tv Washington This Week CSPAN December 28, 2014 3:30am-5:31am EST
city for the opposition, for both symbolic and strategic reasons. it is through this city that most foreign humanitarian and military assistance to the people of northern syria and the moderate opposition flows. yet over the past year, as the moderate opposition has struggled to maintain its defense of this city, as better resourced fighters from isis as, you know, as many as 40 air strikes a day from the assad regime hit them, they have had to contend with assad's use of hezbollah fighters against them. and so you see a situation where isis has gradually captured more parts of city as have those who want to extinguish this last representation of the syrian middle class efforts to hold on. and they're encircled. and they're defending it from within. and most observers agree that if aleppo follows out of moderate control, it will have catastrophic consequences for the free syrian army.
so they're all right on the ropes after years of anemic support. when we meet with them, we hear from them the same thing that you hear from them, they can't get the equipment that they need to fight back against isis. so in late august, a team of state department briefers met with committee staff, which had requested a briefing of the situation in aleppo. the state department official said it was a question not of when it would fall, but --it was a question of when, not if aleppo would fall, a question of when not if aleppo would fall. when our staff was asked if
administration viewed it -- the state department said that the administration was still trying to decide if it was. which sounded like it was can diplomatic speak for no. and as events have played out over the past few months, it seemed clear that that was the case. isis continues to advance on aleppo, the barrel bombs continue to drop on the city and this is now on a daily basis. so ambassador, if we're serious about combatting isis in syria we cannot aleppo fall. it is far more strategically important than kobani, but all of our efforts are focused not in that area, but up in kobani. if aleppo falls, it's likely that another mass waves of people and refugees and the syrian middle class would all
but be destroyed. i will ask you, is preventing the fall of aleppo an administration priority? >> mr. chairman, let me address this question a few ways, we're very focused on the situation in aleppo. right now we are acting on requests from the iraqi government and the united nations security council to protect them against isil. so all of our kinetic operations in syria is focused on isil. on the aleppo situation, we're very focused on what we can do. that is why general allen and i have made about four trips to turkey over the last couple of months and the focus of the conversation with the turks is how we might be able to work together to begin to improve the situation there, we're obviously doing a number of things with the moderate opposition, which i can't discuss here.
but i can assure you that we're very focused on the situation and looking at ways to allow them to hold the line. aleppo, and surrounding areas, it's not so much isil. but what we're focusing on is isil targets, they can be very hard to find but we're looking at it very closely and our conversations with turkey specifically focussed on this question. >> that calls into question the fact that they're fighting al qaeda units as well, as you know, it calls into question our policy on safe zones. but my worry about the dithering on this is that we had these dialogues back in february on isis at a time, frankly, we began this dialogue before isis even took falluja. we were calling for air strikes
and action against isis before they managed to pull that off. and then city by city by city, the call went out to members of congress and others who had syrian experience, if isis wasn't hit while their columns were on the ground that mosul itself would fall. and it did. and they took the central bank. still no action, still discussion, still dithering and now we're at the point where we see the last major stronghold for the syrian middle class trying to hold off isis and hold off al qaeda on one front, and hold off the barrel bombs and we still can't seem to see any policy that will rescue the city and when we brad sherman directly ask whether it's a strategy steejic effort, the response we get is we're still trying to decide. we can be still trying to decide
after we are have lost the ability to reverse what's going on in syria, just as we lost that ability to reverse what was going on in western iraq because we didn't hit the targets prior to them taking mosul. so i -- anyway, my time is expired and we will now go to mr. sherman of california, we will return to mr. angle. >> ambassador, interrupt me if i've got this wrong, but you're not saying that the u.n. resolution or the request of the iraqi government gives the administration legal authority under american law to deploy troops, you're relying on the various authorization to use military force. it's also my understanding that the interpretation is that they authorized the efforts that you have taken against al qaeda in syria, that you have taken against isis, which is a splinter arguably, a continuing splinter, one of the many streams of al qaeda. do i have that right as to your
legal position? >> international basis for operating in syria now -- >> i wasn't asking about your international basis. that is not legally binding. what's legally binding is the laws of congress. and you're not claiming that the u.n.'s actions or the iraqi actions give you authority under the war powers act. >> i'm saying the situation in aleppo is a very confused one, our ability to look closely at what's happening there is rimt limited to the fact that we're flying all the way from the gulf. and our focus right now is on isil. >> i was asking you about the legal position of the administration, it's authorize to use force and -- you're not going to answer my question, so i want to go on to another question. we have been pushed around by this iraqi government.
we saved it, you've pointed out i believe that they may have taken baghdad, or might well have taken baghdad if it hadn't been for us. they are terrorizing the folks at camp liberty in clear violation of not only u.s. preferences but international law. they have allied themselves with iran, with the iranian air force carrying out operations over iraq and iranian ground forces operating on the ground in conjunction with iraqi forces. and sometimes folks at to the upper levels of the state department don't focus that much on the money of the u.s. taxpayers. we're giving all this a tremendous amount of aid to iraq. whereas it's my understanding that iraq is still paying and still acknowledges arabia and kuwait for tens of billions of dollars, borrowed by saddam hussein.
have you bothered -- is iraq still making payments to kuwait and saudi arabia on that debt and does that therefore put them in a position where instead of paying for what we give them often we have to give it to them for free? >> as i mentioned briefly in my opening testimony, the iraqis face a very serious fiscal crisis. they're facing a $40 billion -- >> they face that fiscal because they honor the debts run up by saddam hussein. and i've brought this up at hearings for the last five years in this room. i've never gotten a straight answer out of the state department. i figured i would try it again. >> i'll give you a straight question. the payments to kuwait are mandated. they come to a billion dollars a month. iraq is obligated to pay those funds. >> those are payments on saddam hussein's debt? >> they're payments of the '90-'91 gulf war reparations.
>> no, i'm not talking about the reparations. i'm talking about the money saddam borrowed to carry on his war against iran. the promissory notes and bonds. >> right. the iraqis resist paying, as you know, the debts of saddam hussein because the new iraqi government considers them also a victim of saddam hussein which is true. >> but they haven't renounced those debts. we haven't urged them -- >> we have. we urged over the last decade all the debt holders from the saddam era to renounce those debts. >> wait. you asked the debt holders -- but you haven't urged iraq to refuse to pay. it's one thing to ask the creditor, oh, please tear up the note. it's another thing to stand behind the debtor saying in effect we don't owe the money, we're not going to pay. >> we're doing anything we can to help the iraqis preserve their fiscal resources right now. that's why we're working -- >> except stand up to saudi
arabia and kuwait and void this debt, money they lent saddam hussein to carry on a war against iran. >> it's a slightly different issue. with kuwait, we're in very good discussions with them. secretary of defense just saw the amir about relieving those payments. so we are -- >> you're talking about completely different payments, sir. i'm talking about the debt -- >> they come from the same pot. they come from the same pot. >> ok. i hope for the record you'll brief us on what you've done to push the iraqi regime to honor its obligations to the residents of camp liberty and camp herb ra. >> i would be happy to come up and give you a briefing on that. of course the new iraqi government has been in place for 100 days and it is much different than the previous government. i would be happy to come brief you on that. >> ok. >> thank you. >> we go now to the ranking
member, mr. elliott engel. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador, thank you. thank you for your good work. mr. chairman, thank you for calling this important hearing on the fight against isis. though our military operation against isis is focussed in the middle east, the threat posed by this terrorist group spans the globe. recent reports indicate that isis is recruiting more than 1,000 foreign fighters every month. these fighters are streaming into syria from europe, north africa, the gulf, the u.s. and other nations. most troubling some are returning to their home countries armed with the knowledge of how to sew terror. the good news is more than 60 countries have joined the anti-isis coalition together we're cracking down on terrorist financing, stemming the flow of foreign fighter, discrediting isis faults and violent iedology providing military support to our partners. it's left hundreds of thousands without homes or families and a significant number including
several european countries australia, canada and a number of regional partners have worked alongside the u.s. military to impede its growth. we're making progress but nowhere near stamping out this threat. today i hope we can discuss what strategy will get us closer to the goal. i think there are a few areas that i think are especially critical. we need a global coalition, it's critical we engage closely with local partners, iraqi, syrian, curd. such cooperation is essential to stop the threat of isis and the u.s. does not bear a disproportionate burden in this fight. i supported a program to train and equip the syrian operation. congress voted overwhelming to get this program off the ground and i look forward to hearing the status of this effort. we need to state clearly if there's no future for assad in syria and seeing assad go
remains a top priority and the interests and goals of the united states simply don't align with assad and iran. assad is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of syrians. we also have the horrific pictures smuggled out of damascus by ceaser, a prafer the syrian army defector. assad is a magnet of extremism. as long as he remains in power courtesy of iran and hezbollah. we must determine and understand that the u.s. plays a unique role in this situation. our capabilities are unmatched. i understand that the american people are uneasy about getting more involved and the conflict half way around the globe. i feel the same way. we're tired of war. we want to bring your men and women home. we want to work with local partners is so important to help prevent future escalation of american involvement. but we must not forget in so many places around the world
freedom, dignity and justice are under constant attack and i firmly believe if the u.s. does not lead the way as a champion of these values no one else will. we believe in a world in which all people are free to decide their own futures and there are times when defending and advancing that vision requires difficult choices and sacrifice. that's what makes the united states the world's one indispensable nation. we didn't ask for this conflict but we cannot ignore it, so i look forward to hearing the questions and answers and the testimony and i want to ask as my first question, a question about iran. iran also wants to defeat isis but reports indicate that iranian fighter jets were targeting isis in iraq. what involvement does iran have in iraq, both on the air and on the ground? what is their involvement with the shia militias and how are they involved in the fight against against isil?
