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tv   Iran- Middle East Relations  CSPAN  January 30, 2017 2:31pm-3:41pm EST

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grandchild about two years ago was born. and my wife and i had the conversation what's next in life. and we were unfortunately convinced that we weren't leaving the country better than we found it. my grandson was not going to have the same opportunities that i had growing up, a free market, a chance that no matter where you're born, what -- where you're from, that you can make it in america. we just thought that we were drowning in regulations from the government and taxation policy and frankly our military was not as strong as i was comfortable with. national security was becoming an issue in kansas. we're in the middle in the country and house wives in kansas told me they were fearful for national security. and in this conversation, my wife looked to me and said -- you like to fix things. it's time for you to go to washington. so here we are. >> and you had what you called a surprise victory in the primary battle against former congressman tim. why did you find it surprising?
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>> when ever you're taking a person who controls the system, controls the party and all those angles, he had been a professional politician for 12 or 14 years in the state house, so a rookie, a novice in politics and frankly he had -- >> hello. hello, everybody. can you hear me? all right,sir. well, thank you for staying on after the senator left. we're very impressed by the fact that you have such ability to sustain yourselves. this is going to be a very gentle diplomatic panel. all of us have been career dip mats and don't expect any fire coming out of any of our mouths. but lots of good analysis and maybe even some thinking about policy. but i am most impressed by the
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fact that these three colleagues agreed to join today. i presume most of you know, this gentlemen who has been a friend of mine for many years and who was ambassador to many places. i think he was only one ambassador more places than tom pickerington. >> no. >> nobody has been. >> and he is about a sensible person as you can get. and not the least reason for that is the fact that he's from that region and he has a sense of the culture, the history, the -- and the current politics because of his time there. and i think i would like to start and i'll introduce the others when we go to them. you didn't hear what was just said by chris murphy. he gave his view basically focussed on the iran question
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talking a good deal about the immigration issue. and the executive order of the president. but i would like us to move beyond the particular nuclear agreement to talk about how the nuclear agreement has affected every relationship and how those relationships are evolving. and maybe you could talk a little bit about the northern group of countries, the syria, iraq, afghanistan, iran network and how you see that playing out now in this post jcpoa era and what you think the president should do about it. >> well, first of all -- are you done? >> yeah. >> thank you very much. it's an honor to be here. slight corrective. i didn't have the honor of being
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part of the professional foreign service, but nevertheless, great honor to be with distinguished colleagues with whom i have worked over many years. with regard to the impact of the nuclear agreement on regional relations, i don't know whether the nuclear agreement had any direct effect on regional policies or relations between the states of the region, several more to the south who are openly against the agreements, suspicious of the agreements, suspicious of u.s. engagement with iran. but as far as the northern tier countries are concerned, afghanistan, iraq, and syria the three countries you mentioned, they were all supportive of the
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agreement. that's sort of one big difference because even in my time as ambassador to two of those three countries, afghanistan and iraq, both countries were pushing very hard for good relations or normal relations or better relations than existed between the united states and iran. president karzai in afghanistan always tried to offer himself as an intermediary. he had good relations. and when i went over to iraq, the iraqi shia in particular thought they were friends of iran and friends of the united states and they didn't want to be torn a thunder, so to speak, between these two countries that they wanted a good relation with both. different degrees, some more so
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than others among the political parties, but so therefore i think these three countries, the leadership of these three countri countries, the dominant, political forces in these countries, not that there were other forces operating, favored and endorsed publicly the nuclear agreement. but as far as whether iran changed policies towards these three countries in the aftermath of the nuclear agreement or whether because of the negotiations between us and iran and the agreement whatever you think of the agreement on the nuclear agreement, some believe that that would have a positive effect on the regional relations. and i don't think a case can be made -- at least i can't make it -- that the agreement had
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that effect. iran continued essentially the policies that it had for and during the negotiations, which was in the case of syria, support the regime. in the case of iraq, support the government. dominated by forces that were quite friendly and sympathetic to iran. and in afghanistan, they supported, like we did, the unity government and also maintained good relations with those that were closer and longer term relationship with iran elements of the northern alliance which during the taliban period they sustained and we took over after the 9/11 attack with iran help i must say at that time. now some changes in the region have affected iranian policy.
