tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 18, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EST
sense, kind of. if you get past the whole narrative structure. these groups actually cast a narrative structure that said all syrian rebels were takfirin. they were muslims who wanted to accuse other muslims of apostasy and thus they could be killed. this is how they cast even our -- u.s.'s moderate so, kauld moderate allies. this was a larger narrative process they underwent. and now it's coming to full fold when we're watching iraq. and not that i'm saying it's not isis doing a lot of the fighting. but they have cast kind of this sunni enemy of theirs as takfiris. it doesn't necessarily mean they are your buddies. the other thing is they were just reactionary. well, these groups were around for quite some time, decades even. i'll give you the example of the badr organization in iraq. the iranians created them or helped create them from iraqi refugees who went over to iran in the early 1980s to fight saddam hussein. they were even part of iraq's
government. this even dominate the interior ministry. so these groups have been around for a while. lebanese hezbollah, they've also been around since the early '80s. but that doesn't mean they are not growing at rates we've never seen before. because there's a new crisis we have new organizations. the other main thing is iran's reach in this is totally overstated. i can't say how much annoyance that actually causes me because they're so open about this about how they control these organizations. again, all you need to do stoimz is go sometimes is go on facebook or follow iranian media. here's the weird thing, and dr. knights brought up this. even if they're not directly controlling the group they'll claim to do that and beyond that they'll try to influence them with cash and weapons and support, and then guess what happens. they become another micro hezbollah. i would actually say in this you can never ignore this top-down strategy. just because these people are recruiting from a wide stream of shia. i'm not saying everybody's a
khomeinist. not everybody who's fighting in a shia militia believes in absolute liatal fakei. but there's a top down structure here. how many a few decades ago would have said lebanon's going to be a great place for this absolutely liatal fakei because we all know how religiously radical the shia population is there. i'm pretty sure not many. and now look at it. these are main issues and hopefully i've cut through some of that. so we now have the narrative of jihad. why were people going to fight in syria? how did this lead to the current events in iraq? how did this lead to shia militias fighting against isis? first and foremost, a religious crisis needed to be manufactured. when i say that there is the supposed threat against seita seita zayneb which is this major mosque and shrine in southern damascus. a lot of interesting weird granular connections to iran
with this shrine. they actually rebuilt it. it's why it has this golden dome. what they cast this as is to have fighters to go into syria they needed people who would go for a religious reason a justified region. the justified reason is they were doing their shrine defense. but it wasn't just that. just saying shrine defense, well, doesn't fit in with the khomeinist that was being pushed. why would they need to defend it? well oh, well, they were defending against the takfiris i mentioned early. who pushed faechlt akfiris to this? america, the state of israel the west. that was wrapped within this. there was a whole conspiracy wrapped not this. and if you're really looking at the long term, real big long-term problems with this kind of outlook, it now casts this vision that maybe the united states really did want to push for the shrine to be destroyed. maybe the u.s. was really pushing these moderate rebel groups because they wanted them to be al qaeda. sulemani himself came out and
said america has been trying to push al qaeda into syria. for most of us sitting here that would sound kind of ludicrous. but that's been the narrative. so there's that. beyond all of this by doing this move they're executing a grand regional strategy that doesn't just target shia. and it targets a lot of minorities. and i think we saw a lot of this -- i'm sorry. do you mind if i grab a soda here? sorry, guys. i'm running dry. i get excited. so all right. so in addition to this we have to deal with the minority issue. if you remember back when hezbollah first had to deal with syria first pulling out of lebanon lebanon, what did they do? they this-4 outreach to that yacht al akhur which is michelle alam's party. they obtained this wonderful
catholic ally and they could put this veneer over them and say we're lebanese nationalists, the khomeinist stuff is on the side, but don't worry, we're on this lebanon thing. beyond that when they're trying pb push the concept of liatal liatal fakei it doesn't make sense to us it's iranist ideology in iran, people are not treated well but they're playing into these fears of drowning in the sunni sea. they've been doing this with christians. bashar al assad, pushed this messaging up. if you don't ally with the allawis, the shia these sunnis are going to come in and destroy destroy you. there's been that other move pushing them in that direction, pushing a minority alliance of sorts. they also push the good sunnis versus bad sunnis line as i like to call it where nus rala would come out and say we're not against sunnis. he would simultaneously make a sectarian message, a pro shia message but they were not against sunnis.
actually, the takfirin these are not sunnis they weren't even muslims. he was declaring them as apostates, all his enemies as apostates. there was that other categorization that was going on simultaneously with all of this. but the biggest thing that's going on are these pan-shia themes and the pan-shia themes they're trying to cast this narrative that iran is the protector for the shia in the region. yes, they are still casting the khomeinist message that says we are pan-islamic, that ayatollah khomeini he is the faqqa for all muslims, not just shia. in a geostrategic sense if you're trying to form clamps around main enemies, namely the saudis, the gulf and the israelis it also makes sense when you have forces in those areas. those have been a big thing. but then there's this. they have trood to minimize their link to this while also trying to say we have maintained this jihad. and it's kind of strange.