it's happened once, we don't want it to happen again. >> thank you. there's no question that iran is playing a role in iraq. isil is a threat to iran and we have said that every country in the world has a role to play in defeating isil. the question for the iranians is whether they're going to do it in a constructive way or d n a destructive way. somewhat of what we're seeing right now in terms of iranian militias is not only problematic in terms of what we're seeing it's also problematic i know to the new government and also to ayatollah who has spoken out against any armed group operating outside the structures of the iraqi state. in the iraqi government made a commitment that was reaffirmed before 60 countries last month in brussels to assure that all armed groups are operating under the structures of iraqi state and that's something that the government will be working on. but in the total security collapse we had this summer, there's no question that militia
and some armed groups filled that vacuum that iran has played a role in that and it's something that the new government will have to begin to work on. >> i just think -- i'll yield back, that we need to be very weary of iran. it's not simply the enemy of my enemy is my friend. i think we need to be very, very careful not to stumble down that path. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. we go to, chair of the middle east sub committee. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. good to have you back, ambassador. following up on mr. engel's questions regarding iran secretary has stated quite clear tla the united states is not coordinating with iran on iraq and on the fight against isil. and in addition in your 15-page testimony, you don't mention iran even single time, yet the regime clearly has a role that it is playing in iraq as you
just stated. prime minister abadty has claimed no knowledge of the recent air strikes but iran has confirmed that it did carry them out. so, who currently controls the air space in iraq given that the iraqis don't have sufficient capabilities to maintain their own air sovereignty? and if no coordination had taken place and the iranians did indeed, take this action into their own hands without coordinating, didn't iran violate iraqi air space? will there be any rep cushions -- repercussions from that? as we continue our nuclear talks with iran, we ignore multiple violations that iran continues to make as the talks take place. will this be yet another violation of iran that we turn a blind eye to? secretary has called possible iranian action in iraq against isil as positive despite the fact that teheran's incessant
meddling in baghdad and its stoking of sectarian tension in iraq and in syria has played a large part in the rise of isil. is it the administration's view that having a shiite iran the world's foremost supporter of terrorism, inspite of our nuclear talks, invade iraqi air space to attack sunni isil. does the administration view this as a positive development? on and syria, you testify that it is our goal -- not that it is an absolute necessity to find a future in syria that does not include isil or assad, as you stated in your testimony and that relying on moderate rebels to defeat them both and usher in a political settlement, will the assad regime being supported by iran and russia as they are and with isil being so well
financed, how will a group of rebels be able to defeat them both? and what would they need in order to accomplish that goal? the administration doesn't have a comprehensive policy to deal with all of the threats in iraq and syria and iran, nor does it seem to want one. these aren't realistic plans that can truly destroy isil, can defeat al newsra and defeat the assad regime. we haven't even begun the train and equip mission and we're about a year away from even standing that minimal force up if ever at all. is that the case? where are we with that mission sir? >> in my testimony, i did focus on the concern about the militias and prime minister's batty to reign those in, all armed groups within the structures of state. i also focused on the desire of this new government to have strategic independence in the in the region and that gets to his outreach to his arab neighbors and also the important outreach
to ankara which is happening now which wasn't happening over the past few years. that's very important. iran is a fact in iraq. you have to look at a border -- at a map to see that with a 1,500 kilometer border. >> excuse me, sir, would you say that iran violated iraqi air space? >> i would to refer to my d.o.d. colleagues. >> if they did, would we -- would there be any consequences for that violation, one of many? >> well, it's up to the iraqi government to control its own air space. they lack the assets and resources to do that. i would mention on that score, the f-16 program is moving forward. the pilots are in training and we're working with jordan to house those f-16s on a temporary basis before the bases in iraq are ready. >> if i could just on a few seconds we have left on syria, what is the latest with the train and equip mission? it doesn't seem that we've come very far. >> as you know that's a title 10
d.o.d. program and my d.o.d. colleagues can give you a substantial briefing on that. general allen and i have been to some of the host countries such as turkey, qatar and saudi arabia. we hope we can get those programs moving as early as march with the training to begin. >> is it the administration's view as you stated that assad must go, does that mean that he must be removed from power or are you just saying that he should not have a future in syria? >> well, we're focussed on a political transition process and there's two political tracts going on right now. one is led by the u.n. special representative looking at a bottom up approach getting to the chairman's question on aleppo. we very much support that initiative to freeze the situation. secretary kerry has been in conversations with key stake holders in the region. but clearly nobody believes that bashar al assad can govern that state and bring it to any sense of stability -- >> do you think the rebels
remove him from power? who is going to remove assad from power? >> again, my d.o.d. colleagues could discuss the military situation but we do not see a situation in which the rebels are able to remove him from power? it will be have to be a negotiated diplomatic process. >> just regarding the syria train and equip program. it's undprnt that the d.o.d. was unable to provide a witness today. we had made the request. we go now to mr. meeks of new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for this important hearing and thank you, mr. ambassador for being here.
as i'm sitting listening to your testimony and listening to the questions that are being asked, i understand that this is a complicated situation. it has been since we've been here. it's not easy. people have relationships in that region some for decades, some for centuries against one another, different interests and we're trying to navigate all that. this is not a simple scenario. i can recall being at this hearing on this hearing room before where many of us and it's easy for us to be up here to think that it's simple. we thought it was simple to get rid of saddam hussein. we said it would take a few days. in fact, we got on a ship and said mission accomplished. a few days later, shock and awe. i'm glad we're not being this simplistic about this. the administration has been honest to say that it will take years to get this done. and to get it done right. not based upon emotion, not based upon trying, just get us together so we can say ra-ra. but based on trying to get together with our allies in the region, those that got complicated relationships so we can try to figure out once and for all how do we get this done without it being just stuck on the united states and everybody then turning back against us. so it's complicated. it's going to take some time. we've got to figure this out. we've had some problems.
that is what happens with complicated situations. it's not easy. if it was easy, anybody could do it. and so it's not easy for the united states of america. and when you look at this world that's smaller, we've got to deal with all of our other allies in the region who have their interests also and in today's world, they're not just saying, oh, we're going to do what the united states says against our own self interest. they have their self interest also and we have to figure out howie weigh that so we can knit and weave and put this together so we don't have an artificial result that only lasts for a short period of time. so i understand that it's difficult. so my first question is toward what has been difficult with the iraqi government -- past government. and i know there's just been an agreement with baghdad and ebril. so my question is, how is that?