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one that the shia sunni divide has gotten worse over time and places like afghanistan, where they stayed out of the divide, saudi/iranian divide are fearful and some believe it's beginning to negatively affect them. they see more violation against shia communities although it has been there not to the extent that you see it in some other countries of the region, but they have been worried about that. in the case of of course iraq, there is no real change. i think the rise of isis has had an impact in the sense that iran has used that -- the war against
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isis to further increase and perhaps institutionalize its increased role, particularly in afghanistan and iraq. syria, of course, as i said, they were pro supportive of the regime. and the threat from isis is taken very seriously by iran. the problems of deala, for example, in iraq and because the isis was getting close to the iranian border, they pushed -- now iranian influence in that province is extremely high. it may be that they have some direct presence some distance into deala province of iraq. they have used the threat of isis, which was a real threat, to build support militias as an
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alternative. two state security institutions much more directly linked to iran where we were much more influential state security forces. and now a law has been passed. there are different interpretation of that law, that constituti institutionalizes the role and some would worry this would be another hezbollah state within a state but linked more directly to the iranian regime. and in afghanistan, the rise of isis there, which is not as significant at this point as isis has been in syria and in iraq, this has produced some adjustment in iranian policy that has been serving to the government where they are reaching out to the taliban and there have been contact. in fact, the leader of the
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taliban that we killed in the pakistani allegedly was on his way back from iran when he was killed. like russia and maybe some others who see the isis threat as the most serious threat, iran has adjusted to use maybe ties with the taliban or elements of the taliban because the taliban is really an umbrella organization with various elements in it. to fight and contain isis. so the agenda has adjusted. i would say that in the case of syria and iraq, iranian role is more significant than in the case of afghanistan. and the settlement ultimately of these two countries would require iranian acquiescence if
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not direct support and that settlement -- we can talk about the details of what the situation on the ground, in order for it to work, it has to be more broadly accepted in the region and obviously now by russia and perhaps ourselves and some others. and i think that a few points and i'll end with that -- i have take an lot of time already, one is that the same principles have to apply to both countries in terms of political settlement in the sense of civil wars of these two countries are interlinked now. because it has become in part sectarian and part ethnic and because smaller identities such as ethnicity, sectarian, identity have become very politicized, how do you accommodate this in a context where that is also regional polarization. so if a majority community is
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principle could be as dominant power and in the case of iraq, the constitution give power to the prime minister through parliament, it's a parliamentary system and the shia voted for their identity during the early period, i hope is that over time they will become issue oriented. but in the initial phase it was identity politics. the prime minister has been a shia since the overthrow sa dam and that's the most powerful position as the commander and chief of the army and what have you. but then how do you accommodate the other communities, where identities also polite sized issue orientation is there but not as strong as identity politics to have federalism or federal arrangements andt the courts pushed for that. in the case of iraq got it and
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in the case of sunnis they were initially opposed and now there's a lot of support and the sunni arab community which felt the country belonged to them and they were in favor of a very strong center, they thought they would dominate or dominate again, they were initially very much against federalism, but now that has changed and i think for the turks and for saudis and others to accept a settlement in syr syria, it must reflect a similar proposition where the sunnis are the majority and i think the challenge for diplomats, russian, american, whomever wants to play a positive role is how do you arrange that where you could have given the power balance in which the sunnis are not in a strong position that is in part the trick. you can have an arrangement where you have a weak presidency
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perhaps potentially. a stronger parliamentary prime minister, autonomy for the various communities who are fearful of each other at this point because of that sta ja in part, revenge in part, that you can have an arrangement with international support where alawites can run their own affairs, as maybe some of the sunnis and kurds similarly and i think there are lessons to be learned from the iraqi experience. that does not mean as the case of iraq, demonstrates that this is going to be easy, quick and you will get a peaceful outcome right away. no, these processes take many generations to work themselves out. the sense of time is different. the hold of history is much stronger. nostalgia is powerful. revenge is very powerful. local interferences of regional players are there. they have their own agendas, not
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the same necessarily of the local players. but i think that seems like a sensible kind of objective for us to also embrace for the new administration and maybe we can get working with others we can make progress but iran's role will be significant in both cases and cannot be ignored. >> good. i want you to know when he was at the u.n., we were giving a going away party for the then ambassador to the u.n. and he was leaving and zal was then the u.s. ambassador. we were having henry kissinger for the going away event. and i was walking out to the street and i said to zal, i saw him and i said, would you come to dinner with henry and with the gentlemen we knew during the
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early years and he came representing the bush administration. nobody ever said anything until now that it actually happened. >> thank you for that. thank you for coming. >> thank you. >> we have not known each other before. she's head of the arab gulf institute. and i know your career and by the way you were an honorary. >> very much so. it was a great honor. >> yes, yes. >> and i know you know that region very well and here we are, the answer to the question, what effect did this agreement have which is the theme around the symposium is organized, seems to me that it did intensify the concern in the gulf states about what the relationship would be with iran
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and it coincided with a slipping of the relationship. but in any case because of oil and so many other things. but how are you evaluating where we are with the gulf states where the united states might position its policies and the degree to which the gulf states might play a constructive role in the syria/iraq set of issues. >> well, thank you very much for the invitation, first of all. and thanks to barbara and atlantic council for allowing me to join this distinguished panel. zalah and i, i was in abu dhabi and he was in cairo. i'm in great company here. gulf states institute all we think about is the impact of all the regional conflicts on the countries of the gcc. so as you can imagine, obviously
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iran is very much central to that conversation. and anything we do, whether we're looking at syria or iraq or the sectarian issues or the saudi/iranian political confrontation and competition in the region, which has been going on for a very long time. so, the impact on the agreement obviously the -- most of our gulf states and all of you know they don't always hold to the same line. there are many differences in how they perceive their role in the region. amman, for example, has a very different perspective on iran than the other gcc countries. but for the most part, obviously during the interim agreement and the final negotiations they pushed back on the agreement because they felt it was extremely narrow, just looking at the nuclear portion and ignored the parts of the region that they felt very serious and very concerned about. obviously the role that iran plays in the region.
