tv Inside Story Al Jazeera April 5, 2016 11:30pm-12:01am EDT
will involve gasoline and they may not even involve a human at the wheel. jacob ward, al jazeera, long beach california, california . >> i am antonio mora thanks for joining us. ray suarez up next with inside story. have a great night. >> the islamic state is spreading to affiliates in libya and nigeria and ter cells in europe. the islamic state is shrinking, the territory that it controls in western iraq and syria, under constant pressure, it's top leaders killed in drone strikes, it's money drying up. which is it? is isil losing on the battlefield and winning on the internet and as bombs explode in europe and africa and the middle east, losing and lethal, that's the "inside
story". welcome to "inside story," i'm ray suarez. while the republican presidential field was still big and filled entire debate stages, one thing that all of candidates agreed on, some more urgently than others, the united states wasn't doing enough, hardly anything to combat the growing threat of the islami islamic state of iraq and levant, sometimes called diish. thousands military strikes, blowing up training camps, oil supplies and fighters. the allied governmentsocabled governments cabbed in a loose fashion, and worried so about the young men and
women flowing into iraq and syria, but they have also killed them in bunches month after month after month, and yet, isil is far from whipped. it has spread to other countries. it's outreach to the young, the marginal and the impressionable. and as they have learned with regret in belgium, senegal, nigeria and california, the threat is real and continue. that's our focus today. islamic state under pressure, shrinking, losing and lethal. here's aljazeera's mohamed. >> a significant vance against isil in syria. government forces backed by russian air power have recaptured the ancient city of palmyra from isil after days of intense fighting. following a large stale operations, you're units operating in the countryside, backed by syrian and russian
air forces, successfully in the city of pal mire a they had came over the ridges and killed large numbers of isil terrorists and destroyed bunkers. >> reporter: isil took over palmyra, also a world heritage site last may, and they began staging mass executions. known as the bride of the desert, palmyra used to have tens of thousands of terrorists a year before the conflict began. but the city is not known for its ruins. the prison complex, for decades, it was one of syria's most feared detention centers. thousands of government proponents were tortured there. shortly after taking over the city, isil took over the jail, destroying a symbol of control. it's location makes it
important for the syrian armed forces and their allies. while russia recently withdrew most of its forces from syria after six months of aerial bombardment, the syrian president has of late also made advances in not rebel territory. recapturing syria makes an advance from the iraqi border to the south and the isil heart lands to the east. >> what it means to fight a group on the battlefield and in the streets of your cities at home. the fight against isil. joining me for that conversation, search fellow for the international security program, president for policy of research. and a non-residency senior fellow of the atlantic council. did the world finally figure out how to fight isil in western iraq and
syria? >> well, i think the fight against isis or isil in iraq was already proceeding before last month. they were the iraqi national forces and the kurdish forces supported by the u.s. coalition, and they have taken back the city of tikrit, ramadi and they're trying to move to center of iraq. what's new is up until last week, they had not launched any major offensive against isis. the retaking of pal mire a. this is partly the result of the cease-fire, that has blocked it's main opponents and the opposition, and the russian and american pressure to negotiate in geneva the regime doesn't want to negotiate. and shortly after the brussels
attacks, isis in palmyra gives them the momentum and changes the narrative from the dictator group who doesn't want to negotiate to the hero saving greco roman civilization in the deserts of syria, and you see a lot of commentators and politicians in the u.s. almost version. >> is the noose tightening state? >> i think it is. on pal mire a. i think that it's a public relations victory necessarily than an important strategic victory for assad. i would take exception to that. i think that assad wants to create a binary situation where the world has to come to his side, and that had been bombed heavily by russia, certainly up until this cessation of
hostilities, but yeah, i think that isis is losing clearly, territory, and they have had no successful offenses for a year when they have tried to move into new areas, they have been beaten back, but as you pointed out, they're in places like libya and africa, and so even as you constrict their control in iraq and siriarch there are pockets of this group elsewhere, and there are foreign fighters in european cities. >> so what's the calculus? how do you access the effectiveness as isil as a group if at the same time they're losing territory, they have also got people releasing videos on the internet saying, we're isil too, in northern nigeria and in northern libya? >> i agree that in general, isis is losing. for example, territory, it's losing important urgent but it's more like public affairs in palmyra, but they had problem in that area, and
that's very big for isis. and i agree, like in general, they're losing. there's a terrible morale going on inside of isis, defections like crazy, and everybody who could possibly defect, who are not on terrorist lists, they're trying to defect. the leadership is moving their families to iraq, particularly anbar province, but in other areas of the world, they need -- they are cornered right now, so they understand that they're going to be over soon in syria and iraq, but they're trying to find a way out. they're looking for other places. if you corner the dog, at some point, it's going to try to jump back, because it just doesn't have any other place to go back. so i think that's exactly what happened with the brussels attack, and paris. because we're very successful on the ground, and in syria, ways.
