tv Senate Hearing on Mideast Strategy CSPAN December 29, 2017 7:30am-9:36am EST
have that kind of a constitution now. you want, you want -- a right to abortion it is in there. you want a right o die it's in there. anything that is god and true and beautiful it's in there. no matter what the text says. watch afterwards sunday night at 9 p.m. eastern on c-span2 booktv. senate arm service hearing in the middle east witnesses discuss the fight against isis ran nuclear pral relations with turkey and the israel palestinian conflict. senator james filled in for committee chair a john mccain who was undergoing cancer reement. this is two hour os. hearing will come to order and receive testimony on the u.s. policy and strategy in the plows and first of all and foremost i want to submit for the record,
the statement by mccain joined s morning by a group that we all know well you've all been before this committee is i mention to the you a minute ago and -- i think most of the members of meet have seen in action in the field and investor crocker you've been -- diplomat in residence wilson school and at princeton university been all over the map. and in the last -- couple of decades, and a investor harry -- counselor, senator for strategic and budgetary assessment l by my account that is your 9th appearance before this committee does what sound right to you? yeah. investor at the university of washington institute for the policy i remember being with you in tucky, and other places and a, of course, ambassador stewart jones vice president of the cohen group who your presence
visited by i think every member here by both jordan and in iraq so it is great to have all of you here. much of our nation attention has gone towards middle east in materials of military operations and that's appropriately so. we've faced very real and dangerous threats originating from the middle east and we've seen that the problems there are extremely complex for example, we've formed and led an international coalition to defeat isis, and with our local partner largely done that and last saturday prime minister, a body, announced that defeat of isis in iraq, so it's -- long past time for us to turn our attention to the broadser strategy and national octaves in that region as our competitors have already doing that iran and russia. very encouraged that under the leadership of president trump and america is beginning to
reclaim some of its worldwide leadership that has waned with the past eight years. in october the administration released an out of line detailing strategy to counter iranian aligned influence. the president also -- declined to certify the sanctions relief as a part of iran nuclear deal that was something a lot of people didn't realize that the president has to -- on a period uk basis release it to -- keep those -- keep that alive and so we've started a process now. that i think it was right decision, the president also is -- encouraged by the recent activity that is taking place in by the way, some of this with netanyahu when decision was made and i've never seen a happier guy and at the same time -- of course the --
he was very encouraged by the recent decision to move the u.s. embassy from tel-aviv to jeers jerusalem and brought bipartisan support and decided to do 20 years ago and finally we're doing it so that's good news with with great witnesses, and look forward to the testimony to reads. >> thank you very much mr. chairman i want to commend mccane for scheduling this hearing and thank for leading it today it is very important. also to thank the witnesses i've had the privilege and pleasure of working with you you have made extraordinary contributions to the national security, united states and so many different capacities. when chairman mentioned that ambassador idolman nine times here you all were in a positive way so thank you very much. [laughter] we are with indeed happy to have you here today and qft you'll provide valuable i sight for a very challenging world in middle
east. working with our progress -- working with our apartmenter in on the ground we have made great progress to dismabltion isis, according to the u.s. central command coalition is delivered more than 4.5 million people and 52,000 square kilometer of territory from isis control this is a significant achievement for coalition in our iraqi and syrian partners. it is also important to recognize that isis al qaeda and other violent extremist are not yet defeated remain intent on attacking united states in our interest well taking advantage of opportunities by destablization in the middle east. diet is is our operational success and isis we have nonachieved similar success in addressing the political and social challenges in the middle east that gave rise to isis in the first place our efforts to deal with isis and al qaeda and others to deal them lasting defeat was not rest with the department of defense alone sustainable solutions were acquire significant contribution
of state department, us ideas and others unfortunately achieve such a whole of governor approach is hampered by massive proposed cuts to state department bngt and fact that our current diplomattings are leaving governments service at alarming rate each of you has deep experience many using tool of our national power and i hope you will provide committee with your views on how such tools would be leveraged. violent extremism is not the only national security challenge facing united states in the middle east. despite success to iranian nuclear deal in the united states and a allies in the region namely a nuclear armed iran, about the forces and its approximateys continue to campaign and destabilize activities across the region most notably in syria, yemen and iraq and with a foreign policy exhibited by saudi arabia is hard to imagine that g. oflt political landscape more complicated than it is today if we are to successful navigate
these challenges we need to be clear and communicating our values not gestures from retweeting of rhetoric to announcement in israel president repeatedly made it more difficult for national security dplo mat pick professionalsed to their jobs. the risk of fail u.s. policy in middle east is significant and we can't afford any unforcedder roars. i again want to thank witnesses today but for significant contribution to our country for decades of work in foreign service i look forward to your testimony. thank you very much. thank you senator reid and, you know, we try to keep our comments down to about five minutes and give our -- well attended meeting here time to ask questions invest tore crocker. >> thank you mr. chairman. rank member reid members of the committee it's a privilege to be here today. the timing i think is fortuitous
we're in a strategic inflection point with the military defeat of islamic sate. to try to answer the now what question -- about and as you both said, as a military defeat is necessary but i would suggest not sufficient. i think it is helpful to remember what happened when i was in iraq '07, oh 09 through the surge we pounded the predecessor but we could never quite eliminate them. they could find little crevices in moosoul why did they find them important to remember then is now. that in iraq and islamic state are not in and of themselves the
problem they are the symptom of the problem. the problem has been and goes throughout the region -- the failure to establish good failure to establish rule of u law and institution where all citizens in iraq are now many syria feel safe. that has not happened and to take again the -- as a 30,000 foot view if one looks at modern middle east which is roughly 100 years old -- it grow out of -- world war i and in 1919 -- if there's one single consistent point of failure, it we have sen it go and imperialism and colonialism under british and the french monarchism in smflt
central countries like egypt and iraq. arab nationalism and author again in iraq and arab socialism and communism in south yemen. now we deal with islamism. and good news is that it too is failing. the bad news is that the underlie issueses of governance that led to failure of every other is untreated and if we are unable to help our friends in the area, get to a better place on these issues, you're going to see a successor so islamic state i don't know who. i do know that it will not be -- good news for us. there is a second inflection point they hopefully would have a chance to address today.
the united states designed and a led the post world world war ii international order. that leadership changed or that attitude to leadership changed over the last eight years. president obama spoke of not being able to do everything certainly true too often i think that became an excuse for not doing much of anything. sadly, i think we're seeing that continue thewty between administrations from president obama to president president trs are we going to lead? if not who will? if not what might the consequences be. so i would urge before we back out of that international order post world war ii that we establish and led we needs to think about the consequences i
would say finally it is hard to do miff of this if you don't have is people to do it. the budgets cuts suggested by the administration will do severe damage to o dote diplomacy and development and a congress has reacted to proposed cuts i think it is very important they not go forward or you're going to see a weak withened foreign service far into the future with very significant consequences. last through truth and advertising here stood is mercy core international, we are heavily engaged on a number of issues one i would look to it highlight would be syrian refugees. and mercy court doesn't do resettlement. we focus on keeping refugees as close to their home country as we can. so we're extremely active in
jordan and in leb knob lebanon many particular, why? that could be the long-term ultimate danger of this problem. we saw what happened with palestinian refugees where a spirit of hopelessness and refugee camps bred an entire generation of terrorism. we are working out there to try to get the resources and the programs that will give yng syrian refugees a sense that they do have a future. if that funding is cut as had been proposed humanitarian aid by 40% esf -- by almost 45%, we may be fueling the next wave yores down the line of terror. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you ambassador and evelyn -- thank you chairman inhoff
senator reid it is a privilege to be here, and while i don't normally want to speak for my foreign service colleague on this panel i think i do speak all of us saying we're all thinking about senator mccain today and wishing him very well in his recovery. i agree with my colleague ryan crocker that we are at an important inflection point in the middle east, and i think for that reason is particularly important that the committee has scheduled this hearing. and i can not tell you how proud i am to sit here in this company because i have enormous respect for my colleagues on this panel. what i thought i would do is just talk about three things really. why i think the region remains straw strategically important to the united states but one the united states faces and thoughts about what we might do about those . first you think there's a disposition in washington that's
people talk about the middle east today. after decade and a half of difficult and seemingly inconclusive counterinsurnghtly operation in the region and growing u.s. energy if not independence at at least self-sufficiency to want to look at the region as sthng we ought to disengage from and try and limit our liability in the region. but i would argue that that picking up theme that ambassador crocker touched on that as tempting as disengagement might be to reverse a consensus over past 60 years that maintenance of a stable regional balance of power in the middle east and the prevention of any external or regional power from dominating this area of the world is vital to the nation's security.
