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tv   Discussion on Russian Military Intervention in Syria  CSPAN  December 21, 2015 1:57am-3:32am EST

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history. how their resumes resonate today. share the story of america's first ladies. available as a hardcover or e-book from your favorite store or online bookseller. be sure to order your copy today. to turkeyr ambassador joined a panel to talk about russian and involvement in syria. -- upported russian posted by the atlantic council, this is just over three hours. >> thank you john molina for getting us all started today. i would like to joining in welcome everyone to the atlantic council. we take great pride in bringing voices from the region in
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whatever we discuss regional events. we take great pride in being multidisciplinary, cross disciplinary and in this case we have the eurasia center and the hariri center for the middle east working together on this fundamentally cross-regional issue. and even as american russian and middle eastern diplomats are together new york wrestling with the same problems we'll be discussing here today. we would just like to go to our experts who began speaking. i should note that at the bar principle discussions here today, speaking from papers they will be presenting early in the new year so you are getting a prepublication. ambassador hoff if you would like to begin. >> thank you frank. this is the paper to which frank refers will be published to think in the new year. it rests basically on five
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assumptions. number one, the russian and our brand were separate but entirely compatible reasons want to keep the shah and assad in power indefinitely or the foreseeable future, at least in part in syria. the second assumption is the nature of the military campaign being waged by russian aircraft and iranian assembled omissions in syria against armed groups, not iso- fighting the assad regime defines russian and iranian priorities in syria. for both the battle against isil seems to be a pretext for assembling forces aiming to eliminate alternatives both to assad and isil.
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the assumption underlying this work is that or iran, keeping assad in power mainly has to do with assad's willingness over the years to subordinate syria to iran on all matters related to hezbollah in lebanon. keeping hezbollah fit to fight, israel and politically dominant in lebanon are crucial iranian national security priorities. assad has delivered. there are no constituencies to this particular relationship in syria beyond the ruling family and its enablers. it sees bashar personally as embodying whatever residual legitimacy as last to this regime. fourth, for russia assad's
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continued incumbency proclaims moscow's return to great power status. putin claims that washington has been on a democratization and regime change jihad since 2003 in iraq. he wants to stop it cold in syria. he wants ideally to confront president obama with a binary choice between a barrel bomber on the one hand and kayla baghdadi on the other. he wants president obama to eat is 2011 words on assad stepping aside. rush i believe sees the diplomatic process is a time buying instrument. the russian military operations in syria are fully consistent with the goal of forcing binary choice on washington but it will take time to create the
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requisite allen perry facts on the ground and extended process can provide time although i have strong doubts that russia militarily will be able to achieve this objective. now, these assumptions, these five assumptions might either now or in the fullness of time proved to be absolutely erroneous. russia and iran may come to see bashar al-assad as expendable. john kerry may persuade them that a continuing political role for this regime is indeed poisonous to the prospect of united syrian front against isil i think they argue now this. it's just that their interests lie elsewhere. this is just my opinion. on the other hand the russians, they actually think the dash that there currently pounding in the province really are isil.
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maybe iran thinks that there's a genuine appetite in syria for subordination that transcends the assad family. so because my assumptions may be wrong i have tried to devise an alternate stereo strategy for obama administration consideration i would not be at odds with the current vienna process. my proposed alternative is based on an assumption about the kind of syria president barack obama ideally would like to hand off to his successor. such a syria i think would have the following characteristics. one isil would be gone. two, assad and his entourage would be gone. three, serious territorial
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integrity would be an impact or an inclusive national unity government in damascus which consolidate stability, protects the vulnerable -- preserves governmental institutions including the military and qualified staff pursues accountability and reconciliation, facilitate humanitarian assistance and begin the processes of reconstruction, reform and constitutional overhaul. finally in this ideal syria that barack obama would like to hand off, refugee return and reintegration would be underway. now about these five characteristics or at least making significant progress in achieving them would form the objective. the strategy i would like to think about would involve three
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elements. one, defeating isil militarily in eastern syria, ideally before another paris like incident. this would require a ground combat component powerful enough to pose with and kill the enemy. ideally this component would be drawn largely from regional states. at present, the appetite is not there. it would have to be stimulated by a sustained and heavy american diplomatic list. it would have to include american skin in the game. it would have to feature sustained american leadership for the duration. the second element of the proposed strategy would center on protecting syrian civilians from the mass casualty atrocities of the assad regime.