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i think now with the agreement well behind us, i have not heard any person in the position of influence or authority in any of the gcc countries who would be advocating for abrogation of the treaty, of the agreement, excuse me. i think all of them would see that as a huge mistake and it would -- in their view, certainly strengthen the hardliners in iran and not the people that we hope will be more influential in years to come. that said, i think the agreement for the region in many ways has empowered iran further. i don't think any of us would disagree with that when we see iran's growing role in syria, its relationship with russia and working together hand in hand with hezbollah. certainly the message to the region is that you can't solve syria without us. you can't solve iraq without us. and now yemen, you can't solve without us.
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so, the impact of the agreement of the arab golf states delayed iran as a nuclear power but in every other way took it out of the box and it's become a much more influential, much more of a player that they have to contend with. so, in terms of where we are today, i think the situation in syria and probably the incoming of the trump administration are probably playing a constructive role in that the region is waking up for different reasons and thinking about why they have to talk. i think from the arab side and the saudi side in particular the fall of aleppo is huge. i think it's a wakeup call. you're not going to solve syria without talking to iran. on the other hand, i think the iranians are concerned -- >> am i understanding what you said the saudis are now
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understanding after the fall of aleppo they can't move forward without talking to iran? >> i think they see the importance of at least responding to many of the comments out of iran about reaching out and so on, the fact that the kuwaitty foreign minister went with a gcc letter to iran. i think both sides have reasons to move a more conciliatory attitude. on the iranian side, i think they feel they're very concerned about the trump administration. i think they heard mathis very clearly, yes, we're not sure how much influence mathis will have but certainly he said a lot of things that the arabs want to hear about iran's role in the region being extremely troubling and a greater threat than anything else in the region. so, i think iran has reasons to think in a more conciliatory way and so do the arabs. so, we've seen a few other signs
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that can point to very quickly. one, the opec oil production agreement was -- >> interesting. >> a small sign. the fact that morocco has reestablished full diplomatic relations with iran. certainly i don't think the moroccoens would have done that with the a green light. that's another sign that things are softening a little bit. i think honestly the -- really this first year of the trump administration will give us more signs as to whether there's hope for a more, at least a talking relationship rather than the one we're seeing in the region right now where it's the worst it's ever been in my view, in terms of -- >> how would you think that saudis -- what kind of role do you see them playing for themselves, particularly in syria? what might be their role? >> well, i mean, the saudis and
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qatar less sew than kuwait, the saudis and qatars have been so insistent on the removal of bashar al assad, given the russian involvement in syria and close coordination of iran and the fall of aleppo, that seems to be farther away. that's not going to happen and i think that's obvious to the saudis. it may be something they want to see as a potential plil political agreement that would eventually lead to a change of bashar al assad, but for now i think the saudis are realizing that their primary goal in syria is not going to be realized right away, and that's why i think the events in syria are a bit of a motivation, if you will. to be more conciliatory towards iran. >> i hope after you get through with your regional visitations we will talk a little bit about
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this russian plan that has just been announced. >> yeah. >> which involves a new constitution drafted by the russians and the iranians and the turks with a footnote on the kurds. dan is probably the most even handed, knowledgeable and professional policy person on israel, israel palestine, egypt and that network, which is really different than what we've been talking about. and he was ambassador to both israel and egypt. teaches at princeton. writes books about these things. so give us a short version of what your new book will be. >> a short version of netanyahu. let's see. i join everyone in thanking and congratulating you, bill and the iran project and you, barbara
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and the council for extraordinary work that you did to help make this happen. so, really hats off to you. >> you were part of it. you were in the middle. >> a little bit. one comment on something marcele just said. i hope she's right that the saudi attitude towards dealing with iran on this issue is softening. i'm not sure. i spent the last three and a half years cherrying the u.s. side with a track two with russia on syria when we had much more agreement between the united states and russia than we could get on the idea of bringing iran and saudi arabia into that dialogue. so if there is some softening, if we're seeing some signs, that would be most welcomed. >> i'm hoping. >> look, i don't have to remind everyone here that probably the
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most implaquable foe of the jcpoa was the israeli government and specifically benjamin netanyahu and his opposition remains as firm today as it was before the accord came into being. it's also important to note, though, if you strip away the israeli tactics that some of us found a bit unusual going behind the president's back to congress and so forth, and if you strip away some of the language that was used, in our par lens we would say was just plain nasty, the fact of the matter is that israel has unique security concerns and all of them have an iranian component in them. in the big picture, it's the idea that iran might, in fact,
