tv Syrian Conflict CSPAN April 5, 2018 3:02pm-4:45pm EDT
>> thicks week owned c-span, -- this weekend on c-span, saturday, the 50th anniversary of "60 minutes" and sunday at 9:30'm, hillary clinton at rutgers university institute of politics. on booktv on c-span2, saturday at 1:45 p.m. eastern, the annual national black writers conference at medgar edwards, and on american history tv on c-span p, saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern, the 50th neaves of the assassination of martin luther king jr. martin luther king jr., and sunday at 5:10 p.m., the author of stanton.
this week weekend. >> the woodrow wilson center hosted a discussion on the syrian civil war and the role of russia, iran, turkey and israel in the conflict. we'll have from academies and a former state department official. good afternoon, everyone and welcome. i'm will pomeranz and on behalf of james harmon, our ceo and director, i would like to welcome everybody to today's event on syria and outside powers, what they want and can they have it. the wilson center is the living memorial to he 28th president and we pride ourselves in
serving as a bridge between the world of academic ya and the worlds of policy and also able to work across countries countrd across programs within the wilson snaer and provide analysis from different sectors and today is a great example and i'm pleased we're cosponsoring the vent with the middle east program. we have a very talented panel today so i want to proceed to the program as soon as possible. so i will turn the program over to aaron david miller, who is vice president for new initiatives, distinguished fellow, and director of the middle east program here at the woodrow wilson center. for two decades, aaron served as -- in the department of state, as an analyst, negotiator and adviser, on middle eastern issues to republican and democratic secretaries of state. he has written five books, the most recent been the end of
greatness, why america can't have and doesn't want another great president. and his articles have appeared in the "washington post," the "new york times," "the los angeles times," he is a regular contributor on cnn and is a come mainot. >> i want to thank everybody for coming. and, again, let me welcome you to the woodrow wilson international center for scholars. the living memorial to the 28th president. our only ph.d president, woodrow wilson and the only were bead in washington so far. -- buried in washington so far. we have a terrific panel, cosponsored with cannon, dealing with rich at the center and in washington and across the nation. and we have a terrific panel. we'll need their expertise and wisdom to unpack a complicated subject. before i introduce them, briefly i want to make a few
observations in an effort to perhaps frame the discussion. clearly as we have watched the here and tragic of the syrian civil war now unfold over the course of the has seven. >> , the statement has been set for some time, i suspect, for an expanding role by outsiders. this is the conventional wisdom. sometimes the conventional wisdom can be true and the analysis, a shrinking caliphate. and the consolidation of the outside regime is more or less cleared the underbrush and set the stage for what was involved external powers. five of them, arguably to play a more expanding role. three of those powers i would consider central, russia, turkey, and iran, and they compete and cooperate in an
effort to follow and further their own interests. a fourth power, israel, seems focused more on what it doesn't want to have happen, rather than how it sees an idealized outcome, and a fifth -- i'll make few observations on the american role when we conclude -- is pursuing a policy fraught with contradictions, seems to me, and confusions. the array of externalactors seems to be a kind of a coalition of the unwilling, the cynical, the disinterested, the distracted, and the divided. determined above all to ensure they're interests take precedence of the idealized cob conception of a three-quarters independent, and balanced syria and may well be if this
represents the will of the international community -- i expect through seven years of syrian civil war -- these are the powers, not the others, who have shape presumptively what syria is now and it may become. it's no wonder the syrian civil war has endured this long. whether the external powers can achieve their interests, getting into syria, easier than getting out, remain sod be seen. that's why we have this distinguished and extraordinary panel here today. let me introduce empaul is associate professor aub beirut. since from '05 to '08 as assistant professor at the american glover cairo. held scholarships here at the wilson center. his recent book is alexander and
the birth of the russian modern, 2015. >> 16. >> 16. good to know. thanks. robert -- rob whereinlight, distinguished fellow, a colleague of ours and mine and yust institute of peace, brought expertise in the region, islamic extreme jim. she is a wrongtime write are the new yorker, reported for more than 1400 countrieses for the "washington post" and has a deep and authoritative expertise, particularly on iran. also author of the wide by acclaimed rock the -- robin and i have something in common. we are both graduates -- in ann arbor of the university of michigan so -- >> go blue. >> there's your identification. right. tune in tonight to the national -- nor national
championship game. great to have you here, david pollock, a longtime friend and colleague. a long career in government, state department, usaid, serve as senior adviser for the middle east and member of the secretary of states policy planning staff. holds a phn political science from harvard, thought there and hew. fluent in arabic, french, and hebrew, as well as proficient in several other regional languages, which is more than a calling card of a entry into this region as someone once remarked, middle east is like university from which one never graduates and i think david is definitely an example and perhaps a poster child on that. perhaps a few of us as well. then last but not least, is amy
holms, a professor of sociology in the -- in cairo. she works on security interests and her book, social unrest and american military bases in turkey. she is researching the kurds, just return not too long ago from the region. so, i will be a ruthless moderator, i may have an annoying question or who and then we'll go to your questions. so paul. let me begin with you and russian interests and objectives in syria and can they achieve them. >> thank you, aaron. if i can start with a very nonhumanitarian pun, russian interests in syria are very much a moving target.
when intervention gang in 2015 russia had a close her stated go the goal for republican consuming was we want to destroy isis and make sure that the wreckile of bashar al-assad is stabilized and free from the threat of isis. what happened within hours of that intervention starring was there's russia began to bomb other targets. the free syrian army, opponents to assad who are not radically islamic and certainly isis and this continues through today. moving throw various permutations what russia may or may not want in syria. a great deal of speculation but we can narrow it down to, russia has been terrorized since 201 but the events of the arab spring. many of the public events, the large protests, the liberalization objective's the crowds in the arab world share a lot in common with the opposition in russia.
