tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV November 26, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm PST
i.s. strongholds. is that enough? calls for ground troops are growing louder. their deployment would be dangerous with an uncertain outcome. what is the best way to combat i.s.? coming to you from berlin, quadriga. the international debate. your host, peter craven. peter: welcome to this latest edition of quadriga. the shocking terrorist attacks in turkey, lebanon, paris, and tunisia, as well as the downing of a russian passenger plane, have either been claimed by or blamed on islamic state. today, we are asking how to combat i.s. i am joined in the studio by three analysts and commentators. let me introduce you, beginning with ulrike herrmann, a
journalist with taz. she says to fight a war, you need money, which is why we need to cut off the cash flow to islamic state. also with us is alan posener, a commentator for die welt. he is convinced that destroying i.s. is easy and necessary. the hard part, he says, comes later, rebuilding a new syria. also with us is daniel gerlach, founder of the zenith, which focuses on economics and culture in the middle east. no one can come up with a plan, nobody can expect to find allies on the ground. thank you all for being here. i have to begin with alan posener. you look surprised. you say destroying islamic state is easy.
i am surprised by that comment. would you be willing to make that comment to the victims of the attacks i have just listed? surely, they would throw it back in your face and say, if it is easy, why wasn't it done before my brother, my sister, my father, my mother was killed? alan: they should not throw it back in my face. they should throw it back in the face of barack obama, who failed to lead the west in the fight against i.s. or the european leaders, mr. francois hollande. he at least can say that french planes have been bombing i.s. but has been let down by mr. cameron and let down by his so-called german allies. what i am saying is obama officially stated one day before the paris attacks that the idea was to contain islamic state, as if you could contain a terrorist organization that is at the same time a state. it is this thinking that we
should contain islamic state which led directly to the paris attacks. have them throw back this question in the face of western leaders, in the face of those who failed to act. i have been rooting for attacks against i.s. for as long as i can remember. peter: my feeling, following the story for a long time, is that we do not have the faintest idea how to deal with islamic state. what do you say? ulrike: i would not agree it would be easy to fight the i.s. it is not just bombing from the air that is needed. you also need troops on the ground. after afghanistan and the disaster in iraq, there is no western state that wants a third world war on the ground. that is why i.s. is successful. there is no one fighting against them. the only ones who do that are the kurds, and they are not
well-equipped because turkey is afraid of strengthening the kurds. there is a vacuum, and that is being used by i.s. daniel: i have to object that the kurds are the only ones fighting islamic state. but that is not the issue. what i think we should keep in mind is that i.s. is not such an isolated issue as you presented it. it is easy to defeat them. in military terms, it is easy to defeat islamic state. you emphasized it is a state. i disagree with that. in military terms, to defeat the militia in syria and iraq is possible, not easy, but possible. but it is not an isolated problem. we have so-called islamic state cells in africa and libya, even afghanistan.
i think we have to see this as more of a global problem and we are not only dealing with a structure, we are dealing with an ideology. we will come to that later. you know, root problems, which are similar to each other, the collapse of real states. and in an environment where states collapse and have no positive function, everyone can say i have a state, a caliphate. that is why we should be careful with branding islamic state as a state. that is not at all accurate, in my view. alan: totally agree it is a huge problem, a global problem, not just the problem of one small area in syria and iraq. it goes down to nigeria and so on. this has to be done one after the other. there is no use expanding the problem. you have to break down the problem to component parts. one part is i.s., daesh. why is it important to beat them
there? with every village they take, they write their slogans on the walls. daesh is growing. this is their ideology. we are not like al qaeda. somewhere in the vague future, there will be an islamic state. the caliphate is here and now. we have to stop that, reduce them to little terrorist cells and talk about that later. first do the necessary thing. peter: the one thing you agree on is that it is a global problem. it demands a global solution. political leaders are talking about a global alliance. who could be in that alliance? alan: are you asking me? there is a global alliance. 24 countries under the leadership of the united states. unfortunately, weak leadership, but they are already there. obviously, russia will have to join. peter: you do not sound very
convinced. "russia will have to join." alan: russia's strategy was to support assad and iran and confront the sunnis. they helped create the problem of i.s. russia was on the wrong side from the start. now that they have been attacked with their airliners, now that they see that their own sunni minorities are looking to islamic state, it is time they made a decision. it is up to them. if they keep on doing things like provoking turkey, as they have done with obama. if they go on doing that, they are part of the problem, not the solution. peter: the global alliance, is it a solution to the problem or a problem in itself? ulrike: an alliance would be fine, but there is no global alliance. as alan posener mentioned, the
russians have a different interest from the west. it is not only a question about the west and russia. you should not ignore the immense importance that the original powers around syria have. those really decide on what is happening in syria is turkey, iran, saudi arabia. unfortunately, those three have opposite interests. it is very difficult to see how they will agree on some solution for syria. daniel: do they really have different interests when it comes to islamic state? that is what we read and write and say all the time. everybody wants to fight islamic state, have a common enemy. maybe we can find some common ground at the roundtable. do these opposing powers in the middle east really have a different interest when it comes to islamic state? i do not know. in my perception, islamic state is not only a potential danger or imminent danger, but also a
beneficiary to certain powers in the middle east. what is turkey's interest in destroying islamic state? what is saudi arabia's interest? that is the reason they have not been attacked by the russians. islamic state is not threatening the assad regime. consolidate.to it is not threatening turkey, iran, not directly. it is not threatening saudi arabia, if we leave aside ideological competition. in saudi arabia, we have a lot of aficionados to i.s. break it down and see who would really be ready to take a great effort to combat islamic state if it is not on the priority list or can be beneficial. peter: i know you have a lot of contacts in the region. your people on the ground in the region. what do they want from the west? what are they hoping for?
