tv Washington This Week CSPAN December 28, 2013 12:00pm-2:01pm EST
you can tell us what you think on twitter using #c-span chat or on our facebook page at facebook.com/cspan. i think radio is the longest and best form of media that is left. you and charlie rose need to read books the way i read books in order to talk to the author seriously. it is revealing when they have had the book read. vision i can many people who actually have read their book with page notes. it is so rewarding. this is the best interview i have had on this tour. i love the interview on the things that matter.
>> that makes my day. i like an abundance of time. >> more with hugh hewitt. >> now a discussion with u.s./saudi relations and how it has been impacted by the nuclear deal with the ran an series of nuclear war. this runs 1.5 hours. >> good morning. thank you for being here. we are going to go for an hour and a half year. we're going to speak for 45 minutes to an hour, then open
for questions and answers. thank you for coming to hudson. thank you to our c-span audience. thank you for this wonderful panel. elliott abrams was debbie national security advisor for global democracy strategy. he is a senior fellow at the council on foreign relations. brian is a senior fellow at the center for american progress focusing on the middle east and north africa. he is author of "the prosperity agenda." in the meantime, i want mr. abrams to make a few comments and first. then we will have a discussion. thank you. >> thank you for being here today.
i wanted to start by saying some of the discussion of u.s. saudi relations is over done in the sense of a hopeless crisis that will result in incurable differences. this is an old relationship. 75 years old. there have been a lot of ups and downs. what ever the challenges today, think of 1973. the arab oil embargo. an act of war against the united states. think of 2001. the relationship has been through crises. and survived them. another positive point, the relationship is more supple, thicker today than in years in the past. there have been times when the relationship was king president.
that is about it. you now have an institutionalized relationship. there is a middle middle relationship. there is a cia intel relationship. fbi. a treasury, ministry of finance relationship. it doesn't just depend on one or two individuals. obviously the relationship is based to a large degree on oil. even there, one should expand a little. there was a reliance on the cold where -- cold war on the union, and alliance against iran. there was an appreciation over the last decades of what i would
call professional, reliable saudi handling of oil as the world swing oil supplier, and of money by the saudi treasury and investment authorities. it is been an alliance of two very different societies. that can be hidden. if you are an american official, dealing with foreign minister, you don't have the sense that you're dealing with someone who cannot navigate your culture. still, these are two very different societies when it comes to matters like religious freedom, treatment of women. that is a growing problem. it wasn't a big problem for many
decades. we had a lot of allies that were different societies and that were in some cases dictatorships starting with joseph stalin. we went through a long. where the internal situation in a friendly country didn't matter to us. it matters more and more now as human rights values get globalized. as america pays overtime more attention to those questions. we no longer say that is a different culture. i think that is going to be more important because what has been missing for over the decades has been the saudi end of that. as we heard from the royal family, we did hear from the people of saudi arabia. partly because of technology. now there are blog posts. the saudi people appear just a little bit as actors. that has to increase, it seems to me.
that will increase over years saudi oil is less important to us because of the trends towards north american energy independence. the influence will decline radical -- decline rather than grow. there is a crisis of confidence here over egypt in particular, and iran. the saudis have relied on this to be in a confrontation with iran. we have been. they are worried the united states will decide not to be an confrontation with iran. our views on iran are fundamental a different than ours. our problems, if the islamic republic, would disappear.
it isn't clear the saudi's problems would disappear. i would add one other thing. the crisis we are having in relations now, the difficulties in relations, a lack of communication, which can be blamed on the administration, but of course several of the top people in saudi arabia are very old and sick. having the relationship we had 10 years ago would be far more difficult today. saudi arabia may in the next few years in terror a succession crisis. the king is over 90 years old and not in good health. the crown prince is apparently in worse health. we make it a succession crisis during the obama administration. never since the establishment of this government have we not known who is next.
it is not clear that the crown prince can take over. is well enough to take over. you have that succession problem at a time when they are reaching the end of the brothers tom and are going to have to confront the question of going to the next generation. that happens at a moment when tension with the united states is as high as it has been since 2001. our influence in saudi arabia is as small as it has been in a long time. that is an unfortunate combination of events. i should stop there and turn the mic back. >> great. thank you. first, i want to say happy holidays to you all.
especially those watching on c- span. if you are watching this, you should be watching it's a wonderful life. we hope to have a good discussion here. thanks to the hudson institute for the work that you do. i don't agree with a lot, but i agree with everything -- i am enriched by it. i hope the dialogue here today, yesterday i was reading the latest edition of current trends in islamist ideology. even if i don't agree with that, and helps enlighten my thinking. what i wanted to do was make three overall points to get discussion going. a snapshot on u.s. saudi relations based on the statements from saudi leaders. second, an assessment of what i
see is saudi strategy, and, the u.s. strategy to structure it that way. just to start out, to show you how bad things had to come in the u.s. saudi relations, three quotes. a letter from dash to the president of united states. at a time when people are at a crossroads. it is time for the united states and saudi arabia to look at separate interest. a saudi official here in washington saying that he doesn't mince words like the president. if the u.s. doesn't do more to reduce the violence, here he was talking in the west bank and gaza, there will be consequences for u.s. interest. third, from from a diplomatic cable writing about a dollar -- abdulla.
u.s. policy has given i rock to iran -- iraq to iran. he appeared to be questioning u.s. policy. i highlight the statements because they come from 2001, 2002, and 2005. it has been a lot of chatter about the most recent statements. quite visible protestations about u.s. policy. to demonstrate that there has been a consistency of criticism coming from saudi arabia. to those of you who speak arabic, when i read the recent comments, the phrase -- came to mind. empty talk. there are still strong interest. i fundamentally agree with elliot that there is a value and disconnect between our two
countries. ultimately, we have heard through the years a lot of talk. and overanalysis as u.s. policy has shifted, whether it was last decade or currently, trying to adjust to the complicated currents in the middle east. saudis have talked a lot. when you look at what they do, it is sometimes way different. the second point, about the saudi strategy. a paper i did two years ago, some of it is still relevant. the paper was interesting to look at how saudi arabian self to find its national security interest. we look at things from our lens,
and what you get out of this relationship? it was interesting to interview people not only in the government, but outside of the government in the ngo sector. my main conclusion was that saudi arabia touches below its weight given its resources, its conventional military power, and given its unique status in the islamic world. if you neutrally try to assess what it's objectives over the last 10 years, it has not done a good job in presenting itself interest. we can talk about the islamist ideology. i hope we talk about it. it is an important one. quite simply, over the last 10 years, they have not wanted iranian influence to spread. what they have seen is the spread of iranian influence. the saudi's have said they would like to advance the arab peace initiative.