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make a political decision to acquire nuclear weapons capability. might actually develop a ballistic missile capability that is precise. and you have had, not in the current government, but you have had in previous iranian governments people who are willing to speak openly about wiping the state of israel off the map. which in the particular context of israel evokes not just the thought but a historical reality that was faced by the jewish people 70 years ago. that's in the large picture. as you look around at israel's other security concerns, the iranians pop up almost everywhere. and i'm thinking most particular ly in syria. the iranian role not just propping up bashar al assad, but in sending iranian forces, irgc
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and others to fight and to die and to displace sunni syrians in order to create a kind of iranian buffer around damascus. you have an iranian role in keeping hezbollah well armed and perhaps the israelis would fear in helping hezbollah create a second front. so as you look at this regional context, security context, iran is not a single problem. it is a multiple, complex problem that israeli decision makers face. and in some ways, it does account for the very often hyperbolic way in which israel talks about iran and the
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concerns, at least the israeli government expresses. that said, as we saw during the jcpoa negotiations themselves and we've seen now even more publicly there has been and remains a split between what i call the political decision makers in israel and a large part of the security establishment. it was mentioned little bit earlier in the first panel. i don't want to make it a bindery, because obviously there's large parts of security establishment whose job it is to protect the state of israel who are very worried about iran. but there's also a large part of that establishment including former officials who make the argument that we may not have wanted the way the jcpoa came out, we would have wanted a tougher agreement or whatever, but it's not bad. and as we heard in the earlier panel, it's kind of working with
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all of its weaknesses and problems. secondly, these folks argue, the way to get the united states to pay more attention to iranian behavior that's not included in the agreement, which is everything else support for terrorism, what it's doing in destabilizing or undermining other governments and so forth, human rights is not to fight the united states government, as happened in the obama administration, but to try to work with the united states government. now, we're going to have a way of testing this proposition in a few weeks because the prime minister of israel is going to be an early visitor to washington. we don't know much of what has happened in the phone calls that have taken place, but the prospect is, i would think fairly high, the prime minister will come in with a very ambitious agenda both on iran
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but also on issues closer to home, which are not part of today's agenda, but just to mention them this whole complex of issues of whether the united states will move its embassy to jerusalem or recognize something in jerusalem as the capital in israel. our attitudes towards israeli settlements. last week israel made some announcements and the white house spokesman was quiet, didn't condemn or comment on it, or even the question of potentially israel's annexing parts of west bank, unlikely that they would seek to annex all of the west bank, but there's been talk of annexing some of the big blocks or to start with some areas and areas c and we're going to be faced in the next few days with the fourth issue in this other complex which is had the united states reacts to what looks like israeli legislation that would retroactively legalize
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settlement outposts that are not only illegal under international law but are illegal up until now under israeli law and they're about to be magically -- the dust will be thrown on them and they'll become legal. so netanyahu will have that on his mind. already the israeli government on these issues seems to be dipping its toe on the water. it's quote unquote gotten away with the announcement of more settlement activity. no reaction that i saw today on -- netten ja hue's announcement that he'll move forward with the retroactive legalization bill. it seems they can take these baby steps towards what they really would like is american support for increasing control over the west bank, legal control. there's the second big issue which is iran. and i don't think, frankly, that netanyahu is going to walk into washington and as for abrogation of the accord, but rather to do
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the kinds of things that the israelis have talked about, even those that have not particularly liked the accord, as well as those who have, they've talked about now for a few years during repeated visits i made -- number one, what is it that the united states will do when there's a major breech of the agreement? israel wants to know and would like to have some kind of an assurance that the united states will react not with just with words but also with actions if there is a major breech of the agreement, which is clear uncontestable in terms of the p5 plus 1 but is not remedied by the iranian authorities. number two, the israelis will -- netanyahu will expect some reit
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ration of the idea that the military force has not been taken off the table. number one and number two are connected, but they're separable. you'll recall that netanyahu had trouble within his own government of gaining military action. clearly had trouble gaining support from the united states. he wants to know whether trump is ready to say the words. and the impact that that will have on the ears of the iranians listening to it. number three, there are tangible issues that netanyahu will hope to get. for example, the obama administration negotiated a $38 billion, ten-year aid program, which some republicans even during the obama administration argued was insufficient and which had provisions in it that took away some of the benefits that israel had enjoyed over the