daniel: it really depends who you are talking to, of course. i can tell you that i know people whose families that are being ruled by islamic state that are saying -- and this is a very affordable plan -- why doesn't the west come up with a plan? what will be the political future of the land that we live on? if the alternative to being ruled by a islamic state is to be the assad regime, thank you very much. we are not going to rise against these people. islamic state understood who they have to eliminate. these are not necessarily minorities or different beliefs.
these are social posts, clans, family leaders, that can think independently and rally around people that probably rise up against islamic state. you can buy these people. islamic state understood this mentality. they wanted to make sure these people no longer exist. but tell the people in the region, how do we see the political future. ulrike: we are back to question one. there is no political solution for the whole of syria. regional powers have very different interests. daniel: i have never seen a government declare this is how we see the future of syria. in five years, i have never seen a head of state saying, this is the plan. these are colonist attitudes. ulrike: they all met in vienna and came up with no solution at all. that show, when everyone sits in
vienna in a hotel for two days and they do not come up with a solution, you can be sure there is not a solution at the moment. peter: we are going to come back to the solution, what happens if islamic state is defeated. we will talk about that in just a second. let's first of all look at the options that any possible alliance that may or may not come together, the options they have for defeating islamic state. let's look at that first. >> islamic state is attracting would-be jihadists from around the world. i.s. terror is dominating the media and causing widespread anxiety. over the past few years, i.s. has been able to expand their control in iraq and syria virtually unhindered. the consensus among experts and politicians is that there must strikes,side military sources of funding drying up. they include sales of oil and clandestine donations from the gulf states.
also, the terrorist supply routes through turkey need to be blocked. the kurdish peshmerga and moderate syrian rebels waging war against the militants need military and political support. the west will only be able to defeat i.s. in cooperation with the muslim world. peter: the one thing we have agreed on, i think, so far in this discussion, is that there are lots of ways of combating islamic state. we do not know if they will effectively work or not. what we have been talking about is that any alliance that will come together needs to have clear goals for the future. what could those be? alan: we have a model, specifically bosnia. what we did there was save bosnia as a unitary state. i was there this summer. there are two states, the christian serbian half of the
state, and basically the muslim enclaves. they are self-governing in all but name. we need to offer the sunnis in syria their own autonomous region and guarantees they will not be attacked by the government in damascus. the government can stay in power. we need guarantees for the sunnis so they will be willing and able to fight on our side. daniel: no. sunnis are the vast majority of syria. the sunnis do not need guarantees. i do not want to be mistaken. i do not want us to mistake the islamic state for the representation of the sunnis of syria and say that sunnis are fighting against assad.
this is not a regime. i do not want to go into details about sectarianism. it is composed of different religious groups that are bound together like a criminal gang. everybody has something to blackmail the other. the government is not about sectarianism. we have to come up with guarantees not only for the sunnis of syria, but all the groups. particularly the minorities. when we look at the future of syria, it does not mean we have to split it up along sectarian lines. that would be dealing with it in the wrong way. but we have to think it through. take out the maps. call in the syrians and say, how do you see -- i do not want to use the word "autonomy."
probably "self administration." how can you best serve your own province at the local level to make sure the bloodshed stops, that you can start dealing with your neighbors again? let's think it through. alan: that is the bosnian solution. it is the bosnian solution. give everyone their own self-governing areas. in bosnia, these people were killing each other 10 years ago. you can travel from one part to the other with no murders, no revenge killing. daniel: in bosnia, you have three different groups. in syria, you have multiple groups, secular sunnis loyal to the assad regime. alan: you have sectarian bosnians in the region who do not approve of what they were doing. i totally agree. daniel: i'm inspired by the balkan model, but we should not copy and paste the balkan model.