mobilizing through social media and have as their goal destabilization over the governments and this is fry frightening to post soviet states including belarus and others in central asia. it's similar to what is happening in rich -- russia and you can almost time a crackdown of the -- to the arab spring up to the present time. one by one, every time russia tried to do something to prevent the collapse of the arab springs whether inemman, libya they found themselves defeated. strategically checked. ignored by the united nations, by the west, and found those be hugh mailate -- humiliating, and losing assets. russia had base agreement with libya and yemen and with assad's syria and in the cases in which the regimes fell, russia lost the base rights of, lost pen trait o is attempt facilities
lost opportunities for economic investment and trying to repair that relationship to restore those positions has been very important to putin. in syria they want to prevent the collapse of the regime and protect great base rights. and also now their air bases elsewhere in syria and they regard that as very important goal and something they're willing to stand tub the west against and in the obama administration they had a weak opponent. in 2013 he drew his famous redline saying he would intervene if as a used chemical weapons. they tried to get a disarmament agreement and get assad to surrender his weapons or not use them and the americans would not enter ven, guess what happened? united states didn't intervene, assad used the kim cal -- chemical weapons anything and
not happening in the russians intervened. emboldened by the lack of serious western response. since 2015 the russia have been attacking opposition to assad, including humanitarian assets, hospitals, relief convoys, supplying of arms to the regime in terrible ways and what putin wants but seems to be regime stabilization and a significant role in whatever peace process ends the conflict. i think we can also -- something mass just come up -- if there is to be a lasting peace solution in syria, russia is also interested economically in being part of that recovery effort because, you see, a large emphasis now on russian firms that want to rebuild the destroyed and damagees areas of syria and to do as much as they can to get the contracts. i'm not naming names but a lot of lebanese contractors are getting involved in this and
making sure that they have some piece of that as well. that's clearly one of the kremlin's current goals. can they actually pull this off? seems to face significant limitation us them russia state media and apologizes in other countries, including countries in the mideast, emphasize the strength of russian power and argue that russia was desires and if would bring the tend to eye sunday but the reality is different. -- eye sunday but the reality is different. the russia intervention was airborne and its ground operations have been limbed. russia has been very reluctant to place boots on the ground, at least official boots on the grounds, and most of it is combat operations in syrian territory are limited to paramilitary organizes like black water, and the russian
ones have actual combat roles and who are these people? from the best reports they have they go under the strange name of wagner, after the famous composer, a favorite of a rushing nationalists empathieser recycled from -- people with a nationalist bent, describe them as mercenaries, sent into syria the thousands and not edged by the government, operating with tremendous plausible deniablity, and the most recent case, they attacked a facility protected by americans and lost dozens if not hundreds of casualties them kremlin in the leadup to the recent presidential election in russia denied any involvement, denied formal casualties no pictures of body bags and this eventuated media coverage in
west but. the russias want to hey the mocks -- minimum liability and potential for confrontation with the west. we see the limitation of the russian power and assad's regime is relatively more stable that fine years ago but not at all in control of much of the country, facing significant opposition that has not been destroyed and possibly won't be destroyed, and a russian policy that now has settled on the spheres of influences, the dividing line is the the euphrates, and also, recently in the diplomatic process the russias have been talking about having awe ton news controls zones in syria,
now, that's problematic for a number of reasons the russians do official favor the territorial integrity of syria but whether assad will agree to allow external powers to parcel out his country into spheres of influence is different. this could run afoul of the russian relationship with turkey, and they identify with the pkk, and this could complicate russian involvement there in the future. so, i really don't think russia has achieved its stated goals. isis was erat indicated by someone else. -- erat irrat indicated by somebody else and they're don't suggest any sustainability for unilateral russian solution or a solution that has a significant
russian role in it. aim under my eight minutes. >> economical and enlightening. >> thank you. >> robin. >> thank you. i was in russia six weeks ago, looking at just this question, syria and the russian and iranian alliance, and i thought it might be very useful to put this in privilege, not just in terms of politics and the moment but in terms of geography and history, so i have a number of maps. the first one is to illustrate this interesting alliance between moscow and tehran, which in the past has been tactical militarily practical economically and cold and calculating when it came to diplomacy. one of the interest things because of syria and u.s. policy, this develop into a strategic partnership and they're very unlikely allies,
given the long history of animosity between russia, the old soviet union, and iran. both during the shaw and under the islamic republican, given the fact that cold war actually started in the tensions between the two countries. but now it has evolved into something bigger that i think we ought to take into account when we look at what happens to syria and the rippling repercussions across the region. so the basic question of what iran wants. we in the west have talked a lot about iran and the so-called shiite crescent, term first used by king abdullah in an interview with the 2004. in the immediate aftermath his offers called and said, you can't use that term. and i said it's too late. those are the rules of engagement are on the record. you can't say after the fact, but who knew it would take off
this like. what is useful to understand is while there is real concern over the shiite crescent, stretching from tehran to baghdad to damascus to beirut, that the iranians look at it from very different perspective. that is that what they call the sunni circle. that as a minority religion, minority ethnically, that they feel surrounded by sunnis, by otherth necessities and as the iranians tell me, up to the foreign minister and national security adviser, iran feels strategically lonely, and this is not to say they are but this is their privilege -- perspective on the region. one thing that it is fascinating to me is why iran became shiite. this is one thing to understand. it has nothing to do with
religious dogma. iran did not -- was a sunni country until for the first millenia. it did not become a shiite country until the 16th 16th century, and it was because of a political decision. they were afraid of the expanding ottoman empire and politically decided to keep the sunnies and the ottoman empire from spreading their tentacles into persia, they would convert the country to shia jim, and the did that by turning turning ture shiite clerics in lebanon, an allowance and still survives as core part of their expiated survival and the shiite clerics helped them set up seminaries and make the conversion, which took more than a century, and it kind of explains why there is this ferocious loyalty to the shiites of lebanon.
so, syria, from iran's perspective, is in many ways a tool, an instrument, to protect the shiites of lebanon. it is an intermediary geographically and a tool politically. there is very little invented in bashar al-assad there is a lot invested in syria as a property for the iranians, and that is why they will invest so much. now, one thing they do share with russia is that syria is the only arab ally long-standing arab ally they have. russia has diversified since the end of the cold war and the end of the soviet union, iran has not because of obvious reasons. this is enforced by the presence of isis, and isis on iran's
border came within 25 miles and you have the encroaching sunni caliphate threatening their security and isis went into the mountains of lebanon, so whether it was kraus syria, iraq, on the iranian border or threatening the shiites in lebanon there was a sense that this was a strategic threat, and exacerbated and justified iran's intervention in syria, in the same way they look at the taliban in afghanistan as a threat on one bored, -- one border, they see isis on the other and goes back to the idea of the sunni circle. this is further compounded by the tensions between iran and saudi arabia, which at the end of the day is not about dogma.