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years, such as about 26% or 25% of our aid being able to be used in israel to bolster its defense industries. so netanyahu i would be pretty sure is going to talk about reopening or opening that ten-year accord and finding ways to improve it from o israel's perspective so that not only would, for example, the defense aid come back in -- the aid for israeli defense ministries come back in, but there would be assurances that additional support for missile defense, israeli missile defense would be additive to whatever number is agreed upon over ten years rather than incorporated in the 38 billion, which is the way it's defined today. so the israeli attitude is going to be in a way transactional
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rather than ideological or political. yes, netanyahu will say all the things that he said about how horrible iran is and how horrible the agreement is, but behind closed doors he'll try to make a deal, i believe, with the president and come out probably pretty well satisfied. if i can offer one comment on egypt -- >> we were hoping. >> yeah. you know, the egyptian attitude towards this has always been much more challenging to understand. the egyptians have had a very long standing distaste, even hatred of the iranians for reasons that have to do number one in terms of regional competition but also you talk to egyptians, they remember iran's position towards annexation of the president back in 1981. i heard consistently 20 years
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later serving in cairo, we will never truly be friends with the iranians while a main street in teheran is named after the assassin of president saddam. symbolic, perhaps that it really cuts deeply into this psychological being of many egyptians, including at the top education l echelons. number two, the egyptians have been staunch defenders of the nonproliferation treaty and in this respect their target has always been israel as a nonmember of the nonproliferation treaty and as a undeclared nuclear power. so the iranian nuclear issue always seemed to the egyptians to be almost of secondary importance. iran's far away. egypt was not really going to be a target of iranian aggression. but the egyptians were always
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over the past few years trying to get the world also to focus on the israeli program as they've done in each review conference since the treaty was established. so that accounts in part for the fact that egypt has basically been sigh r silent over the agreement, letting the saudis and the gulf states take the lead. hoping to get some tangible benefits in terms of increased security assistance. and i think this would also account for the fact that the president has been an early, at least public supporter of president trump. again, a transactional view on the part of the country that doesn't have an ideological opposition to the iranian nuclear program even though it has an ideological view about iran per se. >> great. let me ask one lit questitle qu of you two. there's been sort of a subliminal alliance that has evolved between iran and saudi
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arabia. >> iran and saudi arabia? >> israel. >> israel and saudi arabia against iran because of iran. and is that a reality? are they functioning that way? >> well, look, below the surface it's even better than subliminal. it's happening. there's a lot of cooperation under way between israel and most of the arab world that used to be off limits. >> how big a factor is iran operation, mutual rale operation to iran? >> i think that's huge. >> sure. >> i was in saudi arabia a few weeks ago and all the leaders -- especially the deputy crown prince was saying with the military people in the room that they don't regard israel as a threat and they have no plans in that regard. and the planning doesn't focus on israel and it is largely
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because of iran and the threat that iran poses. one effect of perhaps the negligent some would say or bit of disengagement of lack of adequate support of allies by the obama administration is that it has affected the regionals maybe coming together more like israel and some of the arab states who shared similar threat perception. >> but how would that play out? let's say he does make the decision to move the american embassy to jerusalem and the prediction is that violence would break out. would the governments of the arab countries want to repress that? or would it be basically coming from isis and others? >> you know, bill, what's interesting is you didn't hear me mention that netanyahu is going to bring that up. >> right. >> when he's asked publicly as he was yesterday, he will say, of course, we want the american
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embassy to be in jerusalem and members of his cabinet will say so. but he will understand as much as anybody that the argument that he wants to make to trump, which is that in a sense israel becomes a pathway to relations with countries that are upset with the united states, like saudi arabia, can get undermined by a move of the american embassy to which saudi arabia would have to react. >> they have no choice and netanyahu understands that very well. >> let me ask one more question before we go to the audience. there was the beginning of an agreement announced yesterday that russia issued after their meetings with turkey and iran and some other -- some of the opposition forces, not all of them in syria on syria which included the draft of a new
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constitution and the new constitution would include a great deal of as i'll say a confederation, a great deal of decentralization and of course a key issue is that russia has in there a sort of semiautonomous kurdish element in syria. do you think that it seems likely to you that russia, iran and turkey, if they could ever sort some of these things out, could carry forward the u.n. mandate on trying to find a long-term solution to syria without us? >> i think that's unlikely. but i don't think we would have a problem with the formula along the lines that you have described, although i haven't read the details of it.
