tv Discussion on Turkeys Role in the Middle East CSPAN December 6, 2018 3:10am-5:09am EST
houston. at 1:30 p.m. he is rubbed by special train to college station, texas a&m university for burial at the george h.w. bush presidential library at 5:15 p.m. watch full coverage of the state funeral for president george h.w. bush, life thursday on c-span and c-span.org, or listen on the c-span radio app. >> now a discussion about turkey and its role in the middle east. panelists talk about how the killing of the journalist has strained relations between turkey and saudi arabia. this capitol hill event was hosted by the middle east policy council.>>
well good morning, let me introduce myself i'm richard shamir, i'm the president and chairman of the board of the middle east policy council. i'm very pleased to welcome you on b half of the council to this, our 94th quarterly capitol hill conference. the topics for today's program, saudi arabian turkish rivalry in the middle east. is an issue which we feel has gained quite a bit of providence -- prominence of the
october 2 murder of journalist jamaal -- in the weeks following his death a dynamic began to play out between saudi arabia and turkey and this suggest a kind of a rivalry between the two countries for influence in the middle east and i think it's a dynamic that has been underappreciated by those who follow events in the region and so today we will have an opportunity to delve into that topic. i would like to first say a few words about the middle east policy council. our organization was established in 1981. we are an ngo, and our purpose is for dialogue and education concerning the u.s. and the countries in the middle east. we have three flagship
programs. one is this conference, our quarterly capitol hill conference, we hold these every three months appear on the capital, specifically because we are looking to try to engage with people here, staffers and others, we have our journal, probably sought the copy as you came in. it's well known for the information we put on. it's actually found in 15,000 libraries around the world. and so we feel that that is one of our most effective programs. and then our third main program is our teach mideast educational outreach program. it's basically aimed at secondary school students and teachers. again another group we feel could learn more and would do well to know more about the middle east. and so that's what we try to
promote. so i would encourage you, if you have the opportunity to visit us on our website or our teach mideast website, which is w ww . teach mideast.org. the program today is being live streamed on our website, so let me also welcome all of those that are viewing the program via the internet this morning. we will be putting the proceedings of the conference up on our website, and we will also be publishing transcript of today's event in the next issue of our journal. and there will be a recap of the discussion put up on the website in the next few days as well. with that, let me turn to our panelists, we will begin the program with ambassador ryan crocker who i have the honor of serving with in the u.s.
apartment of foreign services. ryan has served as a diplomat for almost 40 years, obtaining the rank of career ambassador, which is the highest rank in the foreign service. he held the position of u.s. ambassador in six countries. syria, iraq, pakistan, kuwait, afghanistan and lebanon. he is currently diplomat residence and that woodrow wilson school at princeton university. our next speaker will be dr. hussein ibis, who is a senior resident scholar at the aaron golf institute in washington. he's a weekly columnist for bloomberg and for that newspaper, the national. he's also a regular contributor to other u.s. and midwest publications. our third speaker is professor,
who was on the faculty of arts and sciences at savon she university near insta ball. he's also a researcher at the pyrotechnic institute. he has published 13 books on turkey's foreign relations including several dealing with turkey in the middle east. i'd like to thank all three of you for joining us today. the program will begin with each panelist delivering brief opening remarks. this will be followed by a discussion session which will be moderated by my colleague, the executive director of the middle east policy council. now please note, we have placed index cards on all of the seats. please use these cards to write down any questions which you have, as the speakers are speaking. and hold them up, so that our staff can collect the cards and
give them to dr. ritter here who can consolidate the questions for the q&a session. with that, let me turn the podium over to ambassador crocker.>> well thank you richard, and good morning to all of you. you hang around the middle east long enough, you get to meet a lot of people, and the nice thing is that they cycle through your life, as one moves forward, and i recognize many people here, two in particular that i'd like to mention as exemplars of good things in terrible times. my former colleague, and like
me she is a survivor of the bombing, unlike me, that blast broke just about every bone in ann body. every single person who was injured in that attack, and got to the american university hospital alive, stayed alive or it at that time, i think it was beyond doubt the best trauma center anywhere in the world, because they have seen so much of it. and i will always remember going to visit you, and i just wanted to touch you in some way with hundred 17 different brakes, you are not generally available to touching, but i
found a little toe, and i gave a tug on that toe. you never lost your positive attitude and cheerful -- cheerfulness, it reflected off the rest of us. thank you for your service through that, and well beyond. another, mohammed is another figure from my past, i didn't recognize him, even when he introduced himself, that's because when we intersected, this would have been nine months before the whole of the embassy bombing. we intersected in september 1982. in the immediate aftermath of another unspeakable horror, which was a massacre at a refugee camp. i worked very intensely as a
political counselor at the time, with some truly great americans on the seine. and we were able to bring him and his brother to the u.s., again to among many, but these things can, they make a difference. we made a difference in your lives, and those of your brother, through the work you have done since you've been in this country, you have enriched all of our lives before i go into this long singlets of doom and horror, i wanted to get this out there. the small good things. so turkey and saudi arabia. great subject. let me tell you why. in very real and endearing ways, both countries have been absolutely critical u.s. partners in the aftermath of world war ii. turkey was a founding member of
nato, after world war i of course, turkey no longer owned the middle east as they had for centuries before under the ottoman empire, but it was always a place of significant influence, and indeed advice. for us. so again, a critical nato relationship that was there at the beginning, as a foundation of nato. a little bit different, obviously, with saudi arabia, but also an enduring relationship. again it goes back to 1945. the war was not even over in europe. february 1945, the historic meeting between a very ill fdr, and even toed, on the deck of the u.s. worship, they u.s.
quincy, that an alien president would make that trip out at that time, and to have the meeting on a ship of war, underscored the significance of what happened on that date in february 1945. that forged the enduring relationship with the kingdom, and through the kingdom, the heart of that region, based on the fundamental premise or transaction if you will, although it became far more than that, and is, oil security. oil of course have been discovered in saudi arabia, but not really developed, and then coming out of the war, we knew that clearly the largest reserves in the world were likely to be located in saudi
arabia. so present after creation if you will, these relations go back very far and run very deep. in some respects, one can make a case that it's closer, perhaps, with turkey, because of the nato membership. because we have still the use of turkey as an airbase, which has been very crucial to what we have done together against the islamic state in syria and iraq it would have been a very different situation for us, for the region indeed, internationally, had we not been able to base many of our operations out of insulin. -- insulate. turkey stood with us in korea.