if you go to them and ask what is your strategy, what is your tactic to get that done, grumbles and complaints, but not a clear strategy. finally, despite wealth, when you look at how wealthy the country should be and the economic inequalities, dealing with a young population, protests in a certain part of saudi arabia. they have able to he the lid on this. if you look at the long-term trend, it is hard to see how this hangs together. how this is, men are he to elliott's point. -- how this is complementary to elliott's point. i would highlight, and many may disagree, over the last 10 years i've seen a remarkable continuity of u.s. policy and u.s. saudi policy, from policy in the region. what has changed a lot is the overall strategic context.
what has changed a lot is the overall strategic context. from 1933 to 2003, it was easier to define and discern what was the relationship. i will quibble with the title because it is technically not an alliance. we have alliances with european partners. israel is a major non-nato ally. saudi arabia has been a marriage of answers.
oil is at the core. for decades, the u.s. use saudi arabia as an important -- .19 79, to the iranian influence. whenever you think about the containment strategy of the united states, when the iraq war happened, there is criticism of it, but my concern is that a change the strategic paradigm in the region. this policy has created for the last 10 years the situation of strategic drift. one where there has been a lot
of tactical reactive management. i'm not assessing this from the level of residential speeches. but in terms of actual u.s. policy. it has been a model and tactical. not certain of what it wants to achieve. back to the u.s., saudi arabia should and should -- back to the relationship. saudi arabia is one of many actors try to throw its weight around. the counterterrorism corporation is strong on some levels, but worrisome when you talk about syria and other things. we could talk for the whole session about this. the relationship is quite strong. another sizable anti-take ezell delivered from
-- iran, why they have been stating publicly their concerns, you ask them if they accept the agreement, strip away the rhetoric and you'll see there is a pragmatism that is there. syria is a big divide. egypt, again, syria's different. which is where i will close. despite the tensions, there is common interest. divergence of values. we need to talk about its. if i have advice for this current administration, what i hear a lot is that there is nobody they perceive inside the obama white house as their go to parson. somebody they can talk to. not because we love them and share their values, in terms of effectively advancing policy interests. that would be one recommendation.
they want somebody they can talk to and listen to. their public statements are reflection of their own frustration with the advancement of their goals. i would submit user that is not a bad thing for u.s. policy. may be a potential for leverage if it is exercised in some sort of way. coming back to this broader point, i don't think we know what we want in the region. this a problem not only of the obama administration, but it's predecessor. we are at a complicated point. i do not see a major break coming, and it needs to be manage. >> that is terrific. there is a lot to go on with those two statements. hearing you speak, one of the things we agree on when you talk about the different problems with coming up in saudi society, the three of us agreed it would actually be a good thing, a positive thing if the united
states of american policymakers had an active role to steer saudi society in a positive direction. >> in the old days, there were very many of them. he had unrivaled access to the white house. the british or french ambassador would call up on monday and say is rate possibility i could see the president. he would call me to come over at 4:00. he used to annoy me a lot. why should they have that access? president bush said i'm not influencing him, -- he is not influencing me, i am influencing him. this is how i get a reply. it was, it worked. a little bit of discounting, because you knew that some piece of the message was manned our. basically it worked. i fully agree that tom donlin was the point man for the saudi's. the system is not been fixed of
that there is somebody whom they and we view as the intermediary. that is unfortunate. we do want to influence them. they have a lot of influence in syria. they have an active syria policy. have an active bar rain policy. -- they have an active bar rain policy. i completely agree with the instinct, but the devil is in the details of how you implement that. what i glided over, and the first year, the saudis felt they were on their heels.
they lost partners. they thought the united states and thrown mubarak under the bus. because of the lack of credible economic and democratic reforms. on yemen, they played a constructive role, a curious thing that a monarchy is playing a role in mediating a pathway towards what could have potential for continued openness in the political system. yemen has terrorism problems. i think again, they have punch below their rate tried to contain iran. there response, they perceive that three certain lands. their reaction, they contain that there.
the biggest cap, their perceptions about iraq remains a huge challenge carried it is connected to syria. when they saw the u.s. administration in september in particular walk away from what they thought would be even targeted, limited strikes, they ran a process of trying to [indiscernible] they and others are all in. it is presenting -- and with dangerous groups. i think by 2014, it is coming out in the press, this it ministration recognizing that the threat in northern syria are starting to rival some of the
other security threats united states faces in the middle east. >> i'm sitting here trying to figure out if i agree that they are punching below their way. the reason i am thinking, the comparison miller make that best is saudi arabia and cutter -- saudi arabia and cutter. all there is is money. there has been extremely effective use of that money. if you compare the last 10 years of diplomacy, use of money with the saudi's, you absolutely conclude they punch below their weight. if you compare it to iran, i ran has three times the population
of saudi arabia. the percentage of the population that is involved in the life of the country, that has a decent education, our professionals, women active in some way in the economy, i ran is a much more modern country in saudi arabia. it isn't surprising that the saudis would have a hard time taking on a country with three times the population, and is much more modern. it is true. i wonder if really, if you look at the country with its wealth, the amazing achievement is the countries. if you take them out of the equation, i do not know if they are punching below its weight. in the days they are punching
above its weight, when it was spending all this money to spread extremist ideology. you had wahabi mosques and schools rolling off in indonesia and malaysia. that was not a good thing. >> i'm not casting judgment. in terms of the article, if you measure those resources, and you share those goals, you certainly could do better. again, i'm saying -- i'm not saying that would be good for u.s. interest. i'm trying to clinically analyze it. an important point is that especially since 2011, but it preceded this, the region has slipped into this multidimensional competition for
power. that is just one feature. you look at turkey's role and how it did not punch above its weight. we are at transition. it is not simply who was backing who. it is using money, it is the use of media. staking of that -- it is staking a bet. those that are divided politically are the cold wars of the region played out in places like yemen or lebanon. he continues to go on. syria is the most dangerous place. >> let's talk about syria right now. in some ways, looking at it from a saudi perspective, what is the real issue. the united states appears to want to rebalance the region?
basically rebalancing the saudi's and the israelis off of each other? our problem is that the -- syria might be more accurate of what is happening around the region. like what the iranians are fighting for and how the iranians are fighting. if i could just eat your thoughts. >> it is pretty clear that king of dollar -- americans handed them a rock. this is a quote that brian read. they still have that view. you're not doing anything about hezbollah. you have troops and
expeditionary forces in syria fighting. this is a matter of the shia becoming the dominant force in the region. what are you doing about it? you don't even recognize it. i think that is the fundamental view. they are fighting to win. you guys don't even seem to recognize this is a fight with the shia. that is not the american view. >> the problem is not the shia. they are really that upfront about saying the front in. >> i think these are not the speeches that officials may, but i think that in addition to the problems with the saudi's under any management, there is the deep religious conflict here. rivalry, a conflict may be a
better word. there we have obviously an american, saudi gap. our problem is with the islamic republic and its nefarious foreign policy. our problem is not with shia or persians. quite the syria case,, another example of how saudi arabia has a stated goal. they would like to see assad go. it is in alignment with u.s. policy. u.s. policy actually is not in alignment with that statement. if you look at 2013, any serious neutral analyst will say this has been a good year for the assad regime in terms of its ability to stay in power. a horrible year for the syrian people. even for people who were part of the assad regime i would go back to what the missions are.