because i know that when you look at kazakhstan that's a difficult situation historically and the malaki government, they were not doing the right thing so that kurdistan was getting some of the dollars that it needed from the central government. can you tell us how is this landmark agreement that was reached i think it was just reached last week again between the central government and the kurdistan regional government, what is the likelihood that it will hold and how will payments be made to the kurds so we can fix this scenario that has also been historically something that has been a problem in the past? >> thank you for your excellent question and you're absolutely right. this is an extremely complicated situation. it's viewed different from every capital we go to, viewed differently from different groups within the countries that face in the conflict zone and the middle east right now is going through a historic transformation. it's up to us to protect and advances those interests which we're working to do with our
coalition partners. the oil deal is significant. it's something we've worked on almost ten years. we almost got there back in march. the same deal was on the table in march but simply couldn't get over the line with the government that was in place back then. the new government, as i mentioned in my testimony, is totally different across the board. more pragmatic actors and people who are able to get around a table and figure it out. i they figured out a win/win solution. under this solution, the kurdistan region will export about 550,000 barrels a day. 300 barrels coming from kirkuk. that's a controversial part of the landscape. but taking oil from those fields and exporting it through the north, through the kurdistan region and turkey about 300,000 from kirkuk, all of that revenue will come into the central account and 17% will go to the kurdistan region. this is a breakthrough accord. another part is that $1 billion within the new government will go to the kurdish.
the first time the iraqi government very clearly saying we will fund our brave kurdish fighters who are fighting alongside us against isil. this is a big deal. it's a breakthrough. now, will there be problems in implementation moving forward? yes. we have to work through those and the iraqis as well. it's a significant sign they got this done. it's a very hopeful moment. i was on the phone with the iraqi leadership in baghdad with the kurdish leadership very shortly after and there was a really a mood of tremendous optimism, something i have not heard in some time and i worked on this specific issue for a period of years. so i think your questions are very insightful one and i think the oil agreement is just indicative of where we are in iraq and the foundation that we've built. given where we were six months ago today, it was hard to see back then where we might be today but it really gives us some hope for the future. but again, the iraqis have to work out the details. it will be difficult. there will be setbacks as you said. nothing is easy.
it's complex. but it's -- it was a significant breakthrough and the testament to the iraqi leadership to really get it done. >> thank you. >> mr. joe wilson of south carolina. >> thank you, chairman, your determined leadership. and chairman reuss thank you also for your early warnings of the threat of isis to american families. and mr. ambassador, thank you very much for being here today. the american people need to know the threat of the murderous idology of isis. last week abc news reported isis spokesman called upon followers in the u.s. and europe to attack members of military. he went on to say, quote, do not ask for anyone's advice and do not seek anyone's verdict. kill the disbeliever whether he is a civilian or military for they have the same ruling. both of them are disbelievers. both of them are considered to be waging war, end of quote. this is a grow tesk idology that we
face in our coalition partners face and i believe it's important that we never forget how grow tesk it is. additionally we need to know they carry signs, death to america, death to israel. their creed a mass murder is quote we believe in death more than you value life. having that in mind, again, you've got quite a challenge. but we do have allies and i'm particularly grateful the kurdish regional government in iraq has been a success story of economic development for its people and as opposition to extremists. the american no-fly zone saved thousands of lives. the administration claims the kurdish are our primary u.s. partners in the efforts against islamic state. yet as of mid-october, the administration's only provided rifles, small armers, mortars to the kurdish forces. i'm really concerned that the
president's actions don't match the threat. does the administration tend to be more robust in equipping the kurdish forces to commence offensive operations against isis and under what time line? >> let me discuss the situation of arming the pesh mer ga because i've been involved with them. we've worked out two detailed lists one in august and two in september and with the government of iraq and delivered everything on those lists. and again, i just want to go back to the fact that we have a new government now. every request for weapon systems from the curd stan region have been approved. we have a new minister of defense from mosul. he went to see the president. and he has committed to getting the supplies to the curds that they need. i was just in berlin last week. the germans are supplying the pesh mer ga significant anti-tank munitions. so we are very focussed on this. we're acutely focussed on it. but what is important is that unlike some of the tension we had with the
last government, we have very strong cooperation now. there's been about 40 cargo flights. they land in baghdad first but then they immediately go to supply the pesh mer ga with the weapons and supplies they need. we're working on this everyday. we have joint operations centers set up in the curd stan region. i've been to them. i went to dehook to see the president when he was commanding some of his units in an offensive near the border crossing. we're working with them everyday, but we work through this and our military colleagues work through what are the requirements, what do you need, how do you get them? we've went around the world to source getting t 62 tank rounds to make sure that the 100 tanks that the kurds have are fully resourced with the ammunition they need. this is an on going day to day activity and we're fully seized of it. >> and do you anticipate that the pesh mer ga would be on offensive operations and not just defensive? >> well, they are on offensive operations, congressman. they
taken back nearly all the territory that was seized from isil when isil launched its offense in august. the one exception being sin jar and we think that will kick off after the winter season. and that pesh mer ga importantly they're working very closely with iraqi forces to take been the mosul damn. the counterterrorism service was working side by side to take back the mosul damn and the operation at the border crossing was done in coordination. it's a significant development. given where we were six months ago and after isil moved into the curd stan region, the kurds have pushed back very effectively. they've taken hundreds of casualties as has v the iraqi security force. we're working with them to help plan and conduct operations. when they mount their operations, we provide them with air cover and air support. >> i want to join with my colleague from queens actually a native of south carolina and point out how pleased i am that
there has been an agreement in regard to oil between iraq and the kurdish regional government. i yield the balance of my time. >> thank you. >> we go now to new jersey. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing and thank you for being here with us and always being straight forward with us. you know, as i sit here in these hearings, we talk about retraining and training. i just read a report about two or three weeks ago where they had the iraqis had 50,000 soldiers that were on a payroll that never showed up. i mean to me, this system that we're going to try to retrain again and spend billions of dollars and maybe not be as effective as they were. the other thing is, we talk about a new government being more pragmatic. i think it's just the reality that hit them that if they really don't work and
change their ways, they're going to lose their country. i mean, people have poured billions of dollars into this country to try to straighten them out. now they've become pragmatic. i think it's just a reality that has hit them that they have to. imply mentation of some of these accords, i was concerned with the kurdish getting all the weapons they needed but they had to go through baghdad. so it was difficult for them to get it to the kurdish. these are the kind of things. the last thing i'll just talk about is spreading the conflict in the area. i read some articles where lebanon was concerned that there was activity in lebanon and they're asking for more arms and more support so could you speak to that also? thank you very much. >> well, lebanon was a participant at the conference we had in brussels last week at the coalitioned a min stair yal chaired by secretary kerry.
