tv Consider This Al Jazeera September 22, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
haider al-abadi feels he's weak at the moment. the americans have backed him and said despite you haven't filled these two key positions because that's how strongly and how important they see this fight and as soon as iraq got a government in place that's when the americans decided that they were going to put together this coalition of the willing, effects of which we've seen in syria since then. >> okay, imran khan, to update our viewers it is now 2 gmt. just moments ago we heard from the u.s. breaking news out of syria where for the first time the united states has attacked i.s.i.l. targets there. pentagon sources said that u.s. fighters attacked i.s.i.l. thrargts. i can confirm that partner nation forces are undertaking military action against i.s.i.l. targets in syria using fighter
bomber and tomahawk missiles. john kerry went on to say, given this operations are ongoing we are not prepared to provide additional details at this time. let's go to lisa stark who is standing by for us at the white house. lisa what more can you tell us about what's being said? >> we understand that we are not going to hear from the president tonight. that he is not going to come out and make a statement about these air strikes which as you have indicated have now begun. the pentagon confirmed they have hit a number of targets in syria. the statement from the pentagon said with our partner nations. we're trying to get clarification what nations though are. some clarification there would be gulf allies, on this strike on syria this in washington time. this comes just a day before the president is heading to new york to speak to the u.n. to sort of
rally international support to fight against i.s.i.l. and it's somewhat surprising to many people that he would do this just before going up to the u.n. but sentcom today central command did apparently authorize these strikes they said on the authority of the president of the united states, there's been no authorization from congress. there's been no authorization from the united nations, but the white house has insisted all along that it believes it has the authority to launch these strikes. now, as you said there were a number of different types of weapons used including tomahawk cruise missiles, fighter jets, we understand there were perhaps unmanned drones as well used in these efforts, going after logistic targets a host of targets. one report is that this could be about an hour's worth of bombardment.
in iraq continues, the u.s. launching 4 more air strikes. again, we are waiting to hear more from the pentagon, this launch, this escalation, if you will, against i.s.i.l. has started in syria, again, earlier than many people expected it to. >> can you talk about the lead-up to this? you said it's a surprise. can you talk about the political wrangling and the support for this. >> there's support in the u.s. congress it take an i.s.i.l. at some level. there was a vote last week in the congress to authorise the president to train some of the more moderate forces in syria, fighting the bashar al-assad regime, fighting them to take on i.s.i.l. that was a split vote. it's not unanimous support here.
the president visited sentcom, which is in florida, heading the campaign. he got a briefing there last week, and went to the nation too. he went out 13 days ago, in front of the nation in said "we are going to extend the war into syria. we are at war against i.s.i.l.", that's how he put it. they said the international community is at war against i.s.i.l., and will extend into syria. secretary of state john kerry has been working virtually nonstop to put a coalition together to make this not a u.s. effort but an international effort, and says there's 40 nations willing to help in some fashion. the administration has been vague about what those nations will be doing. we have seen france now, of course, taking its first air strikes in syria against i.s.i.l. i am sure it was a welcome move by the white house as they tried
to build the international coalition. france, for example, indicated that it will not help with the air strikes in syria, that it is not going to do that. it will help in iraq. it will be interesting to see which allies come aboard on the syrian campaign. the u.n. ambassador to the u.n., samantha power says this weekend that she is convinced that allies will be joining the u.s. in the campaign against syria. the u.s. wants that. they do not want to be scenes as the only one going against i.s.i.l. in syria. >> we'll leave you there in a moment, but we'll come back to you for the latest from the white house. do stand by for us. we'll update what is happening. we have breaking news out of syria where, for the first time the united states attacked
i.s.i.l. targets. the u.s. started to hit the targets on monday. the pentagon press secretary released this statement saying that: john kirby went on to say: our white house correspondent said that it seems the bombardment would or has lasted honour, and it's unclear which partner in additions are joining the fight along with the united states. we can go to sue turton who joins me on the phone from northern iraq. sue, it was inevitable, as lisa stark was saying, there was a loft of posturing that the u.s. will go into syria, but was it a surprise, and what do you make
of the timing? >> it has come as a surprise. we are not far from the iraqi border, which is an area targeted, by the sound of it. we understood it would be weeks if not months before the syria bombardment began. really, this has come as a bit of a shock. i'm guessing it came as a shock to the fighters from i.s.i.l., who have been caught out by the bombing campaign. it sounds like much more of a sustained bombing campaign than we have seen in iraq, which has kind of been on small individual targets taking out vehicles. most of the time it's individual targets with a few fighters at the time. some of the stories we are hearing, reports we are hearing - it's very much a wider attack. it seems to be looking at a number of targets. from what i understand, they were looking at weapon supplies,