this is about political influence and some ways it's about who is the closer ally with the united states. until 1979 the iranian revolution, yawn and israel were the two pivotal pillars of u.s. foreign policy. after '79, saudi arabia and egypt took the place of iran, and saudi arabia because of its strategic importance in the hike of the price of oil. so in many ways saudi arabia feels very threatened the afternoon math of the iran nuclear deal that iran as a bigger consumer base, more strategic property, bigger military, would be a more attractive ally, and so what we see may out, whether it's over syria, that this tension between the two major powers in the gulf is really over influence.
now, back 0 the question of what iran wants. there's no question that this is a very important ally for both countries, but at the end of the day, the iranians have of slow indicated since 2015, four-point place plan that calls for an immediate cease fire. secondly, transition government to be put in place. third, constitution to be written that would have, as its anchor, protection for minorities. and that is a really interesting perspective. fifth, then u.n. supervised elects. the goal overall is to keep syria as one country, the territorial integrity of syria is pivotal. it wants, like many in the west, wants to keep syria and iraq as
constituted for the last century. this is really pivotal in understanding its goals. now, at the same time, it is true, iran is building a land bridge, and wants that kind of connection in the same way russia does. the want access to the met tier rainan -- mediterranean and want influence in the region and access to hezbollah and the lebanese shiites. extends beyond hezbollah but that's the group with the biggest -- the biggest single factor. iran's role has grown. the price -- the higher the price they pay, the greater the pressure to have something to show for it. and particularly because the
price that the islamic republic is paying is growing. cover wars all of my life and make a point of going to the cemetery to count the number of dead, and i've done that in both tehran and at the hezbollah cemeteries in lebanon. and there are over eight generals who died within the first come of years of iran's deployment. they provided the ground forces in a way the russians have provided the air power. the cost became so high the revenueser in guard, they brought in the conventional -- the revolutionary badder and -- guard and the brought in conventional forces. in lebanon, at least 2,000 and some now say closer to 3,000 hezbollah have died. over 10,000 injured. that's large for a population that small.
and give given the protests in iran over the price it's important for the regime say we have secured our place in the region. now, i don't think at the end of the day they're wedded to assad. think they'll take anyone but gets back to the question of do you want to see a sunni power in control, one that could be threatening to iran's interests, that might side with saudi or the gulf so looks at its investment as one that has long-term strategic value, it's worth the investment, and i think it will stay around for a very long time. >> robin, thank you. very comprehensive. well, amy austin holmes, going to tell us -- >> keep that map. that would be helpful.
thank you very much for the introduction and the invitation to speak here. so, turkish policy towards syria is also a moving target. if we look at just the period of erdogan, since he came to power in late 2002. we can roughly divide akp policy into three phases. first the zero problems with your neighbors phase, which is sort of seems like a century ago but that was between 2002 and 2011 under the foreign minister. this is when turkey was trying diversify relationships and not rely to much on the united states and the west or the i but to build get bet and closer ties to countries, especially syria.
they have secured trade arrange.s and visa free travel between turkey and syria during this time. this changed quite dramatically when he arab revolution began in 2011 or late 2010 in tunisia. there's been an expectation that bashar al-assad would fall as quickly as mubarak in egypt. but obviously did not happen, and secondly there was an expectation or erdogan hoped that perhaps turkey could serve as a model for other countries in the arab world people were talking about the turkish model for the arab world. the idea that donees there like egypt, tunisia and syria.
this then suddenly --ers juan's position vis-a-vis syria changed and they began advocating a policy of regime change in syria. so, this also coincided, the last period of this regime change, phase, from 2011 to 2016, when olu resigned there was a very crucial interlude or miniperiod in the overall period where there was a cease fire between the pkk and turkish military, between roughly -- began in 2012 underrersers -- erdogan's leadership. historically, the pkk has had an interesting relationship with
syrian founded in the late 1970 and the leader of the pkk escaped into syria, even before the 1980 military coup, and the 1980 military coup in turkey happened after the 1961 coup, the not 70 coup, and then then 1980 coup was in many ways -- had the biggest impact on turkey society in attempts to crush all forms of liftist and right-wing activism, and particularly leftist groups and the pkk. the pkk survive partly because erdogan was able to live within syria until 1998. so, you living in -- when he left turkey until 1998 when he was expelled and came under pressure and expelled and since then been in a maximum security prison in turkey.
so during this regime change period in syria, this period when erdogan was talking but a the necessity for assad to be removed and there was a peace. then in 2016, things changed again when olu resigned and the turkey military began an intervention in syria. what the euphrates shield enter generalization that began in august of 2016 and lasted until march 2017. during this -- we don't have the map but the euphrates shield intervention bag -- this is what erdogan wants now -- to prevent the creation of a contiguous swath of territory that is
autonomous from the regime and a predominantly kurdish population. the predominantly kurdish population has established local governance, like a local governance mod in the north in kobani and the east and the west. i happen to be in kobani the 2015 when i gain my research on the wpg and nypj. the kurdish mill littals, people's appreciation units or women's protection units that have been reported about in the media which have been part of the sdf, the syrian democratic forces, cooperating with the united states and have been our best allies and most reliable
part any on the ground and why we could liberate iraq to and other -- iraq -- they -- -- he wanted to prevent the creation of a continuous zone in the north of syria. and it's the turkish military cooperating with a range of syrian arab militias on the ground, sometimes referred as to the free syrian army, but there is actually a whole range of groups that are quite infamous leaping leaning in their ideology. so the euphrates shield operation in 2016-17 prevented the connection of these cantons in the north of syria, and then the so-called olive branch
operation ban began in january 20th of this year. now, erdogan originally agreed to u.s. constant with the syrian democratic fors as long is a its wag tactical, did not arm the pkk and the sdf was made which included the arabs. so kurds and arabs. however, after president trump began arming the ypg for the tribulation of iraq -- rack erdogan saw the line was crossed. now, what has happened in this recent intervention, i personally find quite shocking.