it is i think it's the case because first of all the energy resources of the region remain important to our allies. in europe and asia. but also because global energy prices can effect our own economy and so even with our own self-sufficiency we're large segments of pleern oil to go offline because of the crisis in the region. the economic impact on the united states would be considerable. but moreover i think the problem is that what -- what as ken pollack at a a ei says what happens in the middle east does not stay in the middle east. this region is a kald result of petry dish for extremism that manifest itself in terrorist
attacks against our allies in the region. our allies in europe, and ultimately the homeland here in the united states itself. since 2009, i think the united states is largely pursued a policy of retrenchment and reliability which i think has had had unfortunate consequence of raising concerns about the u.s. role as a security guarantor in the region and i think that's been exasperated by cons again of the freed up resources for tehran to use for its own purposes both to procure weaponry for itself but also to support its proxy in the region but at least more continue knewty than i would looks of the policy of the trump
administration which are different rhetoric but broadly continued the previous administrations policies perhaps reflecting views that president trump expressed during the campaign that they whole region as he put it was one big fat quagmire but you think it is something that requires some -- renewed attention and a new strike that is ji. i mentioned twin challenges and those i think were touched on by my colleague, and it won't come as any surprise that two challenges are iran's quest for regional and very much intertwined with that the threat of -- per sis tangt threat of sunni islamic extremism. even after the demise of the islamic state of the caliphate and these drive region crisis and also drive one another. so iranian expansionism and
afnght its support for shia militia and iraq and sear why also fuel sunni extremism and vice versa. i think the most urgent thing that united states needs to do is -- develop a strategy and a plan and a policy that rethrect the new realities on the ground in syria where iran is currently at a its most vulnerable and potentially overextended -- and where the potential for renewed sunni extremism is perhaps highest. isis lost but the presence of russian forces, iranian forces, iranian sponsor shia militia, hezbollah et cetera have aloud iran to emerge as post war sear why and allowed iran to
consolidate the -- at least the perception that they have a land bridge that links tehran directly to lebanon and to -- on the israeli and jordanian borders. although there are few really appealing options at this point in syria. i think we can and should exploit iranian overextension there. i welcome secretary mattis recent statement that u.s. troops will remain in syria to preskt the the reemerge of isis that's a necessary first step but i think that will only be possible if we -- wehelp our syrian allies the syrian democratic forces hold strategic territory that's been liberated from isis control i think that will help proved leverage for the united states in determines syria post war fate and also pose cops call and cost on iran.
and i think in general we immediate to develop more leverage with iran to impose cost more had effectively and i would make a few suggestions bhab we might to many that regard. first, i think we ought to have public discussion about dusting amp our plans for neutralizing iran's nuclear or facilities should iran materially breach or withdraw in response either to sanctions that disbody choughses to impose or because of u.s. enforcement of the more vigorous of the agreement itself. it has it pears to be doing with north korea pentagon ought to be putting in place the capability to potentially shoot down future iranian ballistic missile tests. iran is developing a very large,
very big ballistic missile capability no country that has tone that on what iran has done it has never been a nuclear weapon state. i think it is equally important for the united states to cooperate very closely with our regional allies i'll deper any discussion of that because i think i believe all of my colleagues agree with that and will want to talk about it. i think that we have to recognize that russia has been so far an obstacle not a partner in bolding security in this region. and i think we would do well not to allow ourselfves to be diluted to easily split russia and iran from each other for if a lot of reasons that we can go into i don't think that's likely to happen. i think we also need to increase the internal pressures on the iranian regime that remains unpopular regime i fear that the jcpoa has twal mostly benefited the hardliners in iran.
because they stand most to benefit from the sanction relief. but it's also made them more dependent on narrowing band of loyalist to maintain stability as everyday iranians feel very little benefit from this sanctions relief. i think we can exploit all of this. i think more aggressive, political information campaign can amplify international investors weariness was iranian market by highlights complexities of sanction compliance as well as the elite corrupt business dealings in systemic human rights abuses. finally, i think we need to enforce the jcpoa to address iran's serial underclines which is what i would call it with tbreement. i think this is begun to eat away at our credibility with iran and raise ares risk of continuing nibbling at the edge of this agreement which when is
expires will put iran at the cusp of having a nuclear capable as president obama admitted at the time of the jcp oa negotiation. through these steps, these a lot of these are difficult steps to take. but i think we need to start taking them now because otherwise i'm afraid we'll see further erosion in the u.s. position in the region. with that let me stop and answer your question. >> thank you for your statement we have a quorum right now so we're going to go -- about to make sure to take care of some business that must be taken care of because quorum is prpct i asked committee to have a list of 137 pending military nomination all of these have been before the committee they're required length of time is motion favorly report this list of 137 penning military nomination so second. all in favor say aye, motion
carries. investor jeffrey. we do business pretty fast when we have to. >> that was impressive sthart. mr. chairman, ranking member reid members of the committee, i thank you for having us here it is a particular hon ho honor to have a panel of officers appearing before senate on service committee thank you for honoring core around the world. and i also want to associate myself with comments about senator mccain it is a problem when on this subject when you're the third person to go given that, there is a great deal of agreement on the broad problem end to some degree the broad element of a strategy. as you've already heard we're dealing with a dual threat. right now i think for several
reasons iran is the bigger of the two dual threats i think this administration in in its october 13's statement agreed with that. the reason is possibly because for the moment the biggest threat emanating from the sunni islamic extremism isis has been conventionally defeated but second think there's a real relationship between iran's activities in sunni islamic extremism when i left iraq in -- june of 2012, what became isis al qaeda an iraq was little more than a terrorist band in west mosul two years later controlling a third of syria and a iraq. 9 million people with an army of 35,000. not entirely because governance is a huge issue but bad governance exasperated by iran's decisions and the decisions of
people who were being advised and supported by iran molky in iraq and ahmad in syria and this back and forth there are 20 to 25 million between baghdad and damascus, countrily ruled by people who in the case of syria take orders from iran in case of iraq may or may not fall under iran's influence and if those people are not protected by the -- international system that we've talked about about here, they're going to turn again, to terrorist forces with same problem all over again. given the general i think consensus on this, then question is, why are it has important and what he talked about, what to do about it but before we get to what to do about it or at least
my view -- why haven't we figured this out? while i have a lot of problems with the obama administrations actions on iran, about i certainly don't think he wanted to turn the region over to iran. yet iran has been advancing while this administration has a very tough rhetorical position against iran, it has done very little on the ground in the first ten months to do -- stop furniture successes with a series of them largely in reaction to mistakes by our allies. so why is it so hard? seferlg reasons, first of all look at how iran operates. it doesn't challenge conventionally like disam u hussein did but infiltrates countries playing off a of bad governance failed states, ungoverned areas, terrorist