they kind of wanted their troops to go wherever it was hardest. i had a friend in later years who had been in the military. he was of greek origin, and spoke greek, so was attached to the greek troops in korea. and recounted the story that he said he sought time after time. the turks would be given whatever impossibly hard objective it was to take, and there would be this tremendous dame of gunfire, flumes and clouds of smoke, and battle after battle, when the smoke cleared, there would be a turkish flag on top of whatever the objective was. the point kind of being here, don't mess with the turks. so we get all kinds of things in the q&a, so fast forward to where we are today.
and you could say that if we are not in a relationship crisis with both, we've skated pretty close to it. and i think with both countries, it could get better, and could get worse. for those of you who may be a little bit newer to the region that i, bear in mind that as bad as things look in the middle east, they in fact can get worse, i'm the poster boy for that. there is no bottom. and again, i underscored here, turkey and its post-world war i form, not of arab land, does not control arab land in any occupational sense. because of its unique position, can bring considerable influence to bear on what
happens in the middle east. when i left the middle east for what i thought was the last time, as an ambassador, early 2009, i looked back with real gratitude for the turkish road in iraq during a critical time. we had negotiated a very difficult set of agreements. one on security, something that serves as a framework for our forces going forward, and a another -- another much broader agreement, being the basis for the on going relationship in iraq and beyond iraq. the complexity of politics at
that time, meant that it isn't over until it's over, and then it isn't over. we signed the agreement in october 2008, and by signing we close the deal. it would mean that it would go up to the iraqi parliament for eradication, with only an upward or downward vote possible. the text would not be reopened. we worked hard, and we got that positive vote. but then because democracies are complicated, there was also the issue of the vice president signing off on it. one of whom represented largely the seamy community and had a
lot of questions. that we sought to answer. most critically at that time, so did the turkish envoy, with whom we worked very closely. they had a connection that went back years with the rock. and i have always thought that bringing the vice president, finally aboard on that agreement, had a great deal to do with the turkish rule. these are things that do not make the headlines, that no one knows about, unless you are out there. how personalities count, how histories count. and a little bit about how they try to manage those. i'm not going to stand up here and takes -- take any wax that was given to the administration. well maybe i actually will. again, looking at the moment here. both turkey and saudi arabia,
are in a process of significant internal change. in turkey of course, with the dissension of the president, he has really remained the entire structure inside of turkey. something i never dreamed i would see with respect to the turkish armed forces, the turkish army, just as the habit, i got to be in a stumble -- istanbul, in 1970 and 1980, so i had an understanding of the resilience of the turks. but it also left me with a
sense that we are just going to have to live with the fact that the army is never going to be checked a civilian government. well, that happened. and it continues to go on happening, if you will. so what role does the present envision now in the middle east, i will not start going on now i'm just saying, it's not that i forgot it, it's just not something i want to do within these remarks. so what is the look forward? what is the outlook beyond mintage? these are places that we've never heard of in this country. but then we've never heard of and obscure archduke in an even
more obscure town called sarajevo in 1914. there are any number of flashpoints as we look ahead on syria, and we will talk about that too. but in the meantime, the war that nobody wanted, but everybody got, and apply that to some of the developments in syria now, involving the syrian regime, the israelis, the turks, the russians, and you can kind of see how world war i got started. and again, i won't predict doom here, although my colleagues do it, and all of you. but again, in saudi arabia, we no longer rely on saudi oil, but believe me, our friends do. particularly our friends in
japan and south korea, for example. so the question, and i don't have the answer, i hope it will come out of our conversation, is our special relationship with these two countries now going somewhere that it really has not been effectively since 1945? and that would be some were not good. with saudi arabia, is it going to be the murder of jamal khashoggi, someone that i think probably everyone in this room has some sort of contact with. and as the war in yemen, how the senate now has reacted to that, both the killing and the war, where is that going to take us? what is the completely new leadership approach, where is that going to take the relationship if we get over these current challenges? because this is different.
and in turkey, to a very large degree, i believe that where we are in turkey has a lot to do with the europeans, quite frankly. because basically, over time, the message became pretty clear. you turks, you are certainly good enough to be a founding member of nato, so you can fight and die for us, should that need arise, but you will never be good enough to join the gentlemen's club of the european. i believe, and i put this out there, so that you can tear it apart, that had something not insignificant to do with the lives of a politician who could tap into that since of being dissed by the west.
to take the message to anatolia, not simply the roots of a stumble -- a stumble -- something the predecessors did not have. so i'm sure we will talk about this in a much more authoritative way. and the last thing i will stay here because it's what i know the least about. the ideological differences between the two that we may see play out a bit in the khashoggi incident the leadership of both turkey and saudi arabia, have
an ideology if you will, that they support. and saudi arabia, of course, it's persistently labeled and much of this country, and much of the west. in turkey with president erdogan, it's that muslim brotherhood. it came -- comes in a huge variety of flavors one of them would be the syrian muslim brotherhood. of which was way off on the far end of the scale. meaning that they were very big on car bombs, truck bombs, bomb bombs, anything else they can make blowup in damascus or elsewhere, going into the 1970s. everybody in this room knows what happened on -- in february
1982. that had a significant amount to do with the civil war that broke out in 2011. at the other end of the continuum, i would suggest you would find say, the muslim brothers in turkey, and in iraq as pledged to the system, and indeed in the case of turkey, it certainly is a system. so this notion that we should label the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization, is as dangerous as it is idiotic, quite frankly. who are we going to talk to, in iraq, or turkey, and if you want to talk about an assault on a democratically elected
leader of a nato leader, and as the only organized non-state- controlled political apparatus, position to win the elections, as they did and we all know how that has gone since so again i post these out there as questions for mike colleagues to address again in particular the role of islamic ideology in both countries or lack thereof, maybe it's completely overstated, i just don't know. we need to talk about it, and that has a lot to do in my view, with that crisis in the gulf if you will between saudi arabia, uae, and the state of cairo, which has i don't know
how many brothers, to the extreme displeasure's of the saudis. so it is an immensely tangled a set of issues we are wrestling here, and my bottom line is suppose, as frustrating and difficult as they are, they are also extremely important. do we really want to lurch forward into the far end of the 21st century with our relationships with both of these powers, and they are similar relationships, in tatters, and getting worse? and what is the way forward, so having posted all the questions, thank you for allowing me that opportunity. i turn it over to my colleagues who will produce all the answers. thank you.