ammunition depots, command and control centers - they are the reports we are getting at the moment. as you say, from a variety of different areas coming from the area of bombardment, from fighter jets, drones, tomahawk cruise missiles from u.s. ships. yes, this is looking like a much more broader attack. and areas, including raqqa, the front line, a stronghold, and deep into syria, but across the iraqi border. the border that we are sitting on has many routes in and out of syria, into iraq, many roads impossible to keep an eye on, i suppose. and it seems they are trying to stop that, a number of weapons and fighters coming in and out of syria, into iraq and fiji,
the stronghold of mosul, all the different areas that the islamic state is holding in iraq. >> the u.s. started their air strikes in iraq over six weeks ago on august 8th. tell us how crucial it was to have u.s. backing in the fight against i.s.i.l. there. >> well, before the air strikes started, i think the peshmerga forces and the iraqi army forces were at a stalemate. they were not able to move forward. they were overpowered. they had taken the iraqi army or back in syria, so the air strikes were able to give them, gave them so many, in so many different areas a chance to move forward, in the amerli areas,
where we had seen a stalemate since june, since the islamic state fighters had come in and put down the position. the individual air strikes took out key positions meaning they could move forward on the ground. we had seen the positions fall again. even though they are helping them pull back, it's not sure that those areas could be held by the forces on the ground. there's an imbalance and a commitment, some say, in the front lines, they are saying to us is what happens in the islamic state fighters is they'll control and take areas. and they become suicide bombers and blow themselves up. the tactics, and the way the fight is happening is different to the way that the peshmerga and the army are willing to fight the war. it's important that each when
they have taken areas, that there is a support from the air. obviously the drones and the surveillance flights that france is launching all over iraq are keeping an eye on the positions. making sure that if they do fall back, there'll be another bombing campaign. as i said before, these are specific targets taken out. we are talking about air strikes. often you hear one vehicle has been taken out, or a collection of vehicles or accounts. we are not looking at a lot of different targets in the air strike. >> i'll just bring in some of the latest news we are getting from the reuters newsagency. we are hearing that arab partners are helping in the strikes against islamic targets in syria. can you expand on that and talk about the coalition that would be backing or could be backing
the u.s.? >> i'm sorry, say again. >> we are getting news in - we are getting news in that arab partners will be helping or are helping in the air strike against islamic targets in syria, how important is it to have regional fighters in the fights, particularly in syria, where the government won't be part of this apparatus. >> i think it's very symbolic. it was on monday that france came out and said it would not take part in an aerial bombardment in syria, taking a step back from the fact that they've been committed to the aerial bombardment in iraq, but not wanting to see it expand to syria. it's important that it's not seen as a u.s. bombing positions in syria. there has been a drive all along that the u.s. said that we need
arab partners. not just for the additional weaponry and fight power, but also they want to reach out to arab sunnis within the countries to say this is a much wider coalition force, broader coalition force than the western allies. indeed, because the ideology and the problem with syria and iran is that they are reaching out to villages where people are pulled towards i.s.i.l. forces, and really when the fighters go into the villages, they have a problem that they join in or are willing to hide from the i.s.i.l. fighters when they are retreating from certain villages. they want the arab sunnis to say that this is not acceptable, it's not an acceptable way of thinking as a sunni arab, you must recognise it's a warned ideology, as the u.s. secretary
of state john kerry called it. and be firm and stand against the forces coming into iraq and syria. the way that the arabs are going in, they hope it will be psychological and adding to the coalition, fire power, knowledge and inteleligence adding to the ground forces. >> thank you, sue turton coming back to you with more updates. let me update our viewers on what is happening. there's breaking news out of syria. for the first time the united states attacked i.s.i.l. target there. pentagon sources say they started hitting targets on monday, according to the pentagon they released a statement:
john kirby went on to say: our white house correspondent told us that there was a bombardment that lasted about an hour, but let's go now to baghdad, where our correspondent imran khan is standing by for us. imran, in the latest news we are hearing that arab partners have joined the u.s. in the fight against i.s.i.l. in syria. give us an idea of how strong i.s.i.l. is at the moment, from what you have been seeing from baghdad. >> well, let me tell you before i answer that question, that we have to really look at the timing of these u.s. air strikes. talk about the strength of i.s.i.l. in iraq and in syria.
