tv U.S. Policy in Syria After ISIS CSPAN January 12, 2018 12:37am-2:25am EST
[inaudible conversations] come to order. thanks to our distinguished witness the defense department was unable to discern day witness this is our second hearing on the syrianis conflict an issue that has been raised from many other meetings. 400,000 have thousand have been killed in the syrian conflict of 12 million nearly half are displaced in the asad regime bears overwhelming responsibility. but none of this would have been possible without the support of iran andnd russia
with the u.s. in the partners with the support the syrian democratic forces so despite that territory. also that ongoing danger. to maintain significant influence it is worth highlighting two recent developments u.s. and russia to sign a memorandum to maintain those arrangements in southwest area. and to deep in the hole potentially exacerbating the conflict of sectarian nature and then threatening our ally
was -- israel. and the regime has pummeled the damascus suburb which is the so-called de-escalation zones killing at least dozens of civilians displacing tens of thousands. so to provide details what they are doing to assess the prospects with that i will ask our distinguished ranking member. >> thanks for calling the hearing we could not have a more distinguished witness before us. but there are many issues involving syria we have
primary responsibility and oversight. the use of force many of us question if that applies to isis. where is the authorization to maintain troops? to see a rapid increase of u.s. troops what is the role for the u.s. development assistance? how will america diplomacy play out? and then for him to be accountable for his war crimes. and this affects the security.
and then in a m policy vacuum so the american public was informed united states has a condition -based military presence. and then to move to the american people about the conditions are they political or military? to gain insight because the young men and women in uniform deserve to be fully informed.ir i am deeply disappointed i share the chairman's concern to decline this committee's invitation to testify. with the authorization for the use of military force spending
significant time debating if the 2001 au mff covers isis given that it was drafted two decades ago to target al qaeda. now to argue even after isis is defeated they will remain in syria to make sure they don't return.ano and to have any public explanation. and then to seem like a prelude and if we have learned anything from those experiences that the military fight is not even half the battle. that conflict demands political agreement with reconciliation initiatives and
expertise accountability of local leadership and constant diplomatic and political engagement. even after isis is defeated. those who challenge the asad regime. this is another arena where they are gaining ground to russia. and then to stabilize her motherer countries. with a stable and prosperous middle east. with that influence with increasedouos human suffering in the same old top-down corruption. and then to set the stage with
those reconstruction contracts. and then with the vase access those absent from the scene rolling out the red carpet for mr. putin. this is not a situation that benefits the united states. and then to clarify these points to have a better understanding of a strategy in syria. >> i will say there is progress being made on the au mf and then to have a markup in the way to engender support
but as it relates to what happened in syria, after watching people in action what we saw was a seamless handoff from one to another obviously the generals were given more flexibility within the administration but i saw the handoff where we were very successful with the caliphate. so as that relates to isis and successful we are left with a country to figure out how to deal with. thanks to the ambassador the acting assistant secretary of state and one of the most
distinguished and most recently served as the observers and previously served as an ambassador. we thank you so much and we look forward to your testimony. >> i appreciate the opportunity to testify. when isis first emerged to sweep across iraq and syria that summer to inflict suffering on thousands of civilians but despite those advances made our job is not done to remain focused on the defeat of isis and other terrorist organizations
countering iranian influence in those behaviors to prevent the use of chemical weapons to ensure the safety of neighbors with the humanitarian crisis through the de-escalationre of violence with a political transformation and resolution in accordance with the national security resolution. those that are previously controlled by isis was 7.5 million freed from the domination in iraq and syria. announcing that the fight is over that coalition partner does not regard this as a finished effort. the u.s. is committed to the enduring defeatt of devices and then to ensure that they cannot regenerate.