they were at the table with their foreign minister as were the other neighbors. turkey had 1.8 million refugees from syria. we have to remember the burden that's taking on turkey and lebanon. we're doing all we can to help sure them up. it's extremely difficult. and again the lebanese are very concerned about this, in particular, the enroads that isil is making into its borders. so, all of our partners in the region the countries neighboring syria, lebanon, iraq, turkey and jordan are central to the efforts of this coalition. and what we heard in brussels around the table 60 different members of the coalition countries from all around the world talking about the fact that we need to help our friends who are suffering from this crisis. so we're very focussed on it and i can come follow up with a more detailed briefing particularly on lebanon or other neighbors. >> i'm happy you raised the issue with jordan because i
understand they're getting more aggressive, more active in demonstrations and aggressive activities. can you talk a little bit about that? >> well, jordan is also a front line state and as you know, the refugees that they've taken in as really take an toll on their resources. king abdul la was just here i think it was last week. general allen and i saw him in amman about a month ago working very closely with jordan both on the security side about suring up the defenses of their board rer and also trying to limit the extremist presence in southeast syria. there's a lot of focus on the aleppo pocket in northern syria which is a focus to the turks and us and everyone. jordan is more focussed on the other areas. we need to help them. but jordan is a front-line state and that's why we're providing them substantial security assistance and humanitarian assistance to deal with the refu yee crisis. our friends in the region are
just impacted by this crisis everyday and that's why part of the president's central policy in his counterterrorism support in building partner capacity is focussed on this very issue, the neighbors of syria in making sure they can with stand this crisis as best they can. >> can you talk a little bit about camp liberty and any of the abuses by the iraqis? i know you're on the discussion. >> i get a briefing on this every single day and get reports from both the residents and also from the united nations. and as you know, the united nations monitoring teams confirms to us about human tear supplies and the other all situation at the camp. we look at it every single day. my colleague jonathan winer who is our senior adviser is in albania today with a team with dhs represented as well and we've gotten about 600 residents of camp liberty out of camp lib ter and out of iraq to safety over the past year
and we're looking to increase that number this year. albania has been very helpful in this regard and jonathan winer has really done a tremendous heroic courageous job at getting this moving and i think the new government will be more cooperative. we want to get all of the residents at camp liberty as i testified before out of iraq to safety. that's our goal. and we're working with partners around the world to try to achieve that goal. right now albania has been extremely cooperative and we should thank them for taking in hundreds of residents and the residents are assimilating quite well in albania. but my colleague is there now discussing this issue and i'm sure he would be happy to come follow up with you. >> thank you very much. >> per that issue, i would just point out when senator kerry was here, we raised this issue of on supporting the kurds. not selling them the heavy weapons the heavy equipment and the armor they needed, the anti-tech missiles. i'll quote
from his testimony, no we're not. you are. we're adhering to u.s. law passed by congress. if you want to change it, fix it, we invite you. i would just point out that i put out bipartisan legislation to change that, to allow us to directly sell the weapons they needed to the kurds and then the administration opposed the legislation that we had been invited to put into change it. so, just for the record, i would raise the point that the argument has changed. >> mr. chairman, i feel your pain on crimea, too. >> yes. it's a moving target and a moving argument. we go now to judge poe of texas. >> i thank the chairman. there's no question about it that isis, as i call them, they're a bunch of bad people who just commit murder. and we
are doing battle with isis. the united states has been in middle east with boots on the ground for a long time. ambassador, would you say that the united states is at war with isis or not? >> congressman, having seen it up close, i would say we are at war with isis, yes. >> it seems to me that our strategy is twofold at this point or maybe threefold. send aid to different groups countries. there are 60-something nations i understand are in the coalition to fight isis. one is to do air strikes as the chairman has mentioned the success of those air strikes depends on who you're talking to. i do not believe they have been quite as successful as we had hoped they would be. the other is to take syrian
moderate rebels, vet, train and equip them to go back to syria and defeat isis. how many of those people have been vetted, trained and equipped and sent back to syria to fight isis? >> congressman again, it's a d.o.d. program -- >> it's not. you're the ambassador. you represent the state department, you're not the states. we're at war with this country that we're at war with isis. you can't tell me politically whether we have armed, vetted, armed and trained anybody yet and sent them back to syria to fight isis? you can't give that answer. >> i did answer it. the answer right now is no. >> so non. >> it was designed to be a long-term program and we hope -- >> i understand, beard. just a second. no, you wait a minute. i'm asking the question. you give the answer. the answer is we have not trained any -- none
of them are back over there. meanwhile, isis is beheading people and committed all kinds of atrocities, but our plan, if i understand our strategic plan, it's to help aid, it's to drop bombs, it's to train mercenaries to go back and fight isis in syria, none of which have been trained. how long is it going to take before we get all those people that are being trained in saudi arabia back in syria to fight? how long do you think it will take? >> well, congressman, the program is to train 5,000 per year and the training we hope will start in march. so -- >> so a year from march? >> and the program is to build -- >> a year from march? >> about 5,000 by then. we have to be very -- >> excuse me, beardambassador. i'm not clear. 5,000 in march that will be trained or will it be a year from march, 2016 before we have those 5,000 fighters that we send back to syria. >> it's 5,000 trained per year.
and part of the reason is because of the vetting standards we're very being careful about this. we're not sitting on our hands. >> excuse me, ambassador -- >> excuse me, mr. ambassador. answer the question. is it 5,000 in 2016, in march, where we hope that's our plan to have them trained by then? >> the training we hope will begin in march. we hope -- >> but it will take a year to train 5,000 people. >> yes, that's right. >> so march of 2016. then we have a plan, then we have fighters, then we send them to syria. there's no telling what isis can do in that year and however ever months it is. is the united states have some other strategic plan other than arming these folks that aren't going to show up until 2016, dropping bombs, that are marginal whether they've been successful, and helping with military aid to some of these coalition countries. is there a strategic plan overall that you know about in the state department? >> yes. the train and equip
program is one small element in an overall campaign and this is a multi-year campaign and phase one, phase one is iraq. what we're doing in syria right now is degrading isil's capacity. every time we've had a local force on the ground that we can work with. kobani is a good example of this. >> reclaiming my time. what are we doing in syria right now? people are dying in syria and the calvary isn't showing up until 2016 the way i understand it. is that correct? >> those trained and equipped units are not the only units on the field that we can work with in syria. >> who else? >> we're working in kobani with a number of units. >> who are these people? >> iraqi, kurdish thanks to a deal we worked up with the turks. >> they working in syria or iraq? >> in syria. we brought them -- kurdish from iraq -- >> last question. i'm sorry i'm out of time. last question, are
we going to put more boots on the ground, american military in the middle east to defeat isis? >> the president's policy is not to put combat forces on the ground in iraq, but we have advisers and trainers that are working right now -- >> middle east. i'm not going to talk about iraq. in the middle east, are more americans going over to the middle east to defeat and fight isis? >> we have about 30,000 troops in the region now. >> are more americans going over to the middle east to defeat and fight isis? other than what's already right there. >> right now we have a large substantial force in the middle east. i don't see the need for more. >> i yield back. >> mr. conley? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. ambassador, certainly i think most of us wish success in your endeavor, but i have to
confess to you, listening to you makes me feel like i'm in the scene of the wizard of oz. we're being counciled to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. meaning the previous iraqi government, which we supported way too long in terms of ma lacky and the damage he did in absolutely severing relations between the shia and the sunni, which contributed mightily to the rise of isis. and frankly to the loss of moderates, not only in iraq but spill over in syria. i mean, you said to us, pay attention to the fact that we have a new government. yeah, it's kind of relatively new, but when one looks at measures of progress, one dispairs frankly ambassador. i'm fixated on what constitutes progress? we have used metrics in the past about how many iraqi troops we
trained in the past. how did that work out for us? they melted away. now we have isis, one of the best funded, best equipped terrorist organizations on the planet, thanks to u.s. assistance. not because we intended it, but because our ally in iraq collapsed. comprehensively. now we're talking about well, maybe, what we have to do is have a smaller, you know, fast force that can go in. we'll train them. we won't train hundreds of thousands and they'll do it. you've talked in response to judge poe about the training and we all hope that works. but i don't think -- i don't know anyone who seriously thinks that you can train effectively even with successful vetting 5,000 insurgents who are moderate and maybe secular and they'll be reintroduced to syria and turn the tide. in fact, all of the indications
are the moderate, you know, are part of the insurgency such as it is has collapsed in syria. is actually losing ground cat strofically, almost to the point of extinction. and so you decided decentralization security reforms and the new government is reaching out to regional capitals as if that is going to turn the tide. maybe you didn't intend for that. i guess, i would like to see efficacious metrics with respect to the subject of this hearing which is are we making progress? how do we measure progress in an ef cay shous way, not a feel-good way, not a check-the-box way. how do we measure progress given the fact that this administration has said the end goal with respect to isis is destruction. i don't hear anything from your testimony and i hear nothing in the so-called metrics of progress
reported here today that would give me or frankly anyone at this dice confidence that we know what we're doing and that we have any fair chance at all to return to the wizard of oz and actually be a powerful wizard. i just don't see it. could you please comment on the metrics we've got and the reason we should be confident that those metrics will lead to, quote, progress, unquote. >> well, it's a very good question and we try to take an empirical data driven approach as much as possible to what is a very complex situation. one data i look at every month are the suicide bombers coming into iraq. we had -- we went from to 5 to 11 a year up to 35 went up 30 a month, sometimes 50 a month. the month before the iraqi elections in april we had 50. it is coming down when i look at the indicators.
i can't tell you if that's a trend or simply an anomaly but right now it's coming down. we're looking to see the reforms that this new government is making and without an iraqi commitment long-term we probably won't succeed. but if you look at what the government has done in 100 dies, it's abolished the office of the commander in chief which was an irritant to the sunnis and centralized all security responsibility in the office of prime minister. terminated almost three dozen problematic security commanders. it has identified as it has said 50,000 ghost soldiers on the role which is san anti-corruption mechanism. so it is taking steps that we wanted to have taken. to change the government, congressman, we couldn't just say, we have to have a new government. we had to get to elections. iraqi had elections on april 30th, earlier this year. for those elections to happen, we had to work over the course of dwern to get the elections system in place to get the mechanisms in place and have u.n. oversight to make sure they were genuine and credible. they happened on april 30th and set the conditions to get to a new government. this was a
multi-year process. we have a new government now and it is taking some measures that we find promising. >> as i said, mr. ambassador, i want you to succeed. i hope you succeed. but just as i think some of the criticism of the administration with respect to syria was very fasle and i single out two prominent members of the other body who were all too quick to say there were easy answers and the administration wasn't doing enough as if we knew who to support in syria. we on our side can't be overle facile either in the difficulties we face and the goals we set for ourselves. and i am very fearful at the end of the day that those goals are not realizable. they're not realistic and we can't really set up metrics that are ef cay shous. thank you, mr. chairman. my time is up. >> arizona. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. ambassador, i apologize.