they don't want to show there are geopolitical interests at stake. if they lost syria they would potentially lose their most valuable ally in the world which is lebanese hezbollah. you have to have syria. you have to have that bridge. and if they lost it to would be no good. so of course it would be a great idea to drive up a jihad. but if they said we're drawing this as persian iranians, we're having a jihad just to defend that sole interest, not many people would buy into it. it all traces back to that shrine over there. i attached a photo in here, and this is from one of my favorite favorite -- it's not really in this sheet but it's a song that's been played by as achlt belal hak a direct iranian proxy. it says we're not here fighting for bashar. we're here fighting for the shia. that's been the message. and that's how they're trying to cast it. if we're looking at iraq and how a lot of fighters have filtered
back there and have been sent back there, what are we seeing there? we're protecting islam. to them islam is shiism. that's how they're doing it. when we look at this we have to focus on the actual militias. which fill militias are really going and sending people to shias? there's a lot of confusion about what the sadrists were doing. muqtada al sadr we're remembering him as this fiery cleric, he killed americans when we were in iraq. but there's kind of a gray area when it comes to this. and the gray area is the weird thing. there's a lot of weird info ops going on online to try and say that sadr is fully alongside the shia jihad in syria. but there's also evidence to say that maybe sadr did donate a few people to fight in syria, we just don't know. but for the most part there are a lot of people who were what we would call sadrist splinters. back during the iraq war, when we were there, a problem happened with the sadrists where
he was trying to maintain the mehdi army. this didn't work out so well. he pushed back against the iranians. not a great idea. so what did they do? they encouraged these splits and tried to build separate organizations. the really interest thing as i was doing this research i tried to look up people who helped form this group. i call it lafa network. but the full name is liwa bil liwa bil fada al abes. the initial corps of commanders almost all of them were sadrist splinter people. one of them who was killed they would call him khayara he was killed i want to say december 2012. this is a person who served with mr. duleimi. a shia who converted to sheism who was seenltly in an al hak in iraq and he also raided the provincial headquarters for the american forces when it was in karbala killing five of our guys. he was in some way related to
that. the old expression it stinks on ice to say that they're sadrists, it kind of does in this respect because yeah, they may have been sadrists, they may have been promoting a lot of sadrist imagery and some other things but they had clear direct links to the iranians. going down more we have the old standard bearers. when i say standard bearers the good old iranian proxies we know so well. mainly lebanese hezbollah. they were some of the initial force that's were sent by the iranians into syria. they were serving as advisers. they were also serving as direct combat advisers. but also helping form up localized inshahs made up of shias and also allawi wies. the badr organization is another one. but it's a little more collection when you look at the badr organization because what did badr do? badr also simultaneously while building their own process and putting their own fighters into
syria were also building new separate special groups inside of iraq, taking some of their members, putting them in there and then saying okay now that this new group is formed we're going to send these people to syria. for instance, one of the newer groups that i put past al hak was khtay saab al shuada. one of their first martyrs was the son of a prime militia dr prime badr corps militias celebrated by the badr organization and his son was somehow killed fighting for khatab addar shul ha dechlt ab which believes in the same concepts which just kind of came out of nowhere in early 2013. and this is kind of the connection that they have. i guess going past that we have baasay al hak. i'm sure a lot of people remember these groups. they efp'ed american soldiers, they killed a lot of coalition forces and also some of these guys wrt force into iraq. and actually the interesting thing what they would do was go
to iran and take a syrian air flight into damascus, unload. they'd be wearing their sievies. they'd get off the plane. everything was fine. they'd pick up a rifle and go and fight. and they were not even hiding this earlier when they were coming into that country. they were not hiding the flights. they were openly advertising it on very easily accessible facebook pages which is kind of shocking. makes you really think about this. was that an op-sec fail on their part or was it something else? were they trying to promote that hey, we can go into syria whenever we want who's going to stop us? the biggest issue here has been the syrian based groups. they're local actors or they cast themselves as local actors. eventually the syrian muhabara the intelligence groupings tried to help form up a lot of localized shia militias. the main one that came out of this was liwa al fadda bul ab sechlt. but from there it expanded out. think of it like an octopus with a million different little groupz that were associated with
it. could we write these groups off as subdivisions of the larger lafa network they're a battalion underneath a larger army group? i would say yes. i think they're all networked together. but they have now taken on their own separate names, their own separate identities in some cases. they've taken on their own separate recruitment activities both in iraq and in syria. they don't really hide this. they have their own commanders. a lot of them coming out of that initial network. so this is kind of the nexus that has formed. iran's proxy web. i put khabi and -- holding hands. khabi is a guy who helped find assay al hak as i went through before one of the first special groups i saw in iraq. what's khabi doing now? he's now leading a group