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doing so would deprive isil of a recruiting tool, fulfill a practical precondition for productive negotiations and political compromise and mitigate the premier humanitarian abomination of our time. diplomacy first, urged russia and iran to take their client out of this filthy business. this i would hope would be the focus of today's meeting in new york and no doubt it will be so. if the russians and iranians can't do it or won't do it, limited military countermeasures would be justified to make it somewhere between hard and impossible for the assad regime to continue to kill people at wholesale rates. my preferred methodology would involve the standoff systems such as cruise missiles and would avoid anything that has
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the word's own attached to it. third and finally given the syrian opposition and opportunity the financial and technical support to establish decent and effective governance in areas liberated from isil. at the assad regime chooses vienna to negotiate it will have an interlocutor. if it continues the collective punishment and mass homicide it would face a non-iso- alternative ultimately replacing it albeit sometime during the term of mr. obama's successor. now none of this, none of it would be easy. all of it would be very problematic. options have narrowed over the years from bad to worse but if the objective of the obama administration is to hand its
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successors the kind of syria i described cannot and might you rely on the good intentions of russia's president and iran's premier. it cannot leave syrian civilians defenseless and it certainly can't wait for an iso- plan, mass slaughter, operation and the united states to defeat these people in syria. at the very least the administration should be a syria in which isil is gone, civilians are protected from atrocities and a decent alternative to the regime itself is taking root in areas liberated from isil and expanding into rebel controlled areas of northwest and southwest syria. an authority that can build an and all the syrian national stabilization force that could if need be eventually oust the
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regime that made isil possible in the first place, a regime whose continued existence sustains isil. if my assumptions about russia and iran are wrong they would oppose none of this. indeed if my assumptions were wrong they would promote inclusive syrian government they signed up for at vienna and will send their client packing forthwith. >> the assumptions that frederick hoff is out there? >> thank you very much. thank you very much for inviting me here. my problem is much easier than mr. holt because i was asked to speak about the aims of their russian accidents in syria so
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some of my presentation with several points and if i have time -- so if one looks on the major driver that were mentioned already a chance for mr. putin to confound the united states and policy of intervention. lucia pose for many years beginning before mr. putin came to power. he and mr. putin see the possibilities to stop the american involvement and to counter it so this is i think the first direction behind his actions. the second one i would say russia belongs to.
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putin wants to intervene in syria and claiming russia's once again a global power just so -- to draw attention to his homeland. of course actions in syria as a superpower nevertheless it is some kind of -- for a new regional state calling for -- once again. the next point of course is using the possibility mr. putin wants to find some common ground
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, with both the united states and europe on the counter terrorists intended to find out some grounds to restore the relationship between russia and the united states and the rest in general which are in bad shape it to the ukrainian conflict. these are the three drivers and there are more concrete issues. five of them domestic and international. domestically first of all mr. putin wants to have a small war outside of the russian borders. for claiming and showing his fellow citizens is needs and is once again active in the mobile arena. the second is of course is the change of focus from economic issues.
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during his first 10 years in power the political ones in the geopolitical determinations because economies don't do so well as everyone knows and since mr. putin has returned to the kremlin and the gdp growth rates are falling down from around 4.9% in the first quarter of 20122 -- and we have a think around 4% of gdp this year. mr. putin needs to turn attention from economic issues to political issues and geopolitical and military one so this is also an element of the strategy. the third one is of course to turn the attention of russian citizens to a new one, because everything which happens in the ukraine is not so encouraging and mr. putin doesn't have an
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incentive to go out into eastern ukraine. therefore it needs another point in the world to present himself as a hero they are. the two latest issues are first of all during several years the military in russia were not in very good shape because first of all the minister of defense involved in ukraine and military operations. it was not publicly announced in northern ukraine. it was some kind of hidden operation and therefore now they have the possibility for the first time in many years do it openly to test military capabilities so to protect in this way, to protect russia outside. the military industrial complex
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which is quite them porton provides 15 to 17% of jobs in russia and being supportive of mr. putin. the last one of course is a terror threats because fighting terrorists may be in some grotesque away was for many years mr. putin a big gain and now once again this issue of the fight mr. putin wants to get the dash on this issue. three reasons for international scale is of course the relationship with iran because they were in alia russia and the middle east. now after the iranian nuclear deal and after the sanctions were lifted in january for iran russia feels its european plans
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so putin somehow maneuvers to retain or regain the good relationship with iran is a common cause of stabilizing syria because as was mentioned it's a very crucial issue for the iranian up politicians to have control on syria and assad. the second is fired he said some kind of cooperation with the united states on antiterrorist agenda and what we have seen in new york and the terrorists visit to moscow proves that putin is quite successful at this than the last but maybe not the least point is mr. putin wants to make some kind of -- over ukraine. i will finish with this. i think the russians will definitely try to stabilize the situation and to keep assad
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powerful as long as he can. i think they will launch a ground -- maybe not an expensive one but they will. of course i would say i don't trust the russian leadership in some kind of decent negotiation with the west. they have different agendas so i can't see any political compromise. the last is american strategy because it was mentioned today. i would say i doubt someone can achieve a victory. i really doubt that we can speak in the future about uniting around syria. think the best way to do the job is actually to make a
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petitioning of the state because it's really unviable for years to come. maybe mr. assad and continue his rule in the country but i'm completely sure that he will never succeed in defeating isis or brazil in the coming years. i think of mr. putin wants to do this, let him try, and if you want to have a very necessary and good ally on the ground you should openly speak about the possibility of an independent state. so i think syria is gone. the strong coalition with russia is out of the question. thank you.
