tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV February 12, 2016 9:00am-9:31am PST
second-largest city. another humanitarian catastrophe is looming, and the left keeps struggling to come up with a coherent strategy. 's air campaign tip the balance in the war? from berlin, "quadriga." the international debate. your host, monday crane -- melinda crane. melinda: hello and welcome. what exactly are russia's motives in syria, and what can turn the situation around? that's what we want to talk about today on "quadriga," with three people following events very closely. we welcome a freelance journalist and expert on syrian affairs, who reports regularly on syria. as lies the left doesn't do something about the reasons for flight in syria, including the bombing attacks, it will continue to pay for the humanitarian tragedy putin that -- that within and aside are creating. we welcome alan pozen are back
to the show. he says putin wants to destroy the opposition. turkey and the opposition and isolate pigeons friends in europe. finally, a warm welcome to el, an expert on russia and military experts. he's as much as not winning, but if aleppo falls, the west is out. ofis aleppo on the verge falling, and with the indy determine the outcome of this long-running war? kristin: it would at least be a turning point in the war.aleppo is important , it is the second-largest city. is used to be the economic hub of syria, and it has been divided since 2012. eastern part is controlled by moderate rebels. the moderates are still in control. thethe opposition,
political opposition in turkey is somehow organizing the cities there. we have alternative treacherous. that aleppo is would be kind of a capital of the opposition in syria, and this capital or hope is being bombed in ruins. melinda: will you say the game is already up? aleppo is -- going to fall? kristin: depending on what the west is willing to put in front of it to stop putin. but i think it is almost in circles, and it will be probably be followed by the strategy of besieging the area. able will die of hunger. and depending on if the west is ready to watch this, i do anything against it, aleppo is going to be the next. melinda: a similar parallel was drawn this week by a new york times columnist. he did not use those cities. instead, he said aleppo may be
the sarajevo of syria. it is already a munich. both of those were cases where the rest of the world did in fact simply stand by and watch, as disaster unfolded. is that the road we are condemned to play here? allen: i'm not content, but it seems like the free world, america, as the leader of the west, is not content, but willing to let things happen. unwilling to do more. we've been talking about this so many times now. time and again, the point has been made, you should have had no-fly zones, no bombing zones to stop assad, and the americans have consistently refused. we all know without the americans, none of the other western powers, or half powers, i willing to do so. -- are willing to do so.
mr. obama seems to be not content, but willing to let things happen. it is a tragedy. melinda: we will come back to that later. times, we said many have spoken many times about the drawbacks and difficulties of practically every scenario. we will come back to that in a few minutes. gustav, your statement says russia isn't winning yet. win exactly would a russian be? --t is pidgeon's endgame? endgame? astav: he tried to set up color version of the world. only isis and assad regime. rather than try to eradicate any sort of third pillar structure that could be used as an assad'sive source to
government and isis, and he is going to. there even achieves that, is the problem of who will then leave the war in the east against isis? -- lead the war in the east against isis? that americans are not in favor of that, and syria does not have the capacity. that would practically be the eastern syrian territory coming from isis and still undecided upon,. i think the americans would rather go for northern iraq, and ,he fronts are clear, and putin you are earned syria. that is the last thing he wanted. he opted in to the ideal scenario, that the westerly champion intervention, and join russia thi -- to fight the war. he has been disappointed by american reluctance to do anything. melinda: let's briefly, before we come back, take a look at putin's motives and talk about
the humanitarian situaon. fd, of thousan have they are mesng on thborder to turkey. turkey so far has not opened the border to the refugees. it says calls for it to do so are cynical, when in fact, no one is doing anything to stop. the russian bombardment does turkey have a point? kristin: they have a plane and have another point by saying europeans want to stop refugee flow, and at the same time they want them to let them into turkey. turkey says, we will not take all the syrians, there has to be another solution. the german government would be the one that is most interested in another solution, and protecting syrians inside syria, and not protecting them once they have made it here up, and is -- europe, and especially to germany.this has been in the discussion for a very long time.