called -- nujaba. it looks crazy. a million different links everywhere. how does this make any sense for a grand regional strategy? get to this. now check this out. but wait. there's more. i tried to track down all the different connections. you wouldn't believe this. ka semi-al tay. a radical cleric where some of his people who with this have gone. liwa abu fadl al abbas. i'm sorry if i'm making the c-span guys angry. all these little groups. even in black over there. meyun. formed by the iranians to rout afghan hazara fighters. they put this in this big corps. what did they do the minute they got to syria? they were not fighting under the
banner of weyon but abbas. they had their subregiments. but all of this this confusing jumble -- i had to put a line through sadr because how else am i going to represent sadrist splinters? after they had already splintered 4,000 different ways, what did we end up having? they did it again. it's just crazy. they did it again. liwa abu fadl al abbas, they formed a group called -- mahdi. it's the force of the hawks of al mahdi. this is their iraq contingent. but a lot of other groups have taken on the liwa abu fadl al-abbas name. and a lot of them have
connections to the original al-abbas. is this a -- they need to get their stuff together. there are a bunch of groups that have done that. even liwa al asaab waleb a group formed in december 2013, at least that's when they are announced announced, they were formed earlier than that, they even started their own iraqi contingent. all of this is going on the spread and the movement and the networking. it continues. if we're getting down to brass tacks on this one. i think a lot of this is just kind of a little game that a lot of people in irgcq like to play because a lot of these people will share members they'll fight in the same fronts they'll say they lost the same member. it's all a big game so that i can sit here suck down my diet mountain dew and just slam my head against the table as i'm looking for yet another militia group. in addition to think wanted to focus on my favorite -- this is
my white whale of militia commanders, a la khiwail. i followed this guy since he had his first facebook page. he ran it himself. he had this great haircut would wear this awesome turban. everything about him was this own personality. but when you're looking at it what was his presence really represent? this is a major thing. initially he came out and it was announced via nujaba this new group that he was a commander in aleppo. the aleppo area. imagine, that's nowhere near sayyida zaynab in damascus they're supposed to be defending. then they had him as a sardist. that was a picture they put up of him after he was killed. with muqtada al sadr in the front. and sewellyou'll see him in an orange shirt in the back. he came back to iraq in pring of 2014. didn't hide this at all. but then he was named as a commander of ashtar. the great thing about this is easter was named he had two
music videos dedicated to him and he appeared in one. i'm not making this one up. but afterward another shift seemed to happen. no one mentioned khattab al ashtar anymore. did just vanish? did it disappear into thin air? i didn't see any mentions in iraqi press, anything on their tv media which i leave on most of the time. but then they showed him with khattab hezbollah and khattab al mela ali. by showing in khattab al me lachlt ali was a new organization formed in iraq by zaide. but mohanda was the one behind that. this would necessitate he had much deeper connections to irgcqf than we probably realized. interestingly enough after being pictured with them he was never named as one of their games. when he was killed he had an official martyrdom poster, an official poster and everything for al mehli and all of a sudden
his name and face spread all over the showa ahe shia militia web. a huge thing i realized when i was doing this research was the recruitment factor online something i really truly believe nobody is paying all that much attention to. they have been posting phone numbers and all sorts of things. this is actually one of the initial ones that was posted. this was taken in najaf where they would put up a popular committee number. they'd hide it in the imagery you're looking at and put this all in there. a little more needs to be done because guess what i've called into these numbers. there's somebody sitting in the audience who's called in with me to these numbers and we've had conversations with these guys. so it's really not that hard. what have me established? by the way, i love this picture of sulemani because it fits into that narrative that we're pushing isis. what have they done? they've secured damascus. they've secured the rule for bashar al assad. hands down. this is not the republican
guard. this is not some magical local syrian militia that did it. no. this was hezbollah. this was the other allied organizations. i don't even describe these as links. they are all part of a unified network. and that's how they're developing this. while we've done this they've taken a ton of geography in syria. they've been able to construct a new golan front. if you think about the pincer moves as i was talking about before, they're helping in -- they're assisting in doing that. their infiltration in the iraqi government and now also within syria is -- i would say in syria it's almost complete. it's not like assad can push back against them. they're the main fighting force. and then on top of that for the iranians building this narrative of strength projection and then protection for shia groups in the middle east, this is huge. when you feel you're under an existential threat, i think any shia -- if i were a shia and an iranian irgc guy came in and said i'm going to give you money, i'm going to give you
guns, the americans are dawdling right now they're not doing enough for you and they never will. they are the great satan i'm pretty sure i would take it if i thought isis was going to destroy me. and they're playing off of that so effectively. so bigger thing. probably the biggest thing. i put this in here. there are other regional consequences to the growth of this group from this shia jihad in syria. i've heard this question. will they magically moderate after isis is defeated? i don't believe so. i don't think so at all. it's kind of like saying did lebanese hezbollah moderate? did they drop their weapons after the israelis pulled out of southern lebanon in 2000? they most certainly did not. they kept their arms. actually, the same thing happened when we pulled out in 2011. asaybal al hak said we're going to drop our arms. never did. but here's the biggest thing. my buddy aala hilayl over there.