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>> i see a painful overlap in your validation of the assumptions particularly struck by your point that you don't see a common purpose between what russia is about and what secretary carries about for example. that is a very sobering thought. so we are back in the zero-sum game days, we were going to split today's program into this first panel to talk about how we got here with the idea on the second panel would be where we go from here. there is substantial overlap and i don't know if you want to have the presenters were find anything before before we go to the other commentators on this. >> thank you very much and thank you for inviting me here. i enjoyed reading both papers very much and i really don't disagree with anything that you said. i'm going to confine my remarks to russia and russian goals and
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maybe reinforce some of the words you said but that you weren't going to get any good news for me either. just to reinforce what you said that russia has multiple goals in its campaign today in syria and some but not all are actually related to syria itself paid i wanted to just say a few more words about the broader context to both of you have already alluded to. to insist that the u.s. and its allies recognize that russia's interests here are as legitimate if not more legitimate than the wes goals so he has forced the united states to deal with them since this began after the u.s. and its allies for 18 months to try to isolate russia because of what's happened in the ukraine and i think you'd be quite successful in it because right now he's the go-to man if you want to get something done on syria as we saw with secretary
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carries visit to moscow a few days ago. i think a second context here is putin does believe that russia not only has a right to influence the dash in the talk about the need for new order and things like that but i think italy's russia has the right also to establish, to reestablish its influence in areas beyond russia particularly the middle east where the soviet union has a lot of influence and when russia lost with the collapse of the soviet union. i see this as a broader strategy of russia to -- and put the middle east. if you look at the last six months we have had the leaders of each of saudi arabia jordan kuwait united arab republic and israel. saudi arabia at least on paper promised a 10 billion-dollar investment in russia which would be mainly in the agricultural
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year. we were talking about this with mark a forehand. that may not well happened and if it did happen it would be the largest single investment in russia. given the history of russia's relations with saudi arabia that is in itself a very interesting data point if you like. the new element in russian policy in this part of the world since the soviet collapse russian israeli relationships and the fact that israel's point of view bashar al-assad may not be the desired leader but what might come after him in terms of israel's security. this is russia rwanda and the west to recognize it has a right to reestablish its influence on the part of the world. i also believe a lot of this is about domestic politics in russia. i won't go into this but obviously you have as you point out a folding economy, low oil prices. they keep going down under 40
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dollars an hour -- 40 dollars a barrel now. ukraine disappeared from russian tv and assault international now. putin has to keep showing himself as a strong leader who can deal with these threats to russia. there's a basic paradox that you see here at the moment because the united states continues to be demonized in russian media and if you listen to some of their statements we have mr. never shed a couple of days ago saying it's time to abolish nato when he was speaking in serbia. you have an image of it states that you also have now the public face of mr. putin again saying in his press conference a very interesting press conference yesterday that russia and the u.s. the two big powers
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to join together and lead this coalition against the islamic state and it's going to be like the anti-hitler during world war ii. then you really have to ask yourself is there some kind of it cognitive dissonance between these two approaches to dealing with the united states. just take couple of comments on the russian view of president assad in this authority been said. from britain's point of view the support for assad has to do with russia's own goals in syria but it also has to do with this issue of regime change. putin is putting russia forward as the champion of established sovereign governments all around the world. obviously from russian point of view a secular strongman in serious but preferable to anything else that putting russia forward is at the center of these kinds of rules in that part of the world is supposed to the state, russia's power post
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to the u.n. that goes around the world trying to do regime change. i found it during testing testit mr. kerry finally said in moscow interested in regime change which i don't think any u.s. officials have quite said it that way before. from the russian point of view president putin pointed out the u.s. abandon president mubarak and abandoned moammar gadhafi. this is all about supporting legitimately from russia's point of view in this part of the world. and another interesting thing is the conference in october mr. putin said that russia doesn't really distinguish between islamic state and other opposition groups in syria. as far as russia is concerned they are all terrorists. i know we have had other things have recently and couldn't
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really say that russia was supporting the free syrian army? there's also that kind of feeling that you cannot distinguish between the different groups in syria. so i think going forward, i think it's unlikely that the u.s. and russia are going to be able to work together to form a coalition to defeat the islamic state. i agree with what was said before that russian islamic state isn't the issue. supporting the assad government, maybe a government that might as russia has to say and retains its influence there and so i think it's highly unlikely that this is going to work nor can i really see russia and the united states agreeing on a transition in syria because again it's a fundamentally different view of mr. assad and what might happen
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after him. the press is going to happen between us and rushes to continue to constrict air operations and we will continue talking in this different form but i think that's the most we can accomplish. >> thank you. [laughter] >> i would like to thank the atlantic council for inviting me as well and both papers i thought were extremely interesting. in fact frederick hoff i agree so much and i agree this point the russian iran are more focused on supporting asaad than defeating isil. also moscow support for scott is important in defeating america's democratization jihad. moscow seeks to eliminate all syrian alternatives to assad and isil thereby leaving the west with a choice between assad and
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isil ruling syria and as worse as an alternative. i also think he's right in saying that the mosques have the main utility of the delaying tactic during which moscow can support assad and it's not an actual conflict resolution process. i believe with his overall critique of the obama administration policy calling for assad to step aside, at least they used to but not doing anything to make this happen were to stop assad from targeting his own population with conventional means. i do disagree with hoff on one point. he argued that if it's necessary to defeat iceland syria in order to prevent further attacks such as the recent one in paris and even if isil was in serious which attacks could still occur. isil exists in many other places besides syria even if isil were
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eliminated everywhere other eliminated everywhere other javascript sense of the fighters could could launch such attacks. these concerns of course do not mean that if you can isil serious not worthwhile goal but we must be realistic about what will result from a parent i find hoff's strategy for the u.s. and syria to be quite sensible and this explains why it won't be lamented. [laughter] seriously russia and iran are not the only actors in syria for comment defeat of isil is not the highest priority. indeed while almost every actor supports the school is not the highest priority for any of them. i think for turkey keeping the kurds down is more important than defeating isil. for saudi arabia and the gulf states iran's presence in syria is more of a threat than his isil. for the obama administration the possibility of another large-scale u.s. military intervention, that's more of a threat than isil.