>> that certainly tough act to follow and thank you all for coming. the key word, the title of this symposium, and i think what it gets that, as the unstable nature of the relations, and how multifaceted they are, and how changing they are. and he wanted try to kind of describe that particularly from a saudi point of view. but what sets the stage for this more than anything else, is the turn by turkey, away from the west, toward the east. largely because of the rebuff that helped give rise as you
suggested in general. and turkey's vision, the epicenter of its foreign policy shifted from an engagement with europe to an engagement with the middle east. looking back at its former imperial lands, and to its fellow muslim countries in the arab world and other parts of the islamic world. and this is a core element of the ideology,, of the alliance that they have with other forces in turkey. so it can't be understated, the extent to which this wave has been written, it can't really be overstated. and then of course has greatly altered the nature of the saudis/turkish relationship. and this is all, even, of
course exacerbated, by the very aggressive, especially domestic, but even regional approach, that they have taken after the failed coupe of 2016. that is to simply emphasize, every time this process has gone through a change, it has been emphasized and there is the kind of distillation, and what you end up with is a situation where very recently, in the context of the killing of a good friend, more than one turkish leader said turkey is the only logical leader of the
least for me to see where turkish national interests as they are defined by the state end and the political interests of the are kp and the personal interest of turkish president it's kind of fuzzy. maybe our colleagues can educate us but for me, that makes it a bit difficult. but, describing the situation from a saudi perspective, i'll tell you basically how i think riyadh looks at turkey and it will explain a lot of things. first of all, i do think that saudi arabia sees turkey first of all as a rival, just in those terms. another large state in the region with allies and with a strong military and with a major presence that is capable of projecting power.
and it has to be taken seriously as another large state. second, i that is offset by seeing turkey as a necessary balance or balast against iran. the major gulf arab concern since 1979, and particularly since 2003 has been idea of a revolutionary hegemonic iran, which is both aggressively shiite and revolutionary at the same time and persian, it combines all these very kind of threatening identitarian qualities that has scared the gulf countries and especially saudi arabia and the uae very greatly. and turkey, almost under any circumstances looks a lot less threatening than that. it is very hard to imagine turkey being seen as having quite that mix of threatening characteristics, so turkey is an obvious necessary balast against iranian influence. but at the same time, turkey is another potential hegemon, now that it is looking east, right? i think that there are places in the arab world, including the gulf where memories of ottoman rule are not extinguished.
where talk about the only rational leadership of the islamic world hits hard, where the turkish efforts to cultivate their regional alliances with qatar and with muslim brothers and others in the region are seen as evidence of this growing hegemonic agenda and the neo- ottoman rhetoric that sometimes is engaged in by various turks and akp people and sometimes friends of the akp is noticed in the gulf and it's taken note of and taken exception to, so i think this is more along the lines of a potential issue rather and immediate or real one, but it is very much there.
what is more alarming, and this is where you can see where the khashoggi murder has brought this anxiety to the fore, is the idea of turkey as the leader of a rival third camp in the middle east, and i think almost everyone accepts the idea that there are two rival camps in the middle east. one is a kind of pre-a randian alliance and there are some lebanese christians as well, but mostly shiite alliance. even though they are not, but the point is i think everyone
except that there is a pro- iranian camp. and generally speaking, those opposed to iran are seen as comprising a second, no matter how loose it may be, whenever you got israel and the gulf states in the same camp even though they don't have relations and they are working on building relations it's much less that's a vertically integrated than the uranian one is. that is a problem for this but i think it's fair to say that there is a distinctly anti- iranian camp led by saudi arabia and the uae and you can look at it as a pro-american or you can call it whatever you like. many people in at that with the not the gulf arabs. they would say there is a third camp. there is a third distinct and it is the sunni islamist camp and it is led by turkey and it includes brotherhood parties all over the middle east and
qatar. and this is an ideological camp and that's one of the reasons why we have a boycott and that's one of the reasons why we are so upset is that we see that this is not loyal to the anti-iranian cause it's really kind of turkish-oriented. and i think that while there is a service that turkey helps to balance armor and there is also the understanding that turkey and iran hysterically do not go to war and turkey and huron are not going to fight it out, it's hard to imagine a situation where the turks and the iranians don't do some kind of deal in any given situation to share in their interest and why this is not making anyone in the goal sleep any easier. in other words it easier to imagine the turks and the rainy is just splitting the difference. so this is highly alarming and then when they imagine the rise of a third camp, which is
completely beyond their control, it looks like the whole region is fragmented. and it looks like a net loss to them. because this would not be in the pro-iranian corridor, it ought to be the thinking is part of a saudi-led pro- american group. and what are you qatar's doing playing footsie with the turks? why the turks running around trying to build alliances? everyone should be built working together. and this looks like a terrible betrayal of that. and so, here, i think is the epicenter of concern right now is the idea that turkey is the leader of this rival camp, and actually, the thinking those actually even further is almost always unstated that there is this deep fear that this third camp, if it exists at all, many people would say it doesn't, but this third camp
could evolve into a the most dangerous thing imaginable, really. which is an alternative to the current pro-american camp of the saudi arabia and the uae and very loose arrangements with the israelis and the egyptians and others. the region, in other words, is imaginable from i think from a golf nightmarish perspective that the united states would conclude that this alliance is fundamentally unworkable, it falls apart and look at the gcc, you know having completely fallen to pieces over qatar. and i think there is a concern that if the pro-turkish camp kasumi access the sunni islamic camp could vertically integrate and start to bring in other countries that are nominally
part of the pro-saudi camp but could defect and i'm talking particularly about kuwait and jordan. so you can imagine a block of turkey, jordan, qatar and kuwait, providing an alternative ballast for the united states against iran. and a much more vertically integrated alliance. now you could easily turn around and say washington is not going to get in bed with the muslim brotherhood coalition, the jordanians are not going to join this, what are you talking about? i'm not talking about a reality, i'm talking about an anxiety but it's a real anxiety and it is often unstated but i think i would be remiss if i didn't convey that nightmare scenario to you because it is very much out there. and you can see all of this playing out in the context of