>> so it's interesting, the idea of defections. does that mean that you have to attract more people to the fight, sneak them in over borders or is the number of men that they're able to put on the field constantly shrinking? >> it's constantly shrinking. so for example, previously, what types of fighters isis had for example. they were very ideological guys, mostly like foreign fighters, fighting for the ideas. and those were the guys who burned their pass ports and were all over tv beheading people. and then there were local syrians, who joined for money and power. they told the majority of them that they would convert to christianity if they enough. so they weren't in the isisidalogy but they needed to feed their families so, they
don't have a way out. and those are the guys doing all of the stuff in brussels and paris. local syrians who joined for money are trying to defect. it doesn't pay anymore. isis doesn't have money. and they have decreased food rations, so those are the guys who are trying to defect to other groups. isis has a very big problem with that. so right now, they're drafting everyone that they could be possibly get to their territory. previously, the people sitting in the isis office, some bureaucratic office, now they're all fighting. >> the fight against isil. stay us, we'll be right back in a moment. it's "inside story". >> every monday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping... inspiring... entertaining. no topic off limits. >> 'cause i'm like, "dad, there are hookers in this house". >> exclusive conversations you
they used to with the oil sails, and there has been a lot of introduction of facilities, but they don't have the money. >> let's remember that this group had the announced ambition to be a state. and when they were on the upswing, if you look at the map, their footprint was cities connected by the sort of connective tissue of highways across largely uninhabited places of eastern syria and western iraq. as they lose some of these cities, does their ability to even maintain that status of a protostate, a state that's in pieces? >> to some degree it does. a lot of their world appeal and their ability to eclipse al qaedas the main brand of radical jihaddism was their success, but they have three measures of successful the
first measure was taking these big cities of raqqa and and that resonated with radicals around the world because that was a major victory. the second measure was the group of organizations from nigeria to the philippines, which joined up in this new global franchise of isis, and that for six or seven months was the story among radicals. the third and more dangerous from the west, the measure that they used, raids, which we know as the attacks in brussels and paris. in their ideology, all of these "successes" are approve to their followers of god's favor. so when they succeed in a raid in paris or brussels, or a sympathizers in san bernardino, they advertise that as proof that god is on their side. and that's what brings more of
the hope and brings more followers. and so that means, in terms of strategy, that defeating the protostate, yes i it's very important because it will dent their brand in a major way, but they will have other means to try to prototype that brand. and the other means, the raids that i talked about, which are the ones that affect our cities, and were not affected by -- but those won't go away any time soon. >> let's talk about how those things depend on each other. when isil speaks to the world, if it's state is shrinking, does it become a less effective recruiter to do these on regs in other places? if it's failing in iraq and syria, is it a less attractive
thing to join up and start doing things in other places? >> yeah. i agree. i would say that right now, no one wants to join a circus. and with paris attacks, they tried to increase recruitment, so they were gambling on sentiment, and the slow -- because basically, sentiment, a lot more dedicated fighters would want to join, especially in france, because france was sending a lot of people to isis. and refugees are those major -- the biggest force of people who are not interested in the goal of the group, but they need to eat something, so basically, if they don't have any other job, they would consider going to work for isis, so they were gambling on that, because they were very low on recruits. but it failed. it didn't increase foreign
fighters coming in, and actually, a lot of local foreign fighters right now are trying tove defect. like a guy who defected to peshmerga two weeks ago. and so this strategy failed for them. >> barbara, does isil become more dangerous as the state becomes less effective and controls a smaller footprint in that part of the world? are things like brussels less predictable, less trackable, becoming more possible? >> indeed, there are about 5,000 europeans who have gone to fight syria in iraq and come back to europe. and i think this is maybe the ticking time bomb for europe, the question is whether they become disaffected and decide it's not worth blowing themselves up for a group that's not succeeding, or if they decide this is the time to double down and stage a horrific attack.