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for the e.u., for jordan, for lebanon refugee flows are more of a threat than isil and so i think this is a problem. everyone opposes isil but everyone has some more important goal but they pursue and therefore it's not priority, not an actual priority for anyone. turning to the paper i agree with most of his point is well especially putin is motivated not just by concerns about syria but larger geopolitical and domestic concerns and formulating his policy for that country. i think he is the non-the nuclear agreement was something that worried moscow and russian intervention in syria allows moscow that quote from and to find new points of cooperation that could prevent iran's unpredictable moves both in political and economic issues i.e. moving somehow toward the west. i also agree with him that moscow may feel compelled to
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introduce ground forces into syria as assad controls a little there despite russian or support as we have learned air support alone doesn't protect the weak ally. if this operation does occur soon as he indicates russian hopes to emerge naturally as a leading force of any perspective antiterrorist coalition in my view may remain unfulfilled. the basic problem of putin's approach to syria as outlined as well as is directed against west it's also intended to gain western support for russia as not just a member but the leader of the coalition against isil and terrorism in general. even though the u.s. does not oppose aggression of -- in syria against isil. there's another alternative and that is to simply let russia suffer from all of the ill effects of intervention in the
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middle east that washington is all too familiar with in moscow should be as well. this refers to the believe in moscow that america will somehow be forced to cooperate with moscow in syria and elsewhere that this is not inevitable by any means. those in the west who may calculate that at a time when russian hostility for the west is rising it's much better for the west bogged down and middle eastern conflict. the obama administration does not think in such michael verland terms. a recent visit by secretary kerry to moscow during which he reportedly backed off from washington's previous admission that the assad has to go agreeing with moscow's position that the same people should decide prince said. in john kerry's defense i like to say he and mr. lavrov clearly have different expectations about what it is that the syrian people will decide about assad
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but it obviously is a change in approach and when the moscow welcomes. this leads me to the observation about putin's call for broad alliance against isil. everyone is familiar with the adage vietnamese my enemy is my friend but there's another adage about alliance that goes as follows. on the premise of an alliance comes to an end the alliance itself comes to an end. the western allies and the soviet union quickly disagreed about who should govern in eastern europe. to suggest that a vice was defeated for his strength appears to be significantly degraded differences about who should govern syria among the coalition partners fighting isil will reemerge as strong as ever. if moscow intends to deploy it ground shifts to syria put me populate -- apostolate their presence may be the deciding factor just as the end of world
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war ii was the deciding factor but they came to power there. sunni powers set by saudi arabia though may see what became of the soviet occupation of afghanistan in the 1980s as the guiding analogy for what could happen to what they will see as a russian occupation in syria. the united states even the obama administration may not be employing mock a billion logic it's allowing moscow to take the lead in syria may enable the next administration to do so. thank you. >> thank you for addressing that point. i was going to ask it as we have actually heard white house versus the people's taking to the russians being caught in the syrian quagmire and welcome to it. it's something we can soon prevent. ambassador feca give us a perspective on all of you for her but also this question arab
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world reaction to what russia is doing and are they calculating their long-term interest are making serious miscalculations here? >> but me start by saying i'm going to be the devil's advocate frankly. one because i enjoyed and secondly i think it's necessary to have the russian discussion about this. secondly given the last speaker i want to throw out my conclusion for someone explain why. this is not about whether you going to engage russia or compete with russia or whether you are going to cooperate with russia. you can do all three of those at the same time. it's simply a reality that either the u.s., the west russia or for that matter iran and has a conclusive tool in his hand to
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solve the syrian issue or to deal with isis alone. we are going to have to do all of that at the same time. the real question isn't whether we do that. the real question is are we going to pursue crisis management or conflict resolution and they are two different things. that applies to the isis issue and applies to the syrian issue. depending on whether we decide we want to limit the damage to solve the problem is a level of cooperation that we can achieve without pushing it. on the other hand if you are trying to resolve the problem then there's going to have to be a grand bargain not only between the u.s. and russia but also regional players because they will all have to make serious compromises. but by strategic rather than tactical. >> with that go back a little bit. i'm always provoked by my
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background that goes along with with -- people telling me who has the right to intervene in my region. what seemed to be provoking people here is that russia has the right. what gives them the right? i need you in any directions. it's not a matter of whether you will be there or not. i won't advise you as i would advise the russians to come and help us address these issues because frankly i can't solve them alone. as was said by the speakers here does anybody believe he you can deal with isis without ground forces? who will put them there? will be americans, with the russians? we will have to find a way to work together.