the jamal khashoggi affair. and i think that the jamal khashoggi affair tells you where we are. because and particularly because if you look at how turkey managed this scandal. it was very very deftly done by erdogan and his people. obviously they thought it would be a good opportunity to bedevil and hobble arrival. saudi arabia in general and mohammed bin salman dripped the information and with exactly lurid details it's hard to imagine the killing of jamal khashoggi but they didn't like live dismemberment and slow cutting off of fingers. let's discuss this hilarious idea that this was recorded live on his apple watch. it really is kind of silly stuff all mixed together to
make sure that this story did not leave the front page for weeks and weeks. and in a kind of uncoordinated partnership with the washington post, quite rightly consider this a killing in the family and it's still hammering away at it, which i think is perfectly understandable. but at the same time, turkey did not want to precipitate a rupture with saudi arabia, because it doesn't serve, what serves their interest is to weaken saudi arabia but not a total meltdown. so there was never a public accusation against mohammed bin salman it was said by anonymous officials and the media it was always deniable, and president erdogan has gone to great lengths to shield mohammed bin
salman, and it doesn't really withstand scrutiny. he is may be a two-day ruler, but i don't know anyone who is serious about saudi politics that doesn't recognize that the king retains ultimate authority. major national decisions are not being made against the wishes of the king, that's not just where we are here. and he is not a vegetable who can't be consulted the way some other particular leaders may be. that is not the situation. otherwise, he would have been a grand tour of asia which he was recently able to pull off. outsourcing day-to-day administration to someone else is not seen as relinquishing authority. so, when erdogan writes in the washington post that i am actually sure that king nbc mac
had nothing to do with this, hint, hint, hint, this doesn't constitute an active policy. therefore, we do not have to break relations with saudi arabia tells you exactly the kind of narrow tightrope that the turks very successfully not walked along but danced merrily up and down on with success. and i think they did manage to greatly strengthen their hand and greatly weaken the saudi reputation particularly because it created all kinds of headaches for the saudi government. and, also managed to unload brunson, pastor brunson who was useful for while and then became an unbelievable headache and the question was how do we get rid of this guy without looking like we have caved into the americans? oh, this was a perfect opportunity so they released brunson, get all the credit with trump, nobody turkey said oh you have caved to the americans.
they said what a brilliant move, what a smart guy you are. there it was like excising a rotten tooth or something, it was great. so i'm actually impressed with the skill with which this was handled and i think what it shows you is how bipolar, and i use that term advisedly, turkish-saudi relations are within the context of this rivalry. they are pin jeweler. they swing back and forth between cooperation, particularly when it comes to reducing the role of iran or some other instances versus kind of unstated cooperation. and i think if you look at the way their relations have developed in syria, you can see how that works really well. when the uprising began in earnest, both turkey and gulf countries were supporting arms in the rebel groups, sometimes especially in the case of qatar
estate groups and sometimes groups that were operating in coordination and there was barely close alliance to get rid of asad. after the joint intervention by iran and russia in 2015, the bolstering of saving bashar al- assad the actual rescue of the guy by this foreign intervention, and the coup in turkey all helped to reshape ideas of what should happen in syria to emphasize containing the growing power occurred. and not caring about the power of mohammed bin salman anymore. that kind of kills the ambition of the gulf countries to get rid of a pro-mattãis irani and group in damascus.
therefore taking away major irani and acid, the trickiest interest in that country went away and there was a period of almost confrontation in syria where the groups that were supported directly or indirectly by gulf countries were almost being targeted by turkey. and there was a real confrontation and i think what you have seen is under the rubric of a trump administration policy that is becoming much more coherent in syria and is focused on doing exactly what the gulf countries are hoping for, which is working cristobal on the ground to block irani and interests, especially from trading a military core door through iraq and syria to the mediterranean, that seems to be out, a year and a half ago i would have said that may well happen but it's not going to, largely because of the trump administration not leaving syria. but in addition, there is a move by the trump administration to start a
dialogue with turkey especially but also with russia to see what can be done to squeeze, to marginalize the iranians to make sure that tehran is not the winner in syria and limit their gains. and this is all very positive. all of that kind of indicates the rain with which saudi and iranian can still find themselves roughly on the same side. at the same time you have just seen turkey into into a new military cooperation agreement with kuwait which again raises the sphere of a new turkish germany, and then it could stretch out to incorporate countries that most company assets countries can imagine being part of and again i mentioned jordan and kuwait as possibilities. it may be fanciful, but when you see new military cooperation agreement, that tends to exacerbate fears. so, what we end up with then,
is a really bipolar pin jeweler relationship. let me just say, i want to and by thoroughly endorsing ambassador crocker's comment about there being no bottom in the middle east. things can only get worse, that's for sure. and as usual shakespeare wrote that best, edgar and king lear road, this is not the worst so long as we can still say this is not the worst, and i think this is exactly the case. thank you. >> anymore cards? well, thanks for participating in this conference, and thanks for inviting me. also words about my involvement
with this conference i published my first article back in 1998 and that is why it is always important topic for me. i think that is the reason you invited me to discuss turkish- saudi arabian rivalry. i think what's he is the motivation i don't like to say who is more rational content between the leadership. but i certainly take what he said so far in many areas. first of all, i would like to start with a warning, and i believe it will be a false
start to alleviate fears. it may be defined as concurrent elements of competition together. if you go back to their coming to power, since the president erdogan and the first and in general the muslim world has been considered a method in saudi arabia back in. and don't forget the saudi's election as secretary general, this would never happen without saudi approval. from a saudi perspective, the
saudi's also improved the first gcc relations back at 2000. i also published a piece about turkey and the gcc back then. it was between turkey and saudi arabia within the framework of the gcc. the game changer here has been the arab spring and the turks's position. the muslim brotherhood movement and what has been called as electoral transitioning in those country -- countries. muslim brotherhood, but beyond this and of course this position almost has been the ultimate position which goes back to arab spring. but beyond the differences in
ideology there was also the increasing influence of turkey in north africa, central africa and even yemen. so, and also as an example of this concurrent elements of competition, syria is a good example. it wanted to overthrow the saudi regime but later it turned out that this issue became a matter of rivalry or competition conflict. they supported a different type of traditions and they backed different groups in syria. there has been a brief.