the analyst that i figure credible, the absence of any strategy to advance their goal. maybe it is the saudi strategy. it is similar to the u.s.. you get in terms of knowledge the obama administration, this reticence to go into -- so you can evaluating and say we don't have any strategy that will meet our goals, but the saudi's are doing that. they are doing things in ways that maybe not topple the regime, the creates the security problem that could quite rival the challenges we see in yemen or northwest pakistan. i fear and 2014 the situation could slip rapidly.
in some of the recent visits i've had there, talking about gcc arrive at support to these militant groups, the recent trend with madurese leaving, this is not an encouraging sign. you can criticize u.s. policy. there is a gap between what the policy is doing on the ground. the gap is even greater given saudi's self-interest. they are not being terribly effective with undermining the regime. >> i agree with that. if i were a saudi spokesperson, i would say to you that is the
fault of the americans. >> right. >> we're trying to fight. we're doing what we can with help from others in the region. very hard to do with americans on the sideline. but we have cap assad from winning. we have kept the rebellion alive. it is true that the non-jihad he elements are declining versus the jihad elements. that is your fault. you come in with us in the beginning. we would have had this power vacuum that has led to be a magnet for jihad around the world.
we are not prepared to see assad win. that means that hezbollah has one in our country. we are not prepared to see that. you handed them iraq. iraq at least is majority shia country. we are not per power -- we are not prepared to see the shia take over. >> i will ask you both. at what point do the saudis have a point when it if there with american policy, and at what point when brian challenged the title of the panel, it is not alliance in that way. it is relationship. it seems to be a problematic relationship. insofar as a lot of it has to do with oil for security. it is been a lot of times the saudi's screaming at the americans do this, do that. before that, it is best to leave
them, guide them, influence them. at what point when they are saying this are they right? when they are talking about syria or iran? we need you as a superpower leading, or you are wrong on syria. how do we distinguish the noise from when they are correct. >> you could argue they are already right in this regard. i would respond in terms, back to strategic interests and how having a clear plan of how this this go, if you wanted to go into in all in strategy, i don't think it won't happen. i won't say for certain base in my own assessments. you look at the fallout from what would have been a failed
vote in congress on very limited strikes. selling this case to the american public firm -- selling this to the american public will require a fundamental change on the ground. >> the president has been undermining policy and syria for 2.5 years. >> what i'm suggesting here is that they will have a wake-up call until they have something that directly affects u.s. interests, like the collapse of jordan. something on that order would require the administration primarily, but also the united states to wake up and say middle east after 10-12 years -- i testified in congress, and why should we care. the practical case for engagement, if i were advising the administration in a clear way on syria, it would be assess what these actors are doing right now.
we have a london 11 group. who is doing what on the ground. that is going to convene. god bless them. diplomacy does not have much of a chance of an impact unless it is willing to power dynamics on the ground. the lack of -- what is missing is regional contact, difficult though it may be. the bush administration, when iraq was at its darkest moment, took part in regional diplomacy conferences. maybe it didn't do much practically.
but it was one of those pieces in addition to a military surge that led to a chromatic -- that led to a pragmatic dialogue to into some of the worst behaviors. if that makes sense. there is no regional strategy as far as i can tell. >> we are on complete agreement. you can negotiate a deal that doesn't reflect reality. if you want to do the deal, you have to change reality on the ground. we are not doing that. >> the more i'm hearing you speak, you distinguish yourself. we are agreeing on a number of different things. >> the point where i might disagree it is easy enough to say here is what you would do to map out a case of balance of power on the ground.
people i secretary kerry might tell you, there was a delay in doing that and there is a slowness in that. part of it was a low appetite amongst those in congress. i'm not blaming them. but there is just not an appetite. there was a great appetite and power that shape with the u.s. could do in this part of the world. it was squandered. it continues to be squandered in part because we believe this, we have made mistakes, but we believe that we can't do anything. that is or is me the most. i hope to continue to work on this. the sense that we do not have
power to do anything, which we talk about all the time on egypt. it clearly demonstrates that they think they don't have much influence. it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. >> i would add one point. i do not know if this is just a fact of life, but they are critical of u.s. policy, but unable to do anything about it. it is striking.
you do have the influence within the administration. they do not have the influence in the u.s. with the public. they cannot move public opinion. maybe that is asking too much. at times the british have been able to do it. at times the israelis have been able to do it. though they spent a ton of money on pr firms in washington, they can't do it. they are left feuding and effectively. half move the needle. >> one interesting thing. i did want to come to this. when people have been saying that americans are the picture, societies will look for other options. i'm not sure exactly what that looks like. one of the things we have heard about his excellent coordination of secrets, between the israelis and saudi's. one of the things that struck me is the criticism of the interim deal with iran, many people are used to writing critical
appraisals of this administration. it is not good for our allies and israel, but also not good for our allies in saudi arabia. this is different. in some ways, the saudi's might be benefiting from the fact that they and the israelis are in line. >> i would suggest this could lead to something else. there are inherent limits to whatever cooperation that could be on iran. their biggest issue with we the arab israeli conflict. it still is an important issue. the other point, when people talk about the u.s. about the presence in the region, that is highly inaccurate. you go as i did this fall, and you see what it is like in the states. if you read secretary hagel speech, it is quite clear there
is no other military force. i see no sign of retreat of the u.s. in the region. also, there's been talk about major shift here. i would say that this is probably more modest than has been portrayed when you look at not only the fact that the security threats that iran presents, their support for terrorist rips and other things, the fact we've been there for decades in the region, i don't
see us retreating in any way. if we were going to do that, we might have done that in by rain bahrain. even if dealing with the sanctions on iran, and made interesting points, there is no naivete about that, that will still remain in place because of iran's ballistic missiles program and support for terror and is asians. just my cold calculus, i don't think this debt represents anything but an attempt at diplomacy. >> i think if you go back to 2009, president comes office wishing to engage. the theory that part of the problem with countries like serious and iran was the bush administration, or bush policy. that he could not do because of
people in the region who are scared of this, we have lived in a world where higher -- weather has been iranian u.s. confrontation. if they believe they can and it single-handedly, believe that iran is change enough so that there needn't be a confrontation, attitudes are going to get scary. from their point of view, the ministration is concerned about one thing. for the saudi's, and others, that is just one issue. there is terrorism. there is subversion. there is the eastern province. there is -- so i can understand why even in the context of having an agreement with israel,, interest of the nuclear program, they see that the united states has a different or fundamental difference with iran.