thanks to the generosity of the congress u.s. provided $7.5 billion of humanitarian assistance or 1.5 billion over the last year. but in eastern syria with support from the department of defense they lead recovery effortss to help consolidate our military gains to provide life-saving assistance to stabilize those areas. unlike iraq we do not have a trusted government partner to work with.h.un we are not working and will not work with the outside regime. until there is a process to
lead a government chosen so the u.s. and allies will not support large-scale efforts to reconstruct syria. on july 9, u.s. jordan in russia made an arrangement in its initial form to reduce violence of syria and one november 8 to sign a formal memorandum codified principles to strengthen on this effort. it further defines our efforts with u.s. russia and jordan that those iranian proxy forces must withdraw from areas in that cease-fire lines delineated and on november 11 president trump issued a joint
statement they endorsed this memorandum and they reaffirm the commitment to a free syria and also to serious sovereignty independence and nonsectarian character and then to participate in the political process. november 29 for the regime to attend meetings in geneva. and all of these efforts are fully aligned with implementation and that calls for a new syrian constitution for parliamentary elections at all syrians including those displaced can participate.
stable syria requires a departure of president assad and his regime suffering countless death including chemical weapons. it is a magnet for terror but we and our allies have come to russia s without path toward a political solution and we call on russia today to pressure the regime to work toward a political resolution to the conflict. now we are welcome to take your questions. >> because of the last portion of your statement we are now demanding that assad leave but embracing the resolution as putin has done. >> correct.
>> so then there would be an election to take place. >> a constitutional review process than the electoral process under un monitoring and supervision. >> and supported right now b by russia you believe the way asad would go through a democratic election would lose? >> we cannot conceive of a circumstance a genuinely fair electoral process with that displaced community could the two a result were he remained at the home. >> is there a chance there could be a real election with the opportunity to vote that was not corrupt?
>> that is exactly what russia and the international community are formally committed to see achieve the taskit to make that real is the challenge before us all. >> everything you said i agree with and to emphasize the importance of mr. assad leaving but i will express some skepticism with russia's involvement to understand how we are prepared with what is likely to come about russia's goals of not having the free syria and certainly they are setting them up to be immune and be held accountable.
and with that expectation to have a traditional fair election so hard we minimize the influence? >> so the things to achieve they have a basis for their own approach and understanding within international consensus which is widely supported that granting of a legitimacy to what has happened in syria minus that for reform in
to the russian initiatives to control the track on their own. minus the validation. and u.s. diplomats is a strong one mr. asad must be held accountable for their activities are you still committed to that goal? and another area that is a major concern that russian would be sympathetic there was great concern among jordan and israel with their security
interest so what type of game plan did they have to minimize those risk factors? >> the activity through syria with a greater of the hezbollah threat is lebanon is the primary strategic challenge and then i would also add iraq. we would hope russia would recognize the long-term strategic interest risk assessment should not way as a factor. >> can we convince russia of that? and he likes to have that
proxy. >> and with that russian point of view. so at what price over the long term? and they cannot serve any trans- regional security interest. but the first death was the defeat of isis as long as it wass a potent force with the forces simply were not there. and with the un process with international support for a reform process to see a politicalalor transition as an
achievable goal we don't underestimate those challenges ahead. it is very hard to do as assad will cling to power at every cost possible but with respect to syria with a separate strategic issue how do you deal with that? in all places that it manifest not just syria but iraq idea men other areas were those behaviors affect the allies national interest a difficult challenge but not impossible. to have a political transform syria.
>> do you think russia cares greatly about ashad himself or just a syrian leader. as the soviets before them they treasure stability and fear chaos that is a source of stability at a highh price. as a generator of further violence but it is the end to threatening chaos. >> good to see you again mr. ambassador. a lot of hoosiers will be watching this with great
interest in attending a ceremony for that sustainment to gain 250 of 50 of the best men and women in uniform for our support of iraq and syria. and then to demand the best possible strategy. and that my own belief is in the enduring way to defeat the terrorist groups with those sunni communities and to properlyou resourced o far to
ensure we accomplish those objectives. >> senator you are quite right there will be a resurgent of violence. some of those are addressed others can be addressed better that is part of the dialogue with the partners from outside there are systemic long-standing generators violence in this troubled region and they cannot be ignoredn. with any instant strategy. >> is there a milestone that this strategy remains on track? >> we watch very carefully the
behaviors so in terms of the aggressiveve efforts to deny the ability to proliferate and support these efforts at any point in the past 15 years it is a challenge ahead of us that yes that is a strategy. >> you mentioned em and so thank you for your work on this front. have an update on the humanitarian assistance. >> we appreciate your efforts to help us with this
