tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 25, 2016 10:00pm-12:01am EDT
two relatively obscure organizations at the time in the wake of 9/11 who are receiving the lion's share of media coverage. now, these groups were advancing a so-called stealth jihad narrative which will be another theme i'll talk about, and their narrative was essentially that muslims and muslim americans in particular are a column secretly plotting to undermine the u.s. constitution, implement sharia law, and they hide between a thin veil of political correctness in so doing. this is an example of the type of work that -- the type of messages that came out. on the left is daniel pipes from the middle east forum. famously launched a campus watch campaign. his idea was that u.s. universities had been infiltrated by terrorist sympathizers for radical islam and that a concerted campaign was needed to out these folks
and to prevent the future generation of u.s. leaders from being duped into the idea that muslims are actually a peaceful group when in fact he was arguing they are kind of a trojan horse. likewise on the right here you'll see frank gaffney from the center for security policy, one of the people who later became instrumental in the so-called antisharia movement and the various attempts to create laws that would prevent the use of sharia law in the united states. and he famously accused the white house of being infiltrated by extremists, among them grover norquist who had a very weak ties to a hedge fund that funds many of the largest muslim american organizations in the country. and so why didn't main stream muslim organizations get in the media? i argue in my book it is because
of the emotional message. these were visceral, fearful, angry, condemnations of muslims and muslim americans in particular that really alerted a public that had very little idea again what islam was, who muslims were, the majority of americans had not met a muslim and the majority of americans could not have -- were unable to identify the koran as the holy book of islam or allah as the deity associated with islam. so america's imagination about islam was very fertile. it was a real opportunity to define what was going on. and as is so often the case with the media the loudest voice gets most of the attention. now, the story might have ended there had, you know, like the proverbial boy who cries wolf, in the absence of another major terror attack we might have seen these type of emotional appeals disappear. instead we saw something very different.
though i showed you that these groups represented a minority of all voices talking about islam, it appeared as if they were a majority. and that because of the media distortion of this family of organizations so the majority of you wasn't getting out the minority view was being misperceived as a majority view. this had a variety of consequences but one of the most important i argue was for muslim american organizations themselves. and so this rise, this surge of antimuslim sentiment in the media i argue in my book created what i call a rip tide, a reaction among main stream muslim organizations that served to further increase the profile of antimuslim organizations. this chart describes what type of messages main stream muslim groups like council on american islamic relations, muslim public affairs council, were making in their messages. now you may not be able to read this.
on the top this large line, this is the number of press releases per day and this is the period from 2001 to 2003. you can see it was very common for organizations to dispatch press releases that condemned antimuslim sentiment. these were things like hate crimes against muslims. controversies about whether for example a muslim should be allowed to pray at an airport and so on and so forth. and many, many organizations were understandably very critical of these types of issues. this lower line here shows all of these, all of the press releases picked up by the media that condemned antimuslim sentiment. you can see the majority of their voice in the media was condemning antimuslim sentiment. and this tinier line here describes the number of press releases that condemned terrorism. not antimuslim sentiment but terrorism. groups like al qaeda which was then the foremost terrorist organization.
and this tiny sliver, this tiny black sliver here describes the number of press releases by main stream muslim organizations that received any media coverage. and so if you can imagine for a moment that you are an american with very little information about islam, and you're confronted by a media that showed you a variety of very fearful and compelling messages to suggest that this is in fact a dangerous religion, combined with an apparent absence of condemnation on the part of muslim americans themselves, and instead a group of people, muslim americans, who appeared more concerned about dispatching and discarding antimuslim sentiment than they were about condemning terrorism. i'll show you in a moment how this kind of helped the antimuslim narrative coalesce. antimuslim organizations were able to accuse main stream
muslim organizations of tacitly condoning terrorism because they never publicly, their message was not getting out that they were unequivocally condemning terrorism by groups like al qaeda. and at the same time it lent credence to the idea these groups were actually hiding behind a veil of political correctness. that is that they were more concerned about criticizing antimuslim sentiment than they were about criticizing terrorism, itself. at the time muslim american leaders were enmeshed in very vexing debates about whether and how terrorism should be condemned. there was a very real concern that by condemning terrorism you would somehow legitimate the idea that islam has anything to do with terrorism. and so many organizations such as council on american islamic relations spent much more of their time as this graph shows condemning antimuslim sentiment rather than condemning terrorism.
i'll come back to that theme a little later. and so here is the analogy again of the rip tide. the more that main stream muslim american groups condemn antimuslim rhetoric, the further they get pulled out to sea. until we actually see a change of public discourse around islam, that is that attacking fire with fire and that by the way is why so many of the antimuslim -- so many of the condemnations of antimuslim sentiment got media attention, because they were also very emotionally charged. people were extremely angry at people like daniel pipes and that of course feeds the media frenzy. the media sees the back and forth emotions and gravitates toward that. meanwhile condemnations of terrorism were much more intellectual and dispassionate. they like to invoke geopolitics and kind of more intellectual
reasoning but lack the tangible emotion that the media gravitates toward. i argue in the book that is one reason they didn't get much media attention. yet again, the condemnations of antimuslim sentiment fed the media fire, increased the profile of antimuslim organizations, and enabled them to achieve even more standing within the mass media. so you can see this is the first graph i showed you which is after the 9/11 environment. here are organizations that produced antimuslim messages and the vast majority of groups who are producing pro or moderately pro muslim messages. and between 2001 and 2003 and 2004 and 2006 you can see that the number of organizations producing antimuslim messages more than doubled. the color of these circles by the way described the emotional valence -- a little hard to see
on this screen. you can see the emotional power down here of antimuslim groups was increasing as they grew in size. okay. at this point they still represent a minority of all groups battling or struggling to shape american public discourse about islam. how did they become main stream? how did we get to the point where they could raise $245 million and compel major political figures to express such vehemently antimuslim views? well, here's one more year of data, so here's the plagiarism detection analysis for 2001. 2004 to 2006. 2007 to 2008. and as you can see on the right side of the graph here, the number of organizations that are expressing an antimuslim narrative increases threefold. these ties, these kind of arcs between these organizations describe organizations that share a board member. so you can see that not only did they grow in size but they also forged allegiances to powerful
organizations outside of the field such as a republican -- other groups who would enable them to solidify their stature within the public sphere and more importantly enable them to make weak ties to financeers, other political connections that would solidify their stature. so this graph describes several of the largest antimuslim organizations in the country at the time and shows that their donations to contributions in u.s. dollars here over this period from 2001 to 2011 again grew exponentially. even at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. and i argue in the book that the increased media profile of these organizations gave them the standing necessary to become visible, to become an organization that could be essentially donated to.
and with this money they began to further consolidate the capacity to find islam in the american public sphere. one of the ways they did this i argue in the book is to invent experts. the very idea of a terrorism expert is a business of an oxymoron. terrorism is by definition arbitrary and indiscriminate. of course collecting data on terrorism it is extremely difficult. so even among academics there is very little consensus about how and why terrorism happens. but there is an industry, a very well funded industry of people who call themselves terrorism experts. many of whom have very little credentials to call themselves such. many of whom don't even for example speak languages that are spoken in regions that are most afflicted by terrorism. and then there's also a variety of people who havehe appearance of being muslim and
get an additional level of credibility by for example the color of their skin or their accent but are in fact not muslim. so examples of these are folks from lebanon, palestine, who became really high profile media voices during this period and published several best seller books on the "new york times" best seller book list. so the one hand these organizations funded and propelled the so-called terrorism experts into a celebrity, which then, you know, now again picture yourself as the american public. you don't know much about muslims. you've been exposed to this very scary message. muslims, themselves, don't seem to be saying anything. and now people who look and sound like muslims are telling you that muslims are actually terrorists. so you can see how there is a kind of confluence of events that begins to cohere around the antimuslim narrative. not only are they funding these
types of folks to write books and give talks and so on, but they're creating their own infrastructure for public outreach. this is a scene from the equivalent of "sesame street" in palestine, which the organization translated as i "will shoot the jews." this is a woman who is talking to these two young children who have said according to this translation " will shoot the jews." and this went on to air at cnn and one ofhe administrative assistants at cnn quickly realized it had been mistranslated. it did not read "i will shoot the jews."
it read the "jews are shooting us." this is an example of the type of manipulation that exists and is possible when you have such power to define the public conversation. they also funded major film. spent about $19 million on a film called "obsession." this film which has a very scare sounding piano music at the beginning and very compelling cinematography was distributed in every major paper in the runup to the election. it draws analogies between radical islam and not see his him -- and nazism. there is not a bona fide muslim leader that appears. instead there is a contrite of anti-muslim groups alongside some of the so-called experts that i just mentioned, who again, lend credence to the idea that the american public is being duped by mainstream muslims.