>> the people talk about the iranians. we have had problems with home, but if you need more evidence, look at what they've done in syria. it is an expeditionary force. no matter what happens, saudi concerns there makes sense. >> i think they would echo those concerns. a lot of actions to have an impact. this shift from a strategic paradigm, probably not a good time sustainable strategy in itself, but it had consequences.
it had consequences me talk to people inside of saudi arabia and iraq. what i'm suggesting is the whole region is in this time of competition for implements -- cop petition for implements. i think the fracture in the middle east, because of the sunni axis is itself fracture. i go to places which our reliable partners, when they look at their regional perception, we used to fear arab spread incoherence. now we fear is weakness. i think this model picture, it is a model -- i think it is a model picture in the middle east. it is easier for me to sit there and write papers. when you're trying to --
>> this is good. let me ask you then, i want to ask questions, but let me ask you both since you mention this. what would, if you think the strategic vision has fallen apart, what do you think is a clear and farsighted strategic vision in the middle east? what world is saudi arabia play for the foreseeable future? in a clear-sighted, american strategy. >> i would say talking long- term, i would start with it depends on the type of saudi arabia we are talking about.
the shaping of saudi future the most reliable partners are countries like israel and jordan. you want societies to have a fabric of more inclusive that he and openness. people like to malign the freedom agenda. i was in the middle east working as democratic promotion. i believe that. one thing is how to elevate that pragmatically. we are not going to be the ones to steer the change. there was a strategic dialogue in the bush administration. >> it made us feel better. >> yes.
so more critically, what strikes me, this is a problem that cuts across the administration. when you go, and the discussion you have is consent forms, there could be a more practical lending to issues. the 1.i would say -- the societies are destructive. being more adept at trying to guide that, look at how weak the state department's are. just the lack of what the other states of done, the main point would be what can we do in terms of the lessons learned. there has been a lot of that criticism.
while also attending to our day- to-day interest. that is easier said than done. i do not know if elliott has a reaction to that. >> you could rephrase your question. why would herman con saying? you are looking 10 years, 50 years. in which american independence on oil will decline. i agree that one of the key variables here, tell me what is going on in those societies. we didn't predict the turmoil in so many arab countries that we have seen since 2011. what will saudi arabia be like 5-10 years from now? will it be a generally calm society? a revolutionary society?
i think some of the issues are the internal issues that we haven't talked much about. i used to work for senator monahan. the most disruptive thing in any society, including the united states is unemployed young men. unemployed young men are dangerous. the saudi arabians have a large number of unemployed young men. whose education is such that the idea that they are going to find a job next year is hard to believe. that is a big area bowl. -- that is a big variable. we are in the final years statistically speaking of the rule of the king. what kind of king will he be? what kind of performance where there be?
a big variable. the other one i would throw in, it is the islamic republic. that is the security issue. someday, the islamic republic will fall. the people will get what they want, which is a decent, just democratic society. it may take 35 years. who knows. until that day comes, the strategy needs to be the main bulwark against the extremism, subversion, terrorism, aggression of the islamic republic. our friends in the region can't do it without us. this administration has at best, an unclear policy with this respect which has made our friends nervous. >> i will disagree a little bit.
there is more continuity in that policy. when you look at u.s. policy since 1979 and the islamic revolution, the iranian influence. under the bush administration, the last two years, there were different strategies that both contain and amp up containment through global economic sanctions while also engaging the p5 plus one. when i talk about continuity, that is there. the paradigm what the possibilities are. the architecture, our intelligence and has not fundamentally changed.
that is where we will disagree a little bit. people over read the engagements and attempts at diplomacy. the fundamental architecture is quite consistent. where it goes is a big question. this whole issue of containment, the bargains we met, the partnership we built, with some of these actors like saudi arabia -- our talk. what were the costs and benefits? to me, i think that is where the issue of long-term how society treats other people as sense of decency and standards is terribly important now for the region itself because the regimes understand. they cannot turn back the tide. all of the criticisms of the attempts at reform in the region and what i think, my main criticism is too much of it became militarized from the u.s.
standpoint. our engagement post-iraq. there has been an under analysis of what would've done with our economic policies and what could be done with our diplomacy to foster better change. if you want to give up and go home. i think the real downside to the whole paradigm is we would build alliances with regimes is self. it lives in bubbles itself. >> let me agree on one point of continuity. you have this extraordinary event of iran plotting to blow up the saudi ambassador in georgetown. the american reaction to that was nothing. that is continuity. they are ready and have been killing americans and plotting to kill for decades under several presidents of both parties. the american reaction is almost always nothing.
we have seen and i dentist and and iraq and saudi arabia -- iraq and afghanistan and saudi arabia. we do not reply. that is unfortunately proof of your point. the outrages have paid no price iranians have paid no price under administrations. unfortunately, it emboldened them. you like to think there was a debate into iran on whether it was wise to blow up a restaurant in georgetown. some people, saying it is crazy. it's the acts of war and other saying it's nothing. the latter was right. >> a pretty good idea. the americans will not do anything. why don't we open it up for a few questions. the gentleman in the front. i believe we have a microphone. wait to the microphone arrives and introduce yourself. please try to keep it brief. so we get an answer to your question. a minute? >> one variable none of you
>> one variable none of you talked about is the economic impact of the relationship with saudi arabia in terms of jobs. if you look at the relationship quantified, we benefit from job creation by selling arms and goods and services. over 30,000 americans and saudi arabia. on the question of what authorities think we are leaving. no one believes -- what today are concerned about is the power changing the status quo. they know what is in there. they need us there. finally, brian mentioned the fact there's no coordination. whenyou talk to the saudi's, they talk about bush 41. a great relationship. they consulted with us. we were aware of what was going on. now, they will tell you about the negotiations with iran and turkey and france.
they said we should be included in the negotiations about nuclear weapons. [indiscernible] >> can rephrase that as a question? >> just to respond, those linkages we do not explore. economic. they are vital. they are in worked. we often think about the middle east just as saudi arabia and its relationships. what struck me at strikes me is the growth linkages not only to chinese energy but the gulf and saudi arabia. those linkages are quite important as well. we have the stovepipe discussion about our policy. they view this is very
important. i agree with the rest of your comments. i sympathize. >> in the back? a microphone is coming. does it work ok? somebody had a little trouble. >> hello. i want to thank everybody for this discussion and for the accommodation. i guess my question really is for brian katulis. i guess it starts from your dissatisfaction with our syria policy at the moment. but the president has now said that syria is somebody else's civil war. i wonder what you think is the argument for why it is something else that would be persuasive
within the administration or to the american public? it would seem to me that the argument would be it is not merely a civil war, it is a regional civil war. a sunni-shiite war. we have concern about that. and as elliott suggested, iran, that side is winning. that would be the issue that would have to be raised. i wonder how you make that argument would we are embracing iran. >> yeah, i agree with you. i would add to the fact the spillover you are seeing in terms of -- it seems fairly contained. the regional implications. they are rolling out as we speak.