initiative. we have full access to humanitarian goods that means fuel moving we have already seen a reduction of f price and an increase in the availability of basic fuels throughout yemen as we expected would be the case. speaking with the foreign minister yesterday that there would be no further closures of the sport and we will work with the days ahead on this issue. the cranes should arrive at ten a clock this sunday that is a major accomplishment that we all deserve credit. >> in your written testimony
right thought has afflicted suffering and countless death including the heinous use of chemical weapons against his own people and you also might the need to diminish the forces of syria. is it accurate iranian forces are in syria to help those who murder his own people went there in gas? >> that is correct i hope the people of iran heard that this radical and oppressive regime respecting human rights of their own people but also using the resources causing
this from with these recent protest to keep a man in power who has murdered his own people. that is notable in light of the history back in the 80s. thousands of iranian citizens were killed with use of chemical weapons inflicting some horrible scars on that nation or many families and the people need to know their own regime is complicit and directly involved in these activities. >> senator i'm glad you raise that because one of those most interesting aspects of the statements made in full confused by the protesters the past two weeks has focused on
the involvement of iranian money and forces the slogan was not syria or iraq so there is a recognition of exactly the nature of those external engagements. >> in your opening statement you noted the state department announced the principles between the united states and russia included a commitment to remove iranian backed versus sense and we have seen them maintain increased its
own forces deeper into syrian territory and meanwhile russia has described that presence as legitimate and insist that he never committed to supporting the withdrawal of forces the last month national security advisor indicated that you% of the fighting force could be provided by fran and is keen on pursuing that with iraq. i don't understand heard your testimony that we as united states did not have enough bandwidth but is it the policy of the united states to actively move iranian backed forces from syria? >> senator it is absolutely our policy to see syria able to move forward re- of all foreign forces specifically
includes iranian forces. those brought into fight with them and hezbollah element. >> some of us are waiting to see that strategy to be honest congress gave the administration sweeping authorities with strong congressional approval that have not been used yet. we are waiting to see what this strategy is but how can we effectively counter iran now after focusing elsewhere? it seems the forthcoming strategy is a contradiction to syria so how do you reconcile as the law has emerge stronger and as a more viable force?
>> that violence precipitated by this, that can last that resulted ofip the seizure that allowed those elements to advance their interests. and that was the t critical condition to deal with iran but with respect to the borders with the land bridge issue we have seen minimal movement across the land borders that is a significant measure of our own presence and activities not just mishearing inside but the jordanian and iraqi side. iraq cannot be eliminated me have worked very closely with the prime minister with those
forces of his government in baghdad it has been a hard struggle since the kurdish referendum. >> you said there isn't much of the land border but there isn't much or any event it is a constant challenge. i asked you specifically if it was the policy of the united states to remove iranian backed forces from syria.s how so? you gave me a generic answer but russian and is a foreign entity. so specifically if that is the policy of the united states to diminish its influence and remove the iranian backed force forces, how?
force? dormancy? >> first and foremost the aggressive sanctioning undertaken by our partners the ability to move assets. >> when will those happen? we have given and a host of sanctions they simply have not used. if we didn't have the bandwidth then because we are engaaf so i hope we see the pursuit of those human rights violations i have not seen those views.
it is unprecedented and that i am happy to detail. >> much of what was done was done under previous authorities with more far-reaching authorities the administration has and i cannot wait for them to use them. >> mr. ambassador i appreciate you being here today russia sees it as stability what shared interest are there right now in terms of syria? >> the first thing we come up
with if you want to see stability? looking at the caucuses to russia properly understand that.st how does that perpetuation of a regime whose behaviors provided the fuel for the abruption of that violence and extremism serve any russian interest? at this point we continue to reinforce we don't understand the long-term strategic thinkingnd whether they concur we will not legitimize that is independent of and not supported or endorsed by the secretary-general.
is fine rhetoric but it needs to be demonstrated with significant downs or reservationsns whether it is one and done to translate those outcomes to geneva that is one possible option or is it like a second track part of geneva but under russian control and direction only informing geneva as the outcomes are derived. that they would not or could not support. >> un brokered peace negotiations only making minor progress and it does seem there is a hijacking of efforts by the russians to turn attention away or even delays slow down or prevent
progress from geneva. >> there is a tactic in other areas you don't have the ability to move your process forward that is a set up because we have ensured the regime will not take a serious position in geneva. there is a real test before the russians as a statement they have significant influence over the syrian regime if they wish to demonstrate their credibility to the united nations they have every opportunity to do that in the next few days and weeks in switzerland to demonstrate the regime is prepared to seriously negotiate with the opposition but we have not seen thatbl to date.