2008, we've reached the position where anti-muslim organizations are no longer part of the french. they are from the part of the mainstream. they have political connections. they have their own media infrastructure. meanwhile, mainstream muslim organizations have little immediate influence. they are involved in excruciating debates about whether and how to respond. as a result, they are falling out of the public view. this provided an opportunity for allowslim organization them to attack the legitimacy of anti-muslim organizations. you can also say he was mainstream and who is not. groups like the council on american islamic relations are widely accused of tacitly condoning or encouraging terrorism. there's an act of congress which
is designed to condemn their organization. the fbi breaks ties with the council on islamic relations, which was the most largest muslim advocacy group. it's at least one of the larger organizations. then we see in the senate, hearings on the threat of domestic radicalization. joe lieberman, susan collins, and later peter king, in which only one of the mainstream muslim organizations that are analyzed in the book appeared. it when i surprising to note who else appeared, anti-muslim organizations and people that call themselves terrorism experts. the other neat thing about the plagiarism detection approach is that i compare the spread of anti-sharia legislation.
one thing that happened around 2008 is some anti-muslim organizations got together with advocacy groups that designed model legislation for policy and sent it to a bunch of legislators. i got my hands him a copy of that model legislation. i used the plagiarism detection software to compare it to the legislation actually introduced in so many u.s. states. on the left, these are groups that introduced the legislation. the number next to them represents the number of words in a text lifted verbatim from the anti-sharia model education. you can see in some cases,, mississippi, 82% of that language was lifted directly verbatim. minnesota similarly. other groups. kansas was only 2%. legislations actually passed. it's still under review by a
higher court. hasthe irony here is that many of argued, this is a nonproblem. not only does the u.s. regularly allow religious jurisprudence in matters of arbitration, and nobody was ever trying to issue sharia to challenge the constitution. nor would there be a legal mechanism for them to do so. really, the idea that this campaign got so much traction was quite telling. what i have not told you about is the regular public. i have speculated that it traded an increase in anti-muslim sentiment. indeed, if we look at public opinion surveys from 2001-2003. at first, a blip. we see an increase, but right around the time the anti-muslim
organizations are getting traction, we see a steady increase in the percentage of americans expressing negative views about muslims. i can't draw a perfect causal link, but i think it's very telling that is occurs at the same time. the other neat thing about this moment in competition social science is that we can harvest data from twitter and facebook. here is the percentage of tweets about civil society organizations with positive sentiment. groups such as act for america, one of the larger grassroots organizations that is lecturing have very strong support among twitter users. not a representative sample of the american public, but an increasingly important group of people who have defined the media cycle. 2010-2012,007, to
the number of controversies about the expansion or construction of mosques, or violent attacks upon mosques. there has been an 800% increase 2012.n 2005 and troublingd, increases. again, no causal links can be drawn. but this occurs alongside campaigns like "stop the islamization of america." these are grassroots organizations, one was responsible for the protest about the so-called ground zero mosque. then we saw a surge, the so-called koran burning a fair. calledhomoric film that
a friday of slanders statements about islam. thankfully, some of my work is starting to get out there to right this wrong, to correct the misperception that muslim american groups condone terrorism. anti-muslim organizations are having an exaggerated stature in this debate. the anti-muslim organizations aren't so happy about that. they are happy that they are winning. negative messages about muslims are increasing in the media, even the left-wing media. it's not about fox news, it's about the new york times, cbs, and many others that rely on the same sources. i also don't like my book very much. -- they also don't like my book very much. [laughter] this is the first review on amazon. so what can we do?
the first and most disturbing thing we need to think about is the potential for these ideas to travel abroad. we saw evidence earlier with the koran earning a fair, groups like the taliban condemning americans and obama and using that as fodder for recruitment. it wasn't until recently that we saw evidence that anti-muslim sentiments was jointly being used for recruitment for terrorism organizations like this. the leader of elsa bob -- using trump's call to ban all muslims as evidence that there is no gray zone. by either need to join isis or leave. and now your can't leave, according to the narrative. this is the nature. we have seen this with the koran burning a fair, with the sophomoric film "the innocence of muslims."
the danger that these can do abroad is tangible. they not only upset people, but they contribute to the misperception that there is some kind of conspiracy among u.s. government to be anti-muslim. i think this is the most dangerous threat we face now. others will speculate that the rise in anti-muslim sentiment also creates the potential for increased radicalization. to the extent that young people feel that they can't belong in a society where the majority of people have negative sentiment towards them. we have not seen evidence of that yet. but i think the potential is plausible. what can we do? we are not going to fix the emotional bias of the mass media tomorrow. despite many well-intentioned attempts by a variety of mainstream muslim leaders. it's no easy thing. but we're not going to convince
fox news to stop fighting emotional concerns about terrorism. we're not. we can, however begin to decide how to pick our battles. the one message from my book is attention put all our against people like trump, if we fight fire with fire, we are going to burn everything down. instead, i think we need new messages that refocus the conversation about something that i know, having talked to so many mainstream muslim organizations, which is that muslim americans unequivocally condemn terrorism in all its forms. and they are furious at groups like isis and are terrified by them. and yet they have not shown, in the public sphere, that genuine anger and fear that we know from sociology and social security bonds groups together. that is corrective and preventative against our group bias. we need to capture some of that
emotional energy and channel it towards the media and see if that can write thse -- can right these wrongs. thank you. [applause] >> if anyone in the audience has a question, please come forward. >> hi chris, thanks for the presentation. i was eagerly awaiting the last parts. which is basically, okay fine, now what? and i candidly would like to hear a more aggressive approach to taking control of the dialogue than we have seen so far. i'm certainly not faulting you as an epidemic for the person that you take that leap. although you are the guy with the data and ideas at the moment, you have more of a pulpit than most. and candidly, since you are not
a muslim, you are in a slightly better position of speaking. your response to that? mr. bail: yeah i certainly i agree. all of us, especially those in the academy need to be more vocal about these issues. i have written for the washington post. i've done various interviews. but i can say all day that muslims unequivocally condemn terrorism as someone who is not muslim. i have very little legitimacy, apart from the data. it's not as compelling as the general emotional fear and anger that i have seen from muslim group leaders, who are concerned that the media motif of an angry muslim. if you go on fox news and become angry, you only further the stereotype about angry muslims.
but there is anger that is just anger about attacks on your religion. vendor is anger that is equally genuine, towards groups like isis and daesh. and that needs to come out. there has been a lot of understandable hesitation about whether that is a good idea. given what i've shown you today, the time has gone for that type of corrective discourse. a majority of americans now have this conspiracy theory in their heads. you can't simply throw facts at the problem. in fact, some recent research in political science and social security shows the more facts your throw in people that believe in a conspiracy theory, they actually double down and it exacerbates the spread of rumor. i will do my part at any opportunity i get. i also think muslim americans themselves could benefit from from more vociferously and
emotionally condemning the groups that have slandered and terrorized their religion. >> my observation is that islam, as i see it from a limited exposure on my own part, is not the same thing as radical people who happen to be muslims elsewhere in the world. that is a distinction, which i don't believe i have seen enough of. i have not seen full-page ads in "the times" or wherever else it might be coming from people that i think would reasonably represent mainstream american islam. saying hey, we agree with you that these guys are nuts. for my opinion, that is frankly a call to arms. to use a miserable analogy, if we did this 50-100 years ago, we would not have been facing a contagion. this needs to be caught earlier rather than later. mr. bail: sure, i agree. i think it's worth pointing out though that muslim americans are
an external really diverse group. for us to assume that the group can come together with one single voice when they represent the full spectrum of political ideologies. muslims voted 3 to 1 for president bush in 2000. they speak dozens of linkages, come from different countries. and for a long time enjoyed status as a kind of model minority. we had the iran hostage crisis, which i wrote about in the book. but by and large, muslim americans were either a model minority or an invisible minority. seemingly overnight all of that changed. for us to assume that muslim american organizations can come together overnight is unreasonable. >> we've had reviled minorities that it managed to seize control of the public discourse successfully. representing french populations that have turned the dialogue around.