after arab spring or during arab spring in 2015 after the demise of king abdullah, an approximation between these two countries and at that time there was a policy of increasing his condemnation of iran. he backed position in yemen and all he wanted was support in return in syria. and if you remember before 2015 the saudi's's position brought us to the brink of collapse. but it was due in part to erdogan's reticence.
this has been very costly to turkey, although there was a brief. where they were supporting turkey's position. and they follow this course and arab spring. syria became a measurable isolated turkey from the middle east and the turkish interest to air markets in the gulf financing and also on the saudi side, it was a strategic blunder, i believe to eliminate turkey there is also a uae factor here. back in 2011 they adopted an emotional notion against turkey.
and this uae line, turkey has been able to convince the saudi arabian perception of what is happening in the gulf and have been successful. and they are dangerous to progressive saudi arabian in the region., the feeling is mutual. this much against the uae they believed that the uae was behind the failed coup against the turkish government and of course the saudi approval. in the meantime looking at us factors for turkish leadership,
they had the your for welcome for the trump administration. their perspective was a new president is going to find a common ground with turkey and syria, they are going to extradite this person who lives in the united states to turkey and they will adopt a powerful stance in syria. but turkey, in return got saudi- uae-trump alliance which didn't help our interests. this will eventually lead to will this euphoric welcome turned out to be lasting a
short period of time. and it was a disappointment. in june 2017 has also been considered a move against turkey from the gulf, middle east and even beyond. and that is why turkey took a wider action to provide the data to qatar and arrange for the prisons to prevent any type of moves against the turkish shake. sheik. and they made an example but however it works how was that, it's too late and later on it
turned out that the turkish present became a strong part of the saudi ultimatum against qatar. will, there is a moment here, and it's the elephant in the room when it comes to turkish relations. there are many reports and arguments but however it is, in march 2018, turkey is a part and axis of evil, part of a coalition that is iran takes place. it was a confrontational approach that both sides adopted. and now we see that both sides are unable to recover. and from a turkish perspective,
due to mohammed bin salman's decision to eliminate all rivals in the region. there are certain moves from yemen to qatar i believe it alienated turkish expectations to work and i believe now they are committing to one another. well, again going back to uae's role, they operated openly to somalia to washington in the western capital and uae found a
number of members in turkey's bid for membership to the you in and the secretary counsel. it resulted in a kind of humiliation of turkish defeat. it was unanimously elected as a member of the un in the secretary's counsel. so if it comes to the jamal khashoggi case there is much to be gained in regional politics and i think that this is the start of this discussion.
it's not a secret that our corolla -- and kara -- ankara is a part of the process. here, the expectation is not to change the saudi landscape, but some progress will be considered effective. well, we are referring to a very delicate relationship with saudi arabia after the jamaal -- jamal khashoggi case. here, is an emerging rival
leader in saudi arabia. so what turkey can do is to use the case to weekend mohammed bin salman but keep them aside and then you know it's a tight rope, but there is a belief that this can work to preserve the relationship with saudi arabia. it's an assertive line against turkey but it will take a matter of time to see. but turkey cannot put its domestic integrity into further jeopardy by siding with either saudi arabia or iran. there is a certain level of caution that must be taken.
and it's actually a negotiation to moderate the rivalry and consider interest in the gulf. but this is aside from the humanitarian work. i wish that it had never happened. the rivalry is a major set back. and the gulf crisis itself needs to find common ground. so, in order to make room for discussion in terms of leadership, changes in the region, there is a need to put the house in order. then, we can talk of nationality. it's not going to continue this
ongoing rift or alienate our position. so, for my perspective turkey and saudi arabia need to find a common ground on original matters which will certainly calm many issues. from palestinian questions, even in yemen. how does the company evolve? how do they solve the turkish- egyptian rift? turkey can provide the counterbalance. if we are talking about working together for a regional common and, such common ground is necessary and i revealed that
just believe there is room for reconciliation between turkey and saudi arabia. either two major powers. so turkey and saudi arabia may eventually understand each other better. however, it is certain that saudi distances from anti-saudi physiciansãas anti-qatar positions. thinking more academically, speaking of geopolitics, what i see is geo political crimes committed by all sides. and i believe that the choices now between continuing to commit these geopolitical crimes for survival at home,
and i think it would be good if we could come out of this meeting with some ideas for the future of american policy. so, we might begin an issue that was touched on but maybe not covered enough, which would be this, when turkey and saudi arabia both look at the international system and look at maybe declining american power and influence the commitment and engagement after the, certainly over the last 10 or 15 years, and when they consider perhaps advised that they have given to the united states that hasn't been followed, for example king abdullah inviting the united states not to invade iraq which
ledãi left the door open for iran to enter the region. for the turks not being happy about the way the us enabled the kurds to have autonomy in a ron -- iran. after 2011, to what extent has this changing global picture and the changing role of american power and engagement at the same time as russia has started to come back into the region, how has this influenced decisions that both countries have taken? and these decisions that have alienated the other one and created disagreements in places like syria and elsewhere? and vis-@-vis iran, too. can we start with that? anyone who wants to answer.