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the issue is how much we do this and how much not but let me go back to the russian issue. when i was foreign minister at the time for assisi we met president putin and spent an hour with him. 45 minutes he spoke about extremism and the threats to russia from extremist and we went through the whole package of extremes. 10 minutes western which is political a few minutes on geopolitics and we spent a little bit of time in at least egyptian terms and hours more than 15 minutes so we spent some time on egypt and russia. i actually believe and it doesn't contradict what's been said in the papers here but it complements it. i think those are the reasons.
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i think he is serious about his concern about extremism. there's no question that he is angry about his perceived his country is treated by the west and its political interests. that's not questioning there. clearly he has that interest. my question to all of you frankly is can you do without the russians? is how you do it with the russians wet -- rather than give the russians the role are not. nobody here is looking at the age bracket here. nobody believes that any of us pursue policies out of interest so we obviously have an agenda. we obviously have an interest but the positive side that i see in all of this is we all know we can't do it alone. so there'll be a point in time where we will have to start engaging the others and probably
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there will be said that where we move away. i am from my contacts with the russians over the last year. they know very clearly that their operations are not sustainable long-term, that they need to move from that faced with political phase. i would argue also i don't think the vienna talks took us to a new level but there's no question that the intervention by the russians created a sense of urgency be it that the west got scared they would play the role again or on the ground that all the parties came together for the first time, the regional parties as well and came to be enough. he created a sense of urgency that this issue has to be dealt with. in that respect i actually find the intervention as a tool, not the policy.
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i see it tactically as having had a reasonably positive effects. now is the policy right, it depends on if this ends up being different party simply using force without the policy paradigm that we are going to try to solve the isis issue or the syrian issue than you were going to have a lot of different forces on the ground and it will be very dangerous for all of us. therefore the result would be much more negative than positive but if it causes all the different parties as i think henry kissinger said recently that the russians have been in the middle east after the 70 were -- 73 war and now they are back and they are back for a reason. nobody else was there and there were a lot of problems. as a middle eastern or frankly i will engage the west as much as they can to help solve what's happening in the middle east and i will engage the russians
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equally so to help solve that. the middle eastern perspective there is tremendous sensitivity and a little bit of an exaggeration frankly as to how many conspirators -- conspiracies the west has managed to get the middle east where it is. i'm not a big conspiracy fan although you give me a lot of ammunition to think and move in that direction. nevertheless we can't solve this without russia. my argument to all of you frankly is sure they have agenda and sure they want to play a role there but how can i take advantage of that rather then is this going to need a coalition where we all embrace the same goals exact weight and walk at the same pace or is her competition necessarily mutually exclusive where we have to --
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more than we gain. it depends. i frankly believe engaging russia is a good thing and i also believe they understand there's only so much you can do without engaging other parties but i'm not ready to say yet that this step per se is the beginning of the situation. that bit depends on the politics after that. >> beyond the sectarian issues that are involved there and the motivations of the gulf states versus iran or iran's sectarian motivations do you detect all your travels across the region of the world much sensitivity to the humanitarian cost and she became the blame for that to iranians and russians and a seib
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1.0 world diplomacy ought to be at least agreement on fact, and stopping the girl bombing. some sort of cease-fire that we stops to degradations against civilians and it's clear what the source of that is. it's russian-made aircraft flown by syrian pilots presumably with russian matériel. is there sensitivity there or is that not even in the secondary or tertiary level of conversation and? >> six or seven months ago i would argue that you could look could look at the center of east of the arab middle east as being more sensitive to western interventions then russian interventions have been. they are more sensitive about the russian intervention. now whether it's because of realpolitik or otherwise they're
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still is a lot more sensitivity to russian intervention in the western part of the world. there's a larger degree of realism that well can they be pushed in a positive direction and how many arabs leaders have been there? i think this is a good point. we will have agreements and disagreements with the russians. i don't question it. we don't necessarily agree on everything they do and we don't disagree on everything they do either but can we afford to do it without them? if we could frankly i would do it and i believe he can. i actually believe that while they may have policies that we differ with they are rational people pursuing those policies. i believe in the value of diplomacy and trying to engage them because i have no other alternative. secondly i am ready to have for
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living end quote unquote the aviation term and an open society and open skies there will be competition. it doesn't concern me that much but the point that i think as a middle eastern or we have to emphasize much more is that the debate should be about whether it affects western interests or the u.s. involvement effects of russian interest but it really should be focused first, not exclusively but first on does this help solve the problems of the region and? that's really my point and part of that leads me to come to conclusions that are completely realpolitik. do i think we can -- if there was a clear solution to how we move from where we are in the tragedies and syria to a new syria we would do it but there isn't. i could drop a couple of
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formulas, the process of getting there is very complicated and one of the issues that have been raised how long first of all does he or does he not and how long is because bashar stay is one of the questions? clearly you are negotiating with syria. shouldn't be the reinvention of the old syria but to get there i can't simply talk to my friends. i have to talk to the other parties on the ground and as angry as i understand and respect and agree that with the syrian opposition and their anger with bashar there are a lot of other despicable characters frankly on the ground that are of tremendous threat to the middle east so again it's not simply am going to talk to the others comes complicated so because the complexity we need to engage each other as mature rational people and understand that i may differ with you on
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some interest but nevertheless it's better to me -- for me to engage residents say your interest or different than mine and we will play cards. if i may take the privilege of asking you about assad nobody mentioned the word turkey which along with each of the neira borfitz close to my heart and a lot of my professional experiences there. seems to me there is banned major turn and turkish relations quite a dramatic one. i was there until a year ago and they had visits back and forth between then prime minister and president. people around person erdogan praising putin to the skies publicly and very dramatic turn even before the late november shootdown of the airplane and russian turkish relations going
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back almost to a cold war kind of rhetoric making us all rather anxious. do you have any insight or comment on how that is playing and how that is factoring into mr. putin's outlook on the region and what he is trying to do in syria? oregon prospects for managing it? ..