i think probably the thing -- i am talking about the american public. i fear political leaders from president obama and members of congress. they are reacted in a sense. especially after 10 years of what i think erroneously was seen -- we made mistakes. that engagement had we stuck with it would have lasting impact. i think the only thing that would be a wake-up call unfortunately would be a major terrorist event. something emanating from northern syria. what i am suggesting is it is not conceivable. in the way the attempted bombing in december 2009 on christmas day. a wake-up call, my fear -- not my hope, but my fear, that something similar.
that provoked a response from the administration. people can agree or disagree -- it was a brutal response. it was effective. >> i am concerned c-span viewers will take matters into their own hands. >> not a recommendation. when you look at the plots. focused, less so than the regional argument. a regional argument flies over the head a many congressmen testifying recently. the public, especially those who serve in some of these places, people are in a cool. what did we achieve? was it worth the squeeze? that's unfortunate. i am not calling for -- my fear
is income-producing wake-up call giving we are going to a midterm election and we so internally focused on giving hyper dysfunction we have seen. >> let me say, i agree even congress -- the public -- i think that had the president has done it ontv and did one of these last night and said to the american people, we do not want to leave our children in a world where chemical weapons are used and parts of the everyday arsenal. we cannot allow that. i have done the following. i think he could've got a substantial amount of support. in reality, where things are going with the deal that was struck, you would've had the open question. the weapons are not secured.
i am arguing. i do not think it was a well-thought-out strategy. had they done that, i was supported as limited as was, it is inherent risks. the assumption that you have deterrent value. i think it was one that needed to be questioned. not only once from the u.n. report, many more. it produced more of an incentive. for all the zigzag, quite a confusing and messy period. u.s. and israel -- everybody is happy it seems to be a pathway for elimination and secure. if anything, the conflict is still a raging. securing the chemical weapons, we should not undermine what an
accomplishment that was. >> but let me undermine that. >> let me undermine that. [laughter] i do not think assad is giving up his weapons. it is not sensible from assad's point of view. neither do you have to. the weapons we are taking and distorting, the regime has identified. secondly, the price we pay. used to have a policy of getting rid of assad. you do not hear people saying he must go. people close are doing op-eds saying assad may not be as bad as the alternative. >> i would amend.
[laughter] >> the gentleman over here. >> thank you very much for putting together this excellent panel. i like to talk. i am from the iraqi embassy. it's good to see a discussion on saudi arabia. a few things you mentioned. one of them is the argument that 70% of the population -- it is not a good idea to have them ruled by 30%. a strong argument sending troops. also the iraqis -- [indiscernible]
minority rule seeing as equal if not such a bad idea. it depends. the other point, i think is more consequential, the idea is the saudi problem is more a strong state than an american problem. even if iran was to change the conflict, from the perspective of the country who live in the shadow of this conflict that has been distrust of whether lebanon or syria or iraq and the list goes on, it is almost one guy
mention a function of a saudi-iranian conflict. they will always be having this problem from the side of the saudi. where to take the stability of the region? also, brian, your work is known -- >> just a quick answer. on the minorities, i agree with you. it seems to me that the situation is quite unstable. just as the situation in syria was unstable where you can debate the numbers somewhat. clearly, a minority ruling the majority in the minority does not like it and will not up with it anymore. the problem is in different ways
that governments have not responded by saying let's negotiate. i agree with the second part, the long run, let me charge to cheer you up. once upon a time, the united states had a strong alliance with particularly saudi arabia and iran under the shah and we were able to mediate. if the republic falls which i hope and pray, will have a good relationship. maybe, we can go back to the days, where the united states was able as the strongest military power in the region to be a buffer between saudi arabia and iran and try to help maneuver the relationship between them. no, it was the nixon doctrine
that appointed the shah as the sheriff in the region. [laughter] ok. they had a different -- i think the united states could be in a position to do that once we achieve a decent relationship with iran. that cannot happen. >> if i can make a comment on iraq. we have not talked about as much. your view as you read my papers is quite clear. i probably disagree. i think the iraq war was a huge mistake and all the mistakes after. i wrote papers that some would say was shape where we have gone. i was in favor of strategic deployment. if you look at the papers carefully, the 2007 one, and
talk about the need for a continued and robust relationship. that's what i think and i thought was understandable the iraqi government demanded a hard deadline. there was an assertion of serenity. giving advice to the government. i understand it. my clinical analysis was looking at trends instead of iraq. the strategic framework agreement which sent a bureaucratic but cuts to the issue, what would u.s. strategy do? it is a living document. it had the full length of cultural, diplomatic cooperation. the absence of follow through. this is in part because of
inattention at the top of the administration. and the fundamental bureaucratic problems that somebody's agencies. and problems in iraq. i am a pragmatist. i went in and work on the ground. you do what you can. that is what you got. to this day, a missed opportunity. iraq has opportunity. to serve in the future as a bridge in the region -- a constructive bridge. i will criticize the government for not following up sufficiently a bilateral engagement. i would say the u.s. is at fault. this is a missed opportunity to take a sad song and make a better for u.s. policy. >> the gentleman in the fourth row with the dark shirt.
>> i am a student. basically u.s.-saudi arabia-iran have a rivalry. would there be a way the tensions could be put at ease given iran and saudi arabia -- as it is right now? could it be eased? if so, what role does the u.s. have to play? >> i mean, look, if i could say, the only way in the long run and the conditions are present. if you look at the strategic paradigm, the leaders, there looks to be or seems to be a compatibility. at times, they cooperate and have meetings.
there's nothing naturally inherent. this seems soft or 10 years after the agenda incomplete and nobody can do anything about it. these societies will evolve. would you talk about ordinary iranians or saudi's, nothing inherently -- and make them at odds. right now, it does not seem like. elliott mentioned, i would not -- serious divergence has made obvious. even they have a different view of saudis. it was cut off by the sanctions that the bush administration and obama administration should continue to work. my main point, your general
question is somewhat of a general answer. in this short run, i do not see a clear opportunity for cooperation but in the long term, if they evolve in the way that it difficult to predict but any trajectory of an open and inclusive view, there's more opportunity for them to cooperate. presently, no. >> gentleman in the second row. >> i'm an ordinary citizen who has keenly observed the media and the analysts characterized this administration's policy was muddled and reactive and anything but positive. if you could wave a magic wand and established u.s. policy, what would it be? and how would you execute? >> 25 words or less?