i visited northern syria, as airy mentioned, i just came back from two weeks ago in march when this operation was happening, and the -- i witnessed myself how families were trying to get their family members out of the city hat is was been encircled by hoss file forces, smugglers charging $1,000 per person who were trying to get out. meant a businessman trying to get nine family members out, that means $9,000 which astronomical amount in syria. they feet isolated and abandoned and the fact we have relied on the kurds for fighting the islamic state. so, although erdogan claims that this intervention is about targeting the ypg, in fact it goes much fer their than that and much more serious
consequences because obviously the sillan population is being targeted and they're predominantly kurdish and also yazidis and christians inch 2014, in iraq, they were on the map. they -- the yazidis are going through the same thing because of the turkey intervention. they've been displaced again in aand the civilian population has suffered. they're 150,000, possibly 200,000 people have had to -- fled but not only are the civilians being targeted b but the local model of self-governance is under assault and i visited a number of the local governments, groups, and
ngos that exist in the east. but i just want to say, we can talk about the local governance model, sometimes called the western kurt kurdistan, and so the -- what we see or talk with -- have been talking about in the western media dunce get a lot of substantive coverage, but we see these images of the young kurdish women toting the the kalashnikovs and they have passed laws in this autonomous region in syria that have outlawed polygamia, set the
legal age of marriage at 18 and although the critics of the this would this is all pkk propaganda, actually if you look at the laws, setting a legal age of marriage at 18, this is the same thing as you find in the turkish civil code. the legal image of marriage in turkey is also set at 18. you can gate consent of a judge to marry at 17 but if you look at the laws in terms of women's rights, there is similarity in fact between the laws they passed and the local governing models and the what the of love go is trying item policemen and turkey's own civil code regarding women's right is. finally, i believe that it also is a problem for our cooperation with the sdf. so basically this to turkish war
threatens the civilian population this, own local go and the anti-isis coalition but this is what erdogan wants to achieve. he's targeting afphen as a whole and trying to prevent the connection to the other parts pf kurdish syria. and i don't know if there's an open-ended turkish military present in the government issue don't know, but that will depend on what happens in damascus and also not to happy about the idea of a permanent turkish military presence in turkey, and there are american troops and sdf troops. >> thank you. you're on the ground insights are fascinating. david. >> okay. >> what does israel want? >> thank you very much.
it's an or some a pleasure to be here. on the very difficult subject. i would say that -- i was asked to talk about -- start with this. asked to talk about what does israel want out of the conflict with syria? and some people would say, the question answers itself because what israel wants is out of the conflict with syria. in other words to stay out of the conflict with syria as much as possible. there's a lot of truth in that issue think, and that if you had to summarize israel's interests and policy in the last seven years, or so, since the syrian uprising began, exactly seven years ago, that would be a pretty fair bumper sticker summary but i have two qualifications. one is that this is change even as we speak. until now, compared to russia or iran or turkey, israel's involvement in syria has been
relatively limited, but there's a very good chance that it's going to get bigger as the next few months and years proceed. and secondly, even looking back at israel's policy over the last seven years, israel has intervened in small ways but important ways in the syrian conflict in order to secure what it sees that its basic interests. what are these basic interests? how has israel intervened until now and how is it likely to intervene in my view probably more in the future? the basic interests as israel seize them are as follows, and number one is one that is often forgotten but shouldn't be and that is keep the golan heights,
and almost lost it and then regained it in the october war of 1973, and then formally afflecked that territory in 1980 and there's know sign that israel is giving it up and this is now considered a buffer zone. this is not religious claims or settlers for the most part. this is an issue of security. and it's very much an issue. just history, because today, right now, israel's control or secure control over that part of originally syrian sovereign territory, called the golan heights, is in jeopardy by the presence of iranian and hezbollah and regime and other
forces right on the cease fire line between the golan heights under israeli control and the rest of syria under everybody else's control. number two related to keeping the golan heights is reduce the threat of hostile forces in syrian territory, especially close to israel, specially ones that could pose a significant threat to israeli security as the israelis see it. those forces are the one is just mentioned. iran, hezbollah, regime forces, plus a number of various jihadi militias which have sometimes ventured close to israeli controlled territory in the golan heights or in other borer areas. number three. particularly when it comes to
the security threats, oppose, if necessary, by force, and this where is we are coming to israel's direct intervention in the syrian con nick -- oppose the transfer of advanced weapons to those hostile groups on syrian territory near israel's borders or the creation of weapon factories that could produce advanced weapons, like missiles or antiaircraft weapons. of, especially guideed missiles. oppose any infiltration across the border or any border skirmishes, whether accidental or deliberate, by anyone from syrian territory into israeli controlled territory. and oppose the use or transfer of unconventional weapons, particularly chemical weapons to
anyone who might threaten israel's security from syria. and finally, and this is where i think we get to the question of where we're going to go from here, oppose the creation by iran hezbollah over time of a whole new front against israel, similar to the one that iran and hezbollah have create over anytime lebanon. that means many thousands of missiles, underground bunkers and tunnels-command and control centers, all targeted at israel. in the event that iran or hezbollah decide to use those facilities against israel, whether in retaliation for an israeli strike against iran or for some other reason. i want to tell two very quick anecdotes that i think from my own experience actually on the
ground in this context that i think illustrates some aspects of what i just said. it so happens i was in israel in the very moment that obama decided not to enforce, by force, the chemical weapons red he had announced in september of 2013. so happened at that very moment i was deep in conversation with a rather senior israeli security official with responsibility for this issue, among others, and to my amazement, when i asked him what he thought about obama's decision not to use force, not to enforce the chemical weapons redline but to turn it over to the russians and the assad regime in exchange for promises to get rid of syria's chemical weapons-this israeli senior official said to me, you know,
this might turn out better for us if obama manages to get the syrian regime to divest itself of most of its most dangerous chemical weapons without firing a shot, then he is some kind of a genius. this goes very much against the conventional wisdom that israel wanted the united states to intervene by force in syria or to topple the assad regime or get rid of even just that regime's chemical weapons in order to protect the israelis. quite the contrary. israeli policy has been to look after its -- and only after its narrow, immediate, border security interests and not to get involved unnecessarily in their view against the regime, against anyone else acting in