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>> >> in to now once again proved that he is strong and can somehow with that economic relationship to change the russians. but what is going on with turkey from moscow now from the up propaganda. >> if you read what he said yesterday in his press conference i will not repeat it because it was not very polite but linking turkey with the u.s. is now part of
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the propaganda that you see that russian officials say to threaten they even have things on russian tv. >>. >> and as far as the other russian airplane going down over syenite are they overcoming that? >> i would be surprised frankly. there is the official committee that is investigating that. they are bound by the public statements to have conclusive evidence from the past experience they cannot
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say we expect this to rethink "this is it" so ultimately it will come out much later than other officials. the russians have said publicly there is a difference between the russians and the committee but that is not its role. whatever it is coming is a tragedy we need to find out if it was done by a terrorist or not. but nobody has questioned if there is terrorism then we will make an announcement frankly. it will never be an excuse but if it is clear it is a
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much clearer answer there is no reason to hide this. >> in the country's move toward collaboration. >> just yesterday we invited the eu's security team but we are a nation we only thrive if we have tourists did if they feel comfortable beyond how much it cost. >> so now we will open to the audience.
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>> a very good panel i would like to address my question but let me start by saying clearly the misconceived strategically catastrophic from the united states disrupted the unstable status quo made that transition of unnecessary a violent and faster and everything you could say and probably help to create but nevertheless when we look at the problem, the lack of arab leadership for the willingness to participate and help weather militarily militarily, syrian refugees except jordan and lebanon that is the weakest of the week the local states are
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completely preoccupied with their allergy to iran they don't talk about syria or isis. the lack of cohesion and egypt is a big country with an armed u.s. military. maybe you cannot do it without the international community that is now the russian and american problem, but how do we do it without something coming out of the arab world? so far it is next to nothing >> there is no answer. but the public and say there is next to nothing. the egyptian propose to the ground forces. we need the capacity and the tools. that has not gone through yet. that is open for debate and some countries are
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uncomfortable with that. today there was another coalition but that is just the beginning it does reflect the arab world is looking at what they can do. i understand there is no question of vegetarian pressure and you said correctly they have carried a lot of this even egypt even though it isn't on board has about 100,000 refugees and the kuwaitis frankly have had an annual conference to provide financial support. will this be solved completely? no. there for the point i made is there is so much distrust in the region son in the
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west and russia unless we have a better understanding understanding, a grand bargain, you will not get a strong commitment of russian forces. unless we have a stronger political understanding. that as well like to say have the answer but i don't have the answer. to talk with those who may compete with the with a different agenda. i think this is your point they need to do more and i have been saying that for years. >> and also calling for the
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year of stabilization force for a year of contributions on his annual poll that came now one week ago that showed substantial public support which was surprising. more than i had detected. >> nevertheless if the united states were to mount that type of diplomatic campaign i think it should as an alternative to the president being forced to deploy american soldiers and marines in the wake of the incident occurring in the united states. i think the assumption certainly at the leadership level a very, very suppressed appetite to put ground forces into eastern syria against isil. this is an appetite that
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would have to be stimulated by the united states. i would not try to short change or understate the difficulty this particular administration would be making to make the case that we're in this for a the duration and provide leadership with the skin in the game so maybe there is substantial growing popular support for a decisive intervention but it is my assumption that the leadership level the appetite for ground intervention would be under control. >> you have your hand up if you are part of the next panel but from an eastern europe perspective? or do want to save it? okay.
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we will jump over to this side. >> my question to the panel is the question the russian offensive. let's be very candid it is a flop to date. progress is measured in scant kilometers, they have maybe 50 aircraft mostly with of the guided bombs and under the soviet union there were 8,000 troops stationed in syria at the time. look at the current ratio of the russian military that is seven / one if you work
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through the military requirements to maintain a sustained operation i put to the panel, we can do it. more importantly the iranians have taken enormous casualties much as the senior generals but at the second lieutenant level. and the panel may know they talk about that on state tv and there are reports the iranian troops are pulling out meaning that the russians themselves will have to add more ground pounders and i put out how much what we see with putin is the same he tried to do with ukraine? he has tried to get away with a lot of the cheap. when push comes to shove, it can you really do?