>> saudi arabia has had to play a much more robust and forward leaning role in the region for three reasons. first, because it feels threatened by the rising iran and is not to back on that. it would have warranted a more robust saudi posture anyway. secondly, is the collapse of the traditional centers of our arab power and influence, cairo, damascus is ripped apart
, from a national point of view post-apocalyptic, almost. these centers are nonfunctional. and they either simply cannot rule their own territories, as in the case of egypt, they look abroad in such a limited way that it constitutes an extension of domestic policy. for example egypt's concern in gaza is not really born its morbid domestic policy issue, same with libya. i mean there is such a geographic proximity that it becomes very hard to see this as projecting power much further than the border. it is in the same way i think turkey is concerned about the kurds and syria is again almost more of a domestic issue any foreign policy issue. so, because of this vacuum of
arab leadership, i think saudi arabia has had to step up, uae, too and qatar in some way. there is just a vacuum of leadership and the third is the role of the united states that you pointed out. and in that context, i think all these three things come together, particularly the relative pulling back of the united states during the obama administration but i think trumps america first policy, they are hard to read. they haven't been very coherently defined yet. but they look like extending several obama's caution and the last thing you want is another war in the middle east. and the notion of burden sharing, there's this one idea that is consistent between obama's foreign policy and trump's foreign policy, and
that translates into fight your own wars. to them, they have done that in yemen. all they have asked for is some support and now they're getting crucified for it. now, of course it's no problem making the case against the yemen war, both in theory and in practice and that is not a problem. but i'm just saying from a point of view of burden sharing, it's problematic to lecture a country like saudi arabia and nausea them about how they should buy their own wars and then when they do they get upset and put sanctions on them. i'm not attacking any of this i'm just saying think about it in terms of burden sharing it becomes problematic. now, the relative vacuum that the us sets of and there was a sense that the us was looking into a potential arrangement with iran that didn't pan out,
and there is a real anxiety about not just the american presence but their reliability. so all of this promptãis prompted saudi arabia to take a more robust role and this is magnified by the role first by the defense minister and the crown prince, mohammed bin salman who was a very audacious let's put it that way and at times certainly reckless leader. and you combine all of that and you have got within the limitations of what they can do a fairly aggressive saudi regional policy. i think turkey has defined it since the coup, has defined its interest more narrowly than before. but where they have identified something as a crucial interest, for example, presenting the lies of an unified pkk state in northern syria they have intervened very
forcefully to stop it. even to the point of almost confronting american troops. that did not happen, but it was on the brink of happening and could have happened. so, what i'm suggesting ultimately is that the lack of us leadership and the reduction of us leadership that they are not only less assertive but less reliable, creates a situation where these countries you know, not just there and in turkey are looking to define and secure their loan interest. -- own interest. they're looking in terms of reverence and balance of power is being negotiated in real
time. in a very changing kaleidoscopic environment, and that, i think, does exacerbates -- exas for -- exacerbate the issue. i think you said it was the russian intervention in syria that broke apart the turkish- saudi agreement. and from that point on, you had turkey more concerned about containing the kurds and therefore you have a confrontational policy because the gulf has been supporting the forces on the y pg and that something that has something to do with the relationship
between someone who is engaged in someone who isn't. >> well, we are talking about russia, the turkish-russian relationship with applications in syria out of necessity. when the jet was shot down there was a thinking there's going to be a regional and us support to turkey. if you all want to limit russian role in syria, this was a perfect opportunity. but that didn't happen. and you know earlier on, when president obama sent that the saudi leader is not a legitimate leader, despite this
pressure, after that there was an expectation that they were going to do something. but it turned out that the presidential declaration did not happen and it was self- help. so they pursued this turkish move against the pkk state. that's mostly but when it comes to the turkey-iran relationship, turkey has a different perspective and syria. however, turkey part of solution, so they still believe
there is room for diplomacy with iran. so that's going to be more complicated and more multilevel inside syria. they proceeded to act responsibility -- responsibly. >> do you want to comment on this russian-american involvement? >> yes the fact that everything that we are listening to, this touches on i think a court issue here. -- court issue here. what is the role of the us, not just in this region, but
globally? these 7+ decades since the end of world war ii. in america, we created the post- war world order, the united nations came out of the san francisco conference, the postwar international financial order out of bretton woods new hampshire, and of course nato. you flashback to the end of world war i where the us basically was sidelined by the french and the british, certainly sidelined in this region, and what we got then, you got a 2-decade truce between two halves of a horrific world war. that's all it was, 1819, 1938.
well, with us leadership internationally since world war ii, we have seen a world in spite of things like vietnam that has been broadly at peace in a way it never was before. so, before we kind of say he certainly was right to vote down the league of nations think, consider the consequences. if we do not lead, who will? i fear the answer that is no one will lead because no one can. it is not that i stay up nights worrying about the chinese taking over the world, it's just the chinese nor anyone else is going to be able to manage conflict. and as we look at what is happening in turkey and what is
happening in saudi arabia, we kind of see where this could go. and again, this is so rightly pointed out, is to not start with resident trump. it started with president obama. trump has elevated it to an art form by pulling us out of the tpp and the paris climate agreement, and by the way someone in the obama administration totally oversold that to our peril and loss. and by pretending it was more than what it was and what it was, was a reasonably good arms control agreement. not a treaty of peace and friendship, so again what are the consequences going down the line? saudi arabia, for example as you point out, took a look around and said well, we are on
our own here. so we are going to go whack the yemenis, because they desperately need it. they let us know 48 hours, 72 hours before and that was done milk to milk. -- mill to mill. and the saudi's weren't asking they were telling us, we are going in, you got some neighbors we really would like to have and we hope you will give them to us. but if you don't we are going in any way. for someone in my generation, it was unthinkable that the saudi's would ever be in that kind of position. and i think as you say quite rightly, that may not be where they wanted to be but it's where they are. and then the iron he is not having their creation and them saying it's not going well, you
need to pull out. that is also a reality if you look at the senate vote yesterday or the day before. just a couple of other quick things, the turks and the kurds, i was very much involved in the run-up to march 2003 the secretary covering the gulf. with the effort to make our efforts in iraq as successful as they possibly could be. one key element of that was having a northern front to bring the fourth infantry division down through turkey and into northern iraq. well, that didn't happen, thanks to the turkish general staff that managed to see what at 1st look like parliamentary approval was actually not, because there were not enough deputies to make it legal. we were prepared to give the
turks very wide latitude vis-@- vis the iraqi kurds. dangerously wide, and my view as someone involved in our process said. if the turks had encountered problems with rocky kurds, they have only themselves to blame. had that vote succeeded, it would be a totally different landscape totally in northern iraq. i will just toss that out there i don't know how widely known it is but it was highly significant at the time. the other thing that i would point out and i know this sounds like minutia, but these things count. we, of course have had a long, strong mill to mill relationship with turkey. turkey is a major customer for our weapons systems right now, we are working on an f 35 sale
of very large proportions. but you know what? it turkey actually goes ahead with that s 400 air system from russia, i don't think that at 35 sale is going to go. not for political reasons it is because it would on a -- almost compromise technologies to the russians through that system. so, don't get lost in the details, but some of the things get very important as you are looking ahead to what kind of relationship we are going to have. >> before we come back to american policy, and what influence it has had on this rivalry, let's come to something you said, hossein mousavian , where did the interests of the states begin and end compared to where the
entrance of erdogan end? is there something about the nature of these two states , turkey being having some some post-ottoman grievances caring at all the way from the 1920s to today. and having different ethnic and being a democratic country on the one hand and in saudi arabia having some grievances against the ottoman empire over the first two houses of saud. having its own form of government which has taken the country from having sand to having modern economy and
society. to what extent do these differences in the nature of the state contribute to the rivalry or make competition difficult? and then you come to hegemon the man, and mohammed bin salman the man, where one feels rebuffed by the west, specifically about not getting into eu. and is an islamist and is committed to sunni islamism whereas mohammed bin salman is someone who is trying to engineer a top-down change and does think that there is solipsism worth defending. and that their form of government is worth defending
against a different division that is being espoused by turkey. you have the nature of the state, you have the nature of the two men. talk about that a little bit in terms of why they have different policies. will, of course i am a policy person, what i see is through economic analysis my sense is that mohammed bin salman reminds me of the king in turkey. so when he came to power it was a very welcome development in turkey. less assertive, but a motivational wise king. containment policy against
iran, advises the western line in the region. and mostly when this power shift happened, mohammed bin salman kind of has been with a call in the cycle some sort of regime repressed. it held saudi arabia under king abdullah, two different perspectives. in turkey there is still a circular urban people good enough to protect. up to arab spring they were using this and are still using it most of his people they are
throwbacks of turkeys modern secular system. well, this is a new generation they are going to be part of the same system they are not initiating the system and education thinking but the turkish but they have lots of years of modernization. but it is not only the majority support and change from a parliamentary system.