fringe dialogue-- mr. bail: so you are right. thank you. sociologist and want to stretch you into western europe. i am reading a book about the capturing and the killing of the reporter by isis. occurredre apparently before we had ever heard of isis. the killing occurred later. mainstream as it relates to the european folks, i
am released on -- made -- really stunned -- maybe i should not be -- by the number of folks who see isis as a radical organization. do you have any insights on that because you talk about doing something now. i am wondering if it is not too late? but it is already happening. mr. bail: i do know something about europe. i have done studies. i know the muslim populations in britain and france fairly well. there are some major differences. one, the population has been more visible for much longer. in britain, for example, debates about islam in the accommodations of islam go back to the salman rushdie affair. also, the type of muslims who migrated to britain were much,
by and large, much less educated, lower incomes, and are more segregated than u.s. muslims. the result is a much more politically charged situation until recently. i think we are heading in that direction. historically, britain has been having this debate for a very long time. europe'she idea that own attempts to integrate muslims are failing, or creating radicalization, is possible. once again, what can be done about it and how it can be done to stop crisis is a million-dollar question. i think on the one hand, we thought for a while that countries like france which famously unite around the principles of republicanism and offer citizenship to anyone who of course, france -- today we learned about attempts to remove that right for people accused of terrorism.
even france, where everyone can be french, is disappearing. we saw vividly in paris that has gone awry. i think we do not know a lot about isis. again, we are not experts. we do not have data. there are some studies that political scientists have done that look at return rates and who goes to syria, for example. we also worn a- moment now than 10 years ago. isis is a real threat. it is worth reminding ourselves of that. thatif these are people many of us believe are not muslim or are slandering the religion, they now -- it is a is,tion worth asking which if they call themselves muslims, who are we to say they are not? lots of people unite around that.
you cannot simply say -- this speaks to the previous question about who gets to speak on behalf of muslims, right? no one gets to speak on behalf of muslims precisely because of the diversity of the religion. i think it is a dangerous organization, terrifying, no doubt. could european integration policies be modified to help fix this problem? so.ink but these groups absorbed in the u.s. have many transnational ties in britain and elsewhere. for example, the famous dutch politician who is famously fromd from britain, banned entering britain, for inciting religious hatred towards muslims, he is a regular guest on many of these lecture circuits but i have described by muslim organizations. beenagain, this debate has
going on in places like britain for much longer. and how youthat read about that kind of -- r ebutt that kind of xenophobia, i am not aware of any magical solution. from european colleagues, i have heard similar policies are in europe so perhaps the solution could be similar, which is to say that french muslims in british muslims need to more forcefully condemn terrorism in an emotional matter, to benefit from the solidarity created by shared emotion. i am thinking of a couple of books that i have read by women. i cannot think of her last name. iri. she was part of the dutch parliament for a while, went to the united states, worked for american enterprise.
these books, these two authors i am thinking of, very vividly described what it is like for women in islamic countries. that,l mutilation, all of tough to read. and i think there is a sort of underground group of women that are totally into this and extrapolate to islam broadly. and i think that has not been, at least i am not aware of it being countered, or even how it could be countered. i wonder if you have a comment? mr. bail: you mean the attacks against women by -- >> wholeheartedly islam, in their experience, treats women -- how harshly islam, in their experience, treats women. mr. bail: i am not an expert on islam abroad. i am aware of many cases such as
saudi arabia and iran where clear evidence of discrimination against women. it is worth noting that as many have argued that many of the heads of state in the world are muslim women. that is an amazing feat that we ourselves have not accomplished. certainly, when one hears of these egregious, particularly among isis now, the recent "new york times" expose on women and how they are treated is just terrifying. i think it is also -- so i cannot really speak to how real that threat is. i can, however, say that many of the most promising muslim american leaders are women. people like ingrid madison, the leader of the islamic society of north america. debbie allman taser. dozens of people leading
advocacy groups, some of the best and brightest minds are muslim american women. if anybody can fight that fight, it is these folks. yes. well, thank you all for coming. ischris mentioned, ingrid going to be coming to campus in about a month. if you are interested, look us i do not remember what the term is. we tweet about all of these events. as well as islamic studies. duke.edu. you have anymore questions, please let us know but thank you all for coming. next week we are here again. so have a good day. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] how did i do? >> ok.
>> tomorrow night, political cartoonists discuss their work, the political election, censorship, and freedom of speech. of a cartoontion that criticizes the kentucky governor's stance on refugees. >> so last fall the new tea party governor of kentucky joined in a chorus of other voices from around the country in saying we do not want any more syrian refugees in here. as background, this guy, the only thing i like about him is that he has three adopted kids from somalia. [laughter] everything else about him is wretched but who is against adopting kids? [laughter] >> i drew him cowering under the
desk. presst crazy and call a conference, denouncing us as racist. our bosses african-american and our publisher is african-american. have been a leading progressive voice in kentucky for 30 years. he denounced us all as racist. it got out in the right wing hate radio sphere. we were in you dated four hours, phonene, with furious calls screaming at us for being racist from all over the country. from our own readers, of course. >> -- not from our own readers, of course. little cartoonists discuss the impact of editorial cartoonists on the election. tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. international conflict mediator summer, the
syrian refugee crisis is the worst in the world since world war ii. the former terrorism adviser spoke to students at the university of tennessee at knoxville about the conflict and countering violent extremism in the middle east. this is an hour. >> hello, imf murray. i am pleased to be the person to introduce our speaker this evening. whor is an attorney specializes in cross-border transactions, international law, and private diplomacy. samar served as the assistant for economic affairs under governor bill haslam. salam was selected for fellowship where
she served under janet policieso, focusing on concerning national security in the u.s., latin america, europe, and the middle east. immediately following her fellowship, she worked as an advisor to the department of homeland security in washington, d.c. from 2007-2010. hogans an associate with in the u.s. and worked in the arab emirates. she is an adjunct professor. we nonetheless invited her to give this talk to the university of tennessee campus. courses in international relations. she received her bachelor's degree from vanderbilt and was notably the first arab-american elected as student body president. she graduated with her jd from vanderbilt law school and serves on a variety of boards and so on in the nashville area.
she lives in nashville with her husband. please help me extended very warm baker center welcome to samar ali. [applause] wow, thank you so much for that introduction. and thank you for inviting me here, even though i am a black and gold fan. upon saying that, i didn't grow up in waverly, tennessee. many of you have been to waverly? not too many. between nashville and memphis. if you know anything about that part of tennessee, you know that you cannot survive if you are not a fan. so i am very happy to be here and very honored to be here. and i have also admired howard baker's leadership throughout my lifetime as well. it is a pleasure and honor to be in this building and with you all here today. today, we are somehow miraculously going to cover two
two of the most important topics of our time. and that is the syrian conflict and also countering violent extremism and how it has evolved over the past 20 years. these two topics are related to each other and somehow we are going to cover them in 40 minutes. we will start with the syrian conflict. and i will take you through how it has evolved and how it is related to come violent extremism. by stating that, i would just like to start and say that this is a conflict that is personal for me. my mother's family dates back to damascus hundreds of years. i have lost friends and family members in this conflict. it is a conflict that is very real, and one that i pray will end with peace and that will create a better future for the syrian people and also create a
better platform for global security. starting off with that, we are into thisears conflict. if i could just go to slide nine and show you the ramifications of what this conflict has that thereu will see have been 200,000 deaths caused by the syrian war so far. 13.5here have been estimated syrian refugees, syrians who have been displaced. but is close to 50% of an entire country. and i just ask is now to take a moment of silence and think about those 300,000 syrian refugees from the lost their lives in the past few years. thank you.