syria, whether it was turkey or russia, or the kurds and basically to stay out as much as possible, even to the point of supporting an american policy, at least privately supporting an american policy of very, very limited involvement in the syrian conflict. and here is another example from, again, from my personal experience. a little bit more recently. this was two years after that in the late 2015, early 2016 period. right after -- soon after the russiansed a intervened in a more serious way in support of the assad regime. at that moment, israel, which has quietly been establishing informal, unofficial contacts with the syrian opposition as a way of hedging its bets, just in
case assad did fall, was at the point of inviting for the first time a significant delegation -- this has not been publicly reported until now -- a significant delegation of syrian opposition figures to israel for the first time for a private conference, and there were some people in israel who considered this an important achievement, at least potentially as, again, way of hedging their bets because nobody knew and nobody still knows what is going to end up in syria. and at that moment, the then-israeli minister of defense personally intervened and said, cancel the conference. disinvite the delegation. we, israel, do not want to be involved with the syrian opposition in any way, shape or form. just at the moment when russia
is intervening forcibly in order to support the assad regime. israel's only protecting its immediate interests and avoiding getting tangled up in the broader syrian conflict, whether it's against anybody or for anybody on the larger -- in the larger arena. the way they've done this is with air strikes. there have been over 100 in just the last two years, and this is publicly acknowledge bid the israeli government and for the first time today acknowledged by the syrian government, on its web site. by engaging in very intensive, continual consultations with all of the major parties involved the syria, except for iran the regime and hezbollah, in other
words, their kurd, with the opposition, with the united states, with russia, and with turkey. quietly but effectively. including reaching agreements to deconflict certain areas right on israel's border in the southwest corner of syria that abuts israel, the golaning highs and jordan, and engaging in small-scale but increasingly, i would say, substantial humanitarian assistance to sirral civilians just across the border in order to try to keep the population friendly and less disposed to swing over to the side of the regime, of iran, of hezbollah, he of the jihadis or anybody else that might threaten israel, but of these precautions and initiatives, limited as they have been, are eroding right now
and that's why i said at the start, every possible that israeli intervention in syria might grow and n the coming months and years. met just list a few of the ways in which these interests are he roding right now. first of all, israeli air strikes have not prevented iran or hezbollah from increasing their presence in syria. they have taken out some convoys, some factories, and specific weapons, even some iranian generals but iran and hezbollah continue to power money and weapons and people into increasingly sensitive areas right near israel, on the -- in syrian territory. and there's no sign, according to the best israeli and american
expert assessments, that limited air strikes of the kind we have seen up until now are going to score more than tactical successes against those potential enemies. strategically iran and hezbollah in syria as israelis see is, pose an increasing threat, not ones that can be successfully managed as in the future as it has been in the past. secondly, the united states as the israelis see it, is not inclined to intervene itself in order to prevent this expanding hezbollah and iranian enco. in syria, which the israels see as potentially posing not just nuisance but a serious future threat to israel, maybe even if the iranians actually succeed in turning syria into another
lebanon and existential threat. the united states as the israelis see it, is not likely to intervene and therefore as very certainlysell israeli officials told us at the washington institute exactly a week ago, israel sees itself as on its own when county.s to protecting -- when it comes to protecting even its narrow interests in he future of syria and, therefore -- and i'll wrap up with this rather -- i don't want to say alarmist but troubling conclusion. therefore issue do expect in the future that we will probably see more israeli military intervention in the syrian theater. >> david, thank you. it's a good transition to make few observations but u.s. policy. originally i had given some thought where we needed to
address this in a full blown manner. i decide not to. maybe that was the right call, maybe it wasn't, but i want to pick up on your point because the way david framed israeli policy, would describe it as risk averse, narrowly find and not interested in mega involvement. i argue that's how the united states, through two administrations, has framed its approach to syria. now, we are year in to a very mercurial unpredictable administration and now going to witness personnel changes that arguably could change that frame of reference, that risk aversion. john bolton, mike pompeo, and an event, perhaps the walking away from or the further delegitimize
of degrade offering the jpcoa might expands the potential for american kinetic action. if you ask ask me to look at both the obama administration's poll and this administration's policy issue would have to say though point of departure is an extraordinary degree, despite of the gustier rhetoric, of risk aers. in a galaxy far, far away you could have mammed and rhetorically both administrations have used this sort of language. we'll find a way to check iranian influence. we'll find a way to either work with or make it clear to the russian what we need from them. we're going to use our own military power in the face of mass killings and this administration delivered on its own self-declared red line in april of last year, even though it's allowed scores of instances
of the use of chemical weapons-largerly chlorine, against civilian populations during the last two weeks. so the assumptions on which the previous administration based its policy and this one, or strike living syria. syria is not a vital strategic interest for the newt and not worth the investment of american lies, treasure and credibility. second the shadow of iraq wears very heavily and sore long and rack may be an inflection point not just for -- was for mr. obama, and clearly for mr. trump, it may well proffer to be -- proffer to be an inflection point for successful administrations against the investment in trillion dollar social science experiments where the united states seeks to employ massive military forks spend trillion of dollars in an effort to reconstruct societies where they don't have the where
with or -- wherewithal and don't have the allies or will or skill to do so. humanitarian intervention, which the obama administration wrestled with and was child by its critics to this day of abdication of moral and ethical responsibility. only suggest this administration even though it responds once with a single strike against the syrian air field, which was the point of departure for the syrian aircraft that dropped those -- gas, this administration has mile per hour from the moral, ethical dimensions, even rhetorically, and the reality is that american intervention free case of mass killing has been the exception, not in the norm, from the nazi holocaust to cambodia to rwanda to darfur to congo, to syria and
myanmar. united states that not, let alone the international community, intercedessed in any of these situation us. so applying an unrealistic and unreasonable standard to either the obama or trump administration, the expectations that they would intercede one e when none of their pred are sos did, reinforces the notion we're not going to get involved. finally, met conclude with this observation. as david mentioned with respect to israelis who defined their interests narrowly, we have as well. the very reason we got involved in syria in a ken net kick -- kinetic way had nothing do with assad but had to do with what perceived to be the potential threat of a transnational
terrorist group creating a quasi-caliphate and using the most brutal and gruesome of methods and posing a potential threat to the continental united states, which is still arguably the reason that we are there. whether this will change, as david pointed out out with respect to israelis, it may. whether it changes with respect to our role is another matter and it's unclear. bureaucratically, strikes me as there's a high probability that in fact there will be arguments made for the mind of the president that would argue for a more kinetic and more assertive policy. whether others, jim mattis and reality, the fact therer very few good military options, even choosing to apply force in