i'm just getting my voice back. you're going to be real thankful about that. but the fact is, i think many members today on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that maybe the administration's posture is more defensive than offensive. and that as such, the isis controls roughly as much property as they did five months ago or territories as they did five months ago. the president described the training of the free syrian army as the tip of the spear on the ground game. and we're learning they're not going to start the training until march of next year. now, yesterday the secretary left the door open for u.s. ground troops at the senate armed -- excuse me, senate foreign affairs committee. for the record, that is a pivot. you've stated that the president has promised over
and over again we didn't need to have you say that, we heard him say the same things. and i'm -- i believe that ultimately u.s. ground troops are going to be essential to completely defeat and not just contain isil as i believe the current administration policy is. so my first question is when can we expect the administration to come to congress for an authorization for the use of military force? and i don't believe that the one that was passed ten years ago was adequate. this is a hybrid. i do want to do everything within my power as other members have said of eradicating and defeating isis and not just containing them. my second question is that recent reports indicate that our allies are concerned about the u.s. commitment to this fight and some are threatening to withdraw from the coalition. what are we going to do to reassure them and keep them in the coalition? and what are we
going to do to get back on the offense and not so much on the defense? those are my questions. >> on the umf, congressman, as you know, secretary kerry devoted an entire session to this yesterday before the senate foreign relations committee and he made clear we're prepared to work very closely with the congress. there is legislation being drafted in the senate, particularly from chairman menendez which secretary said we're willing to work on and we find some very promising elements there. i think the secretary was also pretty clear the president has been clear that his policy is that u.s. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat against isil. we don't want to tie the hands of the commander in chief given a very uncertain environment and you could face a bad situation. but this will come within the give and take with congress about what the actual terminology will be. in terms of the coalition, this is why it was important that we had this conference in brussels last week because we brought
every member of the coalition together. they signed or joined a very detailed joint statement whiches out the way forward and i'll make sure you have that if you haven't seen it. it is significant. it brought countries all around the world focus on the same problem and how about to proceed. that is the kind of initiative that can help keep the coalition together and general allen and i in our travels are very focus on this and there will be a lot more over the next month in keeping it together. right now we think the commitment is very firm. in terms of offense, i have to say, the last time i testified here, we had done no air strikes that wasn't too long ago. we now done last i looked i got the most recent numbers 1219 air strikes, 689 in iraq and 530 in syria. our coalition partners have done 208 of those air strikes. what's different about past campaigns is that our air strikes now are focussed on very precise intelligence and we are striking with pretty devastating effect and to date and, you know, we have to be
very careful about this but we've been very careful about making sure we have no civilian casualties in these attacks. we talked about the state of the overall campaign and he is very focussed on that because we want to keep the population as much as possible on our side. and our strikes to date have been very precise, very effective and i can just tell you by getting the reports every morning we are hitting the targets we seek to hit. we are hitting the leadership targets. we're hitting the mobile refineries. we hit about 22 of them which is really impacting isil's ability to finance itself. we're hitting the command and control cells. we have completely destroyed isil's ability to mass and maneuver force. what it was able to do so effective it masses force they would do these swarming maneuver tactics with heavy armored vehicles and overrun anything in its wake. it can't do that anymore. that's an empirical sign of progress that we're making but we have to keep at it.
>> mr. higgins of new york is recognized. >> mr. ambassador, you indicated earlier that the deal between prime minister abad di and the kurds was a big deal that the central government in baghdad will permanently resume payments to curd stan representing 17% of the national budget, including a billion dollars to pay for the salaries of the pesh mer ga and weapons for them as well. and why is it important? because to date there hasn't been an effective count vailing fighting force in iraq. now there appears to be. the peshmerga estimates are about 190 fighters. they've proven to be reliable. they're experienced, and they've also proven to be
reliable allies to the united states in our involvement in iraq. iraqi officials now want to push for a winter offensive in mosul. and american officials, it's been reported, are concerned that this schedule is a little too ambitious. can you explain that? >> let me first say on the peshmerga -- one additional point i want to make addressing your question in about how we're kind of in a new era here. part of our plan is to train and equip, as you know 12 iraqi ber gads. three will be kurdish. and those units will receive the same western weapons vehicles equipment as the iraqi units that we're training and equipping. this is all done in cooperation between baghdad and ir bill. in terms of mosul, it's an on going discussion we have with the iraqis about how best to prosecute this campaign. i
would just caution that i think we have to be very prudent in our expectations and the the one thing we want to do is manage expectations. i have said repeatedly the president has said, the secretary has said this will be a multi-year campaign. and nobody wants to rush into mosul or a city that is held by i-s-i-l before the conditions have been set. it's an on going situation with the iraqis about how to proceed, when to proceed and what area and not another? >> how many isis fighters are in and around mosul today? >> it's hard to say. we think it's probably the last i've seen in the low thousands. the leaders in mosul we've taken off the battlefield. >> give me that number again estimate? >> the last i've seen are the low thousands. >> meaning what? >> 3,000? >> i can't give you a precise number but that sounds about
right. >> this hybrid force that you talk about between isil and the -- between the pesh mer ga and the iraqi national army would represent 20,000, 25,000 fighters? >> roughly depending on how you count the size of the ber gad. >> 20, 25,000 is a reasonable estimate? >> reasonable. >> reasonable. okay. >> what's the size of the population of city of mosul. >> 1.5 million. >> 1.5 million. and we don't believe that a offensive is advisable right now because the hybrid fighting force is not ready yet, hasn't had the proper training? >> well, we want to set the conditions before. one thing we've learned is that you don't want to move into -- >> what are the conditions? >> an urban combat environment before the conditions have been set. well, you want to work with the local population. we're working, in fact, with the government and other local
leaders in anyone noah who are now located in regions right near mosul making sure a police force is set and once isil is kicked out of mosul to make sure there's something to maintain law and order and bring services and stability to the community there which will have been suffering under isil's rule for some time. the point is you have to get this right. you can't rush into it and that is why we have these joint operation centers and are working day and day hand in glove to plan these. >> would you characterize -- >> it's hard to say. it's hard to say. >> has their momentum been broken? >> i think there are signs that the tide is beginning to turn, that the population is turning on them. >> has that hurt their recruiting efforts? >> it's hard to say but there are enough signs that they're having a hard time in mosul specifically paying their fighters. they're having a hard time getting fuel. the refinery, congressman, they tried to seize the refinery in june. they needed it for the fuel
they would need to make sure that mosul had the lights on. they failed. there was a very heroic fight put up by iraqi forces six months ago. just a couple weeks ago were able to break that siege and isil has no chance now. >> my time has expeered. thank you. >> thank you very much. pennsylvania is recognized. >> thank you, madame chair. welcome, ambassador. it's good to see you again. as we say in pennsylvania, your position is between a rock and a hard place here with us and the talks that go on at the white house. i'm a member of the nato parliamentary alliance and routinely get comments from our members that -- asking is the president taking this seriously? is the president taking isis seriously? after listening to senator
kerry's testimony just recently, i get the impression and you folks may be frustrated too, the president is trying to micro micromanaging this and not listening to you and to the military personnel. >> it's hard to say. >> i do speak up to my other nato colleagues and say any time you want to join in and contribute, we would be more than glad to have you on board. but with that said, you know we didn't attack isis when they were leaving syria going into iraq. i think that was a major mistake. i want to ask you -- and i know what you talk about in the oval office and what you can say here not by your choice maybe a little different. we made a mistake by not doing that. would you agree with me? >> what's your question? >> by not attacking isis when they were leaving? because
remember the president said in an interview with the new yorker magazine that, there were junior varsity basketball players. what has changed that they're not junior varsity anymore and why did we not -- was there an opportunity to attack them leaving syria going into iraq? >> well, i testified about a year ago some things that we were doing at that time. but all i can say as soon as mosul fell, i was on iraq, i was on a video conference with president obama and we acted immediately to set the conditions for what we're doing now. and the president made decisions within the earliest hours of mosul falling to get special forces into the field to see what was happening and to get our intelligence overhead to set up joint operations centers and that help set the conditions for being able to fight black. most importantly for working with the iraqis they got a new iraqi government up. it's a strategic foundation we have that we did not have back in june or really the past year. >> i'm not going to second guess you and sit here and question the decisions on
getting the information that we needed before you could go in and do what you decided to do. i mean, i would just would not do that. but should we increase air strikes and can we increase air strikes? i do take particular notice and agree with you on your urban combat situation. so, could we increase air strikes and pound isis even more? >> i think in going to the point of how careful we are being, there's -- i think you'll see air strikes increase as iraqi offensive operations increase because when there are on going op rags, we're able to strike targets in support of those operations and our limitations are not as narrow as when we strike targets
simply by our intelligence picture. so, when iraqis are moving in the field and then when isil begins to show itself, our air strikes increase. so you might see an increase in the numbers. but again the numbers i just gave are pretty significant. i just got a report when i was coming here in the car, we've done over the past couple days we struck targets just in iraq in mosul, al qa'im, kirkuk, so we are -- to say we're extremely serious about this, we're offensive minded and taking the fight to isil every single however. >> would we be in a better position -- i'm playing monday morning quarterback, would we have been in a better position to leave troops in iraq instead of pulling them out? >> i'll let the historians sort that out. there's a lot that went into those decisions, but i'm really focussed on where we are right now. >> well, you pretty much answered the question for me
and i know you have a fine line to walk, but there's no doubt in my mind, we left there way too soon. it was the president's agenda. and now he realizes that we're up against -- our backs are up against the wall here. with that i yield back my time. >> if i could say real quick. >> please. >> it's significant to point out we left in 2011 under an agreement in 2008 and one issue from the moment we invaded iraq is that we invaded iraq. we weren't invited into iraq. what is significant about right now and this was really apparent to me when i was iraq last month that the iraqis have now invited us in to help them. it's a totally different environment than our presence in the past. and it gives us kind of a new foundation in which to operate in iraq is significant. right up until the end of our presence in iraq, it was extremely controversial that we were there at all. >> mr. ambassador, i have to cut you off because i will recognize the you off. i will recognize the remaining members to four minutes each. i know you need to leave by 12:15. >> thank you, madame chair.