does anybody know what group this poster belongs to? suray al mukhtar. a new smaller like young guys who came out of the february 14th youth movement in bahrain have put this up for him. that kind of says something. there's a khattab saidlittle al khatab poster. it has the phone numbers on it. and if you notice the little red blotch behind the fist, what's that a map of? that's a map of bahrain. why would they put that if you're pushing the jihad for syria or iraq? then we have a poster of al nimr who was jailed by the saudis for speaking out against the government. this has become this new cause the cause celebrar for them. the saudis him. khatab said this. if they execute him we'll retaliate against the saudis we will strike them. so now they have a new cause to fight. and it will keep going like that. this is a regional struggle. when i talk about shia jihad in syria, it's not just syria. it's iraq.
it's the gulf. it's going to encompass a lot more. ignoring it will not make it go away. allying with it will certainly not make it go away because i actually would say that they have manipulated this process right down to a tee. they've done a very good job at it. and i don't really see it going away anytime soon, which is -- which is sad. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> can you hear me okay? this good morning. i'm going to take a breath after phillip's briefing trying to digest all that. my name is p.j. dermer retired military officer. started in the infantry and went aviation in both conventional and special forces. and then my last years were blessed with multiple multiple tours in the middle east. so i'm going to take a little
bit of a slower approach, bring it up a little bit higher, and hopefully i'll get out, get through this without a lot of tears because these movements out there are emotional to myself and a lot of us that served on the ground trying to figure out what to do with the information like phil had, would put out in briefings we would go to, and trying to figure out how to put this all together in a practical sense and give a couple of policy recommendations. i think i'd start off by saying mike asked me -- or excuse me dave asked me to kind of give a small synopsis about the papers. i'm in pretty good concurrence with mike. i think what both mike and phillip have outlined today is how complicated even more so -- the region's never not been complicated. but how complicated things are now. we tend to work within borders of nation states. we tend to work in fundamentals of regional actors. we tend to work in fundamentals of the theory that
action-reaction, rational actor thaertd, theory, i punch you you punch me back, or you punch me i storm out. anything without those two spheres like i punch you you puck me back, how come you're not walking out, we get lost in our own theses while trying to do a good thing. and i think what the authors pointed out particularly phil in his driving down in the shia line in black charts-s quite complicated and how do you maneuver in that thing. i will put out to the crowd today that it's not new. what phil has pointed out is not new. we've seen these kind of demarcations delineations in the lebanese civil war. we've seen it in syria before. i was in syria in 1982. i was in hamah in february of 1982 and the syrians asked me when i came out of hamah what was i doing there? i was backpacking through. of course they never believed me. but never mind. but you get to see these delineations and these split groups. there's a lot of personality involved in this. a lot of personal quest for
power. a lot of personal interest. at the end of the day as in depth as this briefing was, who knows why actors do what they do. 2008 when i was in the negotiation cell that was set up by general petraeus, very small group, mike frigen was with me sitting in the back, just wrote a great article with michael which is sighing the iranians are the best thing isis could have. the target tiers and human analysts and guys of the same intellectual brilliance of phil here, and i mean that, would come in and lay out these big charts about lines and this guy talked to this guy and he phone called him three times and they talk and they sneak way on the weekends and this and that. and as the person who was responsible for going face to face for folks we were trying to get to both on the sunni and shia side, a lot of them in, a prison, a lot of them not, we would fly around the middle east, we'd look at the chart and go wow, a lot of names a lot of numbers, who can i talk, to number one. number two is when i'm with them
what do i say? am i meeting them for the heck of it? nice to see you in buka for lunch? flew a long way to cropper? glad to see new bahrain today. what is it you'd like to do? there's an essence behind all this that sooner or later you have to bring it down to a practical level. and i think the point that was raised today is how much more complicated the ground is than i think in fairness to what mike and phil are saying and i agree, than we're fundamentally understanding. or if we understand it, let's say we do, our actions are not belying the fact that we do. i.e. we are currently embarked on a -- train and equip in order to defeat isis campaign i would say. that's the focus of where washington is and the great americans that have been redeployed to iraq. no one can imagine. to build up forces to defeat isis. i think what isis have pointed out and i would agree is first off how did it get this bad?
when i saw isis had taken over mosul in june besides throwing the phone out the window and my computer across the room as a practical operator what tha had fought these guys so hard, i saw the youtubes and the newscasts of the shia marching and forming and marching in units from baghdad all the way down to basra. and what you see is first off they're all in uniforms. haidi al amri and guys come out of the closet and guys like him. they're in uniform. they have modern weapons all of them. not a couple of them like they used to be. two guys in the squad would have weapons and the rest of them would have wooden ones. they all this weapons. and the more sophisticated stuff like the explosive form projs projectiles. i don't know if you've seen those. but they're conical, 12 to 14 inches because they're very, very heavy because they're copper and would kill most of our mates in the fighting through the armored vehicles. they'd penetrate anything. and they're carrying these in formation.
and they're in formation and marching and even the clerics are dressed up. so that didn't happen between the time isis took mow sxooult time the news guys got there. meaning it had been going on for a very long time to include why we're there. not just since we were deployed. that's the basis. and now we get to the isis part and the schisms that are now developing. as phil laid out, it's gone from an isis takeover to a perhaps religious conundrum throughout the middle east. again, unfortunately not new in history. but in our time new enough. and how do you act? that's the tough question. it's nice to get the briefings. it's nice to see the charts. but somewhere in this world of issue where do you plu into the first plausible thing to do? well, right now isis in mosul. or get isis. but the rest of the general crowd out there as michael has so deftly pointed out, it's a tactical thing for them. isis is now a strategic issue.