syria, with respect to an outcome is unclear. so let me conclude, it is now -- plenty of time for discussion among our panelists, and plenty of time for questions from the audience. let me pose a question to each of you. i was thinking as i listened to each of you, paul, for you -- this is impossible to answer but when. >> try my best. >> one putin thinks of assad, how does the -- what do you think the thought process is with respect to replacing him, ensuring that he or other continue with some encumbrance or debt to the russians? how does he conceptualize maintaining russian objectives with respect to a regime. >> can only guess but there's nobody really credible in syrian politics that could replace
assad. assad's regime and his father's regime was based upon wiping out anybody who could propose such challenge or serve as replacement i remember mubarak's regime and he never appointed one because of the assassination of -- if there's no vice president in the wings, no one can take over. so accepts assad as the best of any possible option. there's nothing else that is credible to put in its place so just leave him there, and even if he is not perfect and no one would claim that al assad is perfect, this is something we need to deal with and support. >> but the russians must understand they're support of a minority regular -- regime these many year and their own rowell
in kills thousands of sirrian air strikes, i hey have prejudged their role in syria for a long time to come or am i not correct -- >> i think you're absolutely right. one problem here is that assad, because of a situation assad has considerable amount of power vis-a-vis moscow. he can object to russian policy he wants to can tell the russians what not to do. he human being probably resist the russian ideas of creating autonomous zones within syrian territory, something which is very much against his interests and the russians have to deal with there's no replacement. and russians have painted themes into a corner? yeah, not just by support doing by supporting assad personally and defending their presence in syria. a naval base, the only russian base outside the former soviet
union, was their major ambition for intervening and supporting assad in the first place and keeping that position going is something that has prevented any kind of consideration of any respectable solution. it's driven them to a massive military intervention that is opposed just about he everywhere else in the world and the region, even though it created an illusion of strength. there's no way without supporting assad without losing prestige. >> if we walk from the yp coa how will that influence iranian behaviory syria. >> the jcpoa was designed to be the first step in a broaderring extra to include eventual to engagement with iran in a
multilateral form to deal with issues of common concern, syria at the top of the list, and there had been some very tentative discussions on the sidelines of jcpoa about talk and the americans then organizing the 17-party talks that includes the robbans -- iranians and everybody thought that was tract that could delve. if the americans walker from jcpoa unravels and builds incentive for iran to counter u.s. interests and because the -- and you could see the real danger that we're back into the period of the '80s when i lift in beirut and there was a tension between a long, zealous revolutioner in regime and the united states. i want to address the issue that you asked paul about. i was going to make the point we all look at the future of syria
in terms who has achieved what military gains. the real determinant that surprised everyone is the fact there has been in single opposition figure who has emerged as an alternative. we don't even have an an achaloby type person, and as a result that has helped assad enorm -- enormously. i asked if they want to invest in assad, and neither country likes assad. his not a his father, not a visionary, whether you like his vision or not. this is a guy with an opt moll is -- ophthalmologist, not a big
thinker and is just trying to survive. so, this is a factor i think that is tremendously important and we don't invest enough time it because the opposition has been effect, divided, ego tis stick cal egotistical and if the a dictator can hold 30% of a population, he has enough to stab -- staff his police and civil sars and military that's all day need to survive. this kurds are the only people who have provide evidence, whether the military force or leadership, and the kurds are separate entity, always have been to the arabs in syria and they're not an alternative. >> one more for you. how does syria play in iranian internal politics? during recent protests -- i could never really understand whether or not this notion that
you, the regime, are squandering our resources and our assets on foreign military ventures. does that resonate and does it matter. >> it resonates enormously with a caveat. the protests, invest in me, not gaza and lebanon. always about economic issues and the fact these basic, core economic problems that nudged the -- didn't force but did including the regime into negotiations on a nuclear deal, play out now, and of course will be impacted further if not only the nuclear deal implodes or erodes but also if there isn't the kind of investment that creates jobs for a burgeoning population. so, that will be tremendously important. but at the same time, persian
nationalism is very strong. even among the generation born after the revolution and doesn't feel that commitment to the system, that there's a real pride and a sense of whether it's they're a shiite minority, the -- that as a minority, they rant to make sure that iran is protected and they won't have to fight another war that hey different with the sunni regime of "american saddam hussein, and and the minority mentality that defines what they want. they would like to see -- the majority would like to see a friendly regime in syria. do the think it's wore the price? a lot of people are unhappy but there's -- we need to understand all the factors that weigh into national sentiments right now, not just the obvious ones.
>> amy, for you. to what degree do we, the united states, the trump administration, factor significantly into what appear foes erdogan's ---we the driving force of this, thought of kurdish independence? what was it? >> that's a good we. i think that if we look at the more immediate causes for this intervention in january, some people would point to tiller sewn's speech at stanford where he talk about u.s. cooperation with the sdf, providing security to the region. that turkey thought, okay, now the united states is not just in
a tick cack cal relation with the sdf and we are going to provide security to this kurdish region or this autonomous region, which is by some systems 25% of syria now. which extends far beyond just the kurdish region in the north. goes down the eastern side. and -- but i actually think -- thing might sound crazy but if we have -- we have to remember that the four different parts -- the four different parts paf kurdistan, the country which turkey has the best relationship was the iraqi kurdistan, the kurdistan regional government of iraq and that was the part of kurdistan closed to becoming a an independent state and turkey
had the best relation ins, on economic ties, banks, people in the krg. so, i mean, i think it's not inconceivable that in the future, turkey could come to accept the fact that there are kurds also in syria -- that's where they live, they're homeland -- and have some autonomy from damascus. think this would be the -- a peaceful resolution to this problem that erdogan sents -- as this and they have autonomy from damascus and not threatening turkey-but he leaves them in peace. some people speculate this is about the elections anders juan's attempt to establish a presidential system in turkey. at the beginning of his -- the akp rule and erdogan relied on the kurds and granting them
linguistic rights, things they demand for decades inch 2013, the protests not just in the park in istanbul but 80 different cities in turkey. they were largely seen as part of erred juan. the kurd -- erdogan. the kurds did not take par or them-0 -- can you imagine if the kurds called for this protests-what height -- might have happened but they didn't because this was they period of the cease fire. what happened in 2015 was a parliamentary election when the first time the hdb, the legal political party in turkey that got 13% of the vote. erred juan felt threatened and this is one of the reasons -- not the only reason -- one reason why the cease fire pel apart.