thank you, mr. ambassador, for being here today, to discuss the implementation as it relates to our strategy to defeat isis, an area of tremendous difficulty. i believe there's no military solution to the conflict in iraq and syria and i have continued to have very deep reservations about the efficacy of the military actions we've taken particularly as it pertains to the equip and train rebels. this will lead to a deepening of our involvement in sectarian civil war. to the extent that you can comment, it would be extremely helpful.
international coalition to fight isil on a global scale. could you share more details about the progress we made in building that coalition, what the barriers have been to sustaining the coalition? particularly as it relates to the train and equip programs, what kind of response we've had from war wary countries and how they're working together to share the burden of responding to this global threat. united kingdom, belgium, denmark are involved in the air strikes. there are no regional partners. that raises concern about this notion of outside the region engaging in this military conflict. would you talk a little bit about where we are in building a meaningful coalition? not just kind of photo-op but people really committed to this effort and how they're sharing the burdens of this fight against sois? >> thank you, congressman. we built this from scratch. the president and secretary
kerry. we brought the gcc together and other key partners, meeting in jetta which issued a very strong communicae. and u.n. general assembly later that month, we began to build this coalition. in jetta, the focus was joining an air campaign in syria. once those air strikes start you saw the regional states, uae and qatar were part of those. 60 members joined am brussels for a cooperative effort. there's a different role for everyone country to play. the military side, we have the air campaign. we also have now substantial contributions developing to support the train/eequip effort in iraq. we have qatar, turkey, saudi
arabia supporting the train/equip area for syria. foreign fighters, president obama chaired pretty extraordinary security council session at the u.n. general assembly and passed a chapter 7 resolution on foreign fighters that had the most response in history i'm told. we're having real progress. we're seeing foreign fighters cells broken up. this wasn't happening 90 days ago. on counter finance the same thing. kuwait has passed legislation, in working with other partners in the gulf. i could go objectn. the coalition is extremely meaningful, considering we built it from scratch 90 days ago.
i saw president obama and secretary kerry work this directly with the world leaders to pull this together, really extraordinary. and with the appointment of general allen -- >> thank you very much. >> each of the respective countries. we would benefit from a real understanding. >> mr. duncan of south carolina. about the situation in iraq and the collapse of iraqi army in the face of isis. i just wanted to comment provide an answer to him. i think it's the elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about. this is the fact that we prematurely left iraq campaign promise to be out of iraq by the end of his first term. and even after prime minister maliki offered troops there.
the president wanted to see iraqi parliament cast vote on that, which they did and it failed. so, ambassador, sitting here, listening to this and the president really fails to articulate what success in iraq or success against isis or isil looks like. i'll ask you. and a little bit of my time to define success. what does success look like to you against isis? >> what we're looking at is helping iraqis control their sovereign space. they do not control a third of their country. degrading isil in syria. huge swath of territory
in syria, number two. leading ultimately to political transition in syria, which will be extremely difficult. the first phase of this campaign it's helping iraqis regain control of sovereign territory. territory. >> let me shift gears here. success against isis is reclaiming all the land in iraq that we lost. liberating action. >> i don't think that's been determined yet. i know who is friendly. that's the kurds. they've been there since 1990 when we first went in the gulf war and have been there with america against the iraqi government government. iraqi soldiers cut and run in most. who didn't cut and run was the kurdish fighters. who didn't cut and run in the face of a
bull dozer who was armored they didn't cut and run. they actually ran toward the bull dozer to try to stop it. 25 or so kurdish fighters lost their lives. they didn't have the necessary armament and ability to stop that and some of the other weapons that isis now has and using in theater. my question to you is this. does the administration tend to more robustly equip the kurdish forces to commence? other than small arms, pistols, rifles, small arms, what else are we going to give our friends and kurds to fight isil? >> i discussed this earlier. we're going to be gisk them a lot. >> if i asked them, would you they say that? >> the same western equipment than any iraqi brigade would have. >> perhaps more of a defensive posturing. >> anti-tank rounds to
everything else. and that list has been worked up with the iraqis and the kurds. to offload this equipment. i agree with you that the peshmerka have been brave fighters and iraqi fighters south of the kurdistan region have been extremely heroic. that went on for six months. >> thank you very much, mr. ambassador. mr. schneider? >> thank you. thank you, mr. ambassador, for being here and for your service to our country. i would appreciate a more elaborate, written explanation. in your opening remarks, you indicated that it was going to take a long time. define that frame. and iraq and syria, can
isil be defeated in one country and not the other? is this an either/or or do we have to do both? can isil be defeated in syria without first or at least simultaneous achievement of a political settlement in syria? can we achieve a political settlement in syria without pushing back or defeating isil? what can and should congress be doing to push back, contain and ultimately defeat isil? with that i'll leave you with the remainder of the time. >> those are big questions. i thank you for your offer to follow up with those in writing. i don't want to put a specific timeframe on this. i think that would be. it's going to be a multi-year challenge.