and i think we need to rise to that level and look at the strategic movements out there. i'm a believer in approaching it from fault lines and fundamentals. there are certain fundamental issues and beliefs in any sphere in the middle east as well that exist. one of them i think is still true. another one of them is very much the iranian divide. the shia-sunni divide. the persian arab history gulf. i mean, that is not a small fundamental. and my proof in this is when we got to iraq and my first trick was building the city council and then i went all over iraq with just iraqis for nine to ten months building the new m.o.d. and the army. so i was the main recruiter. so all these bad characters my bad. all the ones that are left alive don't know where they are and most of them are dead or gone. okay. but to a tee, now you have the meeting room and then you have the side bars where they pull
you aside one on one. to a tee the comment thread was no iranian influence. that malaya an party influence. no party hacks. we want technical guys. we want scientific guys. meaning proper training for the task ahead. okay. it's military but same thing. so to a tee. we didn't find a lot of schisms here. the only guys that gave us a hard time were some of the clerics but they weren't on top of the world like they are now. moreover it crossed boundaries. it crossed boundaries. in 2008 after fighting in basra and baghdad i was a senior military adviser in baghdad, an iraqi division commander came to us and said this is really a great day. and we said yeah. sadr has retired from the battlefield. now, sadr did retire from the battle battlefield. mainly because maliki took the gloves off of us and the iraqis came forward with us. and we did a lot of fighting in
that time, particularly in sadr city, new baghdad or areas. but special groups as phillip pointed out, special groups did not play in that fight. special groups were being guided and strategized from a different place. and i think that's key to understand from a national point i'll get to in a second. what he said in his speech, he said ladies and gentlemen great americans, great iraqi patriots today is the first day in the battle against iran. this division commander was shia. he was not shun ni. he was shia. the sunni would say that anyway. but he said that. this commander, oh by the way, just defected, is now in the states seeking asielum. he was given command in the south, i won't say where. just a few months ago. and one day he got a call from maliki and maliki said i have some visitors coming to your unit, i want you to put them to work embed them in your staff, and they'll help you achieve the stardom. and the division commander -- or
the commander, not division. he was above division. said who are you sending to my staff? they knocked on the door and they were from asaab al hak. and the commander said, hmm you're with prime minister maliki. he said yes. you have orders from the prime minister. where would you like us to go? and the great patriot shia iraqi said not here. i don't have a place for you. and they said well, that's great. we love your opinion but you don't get to decide. this commander got on the phone with maliki and this is a story related by him, and i've had it corroborated once. i don't have complete 100% faith but i talked to him. i put him in power in 2003. got on the phone to maliki and for 45 minutes was arguing back and forth saying look i can put them in the rivereen patrol, i can have them doing food duty but there cannot be in my general staff headquarters and they cannot be on the streets with my shoulders. maliki said thanks for my loyal opinion, take them or else.
two days later i got a call and he was in istanbul. and i got very mad at him because i said what are you doing in istanbul so fast? are you crazy? because he left his family and everything. that's how intensely he took it. and the rest he's trying to work out right now. so he's shia and he didn't think that was the way to go. so i think there is a -- these fundamentals don't fail, i.e. iraqi nationalism. the question is okay if so how do we work in that veld? how do we operate in that environment? i will tell you operating in the religious environment, which is if this fight in iraq and syria and in the gulf and yemen are all happening under the guise of a religious now break-up, which is bigger than what we started with, we're going to have a tough time because we work in fundamental ways here on earth. and in negotiating with bad guys we never had a problem getting one on one with a bad guy getting a dialogue going -- i
mean with a killer. never had a problem getting along with a killer. orange jumpsuit, non-orange jumpsuit. sooner or later you could find a ground where you could work out something. even with the sadr group. even with the sadr group i had some neat things happen. but the minute we were approached with the opening line bisala rukahim, da da da okay, if it went more into religious dialogue after that to include saying we are prepared to die for our god today we had two ways to respond. we're prepared to help you. okay? [ laughter ] we are. very much so. to include when we walk out of this building. or i can't go there. i'm not at that level, with all due respect, we're going to have to bow out of this part of the negotiation because i don't speak for my god and the guy next to me's god is different than mine. this could get rather complicated. now, if you're willing to come down a level or whatever level you want to call it you know, come up a level, i'm not going to speak to you let us begin.
