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tv   Inside Story 2018 Ep 359  Al Jazeera  December 26, 2018 2:32pm-3:01pm +03

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the guatemalan foreign ministry is calling for an investigation the long awaited presidential election in the democratic republic of congo this weekend has been delayed again in parts of the country the electoral commission says that the vote will be held in march in beni and that's months after the final results will to be announced on january fifteenth and afghanistan's election commission says presidential elections scheduled there for april will be postponed for several months it says there are still technical glitches surrounding a biometric identification system the commission also warns that more stuff are needed to be trained to help verify votes and lists afghanistan held parliamentary elections in october which were fraught with delays violence and accusations of votes at tampering those are the headlines they'll be more news here on al-jazeera the inside story.
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rebuilding syria seven years of war has devastated much of the country donald trump says saudi arabia is ready to pay for reconstruction but who will get the money and how will it be spent this is inside story. hello and welcome to the program i'm. serious seven year war has transformed ancient cities into ghost towns entire neighborhoods wiped from the map schools and hospitals reduced to rubble along with just about everything else as the war seems
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to be coming to an end reconstruction is required on a grand scale the u.n. estimates it will cost at least two hundred and fifty billion dollars donald trump's a saudi arabia has agreed to help he tweeted saudi arabia has now agreed to spin the necessary money needed to help rebuild syria instead of the united states see isn't it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a great country the us that is five thousand miles away thanks to saudi a now here's more from rob reynolds. president trump's tweet prompted more questions than answers he didn't specify how much money saudi arabia would offer to rebuild syria when it would be given how it would be spent or most importantly who would receive the money well that's the big question is where exactly will this money go and i think that that obviously depends a lot on where saudi arabia wants it to go we can probably assume it's not going to
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go to the russians it's not going to go to the turks for where they're spending a lot on humanitarian aid for refugees it's going to go somewhere else and it may not go to the assad regime either and in october the saudi government delivered one hundred million dollars to the u.s. for syrian reconstruction but troops tweek seem to imply more money would now be forthcoming trump has frequently complained about u.s. expenditures abroad and berated allies like the nato countries in south korea for not spending enough on defense alternately he boasts about striking deals to save the u.s. money five hundred thirty three million dollars monday's friendly tweet thanking the saudis is symptomatic of trump's enthusiastic attitude toward the kingdom he shrugged off the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies that saudi crown prince mohammed bin some money most likely ordered the murder of journalist jamal
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khashoggi. trump said saudi arms purchases and its strategic partnership with the us outweighed international condemnation of the killing they see saudi arabia as a strategic partner in the region and trump a certainly gone out maybe kind of on the fence to defend that strategic partners that ship and now he's saying look we are still committed to you now you've got to step up and do what needs to be done one thing is certain after seven years of a devastating civil war that is still under way an estimated half a million people killed and about five million syrians forced to flee their country syrians badly need vast amounts of aid whether they will get it and from whom remain unanswered questions robert oulds al jazeera washington. all right let's bring in our panel joining us here in doha ibrahim priya had
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associate professor of conflict resolution at the doha institute from washington d.c. richard white's director of the center for political military analysis and a senior fellow at the hudson institute and from moscow nicholai circuit assistant professor of the moscow state institute of foreign relations welcome to the program ibrahim let me start with you based on this tweet from u.s. president donald trump do you believe any kind of agreement about reconstruction in syria has actually been reached between trump and the saudis well this in fact their minds me with his statements that he was talking goal was about building a war with mexico and that mexico will pay for it saw this is seems to be a pattern where he's volunteering others you know to finance certain projects and this seems to be the key is as well here because first of all we have not had any statements any comments from saudi arabia saudi arabia is not in
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a position to finance our reconstruction reconstruction process in syria first of all because reconstruction of syria for saudi arabia means one major thing which is that a move all of the iranian influence from syria which is not going to happen because iran has invested so far seven years military finance and the troops on the ground it's not going to influence for money and for that reason that's the only thing that saudi arabia would be an incentive for so that it to finance and to pay for the reconstruction process there is no political settlement there is no political agreement that has been reached between the parties which would allow saudi arabia to be for this and the other major problem actually were. when we talk about funding any construction process in syria we're talking about the most conservative
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numbers two hundred to three hundred billion dollars saudi arabia does not have the money to pay not even fractions of this one and two which is more important to be taken into consideration in terms of saudi arabia's preordered it is yemen refund the financing the the construction process in yemen is saudi arabia's number one priority yemen is saudi arabia's war it's not the case in syria for saudi arabia to pay for yemen it becomes more of a creative syria which is not the case here and as he's talking about a nickel a let me go to you i saw you nodding along as ibrahim was talking about the economic situation in saudi arabia and whether or not saudi arabia would actually have the money to pay for reconstruction in syria what are your views on that. well i agree that the price of the reconstruction will be huge at least two hundred billion dollars and that will require participation of many countries. well the
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saudi participation will be definitely welcome but will well the europeans will have to participate well the iranians will have to participate the russians everybody who is engaged in this conflict will have to invest in the future of syria otherwise the country will remain in ruins so my expectation is that this eldest will provide some money but not even. well unlike it's unlikely that they will give more than ten billion dollars and they have other destinations not only yemen but also the egypt which needs support there is jordan which needs support well so so many. and so many things to pay for so i recall the experience of iraq when the come the countries of the region and the western governments they discussed. the reconstruction of iraq even then they couldn't collect more than