>> so right now do we have any shared interest? we continue to seek demonstrations that the russians do recognize the defeat by for that looking at iran and theha political direction and that remains to be shown. >> i would like to begin adding my concern to those that have expressed the unwillingness of the department of defense to send a witness to this hearing and we have heard that they talk on regular basis and that
they are working closely together for those conflict areas. so it seems it is in everybody's interest as well to do that privately. so we should lodge a deliberate letter expressing our concern to the department of defense i hope you in the ranking member will consider doing that.ou ambassador, thank you you for being here. do i understand from your testimony and what you submittedor that our strategy is to defeat isis that the un
security council resolution? are we assuming that is our strategy? can you help me understand if we ever think we can get that implemented without further action from russia or on the ground to force people to understand? >> the strategy is based on many elements this is the first out-of-the-box with the necessary condition to bring down the levelis of fighting to stabilize the humanitarian situation. >> so i would stop you there asking how you think that wills happen? noww the fighting is moving to
where there is a lack of conflict. >> the northeast is from the syriaia democratic forces it is in the west or the northwest a deeply troubled area that is largely in control. we are working on stabilization in the northeast right now successfully with a minimum fiscal presence seven or soon to be service colleagues as a highly efficient operation working on ground but the 2254 political process the entire international community of like-minded-m states is the key
to addressing assad and foreign forces of iranian influence what are the tools of authenticity to any claim victory and withholding of reconstruction funds that are vital toch the regime and moscow's interest. >> i agree that sounds good it is so hard for me to see what progress we have made on the ground other than against isis but how we get to that political solution and the other question is with the recent report that shows the number of officials favor a
limited approach to counter iranian activities leaving moscow diplomatic efforts to address the remaining challenges r is that an accurate report? why are wen interested? >> with all due respect it is not accurate with respect to any of the individuals does not represent our position because it excludes the critical element for the transition requiring backing it does not take into consideration the detailed exchanges with moscow the secretary that i and my
colleagues are focused on what russia needs to do. in the eyes of the united nations that is a challenge that is out there so those are not accurate. >> i am still not clear how we think we will russia to accomplish what you have laid out in terms of syria. >> it is interesting. there seems to be on one hand aer concern that we have to thousand troops but then concerns that we may be leaving the terrain to syria.
but there does need to be a push and a paul and what i have seen happen is a seamless handoff to one administration to another with a i country as a tremendous success dealing with the caliphate and that component should be something we should cherish and celebrate but it was that continuation of a policy leading to success. >> we need to know what the military mission is that isis loses the caliphate what is that mission to recognize diplomatic and economic
solution? that doesn't require troop levels to be increased. they are not involved in combat? >> there are still combat activities in the euphrates valley. but that territorial structured present is not over that level has diminished since the urban conflict. but the fight goes on. >> their efforts are in support those that consistently carried the fight since the beginning. so thank you for your service to confirm what i thought i heard you say that was an
order of 200 or $300 billion? >> that is general. >> who has that kind of money? >> i can tell you who doesn't is the syrian regime and moscow and toronto. the international community does in companies international financial institutions have the money collectively but it will not flow into assyria that has not gone through a political transformation or transition. >> two does the statens department wonder to be engaged in syria? >> is that classified? >> senator menendez was talking and to go back in
history based on the nuclear activities how does it take those to bring iran to the table? >> it took three years of concerted effort to bring russia and china as critical consumers to come on board and then progressively go through periodic review through the hydrocarbon sector that is the hardest to get full consensus to activelyus sanctioning of hydrocarbons. when we w got it, it finally worked. >> relaxing those sanctions do we have a final figure how many dollars flowing into iran? >> we can provide that.