they issued a statement, an audio statement last night over the internet, and this statement was a doctrinal shift in what they believed before. this was a straightforward statement saying that it was time for muslims to attack america and its allies in america and any of the allied countries, and particularly signalled out the french, canadians and americans, and urged all muslims within that country to take upon themselves to go off and do attacks and say the statement was the religious justification to do that. a few hours later we had these bombings in syria. the timing of the attack has to be - the bombings in syria has to be taken a serious look at. do i.s.i.l. have the kind of influence, indeed, that could lead to attacks on domestic soil. someone in america is very worried about the statement, someone said maybe this time for
us to take i.s.i.l. seriously when they say they'll bring the war to us. previous statement maintained from i.s.i.l. that they were never going to attack the americans on their soil, that they were - their entire reason for being was to establish the caliphate here in the middle east, and to strengthen that. now, these attacks have taken place, as you say, with arab partners. what role did the arab partners play - well, probably to do with using air bases, sea lanes to get the carriers through, not so much with actual firing of missiles or the attack - that probably would have taken place with the americans, indeed, it was said the americans used toma hawks and fighter jets. it looks like a massive escalation of the attacks in i.s.i.l. we have seen them in iraq, attacking different targets. it's been sunk cessf-- successf
they opened the lines, allowing kurdish ground troops to go in and take part of iraq back. the biggest success story being towns like amerli, which were able to be cleared of i.s.i.l. fighters. this is likely to be the pattern they'll want to repeat in syria. they have a problem. who do they trust enough to go into syria, once using the air strikes. they don't have the cooperation they do with the iraqi army with the syrian rebels. the attacks will need to be significant, all-out to degrade i.s.i.l. in syria, it's a tougher fight in syria than iraq. imran khan, stand by. we'll go to the white house, where lisa stark is standing by. lisa, hopefully we can get more details from you. what more are the pentagon, and the white house saying on this?
>> well, really, they are being tight-lipped. on coalition partners, and there are reports of arab partners joining in the effort, the united arab emirates, saudi arabia, they are among them. it will be up to them to detail what their role was. any role they may have played will be a boon to the white house. it's been important for the president to gather an international coalition, and especially a coalition of countries in the region, of arab countries, to indicate that this is not a war against islam, it's not a war against sunnis or any particular group, it's a war against terrorism as the u.s. sees it. i do think it's significant. you talked about this latest missive, if you will, or message from i.s.i.l., where they are talking about they do this -
they put out this call to launch attacks in their in-countries against americans, canadians, the french. that, i think, also gives the white house a little cover to argue that this is a self-defencive move. the white house needs good legal justification for going against i.s.i.l. - many believing that the white house doesn't have that justification, but the president could argue look, now they are hearing from them, they are not in imminent danger, which is what the white house is saying, there's no imminent danger. we have a call for attacks in specific countries. it ratchets up the pressure and gives the white house a reason to say look, we need to take the strike and protect american citizens abroad and here in the united states. again, as you know, the president will be going to the united nations tomorrow. he will speak to the general assembly and hold a security
council meeting and they'll talk about i.s.i.l., and how to build an international effort against i.s.i.l. one thing we have not heard, or i haven't seen it, is rehabilitation from damascus, the bashar al-assad government and reaction from russia, both of whom indicated they'll see it as an act of aggression if the u.s. launches these air attacks, missile attacks as the u.s. has done. we will wait to see what we hear from those two nations as well. >> lisa stark, thanks. we'll leave it there for the moment. we'll move on to beirut. zeina khodr is on the phone for us. you have been monitoring the situation in syria since the conflict started pretty much. as lisa said, damascus said any attack in syria would be seen as an act of aggression if damascus was not part of the equation. give us an idea of how unlikely
it is for damascus to be any part of this u.s. attack on i.s.i.l. fighters there. >> well, this was criminal the most controversial part of the obama strategy to, in his words, degrade and defeat the so-called islamic state group. why now? did the united states decide to carry out the strikes because i.s.i.l. is on the offensive against - against the kurds in northern syria. they have taken over kurdish villages. a number of kurdish villages are under a siege. more than 130,000 kurds have been forced to move to turkey, and thousands of kurds in syria are under threat. is this why they decided to carry out the strikes now? this was really the controversial part of the plan. most military experts tell you that you need to take the fight against i.s.i.l. across the