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twenty billion dollars so i don't expect that there will be. the saudi money will make a real difference even if they even if they are prepared to pay this money and besides right now there are sanctions against syria and no one can really come in and invest money in syria and there is a question of who will distribute the money well the saudi is as far as i can judge already to work with the cause with the current government at least for the transitional period but i seriously doubt that they will give money to assad they will wait until there is a new government if there is any new government in syria and other countries especially the europeans will act likewise the only potential in the. the only potential donors for syria at the current stage are the iranians because they don't fear the sanctions the have are already under the sanctions and they will get the
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major share while others will well known to have to follow richard the reaction to these latest tweets from donald trump in washington d.c. must be one of absolute bafflement right. it hasn't received a lot of attention i mean the the u.s. has been focused more on the wall issue closure of the government and so on i think that america can really add to their i thought was very good analysis of society resources saudi motivations but i think what what is clear is that president trump does not want to pay for the reconstruction of syria and so whether it's saudi arabia the europeans or some other group but he doesn't want the u.s. to do that and that's in line with his general foreign policy that the u.s. should concentrate on challenges at home such as immigration and other issues and other countries closer to the region the conflict just in the lead role at least in the reconstruction of not the combat there ibrahim saudi arabia has for so long
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said that. must no longer be the president of syria if they were to go along with this does that mean that they have now accepted a reality in which bashar assad remains the president of syria it's extremely important to understand the real position of so there would be on syria saudi arabia does not have a problem with the assad regime saudi arabia has a problem with the iranian influence in syria so if the assad regime is to accept. syria a country of free of iranian influence saudi arabia would come with the most generous amount in order to finance the reconstruction process in syria but that's not but that's very unlikely because that's a g.m. does not have the authority to remove they allow and then influence from syria and it's unlikely that he wants to do so at this moment because it's still his country
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is not stable that he wants to keep his close allies iran and russia close to him so that. even again the problem is that even if. x. . for an iranian influence to be removed from syria then saudi arabia how much of that it was going to the tribune i remember when the reconstruction process in yemen after that said after saleh the g.m. was removed and stepped down the international community was able to fund that is about six billion dollars saudi contribution of that time was one billion dollars so yemen is a national priority and national security a pretty for saudi arabia and we're talking about one to two billion how much is going to pay on how much this is going to contribute towards two hundred to three
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hundred billion dollars in syria that's almost nothing and for that reason i think who is able to neutralize the iranian influence in syria is russia is not the united states is not. saudi arabia either and with that with the russia is a prepared to neutralize the iranian influence in syria i don't think so not at this stage because i think russia still needs iran to balance with with the united states and with israel especially because the relationship with israel will send after the downing of the russian fighter jet. in syria and russia blamed all been the and directly. israel for this saw russia can use the iranian card in syria and for that reason i think we're talking about iran staying for the moment which means no money from south nicholai let me ask you to expand upon what abraham was saying there he was talking about iran's role in syria and whether or
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not russia would be ok with iran continuing to have their footprint in syria what do you say to that well russia has taken a prick mattick stance we understand that without the iranian support and without the pro iranian. groups it will be it won't be possible to defeat the opposition because the ratio of troops is ten to one day iranians are providing all the ground troops while russia is providing air support for the government so russia and iran at least at the current stage are allies and working together so russia cannot cannot or we know this war for the government the government of syria cannot win this war without the iranian support and besides russia is not though is not the one to decide who will stay in syria and who will leave this is only this is the prerogative of the syrian government if the syrian government is strong enough
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i think a president assad will be interested in limiting the iranian influence because the majority of the syrians are not happy about the the scale of the iranian influence right now about the iranian bases in syria so but for that or you need a strong central government only the strong central government could do this not not even russia because russia is now. try to balance between iran which is a valuable ally and between israel which is also an important partner for russia not only in the middle east but on the global scale so russia will not. begin a confrontation with iran but russia can support the central government and the search or go central government and remove the iranians if they choose to because i remember quite well the experience of the previous president hafez a lawsuit here who was also a cup rayton with the iranians but he was always very cautious and he are here
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always maintain his maintain his autonomy he was never dependent on aunt to her and so i think his son bashar assad will follow this example as soon as he has the opportunity richard there has been mounting concern to be expressed from u.s. lawmakers as to president trump's moves when it comes to syria his decision to pull u.s. troops from syria. will congress in the us be able to do anything to counter this or should we expect this to play out the way trump has said it will play out there's not much congress can do and as far as i understand it he's the orders already been made to withdraw those forces i mean one of the arguments against the withdrawal was that the troops provided the u.s. with some leverage over the issues we're discussing so if there are two thousand troops in syria then russia iran and the syrian government need to have come to
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some accommodation with the united states to get them removed and the thinking was we would the u.s. would bargain that for we docked in the iranian presence and so on without that the only leverage the us really has are the pos prospects of reconstruction aid which we've now excluded and then you know ability to veto resolutions in the u.n. and so on so that was one of the concerns. people had about what rob but i think it's going to occur i mean there's not much the president has the authority as commander in chief to order the troops to leave and congress can can sometimes block measures but it's more it would more be cutting off funds for deployments already occurred not ordering troops back into the field they just don't have that authority it would seem from your point of view from your vantage point here in the region what is the reaction in the halls of power in the arab world to all of this well you know the political situation in the. north of the sari so there
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is chaos everywhere out of that is the arab league is not in a position to make any decision on anything and let's not forget that actually be a major crisis political crisis that. saudi arabia has with the. assassination of jamal khashoggi that probably that.

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