groups either they support or they use excuse to go in. they have theme who know region well and they have a long strategy all organized in supports to each other lebanon, yemen, syria, iraq, bahrain are and afghanistan and this requires a comprehensive response throughout region with both us and our allies because we don't do this with hundred had of thousands of troop and that gets to the problems with our allies as we've seen in last few months with -- the turks pick the subject. and the independence announcement, the saad picked issue and kut cutter they are all trying to contain iran and deal with terrorist threat in the region but they're all doing it in uncoordinated way than more likely than not advances iran octave rather than contains them. we need to get a hold of them
in part we kept the iranian homeland free from retaliatory threats or any action. jcpoa supported president's position publicly before he took it on decertifying, cast in doubt. do attrition warfare against the bad things in it, but if you want to contain iran in the area do not walk away from that thing. it is the best thing from iran's standpoint we could do to break up the coalition against it. i'll stop there, mr. chairman and turn over to my colleague and friend, stu jones. >> thank you, ambassador jeffrey. ambassador jones. use your mic please. >> thank you, chairman inhofe, ranking member reed. and my distinguished colleagues
and wishing chairman mccain a speedy recovery. chairman inhofe as you said prime minister abadi announced the defeat of isis in iraq. i had the privilege working closely with prime minister abadi in iraq and he has been tireless to service to his nation and reliable partner for the united states. he deserves our commendation for leading iraq through a difficult struggle and reaching this watershed moment. the fight against isis has been organizing principle for middle east policy and we knew the day would come when isis was defeated as a military opponent and prioritize policies after this success. iraq enjoys unprecedented low levels of violence and abadi is look as a unifying voice. stabilization of oil prices and support from the world bank and the imf have enabled iraqis to
contemplate a prosperous economic future. iraq will however continue to face significant challenges. as my come have said, one of the main challenges will be the maligned interference of iran, its neighbor, with a 1400-kilometer border. while isis terrorist ground forces are defeated we know extremists will go underground an continue to terrorize civilians especially in baghdad. the government of iraq invite ad limited number of u.s. forces to remain to provide training and other support to assist them in their efforts to combat extremism. helping iraq counter this new challenge is a anything u.s. forces are uniquely positioned to accomplish. with the isis threat destroyed,
i iranian interference is the primary challenge in the region. they threat the security of our strongest ally in the region, israel, but also threaten jordan a crucial partner where i had the privilege to serve as well as our gulf partners. iranian influence posed a challenge to iraqky influence for some time and now at its highest levels. prime minister abadi is committed to committing the mobilization forces into the national security forces with requirement that they leave their political baggage behind them. this will be a huge task and he will need our support for this. the u.s. administration is developing a strategy to push back and contain iran throughout the entire region. this pushback needs to be a whole of government approach. in iraq in particular we need to go beyond the security support and remind the iraqi public the benefit of strategic framework with the united states which two of my copanellists played a role
in drafting. iraqi youth yearn for u.s. technology, u.s. investment, u.s. training and education. general electric power up program which was initiated during my time in iraq, has provided thousands of megawatts of needed electricity but also introduced cutting-edge technology, created hundreds of high-paying jobs and afforded training that will transform those young workers lives. likewise at this moment u.s. energy firms develop proposals to assist iraq capturing flared gas. the comprehensive solution to this problem which prime minister abadi prioritized for 2018 would not only address a environmental calamity but restore billions of dollars to the iraqi economy in a short period of time. for these measures to succeed, however, we must insure that u.s. export promotion agencies are fully operational and targeted at problems in the middle east, much as they were in the bush administration.
to his credit prime minister abadi also launched a war on corruption. the public response to this announcement has been positive and a war on corruption will be a blessing for u.s.-iraqi strategic framework agreement because the value of the u.s. partnership becomes clearer on a fair and transparent playing field. in our pushback against iran we should also continue to foster iraq's ties to to its neighbors. saudi arabia visit encouraged by secretary tillerson was a game-changer. we've seen numerous visits back and forth, and air links open. the latter first time since 1990. they should expand and secure the highway between amman and baghdad. finally the referendum on kurdish independence has disasterous consequence for the
kurds and accomplishment during the erbil campaign. it is often said the kurds provide the essential third leg to the iraqi stool. following the referendum prime minister abadi did what was needed but now he is in a position to work towards reconciliation. and this rift needs to be repaired ahead as we're talking, mr. ranking member, ahead of the 2018 elections in may so that the kurds may participate fully in national politics. so again thank you for allowing me to join this distinguished group and to be before you today. >> thank you very much, ambassador jones for that statement. you know i was thinking ambassador crocker, when you -- we'll go with five-minute rounds, is that all right with you? try to get as many people in well-attended meeting here. when you made the statement, we agree with you on the some of
the cuts that will be necessary but you know in this committee we sit and we look at a situation where only a third of our army ground brigades can fight. only one-fourth of army air brigades, we're sensitive and heard over and over again marines use the f-18 and the f-18s are right now 62% of them won't fly. so we have to do things. when there is a drawback political, on armed services. this happens. it is something that, it's real. so somewhere we have to give. i won't ask for response, that is one of the things that concerns all of us here. let me put this in context. we're all alarmed to see how iranian influence has grown in iraq since our premature withdrawal in 2011, despite losing more than 4500 american
lives, and since 2003, i thought our hasty troop withdrawal, opened a door for iran to accomplish the strategic objectives in iraq. iran has been remarkably successful in pursuing those objectives. not like we didn't see this coming. i and a lot of members of this committee warned for several years that the hasty withdraw from iraq would lead to increased iranian influence there. i have one of my own quotes down here, august of 2010, when made the statement, obama's rush for an expedited withdrawal of troops from iraq would endanger israel and the entire middle east and would empower iran. so what i'd like to do is kind of -- you have all touched on this, get a response from all four of you. many people are unaware of the extent of the influence of iran that is now holds in iraq.
can each of you broadly lay out iran's strategic objectives there and discuss how iran has advanced them since the u.s. withdrawal. start with you, ambassador crocker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. nature abhores a vacuum and middle east abhores it even more. when i left in 2009 violence was, in iraq was at an absolute minimum. the iranians were on their back feet. prime minister maliki had moved against one of their clients, principle clients in iraq, the sadr movement. engaged them militarily from basra to sadr city, with significant help from us he beat them back. however you do not end a war by withdrawing your troops from the battlefield. you simply cede the space to
adversaries who have more commitment and more patience. that is exactly what we've seen i think in iraq. with the presence now of a number of shia militia backed by iran, well-armed, looking for a new mission after islamic state, they take their orders from tehran, not from baghdad. a fundamental understanding we should all have is iran history and its geopolitical assessments. the shah of iran had projected force beyond his borders with conventional forces. it was the shah's iran who seized three islands from the united arab emirates. it was the shah's iran who basically sent a mechanized infantry brigade into oman to help the sultan put down a rebellion. the islamic republic is doing
same thing with different means, using militias rather than regular forces under the command of soleimani and we now see a resurgent iran in the region. the only way i can, seeing that confronting iraq directly. sadly they have moore instruments there than we do. it would be by sustained engagement. >> to build a stronger central authority to build a longer term commitment. it does not take forces. it does take consistent focused, white house led international engagement. >> ambassador edelman, any comments on that.