so, how did we get here? how did this happen? i apologize that i am taking you back to the beginning. but it really is the beginning of where we need to start. how did we get to this point? well, to start, let's talk about the players in syria. really four main players in syria. the russians, the iranians, hezbollah -- which we will call the government in syria -- and their goal is to break the back of the syrian revolution. they have been making faster progress today than at any point in 2011. we will cover that later in the presentation. main group, which we will break down into three categories, are the complex makeup of the armed groups. this next slide will show you that make up. as i said, you will see that one of the parties, the government of syria, has russia and iran
supporting it, along with hezbollah, the russian air campaign, the revolutionary air command, and the iraqi militia next you have the different rebel groups. as you will see here, they are the unitedy us in states. also be u.k. and france, turkey, the government of saudi arabia, qatar, and jordan. that is making up one group of the opposition. of thet slide opposition, which you will have heard most likely many times [foreigns that called language] it is sponsored by al qaeda. and lastly, on the side of the opposition movement, that is isis. which is the islamic state. some call it the islamic state of iraq in syria. the funding mechanisms which is the al qaeda sponsored and thation in syria,
of isis, you will see, our private funding. there are accusations that there are government entities that are supporting -- let me come over here so i can point -- that are them specifically and particularly but i do not have concrete evidence of that. these are just speculations that have been made. we do have concrete evidence here, as you will see as we go that thehe timeline, u.s. has been sponsoring a majority along these lines here. not so much on this line which is closer. and many people will then ask about the kurds and where do they fit in. really, you see the kurds coming on this line right here, mainly fighting against isis. primarily. you will see them here, too. the al qaeda group
and a lot of the rebel groups. they compete for recruits as well. again, how did we get here? class, speaking to some of the students earlier today, and one of the questions that someone in the audience raised already was, what is the timeline? how does this start? what happened five years ago? how did we move from peaceful protests to one of the worst civil wars of our time? crisis is the worst since world war ii. the past five years have created the worst crisis of migrants since world war ii. i am just going to repeat that so we can all understand what that means and how we got here. if you remember, almost five years ago today, five years and
some change, the tunisian arab spring happened. and itspread to egypt spread to live via and it spread to bahrain. and then it spread to syria. and this at the time was something that surprised many people because everyone knew that if there was a revolution to happen, if a revolution were to occur in syria, the would be different than the other revolutions. -- it would be different than the other revolutions. the capacity and support of the regime would be different. given the geographic location of syria right next to iraq and right next lebanon, it would be different. and that is exactly what we have seen. back to march 6, 2011. the graffiti incident. it is in the southern part of syria, which borders jordan on the southern side.
it is referred to as the cradle of the revolution. there are a bunch of graffiti artists or revolutionaries who spray paint that the people want to topple the regime. what happened in response to that is that those protesters were killed. just over a week later, there was a facebook page titled syrian revolution calling for a day of rage protest. these were happily across the middle east. next thing we know, syrian forces attacked protesters are killing people. his was an early stage of protest but the protests were met with violence. violencelence -- that only escalated. in april, what we saw was assad trying to call the masses and sayingople in syria, with have a national dialogue process. i have heard you, which recognize the kurds and give
them -- let's recognize the kurds and give them citizenship. let me build trust with you. it was too late. the protesters did not accept attempts and also they want that assad -- they watched daysassad, just a few after saying he wants dialogue process, killed syrians that were protesting on the great friday protest. my may 24, there were less -- by may 24, boston two months into the revolution, 1000 syrians had died. imagine, 1000 syrians across all of syria, 1000 syrians have died in eight weeks time. in august the 18th, fast-forward a few months, received leaders in the u.s., france, germany, to britain calling for assad
resign. dissidents announced the formation of a council to unite groups. you are already seeing why this is important, that i have highlighted it. you are already seeing that the opposition groups, notice the theal, defragmentation -- fragmentation is a key point that you will have seen repeatedly mentioned. are we taking? if we are supporting the opposition, who is the opposition? the opposition has evolved over time and in different areas. on september 14, ambassadors from the u.s., japan, and the u.k. take part in individual to support the protest movement. again, the west is taking a side. it is clear. october 4, china and russia, the lines. veto powerussia use to block sanctions on syria. this creates a risk that will .ontinue for months
not only will it continue for months, he will continue for years, five years to be exact. syria is suspended from the arab league. the suspension is a harsh diplomatic punishment, isolating the regime from arab neighbors. syria called it a betrayal of arab solidarity. next week c january 6, the free syrian army games strength with jamesral defecting -- strength with a general defecting. this is a turning point in the civil war. you think about your mom you are memory in january, people were saying it is a matter of sad goes.re as the opposition's wedding. russia and china veto a resolution backing and arab league peace plan. on february 6, the u.s. embassy suspends operations and closes
its. this is a major sign. the u.s.. laments out of syria -- pulls diplomats out of syria. signs of escalation. it is moving from internal conflict to a regional conflict that one could argue is a global conflict. what happens next? well, sorry about that. what happens next is that on february 16, the un's general assembly passes a nonbinding resolution for the resignation. the first formal resignation requests for the removal of assad. the reason i am bringing up this point is what is the key point we are hearing in the negotiations today in february 2016? that sticking point is the removal. this is what people are fighting over. february 24, kofi annan he is therted -- is appointed
special envoy to syria. he will be the first of three. but is also a sign of how complicated the conflict has been. on june 16, the un's supports the monetary -- suspends the monitoring mission in syria. change into the war. the limits says the situation has become too dangerous to says the-- the un's situation has become dangerous to continue after observers are targeted. in june, we have the syrian communique which calls for a transitional body with executive power. the is supposed to set framework for peace talks to follow. unfortunately it never did. in july, an explosion at the security building in damascus kills top officials. this is important because now we are into the war by a year and a half and it looks like the opposition is winning. in august, kofi annan which is special role -- quits his
special role. besides a lack of unity over how to solve the crisis -- he cites a lack of unity among world powers as to how to serve the syrian -- solve the syrian crisis. figure moment to think about that. -- take a moment to think about that. the syrian minister defects. august 17, there is the second tocial envoy from the u.n. syria. september 16, iran confirms that the revolutionary guard are helping assad. another critical moment. september 16, 2012. iran steps in in a very major way. u.s. and russian thoughts on syria and without a breakthrough. another failed moment to make a breakthrough.