border to syria in order to degrade or defeat them. they don't the just stay in iraq, it's in syria, that's the base. they cross the border freely, and the biggest problem now is that by destroying or targetting i.s.i.l., are you propping up the regime in damascus, the bashar al-assad government, and this was why a lot of - a lot of the united states coalition partners have been asking questions - who will step in. who will benefit. will the regime benefit, because the united states do not have partners on the ground. they talked about arming so-called moderate rebels, but the free syrian army exists only in name right now. other groups in the united states do not trust them, they are trying to build a force. who will benefit. at the same time a lot of syrians are asking the question,
and that question is why is the united states targetting i.s.i.l. at a time when the syrian government is intensifying the air campaign against the rebel-held territory. over the past two weeks we've seen an intensified air campaign, dozens of civilians have been killed. this will be - a lot of questions will be asked following the news of these air strikes. >> thank you zeina khodr. we'll get more from you in moments from now. we'll go to stefanie dekker on the line from the turkish-syrian border. it's where there are refugee camps, tens of thousands crossing the border in the past few days. tell us how this is going to affect the refugees, and possibly the flow of refugees to turkey. >> certainly we have to wait and see whether the air strikes are
carried out around the town of kabana, a town on the border with turkey, which is why over 130,000 people have come here over the last three days, since friday, the biggest number of refugee influx since the conflict began, because of the push of i.s.i.l. into the kurdish areas. it is interesting that turkey has been a reluctant partner in the coalition with i.s.i.l. turkey faces the problem of i.s.i.l., it held over 100km of border with turkey on its doorstep. they hold two border posts, there are allegations that turkey is not doing enough because of the threat that turkey fears i.s.i.l. may have here. many fighters from i.s.i.l. cross the turkish border into syria, using the way to come in. the prime minister, recep tayyip erdogan, always said that he will leave the door open. there was an issue, there was 49
turkish hostages held by i.s.i.l., they've been released. we heard from the prime minister that he'd have extensive discussions with coalition forces. he's in new york to attend the meeting to see about how to move forward. the u.s. said turkey should be an important ally because of its position geographically. it has a long border with turkey and iraq. we'll have to wait and see how they respond to this. we have heard from the kurds that they have been carrying on air strikes to protect their people, and turkey has another front here, which is the kurds, they fought a war with the kurds, and now there is increasing tension because of the onslaught of i.s.i.l. on their positions in the north, that they fear turkey is not doing enough to protect them. there has been a complicated situation. it is an escalation.
many people will tell you it's a 3.5 year war in syria, they've never intervened in air strikes. there's a lot of anger about this as well. now they see that this is the coalition of the west. it does include arab countries. a lot of people see it as the u.s. pushing its own interests when it comes to intervening in a country, but not carrying out a fear, i.s.i.l., as we heard in the beginning, is not necessarily a threat against the united states. yes, we heard the audio. >> great. >> it's a strong propaganda war, let's remember. >> on that note we'll go to washington to get more from the u.s. they'll analyse the situation and what the position is, and to help us with that the former deputy assistant secretary of defense, general mark kimmitt joins us from washington d.c. what do you make.
-- make of the timing of this? >> i think it's a combination of two things. number one, it appears that the decision to strike was made by the u.s. central command, indicating to me that they had target lists ready, and the coalition partners ready, so it was a matter of time before the strikes were going to start. i don't think we could ignore the political ramifications that this was being done the day before president obama was appearing before the united nations. it was a convergens of the military capability, the coalition, and the president's speech in front of the united nations that made this a good night to start of bombing runs. now, the information that we are getting on the military campaign is they are using a mix of fighter jets, bombers, tomahawk cruise missiles filed from ships, and our correspondent said there was an hour-long bombardment. given this kind of military
hardware and force, what would your assessment be of how the u.s. is playing it against these fighters? >> well, i think the idea on the first night before the i.s.i.l. has a chance to get ready or to understand that the united states will do a broad-based attack, the united states wants to take advantage of that. probably the best time to go against the enemy is when he's not expecting it. this is a first shot, it certainly won't be the last shot. now that i.s.i.l. in syria understands the united states will attack, re-attack and re-attack repeatedly. they'll disperse command and control, disperse some logistic strikes, make the big hit on the first night. from this point on, understand that they will adapt to this kind of warfare in syria.