>> i speak with some trepidation sitting on panel with three former an ambassadors to iraq, iranian strategic goals. let me open the aperture a little more broadly and speak more broadly bit. one of the things i think we neglect at our peril. iran is revolutionary regime committed to the spread of its particular ideology and emerging as a leader in the muslim world, despite the fact that it represents a minority, current minority sect inside of world iran. that explains a lot of its behavior. for years since the revolution of 1979 a lot of us have been waiting for the reaction that would allow iran to pursue a shia ideology in one country to make analogy from the history of
the russian revolution and it hasn't happened. it remains committed, at least the leadership and the regime remains committed, if not the public to this particular ideology and that drives them to use these proxy forces that they started using in the early '80s, almost immediately after the revolution in lebanon and now in iraq and syria and elsewhere to extend their influence, to allow them to become the dominant force in the region. >> thank you. my time has expired but if we do a second round, i would like you both, ambassador jeffrey and ambassador jones to be thinking about this. senator reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and just a quick follow-on. ambassador crocker, you were there on the ground in 2008 i believe when president bush signed an agreement with maliki to withdraw all our forces in
2011. was your advice to do that or was that just, why did we do that? we agreed to take all our troops out, correct? >> thank you, senator reed. yes, i was the senior negotiator for that agreement as well as its accompanying security agreement. we pushed hard for more open-ended language. prime minister maliki told me at an important point, he said, look, we're going to need you here for years, if not decades but that has to work in any rocky context and -- iraqis including those opposed to the prime minister need to hear at that particular point there would be a finite limit on how long the u.s. would stay. let the emotions aside, then
let's get working on negotiating the longer-term agreement. well that didn't happen. and i would suggest that it didn't happen because, again, president obama had run on, in part, a position of, to end the wars of the previous administration. again, as i said, and as we've seen you don't end wars just by withdrawing your forces. there was a clear understanding at the time that our presence would be enduring. >> but there has always been a question whether maliki was entirely sincere about his wishes for, or his ability to deliver given the iranian influence. that was a factor i think all through that period. >> senator reed, could i add something to that? >> please. >> i was unfortunately the guy who lost the american troop presence as you all know in
2011. >> right. >> first of all it's very difficult to keep american ground troops in any middle-eastern country. the only place where we have a significant number is kuwait. think of kuwait and why that's so. over time, when there isn't an emergency situation. also we need ad status of forces agreement. maliki was willing in in 2011 it sign a piece of paper. he or his foreign minister signed in 2014 when we came back in and it was an emergency situation and we didn't worry about that but in a peacetime situation it is very hard to put troops on the ground in a place like that without the guaranties. but the relevance of that experience in 2011 for what we're doing now in syria and iraq and elsewhere i would say is as follows. we had, and stu jones was my deputy as we prepared for this, we had -- so we had a plan b
that we were going to cheat with maliki's acknowledgement on all of keeping troops out. we had black soft, white soft, we had drones, all kinds of things i don't want to get into them in great detail, it was a very big package including 14 billion-dollar fms program. we had bases all over the country that were distwiced bases that u.s. military was running. what what happened was the obama administration, not just the president had knew about the plan but entire bureaucracy loses interest in that kind of deployment because you don't have a four-star general petraeus, general austin, to talk to the secretary of defense and directly to the president. you don't have the focus of the american people once they're gone. maliki kept coming back asking for this little military asset, that little military asset. we were his security blanket and we left.
sew had to turn to the iranians. the second big mistake was in 2014 we responded to fall of mosul, taking a decision to send some troops back in and support the effort but we did no airstrikes for three months. now, until finally in the north we had the problem with the kurds and sinjar mountain and folks up there. i think we did that for good reasons. we were trying to squeeze maliki out. but the fact the iranians did come to the help of iraqis and we did not played a huge role in position they're in today. again they take advantage as you heard from my colleagues that we or local allies make. >> my time is running out. this is topic of not just iraq but of other areas. so i hope if there is a second round we can shift focus to syria and, you can explain to me our policy there. thank you. >> thank you.
senator fischer. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador crocker, this week putin claimed victory in syria. he announced supposed withdrawal of russian troops from the country. he provided over the signing of a 21 billion-dollar plan to build a nuclear power plant in egypt and he condemned u.s. efforts in the region as destablizing. i think it is pretty clear that the russians are working to increase their role in the middle east and undermine u.s. interests but looking outside of syria, where do you think their next targets in this effort are going to be? >> that is a great question, senator. i am not an expert on russian affairs but that won't stop me from pontificating. my colleagues who are, will straighten that out i'm sure for the record. the russians under putin played
a bad hand brilliantly. the russians intervened in syria, not because they saw an opportunity but because they saw a very real threat they were going it lose basically their only asset in the region, bashar al-assad. they teamed up with iranians and we see where they got and incidentally at the same time he declared victory and said he was bringing the troops home he also announced there would be a permanent russian presence in tartus the navy base and in syria. they are not going away. they will use syria as point of leverage for a broader strategy in the region. i don't know if they have a next move planned in the region. i think it is entirely possible for the time-being they are going to sit where they are because it's a good place. lea: do you think, i will interrupt you for a minute.
do you think they are looking for opportunities thin, that there is no comprehensive plan? >> what i believe is that, again like iran you need to know the history and how the world looks from that other capital. in the case of russia, no it is not a return to the soviet union clearly but looks a little bit like the return of the russian empire. i, i think that is the motivating spirit for president putin. and i would expect to see their next move not in the middle east, probably in europe. >> okay. thank you. yes? >> senator fischer, if i might because i think i'm the only one up here who had a misspent youth in soviet of affairs. i think, you touched on the right thing. i think president putin is actually a tactical virtueoso, i don't think he has a real plan here but i think you see in syria russians taking advantage
of a long-time client relationship. they look for opportunities. i think they will, i think the fact they're looking at egypt, another place they have had a long-term relationship, suggests they may be looking for opportunities there. they're certainly looking for opportunities in turkey where ambassador jeffrey and i both served which is not a place that they have traditionally had strong relations but where they, where they see worsening u.s.-turkey relationship as an opening for them. >> any other comments? i would ask the four of you what you believer the united states response should be? ambassador jones. >> thank you. i would just say that, you know in syria we do have to cooperate with the russians. i think the deconfliction zones established in southwestern syria are having an effect.
think i they create a positive model for future cooperation. i also think that this holds the russians to a certain standard of behavior. also highlights their responsibility to deliver the performance much iranian and hezbollah partners inside of syria. i think we also need to hold them to their commitment, to the process in syria. so by taking this leadership role in syria. i think the russians have obligated themselves and we need to hold them to those obligations in a very public fashion. in the rest of the region i think we need to continue to show the value proposition of the you're-russian partnership. russia doesn't bring anything to libya that libya really needs. we will expect putin to seek opportunities for domestic fulfillment. we need to show steadily our
strategic partnership to these countries and show we can offer solution. >> how do we hold russia to obligations when they violate arms treaties? my time expired, mr. chairman. >> good question. senator king. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. edelman, a question for the record. you made a couple of assertions are inconsistent with the information i have had as member of this committee and the intelligence committee and i would like you to supply the evidence. one is that the jcpoa is quote, freeing up resources for other activities. my understand they in a very minor way but if you have evidence on that i would appreciate having it. this is for the record. you don't mead to respond now. the second is, you cited cereal violations by the -- serial violations by iranians that inconsistent with information i have. i like whatever data and evidence you have of that. finally on this point i would
ask if you believe a nuclear-armed iran virtually the identical situation of north korea today would be a positive for the stability and strategic balance in the middle east? that is a yes or no question. >> no, i don't think it would be positive. >> thank you. i'm astonished that none of the four of you mentioned in your discussions, this is a hearing on the middle east, the president's recent decision about recognizing jerusalem as the capital of israel and moving our embassy. i just, i don't see how you can ignore one of the most significant decisions in terms of the middle east and i wondered, i guess, i will start with you mr. jones, ambassador jones, given the fact that apparently we got nothing for
that in terms of concessions by the israelis on settlements or anything else, do you think that was a positive move in terms of stability in the middle east? >> no, senator, i don't. what i'm concerned about, i think, now, we've seen initial reactions to this. frankly the reaction has been a little bit more muted than many experts expected. but we'll start to see second and third order consequences this is going to have negative effects on governance inside of jordan and lebanon and other places which have large palestinian populations. so i am concerned about, about king abdullah in jordan who has made very clear his opposition to this, who i had the honor to serve with very closely and you know, the jordanians are concerned. >> my understanding just this morning turkey announced the establishment of an embassy in the west bank recognizing the