>> in excess of 100 million? ? >> we can provide that. >> any chance to have that coordinated level in terms of putting pressure is there any chance to have that coordinatio coordination? >> frankly, no. the chances of such court action will be extraordinarily slim russia would not agree to participate. >> if we have that magic effect but the fact we entered the agreement we lack those sanctions instead they use that to fund syria? >> iran has always demonstrated the aggressive
attempt pre-and post jp coa to protect its influence with that malign activities. it is not a factor of the jcp away. but that will not get them out of there? >> unless they were capable to assemble with the sanctions regime which means full participation to affect hydrocarbon flow at the level of the guard corps i believe while we are obliged to designate as aggressively as we can those institutions will get the affect from the nuclear enrichment program has to be a difficult goal.
>> so with assad in place only russian cooperation will any type of money flow in syria. i don't see those happening anytime soon? >> this is a difficult challenge. but talk about the factors involved. we believe moscow wants to see more than aac transitory to be established in syria. then they need international support. this will not come under the present circumstance. >> we need russia to cooperate. >> russia needs to put pressure on the regime to abide by the security council resolution so yes, why should russia do that because mine is
engagement there is no money coming into syria for the broad community from russia or syria and we think that is meaningful. your insight.or >> thank you ambassador. i note you have noted that when a take a look at article for it has a vision of the syrian lad process to produce a new constitution with free and fair elections to include the diaspora of those international standards of accountability and transparency.
now we have a geneva process sponsored by russia with iran andon turkey with the cooperation of that geneva process that the un is not involved but it just seems there is no traction to that vision laid out with chaos and messiness. how do we get from that goal that was a clear objective? how do we get traction from
2254? >> the first is to try to engage in a positive and negative sense of what they have committed to with their own support and directly at the highest levels of russian government that is the positive but the negative side is what doesn't, they they don't correct moan -- cooperate? no international support or recognition of what they are doing and with respect to the un we are not leaving them alone. it isn't just united states butle countriesnd with those representative from syria or a
place is minimal these are in place. >> when you say russia has committed but yet why would we have that process if really committed to the geneva process? i am somewhat cynical. >> with the recognition of united nations to bring down the levels of fighting last year to establish the de-escalation zone that was theth goal and the moment that it became clear through that tightly focused objective
those steps that challenged geneva so did the united nation nations. >> so to describe in part this circumstances of international negotiation were headed in a direction that didn't make sense so the u.s. agreed in the south near jordan or the southwest in the goal was to protect from foreign influence but on various reports it has allowed them to funnel weapon into that area and al qaeda forces to be entrenche
entrenched. is there a way to correct the misdirection of the de-escalation zone? >> that goal to bring down the level of violence that was extraordinary at the time the initial zone was established was achieved. i will note with the recent exception of a small pocket to the northeast within the presence of al qaeda associated forces by and large fighting in the de-escalation zone came to a close. there is a pocket that is not covered or protected by as there were activities conducted against the
leadership of the isis affiliate but with respect to foreign forces at the time the memorandum principles were signed we were jordan, united states, israel to recognize we had a key objective to get a commitment to the goal that was extremely important that was the displacement of the hezbollah positions. it was challenging for those sources to be there. we believ they were there we have repeatedly noted to our russian colleagues many of
those remain in place they acknowledged that is the case this is not the satisfactory outcome all of us and are separate and collective dialogues continue to reinforce the commitment that will be fulfilled. >> i have to admit assad has always been a bad guy. there has been a driving force so if i am hearing right but
me can't imagine how the long-term for the region to match the ambitions over the long term. >> what is the gemina stick mean? >> seeking domination. >> i have never heard that word. so my comment is this. so to have a parallel interest we would like to see one process until we get there that's the way that i look at it can we take place in action of some type to stick with one
or the other and not both? >> we have lowered the participation as well as the united nations because of our concerns moving well beyond the purposes t of which it was created but a single has to be geneva the secretary general has the power to legitimize or not any purported process said to support 2254 process the secretary general is deeply reserved with respect to the russian assurances regarding
sochi. without validation the russians are on their own and i am not sure that is the place they want to be. our position hasth been clear along with the un in the days ahead in switzerland to demonstrate a different intent to give credibility about sochi if they do that or not is up to them. >> it would just be my observation that the russians have always been the other factor on the other side so they are committed to a
solution it won't be a one track solution. >> that is a fair statement. >> russia is the key. >> if we elevate we might have a chance to get to the negotiatingat point. >> we have been trying at every level of this government to put russia squarely in front of that responsibility. >> thank you for this hearing and your leadership i think it is important we continue to