>> whether trying to focus on the per se issues especially the saudi arabia. maybe it does not make sense to -- well, people in the region -- this is a big generalization. people in the region see the united states as a declining power in the region. some like it, some hate it. it characterizes most people in the region. to me, the fundamental change needed is to change that. that is to make it clear that not only do we retain the basis, but we are going to use our power. it is hard to do that. that is the place where the struggle is most right now. that would be the largest change
that i would make in the short term. in the long run, a very deep question about how the u.s. relates to changing societies and governments in the arab world. i share brian's view that to be israeli criticism of president obama as completely wrong and unjustified. there is a big question of how do we relate that on the spectrum are pretty far over toward the free? they may be friendly to the united states, what have to work that out of the next 25 or 50 years. right now, 2014, if you want to prove to people in the region that the united states is not a power receding, we cannot do that with a have a different syrian policy.
>> let me answer. as an outside analyst, my first job is a constructive critic of policy. i let my criticism get ahead of what is decent policy from the obama administration and go from there. this is what i would do differently. i would characterize it as pragmatic. given the realities and complexities of the situation. to my taste, it leans back too much and we should lean in. the fundamental is the strategy, the two number one priorities from secretary kerry's time in office. attempting and advancing negotiations which is that the successive administrations have done.
whether they will succeed or not, everybody is clear given the challenges with the palestinians and israelis understandable position. those are two pillars that you can criticize. i happen to believe those priorities are not important. to a third, the bush administration, bashar folks on counterterrorism in places like yemen and around the world. i again, i would highlight this is one place where we need to think more clearly. libya has fallen off the map. it is a particular challenge. the overarching saying that is missing and has been missing from u.s. policy not only in this administration but the bush and clinton and backwards, the broader focus on how do we actually use the tools of diplomacy and economic statecraft? our military strong.
we may disagree. i do not see it leaving in the region. how to actually help ourselves in terms of building partnerships with these countries that have job crisis? fundamental issues? i wrote a book and it talks about -- it dabbles into smart power. i happen to believe we tend to undervalue those components of u.s. power and we do not know how to bring them to bear. that's my point on iraq, all of those tools, no matter what china and india looks like, we are still very strong and people look to us as a place to invest and to get investment from. those tools are underutilized in the middle east. that is a big -- combine and delete -- interlinked for reform.
to the broader point after 30 years of the u.s. investing so much and the terms of security footprint, glad we did that. it is still seen incomplete. the region still fraught with problems. we build alliances that were not economically or politically sustainable. that is the thing. it seems like an academic case. after the last decade of engagement, the pessimism among democrats and republicans, educating them if we cannot have the money for a marshall plan. what i fear is nobody cares. i fear elliott and i and lee, who get paid to write this, we are a smaller community in terms of who was paying smaller
attention. we've squandered that a bit after 9/11. i hope you get it back. our leadership could be important. >> i am going to ask the final question and you can both give an answer. 4 minutes left. we talked about how the saudi's are concerned they no longer have a go to guy in washington. imagine you are the go to guy in washington, what did you tell them? what did you tell them that they need to do and that you believe the united states needs to do to cement a relationship, to make a healthier and more functional as it may or may not be right now? brian, start and elliott. >> three top items.
iran. if we are going into the next year, the request for a p5+2, not practical but ways to buy them and to say this is what we are going to do. if you take a hard look of where the p5+1 and iran is, it seems difficult to bridge. inform them, what i saw as hyperbolic concerns. even getting questions about where is the secret annex in syria, it is easy enough. on the iranian front, we are trying this. that is what secretary hagel was trying to do. syria, assessing who is doing what on the ground? i am skeptical it will succeed.
you did a sense of the ground game and the powers on the ground. i would not leave egypt off the map. it is the largest country in the middle east. my most recent report with michael hanna on this. elliott and i have worked on egypt a lot. moving in a direction that is worrisome. i would keep that on the agenda. the last thing i would say is, may be taking lessons learned, getting saudi arabia to continue the subsidy regions on energy. throw little bones are not likely to sustain your position. the elevation of human rights agenda in a way that is not productive.
i would have is part of the discussion. probably more private but the most egregious cases, calling them out. in a way that is in their self interest. we wanted to build a partnership. we've had a partnership for awhile. the main point, not only with those countries we shares teaching interests but have a greater overlap of value. as a potential in saudi arabia and is there. it needs a considerable amount of work. >> i do not disagree with any of that. i think that is wise. i would add that i think we should be talking to the saudis more. this is about extremism. this is dangerous. they should've learned the
lesson already. to some extent, the government has been more careful than asia and africa in a way the government money is spent. i do not see any serious effort to control vast amounts of private mining that is going to some the worst parts of the world. i want to have that conversation with them. we come back to something that brian said and we are in agreement. the challenges saudi arabia faces. you can look at from the human rights point of view or from the point of view more palatable that it is going to be an increasingly unstable situation. they have not effectively dealt with it. the educational system. you have experiments like king abdullah and the university which is great for people go
there but has a limited impact on the rest. the thing that worries me is we want to have this conversation, but we are doing it to go back -- at a time of potential instability over the succession and saudi arabia. i do not know -- that probably limits our ability even now. something we should've been doing over the past decade and it may be we are not void to have another good -- we may not have another chance to do it. there could be a king for 10 or 20 years. that's they worrisome diagnosis. it could be unfortunately true. >> thank you. that will conclude the panel. i want to thank you, brian and elliott.
thank you hudson institute. thank you for coming. happy holidays. >> the associated press has a story about reports of sexual assault in the military. more than 5000 reports of sexual a full work wild during the fiscal year that ended september 30. that compares with 2012. that is from the associated press. signed anobama authorization bill that addresses some of those problems under the new law.
they will no longer be able to overturn convictions for sexual assault. he has also ordered the military to conduct a year-long review of their efforts. tomorrow, we will discuss the military and potential conflict hotspots next year. this includes afghanistan, syria, and iran. our guest is a defense reporter. that is a look at the second term and where obama stands now. george mason by university presidential historian richard norton smith. washington journal will be live every morning at 7:00 eastern here on c-span. i do not have anything confirmed that i can tell you. >> i think you have to be political. you have to be honest and you have to say things. but still, you have to say to no what they need
to be able to influence them to go for you. it is not being dishonest. it is just finding out they want. letting them know how you can help them with it. first lady's influence and image season two. next week, lady bird johnson to rosalynn carter. highlights from our second season. weeknights at 9:00 eastern. now a discussion on gulf nations like kuwait funding the syrian opposition during that country's serious civil war. this is from the brookings institution. it is 1.5 hours. >> welcome to today's panel. this is on private gulf donors.