>> if i can, in the context, looking at the. >> it will last, in your pb, longer than that? >> we would like to see the iraqis over the next 12 to 18 month months begin to restore control of the iraq/syria border. that process will begin over the next year. and we're working with iraqis on a plan for that. in terms of congress we have programs ready to go now, waiting for that authorization. thank you for all that the committee has done. >> can we defeat isil in iraq,
give iraq autonomy again and not defeat them at the same time in syria to be effective? >> we made a determination to degrade isil's war-fight capacity, we would have to target them in syria as well. >> you have to do both. is it possible to push back against isil without simultaneously having a political solution and, as you said, a political solution that cannot and does not include assad? >> these things do go hand in hand. in order to get a political solution, you have to have a counterweight to extremist groups like isil. that's what we're doing with the train/equip effort and some other efforts. >> i yield back my time. >> thank you, gentlemen. the chair will recognize the gentleman from illinois. please don't take any of this personally. you mentioned 25 given to the peshmerga, 2500 to
fun on the committee to see all these kind of new hawks that i remember talking two years ago about what we were going to have to go back to iraq and people thought it was a joke and thought i was joking and here we are. >> devastating foreign policy decisions. up to the red line discussion, there was legitimate talk about getting bashir al assad out of office, give him money, send him somewhere with sanctuary. but we have to preserve the institutions of the state, had a new leader and actually solve this had peacefully. today there's no real discussion about bashir al assad leaving peacefully, because he has no incentive to. that's why i'm supporter of enforcing no-fly zone even against the assad regime. it changes the calculus in his mind to now understand maybe if his life is at threat he will peacefully peacefully
leave syria. i frankly think that bashir al assad is the incubator of isis. even a terror group like isis looks better than the guy who has killed your wife and son, as he has done in so many cases. you mentioned -- by the way, we've heard recent reports even that the fsa is complaining of us cutting funding off to them and not even able to pay their soldiers anymore. i hope that's not true. that would be devastating. as a military guy myself, i expect a paycheck. it doesn't mean i'm any less of a patriot. just means i have to support people when i was full-time active duty. one thing i do want to ask you though, when we talk about, for instance, strikes in syria, you mentioned loiter time over syria, as having to come from the gulf. has there been any negotiations with turks in place to open up those bases? if so, what's been the
administration's response? from what i understand, if there's an air exclusion zone, which the administration is not not -- in fact, i've heard that. i would like to you address that sir. again, thank you for being here. >> congressman, again, thank you for your service. i think everyone still continues to work on this issue does it in the memory of everyone who has served and particularly lost their lives in iraq. >> and i appreciate that. >> that's central in all of our minds and why we need to get this right. future of syria, we're very clear, without isil or bashir al assad and discuss the ways we want to go about that.
>> let me say as i wrap up my time, i don't see any downside in a no-fly or exclusionary zone fsa. we're giving lip service to, bashir al assad would be an idiot to questionnaire superiority. >> gentleman's time expired. chair recognized committee. >> thank you for your extraordinary service to your country. thank you for coming back yet again. your testimony is always enlightening and thank you for the extraordinary amount of time, effort, energy that you have put into these issues. i wanted to ask you two basic areas, and i apologize if i'm asking you to repeat yourself. apologize if i do. what mr. kissinger was touching on, allies in this effort on both sides of the assad debates, if you will, much of the testimony we've heard before this committee is that the draw for fighters into the region to begin with was against dallas sad.
you stated that the overall end game in this, if you will, is a political transition of power or assad would leave. i have a hard time seeing how, at this point, there's any impetus to have assad go, as mr. kissinger pointed out. you said this was the first phase of this effort and potentially years long. what changes this calculus? how long best estimate, sir, do you think it takes for an armed -- or moderate syrian rebel force to actually be strong enough to fend off on one side isis and the other side assad? >> key question, congressman. you look at the efforts of stefan demastura, frees the conflict in aleppo. he has discussed it with us and assad. we're supportive of those efforts but also concerned.
we don't want another situation where you had a cease fire which basically was -- which the assad regime perpetuates his population. best we can do right now politically is try to freeze the conflict in these areas, particularly aleppo. we're fully supportive of that effort. trying to get another political process going, moving forward with the key stake holders. that's an ongoing process. in terms of the force being able to defend against these multi-threats it's extremely difficult. there are tens of thousands of moderate opposition fighters. my colleague in the state department, who has discussed talking to them every single day, they're very locally rooted, protecting their homes protecting their neighborhoods. and we do want to make sure they can protect their homes
and neighborhoods in communities against all these different threats. that's why i said particularly for the units we're going to try to train and equip, they will be used to fight isis but also defend themselves against the regime. >> mr. ambassador, then, if this is essentially the united states, and understanding the blurred lines between iraq and syria, continuing this fight in another middle eastern country for potentially years, i have a very hard time understanding how there's not additional or a new authorization for the use of military force that's going to be necessary in terms of outlining what these efforts will ber going to be. >> some negotiations have already started. anything you suggest we should keep in mind as we debate that authorization which, candidly, from my
observation, is months overdo? >> he did say we are prepared to work with congress very closely. it should include -- we don't think it should include a geographic location. we want to make sure that the commander in chief facing certain environment is maintained. maintained. >> thank you. >> time has expired. ambassador does have a meeting at the white house with hard departure time at 12:15. any members willing to take less time and yield back the balance is appreciated. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you for being here. isis is an apocolyptic vision to destroy america. they're looking to come here.
that's a very significant threat. >> the mission, is there way to narrow that down? it's a big broad war that never goes away. is there way to streamline this? is there way to maximize this so we're concentrating our resources. is there in and game? is that something that is plausible? you are fighting a knowledge ologies -- and ideology. >> we want to cut off its
finances and stop its foreign fighters. >> we tried that with the taliban and. here they are again. do you see if we don't have a definition of completeness, there is going to be an isis two. the mission is to break the caliphate over here. >> the time has expired. >> if they can yield back time, the ambassador has to leave in about 20 minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. obviously, this is complicated.
you also laid out two prongs to that degradation, counter finance operation, to choke off isil's funding and then also breaking up the foreign fighters. >> i can give you anecdotes and come back in a different setting and give you some figures. we've taken offline 22 mobile -- 240 pairlbarrels a day almost. i can give you the specific figures. in mosul, their ability to pay their fighters is substantially degraded and their ability to get fuel is also degraded. but we've got to keep at this. >> dough do we get a sense that
those fighters on the ground with isil right now, are they losing some of those fighters? >> they're losing fighters at a pretty substantial clip every week, based upon our air strikes. that's why kobani has been significant, flooding hundreds of fighters into kobani, indications we had some of their top fighters and we were able to deal with them quite effectively. >> and second part of the degradation mission, you referenced working with our alliance partners and so forth broad coalition of folks stepping up to produce the influx of foreign fighters. can you give us an update on what we may be seeing in those -- >> it's difficult to measure. isil's ideology -- it's propaganda, it's a war of flags. it's planting its flag wherever it goes. can you see that in its media products. we've been able to completely reverse that
notion in the last 90 days. it was sewing this message if you come and join isis, come to syria, you will basically live this utopian fantasy. that fantasy is clearly not true. if gu to syria, you're probably going to get killed and if you go home, you're going to get arrested and prosecuted. i was in germany when an isil fighter was sentenced to three years in prison. the tide is turning. we just need to keep at this. >> are we seeing our -- the muslim countries in the region that are coalition partners stepping up, kind of the anti-propaganda, anti-messaging? >> yes. they're extremely focused on that. in the interest of time i could provide you a fairly detailed written account to respond to that. >> that would be great. i will yield my time back. >> thank the gentleman for that. chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. web erber, for four minutes.
>> you said earlier, ambassador, we don't want to tie the hands of the commander in chief. is he tying our hands, tying the military's hands? >> chairman of the joint chiefs, free-flowing conversation. i see no indication that hands are being tied. >> why do you suppose he's. >> i suppose it comes out in the admin as opposed to -- why do you think that is? >> i'm not going to comment on pending legislation. i'm happy to work with the committee on legislation to advance these ideas. the draft i've seen, one of the preambular paragraphs talks about the need to resolve the issues
expeditiously. we're now seeing that happening. >> 50,000. hopefully we're not sending that money anymore. are they still in a position of authority? >> 46 commanders have been terminated and new commanders have been appointed. >> confident that we rooted out that corruption of those 50,000? >> that was -- iraqi government made statements about this, they found situations in which soldiers were no longer active and were still getting paychecks. meaning those paychecks were going to someone else. >> i'll try to yield some time. 22 mobile refineryies, $80 a barrel, 20 barrels a day $576,000 a month and $60 a barrel is $240,000 a month. are
we tracking that? are we able to get into financial institutions? >> that's why we have a line of effort focused on the finance. we're taking all the tools in our sanctions tool kit, very effective to bringing to bear on this problem. >> very quickly so i can yield some time, who do we think is getting the most of that money? the banks, for example, or who is buying that oil, i guess i should say. is that turkey? >> a lot of it is smuggled through the kuristan region and turkey. >> let me yield back, mr. chair. >> four minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, sir, for your testimony here today. >> real good ideas of plans put forth and i think maybe that's the reason we have not done what
i think we should have done, which is to take up and debate this so-called war against isil. and we have really authorize or not this war. are we giving supplies and money directly to the peshmerga or does it go through iraq government? that's question number one. number two, can we assume from your testimony that there is no ongoing conversation for political settlement in syria and what would be your idea as to who would -- what the government would look like from a practical point of view if was
not present. i would like to understand the general conditions in syria in terms of who is providing services to what segment of the population? >> peshmerga forces, there's kurds with us, with the central government. it seems to be working very well. if there are additional requests we'll sit down with them and continue to do that. >> you have to get permission from the iraq government, is that correct? >> it's not permission. it's a collaborative process. the minister of defense has approved every single request that has come. we're in a bit of a new era here and we need to keep it moving the right way.