palestinian state. i guess any of you, mr. jeffrey, is a two-state solution an important part of the peace process in the middle east? >> the two-state solution is a very important part of certainly the situation between israel and the palestinians and everybody who has looked, almost everybody who has looked at this has not been able to come up with an alternative given israel's commitment to democratic political system, given the demographics. in terms of the president's decision, agains i mentioned with the jcpoa, any action taken that makes iran happy in the region is a mistake. this made iran happy, thus it's a mistake. if this is the biggest mistake this administration makes in the middle east, it will be okay because i don't think the ramifications of it are all that strong because right now the region is focused primarily on iran and that includes most arab
states. secondarily on the terrorist threat where israel is extraordinarily effective with both egypt and jordan. >> doesn't it make it more difficult to achieve a two-state solution? >> i think the two-state solution at moment is moribund from the standpoint of the palestinians and standpoint of current israeli government so i don't think we stopped something otherwise would have given us a major win in the region. i've been through this as my colleagues with the annapolis process in the bush administration, obviously obama's effort in the first term, kerry's effort in the second term, we can go back to clinton, camp david. again and again we haven't gotten there. the region, the region and our influence in it as continued. >> i agree with your statement we haven't gotten there but nobody has come up with an an alternative for solving this problem that would maintain israel as a democratic jewish state. >> exactly. and thus it is on my list of to
do things but it is not at the top of it. >> out thoughts on the issue of moving the capital, mr. crocker. >> senator, i think it is too early to tell what the significance is. immediate reaction that we focused on, and as ambassador jones said, was this going to create an explosion of violence in the region. it didn't. the climate is not really ripe for that right now for a lot of complex reasons. that doesn't mean it isn't going to have a long-term impact. i think it will. i have just don't know what that will be. there are now voices in the arab world saying right, we got it. no more two-state solution. so let's push for a one-state solution which all of the citizens of that state have equal rights under law, including the right to serve in the military. so this, you know, again i don't know where this is going but it is going to play out over a longer term, and i forenot in
any positive way. >> thank you. the. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, gentlemen, for your appearance in this incredibly distinguished panel. i respect and thank you all for your service to our country abroad panned many places that don't appear on top tourist destinations. i will come on top of both points senator king made. would it be positive development in the middle east for iran to vessel nuclear weapons in eight to 13 years when the key provisions ever the jcpoa expire, the economy is stronger, because sanctions are lifted, when its conventional military is stronger because the conventional arms embarring snow is lifted in 2020? that could also be a yes or no question. >> no, would not be positive. >> on the point about jerusalem being capital of israel was a
irresponsible and rash decision of this senate to vote 90-0 that jerusalem is the capital of israel? anyone can take it. >> senator cotton i think it is recognition of fact. and i'm frequent critic of the trump administration but the president was acting in conformance with the law that he was asked to implement. my one criticism would be, i think the step would have been more use fully made in the context of a broader plan or proposal as opposed to a one-off, but otherwise. >> thank you. i want to turn now to syria. i will start with ambassador crocker, because i believe only member of the panel served in damascus and we can get reactions after ambassador crocker's response. what are the best steps the united states can take at this point, not looking retroactively or assigning blame or credit for any action anyone took in 2011
at this point to reduce iranian influence inside of syria? i'd like your advice in terms of best practical steps. i don't think anyone believes, the american people will support a large-scale conventional military deployment to syria but what are the best practical steps we could take that would have the durable support of the american people to minimize iranian influence inside of syria? >> thank you, senator, and thank you for your service. there are several things. the most critical thing in my view is, pull together a policy. what we're seeing now with the syrian democratic force that were so closely allied with us in the campaign against isis they don't know what we're going to do next. they're in touch with everybody. they're talking to assad regime. they're talking to iran. they're talking to hezbollah. they know we haven't set a policy they have to live there.
we're into a period now that is pretty dangerous where all the actors are going to posture and take positions as though we're not there because we may not be. so that's one. second we need to be present diplomatically and politically. the turks, the iranians and the russians started us down a process as a counterpoint to again navy have. we -- geneva. we weren't even in the room. now i guess we're there as an observer. we're the united states of america. you know, if we're part of a process, we don't stand on the sidelines and watch. so i would hope that we would get a grip on the political processes that are in play in geneva, and use those as a forum to start serious thinking on the way ahead which will be complicated and messy. but to assert the united states is there for a reason.
these are our security interests. we will be very much part of that process. we will not leave it to our adversaries such as iran. >> gentlemen, any other response to that one? >> very quickly, senator, we have a lot of assets in syria, even though it doesn't look that way. we and the turks, between us hold about a third of the country and have a lot of local allies, even though we're not coordinated with the turks, but that is a question of diplomacy. the israelis operate militarily throughout syria in the air. that is another factor. we have a diplomatic entree with u.n. resolution 2254, which means it is all of business how syria is organized. we can leverage the possibility of reconstruction as a means to try to force the a wedge between the russians as ambassador jones was talking about the syrians in the iranians, because ultimately
their interests are different. we have to keep not just diplomacy but military presence there, that means working with turkey, the kurds in iraq and iraqi government so we can physically get in and out because we need entree to that region. >> well my time has expired but thank you again for your appearances here. i know some of you already failed at retirement. so to the ex-extent you want to fail again come back in government service, i'm sure there are senators in this building would vote you to another position in the united states government. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you to our witnesses for being here today. as we've been talking about other last few months, local forces trained and supported by the u.s.-led coalition have retaken former isis strong holds in mosul and raqqa and i want to follow up on senator cotton's question but i want to broad the inquiry a little bit to ask more
what happens after we defeat isis on the battlefield. it seems like right now we have challenges both with russia and iranian forces and their proxies. and that they're moving very quickly to take advantage of conditions on the ground in order to reach their own regional objectives. so let me just start with you, ambassador jones. what can the united states do to push back against russian and iranian assertiveness? to try to set the conditions for a political settlement that is in our interests and in the interests of the syrian people? >> thank you, senator, warren. i think most importantly, i think what all of us have touched on is the need for a regional approach to containing and pushing back on iranian maligning interference throughout the region and this is of course going on in area but going on iraq, in yemen, in bahrain and of course lebanon. so i think we need a overall
regional strategy to help contain iran. it is, will bring into higher relief the pal -- maligned interference it is carrying out in syria. i think it will be difficult given our limited tools to affect iranian conduct in syria without weakening its other activities. i would say with regards to russia as i mentioned earlier, you know, there is nothing very attractive about russian involvement in syria. the russians saved the bashar regime in 2015. they haven't really known what to do with it since as ambassador crocker said. this was to preserve their own status but they are interested in cooperating with the united states for, for a variety of reasons. so reaching agreement on the deconfliction zone in southwest syria i think does represent a positive model for cooperation with the russians and also for holding the russians accountable.
senator fischer asked how do you hold them accountable? i think we have to hold them accountable by highlighting what they don't, when they don't meet, meet their commitments, such as, if they are not able to facilitate or to force the withdrawal of hezbollah and iranian forces from some of those areas in southwestern syria, that should be highlighted and they should be called out. finally i think we need to continue to press for the geneva process. as ambassador crocker said we need to be engaged diplomatically, using all of our international tools. sorry to go on. >> no, i appreciate, and i appreciate the focus on russia. it has been russia support for assad that has prolonged this crisis and of course the iranians continue to destablize syria. seems to me the trump administration needs a clear strategy for ending the violence, for holding assad accountable and for making sure that the other actors on the ground don't take advantage of
what happens in this post-isis world. there is one other thing i would like to ask about before i'm out of time this morning and that is about the ongoing saudi military operation against the houthis in yemen. and the resulting humanitarian crisis there. the situation on the ground in yemen continues to deteriorate outside experts estimate more than 10,000 yemenis have been killed in the fighting an millions more are at risk from pham sin and disease. in june 47 senators voted to disapproval the sale of u.s. precision-guided missiles to saudi arabia, an expression of deep concern that many of us have had about this humanitarian crisis. so let me just ask here, how the united states can use our leverage with the saudis to limit civilian casualties and to insure that yemeni civilians receive food and medicine and other basic human necessities?