we have many organizations, humanitarian organizations, everybody is asking for protection of civilians, and the ending of the bombardment of civilians for infrastructure. we have hospitals and schools being shot. 13 hospitals this year. north, beingin the bombed by assad or putin, who is deliberately creating refugees, deliberately could -- killing civilians. who is paying for this? the west, who has to have been in a humanitarian capacity. they are spending billions for a war that does not make sense. melinda: these pictures we are seeing of the civilians massing on the border, of suffering, of victims, do russians see them and leave them cold? gustav: the russian reporting
about syria is not about these pictures the pictures they get. selective, and it is the european dimension about the instability of germany, and so on. if you control the media, you don't have to regard casualties of civilians very much. that is actually what is happening now. i don'tian warfare, think that was the prime intention. once you are in control of discourse, you can afford to do so, because it is not reported at home and it will not be a part of discussions. if you want to have a city analogy, i would say a aleppo of syria.e grozny the difficulties for russia will
there.at the end will be melinda: you said russia's endgame in syria isn't about syria, it is about russia. let's take a closer look at what putin's motives might be. russian president vladimir putin feels snubbed by the west, and wants to make russia great again. the war in syria has given him another opportunity to show his country is a world power. the ongoing and -- airstrikes are aimed at securing russian influence in the region with, or without bashar al-assad. hisn does not want to lose country's net -- mediterranean naval base. russia also has agreements with syria to export oil and gas reserves. putin says hitting the opponents is striking a blow against terrorism. terrorist.who is a and the president will achieve
one other thing with military action in syria. thousands more civilians are now fleeing further bombardment, as the flood of refugees swell, europe grows ever more divided during is it all part of a grand strategy? alan, here is something i don't really get. before the latest environment -- bombardment, when putin was willing to sit down with talks, people were saying, russia has finally coming in from the cold. shirley, russia with its economy tanking, would like to see the sanctions lifted that were imposed at that time. why in the world will it be pursuing this strategy? lan: i suppose it is counterproductive. but who controls putin? who is the tight circle of
people who control russian politics? there's no discussion within russian civil society, which is virtually nonexistent, but what is the best course? if russia canng come in from the cold. mr. steinmeyer, who was the challenge to learn -- chancellor, who works for gas. come on. there are people who within german industry especially, and the social democratic party especially, would love to see russia,elations with and who are willing to pay almost any prize as far as blindness is concerned. i think they are beginning to shut up now. kristin: but i think it is important to look for a political process in syria. this was the big hole, the russia being part of the vienna process, that they would really bring us onto the table and talk about them kind of compromise.
letter? absolute dead kristin: they don't make sense at the moment, because we don't have the situation that everybody is at the table. we need a military deadline for everybody, but at the moment putin and a side can do whatever they want. they create military effect on the ground, to dictate their conditions for peace. this is the problem. we need some kind of a counterweight, a military counterweight. we have to stop them militarily. this is not only to save human lives, and morally, but to really make negotiations work. melinda: ok. gustav, back to russia's motivations. our report mentioned a couple of possible motivations. one question is, whether assad truly believes -- sorry, putin believes by shoring up assad, he
could promote stability, or is that not what he's looking for?would he think he might profit from continuing instability, because it destabilizes europe as well? gustav: is a side effect he appreciates, for sure. there are many motives.some are ideological , like stating that interventions the west has conducted is wrong. there are domestic contingencies, like the new russian military glory, which is the nation -- major part of identification. economic growth has been gone for some time. melinda: in reference to that point, it was often thought that -- donaldd sold rumsfeld was a eager to prove the new u.s. military was capable of. you are a similar motivation might be going on? gustav: slightly, yes.
you reinsert to redefine the entire political process. for russia, this is beyond the reach. for the bolsheviks, it was beyond the middle east, that was also co-responsible for 9/11. it has backfired at a huge scale. on russia, the belief in the strongman stability, is the only stability that is true in the russian way of thinking. even though the war is bloody, and create the refugees, at the end there will be stability, like in chechnya. the thing is, we don't appreciate chechen stability. problems for russia. nobody in the european union will want that in their own territory, but this is a different concept of what do you mean by security and stability. melinda: given the experience in the middle east, after the removal of saddam hussein in --q, after the rim of the
removal of qaddafi in libya, is there something to be said for an idea that even a dictator is better than a failing state? kristin: there is a big difference between iraq and afghanistan and libya and syria. in iraq, there was a u.s. president going to war, bringing more into the country by a regime change from outside. this backfired, it did not make sense. obama came into power with the claim he would not start anymore adventures in the middle east. he was rifle. the problem in syria is it is not about starting a war, it is helping to end a war that was imposed by the very president of this country. is about the protection of civilians. it is about the responsibility to protect, which is an international law, to some extent. this is really the big misconception.if we look at the middle east , and say the west is starting wars and regime change, if the west had wanted regime change, they would have had a lot of
possible moments, especially the chemical attacks in summer of 2013. there is no appetite in the west for regime change in syria, but the west has a responsibility that it is not fulfilling because it is not helping protecting civilians. melinda: we will come to that in a second. one last question in regard to putin's motives. russia claims to be combating islamic state, daesh. is this the case? no, unequivocally, no. they are bombing areas where the islamic state is not. they are bombing the monitoring -- moderate opposition. what russia wants to achieve and what assad wants to achieve, is to put the west in front of everyone who is concerned with syria, in a position thing we have to decide between assad and the islamic state.