make clear we intend to hold accountable assad and his regime that we do not step back for a commitment as we try to untangle this strategic situation. thank you for releasing the important report to undermine democracy and ambassador thank you for your service to help --em-dash to help us through that policy i am struck the department of defense declined to be represented. there was a seamless handoff from one administration to the next but to qualify that with the fight against aces that
seems to have gone well. coming to refugee policy the resources needed by the department of state to do very difficult work and those decisive actions the willingness to use those sanctions they gave that president knewew sanctions authority to push back for its maligned interference and with the allies and actions in syria and a refusal with a ballistic missile program i only hope that i hope the
situation by which the iranian proxies is not just an tenable and i appreciate that optimistic view of that positive pat forward with free and fair elections those that are just placed with that credible process but there are moments that i am concerned that there are clear signals that they would declare victory to remove themselves we seem divided about the
importance of remaining engaged on the e ground. this is a valuable conversation with those other entities that are vital but i am alarmed iran has successfully has succeeded with russian support and sponsorship to transform those forces they are beginning to turn them into a hezbollah and syria for the long haul. i am interested in how there is a real chance russia is not acting in good faith to meet its commitments. but that leverage is
insufficient. how do we prevent that situation that mirrors that tragic situation where isis emerges because there is a vacuum? how do we prevent that? >> we absolutely contemplate that alternative outcome and the president has committed as a matter of strategy we will not leave syria or declare victory indigo. that is not my opinion but the presidents teacher judgment. we will stay for stabilization and assistance and protection of allies the syrian democratic forces who have fought so valiantly trying to transform that political structure to a model for the rest of syria to be represented in a syrian state
including countering iran with its ability to enhance its presence in syria serving as a force to help us achieve some of the broader objectives we have been speaking about. now what happens if these approaches failed? i rarely comment on hypotheticals but any meaningfuly strategy whether in syria i or iraq elsewhere will require a full two box one -- toolbox of all assets and from those critical regions but that is what will be needed.
>> i only hope the president uses the tools and does not the nuclear agreement but there is a constructive path forward. >> i am not so sure the committee is divided with engagement on the ground. that people are willing to do that. what iss the strategy to do that? nothing ever changes before you can resolve a problem you have to understand
it you have to have clarity and it isn't here. i have listened over and over again so the longer you deal with the russians you conclude how inept they are. on the intel committee we have a long-standing for what the elections are concerned that the russian ineptness was standing they were trying to affect the elections running ads that countered each other and against eacher other that
leads you with what is their objective or strategy? what can you give us in a short clear statement as far as syria is concerned? >> inne a different setting i will elaborate on the layers of russia's objective setting. >> that you agree with me we cannot get our arms around a strategy to move forward? >> we tried to reflect all of the assessed interest that they have in syria but in this open session i can simply say the russians want to present to their own people a victory in syria.
clean and nicely tied and wrapped that is clean and comprehensive. neither of thosese objectives are reflected in the reality of syria at this moment neither the military victory or a political victory. the best course for russia would be to work in support of geneva where they have allies and colleagues and support to achieve a political resolution that doesn't threaten russian interest at all. we would argue it supports them over the long-term. >> surely the objectives you just described that are aspirational certainly they cannot be so inept to
understand those are transitory and not achievable? given the state on the ground right now? >> we try to point that out. [laughter] >> once isis came into the picture it gave us an opportunity to have a clear objective and to do something about isis and we did it. people were concerned about slippage shifting gears going somewhere else is a legitimate concern. but we do knowo that certainly it will rear its head somewhere else. >> it isn't a matter of speculation. what we have seen northern
iraq and syria is isis has suffered tremendous defeat with theny urban battles that many of the core leadership avoided the fight moving to areas not as directly challenged like the frady's valley or the mozilla campaig campaign -- most all campaign or euphrates valley. we have seen that reassertion. i would note three weeks ago six small towns were retaken this is not over. we are convinced to be
had done a lot of work to provide medical care a lot of people are diplomatic and those have done yeoman's work it is important to recognize that. i have a set of concerns just put on the table about the legal authorities for military action going forward. those missile strikes in april of this year i inquired formally of the justification eventually they provided a letter given the domestic justification we had a hearing recently a i didn't think it was sufficient but he asserted that it was but he pointed out
it didn't give thee international law we are still waiting for an answer for that. but when i read reports those troops that we have it is the counter iran mission i wonder about remaining in that country to have additional legal questions about that i would like to introduce this as an exhibit and like the to put these into the follow-up. so the kurds have been some of the best partners and your expertise and jurisdiction encompasses a wide swath.