when you look at these the countries, and this triggered an aggressive -- the change from the cease fire more aggressive attitude towards the hdp and -- cushingey -- mayors in prison -- when they had good relationships with the krg and until the referendum and tried to declare independence and suddenly see a switch in the turkish attitude and more -- now also in syria with the syrian kurds. but i think the u.s. is partly -- we do have to -- this is what we have trying to do weigh carefully our relationship with turkey and nato ally and the kurds, but i think that, again, what is going to happen with the new secretary of state, i don't know, but we do have to
weigh carefully this dynamic. >> for erdogan's perspective is it possible to manage our relationship with turkey and yet be energetically supporting the syrian kurds? i suppose the question really is why are we supporting the syrian kurds beyond their utility and their instrumental value in confronting isis? what is an -- i'm asking you. i can't answer the question either. what's the point beyond preventioning isis' return? what do we envision for kurdish national jim in syria? what erdogan believe we're trying to do. >> that-a-between the shadow of
iraq looming large over the u.s. policy. what is happening over syria, this is not nation-billing. it's local government building, and we're not doing it. the kurds have already done this. they have already created local goes, i and aphren and is now occupied by turkey and am lie -- allies but i think politically this is sort of already happening. this local government. that is not calling for the fall of bashar al-assad. the. they just want to have their own local government, like a federal still. in terms of the military dimension, place haze been librated but there are still -- the statement -- department of
is warning they're regrouping. there are many groups but some are threatening to behead kurds who are muslims. they believe that the kurd because that's promote secularism and embrace otherth necessary ethnics and they thread to behead them. do we aped want the head choppers to come snake don't think so. who else do we want to stabilize the region that now, to% of syria is not everything but it's something. it was -- is that part of syria could remain peaceful and stabilized? that would be a good thing for the united states, for israel, for i think turkey, it would be -- a good thing. >> thank you. dave two for you and then one final question, and we have
quite a bit of time for q & a from the audience. number one, what does the best of your ability to make sense out of it, what does -- what do the israeli want from news syria? >> sure. that is easy. ideally they would like the united states to do more to cut iran's land bridge in syria and reduce the extent of iranian and hezbollah influence in syrian that's the ideal. and that means to ideally, again -- i think they know this is -- this may not happen and i would say probably won't happen -- to take direct american military action as needed, not u.s. >> order to protect our arab
forces and friends in eastern syria as we did i twice, but to stay there and establish a kind of border corridor across southern syria that would keep iran out. but since they know this is not practical or at least not a sure thing, at a minimum, what that's israelis want from to us simply to support israel's -- not to oppose israel's campaign of limited military strikes against iranian and hezbollah targets in syria. >> okay, let's try some q & a from the audience. please identify yourself. down here in front. >> alexander for george mason university. i want to ask about the
connection between russia and isis. why exactly has there targeting been so disproportionate with -- opposition groups and the russia is close, have a much larger muslim population then enut does? so seems like core national interest but aren't they? do they have the he forces to attack isis on the self level? and given how much -- how important that is in their patriotic. >> let's take three. paul, keep track of that one. >> questions for rob. -- robin. how have the russians reacted to
the peace process -- the irany have been pushing for syria and what is the agenda going to be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow when putin, erdogan, and rouhani are going to meet in turkey? >> well, the first half of the question. couldn't hear you. >> how have the russia racketed to the proposal that the iranian have on the table regarding peace in syria. >> discussed probably several times. thank you. >> let's take one more and just answer that one. that's from holly. i fear we're running short on time. third question right here. yes.
>> i'm from the syria. actually i'm from north of syria. i'm the represent tv of syrian democratic down -- down in the d states. i'm asking about the rowell -- role of turkey in the syrian issue. especially invading and occupying syrian territory, and the other areas, and now that they are beheading -- to all these syrian borders to the iraqi borders. so what do you think is for the interests of the united states to have like that? because in this case, they are increasing the issue of -- and irany syria. what's the solution, especially
after this donald trump when he declared withdrawing the u.s. out of syria. what do you think about that? thank you so much. >> let's do those three. paul. isis. >> so to start with isis. russia did attack a lot of isis targets and also attacked the free siren army and other opponents of assad or major ones. i think because russia does not like isis. it is a threat to russia. there are isis aligned people in the no, cautions who created problem -- caution -- caucuses would present problems to the russians so attacking anyone who opposed assad militarily, especially agents of other governments or agents who are receiving support from the united states is something they want to do and and the state media does focus on that as isis, used the word crusade and
that the patriarch talk but that but look at the combat situations, since 2016, large number of the attacks are noneye si targets -- nonisis targets ay want to protect assad from any attack or armed opposition so they extended that mission very broadly and again very quickly, like within a few hours of the first strikes, they were going after nonisis people. >> robin. >> how the russians react iranian plan. it is because it's an ideal from iran it's anathema to those who doe don't like iran's role in the region. i think the russians have kind of supported the idea, they talk often as one, even though i think they have -- there's some real differences likely to come
out in the future. in terms of the agenda between turkey, iran and russia, one of the most interesting dynamics of the syrian tragedy is that the -- none of eye aligns have been effect enough hold -- alliances have been effective in together and the troika has overtaken the u.n. backed process and is a preliminary establish but there's still odd fellows and turkey being the most odd fellow out of to this relationship, and i think they're needless to say disagreements what turkey is doing now in the north. i would love to be a fly on the wall but for the time being -- because everybody else is even more divided, they more effective in achieving their goals whether it's the u.s. and its allies or anyone else in the region. >> robin, thank you.
amy, the question is, is turkey playing a helpful role now? >> in "opinion the answer is no. i find it shocking there are american troops in -- and erdogan has been saying theirs two months now. maybe it's just a threat, maybe he's not going to do it. maybe if the american troops, i don't know. ... i've been studying relations for my phd sent the end of world war ii and this is quite a seriouscrisis .
the last thing i could remember was the 2003 intervention in iraq and when turkey did not allow the us to use military space for turkey to invade iraq. now we have turkey intervening in syria so it's really quite a whole other level of -- >> in response to the question about mister trump withdrawing american forces, it's possible to provide an authoritative answer. what is clear in the year plus is mister trump is determined not to become or to become the on obama. that would mean we will not withdraw our forces from syria, because doing that , we're going to be in iraq for many years to come. afghanistan for many years to come. and i suspect in syria as well. thispresident is not going to want the responsibility , public relations disaster for
a precipitous withdrawal from syria, even though it's not good to me frankly, what is the strategic purpose other than a narrowly focused mission of isis, of maintaining 2011 forces and nine fs owes and believing we could have a significant impact on shaping the future of the battlefield for this country's political future. we have time for a couple more i hope, yes, over here. >> peter humphrey, former diplomat. i fear trump has not signed executive order 12233 which i'd like those of you who are daring to step out of the box and tell me what would happen , this goes back to assad, how would the regional players react? >> that's a fascinating
question. let's take one more and we can move in on how we're going to answer that one. >> listening to all of you, it seems every country involved in the five countries involved in syria, nobody wants to tear syria apart. there are various claims on how to do the geneva plan for theiranians, etc. . at the same time it seems to me that all the countries with the kind of really limited goals and sometimes very unclear goals are also following policies that make it impossible for syria to be put back together.
