly easy. we also have these difficult parts of the country where things are marble together. if you read the statement carefully we have agreed to try to delineate as best we can come up with the groups a sign-up will not be attacked by the russians and regime.
the proof putting is in the meeting.eating. we will know once we get into the rotation phase. if they are continuing to attack it will be in total violation. we will know more as we get into next week. hit the nail on the head which we need to delineate as best we can comeau we have an agreement from the russians and we have to see. opposition groups have agreed this is station of facilities will not be attacked. that is the agreement. the test will be the implementation. >> can you talk about what comes next in libya? image of the recent airstrike.
all this being a mental approach where you carry out more airstrikes? said this is a big focus. do you expect a lot of cooperation european partners? >> italy, france, particularly realm mainly a leading role in supporting the new government. there has been a great effort and emphasis on getting that information process finalized. at theat the same time we are not just letting these threats faster. butbut we want to see the government formed as soon as possible. our envoy in libya is working day and night. we want to see that government formed. once it is the international community and our partners
in europe behind it. we see threats emerging not threaten us or our partners in a direct way won't hesitate to act. >> would you agree that the current counter strategy? >> if you look back to where a two months ago while i was in iraq baghdad. having very serious conversations about the total collapse of baghdad, the fall of the baghdad airport the fact that you have this entire frame, entire society seven iraqi army division's totally collapsed. if you go from that point to where we are now just take it from iraq
working to rebuild the totally demoralize to getting them back up to my, bringing them back into some coherence and then to retake a city like hammadi i think we have made quite a bit of progress. if you go from earlier in the summer of 2015 and recognizing a difficult this is and just look at the map, taking away for a person of the territory, we are having some good effect. taking effect. taking out one to two of the main key leaders every few days,that will continue. but some momentum is beginning to build. they have the highway and now they can't. there is entirely cut off.
we will continue to squeeze and construct. and continue to galvanize the entire national community because it's a global challenge. so i think it has been in effect,effect, but nobody's under any illusions how difficult this is, how sophisticated the organization is. the externalthe external plotting network is not just a bunch of leaders. they try to do know the tax while they plan to try to do more sophisticated things. something we try to stay ahead of. we try to have pretty flat organization working with using information the treasury department to stay out of was happening. you're doinghappening. you are doing a better job that now the year ago. we have to keep at it. but the momentum is turned. foreign fighter numbers begin to go down.
can you respond to that? making sure they are not taking out the kurdish fighters? >> following more than any country in the last 1818 months. the critical partner of ours. less than vice president biden. we are working extraordinarily closely. when he was there for the g 21 of the main focuses we had some recommendations for the turks. we work closely together.
andand so we are going to continue that close partnership. my trip was primarily focused on getting the political cohesiveness not just cursed that arabs christians, other units to begin. and that was the main purpose of the trip and now the fact that the operation is underway and we feel pretty good about it. one of the primary partners in this campaign. and we have to work on this closely together. >> yes, just a quick follow-up. in your answer to talk about the territory that has been taken back.
what they have been able to gain in libya and see what they have done in terms of recruitment and inspiring followers globally would you say this organization is stronger or weaker now that it was a two months ago? the overall. >> i think overall it's weaker. a couple things. some of the affiliates such as libya, taking advantage of the situation. they are not sending paratroopers in certain areas to start the franchise. a pre-existing problem. nownow fly the flag. just because you have an affiliate pop-up it doesn't mean samantha fundamentally different situation.
libya is a little different. but we look at how they recruit, an error occurred on three levels comeau one is is kind of sundrenched scenes of the caliphate and come live in this historic movement. that is the vast majority of propaganda, and historic movement, expanding. we go to rome and come be a part of it. 60 percent of propaganda is that. it does not give much attention because the 2nd part is the violence in the mayhem. that is a small category of propaganda. and then they have a religiously -based message. the 1st primary propaganda effort on their part is no longer credible. so the chief spokesman, when he speaks now is very much on the defensive trying to
explain will here is why we lost all this territory. it is a totally different message and is not inspiring people like it was 18 months ago. eighteen months ago there was a sense that isil was totally on the march and that was having an effect. that is not the case anymore. it is shrinking. that is going to continue to be the case. however, no whatnobody year is under any illusions how difficult this will be, how lethal the organization remains, how art it is to build but only a global coalition of one of different actors on the ground to be cohesive much of really tight. it is hard. given that if you look at where we were 18 months ago i think you can now see the progress and you will see more over the coming months.
>> obviously he has thought about this carefully. and i like the way you describe the hundred 25 countries. wondering25 countries. wondering if you can tell me more about where that comes from and then also where that leaves the us. >> well, an organization that enslaves women, destroys the common heritage, murders anyone who disagrees. it speaks for itself. i was in northern iraq with the best murder. you can get a sense from the fighters that this wasn't
simply mission against a brutal enemy. it's an enemy that is just different, and it also exemplifies why post isil is so hard. a very senior best murder commander told me he was doing with the local leaders about after the operation who will government take charge. we are focused on once areas are clear you don't have revenge attacks because that can unravel things very fast. in the best murder commander told me he was discussing this with an elderly is civilian talking
about this fact, what comes after. he said these people, they took my wife, took my three daughters, took my sister, and all i have left in this life is my revenge. so that is what they have done. so we are working to do as we clear out this try to make sure there's a way to restore life to the areas so that you don't get in the cycles of revenge. your question had on something, not only it is an imperative to defeat the enemy to focus on what comes after. so that is part of the campaign. >> thank you very much. >> tomorrow attorney general
loretto lynch is on capitol hill. live coverage of the house appropriations subcommittee hearing. later live coverage of homeland security secretary testifying at the senate appropriations subcommittee on homeland security at 215 eastern. >> how can we best get people to pay attention to wasteful spending? we find things that are interesting, different, easy-to-understand because the government is so large the organizations have to cut through the noise, members of congress talking about the things they are doing and try to get people to be more involved and make it mpe