fact mitigates the turkish concerns about the more specific and understandable concern on the connection. we are very much focused on this, but this is a work in progress and i'm not going to be able to tell you that a month or two will see a resolution, but the leadership understands it is an issue and they are working on it aggressively. thank you for being here. watching some of the hearings on tv before i came here, there seems to be a strong consensus that doesn't grant the immunity on the sanctions of which there is no shortage of things to go after them on and there's already existing authorities on ballistic missiles and others
and now the sponsorship of terrorism so i think it is important this committee has talked about this in the past. they are asymmetrical agents under the direct or indirect control and if we were ever to be attacked by these voice choie should make it abundantly clear we hold them responsible for the loss of life property in the united states or personnel abroad with her in the military or stat state department and the facilities it's a game they play where they use other people to attack us and 1 degree of separation is something we should make clear surviving citizens working to lay on the record. it is good news. you see the map and what it is
today in the isis territorial control has eroded over the last administration and here's the bad news it hasn't been replaced by things that are much better and whatever they changed their name to recently they are still around. we know the forces are reinvigorated and appear to be victorious. but ththe senator asked what are motives if iran is pretty transparent and they want a land bridge to lebanon and over to hezbollah which would be a major contributor that sadly appears to be a question of if and not when given the indigenous capabilities that they've developed and in their history
in the past but on the history of russia, the motives are easy to understand. one of the things they seek to achieve is to present themselves as a better, more reliable partner and power brokers in the united states. it's an argument is made and we've seen it in iraq and jordan and turkey which is a nato member and democratic forces have been to some extent seduced by this promise and i guess my question is when we look at this what is our seat at the table and why, what gives us a seat at the table in any future conversation about? >> our presence, our military presence associated is a critical and very significant piece of the syrian territory.
>> we are grateful you are here today, but have the problem is you said what gives us a seat at the table in a negotiated path forward is the department of defense presence and they are not here today. >> the other part is our role in the international community. lead and shape and correct and i use those terms advisedly, the like-minded community. >> like the united nations? >> i'm speakin >> i'm speaking of the like-minded nations of syria that holds the resources to reconstruct syria and hold the power to grant or deny legitimacy for any resolution. ..
>> it is the united states that protects the emirate in saudi arabia, the gulf with our assistance and technicians and military personnel. against the threat that they pose every day too many of those states. it is our commitment that determines where they place confidence where it matters and that trust that i include
those that resides squarely with united states. russia would like to present a different picture and we should not overreact that at the end of the day we are the party for fundamental defense and support. >> so with the core of the argument in some cases based in that country? >> we help them against a very real threat. >> through the department of defense? >> to the combined efforts including the military. >> thank you mr. amb. for being here to give this testimony. but very briefly to this
committee being uncomfortable with increased military presence while also raising concerns about a decreased diplomatic presence those are two very consistent worries in the sense that with additional troops on the ground they are place at greater risk from the diplomatic and political conversations that are the most relative if they result in the place becoming more rather than less dangerous so i think we can do a better job to marry together those concerns. to senator rubio i don't think it is credible to suggest our seat at the table comes from
other than our military presence we have signaled we are no longer interested to be in the lead with respect to the economic future of syria whether diplomatic or the state department's insistence of a 30% cut to do reconstruction and stability deals we have telegraphed we will not be a player the way we have been in the past so our primary leverage comes through the insertion of more troops which continues to bag the question why we don't have the department of defense here. but in their absence with the future disposition of our troops, how do you explain the conditions for the withdrawal
of american military presence? 2000 troops in the middle of the most interest place in the world they are in combat so what are the conditions by which we bring those troops home? the withdrawal of the iranian backed forces? we elections? how do we articulate the endgame for the u.s. military presence? >> the president is committed to remaining in syria to achieve goals. that means in a diplomatic military sense not based on a