one of the most worry some thing that we've seen is that isis has been surveying nuclear sites. and if you're an apocalyptic group with an apocalyptic vision, what better way than to set off a dirty bomb and sabotage a nuclear facility. the 5,000 people who have come back, and as we've seen, the european intelligence services are scrambling and trying don't a hand on them before they can commit another crime. >> the islamic state, losing and lethal. >> the only live national news show at 11:00 eastern. >> we start with breaking news. >> let's take a closer look.
and barbara are with me, and barbara, you walked us through the possibilities of dom batting terrorism, but one of the tantalizing things that i'm watching is that more attention is turning to other combatants on the ground in that part of the world as isil is losing and shrinking. does success bring other problems? what to do about assad, which hasn't been solved. what to do about a resurging, kurdish, nationalist terrorist state that crosses borders throughout the region. >> we haven't talked about the news either, which is the al qaeda affiliate in syria, and it has distinguished itself by not trying to attract fighters in syria, it's homegrown. we have to worry about that group. syria is divided, and it's probably not going to come back together as a state. thanks to russia, assad has
been able to extend his territory a little bit, but he still controls the area of one-third of the country. the kurds are on the move, and they are interesting because they have support from both the united states and russia, and obviously the turks don't like them. and they have expanded their area of autonomy in syria. and then you have the chunk of isis, is it likely to be an al mall gum of groups that have support from the saudis and the united states, and it's not as if isis should rinks, it's going to be more coherent. >> if you look at the layup there, and look at for instance russia's continue involvement, even if you beat isil, you still have a lot of unsolved problems there. >> yeah, i agree, for example, the most dangerous thing right
now is -- it's not better, it's al qaeda. and they are local, they don't have foreign fighters, they were known for not taking foreign fighters, meaning that they probably have less intelligence from inside compare to isis and then they are homegrown, a syrian group, and they are a main recruiting strategy. for a long time, they had way more people that wanted to join than they could take. getting to el nostra was harder than getting to -- so it didn't decrease. it increased after what a lot of syrians disagree with. so i think that al nostra could potentially taking the place in ground. >> does it change the entire
who is fighting who sort of battle lines, the calculus in a place like syria, even if you beat isil? >> first of all, to be realistic. isil is not on the verge of being defeated. it will be a couple of years before we can say that they are defeated in iraq and syria. and even if we defeat hem in iraq and syria, there's no pathway to defeating them in libya. so isis is on the verge of losing territory, but not on the verge of being defeated and that's important to keep in mind. secondly on the terrorism and the concern in the west on how to combat this threat, part of it, yes, is defeating them on the battlefield to do two things. one is to deny them the place to plan and train and dispatch people to locations, and second, it's
to impact, to no longer make them a success story. but effectively, when we see the difference between the record of terrorism in the u.s. since 9/11, or in europe, there are two factors that are important. one is the hard security of intelligent surveillance, sharing information, all of that which improved in the u.s. over the last decade, and it's just beginning to be put together in europe, and secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the soft side, the social side. in the u.s., muslim communities are connected and not ghettoized. and connected to other institutions in the country, and whereas europe has a long way to go to deal with those communities. one out of 10,000 young people might get radicalized. and there the communities are
not integrated enough to early on indicate that warning. so it's going to be a long struggle, and terrorism will certainly be with us for this generation at least. >> we're close to the end of our time. and i'm interested in the idea that defeat is still years away. you're cutting down on the money, and killing the leaders, and shrinking the territory. the number of fighters is down, and defectors are up, and why is victory years away? assessment. >> i'm a little more optimistic, i think when the collapse comes, it's going to come. already the u.s.-led coalition is nibbling at the edge of mosul. and i think that the caliphate could collapse rather quickly. the problem is the ideology and the animosity to the west. as paul pointed out, the disaffecting of
so many muslims. and that's not going to go away. are people joining the el nisra front? and until the middle east it settles down, which is a very long time from now, we're not going to see the end of this. >> i want to thank my guests. vera is a research fellow at an international security program. paul is vice president of policy and research at the middle east institute. and barbara slaven is the acting director of the future of iran initiative at the atlantic council. on the next "inside story," we'll head to the frontiers of necessary with dr. francis collins with the institute of health and national research institute. i'm ray suarez, thanks for tuning in, and let me tell you, there are just three more editions of "inside story," so keep watching and good night.
♪victories for ted cruz and bernie sanders in the race to the white house. you are watching al jazeera live from doha. in the next half hour, one of libya's two ribble governs steps down for the sake of political unity. iceland's prime minister becomes the first major casualty from the fallout of the panama papers. and the international criminal court throws out the case again kenya's deputy president based upon insufficient