the majority support. but still that outside powers, the survival psychology i think you will get over it. don't forget the constitutional system change, elections, there have been so many ways. he is fighting many wars. so the psychology of survival is guiding him and through the turkish state. it seems to be different, but
it is going to converge at some point. you know, from an academic perspective, the crown prince, if they can find common ground that -- if the crown prince gives an image he can control, the project, mohammed is an emergent leader. it's part of the muslim brotherhood in turkey is part of the muslim brotherhood. so,
lake with putin in 2015. -- like with putin in 2015. he found that he and putin will never get along. looking at his practical side, and to the way he needs to lead to turkey, from an optimistic perspective. i see a likely convergence ahead. >> did i understand you to say he is pragmatic enough to distance himself from the muslim brotherhood? >> one color is not, but other colors could be different. >> with regard to mbs and saudi
arabia, the decision to make it a process in saudi arabia, not only is murky, it has always been murky. it is harder than criminology -- then studying the kremlin. it's almost a fool's game because of the cultural differences. i do think we can be sure of two things, number one is that mbs, young and audacious, he has a young -- a large amount of power. and the degree to which the changes that she has ever seen in the past two years constitute a self to -- to -- coup, the old
monarchical system with checks and balances in the royal family is all pretty much wrecked. there has been a tremendous concentration of power around the crown prince. but, it also needs to be said, that the authority for all of this comes from the king. in other words, the king is a noncontroversial figure in saudi arabia. his authority is uncontested, his right to be king is uncontested, his authority is really uncontested. the crown prince does what he does precisely because of the sense that he is doing it all under the rubric of the king, that the king has delegated this to him. this is a king who has already replaced a crown prince. the previous crown prince was removed, and mohammed was put into the role.
the point is that it is not unthinkable, that from a structural point of view, mohammed would not be king. however, the amount of bureaucratic power he has assembled, and the apparent commitment of the king to his succession is -- means that in fact he will be king. now there is a strange reality where he can't become king because he is so radioactive in washington, we will see how they figure that one out. but, the point i'm making is that it has become easier to distinguish national and institutional prerogatives in turkey but in saudi arabia it is all intentionally mixed up.
this isn't an accident or a weird thing. at the same time, that's one of the big differences, where ideologically saudi arabia and turkey serves as a model for everyone to immediately come into a problem is the republicanism of the turkish model or the brotherhood model. it's not exactly a brotherhood party but it is a sunni, islamist, and republican party. so in that sense, i think you're right. and none of that is in true -- none of that is true of saudi arabia. i do want to say one thing, this business of islamism is, i think, you are absolutely right to locate the fundamental cost reduction here between turkey and its allies like catarrh on
the one hand, and the uae on the other. that is the one nation in the region that is unequivocally opposed to all forms of political islam and politicalization of islam, and the islamization of politics. that is an anathema to uae's perspective. they are committed to secular politics in the region, and to the separation of religion and politics. of course, this is not true of saudi arabia. particularly under mohammed is anti-muslim brotherhood to some extent come in a more general sense, but you can't have saudi arabia standing in the way between religion and politics because saudi arabia presents itself as an which is a
religious state, custodian of the mosques and a pure islamic state with the koran as its constitution and all that, so it's not possible. secondly, you know, you could say well, the difference between status quo islamic politics or republican versus monarchical, the point is, there is no clear break in saudi arabia, the way there is. the second thing is that mohammed is not categorically opposed to all muslim brothers. the example here is yemen. saudi arabia in the northern part of yemen, where it has been operating has been increasingly working with a muslim brotherhood party in yemen which presents itself as part of this wave of post- islamist groups, who have broken with three aspects of muslim brotherhood structure,,
which is the revolutionary nature, conspiratorial nature, and especially above all transnational. these groups say we are not revolutionary, we don't want to change the system, we don't do anything in secret, and we are not transnational, we comment on tunisia and tunisian foreign policy. jordanian muslim brothers take the tradition, moroccan brotherhood takes this position, in the end i think saudi arabia could live up with -- end up living with this situation because they don't return to the arab spring or revolution, it doesn't threaten the state. that would potentially be the saudi perspective. uae would find all of it
threatening. so that is that extension. i just want to say you can imagine that in the next decade, if everyone is recast as post- islamist, in a movement with lacking those three qualities, revolutionary, conspiratorial and transnational, saudi arabia could become very comfortable with that potentially. or, not. >> let's get into american policy now. is there a way for the united states to reengage and support both of these traditional allies in a way that helps them revel -- resolve their differences. turkey for example would not be happy within the iranian nuclear weapon. turkey is not happen with
iran's expansion on the ground through the mediterranean. so, how do we harness them together in this situation better than we have been doing, and what is it that everyone -- that the turkish president wants from the khashoggi incident that he would need to get, and is it going to be necessary for mbs to make some concessions because of the khashoggi matter, and is it useful for the united states to be imposing sanctions on turkey and saudi arabia if we are going to be trying to bring them closer together in an effort to contain our common adversaries, which includes russia. that's a big question. it's a question about what should american policy be now. ambassador, do you want to talk first? >> sure.