march 7, syrian refugees 51 million mark. 7, 20' samar: mr. bail:. -- march 7, 2012. march 15, 2013, the eu rejects the franco british to armed rebels. another major point. oil fields are taken over. this is important because many people as cowardly rebel groups getting financed. -- ask how are rebel groups getting financed. it iss important because through controlling the oil fields in northern syria. may 25, a major moment. hezbollah leaders file victory assad.vo victory forw
they confirmed chemical gas in syria. this is the summer of chemical gas. mrs. when there were several chemical gas attacks -- against syrian -- this is when there were several chemical gas attacks against the syrian people by the regime. this is when there was the discussion over whether the red line was crossed. the death toll tops 100 million syrians. by june 25, 2014. that was almost two years ago. 13, the u.s. alleges chemical weapons -- you will see there are a lot of different discussions as to whether chemical weapons happened, it was confirmed that there were. the western powers came to an agreement that there were. there was a lot of discussion happening. july 16, a militia kills a reconciliation team. again, intensifying attacks against u.s. officials and people working in diplomatic
circles. july 20, the syrian kurds. the first that in here because it is important to recognize that the kurds have been playing heree -- i'd put that in because it is important to recognize that the kurds have been playing a role. 30, i ran grants syria a credit line. iran grants syria a credit line. this is the turning point, really. it became a turning point in the syrian war where we began to see the balance shift towards the regime winning over the opposition. too,hat happened there, the middle opposition was weakening and you saw an opportunity for the extremist opposition to come in and begin fighting against the middle opposition. they were actually attacking moore the middle -- more the middle -- we call them rebels --
the moderate opposition worthy target primarily in august 2013 -- were the target primarily in august 2013. fighting asarted you will see in 2014. they break their ties with isis. on august 14, the extremists the isis rebels out. out.sh the rebels hundreds die in a chemical attack. the discussion is happening around this point, we're not sure if the u.s. is going to come in. the u.s. is getting ready for a strike and we begin a push towards military action. august 29, the u.k. parliament rejects intervention. august 21, obama slows the timeline for syrian
intervention, taking it over to congress, saying approval from congress will be needed. we never go in. from january 14 two july 14, geneva two is attempted. it fails. fighting is happening between isis and the other groups. al qaeda breaks off links with isis. mosul falls city of in iraq. this shows the interest. until 2014, obama authorizes a in syria. it turns into more of a retaliation against isis than the syrian regime. this is the first time we begin focusing on the extremist elements of the opposition group then on if you remember what was
2011, 24,ed about in and 2013. following american airstrikes, thekurdish peshmerga expected vital crossing and isis suffers due to american air superiority. this is an important point, too. it opens up an opportunity for a lot of different players to step see.d you will sin in just a minute. it becomes less and less likely see who steps him him just a minute. it becomes less and less likely according to the state rebels willhat the defeat the syrian regime. it is an alternate reality. there is the third u.s. special envoy to syria. mech, we have the u.s. train and equip program that i mentioned earlier. it is locked unsuspended in the same year. the egyptian president expresses support for assad.
interventionary changes the playing field. rebelss kill cia trained in their first week of bombing. this is where the conflict completely changes. the summer of 2015. and that is where we are today. just a couple of days ago, the u.s. and russia agreed to a joint party cease-fire to begin on february 27. that excludes isis and al qaeda linked groups. just yesterday, accusations are being made that the cease-fire was broken by airstrikes. some people say it was broken, others say it was not. the majority of western powers are saying that it was not. where does this leave us? what does the cease-fire mean for us? let me take a moment so that everybody can digest the timeline that we went through. you can remember the different evolutions from 2011 to 2015. here we are today.
the landscape has changed dramatically. as i mentioned before, the 300,000 syrians dead. what is going to be next? and how should we care about what is going to be next? that note, yes, the title of the lecture is countering violent extremism in syria and beyond. part of talking about countering violent extremism, we have to have a discussion about what is the right and best future for the syrian people. because of the only approach this war in the future -- if we only approach this war in the future in what is in our own best interests, we do not think of this image government governance perspective a reconciliation perspective of the syrian people, we are not serving long-term security interests in countering violent extremism and also helping the syrian people. and i say this because many
are talkingpeople about their security interests, they think about it just from their own prism. and they do not see the interconnectedness of this discussion. it becomes about, how do we get isis? and it is not about how do we create an ecosystem that is going to be sustainable, it actually creates a better future for people who had been thematized and have seen unthinkable, the unimaginable, have seen horror? how do we help them move forward to we nearing a partnership together which is about where we are in a partnership together which is about peace and stability. here are the options and scenarios ahead. in the three options settlement process that we are
currently looking at. often one is what i call finish. finish is the government of syria breaks the back of the rebellion and pursues a fight to the finish. called finish.is ever though real negotiation about implementation of the confidence building proposals are discussed. there are no proposals. it is by brute force. aidthird, no humanitarian really takes place. suffering, displacement, destruction, death, and refugees will be multiplied many times as terms of hundreds of thousands flee wherever they will be able to go. after the finish, the international community will be asked to assess on a limited basis, and surrender processes will need assistance but there will not be a real cease-fire process. you can imagine what will happen next for the syrian people in a
state like this. and about the 13.5 million people who have been displaced, we are probably not going to feel that saved returning. i just spoke to somebody just the other day who was accused -- he is syrian with a u.s. visa -- he is accused of being a partner with the cia. that night, there were security forces knocking on his door. he escaped to beirut. safely.it out but you can imagine a lot of the people that have the state and made it out are not going to feel comfortable returning in a scenario like this. where it has been more of a scenario -- surrender than anything else. this is potentially where things could end up. we have to think about the reality and what that means for the syrian people -- from a global security standpoint. syrian people and us from a global security standpoint.
option two is the match option. outside states supporting the armed group will match the russian escalation. remember the right-hand opposition? those are the outside states that i am saying might come in and a stalemate might become a reality. in a back to that, situation where that might be the case, you can imagine that the conflict would most likely, because of the players we are talking about, which is saudi arabia, turkey, united arab howates, qatar, remember close they are, remember which neighborhood they live in. if that were to occur and that were to happen, the conflict could spread even further beyond the syrian borders. and we could be looking at a very different war than we are looking at right now. i think this is the least likely option, but i would not take this option off of the table.
and the third option would be an actual settlement. that would be external supporters on both sides, external supporters being again the outside supporters like the u.s. and turkey and iran and russia, supporters on both sides of the conflict agree to the terms of a settlement and pressed the parties to comply. because it is going to take that external pressure to put them to the table. and the international syrian support group will set the framework for a political process and a sustainable cease-fire. under this option, if the settlement is a pro-government settlement, what we will see is the government of syria and the international community will announce a cease-fire, setting up terms for those who agree to the settlement condition. the battle will continue against all others. we are beginning to see this play out right now. armed groups will be destroyed
and the international community will be asked to support but will otherwise have a very limited role. a balanced settlement process, which is what i think the majority of people would like to see, would be that they set out a detailed formula for a settlement process and cease-fire building on the previous statements. cease-fire, humanitarian aid, political processes. leading to a sustainable future that leads into a national dialogue process and constitutional reform. coordination between the warring factions which would be critical. you will see cooperation and collaboration among all of the different groups that we covered on the earlier slide. you remember that slide with the why diagram -- y diagram. all of those groups and outside groups collaborating with each other. whatu can imagine, and kofi annan stated when he resigned, this is extremely difficult. but if it were to happen, this
is probably the scenario that is the best from a global security standpoint. and why is that the case? that is what we are not going to talk about. contrary violent extremism. counteringounter -- violent extremism. how do we counter violent extremism? what is violent extremism? what is terrorism? on this, i think it is important that we start with the definition of terrorism, at in the u.s. code. there is a with the following three characteristics, we are on is an act- terrorism with the following three characteristics, so we are on the same page. it violates federal or state law. intends to coerce civilian populations to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assessment, or kidnapping.
and it occurs primarily outside of the territorial jurisdiction of the united states. domestic terrorism involves the first two what happens on u.s. soil. so how do we define countering terrorism? counteringorism, or violent extremism, incorporates the practice, military tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, military law enforcement, business, and intelligence agencies used to combat or prevent terrorism or extremism. for me, how that reads in essence, that is an ecosystem. it is addressing a whole is, creating a holistic approach. ecosystem that addresses extremism and/or terrorism. how cant to next go to human rights and good governance help prevent terrorism and extremism.
why i wasoes back to saying option three, with a balanced settlement process, is our best case scenario for combating violent extremism in syria. which, by the way, is also in the interests of the majority of the syrian people. most of these refugees are fleeing syria, yes, because they are fleeing the regime, they are also primarily fleeing because of extremism and the barbaric nature that they are facing. they are saying this is not the community that we want our children to grow up in. these are not the values that we want our children and our sisters and our mothers and our brothers and our fathers to witness. this is not us. this is no longer be syria that we once knew. -- although syria that we once knew. thissaying this because -- is no longer of a syria that we
once did. so manyeard this from people. keeping that in mind, how human rights and good governance help prevent terrorism and extremism, the conditions that make communities vulnerable to violent extremism recruitment, "push factors," are often physical insecurity or the inability to provide for one's family. we can agree that a lot of syrian people feel that that is the condition they are currently living in and if we do not have a sustainable peace process that supports them in a realistic way, this is only going to continue. low level needs are not met, social and political marginalization can impact higher-order human needs such as a valued role or purpose. again, do you think that a
valued role or higher purpose is being served right now for the syrians currently living in syria? or for the syrians who have left syria and have no place to go? and/or they do not have access to work permits or jobs are opportunities? and three, as president obama noted, groups like al qaeda exploit the anger that fasters when people feel that injustice and corruption leaves them with no chance to improve their lives . if you leave people with the fault that i have no hope -- fought that i have no hope, there is no chance for improvement. that i have no hope, there is no chance for improvement. they are vulnerable. and to isis and al qaeda, those are the conditions that they thrive on. that is what they look for. and that is why we need to provide alternatives.