principles of the geneva communicae, clear, transition process that the world has united around and secretary kerry, as i mentioned, has been involved with the key state to try to get that process on track. track. >> is anyone from syria involved in the process right now? >> my colleague, daniel rubenstein is in touch with syrians every single day. my office is almost right next to his, i see him on airplanes in the region. we are crisscrossing the region. constantly in discussion with the syrians, particularly the opposition. >> what about mr. assad? >> there's a consensus that the future of syria with him at the helm will not be stable and we'll continue to feel this extremism. the process by which we have a transition, however, remains the long goal and
attempt. >> i thank the gentle woman. chairman recognizes himself for four minutes. ambassador in terms of iran, do you believe that they can be a constructive force in the fight against isis? there's been some talk that they have sectarian differences with them, maybe that's good for us. what's your position? how are you conducting yourself, performing your duties with that in mind? >> no coordination. isil is a threat to iran and given the proximity and the border between iraq and iran that, you know, iran has a stake in this. how they conduct themselves in full respect with iraqi sovereignty or not remains an open question. we've discussed this any foreign state whether it's us or iran. about the danger of unregulated
militias operating. the state structures of iraq almost entirely collapsed six months ago today. we're rebuilding from there. it's going to be a very long process. and, you know, iran inevitably will have a role in this. it's an open question whether they want to play a role that's constructive or destructive. >> a lot of colleagues of mine are skeptical that iran can play a constructive role. the president wrote a letter to the ayatollah, it was reported. a lot of us are concerned about where that could go. iran does want to be involved in any iraq but we think it's to sew more mischief. we pass the -- congress passed the mckeon amendment, what appropriately vetted rebels, how they could qualify to be vetted. now this
week, we did have a 1600 page last week. i was reading through that and i noticed that the section about the train and equip, part a is substantially the same as the mckeon. part b though, is new. not only do they not have to have terrorist ties and, b, they have to share a commitment for such element ss. are you aware that that was in the -- >> fairly consistent with similar efforts in the past. >> i think there's a difference between just not being a terrorist -- still a desire for an islamic state, sharia state still be a sectarian fighter. rule of law and human rights means there are more pro-american fighters and it
didn't seem to me that groups i saw on the ground and reports would qualify as great groups. it was kind of like the lesser of two evils. is this going to change the vetting, this language? >> doing this full time, we're working to generate classes to fill these training sites as early as march, is focused on the vetting. i defer the question to dod. >> i think it's a concern. training these guys in saudi qatar is involved. those are not exactly states where there's a lot of -- >> we take control in the vetting, a critical criterion. >> i understand that. i yield back the balance of my time and recognize mr. doritch for four minutes. >> thank you for your continued good service. i want to follow up on the chairman's questions about iran. you said iran would
play a role. we're concerned about the role they're already playing. reports said the leaders were on the ground in iraq. i'm not sure you've had a chance to do yet. can you confirm that they're still not cooperating with iran militarily at all? >> yes, absolutely. >> i would like to circle back to syria, which i think is related. with respect to the syrian opposition and the role that -- our efforts to strengthen plays in countering isis there's been a lot written lately about moderate opposition squeezed and we've heard from some groups here that u.s. air strikes are seen as helping assad in the fight inside syria.
so if you accept that iran is on the ground in syria, that the opposition views the iranians as the most important player in propping up the assad regime which has slaughtered over 2,000 people, if you add all that in how does the effect of both our isis operations on syria and the comments we've made while we're not cooperating with iran, air strikes are beneficial? how does all that play in the ability of the moderates in syria to ever be able to cast off assad? >> again, one of your colleagues mentioned it's an extremely complicated situation. we're looking very closely and are concerned about the effort to exploit the fact that we are striking isil, which is a
necessary -- degrading isil is a necessary condition to any future in syria, which would be stable and process for the syrian people. we're look at this extremely closely. given the earliest phase, phase one. at the same time we have. ink plot strategy as they begin to stabilize areas and obtain a counterweight to extremists. >> it has looked to us and others and has said that it's years, war has been waged
against us, over 200,000 dead. there hasn't really been any effort to take action to save lives or prevent the bombs from being dropped or provide cover for humanitarian aid. if that's the way they view it, what's the response to them when they now come back and say that still leaves open the possibility that assad can continue to slaughter us with impunity? >> there's some efforts i can't discuss here. there's a lot going on here with moderate opposition groups. in a myriad of ways.
we have conversations with them constantly. having a coherent plan, working with local forces and working with the moderate opposition to degrade isil in those areas and begin to recover from those operations, that is a significant interest, in our interest and the interest of the syrian people and moderate opposition. trying to work cooperatively together. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the ambassador has a hard stop. we want to really thank you for giving us the time that you have. and there's obviously a lot going on in this region. it is complicated. we'll continue to monitor it. we know it's important for the security interest. thanks. this hearing is adjourned.
we need to do more for transparency. at the same token it, i don't think it makes sense as we are doing it to make sure that every individual voice matters. you can't have that discussion if you don't have a seat at the table. it wouldn't make sense because of my distaste for the amount of dollars in the overall process to say we are going to fold our cards and watch this money come in. >> will you be more transparent going forward? >> weeks into this and trying to get a sense of the overall budget, i think at the end of the damp we are going to spend money on elections we ought to know where that money is coming from. >> you can see that entire interview later today at 10:00.
a look at the constitutional power of the congress. they discussed the role of congress and how its actions compared to that of the president. they talk about the legislative priorities of the new congress in january. this is an hour and a half. >> afternoon. i am arthur herman, senior fellow at the hudson's to take. -- hudson institute. i want to welcome you those who are here and those in the audience of c-span2 what i will
think will be a fascinating and unique event that is taking place right now in the discussion about present, past and future of the u.s. congress. as almost all of you know who are in the room, the big buzz has been in the last couple of months and a half has been about the prospect of a gop-dominated congress coming in january. everybody who has an office at this time has ideas about what that congress should be doing. they have their shopping list or has been writing. >> i myself have one and there are a couple of items that i would like to follow up on. we don't have any current members of congress with us because our purpose here this afternoon is slightly different.
>> they are napping. >> they are not. our purpose today is what we are going to talk about today, which is what the next congress does is as important on how and why it doesn't. and what it needs to be involved to be part of congress to be the legislative branch in today's political cultural milieu. to set the background slightly in 1932 something happened in american government and the history of american government. that was the election of franklin delano roosevelt. with that election, a decisive shift began underway of power
accruing to the executive branch from the other two competing branches. as you all know, the three-branch system -- legislative, judicial, and executive -- were seen by the founding fathers as a set of countervailing interests in the terms of discussion and the ways that government and a self-governing republic such as the united states would take place. more and more power began to accrue to the executive branch. the argument being that the executive branch and its agents had or information -- had more information, a quicker response time to crises like the great depression, and were able to carry out policies that would cater to the nation's welfare and future policies.
the accrual of power accelerated with world war ii. the assumption was that only the executive branch has the skill and speed with which to respond to international crises such as the outbreak of war and deal with issues of maintaining america's security and also to help to maintain peace around the world and in support of our allies. that process then became increasingly two fold in the 1940's and 50's. there were some voices that spoke out against this sort of drift of power to the executive branch. figures like robert taft political scientist will more kindle -- wilmore kindle.
by and large, the political scientists, policy makers, thought the drift of power towards the executive branch was not only inevitable but also desirable. if you look at the kinds of figures who talked about american politics, leading figures in discussing politics in the 1950's and 1960's, james macgregor burns, richard new staff, all the attention and focus was what on what the executive branch was able to do and a way to expand its power. the entire kennedy school of government was founded as a way to enhance this role of the executive branch and its power as a part of the american political system.
the time they have come at the end of six years of the obama administration to rethink that shifting balance of power within the united states government and to ask a question about whether that growth of power in the executive has been a good thing or a bad thing overall and what are the steps that are necessary -- if not necessary to reverse it, to reassert the power of the other two branches, and in particular the power of the legislative branch. that is what we will talk your today. the person who has put his cards on the table, conceptual to cards on the table, is my colleague christopher demuth. as far as i know, he has never worked in congress. >> a summer intern. >> the only thread.