i'd like some comments on that because it seems to me that the more malicious, the more groups, the more actors and more weapons on the outside that they're putting in, the less possible it becomes for syria to stay together. >> can i weigh in? >> sure, which way. >> first of all if assad is assassinated, one of the big injuries for us is that he survives and in many ways he may be more vulnerable in peacetime and he was in wartime when you hadeverybody standing with him who's going to come to his rescue, who's going to rebuild the country and i think there are a lot of questions . i agree with you, the one thing everybody agrees on,
every country, every party, and what to hold syria together. it's a little like the former iraq ambassadors that the only people who want to hold iraq together are those who don't live in iraq and that exemplifies syria to some degree as well. after its ethnic cleansing, displaced people, you've got a quarter of the population now outside the country, more than half are displaced, the revenge element as someone who lived in lebanon for five years of the civil war, that finding that will hold syria together as a strong central government is i think illusory and of course it's the strategic center of the middle east . whatever happens in syria, as we've already seen across the whole region, we ought to take that big question much more seriously but i'm with you. i think there's a real danger and it's not like we're going to have arevolution or just an assassination , i think the greater danger is that you can't rebuild the country as it was, that there's no
alternative leadership, assad is not a very effective leader. the outside world doesn't do much to rebuild this country and you see the somali isolation in a different way of syria, that causes us for years to come. if you look what happened in libya, eight months he went from having a totalitarian government to having hundreds and hundreds of militias with only 6 million people. and you see what we seen in syria with over 1000 militias. a lot of them are just neighborhoods. i interviewed 38 commanders from aleppo once and they could get together to create a unified high command. they were all about their neighborhood and control and so forth and that we could see this phenomena across syria and that's why i worry that the questions about syria right now, we're not looking at the biggest one. >> one thought about assad. i can only say this given this president seemingly
preternatural determination to court mister putin, enormous amount of political safe space for reasons that are not weird to me and not driven biological foreign policy, i would think the last thing you would want to do would be to remove what paul would argue and i would agree is the central feature of the russian enterprise. in syria. >> assad has a heart attack, what happens next? >> i'll try to be very brief. i was early on during the uprising after about a year of mass casualty, inflicted by the regime against its own people. i was put on the spot on c-span just like i am now i guess with exactly that question. why doesn't somebody order a drone strike and take assad out and i said i thinkit would be great .
and i still think so. but i don't think it would solve the problem. i think it would just be a kind of poetic justice. and i think that syria would still unfortunately the even more militarized and controlled by outside powers and by some new version of a despotic regime the problem is not unfortunately only assad personally although he's responsible for genocide. on the question of somebody else raised the question about what was another question? >> is syria going to be, next question. the united country. i disagree with the sentiment that syria is falling apart. i think regime is taking control more and more of the country.and that's the future trajectory of syria.
supported by iran and russia and has a lot. and hundreds of thousands of shiite militia fighters from outside the country but the regime will, as things are going, will take over more and more of the country, except for probably some more peripheral areas in which the kurds will maintain de facto local autonomy and some corners of the country near the israeli borders in which i think probably israel and jordan we supported by the united states and russia may succeed in preventing the regime from establishing full control. >>. >> will get the last wordto you. >> what happens if assad drops dead, you've got a post iran situation .
you saw the movie where all the different factions in the government tried to arrange some sort of collective leadership, you probably have some sort of syrian version of a club with generals or distant relatives of assad get together and try to create leadership and whether that would be as effective as one person doing all the decisions, i don't know but it's something we might possibly find out, as a sign of the executive order or something else should happen. i think syria now is more stable at least in terms of its national government than it has been at any time in the past six or seven years. and again, whether it's the classes as a national entity i think is very doubtful . one barometer i have is as i do in beirut is that as syria becomes relatively more stable, lebanon becomes relatively less stable and for the first time in 10 years we now have militia classes in beirut.
we haven't had that since 2008 and we have a different factionalized versions of lebanese politics, we have militant leaders looking out in may of the first parliamentary election since 2009 after an illegal constitutionally illegal extension of the current parliaments mandate. that could be very dangerous and there's a very restive civil society all over all sorts of issues. affecting lebanon domestically which could very much , for greater instability but one of the ironies was that when syria was a real mess, all lebanese factions got together and there on television talking about how everyone should live peacefully with each other, they're hard to believe but as these connections to iran are disrupted, and they're sending thousands of its fighters to die, a lot of them closely as a certain amount of amusement to do
that so i think as syria becomes more stable, you'll see lebanon moving toward crisis. >> fascinating and please join me in thanking our panel . >>. [applause] thank you. [inaudible conversation] facebook ceo mark zuckerberg will be on capitol hill next week . two hearings on the way facebook has handled user data. the company says outsiders may have obtained information
from as many as 87 million facebook users. mister zuckerberg will persevere at a joint hearing of the senate judiciary and commerce committee on tuesday. >> we will have live coverage at 2 pm eastern. >> now we return to the capital wednesday morning for a house energy and commerce committee hearing, 510 easter. also on c-span3. >> this weekend on c-span, saturday at 8:30 p.m. eastern the 50th anniversary of 60 minutes and sunday at 9:30 p.m., hillary clinton at rutgers university institute of politics on book tv, saturday at 1:40 5 pm eastern the annual national black writers conference at mentor evers college in brooklyn and sunday at 1 pm, yale professor any torah, author of the battle hymn of the
tiger mother and jd vance, author of hillbilly elegy talk about her new book on tribalism in america. american history tv on c-span3 saturday at 10 am eastern, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of martin luther king jr. sunday at five: 10 pm, walter starr, author of standing talked about edwin stanton one of lincoln'sassassination from the aftermath. this weekend on the c-span network . >> former maryland governor and democratic presidential candidate martin o'malley was the featured speaker at a politics and ate breakfast in manchester new hampshire. he spoke about his experiences during the 2016 campaign . he spoke on behalf of democratic candidate in local elections and what you hope the us and democratic party could achieve in the 2018 interim elections and beyond. >>