but at the point of dealing at that level. i don't know where you go. we had a chaplain in one of the units in baghdad, great guy, 6'6", was really into the reconciliation councils. he'd have the whiteboard in the meetings and all this. i offered that he should take lead of this. you and your gang should be leading, not us pieons on earth. this is not our bailiwick. it never came to the fore. so number one the complications are vast. two i understand the fundamentals. three, i agree with michael here, very much so, get in the big game. the game of isis is bad news. those guys gals, whatever they're made up of, are really projecting themselves in a way we all agree is pretty macabrear.e ar. again, not new unfortunately. but that's not our game. the united states military if unleashed and allowed to play in
the sandbox can do a lot of damage. but you've got to understand that is not just a formation of guys in black with weapons. isis is not -- i would argue not a formidable -- i mean it's formidable but it's not this very structured thing that if we push it out of mosul or push it out of x spot up in kurdistan it's going to go somewhere and then it will be there for our beckoning with our air power. no. no. understand what it is. phillip has done a very good job of helping explain that. but pushing isis out of mosul it's not a bumper sticker. it's not a bumper sticker. we have to be in the greater game. and i think the greater game is outlined by dave and by mike as of course the iranian influence. and some people are asking me i don't know what that means. what do you mean the iranians -- well they get first cut. that's what it means. they're the first ones in the morning, last one out at night. they get six hours a day. we get 45 minutes with a body in between whatever. no. no. sulemani can have 45 minutes. we'll take the six hours. and you know what?
abadi, you can put your office inside the embassy if we so decide. but we're not in that game. and i've seen this time and time and time again. i've done the deployments to libya with the d.o.d. before christmas. other deployments in the middle east where we show up hi, you're here, what do you want to, do and we're meeting and it's really when are you going to play? are you guys going to play? why do you keep getting on a plane and leave? the brits are here. the french are here. the qataris are here. where are you guys? yeah, okay well, hold that thought. we'll be back in a knew months and the next meeting. okay? and you have to really be in the game. i also would argue that this is not a -- this is not a conflict than far away from. if you really want to play in this game we have to adjust the balance between the force protection concepts we've fallen under and the ability to meet face to face. you have to ask the question where did the shia militia get all this armament and uniforms
from under our noses? well what happened since 2011 or pick a date before isis, i don't care. in terms of the diplomatic means. all right? the guys that are living out there day in and out guys, gals, and elocuting with their partners. if cosmo sulemani gets six hours a day we have an uphill fight to get the influence we should have i go be back but there's a conundrum. contradiction. you won't meet anybody armed or not armed shia or sunni that doesn't look like you as an american and represent either a uniform or civilian and won't tell you to do something. and what they're tell you is be the power. you're the power. be the power. stop playing around. if you're not the power, then evidently you don't have a real big problem about what's going on out here. for reasons we don't understand but it's your business. so whenever you're ready to quit
playing possum come on out. but in the meantime i've got to talk to sulemani and hizba hizba, because they're here. and the hierarchy of needs guess where it lies. so understand the fundamentals, be in the game, understand the complexities. and last i would just add i would agree would mike and also with phil that concentrating on the fringes which it looks like now we get the views of the air campaign, the number of sorties the number of kurdish movements, even kobani as deadly as that was, is not where it lies. this fight, this struggle lies in the capitals. okay? it lies in the capitals of power. our pressure, our priority as much as we're enjoying the freedom of the skies in iraq right now and i don't know what we'll do in syria lies in baghdad and damascus and riyadh. all right?
and i've never been out in a place at a level that never always wanted to go higher. the first question is who are you and who you represent. there's no way when we're even negotiating as negotiators for general petraeus and ambassador crocker, the two, three, four that are out that's the first thing we had to establish is are you speaking for your grand self, mr. colonel or have you been formally sent here in a position of x? because that's really where it lies. the playground that phillip has so rightly outlined, these guys are being manipulated from a to b. as he noted. one down they're asaab al this and the next day they're hizba that. their reasons for doing things at the end of the day are not that complicated i'd argue. maslow, whatever. but up top is where we need to be. and the one or two people i was never happy to go in with in a close the room and always, always on my game if i had a game, was the guys that were
doing the thinking. the guys that were doing the information operations, the guys who were the mouthpieces, the guys who were the whisperers in the ear of sad sxr khr and khazali and x. these were the good-looking guys who had the nicest clothing and very intellectually astute, very well studied in whatever they came from. not my world but their world. never mind. and they could spin you if you weren't careful or turn this or turn that. i'd want to join by the time i left the room if i wasn't careful. it wasn't going to happen. but sometimes i'd feel like, maybe -- i don't know. the point is that intellect is out there as manipulateive as it can be as phil pointed out and you have to be able to know how to deal. first of all, you've got to take an hour worth of lecture against the great satan. got it. yeah. i know. we are the worst. we are the worst. but i know one worse than us. over there in khomeini land. at least we leave good intentions, a school a hospital, whatever. at least we intend to.
what they're going to leave i don't know. but you will do what they tell you. and no matter what they tell you for the rest of your life. so this is not easy. but these precepts have to be joined in to do. so i think to sum up i would argue that mike has done a great job and phil has done something that i -- you know very few can pull together. and all with open source information, which is extremely important to understand, especially in today of the communicative world. i would be in baghdad inside the command center of baghdad watching or advising the senior. his name is general abboud. abboud is one of the villains of mosul this summer. abboud and the ground forces commander commander. general abboud was a great guy. he was actually a nice man. he was a decent man. he really was. he just wasn't your classic wartime commander. he hated the fact that he had to fight iraqis. which oh by the way, was another theme throughout the armed forces.