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>> a very good question. id his trying to achieve some credibility actually a with say economically or financially to send in ground troops to syria because it is cheap compared if they do this are not my position is they will try in the future the department of defense said they will play a role. but the russians come into question that as it unfolds
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this is my point of course, there will submit -- not succeed except for the local forces then they should promise with the independent state but no russians or americans but my point is they feel as i will leave but how? i don't know. >> the point several of you made that the russians are not trying to succeed against isis. >> yes. but even in gauging in that
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operation but were never like to say in putin is very controversial with his attitude because before a was no there are five or 6,000 people looking for citizenship for fighting in syria. so the russians have succeeded to squeeze out the terrorists out of russia and then put syria in the position of isis i the putin is completely counter-productive in syria but he does what he loves.
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>> he himself as profited you prefer to fight them there a man here in russia. i think part of the problem as we ourselves have learned just because you're there is a meeting of the targets elsewhere but his government does not treat muslims at all. even if they are very successful is a huge problem that they're not dealing successfully itself. and basically being agitated what is happening in syria by russia itself so it seems that operation does not change cattle -- at all.
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>> what about putin schools and in syria? you said he was to keep in power and also he supports the illegitimate regimes which is not exactly true because if you remember when the georgian president was elected he was accepted and moreover russia supported all three presidents so according to this we cannot say he always stands guard
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so when he says he wants to keep in power it is just his words and we know he is a liar. it is a matter of fact he lies constantly and publicly >> the you have a question? >> don't you think he will give up assad as he needs it? >> i fink you misunderstood me a said he wants to project to the world but russia supports all legitimate rulers i didn't say that i agreed with that but that is certainly the message that they said that we support the leaders that are in power we are against a regime change.
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maybe i did not make that clear but for the moment it does want to show assad and whether that operation has been successful or not. as much as russia intervened it was concerned that the forces were weakened in the government might be in danger. but they seem to be stronger and achieving limited goals. but some point they think that is in their interest as long as they have a say in who the leader is and can be you reinsure their influence will lasted is not tied to the man but for the moment that is where they are.
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>> also any suggestion russia calculates a big but hard-nosed based on power nothing emotional. >> there is no love lost it is just the government in power. >>. >> from executive intelligence review. most of the speakers were singing from the same song she tore a beating from the same drummer want to ask a contrarian question with the presentation there is something about composition talking about with the russians than the iranians have to do due to come to a solution if you see them
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connected at the hip that is a very big mistake because they both have their own interest the only way to deal with the situation and especially with russia with the much broader spectrum of interests that have to be dealt with to see them together read me the biggest mistake. second, the question is how much putin sections are proactive? if we have to go into syria to assert our great power aspiration and how much was reacted? remember what was happening in syria before that the u.s. was considering having a no-fly zone which of course, would have put that conflict in a much different context we would be on our
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way to a regime change by setting up an area under protection. and if the petitions they invest made the moves to counter that if you see it that way it was a brilliant move on his part to throw a monkey wrench into a very dangerous development in syria. with regards to his proposals working together when he came to kennebunkport to talk with bush after 9/11 he said let's work together to deal with this terrorism problem and bush said yes federating that happened after that expansion of nato, missile defense we did not follow up on that and that was the biggest mistake in the world so there is a certain sense they put out the hand of friendship -- frangible long time ago and was rejected.
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>> when my paper is published you will see a little bit more new ones with the russian and iranian relationship. they do come at this from an entirely separate set of interests. but where they come together for the time being is in the perpetuation of bush are in power in syria. now this touches on the plane to lamp absolutely in favor of engaging the russians to the topic of syria.
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the shortfalls of american policy the past two years probably this isn't an area where we can be criticized. most of 2003 we carried chase and when they finally caught him he got a peace conference that was a fiasco. now we have the vienna process we can hope and pray succeeds. what i would like to see if they do think we're in crisis management mode i agree entirely. nobody has us silver bullet but the one thing that is absolutely essential for the united states and russia us to agree upon is mass
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casualty attacks on civilian populations are inadmissible under international law and must stop now. even the fact we're in the middle of the privy your humanitarian abomination of our time and means nothing to individuals, how in the world will this be in a process get anywhere with the civilians on the bull's-eye? how does the opposition delegation come to new the table in the spirit of goodwill and compromise while the constituency is blown away on a daily basis? how do we fight isil with
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this marvelous recruiting tool provided by assad regime remains in effect? that is why the issue between the united states and iran and russia needs to be addressed up front otherwise the vienna process becomes elongated permission slip of the continued slaughter that will stop anything good at all from happening in syria. >> from the atlantic council with the policy we have heard unequivocably the only issue that had bipartisan support that everyone in the u.s. agrees that assad must go but it was how much
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support in read never challenged the basic premise that the russian said it was dangerous and of the to the destabilization they have the german interest in was dismissed and maybe four years later can we challenge the premise that the russians got it right in russia have listened? >> i think given the role of assad to make isil possible in syria and the ongoing roll to keep that organization healthy and well inside syria, tens to reemphasize the fact that if we had a strategy to implement the president's words, have implemented that strategy we would be a much better place than we are now. >> but we didn't so the question remains.
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i guess we can kick that to the next panel where do we go from here? >> you are right to with a very good point from the russian point of view that the syrian problem could be resolved like chechen town -- chechnya and then demolished that and then establish authoritarian piece that occurred in algeria and after all why should the west complain? we have dealt with the a sock regime before what is the difference? in what is the difference between the algerians? or quite frankly just like egypt it is seen as similar.