>> they said that they are not going to issue the shock and awe campaign, do you think this is something that will be sustained. can the u.s. be in this for the long run? >> i think the united states is prepared to be in this for the long run. i agree with you, this is not meant to be shock and awe, it's a combination for the fact that you don't have fixed sites, facilities, demand and control that you have in a shock and awe campaign as we see in places such as iraq. second, i think the united states would not have started this campaign inside of syria without fully understanding that this is going to be long and protracted, and the fact that the campaign started this evening indicates that the president and our coalition allies realise that this is the first strike, but there'll be many more nights, weeks, perhaps months these strikes.
the way they are being done in yemen and pakistan. >> tell me, how will this work. damascus obviously is not involved along with the u.s., and damascus said that any intervention into syria without their agreement is aggression. at the same time our correspondent was saying that the syrian government has intensified their strikes against i.s.i.l. fighters. how does it work side by side? >> well, first of all, it's not working side by side. i have little doubt that there is no coordination going on now between the coalition forces and the air forces of president bashar al-assad. in fact, i would not want to be a syrian pilot trying to take advantage of the strikes, and use it as an opportunity to go on a bomb run. if they get in the the way i suspect the rules of engagement could very well be that if you see a sign of aggression, or an
act of aggression, that you have the principle of defense, and you can take the aircraft down. >> thank you, mark kimmitt, good to get your analysis, thank you. hi everyone, this is al jazeera america, i'm john seigenthaler in america, we are following breaking news. for the first time the u.s. and its partners have begun air strikes against i.s.i.l. targets inside syria. tonight a major turning point in the fight against i.s.i.l. a short time ago the u.s. military, and some of its partners, began to strike i.s.i.l. targets ideas syria, the pentagon says the strike involves strikers, bombers and tomahawk missions. several arab nations have joined the attacks. lisa stark is in washington with more on this breaking news story. lisa. >> we are not expecting to hear from the president this evening. in fact we've been told it's a regular night at the white house, they'll turn the light out at 11.
they are playing it low key here. nothing low key about this at all. it's the escalation that the president promised two weeks ago saying that the u.s. would go after i.s.i.l. in syria. it's coming earlier than many expected, right before the president is heading tomorrow to the united nations to talk about building on international campaign against i.s.i.l., and includes arab partners, now, the pentagon saying it included partner nations. there are reports that it may include the united arab emirates. saudi arabia, bahrain, qatar possibly. we don't know what their roles are, and the pentagon saying it's up to the partner nations to say what their roles were. it's critical for the white house. they wanted to build an international coalition, it
didn't want to be seen as another situation of here is the white house, acting on its own, going into the middle east, launching air strikes. whatever role the arab nations played, that is a factor that the white house wanted to see in place before they launched the streaks. we should say that martin dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs, when he testified in front of congress, talked about the campaign that would be launched against syria. he said it won't be shock and awe, that's the campaign against saddam hussein and iraq was call. it will not be shock and awe, because i.s.i.l. isn't organised that way. he said it will be sustained and persistent. we are seeing a bombardment tonight. and a number of ways they have gone after i.s.i.l., and the tomahawk missiles. there may have been predator drones, this is the first sal vo
in many. it may be surprising to learn we have launched 100 air strikes in iraq. i'm not sure that the u.s. public and others understood that there would be that many when we took on i.s.i.l., the white house making it clear that this will be a sustained and long campaign lasting months and longer. it has begun in syria, and we are awaiting more details from the pentagon and the white house. >> let me read the statement from rear-admiral john kirby, the pentagon press secretary, he said "i can confirm that u.s. military and partner nations forces are undertaking military actions against i.s.i.l. terrorists, using fighter, bomber, tomahawk land attack missiles, given that the operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to give details. i have nick schifrin in the
middle east. before i let you go, let me talk about france for the moment. we heard from france saying they would not participate in any air strikes in syria. you mentioned some of the arab countries that may be involved. are there other countries that the allies have gotten to join into this, or not? >> apparently absent. they have been concerned because a number of their diplomats have been held hostage, that has been resolved. we'll have to see what action, if any they will take going forward. there's a lot of reluctance as european allies joined in the fight, feeling strongly that there needs to be a fight against i.s.i.l. there has been more reductant to do anything militarily in syria. it's a tricky situation. you don't have the government inviting you in. bashar al-assad, he offered to