ambassador jones, ambassador crocker, who would like to answer this one? go ahead. >> very quickly i will say that i think that we should be concerned about humanitarian conditions and civilian casualties in yemen. i think the saudis can do better. i think the solution is to work more closely with the saudis. i think conditioning assistance will be counterproductive and risks extending the conflict there. i think we're at a crucial moment now with the new schism between houthis and general congress, the party of the recently-killed former president. this is the time to push for a political resolution but to do that the houthis have to see a very credible military threat and they should not see any uncertainty from us in our support for the saudi coalition. >> i hear your point on this. i just want to push a little
bit. i think conflict and humanitarian crisis in yemen is bringing more extremism in the region and continues to put us more at risk, and there is no doubt that iran should stop making this conflict worse but let's not forget that saudi arabia is the one receiving weapons from us and receiving support from us and i think we need to hold our partners to a higher standard here. we have a crisis on our hands that's getting out of control. so i'm out of time. so i will stop there, mr. chairman. but i think we have to really raise the bar on this one. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chair. and, thank you, gentlemen as well for your committed service to the great united states of america. ambassador edelmen, i'm going to start with you in regards to turkey. then if anybody else would like to hop in as well i would appreciate that. sir, you once served as the
ambassador to turkey. thank you for doing that. but i think you would agree with me, that our relationship with turkey has changed drastically since your time in service in that country. erdogan continues to consolidate power. he is up presses his opposition and he -- suppresses his opposition and really cozied up to russia. this complicates our security cooperation as it pertains to nato and our coco lab a tiff with the syrian democratic forces to defeat isis within syria. could you, ambassador, simply, are you optimistic about the direction of u.s.-turkey relations. >> i'm not and i invite my colleague jim jeffrey who served multiple tours in turkey including as ambassador to add or subtract from what i say. i am not optimistic.
i think the relationship will likely get worse before it gets better. i think that is largely driven by president erdogan's domestic calculation what is he needs to do so consolidate the personal listic presidential regime he is trying to impose on turkey which he, he has to now face the electorate one more time for the presidency when his term comes up and i think that's driving almost everything. a lot of those calculations drive him to do things that make the relationship worse. i also think that to some degree while i, you know, obviously think it is a huge mistake for turkey to procure s-400s and to cozy up to the russians as they have, to be fair some of that is a reflection of the
vacuum that we have created which my colleagues have been talking about. i mean we have let russia and iran become the arbiters of syria's future. syria sits right on turkey's border. they're housing three million syrian refugees in their territory which imposed enormous costs on turkish society. we blame a little bit of the blame for deterioration of relations going back to number of years for the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, senator ernst but i don't think we can tolerate some of the behavior our turkish allies have been showing. particularly the use of american citizens and american foreign service national employees in essence as hostages to the desires of the turkish government there, their attempt to put bounties on the head of former u.s. government officials like graham fuller and michael
rubin accusing of being plotters, outlandish sort of charges. we really have to draw the line here and push back very hard on this. >> with that aspect, ambassador, and ambassador jeffrey i would appreciate your opinion or your thoughts on this matter then what can we do as the united states to work with and change the current trajectory of turkey? and why don't we start with you, ambassador jeffrey? >> yeah, i knew this question would come up, senator, because none of us want to be an apologist for turkey because the things they do are toxic. let me make a couple of general points. we talk about how we'll deal with the region and as senator cotton says we don't want to put a lot of ground troops in there. that means we have to rely on five countries, israel, saudi arabia, turkey, pakistan and egypt. we already talked today about
the problems with many of these countries. we wouldn't pick these allies if we were coming up with a different middle east but we have to deal with the middle east we have. they're crucial and, and they, we can't even get to this region without them. this is from yesterday's military times. deploy to incirlik air base turkey, the 74th fighter squadron has dealt punishing blowses to isis forces in support of the syrian democratic forces. that was yesterday. syrian forces are commanded and control by a pkk offshoot as ash carter told the committee two years ago dedicated to overthrowing turkey. we're supporting that group because we needed against isis. turkey complains, screams, does all the things against us, every day those planes fly. that is the middle east has to deal with today. it is unpleasant, it is
transactional, it's ugly but we in turkey have very similar strategic goals. russia, iran and to some degree, syria, want to change the mix-up of the middle east. we do not. turkey does not. at the end of the day we just have to push back as ambassador edelman said but don't cut off this relationship. it is crucial to us. >> i appreciate it, gentlemen. my time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you all very much both for your service at the state department and as well as for being here today. ambassador crocker, you talked about the fact that we're not even at the table in discussions with syria right now. i would argue that part of the problem there we have a state department that is not functioning in the way that we would like it to because we have an administration that doesn't recognize the importance of diplomacy and the role of the state department in foreign
policy. i am not sure how much it recognizes the importance of foreign policy. i wonder, i'm not going to, i'm going to ask you ambassador jones, because you were most recently the state department's top diplomat for the middle east. i wonder if you could talk about what we could be doing to better enhance endeavors with our allies and partners in the middle east through traditional diplomatic channels? >> i think that that this administration has taken significant steps to improve relations with key partners in the middle east. i think the riyadh summit in june was a watershed moment when president trump was able to convene the islamic world and make a very strong declaration, both of respect for islam an also rejection of extremeism.
these kinds of measures are significant and should be continued. as i said in my remarks too we have to make sure we actuate these gestures being done at very senior levels at the working levels. we need to use all of our soft power tools in places like iraq, saudi, in the gulf, in other parts of the middle east and egypt certainly to make clear the value proposition of the u.s. relationship. and that means business, that means technology, investment. and -- >> that certainly makes sense. i'm sorry to interrupt. i guess, and i appreciate what you're saying that the message that sent to other middle eastern countries how we view our relationship with saudi arabia and with sunni countries but, i don't know, ambassador edelman, i think it may have been you who talked
about the disconnect between our policy object i was and what we're seeing from some of our allies in the middle east and i wonder if you would connect what ambassador jones is saying what we could do to be influencing saudi arabia's behavior so it doesn't try to manipulate lebanon, for example. so it doesn't help create a famine in yemen in a way that is not in anyone's interest? how can we encourage them to be on the same page in terms of strategic objectives? >> senator shaheen, nice to see you again. i think it's important to go back to what i was saying in response to senator ernst's question about turkey. a lot of things we see turkey doing we don't like are a function of their reaction to having to fend for themselves rather than rely on the security
guarranties they get through nato and from their traditional strong bilateral relationship with the united states. and in my opening statement i talked about some of the challenges that have been created in the region by the appearance that the united states was receding from the region and giving up its role in the region. and i think when you create that kind of vacuum, what happens is, people try to do it on their own. in the case of the saudis, i think they're doing it on their own without a lot of experience having done this. and so it is, you know, it is not all together surprising they will do things in a way we think makes things worse rather than better. i think the most important thing we can do, and i think, ambassador jones talked about this a little bit in his response to senator warren's question is, to make our allies understand that we're there for the long-term, we have their back, we'll be there for them,
but maybe they want to adjust what they're doing with this you get more receptiveness which ryan crocker excelled that at multiple posts in the region if you have strong alliance on which to base it. >> doesn't that speak then to a very robust diplomatic effort in the region? >> of course. >> while i appreciate the singular event in saudi arabia, the fact is, we don't have have an ongoing strategic response that connects what we're doing militarily, and what we're doing diplomatically that i can see. that i think as all of you have laid out is one of our challenges there. we don't have a long-term, consistent, strategy for what we're doing in the region. >> very quickly, iranian missiles and rockets in southern lebanon and in northern yemen
are strattic existential threats to two of our strategic allies, saudi arabia and lebanon. 10,000 more dead civilians in the middle east, in a region that has seen a million in the last 30 years by my count are a stable coalition government in beirut will not deter the saudis and israelis from acting against this threat. how they act against it as ambassador edelmen said is where we should be more active. >> well i certainly agree with that. that's one of the reasons i've been a sponsor with other members of this committee with hezbollah sanctions so we can put more pressure on them but as you point out it has got to be consistent. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chair and i want to echo other comments today about the august group we have here. i hope that, i have learned so much sitting here the last hour or so from you gentlemen, after