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but the key challenge would be whether you can get the turks to agree that autonomous kurdish region could be dominated by the dominant party which they regard tied to pkk would be acceptable. now the turks were not that happy with the federalism in iraq, but they accommodated over time and now relations between the kurdish region of iraq, the dominant party, the kdp and turkey is quite close and is a mutually beneficial relationship. but it seems to me that this pkk connection makes it a little harder to sell. but there will be huge progress if there is this agreement and
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this is something we could work with in my view. the key issue for us, the urgent issue is what do we do about isis? and i think that for us this political settlement is a more longer term issue. the i sies is the urgent issue. and i suspect we could get progress with the russians on this perhaps and then we can bring others along. but i think without us would be difficult, especially if we opposed it. >> i haven't seen this draft constitution and if they take it to gentlemeva that would be a s they want to broaden the base of support. >> that's the question. if they don't come into it it's going to go nowhere. they're not even at the table. >> in the civil war status. >> i don't know whether -- sorry, whether turks will go as far as if they are gone. and i'm not sure they have
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without talking to the saudis. >> and i would add, even in the obama administration, there were clear signals over the last few months of a willingness to accept the russian dominant role if russia would join in the ant anti-isis coalition. >> they're linked. >> in terms of your question, if the russians are able to pull this off, which is a real outside possibility because it's not just the kurds and turkey and it's not just the regime and the kurds of turkey, but it's the regime, kurds, turkey, iran, saudi arabia and we would -- if you're able to pull it off and then we brought about an agreement with russia dealing with isis, i think washington would be very happy. >> good. well, this has gone on, but i hope you all benefitted from their wisdom. any questions?
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yes. you'll get a microphone at some point. thank you. i'm with the west asia council. my question has to do with the way you see the potential for the trump administration to bring about a paradigm shift in a region of the world which for the past quarter of century has gone from bad to worse with millions of refugees, terrorism problem that has now affected europe and is undermining the integrity of the european union and so i wonder whether we could envision a fundamental paradigm shift in the role of the united states and its leadership in that region that would bring about a different outcome all together. thank you. >> let me tell you what paradigm shift do you want? >> a cessation of forever war, for example. >> what? >> a way of dealing with the refugee crisis which is
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undermining international stability. >> well, i don't know. >> well, i would say that ambitious paradigm shift in the past some would say have not produced palable results. my judgment is that the administration is likely to focus sharply on our defiance primarily american interest and to go and protecting those. and. >> isis being -- >> isis being at the top, security of israel being at the top. maybe as some strengthening of relations with friends and allies and some additional pressure to push back on iranian kind of threats, but not to go with big american kind of grand
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design to normalize this region and reshape it after its own image. that will be my judgment based on what one hears from the senior people who are in the administration. >> i would only add that i think the perception of this engagement in the last -- certainly in the second term of the obama administration, i think what we're going -- i have no way of knowing what the trump administration is going to do in the region, but my guess is that there's not going to be more engagement. i think that was the -- if you look at the issue from purely american national interest, i don't see the u.s. returning to the level of engagement iraq or pre-iraq days. so i think we're going to see an increase in regional players of
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either becoming more coordinated, although i'm never very optimistic on that front, but certainly taking decisions into their own hands and we've seen that already i think over the last few years. >> uh-huh. >> and i think you will see russia more engaged and i think they, the regional players are now looking at russia, they're looking at china, they're strengthening relations with india. i think they've seen the writing on the wall that the u.s., even this new administration is going to be more of a taking bit of an isolationist view and not getting involved. i don't know, dan. >> i would just add one point which in a way the executive order this weekend identified this administration's axis of evil. you have seven countries that have now been identified as the countries that we're not going to want to deal with. saudi arabia was not on that list. egypt was not on that list, so at best i think you're going to
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find an administration that wants to do some repair work, put some band aids on bilateral relationships with the countries that felt alienated over the past few years. the obama administration, but the paradigm shift that you may be thinking about of getting into the kind of marshall plan thinking of changing the way the middle east looks at its and fixes its problems, i would be exceedingly doubtful in this administration. >> i have high regards for dan. i wouldn't use the same terminology of the evil equivalent to this what everyone thinks of -- >> that is what you call disagreement. >> in the sense that i think we have for example take the case of iraq. i think we have a strong relationship defense, perhaps stronger than we do with a lot of others who are not on the