incoordinate with the u.s., the u.s. made it clear that they are not going to coordinate with the bashar al-assad government, military action in syria, it's a tricky situation. there's not been many european allies or others willing to step up to the plate for military action in syria. >> lisa stark at the white house, we'll get back to you. i have nick schifrin on the telephone from our middle east bureau, what are you hearing tonight? >> well, john, what is the most stri striking moment of this is it came up quickly. you know, president obama indicated this, and most people in the region expected the long drawn out process in which the u.s. would determine how and who to strike in syria. most officials said look, what
we do in syria is go after senior i.s.i.l. leaders and that is not what they are doing tonight, which is some kind of sustained operation. from the bases within the region, it will include one in turkey, qatar, the united emirates, including from aircraft carriers at sea. this is a decision made by sentcom, the president, to go after targets in syria. it's an indication that it is a major strike on i.s.i.l. and syria. this is something that the u.s. is committing to for the long term, and just in the way that it's describing the strike. this is not a 10-point strike, it will be a sustained operation. >> stand by for a second, i want to bring in tony shaver, a
retired lieutenant in the army. what do you make the strike and the timing? >> central command took it upon themselves to move out swiftly. clearly the i.s.i.l. threats were coming in more severely and there would be no backing down. i think they wanted to get a strike on the board as quick as possible. the other thing to remember, and we won't know until this time tomorrow the extent of the success, i would like to believe what they have down is go after the key leadership in command and control targets. one of the things that is noticeable, and we talked about this a week ago, is the one thing we can do from the air is decimate the leadership and slow them down. we can't take it back, but they have taken a shot at the leadership hanging out in syria, the leadership we couldn't get
to since they were not in northern iraq. >> as we heard tonight, it doesn't sound like a pinpoint strike, but an extended strike. what could that many? >> there's three categories of tart. first the command and control of leadership. that is one small thing. you would use toma hawks and precise missions for that. secondly you go about trying to destroy the material that i.s.i.s. or i.s.i.l. has been able to steal from the iraqis. remember, a great deal of material was taken off the iraqi army units which collapsed. that's in i.s.i.l. hands. i'd like to believe they have gone about trying to destroy that. the last thing, if it's not a point strike, it will be an area strike, there'll be some of the troops, the concentrations where the guys have been hanging out. they've had predator jones doing heavy reconnaissance. i am sure and confident that
they knew where the i.s.i.l. troops were hanging out. there's 31,000, so they are a big target. we have hard that there were bombers involved in this, tomahawk crews missilesful we are hearing the land based tomahawk cruise missiles are being fired. again, based on a little information we are talking about right now, this is an expensive operation, right? >> well, you are talking probably in the first salvo. we spent close to - we are talking about everything, probably about $1 billion with the command and control, support that we brought to the table, and the allies - we don't know all the allies involved. i am sure we are helping to move them logistically and with fuel and other things. they talked about budgeting for this $2 billion-$3 billion. the oso, overseas contingency
fund account, which has $80 billion in it. the president can go for a while on this. there's plenty of money out there. >> when you say go for a while, how long can they sustain an operation like this? >> well, for the campaign in '91, the precursor of desert storm, that went on for days. it depends on what the objectives are. that i don't know. i'd like to believe the pentagon will be more precise. for now, it's not shock and awe, it's an extensive campaign, that's for sure. >> tony, stand by, please. >> sure. >> i want to bring the viewers up to date. if you are joining us tonight. it is a major turning point in this fight against i.s.i.l. a little while ago the u.s. military and its partners began to strike i.s.i.l. targets inside syria - according to the
pentagon. they said the strikes involved fighters, bombers and tomahawk missiles. john walsh joins us from watertown, an international security expert and associate at m.i.t. what about the timing, do you think the united states base was reacting to i.s.i.l., based on some of the recent threats the group made on the u.s.? >> i think a lot of it - it sounds odd to say, the inflection point where you saw the top of the u.s. government talking about this in a different way is after the beheading, which sounds weird, right. as horrible as that was, you wouldn't expect u.s. policy to change on one event. it is where it changed. the president came out later saying we'll conduct intelligence operations to identify targets in syria. i said that i thought it meant it would lead to air strikes, on the one hand it was unexpected.