spending a couple years on foreign relations i hope you take this show on the road there as often as you get asked. ambassador jeffrey, i want to move this, not only is it a pivot points of time but we have a couple piv vote points geographically. gcc is a having difficult time. qatar is in middle of that. two of our allies are creating destablizing influence right now when we need to show force against the iran-russia influence over there. we have 10,000 troops including central command and our air assets. forward deployment of full brick grade of armor. it is a pivot points for afghanistan and other areas in the region. can you speak from your perception what this is about between saudi arabia and qatar? what should we being doing to influence two allies to cut it out and see if there is alignment we can find here? >> i first had to do inventory whether any of my colleagues
served in qatar and saudi arabia so i could kick the thing. that is only go places ryan crock hears a view because he did so well on russia. but anyway, it gets back to all of us what most eloquently am bass edelman said. allies left alone to deal with the iranian threat, and secondarily the threat of islamic extremism, there is element between saudi arabia and emirates as well, flail around and do things that are uncoordinated, they don't check with us enough in advance and we wind up with a mess. i think this administration, despite a couple of initial comments by president trump, has taken a good position. i saw this at the menmi security conference this last weekend out in the gulf. they basically are, all in all supporting qatar. i would say 55-45 because we
have great interests with the saudis and emiratis but they clearly made a mistake. qatar is objectionable as i said many ways. as we discussed at length turkey, saudi arabia and other places but we can't be going at each, scratching each other because of these secondary sins when the real sinning in the region is done by islamic terrorists and iran. we have to get a better hold of our allies. >> what should we be doing with qatar specifically and saudi arabia to keep qatar leaning back toward iran which is certainly look like they're in a position to do? >> they will to some degree because it starts with the paz gas field. they have a strong relationship with iran because they share that critical gas field. the more we get saudis and emiratis to roll back, the more the kataris will kind they don't
have to keep dealing with iranians, turkey, russians and this feud eventually blows over. there was a feud 2013 and 2014, and it did blow over. this one looks uglyier. >> i will add to my come colleagues comments. this is problem in search of a solution. turkey and qatar house very important u.s. military facilities and as a result of that both of those governments i think concluded there is a limit how much we will push them on certain things we don't like because the desire to keep those facilities which are very important facilities available. i think we need to look at more diversified and resilient basing in the region so we don't become hostage to this kind of behavior and we can push back a little bit more effectively when kataris do things we don't like.
i have a certain sympathy for the saudi and emirati position about the katari support for muslim brotherhood. they did things during the early stages of syrian civil war to make things worse than they have to be. we have to figure out a solution ourselves sew we don't find ourselves being held back from pushing back at some. things our allies do wrong. . . footprint we have up there, moving down to the horn of africa, china is in there. this is a key topic to support not only diplomatic input but military support.
thank you, mister chair. >> thank you, mister chairman, and thank you to our distinguished witnesses, and appreciate your service and willingness to impart your knowledge with us here today. michigan, i am proud to represent a large muslim american community that focuses on these issues given that is there homeland. i have a large and thriving population of religious minorities from the middle east particularly chaldeans and isis has been devastating, their actions have been devastating to these communities and showed a unique brutality towards them and their historical homeland. i supported legislation that the atrocities committed by isis against christians and other minorities as war crimes, crimes against humanity and
genocide. in march 2016, john kerry to is responsible for genocide against these groups and areas under their control. as ambassador jones mentions, isis can be expected to go underground and continue to terrorize iraqis in the months and years ahead. i'm concerned despite military success we have seen against isis, members of these communities will face violence and persecution. i would like to hear from each of you based on your experience if you could provide an update how you view this situation and your recommendations what we should be doing and the united states should be doing more. >> this is with respect to the religious minorities. one of the lessons i learned is beware of unintended consequences of major actions. there is no action more major
than a military intervention in someone else's country. 30 and 40 as we have seen in iraq and afghanistan. with respect to minorities, they were doing okay under saddam because they posed no threat to him. he was an equal opportunity dictator and murderer but by and large the minorities could live in iraq. i question how much longer to see a significant presence particularly on the planes. it is a conversation i will never forget. and identified him.
and the lay representatives, support this. and to train and arm to look after local security, and do none of those things. just paint a big bull's-eye, the religious extremist, clients of america, just don't do any, a sad moment, and the minority communities in iraq, but haven't gone out. >> anyone else have a comment?
>> we are witnessing an enormous tragedy in many places, the loss of various christian paradox minorities, shame for the region and the minority issues, with population, one issue, after andrew brunson, the missionaries held by the government on preposterous charges, very broad through the region. outside the alliances. >> two more ambassadors. >> the record on stabilization.
investing in stabilization, and immediate fast action, low cost process, and communities to return to their homes. and ambassador crocker's remarks, and meet with christian leaders in iraq, don't make it so easy to leave iraq and losing communities here, and ambassador crocker said these consequences, the best we could do is help people return to their homes and build institutions for the rights of these individuals. >> thank you, mister chairman. let me thank you for your
service to the country, what you do goes unnoticed in many cases it is critical to long-term successes in international diplomacy which is more desirable than international intervention with terry force. let me go to the jcp oa. i want to walk the logic of where we are. the reality is we have upfronted with resources committed by the united states in iran, the obligation to execute their portion of their contract is in place, that they respond to. i question whether or not there is built into the jcp oa the appropriate with the failure to do so. i would like to challenge you the process i'm laying in front
of you that this is a 1-sided obligation forward, at the same time since there is nothing more that we have to do with this in terms of any other obligation we are committed to if they behave, if they behave, the jcp oa simply delayed the time period in which they will have nuclear capabilities. on the other hand if they do not, the jcp oa has not worked after then the fact we have other allies who supported in this effort who are also part of the international community who may or may not feel some obligation to condemn iran when they do or if they do fail. if i could ask each of you, could you correct my assumptions involving the discussion, or reaffirm what i
am suggesting? >> i was involved in the bush administration which took basic decision not to use the unilateral means which is a euphemism for what, to deal with the uranium problem but to go to the fee 5+1 during the bush administration to negotiate internationally. when you go down that road with the iaea and nonproliferation technology and un security council, you are going to get a marginal product because that is the contributor to national affairs and we got a marginal product. it does the job for ten years of keeping them a year away from having nuclear capability, your specific question was do we have tools if they don't adhere to it? the question is absolutely. article xxxvi allows any member including iran if the others are not living up to their
actions, to stop the commitments made under the agreement. that would include sanctions. that is article xxxvi. that is the process you go through for three months, and try to convince the others and you can unilaterally with agreement stop doing things you are supposed to do. iran can retaliate. and article 37 with the process, and the veto in the un and leads to a un resolution essentially saying continue this agreement and if you veto it the agreement basically dies, the human aspect die which is tantamount to killing it so there are powerful tools we have in this ten year period but at the end of ten years president obama admitted it is
a different ballgame and we have to figure out what to do then. >> i largely agree with. let me make three points some of which goes to senator king's question. which is first, the jcp oa was inadequate dealing with past military dimensions of iran's activity. they closed the file on that without going to the bottom of the issues that had been raised in the november 2011 report that outlined all the different problems. more than ten countries intelligence services had provided evidence about with regard to military activities. without that as a baseline it is difficult to verify the agreement. the provisions of the jcp oa itself were far from the anytime anyplace originally
promised and which for instance were an important part of south africas abandonment of its nuclear program, it is the under compliance, nibbling around the edges, it is solved by side deals after the fact. and twice iran exceeded the amount, heavy water allowed to produce. and russian, uranium, and amount of low enriched uranium above certain percentages and certain amounts with solved by these side deals.