nobody in uniform in iraq, unless they had malintent, wanted to fight anyone in the population of iraq. this is what happened in the turnaround in fallujah in 2003, and this was the reticence of them -- of the iraqi forces to fight in basra in 2008 and in baghdad. they only went. the forces only really moved forward when we came on the battlefield and went first, and we lost a lot of guys because of it. that's when they came forth. none of them wanted to tackle the civilian component. and this is another added dilemma i would add to mike's program. once, if isis is defeated, we're coming back around for a whole other kind of fight. because the iraqi forces no matter what develops they're true iraqi if they are nationalists in theme won't want to do it. again. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. michael, phillip these are great presentations. by the way these studies can be
found downloaded in pdf on the washington institute website. that's www.washingtoninstitute.org. i know we're going to go about ten minutes' worth of questions. but let me just ask first, mike, in terms of specifics how many soldiers right now isf are currently being trained up? what's the order of battle that iraq is going to be able to bring against isis? when are they going to be able to bring it? and is it going to be an integrated force? that's for you. phillip, hezbollah perhaps the largest of all the shiite militias operating now in syria how does it coordinate with the other militias, and what are your estimates of there are losses to date? and let's make that as really short answers and then we'll get to the group. >> i think the raw numbers of iraqi security force and peshmerga and ash al shabi to be honest all those figures are
in the report. snapshot view in early 2015 was around 48,000 active combat strength for iraqi army. a significantly higher number for m.o.i. but you know again not -- nowhere near what they were back in the peak of the isf capability in 2009 or even before isis and 2014, the big takeover. how many active forces did they have that are capable of moving and undertaking operations? that's the key metric we're looking for. and if it's with the iraqi army right now, it's a remarkably small number. it's probably elements of one armored division and the special forces. it's well under 10,000 guys. that means that currently the pmus, the hashdal shabi they're probably able to throw more offensive mobile troops than the
iraqi army can right now. and possibly even the iraqi army and the ministry of interior combined. the peshmerga i would say probably have as much active mobile capability as the entire iraqi army, ministry of interior, and maybe even hashd al shabi put together in terms of people they can actually move to a battlefield. >> thank you. phillip? >> in terms of -- sorry. >> you're good. >> okay. in terms of hezbollah serving as advisers and also working with the syrian army, initially they came in in that advisory kind of role but now it's taken on far more of a command style role. and it actually, if you juxtapose it with iraq with assaya baalal al h kachlt taking leadership roles with some iraqi units and this didn't please a lost guys in the iraqi army, it also didn't please some people in the syrian army, there were actually a few firefights that actually occurred between some
of these iraqi shia militia men who were with hezbollah and also with some of the local militias, but they're essentially running the show now. they are running the show. in terms of command structure and everything else. i'm not saying there's no syrian army left but these guys now have the strategic know-how in terms of numbers that are lost. officially hezbollah says in the high couple hundreds. i would say it probably goes much higher than that. probably into the thousand range. probably more. because they've hidden a number of their casualties or they've hidden them as casualties from syria. so it's very, very hard to get a true gauge of that. >> thank you. i'm going to call on some folks in the crowd and maybe identify yourself. wait till a microphone comes and -- up front. lisa. barbara. >> hi. thanks. barbara slavin from the atlantic council. as claude rayns would say, i'm
shocked gambling is going on. when the u.s. overthrew saddam something like 50,000 members of the badr brigade came in i'm told and benefited as the u.s. advanced to baghdad, they came in right behind. so you know, hello, iran is next door and had fought a war with iraq and had groomed all of these people and now it's reaping the benefits of the u.s. decision to get rid of saddam hussein. we'll leave that aside for now. the question is this. i'm hearing from some iranians that iraqi shia don't really want to fight to take back the sunni areas, what they want to do is control baghdad south. similarly in syria where we have a partition of the country in effect. how would all of you react to the notion that what we're watching is simply the partition of these two countries and that the u.s. would like to keep them unified, particularly in the case of iraq, but the people who live there actually don't really
care and iran doesn't really care as long as it has its corridor to lebanon, it's got its spheres of influence, particularly in iraq in the areas where most of the oil is? thanks. >> mike, p.j. you do you want to take that? >> well first the answer is partition sounds great until you address the map. and then you have to put the layers on it of identity, geography. it ssht that easy in iraq. can you see they are spreading out seems of shia and turkey communities that stretch into kirkuk and they are still well behind isis lines still at this point. so no partition of the country -- and there is no limit to the pmu -- they will have to go north to eliminate all shia areas so i don't think it is neat and tidy for sure.