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but that indicated the continuation of the assad regime shows that is the trouble but i have a feeling we will see in syria what everyone doesn't want that iraq will be a defacto and maybe more complicated there will be a kurdish area or the arab area and isil has its area. and neighboring states have their areas of influence as well. that is what we will see even though that is what nobody wants. >> jumping in and, of course, it is a sensitive issue.
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. . but the day after i can tell you because i have done this for a long time, hundreds of scenarios, and there are
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conflicting with each other. it is a question, and it will always be a problem until it is answered, but if you try to develop for the new syria and then back to he will actually be the president. >> a reference to the morning after will resonate. we try to deal with the same issue with respect to saddam hussein. saddam must go in the thesis of the united states work with iraqi democratic opposition to construct this idea of the morning after, what would it look like. i don't regret that, but i think it was our failure to actually succeed in having a clear vision of how shiites and kurds and sunnis and christians and all the rest
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would hold that out. >> exactly. it was. we have got just a couple of minutes. why don't we see if we can put together whatever questions are there and in the panelistsany panelists would like to sum up we can do that. the me take the farthest back that i can see. again, the last and i could see in the back and i will work forward. >> you know, from turkish equatorial, the imprecise bombing that has gone on by the russians. yesterday we had a conference. the number of people fleeing syria has increased. a lot of them are going. i was wondering, i have never heard anyone talk about russia. helpinghelping syria and the
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sod, are there any syrian refugees and russia? >> okay. thank you. the gentleman with the red tie. >> eastern europe and russia and nato. thank ournato. thank our egyptian colleague for asking us to be mature. and i think that is very helpful. we have heard there is a redline on the part of the administration which seems to be accepted. if you're going to be mature and accept that we have to accept we are compromising with other people's interest. we have to make real choices. for four years we have played a part in keeping syria enmeshed in civil war. mr. kerry said that that was his objective. mr. obama has said on several occasions he does not want our side to win by force. that is a very peculiar
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argument. it does not do any good. i think there is a real need for maturity command i would like to see us. our initial presenter said to do the right thing to give substance to our hopes. we still probably have to compromise, but in the absence we have to compromise more. i would like to suggest that the coalitions might not solve everything, but you did not say that but that seems to be the logic. therefore it is not worth it to have a grand coalition because we might disagree about the future afterwards. we think that kind of statement. >> one more comment only and then we will have to close.
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>> my name is dmitri. you said that you believe that the middle east cannot do it without the west end without russia. do you think the general population supports that idea? and do you think islamist extremism has increased over the last ten or 20 years or do they just have more avenues and resources at their disposal? >> comments on use of force, people like to sum up. >> i will sum up by answering that question. i generally believe that the educated public understands that they cannot solve alone and therefore engaging the russians and the west and nato and europe is the only realistic way out because
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there is no support for the air were alone taking all the risk. so i think that is unfair. the emotional public dislikes the russians and americans equally, although americans when a little bit on that. but that is not really my concern. who are the activists, the serious people that want to engage. the rational thinking is we need to do this together. >> if i could just address that point about the grand coalition. the trouble is there are certain patterns we see what wants to happen or not. the grand coalition against hitler did not lead to a grand coalition going forward. the alliance came to an end.
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i think that we have to expect something similar here. especially with putin's call , he works against the west and ukraine in particular, 2014, 2015. can we be allies together and syria? i have ai have a feeling that will not be the end of the story. when he can. he will do so. understand the nature and so i think thati think that that -- we have to be very realistic. if it is defeated we are not going to be agreeing on what should be continuing in syria at all. >> i will may be just take off on that and go back to the question of what the russians expected. the language about the anti- hitler coalition was used in 2,001. why did it work?
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you know, the relationship seems to be on the uptake event. the russians were helpful in that initial phase, the fall phase, the fall of 2,001, war in afghanistan because we agreed on to the enemy was. it was in russia's interest to have the us and allies go in there and take care of the problem. we are not in the condition today. of course we should try to work with the russians, but to have a successful coalition like this we have to agree on who the enemy is. we do not accept by saying in general it is the islamic state. we don't have the trust which in a way we did have even in that brief window because of everything that has happened in recent years particularly the ukraine and/or the russians have failed to say what they are doing.
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that is why we can try, but the conditions that make cooperation counterterrorism cooperation possible are not there now. >> okay. on the question about the, yes, i agree that it is rare but then i think we can of course try, but i think it is too late. completely different. the coalition under such circumstances.
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claiming to help syria. >> if a coalition of truly professional military forces and sufficient numbers i saw an eastern syria to the job professionals cannot. not sure about the effects
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how this is obstructing rather decisively the inflow of humanitarian assistance to needy syrians discussions about the future, the composition of the opposition delegation all obviously interesting discussions but to the extent that they dominate, this vienna process to the effect that the protection of syrian civilians excluded from the discussion, it is
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excluded from american, russian, marion -- american iranian, this process would go nowhere. >> one might hope and think logically there has to be a focus everyone can agree on. i would like to thank everybody. we went a couple minutes over. we will reconvene promptlydible] >> i would like to thank everyone for coming this morning.

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