how do we counter violent extremism? how do we counterterrorism? we create an ecosystem that naturally, organically creates alternatives for people who are at this point in their lives hopeless and feel there is no chance for them and nobody cares about them. fourth, and google that your arms not simply because they are johnbut also because -- the people take up arms not simply because they are poor but young people -- take up arms that simple because they are poor but also because they are angry. not every community of extremism is created the same. sometimes you see communities that are impoverished and preyed upon. sometimes you see communities that are not impoverished but they are angry because they feel politically disenfranchised. i am talking not just about syria, i am talking about beyond syria.
not to say that the reaction, and becoming a terrorist is ok. but it is to recognize that nobody is born a terrorist, ok? and it is not good for us to partassume -- it is not a of the solution for us to assume that everyone who is a terrorist was born that way and there is no hope for them. the only option that we have is just to crush them and fight them militarily. you have your short-term agenda and goals when countering violent extremism, countering terrorism. you also have your long-term. from the short-term aspect, yes, there are some lines where the only solution is force. but that is a minority. the majority is actually to identify patterns to radicalization. , ok?o intervene
those patterns off. going back to that point of an ecosystem of alternative to extremism. it is important to recognize that community radicalization and because of interventions that are the most effective may dramatically from geographic location to geographic location. so radicalization efforts in countering efforts in nigeria are different than friends. we can talk about that in the period, ifd-answer anyone has questions about that. want to give you a bit of statistics, as of the gives him a bitt i want to give you of statistics, as i think it is important to understand. 80% of terrorist attacks between 2002 and 2014 occurred in nigeria and somalia. 60% of terrorist attacks
happened in muslim majority countries. measured in terms of concentration of risk on both regions of the highest percentage of high or severe risk countries at the top, here is where we are. south asia, north africa, latin america, western countries. seven --usand seven, 2000 7, 70 8% of all terrorist attacks of happened and 10 country. 78% of happened in iraq, pakistan, afghanistan, india, thailand, russia, somalia, nigeria, yemen, and columbia. the trend is starting to james as russia along -- change as russia and columbia have seen decreases. why is that relevant other than understanding the data accurately? it is because a lot of these countries are in the same neighborhood. that is important for us to recognize for a variety of
reasons, which, again, we are running a little bit out of time but i will take it in the question-and-answer people have questions. latin america is the region with the most positive overall results of have been seen, and in a hyper connected world, far away problems can affect local threats and violence can escalate and spread rapidly. that is also why, from a self-interested standpoint, when is itng about extremism, is happening in for away, and i have heard many people say, let's just keep that over there. impossibleing almost to just have an isolated mentality that says let me just see if i can build my walls bigger and higher and just keep that stuff happening over there so that it does not touch me. because what happens in the end is somehow, and we have seen this and history has repeated itself in many occasions, it
does come back and affect us. but for our own self interest, what is happening with the extremism growing in the faraway places is relevant to us. i want to highlight this quickly with military spending equally 2.3% of global gdp. you will see of the u.s., china, the u.k., and russia are in the top five. many people say that the u.s. defense apparatus is weakening. i will you be the judge of that. say, as secretary kerry, eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow. this is what i am saying here. the matter how many terrorists would bring to justice, those groups will replenish the ranks. we need to do more to prevent gun people from turning to terror in the first place --
young people from turning to terror in the first place. we do not exist in a vacuum. -- they do not exist in a vacuum. they are lured into barbaric organizations tomorrow. that is a very critical point. vent them fromsen being lured into barbaric organizations of tomorrow. that is countering violent extremism that will make the world a safer place. i want to mention that there are really eight factors here that we should step out and address. and those eight factors that i make if we focus on will us really safer, if we follow these over the next 10 years. the only will make us safer as americans, will make the world safer. -- not only will make us safer as americans, will make the world safer. a policye, develop that alliance government
policies with communal interests. i am not just talking about a cve strategy. i am talking about every state focusing on aligning policies with local and communal interests. when these policies and interests are not aligned, guess what happens? revolutions, like we have seen, that do not go the right way. and i must say that i do not believe in revolutions order should not be revolutions. i am saying that it is important to understand how this all begins and how it can be peaceful in a more way. number two is to empower civil society. by civil society, i mean nonprofit organizations and also the private sector as well. everybody plays a role here. we cannot just contract this out to the pentagon or to the defense department or to the ministry of defense.
this is, again, going back to the ecosystem, this is a responsibility that all of us can play a part in in a different way. number twoe -- connects to number three. expanding political opportunities for at-risk populations. we can be strategic in where we focus our soft power initiatives. as in be strategic -- mentioned, one of the top places his nigeria right now. whatn think through -- type of private sector investments are we making in nigeria? how many jobs are being created in nigeria right now through diplomatic and international efforts? 40% of youth in the arab world right now are unemployed. you do not think that that is connected to the extremist trend that we are seeing increasing? the absolutely are. we can do something about that. again, create an alternative to extremism.
number four, promote human rights, which is also linked to number one. number five, counter narratives that create marginalization. words matter. this goes back to the feeling of being disenfranchised and not just being attracted to extremism because of being in an impoverished environment, but also being angry. this is something we are seeing. number six, support youth suffering from this is a critical point -- from from up. -- traume. this is a critical point we should be focusing on. number seven, avoid generalizations about groups of people. maverick, strengthen community and policing relationships. large-scale sweeps can in they canote -- actually help people that are
trying to radicalize those same exact communities. because istop there, know that we have 15-20 minutes for questions. and thank you. so, happy to take any questions on that. both phone the syrian conflict, countering violent extremism, and/or how they relate. >> thank you very much. we do have runners with microphones. you are recording the event so i will ask to raise your hand. .e want short, crisp questions no monologues, please. >> thank you very much for your presentation. i found it very interesting. i did not see a bunch of discussion about the sectarian nature of the syrian state. i guess a big part of the reconciliation process will be about how to restructure the state to make it more equitable among groups that are vying for power. i wonder if you could address that? samar: address the sectarian
nature of the conflict? >> no, no. i think that is very clear. you can describe that, of course. in the future, how will the state need to be restructured to create this ecosystem were any group can profit? -- where any group can profit? very goodt is a question, and as you can see, that is where we are starting off. and we have to get to a line, really, of where this, this .ight here, collapses over here and we have a state versus the extremist group. that is were we have to get to. if we can. and so what you end up having is everyone working towards a common future. and we probably will not see al qaeda president obama: -- we will not see al qaeda or isis working towards a common future that the rest of the world can get behind. seewe will see -- we can
all of the others. and that is the majority of syrians. on the left side of the line. then would be replaced with a g, which is one government. how do we get there? well, i think one of the conflicts which i studied which gives me hope and i think is a model that we can focus on is that of south africa. and in south africa, with the focus has been on is a common future. what is the common future that we can work towards. and that being, as he talked about earlier today, what our trade initiatives -- are trade initiatives that can be institutionalized that encourage people who are currently divided to begin to work together. that you have to have a vision for, but you have to have a vision that is something that is attractive for people across the spectrum, from al
-- diversity-wise across the country. it affects not only people who are in damascus or other areas but the entire country. i think you have to tone down the sectarian rhetoric and that happens through leadership mechanisms. that comes from how we here in the west are also talking about this con flick. that comes from private diplomatic discussions that are happening not necessarily in open media circles but that's getting different leadership to commit to a different way of approaching the middle east at the moment. so i think this is not just a syrian problem. this is an entire middle east question that you've asked right now and that is, how do you get the sunni and the shia and the kurdish factions all aligned and moving in one direction?