the expectations should be mitigated. peter: what about at the present? how do we get there? in germany, there is a tendency for pacifism almost, that military might cannot be used to solve political problems. can it and should it be used in this instance? ulrike: it should not. i am not against waging war if there is the possibility of success or if there is a necessity and the possibility of success. but in syria, there is no possibility of success. i think the analogy to bosnia is completely misleading. in bosnia, it was bosnia fighting. it was an internal conflict that you could solve by helping them from the outside. in syria, it is different. you have the syrians fighting against each other. apart from that, you have
turkey, saudi arabia, iran, and they are at odds. saudi arabia does not want a government ran by shiites. iran wants to keep assad because he is an ally. the turkish are afraid the kurds may be too strong. those three powers are fighting for supremacy. the first thing you have to do is somehow reconcile these three powers. then perhaps you can start talking about syria. how it should be organized. but to start organizing syria internally without these three powers on board is just without a chance of success. as long as these three powers fight in syria, it would be plain crazy for germany to intervene. in the end, a fight against iran or something like that.
alan: a couple minutes ago, we were saying that we need a model for what is going to happen. we agreed on a model where people have self-determination without destroying the state. which can be temporary. we have agreed on that. now, organize a coalition. do not just say it is impossible. actually, in vienna, we got quite far. yes, we did. there was a general agreement in january. negotiations will start. let's build on that instead of saying, "that is nothing." that is a non-constructive attitude. peter: you were saying it is easy, a job that can be done. we talked about the role of the kurds and the importance of ground fighting. who will do the ground fighting? alan: i think creating a no-fly zone in the north and giving turkey more responsibility would help a lot.
this russian incident would not have happened. the jordanians have an excellent army. we need to lean on the states to put their boots where their mouths are, where the money is. we need to control iraqi forces, making sure it is not used for shia retaliation. i still think we need western boots on the ground. as long as obama is in power, we will not get americans. as long as the americans do not go, the germans and france will not go anywhere. that is theoretical. maybe next year. daniel: in principle, i agree you should build on what is on the table. but i would be very reluctant to involve turkey with the project. without turkey, how can you do this? alan: exactly. daniel: the point is what the russians are doing at the moment
is in concordance with the assad regime, preventing turkey from establishing a buffer zone, which would really be a zone of turkish influence. which would regain the border with islamic state. i know the minorities in syria are very much talking about allying with the kurds to cut the supply route into turkey. to involve turkey as one of the leading military powers in syria, i do not think it is a good idea. the turks have had it up to here with their own problems at the moment. if we do not pay attention to the situation in turkey, look after the stabilization of turkey under this erdogan government, the kurdish cities, if we are not careful, may look like aleppo in a couple of years. we should be careful about the
stability of turkey. when we talk about refugees, if the turks do not see the red flag, they may produce refugees in large numbers fleeing turkey to europe. the situation with turkey, the upcoming civil war, is very dangerous. i do not think turkey can work at the moment as a nato ally or stabilizing power in the region. i wish all the luck possible in the world to the turks that they keep the country together. but i think the erdogan government is playing a very dangerous game to its own people at the moment. can we rely on turkey or should the french just continue bombing islamic state and get the saudis on board, i do not know. ulrike: i am happy that everyone agrees with me there is no syrian solution as long as you have not solved the problems of the past.
what i found interesting is the idea to have a no-fly zone in syria. how is that supposed to work? that would be the entrance into a war for the western countries. if you want to have a no-fly zone against the wishes of assad, you would have to send fighters there. and assad could just down them. alan: i doubt it. let him try. bring him on. i would love that. ulrike: assad is technically very well-equipped, much better than libya. that would be dangerous, to somehow enforce a no-fly zone on assad. alan: the turks have just shown how you do that. i must say the downing of a russian aircraft was some of the best news in syria for the past months. i think it is really dangerous. i do not know who is behind it.
i think it is dangerous to denigrate turkey, as if turkey was somehow some country in the third world. it is still a democratic state, a member of nato, an indispensable ally in the region, the only ally in the region if you disregard israel. we have to strengthen the relationship if anything is to be achieved. peter: the question we initially had was to combat i.s. can they be combated within the year? daniel: 2015 will be difficult. 2016 could be possible. ulrike: i think it is not possible to combat i.s. in syria, but it would be possible to combat terror in europe. peter: alan? are we going to see president putin and president obama on an aircraft carrier with "mission accomplished"?