and if they are trying to maintain a line of supply out to syria, well that is running through the anbar province and alien areas. >> right. and i'll pick up on the point. i think there is no reason to -- if you have the bass raw the major income for the country, we like to say those of us out there doing business bass raw doesn't need baghdad, baghdad needs bass raw. and then you have the capital, yeah, why push your luck and get in the food fights up there in indian land for what? you are not losing anything. >> and there is the idea that fights within themselves occur and i think phillips smyth
showed that and that supports that as well and we have to assume that and if the shia win and where they bump into the kurds and they will settle and then the sunni areas are left, the smartest thing they can do is sit because the dynamics of the history of the region shows they will turn on themselves one way or the other. all of the lines that philip showed will have to go somewhere and it starts internally first. >> ambassador feely. >> thank you very much. i have an observation and a question, if you don't mind. an orves, if i look -- an observation if i look at it from a strategic point of view, all of that isis lost, i think it is a tragedy, but we need to look at isis's rule and the venom of isis and no rules of engagement and the viciousness it is creating on its own its
violence and in relation to the shia entities you can have similar entities and so unfortunately that is dangerous. but i think the key question here is in the midst of that, who are your partners and who can you work with? that is where the government of iraq has declared it as democratic and others as well they are the only -- at this moment, within all of that the safer option to work with. and to do that, there has to be a clear commitment from the united states. i would say that one key issue is don't repeat the last ten years' mistakes and learn from that. that is what any engagement has to take into account in having a better culture awareness and then the whole nuances and that is on the macro level. or at the more holistic point of view i think you are absolutely right when you say the capitals
have to have a dialogue and that can't just be a shiite sunni problem and it can't be about divided iraq or not. because that creates a ripple effect where the u.s. has a model but i think it has to be a serious dialogue. the nuclear issue is one element. a serious dialogue between the regional players. united states can significantly influence that dialogue and create an environment for a serious chat. otherwise i think we are doomed. >> can i just take one part of that. i agree. look, i agree on a number of things you just said. but with all due respect in respect with the growth of isis. this is a two-way street. in an bar, what would they do? kill tribal and awakening leaders, but who is also killing the leaders in they are going
out there and putting power drills through their heads and dumping their bodies. this leads to a radicalization process. i'll say this on a personal level because i focus on the shia entities, i don't think it has gotten that much attention. there are a few new york times articles on it. but this is more circular than the utter brutality that is isis. it is a far larger picture and if we address it holistically, as you said, we would have much better results. >> p.j. do you want to say smig about the u.s. -- say something about the u.s. commitment? >> i think he said it well enough. don't repeat the same thing as ten years ago. and i would agree because i was part of those very mistakes. i second-guessed many things i did personally and we did -- a lot of people that served in iraq said we could have done more and i like to argue that i'm glad we didn't in some ways.
just being honest. and two, not only the u.s. commitment but the u.s. leadership. either we're leading this thing or not. you can't have it both ways as to who we are and that is what we hear when we travel. there is an incredible befuddlement in the region at large as to not only will we not take charge but the minute we leave the room and we hear somebody doing something and we call them up and say don't do that. that didn't come out in the office call, i know but we don't want you to do that. it is a incredible conundrum that we act. i don't know how people react. >> [ inaudible ]. >> exactly. >> we have a number of additional questions but i don't want to go over it today. so if you have those, please come up. until then thank you very much for coming. i think this was a great -- a great panel and i think everyone will benefit from looking at these publications so thank you once again for coming. thank you. [ applause ]
the cspan cities tour takes book tv and american history tv on the road traveling to u.s. cities to learn about their history and literary life. this weekend we've partnered with time warner cable for a visit to greensboro, north carolina. >> and after months and months of cleaning the house charles hall burn who had been given that task was making one more walk-through and in the attic he looked over and saw an envelope with a green seal on it and walked over and noticed the date was an 1832 document. he removed a single nail from a panel in an upstairs attic room and discovered a trunk and books and portraits stuffed up under the eaves and this was a treasure of dolly madison's
things. we've had this story available to the public, displaying different items from time to time, but trying to include her life story from her birth in gillford count to her death in 1849. some of the items we currently have on display, a carved ivory calling card case that has a card enclosed with her signature and that of her nissana. some small cut glass perfume bottles and a pair of silk slippers that have tiny little ribbons that tie across the arch of her foot. and the two dresses are the reproductions of a silk -- a peach silk gown she wore earliest in life and a red velvet gown which has is intrigued that it lasted and part of the collection and also a legend that is now -- that
accompanied this dress. >> watch our events from greensboro saturday at noon on cspan's book tv and on sunday at 2:00 on american history tv on cspan3. with live coverage of the u.s. house on cspan and the senate on cspan 2. here on cspan3 we complement the coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearing and public affairs events and on the weekend it home so tv that show our history. the civilar history and visiting battlefields, american artifacts and touring museums and sites. history bookshelf with the best known american history writers and the presidency looking at the nations of our commanders and chief and top college
professors delving into america's past and our new series, real america featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930s through the 70s. cspan3 created by cable and funded by your local cable provider. watch it on cspan3 and join us on facebook and twitter. >> tonight we look at dw griffith's 1915 film "the birth of a nation." coming up an interview of dick lehr, how a legendary filmmaker and crusading editor reignited american's civil war. in an hour we'll air the film in the entirety. after the conclusion of the 3 hour and 12 minute feel we'll re-air our call-in segment with harry jones the curator of the civil war memorial in