sort of like how we have in our country here and now. how do we get the republicans and democrats to cooperate together for the good of the country? to focus on what's best for america and not what's necessarily best for part of an interest. >> first, thank you for coming. second -- second, i want to talk about saudi arabia's role in the syrian conflict and the middle east. saudi arabia practices a strict interpretation of their religious while the isis state does. i don't want to suggest that saudi arabia is propagating the i lambic state. but when there is western promotion of saudi arabia east economic needs, exk exasperate
their stranglehold on sunni islam and if there's supposed to be a cohesion of demorksi within their religion, which should be allowed all over the world. how can we get to that point for their support for whose who practice that type of islam? >> what is your definition of that style of islam? >> from my understanding it has to do with the strict interpretation of economic, socio background processes that of for marginalization those who might not believe in that olution of power started in 1980's between the death of muhammad and divided sunni and shia. really inherently saudi arabia practices -- from my understanding. i was very confused as to how,
if we're all talking about ideology and talking about wanting to stop the radicalization process. these type of sanctioned understandings where underneath there could be that spread of extreme strict interpretations, how can we counter that and coalesce the different factions into doing something to progress that underground trend? if that makes sense? >> i start off by saying the strict interpretation on the scioscia economic plague background sound is incorrect. the strict interpretation of islam focus on there being a balance and lessening enyaults from a socioeconomic standpoint. so i don't think that that's -- from what i'm understanding that's what you meant for how
mojave criticism is defined. i understand you're using the word as a philosophy that is extremely conservative and that's not representative of the majority of muslims in the muslim world. ok. sure. and so it's a good question. it's a very good question. the answer is that you're never going to get 100% of people that ll refuse to follow an ideologyal extremist narrative, but the majority of people and the majority of people living in saudi arabia are not interested in living the lifestyle of which you just depicked and the majority of syrians aren't interested in that as well. so sometimes it could be a mean to -- means to an end or
sometimes it's a pathway because no other alternative exists. that's why i'm saying you need an alternative pathway that's more in line with how the majority of muslims want to live today and the majority of muslims want to live the same lifestyle that everybody in this room are living right now. it's about connecting and building bridges and offering that opportunity that i'm talking about creating here. and if we're always going to be thinking to be 2% or the 3% of people that will never pull over, quite frankly and i don't think it's all of saudi arabia. i think it's a small percentage of saudi arabia and i think it's a small percentage of the muslim world. but if you only focus on what if we never convert the 2% 203%, we'll never move forward. don't let perfect be the enemy of good.
you might not ever have 100% but 9 % or 97% is better than what e're currently looking at. >> hi. i'm from syria. >> i knew that. >> i have a question. i just wanted to ask you about something you said. it's something we worry about as syrians. i think as a people, where you see syria has, i think, not changed now after like five years. >> yes. >> we have the same group here. we talk about the same problems from four years ago. isis was about 500 people. five years ago or four years ago, isis was about 500 people. now we're talking about 30,000 members of isis.
nothing changed in syria, where do you see syria after pive years from now? >> when you say nobody does anything, you mean -- >> nobody stopped the war there. >> would you consider finished the start of the war? the finished scenario? >> yes, from four years ago to now it is nothing. everybody talking about supporting their own way. if we could do it in their own way in syria after four or five years, how do you see the situation in syria and around sere heir because this will affect everyone wherever? >> as we discussed. i think if we don't do everything as the preventive asures i talked about or addresses the injustices that have been exit examined -- committed on all sides, not just from the regime to the
opposition and you never address that, the anger is going to increase. we're going to see an increase in anger, an increase in poverty, an increase in a lack of trust. we're going to see an increase in a lack of cooperation across nation states. the world in which kofi annan highlighted for the reason of his resignation in the beginning of 2012 is going to magnify by 10 times as much and i think by just what i just said, i think we can imagine where that will go and what will happen with that. but we shouldn't let that happen because we have tools in our tool box to change that, of course. -- change that course and that's what i want to get across today and that is many people throw up their hands and say what do we do about the middle east? just as senator porker continues to remind us, our u.s. senator from tennessee, we need a
broader middle east strategy. we need one that's going to work, one that's long term and that makes sense and we simply can't just say oh, well, those people are hopeless. those people are people just like anybody else and they have, as you know, and you've experienced yourself, they have had historical realities that have pushed them into a very unfortunate time period but that doesn't mean we just say oh, well, that's just unfortunate. we look and see how do we get the different interests between the different proxies right now because this is in many ways a proxy war. how do we get them to collaborate? divides territorial that exist. how do we create jobs in rebuild, provide humanitarian aid? these are questions we cannot simply dismiss to the middle east. that's what i'm getting at, this
is a global security matter of where we all hold a seven certain level of responsibility that if we rise up to the occasion, we will counter balance extremism and provide a better future for the syrian people and one that has a common future and a common vision. is isis a part of that? that is for the syrian people to decide. >> i have to say, given the political rhetoric that seems to be dominating the news today, this was a great breath of fresh air. that's all i can say. very insightful and we thank you very much. >> thank you. >> so folks, give her a nice round of applause. [applause] i do have a very small token of appreciation for you. you can use these in your law firm office, at your home but they're very, very nice and thank you again for coming.
>> thank you. >> thank you, everyone. look forward to seeing you again here very soon here at the baker center for one of our premere events. have a good evening. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> next, a pentagon briefing with defense secretary ashton carter. than a discussion with michael hayden. after that, a look at heroin and opioid abuse in the united states. defense secretary ashton carter and joint chiefs of staffs chair have announced that a top isis leader was likely killed in an air streak. ecretary carter said haji imam oversaw all of the u.s. operations. he said the u.s. forces now have the momentum and the fight. his is about 30 minutes. >> good morning. ood morning, everyone.
ok. let's see. good morning and thank you all for being here. i want to start by reiterating that our thoughts and prayers remain with all those affected by tuesday's bombing in brussels. as you know, this tragedy has hit our military community as well. and our hearts go out to the injured airman and his family. like paris, brussels is a strong reminder of why we need to hasten the defeat of isil wherever it exists in the world. today the united states is as committed as turnover our european friends and alleys. our ennice -- allies. our enemies are one in the same and together we continue to do more and more to bring the fall
weight of our vast military capabilities to bear in accelerating the defeat of isil. after chairman dunnford and i spoke with our commanders this morning, let me update you on some new actions we've taken in just the last few days. first, we are systematically eliminating isil's cabinet. indeed, the u.s. military killed several key isil terrorists this eek, including, we believe, ha gji iman, who was an isil senior leader serving as a finance minister and who also is responsible for some external affairs and plots. he was a well known terrorist within isil's ranks, dating back to its earliest iteration as al qaeda in iraq when he worked with zarqawi for operations in
pakistan. the removal of this leader will hamper the organization's ability to conduct operations both inside and outside of iraq and syria. this is the second senior isil leader we've successfully targeted this month. after confirming the death of isil's so-called minister of war a short time ago. a few months ago when i said we were going to go after isil's financial infrastructure, we started with the storage sites where it holds its cash and now we've taken out the leader who oversees funding for isil's operatings, hurting their ability to hire fighters and recrew. our plan is first and foremost to collapse isil's parent tumor in iraq and syria, focusing on its power centers in racka and mosul. in syria, motivated forces that
we support recently took a town, repelled isis counter attacks and ultimately severed the main artery between syria and northern iraq and as a result it's become more -- much harder forces to travel. 'm pleased to see that the forces are advancing to new positions. the u.s. marines we've seent more mack moore, where staff sergeant carter gave his life are now providing art -- or tillry fire at the question of the iraqis. in both syria and iraq we're seeing important steps to shape what will become crucial battles in the months to come.