folks watching this maybe i.s.i.l., watching this, could have expected it. but it is a big deal, right. this is a big deal. this is a change in u.s. policy to become directly involved in this sort of way. it's both expected and sort of a surprise all at the same time. >> the united states and its partners will be working in syrian air space. what about the reaction from the president, bashar al-assad, to this attack on syria - not necessarily in his forces but the yi.s.i.l. forces. >> i think bashar al-assad is good enough to look at this in a way and say, "awesome." he issued a comment before saying "we would welcome air strikes on i.s.i.l." the question is would the government of syria use the russi
russian-made surface to air missiles to interfere with the bombing raids. the answer is no. for good reason. u.s. is attacking i.s.i.l., bashar al-assadiates capitol hill. >> stay with us, we are getting reports that other arab nations are involved in the strike in some way, although we don't know how yet. lisa, what do we know from the white house? >> we are hearing from the pentagon that u.s. central demand ordered the strikes, they have been running the campaign against capitol hill in iraq, and ordered them under the authorisation by the commander in chief. president obama. it comes at an interesting time. it comes as the situation in syria was obviously deteriorating, when you have 130,000 refugees fleeing i.s.i.l., trying to get into turkey. it comes after a new message from i.s.i.l., asking muslims in
other countries, and countries fighting i.s.i.l. to take the fight to the countries to attack americans, canadians, australians, and right before the president goes to the united nations to talk about i.s.i.l., and with congress out of washington. they are not here. they have gone home. they are going to be home until the election. it's an interesting time here. congress is not here to debate or talk about it. there's mixed feelings on capitol hill about how involved they want to be, but they are not here to react on what the president has done. >> based on those facts that you laid out then, it does sound as if the united states has been prepared for some time to launch the strike, whether it was pushed by some of the latest events in the area, is a good question. politically, i mean, the president has been under pressure to act, right. >> well, especially as one of
your guests said, especially since the beheadings. that brought the american public around. that generated support among the public to take on i.s.i.l., which probably wasn't there before. so the president was under increased pressure to act. you know this president wanted to get out of iraq, afghanistan. the last thing he wanted to be was a war-time president, and take the u.s. back into conflict, especially in the middle east. he was dragged along reluctantly, had not taken action in syria previously. i think at this point the white house felt that the situation had gotten to the point where they really had to take action, but again to a lot of folks it is surprising that it happened this quickly, although they have been doing the surveillance flights over syria to gather intelligence and figure out where the targets might be. they knew, the pentagon
indicated that most of the islamic state, the i.s.i.l. fighters were in syria, not iraq, a bigger target. it's a major escalation, a lot have said they don't know where it will take us in the days, months, years ahead. >> a reluctance on the part of the president of the united states, obviously tonight moving swiftly and decisively in what appears to be a larger air attack on syria. we'll get back to you. that's correct. we'll look at the map. jonathan betz is at the big wall and look at the region. >> we don't know why the strikes are happening. it does come after a huge influx of refugees went into turkey over the weekend. i.s.i.l. moved closer to another city, 130,000 syrian refugees left a town on the turkey border with syria. i.s.i.l. has not captured the city, but took dozens of villages nearby. turkey, on friday, opened a
stretch of the border to allow the syrian kurds inside turkey. camps along the turkish border a filled. tushy has -- turkey has the second largest population of refugees. there were clashes in serut, people were stopped from heading back to syria to fight. keep in mind the kurd, minority, live in land stretching between turkey, syria and iraq, and the u.s. launched attacks in iraq, after i.s.i.l. tried to capture kurdish land in iraq. the strikes kept fighters away, i.s.i.l. fighters away. we are seeing u.s. strikes again, this time in syria, after i.s.i.l. tried to capture land controlled by syrian kurds. >> that's obviously where the action is happening. joining us is douglas oliphant the senior security fellow at the new america foundation. give me a rehabilitatiaction to
have heard. >> your earlier callers or guests have covered most of the ground. we have seeing air strikes in syria, driven by two goals one, this is the opening phase of a larger attack that will come on the iraqi side of the border. i think the intent is to soften the base in syria, deprive them of supplies, safe haven, their staging grounds. really take the fight to the home base. second clearly in the timing it has something to do with the attacks against the kurdish enclaves in the north of syria, and the inflow of refugees going across the turkish border. that may have accelerated the timing a bit. given these attacks, wouldn't
i.s.i.l. have been fairly well prepared to understand the attacks - the united states has been saying for weeks that it would launch strikes in syria, how prepared would they be for this? >> they probably prepared as best they can, it's difficult to prepare for 500 pound bombs or tomahawk missiles or precision drone strikes. i suspect intelligence has been working for some time, and it probably was an effective first strike. now, of course, we probably took the low-hanging fruit with the strike. successive strikes will be difficult and they'll mact to the stricts, making the remaining targets less fortified. >> what is the goal of the united states in this, do you think. >> on the syrian side of the