brookings institute on u.s. relations with the islamic world. i will be monitoring today's panel. to my left is elizabeth dickinson. she is a correspondent for the newspaper based in abu dhabi. she is the author of a paper about private gulf financing. to her left is kristin, who is a professor at the american university school of international service. she is a nonresident fellow at the atlantic council center. to her left is tom keating. he is a managing director for jpmorgan and an itinerant scholar. that, i want to start with you. when i looked at this issue back
in 2012, i did not are looking up for an financing for extremist groups in syria. i was mainly focused on the groups in syria, one of the largest groups. they are one of the more vocal groups online. they put a lot of material on facebook and twitter. i noticed that they would give very public shout outs to individuals in the gulf. they thank them for money and materials that they were sending. begin to look around and try to find more information. lot in thet a english-language press. you really had to find this in arabic. yours was the only article that i found. early 2013.k in one of the first mentions of this kind of fundraising going on in the gulf. reason, that is when
marc lynch and i collaborated to send you over to kuwait to do some on the ground fieldwork. whatnted you to figure out this funding network was like. how did the kuwaiti fundraising network first get on your radar and why did you first duet -- pursue it? >> we had a similar experience. in would see, particularly the summer of 2012, a lot of mention of kuwait. there was no clear connection. no one could put the pieces together. i started hearing this more and more and decided that, it would be worth following up. it took the first x months for me to piece together the social network. 2013, we were really able to pretty definitively say that we had emerged as the ending hub for the syrian
rebels. i had a striking interaction with one of the donors that i met with. they gave me insight into the way this all began. the first time i sat down with one of the donors, i was very concerned that he would not admit to me what he was doing. was an elaborate strategy to extract information. these were the questions i was going to ask. they give a very broad softballs. come over here and i will show you the icons. he said i was in aleppo last week giving these. i was getting these arms to these guys. this is the attitude that you uncover when you begin to start digging into these networks. these are individuals who believe in what they're doing. they have supported these opposition groups.
>> why did the funding get started in kuwait? why did it could started their? >> this is a really important story. we have been able now to establish what is going on and go back in time. itself, syrian uprising this began out of the hope that something positive could happen in syria. 2011, a lot of serious spats were living in the gulf. there is a very large serious diaspora. they were raising their own funds to move back into syria. point, these ex-pats begin to communicate with one another. they formed a group of people who would pool their money and efforts. some point, the decision was
made to reach out to the kuwaitis. they have access to far larger amounts of money. they have far more important businessman. they have a network of people who are giving these in the past. and tapped into the network this fusion of expatriate involvement in donors was really what started the movement. it started the movement forward into funding the rumbles on a large scale. >> ? that was in 2012 the fall of 2011, very early. a decision was made to begin partitioning the money between humanitarian relief and lethal aid. at this point, something very critical happened. that decision was that the kuwaiti donors themselves said we want an armed uprising. the way that one asked have described it was that they
wanted to shorten the duration of the suffering. to do that, they needed armed groups. i'm not trying to suggest that the reason the conflict is armed is because of kuwait, but it do think that it is a significant factor in the early brigades. some of the donors would actually bring groups together and arm them and a very particular way. what is the ideological flavor of the people doing the fundraising? is it a mix of secularists? >> we have seen an interesting wave of ideology. was a beginning, serial cause that really invigorated people across the spectrum. -- saw donors from secular the mild, all the way to fallacies. the popularity of the funding was gaining in gaining.
as the conflict itself became more complicated, you had a huge drop-off in the public support. down to theittled true believer types. the real extremes of the spectrum. they were very interested in an ideological agenda. inwhy was a kuwait particular that emerged as the hub for this kind of fundraising? the perfect storm of conditions among countries in the gulf. wayfirst and very obvious that they are different from the rest of the gulf is that it is the most democratic country in the gulf. that is something very beautiful. you can going to can talk about politics in the way they've cannot in saudi arabia or the uae. political parties and groups are legal. freedom of association -- all sorts of political activities that we would recognize. it is illegal in a way that it is not in the gulf. that is the initial condition.
wassecond component of that a very weak counterterrorism financing law. that was passed in 2002 and failed to criminalize counterterrorist finance. that meant that if someone was sending $1000g -- to al qaeda, the kuwaiti government has no tools to go after that person. given that, kuwait really emerged as a place in the gulf where people knew that this could happen. that i that's something have grown to understand as i have become more involved in this is that the networks that have existed in kuwait for the financing on syria have existed for one decade or longer before serious. we now have access to them because a lot of these people have children to broadcast on social media in a very public
way. it allows us to literally map out the social network of these groups. very clear that these guys have been operating for a very long time. i will give you a very brief example. in the early days of the conflict, one of the reasons that a particular ex-pat told me he approached a donor was because he had a reputation of being a jihad a funder. he knew that this man had been involved in the past and that his reputation is very widely known among a particular ideological circle. >> i notice when i look on twitter all of the #for the funding. a lot of people responding to the please are not necessarily in kuwait. they are from surrounding gulf countries. why is that the case that a lot kutcher areved from better to send
money to kuwait than the local fundraiser? >> kuwait is a place that you can operate and not get caught. for citizens, it is much more difficult. in saudi arabia, there is a proactive campaign to discourage clerics from raising money for conflict. there have been a few shakes to toldbeen called and stopped knowing what you're doing. they are chastened and stopped. what does not raise the same red flags is the transfer from kutcher to kuwait. financing,nning of it was to the extent that there were accounts that they would regularly wire to an account in kuwait. that was the clearinghouse. the money would then be moved into syria. given the business and times
between the other countries and kuwait, that simply did not raise a red flag at all. >> how much money are we talking about? hundreds of thousands of dollars? >> i had another surprise moment when i was talking to it don't -- a donor. was a public gathering space for people could come in and out. they would talk politics. i was discussing the fundraiser that he had with him. i asked if he remembered how much it was. said i remember perfectly. it was $300,000. for one night. that is a huge amount of money. what scared me more as i asked him afterwards where the money goes. he said he has no idea. to answer your question, how
much money is being raised? this is guesswork. i do not have bank statements to show you. despite the fact that they have a legal regime, people are hiding their transactions. one of the main reasons is fear of the syrian regime. they are thought to have very good contacts in a lot of the exchange houses. a lot of the transfers from kuwait would be partitioned into hundreds or more parts. they would move their serious and strange ways to try to evade these syrian regimes. based on a number of individual events, that i know have taken place and that people have told raised, ih money was would estimate that is hundreds of millions of dollars. >> there was a washington post article that says he had talked to a u.s. intel official anonymously. he had also quoted the same kind of figure. theyou give us a sense for
mechanics of how this money is raised? is somebody going door to door and asking for donations? our folks just writing a check to some anonymous address? how is the money actually being gathered? >> the way i like to think about it is the solicitation for the money is public. the way it is collected is often very private. it is very close. sometimes even person. in cash or very specific controlled ways. the way that the campaigns are solicited is very similar to something that all of us would recognize as a good ngo campaign. let's say you want to support one. that cost to you $7,500. the earmarks are very effective ways to give people a clear idea of what they are doing with their donation trade another
great example was an $800 rpg. these are on posters. they are on finance. twitter accounts are very well known. ,hey have hundreds of thousands if not more than one million followers. there are signs posted physically and kuwait. you can go into some of the neighborhoods that are known to be more sympathetic to these groups. they will have huge banners that say come to the event and give for these reasons. that is the solicitation level. at the collection level, it has happened in a number of ways. particularly at the beginning, those have become less common now. at the beginning, you would see on twitter accounts be -- give to the syrian people. here is the bank information. there would be a screenshot with the account information and the routing number. the amount of currency that was
accepted. it was really transparent. it has come a cell. instead of doing that, now they will say here is an instant message account. if you send a message to the server on your blackberry, they will send back the account information. a final level of the collection of the money is in person. if you are in kuwait, that is easy. you can hold an event and put about the middle and everyone will give. overseas, if you are afraid to donation, there are a lot of examples i have heard of individuals ending on an airplane with a suitcase and showing up in kuwait. they visit the donor them self. this is fairly easy to do. if you go to the kuwait airport, no one will stop you with a suitcase full of cash. it won't happen. increasingly frequent as people are becoming nervous about getting caught. --these fundraising appeals
are distinctions being made about the kind of aid that they are appealing for ? today make appeals for humanitarian aid? the person who is raising the money will do as they see fit? >> this is one of the complications and thinking about and tackling this question. a lot of the advertising uses all of the forms of what is considered charity. it is for the orphans are the widows. to feed the hungry. help the needy. to separate these things is very complicated. for example, i spoke with one donor who spent a lot of time building hospitals. he does that working with one particular brigade. what is that aid? is it humanitarian?