as our partners move forward, we're continuing to bring relentless pressure on isis commanders in mosul and we've taken a significant number of actions this week, one of which i've already mentioned but econd, we targeted abu sari, one of the top isil leaders charged with paying fighters in northern iraq. next we targeted a number of isis associates who were directly involved in plotting and planning. and these came after recent strikes had destroyed a significant quantity of their explosive devices and bomb-making equipment that could have been used against our partners headed for mosul. we believe these actions have been successful and have done damage to you sill. as the chairman noted earlier this week, the momentum of this campaign is now clearly on our side. the united states military will continue to work intensively with our coalition partners to
build on this progress oz -- as our counterparts throughout our governments work to defend our home larnleds tame. at the -- home lands same time. yesterday i spoke with my counterpart, the defense nister, and we convened to conform a defense administration. ahead of president obama's participation in a leaders summit the following day. this will be important to build n our actions last month and strengthen defense partnerships including discussing the way ahead for joint relationships that we all exitted -- committed to during the 2015 camp david
summit last may. we're prepared to take your questions. we have limited time to do that because we have something else we growth need to do upstairs. also, please respect the fact that we're not going to do go into any further details about how our coalition conducted the operations earlier. any more details than that could put lives and our future operations at rustic, hinder the effectiveness of our campaign so we're going to ask you to be restrained in that regard, as we spend to be as well. let me ask the chairman. >> i join in an exception of my condolences for those affected by the attacks in brussels this week, in particular, the two americans that were lost. staff sergeant carter but all accounts a great soldier who we lost last week in operations in iraq. >> i was hoping you could at
least confirm that there was not against sere heir. the death of the senior leader was in syria and more broadly, can you talk a little bit about -- we both saw a lot of al qaeda senior leaders killed repeatedly over the years but number three was killed every six months or so what do you think this actual death suggests this terms of plots, particularly those involving the west? does it really mean anything or do they simply just replace them? >> i'll turn them to joe after this. >> the marines -- >> let us take your first question first. on the question of leadership, striking leadership is necessary but it's far from sufficient. leaders can be replaced. however, these leaders have been around for a long time.
they are senior, they're experienced and so eliminating them is an important objective and achieves an important result but they will be replaced and will continue to go after their leadership and other aspects of their capability. i'd say it's necessary. it's not sufficient but it's important. joe? >> the marines this week in their support of the iraqi offensive operation, is this something we will see more of, do you thinking, as time goes on in the fight to get to mosul and can you talk about the excel rans the secretary talked about before and whether this is a key part of what you want the military to do more of in iraq over the next several months? >> we've talked for some months about setting conditions for success in mosul and facilitating the iraqi forces in staging and to begin to isolate
moust mosul and that has begun. e artillery that was there were in direct support of that. also in a position to provide support to the iraqi forces. this is no different from aviation fires. this happens to be surface fires but no different than the fire support we've provided to the iraqis all along. with regard to further axel ns, we believe there will be come -- actions. the primary force fighting in mosul will be iraqi security forces and we'll be in position to provide and assist to make them more successful. >> it appears to be more of a
ground combat role than we've seen before. >> no, it's not. we have surface fires in places and we've used to those in the past. this is not a fundamental shift in our approach to support iraqi forces. this was the most important tool the commander assessed it needed to be be be in that location. >> -- was in an iraqi prison up until 2012. he was released in 2012 short aafter iraqi forces were pulled out in 2011. do you see this as a cautionary tale for releasing these prisoners who are already caught and captured? >> a number of the leaders of isil were in detention in iraq back in former years, including he head of isil himself. in iraqi detention, so it is important that these are people who have experience.
they're people who have shown dedication over the years and that's why it's so important that we eliminate them. >> does it give you pause about releasing prisoners in gitmo? >> that's the reason why we need an alternative detention facility to get mo, because it's not safe to release everybody or transfer them to the custody of another country. everybody in gitmo. that's the very point of that. >> we've just heard this week that there are actually 5,000 u.s. troops on the ground in iraq. why is the pentagon and senior military leadership reluctant to say that it's more than 3,800. >> we're not reluctant. what we track is the number in our force managing level. there's 3,800. this is nothing that's inconsistent from what's been going on in the last 15 years. in terms that people are going in and out on a certain period
of time. the way we've been counting people has been going on for the last 15 years and at any given time we have 3,800 directly in support of the mission. if there's a unit of 200 that's being replaced by a community of 200 and they both happen to be on the ground at the same time, we don't count that as 400. we haven't in the past 15 years. the accounting of our people has been consistent. we're not denying that there's more people than 3,800. i think you got the numbers from us but in terms of what we count on the mission, in cord answer with the direction we've been -- in accordance with the direction we've been given. 3,00 is the force management number and there are more than in on any given tay. >> i'd like to follow up on the questions about marines and that fire base.
unlike the previous u.s. military combat positions and fire support, this is an independent base. these are u.s. military only and by all indications, they are not just defensive but in this latest movement by iraqi forces, they provide fire support for offensive operations against isis. so why is this not the first footprint of a u.s. combat ground operation there in iraq? >> jim, the reason they're in a different base is simply a function of geometry. they've designed the support cmor.s in an area called ma this position was selected because the geometry necessary to support that particular location. with regard to providing support to iraqi offensive capable, to
me, there's no inconsistency between what this artillery unit did and what our aviation support is doing every day. we've said we're providing enabling support for iraqi force as they conduct operations, which is exactly what this artillery unit was doing. >> all indications are this is a pretty permanent position right now. after a short period of time, u.s. military is going to replace the 26 new, the marines there. it still has all indications that the u.s. military is directly involved in the ground operations with the iraqis -- >> even since last week now as iraqis have started to consolidate their position, the situation on the ground has started to change in terms of where the iraqis are and the sense of support they're providing to our artillery unit that's there. that's changed throughout the course of the week.
i cannot see this being inconsistent with everything we've been doing over the last several months. >> and what will we be doing in coming months? >> this is our approach to eliminating isil from mosul. the iraqi security forces are the ones who are carrying out the assault but we're helping them. that's our -- been our approach and we'll continue to do that. started in ramadi. we'll continue going up to mosul. carle? >> are we seeing more u.s. american ground forces closer to the front lines? >> illinois, -- jim, one thing i probably need to clarify. this position is behind the line of troops for the pressure murder of the kurds. ma curled. we have a series of recommendations for the
president in the coming weeks to further enable our support of the iraqi security forces. the secretary and i both believe that there will be an increase to u.s. forces in iraq in the coming weeks but that decision has been made. you alluded to decisions that were already made about army units replacing marine units. all that is predecisional. but it is going to be decided in the context of the broader issue that the secretary will bring to the president, again focused on what is it we need to do to maintain a minimum camp and what do we need to do to enable operations in mosul? >> carle? >> would you say this was in syria and whether or not it was a u.s. raid or a drone strike or a manned aircraft? >> i'm not going to say where and how it was don't i'm simply not going to do that. but the only thing i will say, it is consistent with our
strategy there, which is to put pressure on isil every single way we can, from the leadership, which we've -- we discussed previously, right down to supporting local forces on the ground and with respect to i want to in iraq, make clear and reiterate that everything we do is with the consultation and approval of the iraqi government. bash are -- barbara? >> can i ask you the same about -- sar a? you said he was targeted. can we assume that was an air strike? >> again, i'm not going to talk about how these guys went. you know we have a number of ways we can do >> you had sent to congress of
that, europeans need to step up their intelligence sharing. i know several people from the brussels attacks, on the watchlist, not let into the united states. are we sharing our intelligence with of the belgians? gen. dunford: i can speak at the military level, i was speaking broader when i spoke to congress. intelligence agencies, military capabilities, law-enforcement, from a military perspective we have significantly increase our information and intelligence sharing over the last few months. we have specific locations where we bring together our coalition partners to do just that. we believe over 100 countries have fighters in syria and iraq, you see the numbers that exceed 35,000. i would not put it with a high degree of confidence, but it gives you an idea of the problem of the magnitude we are dealing with. those affected by the foreign fighters are cooperating on the law rc