there hasn't been a major violation the iea has said that repeatedly but there has been a pattern of nibley around the edges which is dangerous because over time it conditions the iranians to believe they can engage in bigger violations and get away with which >> my time is expired but i appreciate your service, thank you for your response today. >> thank you, mister chairman. you are probably aware that on monday, turkey will meet with russia to finalize the deal to purchase the russian s 400 surface-to-air missile system. saudi arabia expressed interest in this system. i am concerned that this trend over this kind of action may be part of a trend, very troubling
trend for our allies in the region turning toward russia, to be best in this kind of system. other distinctions, it is incapable of integration, not readily so in the united states or nato defenses. my question to all of you, appreciate your being here, enormously valuable as you were in service, what should we be doing to address this issue of these are purchased and installed, what are the implications for our military and diplomacy around the world? >> one of the persons who know least about turkey. without doubt, as you
suggested, the effect this would have on defense capabilities, it is a resin system, not compatible with the turkey systems that have been for the last 70 odd years. we need to take a deep breath on this one. turkey is a founding member of nato, and the ottoman empire for confrontations between two great empires. there are natural limitations here. i would say with respect to what we should do, obviously turkey has done a lot of is we don't like. they are a nato partner. in a region where we don't have
a choice between democracy and autocracy that is not on the table, forces of order versus forces of disorder, turkey has always been force of order. we need to engage if we could get a few secretaries confirmed and ambassadors, start going through the relationship, under ambassador jeffrey and ambassador aleman, we need to get back to that point, turkey is a nato ally. one of the reasons we are where we are is the consistent refusal, to seriously entertain turkey's bid for membership. good enough to fight and die for nato but not enough to join the generous club of the eu. the turks are proud people, they were embarrassed by that. everybody needs to take a deep
breath. this is salvageable, we need to get on with. >> senator blumenthal, i agree with what ambassador crocker said. a little bit of historical context, to be fair to our turkish allies. on a couple occasions over the past decade and a half, the issue of defending turkey from ballistic missile threats came up, it was tough to get the nato assets down to turkey because of reluctance on the part of some of our allies who dispose of assets and debates inside of nato and that opened a question in turkish minds with her nato will at the end of the day be there to defend them, to be fair to them. having said that it is very clear s 400 is not compatible with nato systems, as
ambassador crocker said. that was true of the chinese system you were thinking about before the s 400 became available to them. we need to engage with them and remind them what that actually means, both for broader nato defense but also turkey's defense, it means a lot of early warning assets and won't be available to them that will put them at some risk and that does require an ambassador in place. we have an assistant secretary for european affairs which is a good, very capable what is a matter of fact but we need to get engaged in this now rather than too late. one of my concerns about lack of staffing in the administration has been if we go back to what we discussed earlier in this hearing, miscalculation about the referendum in kurdistan, i united states government was very late to publicly get out
there and express its opposition to this. back in the good old days when giants walked the earth talking about my colleagues to the left and right, we would have been engaged in this at a much earlier point in time and had more time to manage the problem i believe. >> the entire nato missile defense system focused on iran the obama administration putting following the bush administration is based on nato, prime minister the one --erdogran agreed to in 2010. >> my time has expired. whether or not giants ever walked. we would settle for a few ordinary experienced human beings in those ambassadorships today men of your caliber would
be even better, men and women of your caliber would be even better but there is no ambassador to turkey, no ambassadors encoder, saudi arabia, egypt, jordan, somalia, certainly very critical roles at have to be filled and the connection between our military strength and a poetic strength is inextricable as you know and -- thank you, mister chairman. >> i just recommend to my colleagues, apologize for being late today. the foreign relations committee had a closed briefing on the administration's new counterterrorism guideline proposal, the proposal for changing the obama doctrine on the use of drones, some on the committee received at briefing, it is on this topic today, i
encourage everyone to get that briefing. i have been following a little bit, ambassador jones talked about the referendum in your opening statement but i would like to have all of you address this issue but working down the road with us on the kurds they have been wonderful partners, their independence aspirations create real challenges for unified iraq. wonderful partners in syria that work with kurds in syria have been one of the education points with others with turkey as an ally. what do you think of long-term policy of the united states should be in both iraq and syria. >> in the first instance, as we agreed, the referendum has had negative effects, we should
focus our efforts on reconciling mobile and baghdad. we are friends with massoud, he is an outstanding leader in kurdistan. now the kurds need to find ways to return to the level of cooperation they enjoyed in the lead up to the mosul campaign. i am frankly more troubled by the situation in northeastern syria though it was necessary to carry out military cooperation we have. we need to take seriously the turks concerns about the rise of the why pg and need to make sure our military presence there does not create a political monopoly or political organization that is hostile to us values and ideology.
our concern, my concern about the referendum in iraq was it was not well prepared, the iranians do have a role and wasn't coordinated with the turks or baghdad. that is the lesson if kurds want to move forward on this agenda there needs to be more deliberation and understanding between all the parties in the region how they should go forward. >> the region that begins with turkey can, the turks are allowing us to support the offshoot in syria every day. collectively, they do it. the region, turkey in particular, and can support autonomous kurdish entities for one or another degree, there are different kurds in the two countries in syria and iraq as
long as we are here, the turks know why we are there and their interests are taken care of and these are not violations of the unity of countries involved. in syria i am less concerned about with iraq, that is 5 million barrels of oil produced on a good day, and 7 or 8, in that category, and don't want to break it up. and it has set the kurds back terribly in terms of their ability to survive. the turks are allowing them to export, and there is major
political security aspects of this, with the best news stories in the region with mother basketcase. >> the other two witnesses as well. >> i don't have much to add to that. we are wrestling here with a problem the last remnant of the ottoman empire, the largest nationality in the world, with different states. they wrestled with this. by and large, if you get decently organized societies that took into account minority
rights, with citizens of a pluralistic iraq, iran, turkey, turkey might have been the best case for that, the president erdogan when he was prime minister did to the kurds, the most constructive things in his time in office, that has fallen by the wayside. that is still the right answer but they may be, things are in flux, they revisit this question what the status of the kurds is, they hold together over time. >> great question, senator. we have a long history with the
kurds, it isn't very pretty for them. above all what we need to do now is with best intentions, get them into positions, across state boundaries. they are not around to back it up. the going gets rough. it is the same as the christian communities. a great power that comes and goes. the first we need to do is turn the referendum and its failure into the beginning of a discussion of that. of us feel this way.
there are more nationalisms and there are nations. one that turkey, iran and syria before 2011 all agreed on was no kurdish state. until that shifts it would be the height of folly and danger to encourage these aspirations. >> we both expressed a lot of concern during the referendum and one of the things you might not be as aware of, a close relationship, spend a lot of time with all of us over the years, senator reid and i decided we would not have a second round to pursue any further. the panel, a great panel, i
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1979, c-span was created as a public service by cable television companies and brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> next a discussion about britain's decision to leave the european union and its effect on the uk, the eu and the united states. from the woodrow wilson center in washington dc this is two hours. >> good morning, everyone. welcome to all of you to the wilson center for our discussion [this morning of] brexit. i would like to go back to june 2016. the uk public's to vote in
favor of brexit felt like a tectonic shift. it was a major change with sequences that were far reaching and unclear. brexit changes everything, but how? businesses, institutions and policiesmakers have been looking at this ever since. rand's study we are going to talk about today looks at possible outcomes and what they mean for economic policy and our cooperation. i'm delighted to see many friends of the wilson center today, introducing an expert panel, the idea is we will hear from charlie, the result of the study, turn this over to michelle for some comment and fran and howard to weigh in. and