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list. we have a very strong security relationship with the kurds, getting stronger by the day. so, i would not read read it in that way that these are the worst in terms of the u.s. from the region. >> certainly feels that way. >> i know that maybe that is something that could be said about how it has been marketed and described and the way it has been done, but i wouldn't think that a slight -- >> if only they would give us their oil, we would be gracious. >> exactly. no, we'll just go take it. >> this is what the man said. >> our friends. >> thanks. the visa ban, though, including
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iraq, we've seen commentary from the baghdad suggesting they will throw the americans out, is that expected noise because they can't do it because they need us because of isis. >> that was your question. what can i say, journalists think alike. okay. >> he wants to expand the question. >> yeah, exactly. the broader implications of the visa ban, no matter how it was ruled out, particularly with respect to iraq since we've invested so much there and how people on the ground will take it, but it's addressed to the whole panel as well. >> well, if i could start, i think that this is a temporary ban, terrorism is a serious issue.
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hopefully, although i have my own observations about the way it was done and what how it could have been done differently is that it could lead to a reason debate that takes into account obviously our security but also takes into account how it affects our friends, those who are fighting terrorism in the region and how it affects the growth of terrorism or the weakening of terrorism and of course our values. and i think this is open debate that hopefully a reasoned discussion can produce a discussion that meets all of those concerns. i have concerns that people who helped me as ambassador of iraq
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or afghanistan or help our military, i wouldn't want them to be negatively affected, although there has been some already some affects. so there are issues but i think that given the tloelt to the homeland and terrorism there is a reality. some review of whether we need to tighten and how to do it in a way that meets all those other criteria is -- if it meets a reasoned debate, it could could the affects in the region must be taken into account, maybe more minimal if we immediately go as to whether it is or whether it isn't. >> yeah. the question moving forward is whether or not the administration keeps shooting from the hip and fixing problems after they shot or whether they do some planning. right after 9/11, directive came around saying special visa procedures for anyone born in
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iran, iraq, syria, bunch of countries, i was in israel at the time. a large part of the israeli population were born in iran, iraq -- and i was not allowed to give them visas, including former president. so, you know, this was the case of that administration having shot from the hip, but after, you know, for good reason -- we had just been attacked as opposed to this administration which is putting out executive orders without vetting them properly, going through legal procedures, checking with heads of department. and that's really the difference here. >> sure. >> could i add one more thing very quickly. >> yes. >> i think all the countries in the region understand very well the security issues. they've all suffered from terrorism. and so that would not be an issue. the issue i think from their perspective is that instead of putting something out that increases your security by doing extreme vetting, whatever that
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means, i think four years is vetting enough, but any way, if you want to do more vetting, whether the refugees or military visas, nobody would have objected to that. i think what's very insulting to the region is that they feel that they've been put on there primarily because they're muslim countries and second because they're muslim countries that are in conflict which is the worst time to put that kind of restriction on them since a lot of them are trying to do family reunification and immigration. i think the way it was done was a huge mistake. if you care about what other countries think of you. if you don't, then maybe as dan says we just correct mistakes and we go on. so. >> yes. >> back there. >> i'm harlen owen. i would like to provoke and challenge the panel this way about a paradigm shift. could there not be an implosion
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in the region? and this is based on kwau psi iegslation view, his focus is anti-isis, it will be yemen, iraq and syria but in a very constrained way and of course we haven't seen how he's going to deal with china. so i think that the possibility of the steps that mr. trump may take could really cause the region to implode, not the opposite. i just wanted your kmints, if you thought that through at all. >> tell me what do you mean by that? >> well, we have done very well with the refugee immigrant problem which has been a great plus for us which has started things off. supposing mr. trump does not listen to -- >> what would an implosion be? >> you have a wide-spread -- you have a wide-spread continuation
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of anti-americanism, of radicalism, you have an american kwau sigh or american withdrawal from making the region important. and that the focus is going to be on anti-islamic state activity chies which is going t more special forces and drones. how we deal with saudi arabia really remains to be seen but part could be a withdrawal from the joint comprehensive plan of action. this is a perfect storm in essence. but after the last ten days, i'm not sure it's something that should be immediately discounted as fiction. >> well, i mean, the region is very unstable. i don't have to tell you that. you could draw some of these scenarios regardless of the u.s. role. but the u.s. role i do not agree
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myself that we're going to end up exactly as you describe, although there is some uncertainty. for example, if you read what the secretary of defense in his confirmation hearing, you can draw from that that we're going to be in some ways more engaged on missile defense, for example. he emphasized and regional partnerships. what he said would be music to the ears of, as you said, to some our traditional allies. but what i was saying about the u.s. not having a grand design to transform this region doesn't mean that if -- to serve those -- specified u.s. interes interests, narrowly defined could be done with disengagement.