border, we don't have a sizeable land force to work with. all we can do is soften it up, and help out in limited ways against whether it's the free syrian army in the south, or the kurds in the north, help them in their defensive positions so they are not overrun. the larger intent it to soften the syrian side to when the fighting starts on the iraq side, and we should expect that within weeks, if not days, that they are less prepared for that fight. >> when you say soften up the base in syria, does that mean give bashar al-assad's folks a chance to move in? again, unfortunately in syria, there's not a lot of good options. that may be an unavoidable side effect of attacking i.s.i.s. in syria, it that it may give a little breathing room to the
bashar al-assad regime. it's not a policy, but a policy collateral damage, if you will. of having to do this. >> tomahawk missiles, and the extended attack. it sounds very much like this is not just a couple of days. what is your guess? >> we will be at this for months, if not years. even the iraq side of the border, which is easier, it's going to go well into next year at the very least. we could be seeing - again, we don't have a ground partner to work with in syria. we are talking years. douglas oliphant. thank you. jim walsh is back from watertown, massachusetts. jim, months, years? >> i hear that. it's better to divide this up
into different objectives much one of the things we should ask is what the is the objective, what are we going pay, what's the likelihood of success. military action is one piece. >> you heard tony schaeffer say united states probably spent a billion dollars tonight. >> yes, warfare is expensive. the first objective may be secure iraq. are we attacking syria, yes, we are. i don't see us going into syria any time soon. you are doing a couple of things, one is putting pressure on them, because you are putting less resources into iraq. the first order of business for the u.s. government and the parties in the region is to get i.s.i.s. out of iraq, and secure the territorial integrity of iraq and shorton -- iraq and
jordan. that's we expect to see. if iraq gets its act together and the kurds are are good fighting force, that we thought they were, i.s.i.s. will go back to syria, and that's a different chapter. >> will there encourage iraqi forces to get back on track and fight i.s.i.l., the ones that left. >> it may be a little inspiration, but the fundamentals, i think, are within iraq. why do people fight? >> they believe in their commander and the buddies they are fighting with. there is some sense of being an iraqi taking on an invader. that will be an important thing. i think this is the right question to ask - what do air strikes contribute. they can be positive. they are not a magic wand. it works great in some
circumstances and poorly in others. >> softening the base, beyond that, what else will this do. >> well, i think the last couple of weeks we saw close air support. the ground forces, the kurdish peshmerga. air strikes and drones and whatever - that's not going to - that's not going to fundamentally tip the situation, whatever happens together, as big or small as it may be, it's one peace and what we have to do is keep an eye on the other pieces, whether they are working too. this alone is not going to do the job. the other thing to watch for are earlier reports about some of the states that participated. if there are four gulf states, if saudi arabia and others participated in air strikes, politically that would be important. >> turkey - any chance turkey was helpful in this or not?
>> i think obviously actions speak louder than words. this is a fluid situation, as the excellent reporting i heard suggested. we set a record for refugees this weekend. things are moving. >> 130,000 refugees moved across the border. >> that is stunning. turkey obviously cannot ignore that. they had cross-cutting interests. i think that just points to the fact that this is a dynamic thing. things change dramatically in bad ways. hopefully it will be in good ways quickly. i don't think - you know, will turkey change their mind? i hope they do. i don't know. >> hold on a second, i want to go to mike viqueira in washington. he's on the telephone. it appears the element of surprise was at work here, right? >> well, an element of surprise and a number of waves operationally, and in terms of the coalition, with reports that
there are gulf nations yet to be confirmed participating in the air strikes, that, in itself is a surprise, while the administration on the one hand touted the need to bring in many of the gulf nations, there's more of a perception issue, it's not a we were-led assault on a muslim nation. there were some questions about how deeply involved they were and the administration is reluctant to spill out the contributions. there's a nation like saudi arabia, which purchased three years ago 84, f-16s from the united states, presumably to defend against regional rivals like iran, now brought to bear evidently - and details are sketchy at this point - in coordination with the united states. >> mike, is this just what the president said he didn't want u.s. military to get back involved in this region again? >> clearly. that's well documented.
the president ran against the war in iraq, ran in favour of getting out of the war in iraq, and did so follow through before being reelected. there's no doubt about that. that irony has been well documented. i think what the previous discussion that preceded me is correct. 192,000 syrians dead over the course of the last three years, millions of rev goes spilling into jord -- refugees spilling into lebanon, jordan and turkey, the public execution of two american journalists, a graphic murder - and so what we see now is the president working offer the course of the last week and day to build the coalition, keep in mind that the president is going to new york tomorrow morning. he'll deliver a few speeches and convene an almost unprecedented security council meeting to talk about the threat. i am sure we'll have cynics pointing out the fact that the
president is doing this as a curtain raiser in anticipation of that. you know, there are a number of questions involved here. i had an opportunity at the white house on friday when this... >> mike, if you don't mind standing by for a second. we are covering breaking news tonight. here is the breaking news - the pentagon confirms na the united states and its partners began to launch air strikes against the islamic state in syria and in - and word of this now from the syrian air strikes coming 9:30 eastern. the defense department says the u.s. is using a mix of fighter bomber, tomahawk, land attack missiles in syria, and several arab nations have reportedly joined at least attacks. jim walsh joins us now from watertown mass rsh, an international security expert and associate at m.i.t. and somebody who nose a lot about this leej