i think we can all be very brief here because what american policy? this has been an interesting conversation to me thus far. in my remarks, i tried to point out that obviously in different roles, saudi arabia and turkey have been absolutely critical partners in the post-world war ii international order. and i think that behooves us, before we let all this drift away, to go sit under a tree somewhere and consider what our vital interests are, what they have been and where they are likely to go, and then bring traditional regional partners into the conversation. what does turkey envision as
the gains it would like to make. losses to avoid. same thing is elsewhere. but, if you're going to do that, you've got to have a policy. we are kind of short in that department. i would like to say it is just the middle east, but it seems to be pretty well global right now. i can go back to that kind of waking nightmare, if not us, then who. if not us, with what consequences for our own security and international security. i find that a very frightening view right about now. on the plus side, i think we have heard from both of my colleagues here, that there is a flexibility and pragmatism in both leaderships, to who they can live with and who they can't. and i certainly garnered from that, that we would have a lot to work with, in the region if
we had a framework to work from. this isn't helped by the fact that this administration has not seen fit to move expeditiously, if at all, on things like ambassadorial secretary appointments, you know, almost 2 years in, we don't have ambassadors in a really important places like riyadh. the nomination is a career soldier, not a diplomat. we have two diplomats to reality, the saudi's did not like either of the ones we appointed. and they were short of tour.
what they don't seem to want in the kingdom is someone with the background and skills to make the politics of the royal family less opaque than they are because they want opaque. now, i don't think john is a fluent arabic speaker but he knows the kingdom and the region. let's see how he does out there. it's the worst possible time for the saudi's to take issue with who we send to riyadh, but so did jim moran until they found out how deeply he could get into their society. not to get lost in the weeds, but i think what we've done here is to convince ourselves of how important these relationships really are, and that we've got a lot to work with, as well as against, and that puts us back
on the overarching question, you can't do any of this without a policy. >> can i just say, i think from the saudi's perspective, a return of u.s. leadership would be most welcome. there would be a tremendous lot to work with. i'll defer to my colleague on other perspectives in the region but i think the saudi's are hoping for a much more robust american presence, and have clearly bitten off more than they can chew in some places. and in other places, like in syria, they are relying entirely on the united states, to indirectly pursue their interests. and in iraq, and all got to be a collaborative effort between saudi arabia and others working politically and financially to incentivize the iraqis to come back into the arab fold and
have iran playing its role. there is a commonality where they face a combination of what the united states, saudi arabia, and kuwait bring to the table. confronting any of those three on their own, i think iran is in much better shape to continue to wield undue authority. iraq sets a good example of where these countries actually need each other to succeed in the very limited policies that are being pursued right now. so, there is a tremendous lot to work with. >> i don't know -- to what extent you are following that developments, but this is a very likely prospect -- prospect with what president trump is doing, around may come
to the brink of collapse sooner than later. we have iranian civilization on the prospect, and we need to deal with syria and yemen, so that should be a simultaneous policy for syria and yemen, to deal with this destabilization, how will we deal with this? so okay, these tough guys, you know, the powerful leaders agree that this is an issue but how will they handle it? >> the policy of reducing iran's influence in yemen, iraq, and syria. >> i don't know what is going to happen after.
it may be policy to deal with that, but sometimes, policies to work harder on syria and yemen, to handle that. if so, let's take the kind of signal from saudi arabia, from the united states, there is a clear plan and policy on iran as well as a renewed engagement , syria will be a good signal to be on the board. but you know, before the agenda, the featured policy in turkey, turkey will try really hard as we have seen, we have seen enough similar developments in iraq for these countries.
>> can i add one very quick thing, it occurs to me -- we are saying that a strong u.s. engagement, american leadership would be so welcome, that if there were over a short period of time, a reestablishment of trust and confidence in the united states, the united states could even shift to trying to be a balancing power in the region with success, with the backing of riyadh, what makes it so hard is not that u.s. policy isn't pleasing, it's that there is no confidence. if there is confidence and trust, you could have even a more challenging policy, and be successful. >> i've tried to reflect a lot of the questions that came out of the audience here, but there is one i want to read from ambassador crocker, i will make it the last question.
if you were to write a new version of the perfect storm a memo, what would your main warning be to the current administration. >> it would be pretty much what it would have been with the previous administration. and again, i know this is getting repetitive, but it is important enough to repeat. do not cast aside american global leadership without a very careful considerations of the consequences. we have talked about that in the middle eastern context. well, take a look at europe. the rise of forces throughout europe, basically, of extreme right-wing orientation. among other things, on the board of governors we oversee the voice of america, radio
free europe, we have restarted our hungarian language service through radio free europe, out of concern for the way the current government seems to be controlling individual liberties and press liberties. you may have seen stories over the last couple days, how they are shutting down their own immediate now. why is this important? because, horrific things have come out of europe in the 20th century. two world wars and the holocaust. and world war ii and the holocaust are still in living memory. do we really think that kind of thing can never happen again? that we have reached the end of history? so yes, our post-world
war ii effort was directed at containment of the soviets. the subtext was european unity, not just against the soviet union, but european unity under u.s. leadership, to structure really start to develop the institutions and orientations that would make a return to the kind of conflict and genocides impossible. we can see now how impossible that might get. so, it isn't just the middle east, it isn't just the middle eat -- middle east in europe. advocating in east asia, well, the chinese were over there
agitating again. my efforts would not be on the middle east except by example it would be on the world. what kind of world do we want to see, and what are its implications for us. >> i just want to say, that within a day or so, is the video of this conference, it will be up on our website, which is www.mepc.org. and then we will have the winter 2018 journal which will be out after christmas. having said that, i want to thank the panel very much, for a great destruction -- great conversation. >> that was great, thank you so much.
sunday on q&a. >> i've worked with for people who once were future presidents. jimmy carter, bill clinton, barack obama, and to my surprise, donald trump. >> peter ausmus, publisher of many best-selling nonfiction books. >> i came to understand about donald trump, this is profoundly important from the
way things work now, donald trump and -- in his heart of hearts believes he always wins. here's a guy who has been in new york real estate gambling, boxing, wrestling, beauty contest, television, construction. he's never been the target of a criminal investigation. that is astonishing in new york city. >> a conversation with longtime journalist and publisher, sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span q&a. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service, by america's cable television companies. and today, we continue to bring unfiltered coverage of congress. the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington dc and around the country.