calendar but assessment of conditions stabilization efforts moving forward successfully and one is the broader assessment of a political transition with the arabian projection of influence there is no specific numbers that can be attached it is something we will reveal on a progressive basis. >> i would argue you are operating in direct laud long -- a flawed idea. >> it worries me tell the committee our military presence in syria will run so
long if our conditions are met including the withdrawal of the arabians. >> i said with the assessments we are making are the broader issues. >> so what is the functionality of military presence? with those non- isis priorities? >> that would have to be provided in a different setting. >> wait a minute. that will not pass muster. generally you can state the purpose of the military is beyond isis without getting into classified materials. >> we are deeply concerned with the activities of their ran -- i ran to enhance activities to mid to material
into syria i would rather leave that discussion at that point. >> i will interject it is hard to understand your response even with the most broad au mf close to what you say. >> i take your comment senator. >> i share those concerns that the future of the u.s. military in syria is aimed at a drain line -- addressing iranian backed presence which is important for us to have that discussion. >> let me say i think that one of the things to add to this discussion is having the department of defense here and i hope you will take that back
secretary tillerson and secretary matus have these discussions all the time it is important to have them here with the american people. with the question to see the end to make sure all strategic goals are accomplished can you tell me what those are? >> first and foremost the enduring defeat the elimination of isis. >> let me stop you there because everybody who has discussed this believes isis will more -- morph over time. so how does this not become
the unending war? through the next step of stabilization in the political transformation in syria that is the only measure to prevent exactly what you describe the reemergence of another sunni islamist challenge or violent extremist. >> those are the goals for syria but with respect to iranian is a progressive constraint the diminishment to project through syria. >> can you explain what you believe of iraq's interest why they are in syria in the reasons for what they are doing? >> to have a platform support hezbollah and the missile
challenge which is a threat to israel and also a defensive asset for the regime to build a greater presence in syria itself to endure beyond any transition so iran is in the position to further influence over regional parties outside of lebanon and jordan and saudi arabia as a platform for behaviors not confined to lebanon. >> shifting in another directio direction, by supporting those kurdish forces the state department or pentagon have a plan that those arms provided to not end up in the hands of the pkk as
a recognized terrorist organization. >> yes. we have been extremely attentive to that issue but at the time they stepped forward as partners in the fight they were the only ones to do so. no other state or party were willing to take up this battle but we fully understand and appreciate the pkk and the terrorist threat to turkey and others in the region. >> how would you expect turkey to react? >> i would expect turkey would make its own conclusions which is why we are as attentive as we are where the weapons provision to those other elements that are associated with them in the north.
>> president trump recently recognized jerusalem as the capital of israel and the plans to start moving bear. this is a very contentious issue among all muslim majority countries including our ally jordan so has this helped or hampered our relationships with countries in the region and how are terrorist organizations using this to recruit new members? remake i believe virtually all the states in the region have made their concerns with this decision clear i would not emphasize from the eloquence they have already presented. >> just a follow-up i do think
we should have a classified briefing to talk what the military may be engaged in. i don't thank you view us not being diplomatically involved? >> absolutely. >> i don't think secretary tillerson feels that either so any allegations is felt differently by the state department. >> if i may on this point, we are are deeply involved diplomatically at every level with every player. there has been no diminution of our engagement or its effectiveness away certainly agree but i would make another statement. you measure efficacy of diplomatic performance by the quality of the engagement not by the number of shoes on the ground that is a lesson learned from iraq.
we are quite effectively deployed in syria partnering with our military force in the north also with the jordanians as the discussions take place there in the geneva channel this thorough engagement of our diplomatic assets around the world. >> just to follow up on senator murphy's line of questioning we do need to talk more fully what is contemplated from the defense department with all due respect to give us tremendous run aroun around. the reason it was given is they have not yet briefed the senate armed services committee and until they have done so they didn't feel they could come here. but it also sounds based on
your answers may be a change of their efforts on the ground and we need to hear more fully that if it is you said or what you indicated certainly the authorizations are not there for that activity. thanks for being here. hopefully we can answer those questions by the close of business thank you for your service and your great testimony. we are adjourned. we are adjourned b5 spee5 spee5