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you couldn't achieve those goals effectively with disengagement and without partnerships and strong relationship and significant capabilities in the area. so i -- sometimes we give ourselves more credit than shaping the region. it does happen occasionally, but largely what has happened what my colleague has said the role of regional players have become more important. my hope is that over time and here we can hope that saudi arabia and iran and turkey could reach some understanding among themselves about the future of this region with israel, perhaps if not directly involved through dotted line involved as to some rules of the game and mutual accommodation between them.
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again, a balance of power among these players would be helpful and i believe we could play a role in that as well. >> you know, the if i just may add one point. >> sure. >> what's interesting about the question is you can think of all kind of scenarios, but in a sense that kind of a question flows from the fact that as mar cellle has been saying, this is a region where state actors have given way to either non-state actors or countries on the periphery, being turkey, iran, and israel effectively. saudi arabia as well, but the three determinants of regional events in the future are very much going to depend on the interaction of those three countries. so, does it -- will there be an implosion in other places? there is now. whether you want to count libya, yemen, syria and those kinds of things can happen.
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whether or not it starts to encompass the three primary determinants of power relationships, i think is not likely to happen. because they're acting in a sense out of more traditional balance of power interests than not. >> let's take one last question. you. >> university of maryland. so, from the beginning of this session today upon now there has been a big elephant missing from the room and that's the iranian election coming up in less than four months. do we, should we have any favorites in that election? and secondly, how do you think the visa ban as well as the promise of the upcoming sanctions and more pressure on iran, how do you think that will affect that election?
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>> well, to answer your first question, we should have no candidates. it's sure if we vote for rouhani, he's dead. trump should do that. but i don't know if you -- what would you say? [ inaudible ]. >> i was just going to say, i think it's in our interest that the moderates are key players in iran and i think the current situation is not looking good for them. especially with the new administration and when they feel threatened and i think the new sanctions will make them also more angry and they may look at rouhani as not having delivered. but i'm not an iran expert and i have no idea what that could mean in an election, but certainly -- >> but you have suggested we should ask ourselves in favor of -- >> oh, god no.
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kiss of death. no. >> well, okay. well, thank you very much for staying here and thanks, barbara and the atlantic council. this is our third. you haven't heard the last of us on this program. thank you for coming. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank the panel. wonderful panel. >> thank you, thank you.
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later today on c sparn 3, former secretary of state mad line albright will talk about engagement in foreign affairs. president trump's executive order on refew gees and immigrants. we'll have that live at 5:30 p.m. eastern. live at 6:30, white house press secretary sean spicer will join ari flesher and white house correspondents to talk about media coverage of president trump. the state of the net conference was held here in washington, d.c. this past week and tonight on the communicators. we'll speak with three attendees
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about upcoming issues facing the internet. former special council to the fcc, mark jamison, key adviser on the trump administration for the next fcc talk about communications policy and acting attorney general for national security mary mccore on the u.s. efforts to counteronline radicalization. >> what they don't like is the fcc's ability to be a referee on the field and make sure that networks are fast, fair and open. >> i think there could be a lot of improvements with the fcc. i think its vision need to be more sharply focussed and its structure needs to adapt as well. >> there's efforts of google, facebook and others to create countermessaging because the government is in the a position. that's an area where the private sector has started to step up. >> watch the communicators tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on cspan 2. >> intelligence committee

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