is it partisan? he works with armed fighters. what -- where does that put him in terms of legal assistance? i do not know how to answer that question. the answer is that it is very much intertwined. of the people giving contributions feel like it is a charity contribution. they allow the lender to do what they think. >> absolutely. i should put the final caveat that there are some of the registered charities in kuwait. they are some of the more competent and extremely affected charities in the arab world. these registered charities are not what i'm talking about. that is a very important distinction. kuwait is the single largest unitarian donor in the arab world. contribution, the u.n. would really be in trouble for it i do want to make that distinction.
foundations are not officially registered ngos. with one exception that i know of. otherwise, i do not know of any prosper. >> the flavor of the current fundraising seems to be private donors. it seems to be the ultraconservative sunnis. was there ever a time in 2012 where you had the more moderate elements of kuwaiti society raising money in kuwait to send to more moderate elements in syria? >> absolutely. at the peak of the fundraising in 2012, it was a broad base of people. what has really been alarming to watch over the last year as i have followed this is that those people who were involved in the more moderate elements have backed away. partly because they are disillusioned. they have not been able to effect a change. also because they are scared of
what is happening in terms of the more extreme elements. they're very nervous about the more extreme elements actually targeting them. this sort of mirrors what is happening on the ground in syria. you know have in fighting between rebel groups. between more extremes and moderate rebel forces. this is happening in the donor community as well. there's a lot of concern that the more moderate donors will be targeted. they will be isolated socially. >> by calm? >> yes. >> you talked about how the money is gathered and quite. how is the money moved into not quite ass simple as just making a wire transfer. >> this part is a little bit harder to pin down. we do have some clues as to how it is probably happening. some of it is probably moving to exchange houses. the place that you would go to
change her dollars into kuwaiti or bahraini currency. these places you can actually make a deposit. you can clear that deposit in syria. if it is there, it will be partitioned into a lot of different accounts, so you would have 100 recipients. there is an increasing amount of cash moving, particularly to turkey, so sometime in late 2013, turkey was adding additional steps so the money could not go from kuwait to syria. it had to stop in turkey where it could go over the border. a final way that we think it is moving is through traditional money lenders that are very common across the area. i'm hoping my colleague could give you a more coherent explanation. these agents are in western union where no cash actually changes -- crosses the border physically, so basically i would run up a tab of how much was sent to zero, and another agent
will run up a tab of how much they receive from this agent, and based on transfers back and forth they will be -- if there is ever a lack of funds on one side, a briefcase of cash moves across the border. those are the basics. >> i want to talk about the effect this has had on the insurgency in syria. it seems to me having watched the conflict begin in a much more -- had a much more pluralistic tone in the beginning, it has become much more sectarian now. my sense -- one of the things that seems to have been driving that was the perception that the world had abandoned the sunni muslim community to the whims of the assad regime and this fueled a lot of sunni activism in the gulf to raise this money.
would you agree with that? what effect has it had on the insurgency? >> i agree with that completely. one of the motivating cries that you hear is, syria, everyone else has abandoned you, but kuwait has not. these sorts of appeals to the forgotten aspect of the conflict. the kuwaiti governors have also exacerbated supplying the rebels in other ways. i will view one specific example where feuding between two donors actually grew too rigid, to the fracturing of the rebels on the ground. it was between two outside syria -- one was a kuwaiti donor, and the other one was a donor in syria. two clerics. they had an argument on twitter on whether rebels should join
the military council. these are the western-backed groups that were being -- that the official opposition was trying to create in 2012. the kuwaiti cleric said no way, no way are we working with west. this is not something we believe in. the saudi cleric said, yes, they should do this. unity is a good thing. they had this very high-profile clash. the effect that had was that the rebels of the two men could work together because their donors basically said, no, not working with that guy. this was a huge split between -- and they were major rebel brigades. they had a dispute between them, and it was largely in part because of this feud that the donors themselves had. there has also been a large degree of ideological adaptations by the syrian brigades receiving the funds,
and that has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. at the beginning it was like if this guy in kuwait wants me to act a certain way to get money, i mean, fine, i will do it. we will make the video, fine. but i think as you mentioned, as this conflict has gotten so much more difficult, that the humanitarian tool has gotten so much worse, some of these ideologies have begun to take hold and really stick in the sense that it is so hard to grapple with what is happening to my community. if i can reach out -- if i have this isolation that it is defined like that i am fighting, it makes it a little bit easier to settle, and going along with that there has been very little ideological propagation into syria and within syria, within each brigade, a lot of the brigades
have groups to codify their particular beliefs. it is also the case that the money can be quite attractive, because there's not a lot of strings attached to this money. there is a congress that is breathing down the necks of these private donors. the money is being delivered in the money is being delivered in suitcases or in garbage bags. it's very attractive, particularly when the same kind of money is not coming from other allies of the syrian opposition. >> it is the only game in town. for a long time, it was the only way to get funding. there are lots of rumors about which states are backing which militaries, and we know this is happening with the private
donors. from everything that i know it has been very much and on- , off, the tap is on, the tap is off. the private donors have not stopped, and when you are building a military board you need consistency. these guys have been elemental in building these groups. >> so your paper that you wrote is very much about the sunni fundraisers in kuwait in sending money, primarily because they are the most public about it. but the shia private citizens in the gulf are also raising money, too, and i know it was not the subject of your paper, but i wonder if you caught a glance of any of it and what your thoughts are about it. >> this is something that really needs to be further investigated, and i would like to in the future -- i kept hearing when i went to kuwait, it is not just the sunnis, it is also the shias that are raising money, and i could not find any