between the devil in the deep blue sea. this is what putin is doing. he is not attacking i as. assad isn't either. melinda: let's go to the question of what the west can do. is it obama's loss? >> the u.s. presidential elections are underway, and americans do not want another war. final months in office, it is unlikely barack obama will get the country involved in any more military conflicts. europe wants to prevent even more refugees from coming, and is hopelessly divided on the issue. merkel's diplomacy is on the rocks, one more reason for her criticism of russia. >> in the last few days, we have been not only shocked, but also incensed at the human suffering these bombing attacks have caused tens of thousands of people.
bombing attacks carried out primarily by russia. >> but unlike america, coalition partner appeared, relaxed about the topic on a visit to moscow. nato member turkey is a regional power, but since shooting down a russian plane it claims was in turkish airspace, leaders have been trying to get relations back on track. only saudi arabia has said it will be willing to send a beat troops to syria, but if it does so, it is unlikely to find major allies on the ground in the fight against assad's ground troops and russia's airpower. will anyone be able to stop putin? melinda: the same commentator who called aleppo another sarajevo said the current debacle could offset all that it rings -- good things historians would write about president barack obama. was again, there are calls for the u.s. to take action, most
recently from the french foreign minister. but what action could feasibly stop the bombing without drawing the u.s. into a proxy war? kristin: you have to take a risk, it is not about without risk. you have to make a no-fly zone between aleppo and the turkish border, and in the south of the corridor -- country where we have a second tragedy. assad is approaching, and tens of thousands are going towards jordan, which is at the brink of collapse in. we need a no-fly zone or no bombings in. we need to come to times cash -- terms with russia. wherenot bomb other areas possible partners for political process are controlling the area. the same rebel leaders that were geneva, theye in were being bombed at the same time by russia.
you cannot have talks like that. we need no-fly zones in the andh and south, humanitarian convoys being pushed into the area under siege assad by the regime, without taking positions from moscow. you have resolutions to do so. melinda: we have talked about no-fly zones many times, and of course in the general discourse, they do require a commitment of a lot of military backup power. do you really see any country out there in the western coalition that is willing to provide that? alan: no, i don't care that is a tragedy. a tragedy for syria. i think we have to wait for the next president. for instance it is hillary clinton, she would be much more willing to engage. but by then, it might be too late to save syria. it is a terrible situation. gustav, do you think the russians have written off peace talks?
whatever actually committed? gustav: they did not take them seriously. there was huge diplomatic meddling. that delayed them, and now it affects the ground. to add something on the prevention effort, the problem is the biggest discontent now we have with western reluctance, are actually the western leaders that have been under pressure to deliver like france, they are unhappy. also, a new president might have a different approach. the problem is we have russian air defense in syria and on the ground.any mistakes would be much higher than anything we did against any middle eastern dictators in the past, like hussein. melinda: what do you see as the risk of a proxy war? is that a real danger and what would happen in that event?
could it trying into a hot war with russia? gustav: there will be a proxy war, but i doubt it will be a western russia war. thereunder misted -- underestimating the will of the local powers to continue. for the russians, the turks and puppets of thet cia, of washington, but they are not. we have seen that in iraq, the gulf states are willing to support groups that are even against the united states. they are the prime security partner if there interests are at stake. they have infrastructure on the ground, they know the territory, they know the channels. this will give a lot of russian headache. kristin: it would be a catastrophe for the whole conflict. a unilateral turkish invasion
would mess it all up. turks and the border region have set up an autonomy, and they would consider turkish ground troops as invaders, and closed the ranks with assad, and we will have a more complicated situation. to prevent a unilateral turkish invasion, we need a nato western backed intervention. i think the kindest and interventions we will have will be more catastrophically the long run. melinda: clandestine meaning proxy battles, where sunni countries support a particular group? in the pocket -- popularity of iso-will increase -- isil will increase. alan, the title asks if
this is a win for putin. is this still a win? alan: no, i agree. long-term, putin will find himself saddled with a failed state, a dictator who can't control his country, with interventions on the ground. plus, it will rejuvenate american foreign policy. long-term, he is done for. putin has never been good at looking long-term. melinda: many thanks to all three of you for being with us. thank you to all of you all for tuningt there in. stay in touch, check out our website and twitter feed. see you soon.