tv Foreign Policy Combating Terrorism CSPAN March 31, 2018 4:24am-5:58am EDT
on c-span's "q&a". >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies, and is brought to you today by your -- and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of the white house, the supreme eventsand public policy in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> the center for strategic and international studies and washington, d.c. hosted a discussion about fighting terrorism after the collapse of isis in syria. the different approaches taken by the u.s. and russia, and how terrorist threats might evolve in the future. a half.an hour and
>> good morning. welcome to csa is. i direct the russia and eurasia program here. i'm also the person you will be looking to instruction for in case of emergency and a moderator of this excellent panel. stateceit of the islamic -- however you want to call them equationnged the criteria, and perhaps it's not quite right to say that this continues. defeat of isis does raise questions about what this means
for counterterrorism, for and interestingly enough, with both russia and the united states having their own approaches, how we will be looking at these in washington. interactingwill be with one another. i couldn't imagine another -- a better panel. we have the chief research fellow at the institution of oriental studies at the academy of russian sciences, and professor on oriental studies at making university, asian studies at moscow state university, who knows more about the middle east than i'm going to wager a guess anybody here. most people in the world. seth jones, who holds -- and directs a project here at csis. , and is also a professor of
johns hopkins who has been writing about u.s. counterterrorism and the development of the terrorist threat for many years. he's the author of any number of books, which you can find at an independent bookstore. and, the person who heads the peace and conference studies unit at the russian academy of sciences in moscow. written the book several times on terrorism and how to counter it. , one of the most cogent explainers of these topics that i know. we unfortunately lost chemical reagan, who was supposed to join at this panel. she was called away unexpectedly and is very sorry not to be here. i would like to give a few words
to the director of the east-west institute's moscow office. just held a series of the unitedns about states, russia, terrorism, and afghanistan. reason we are- lucky enough to have this person here with us. i would like him to have the opportunity to say a little bit about his project and their work before we get started. >> thank you. yes. good morning. .ust wanted to add again, our colleagues from russia are coming here in the whichork of the program is from are you new york and moscow offices to go to u.s.-russia relations. as membersming here members off russian
the working group of counterterrorism in afghanistan. it's a joint working group, which was established here by the east-west institute with a founding from the carnegie corporation of new york. we had our second meeting, three days meetings here in washington dc. participants,sian a similar number of american participants. with u.s. meetings officials in the state department. as well as the u.s. institute for peace. we actually discussed a number , which fits interestingly into the current shouldssia agenda, and be interesting against the backdrop of current automatic
russia and between the united states. >> the key focus of our project is to find common ground during this turbulent time of russian politics. deliberationsat were very productive, although we mainly outlined a lot of disagreements between russia and the united states in the areas of counterterrorism and how we see the situation evolving, particularly for afghanistan. a lotheless, we felt topics were of common understanding. we particularly discussed such issues as the u.s.-russia strategies on counterterrorism, how they practically interact in syria, and what the prospects
for u.s.-russia cooperation or coordination in afghanistan are. possibleghanistan as a russiaere america and could cooperate in the future, although it is also a scene of contradictions. we discussed the peace process in afghanistan, and a possible -- the possible implications of the upcoming elections next year there for fighting against terrorism in afghanistan and around afghanistan. we have discussed many regional keyes and how numerous original players see the situation in afghanistan, and how the u.s. and russia could be engaged in contributing to the stability of this country in the future. this panel, which will take place here, will be devoted
mostly to the issues of evolving terrorist trends. we also discussed within the framework of our project, and believe me, that was a very interesting discussion. this is -- this group works currently in a closed regime. we do not publish much, but we are planning to issue a threat assessment report on terrorism in afghanistan at the beginning of the next year. with these words i would like to thank csis for hosting this of that here and giving an opportunity to broaden the discussion, and present some of our conclusions and views to the broad audience. thank you. >> ok. we will get started. why am going to do is ask each
of these analysts -- panelists to give some brief introductory remarks, then we will talk amongst ourselves for a little bit before turning to you, our audience, for questions. we will go straight down the line. >> thank you. i would like to think that east-west institute. olga --like to think olga, who made this meeting possible. it is a great pleasure to meet to discuss the issues which i believe are of great importance to us now. i would like to mention first several drivers of the russian policy. as you know there are so many questions concerning the goals of russia in syria for example. i would like to start with an intention to play a
very important role in fighting terrorism along with the western coalition. if we look back to 2015, it was the main driver which shaped russian policy. there were also other considerations, like wanting to prevent -- failure. we did not want to see that jihadists ruling. russia also had a goal of defending minorities. there were other not so important considerations that existed. as for the main idea, to prove that russia can -- despite all of the -- to fight along with the western coalition against common enemies, mainly isis. that was the main driver.
now, three years later we can sum up what really has happened. that the fight against terrorism, international terrorism is no longer a unifying center. first of all, because we should recognize that isis was militarily defeated. -- area, which is controlled almost nothing in syria. the fighters managed to get away -- some of the fighters managed to get away, but this is another story. in syria isis is no longer a threat as it was several years ago. at the same time, the problem is that the differences between the two coalitions and between the united states and russia went deeper in syria after these
positive results. first of all, because i believe that we very much -- on a regional airlines. can make at now we conclusion that the rule of the original powers, including nonstate actors, has been authorized. they're really trying to take advantage of the two powers and the two coalitions just to secure their own interests, which might have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism him up with preserving the state, and things like that. as far as these regional actors are concerned, i can tell that we have difficulties with turkey , probably will have greater difficulty with turkey, but nobody is very happy.
turkey is trying to secure -- at the expense of kurds. as you remember the isis has supported kurds in their fight. the autonomy was not clear at the time, what situation the syrians thought they were in. as for russia, russia as you know probably was not a direct ally, but we insisted very much kurdishing up special delegation's. heard in our delegate -- kurds in our delegation come so i should we have a separate one -- delegation, so why should we have a separate one. turkey still remains and probably will remain forever as a member of nato.
they have good relations with russia despite the crisis. iran, it is afor headache. it is very important for russia because it is important to go far beyond the --. for us it is a really important, it is our neighbor. concerned,yria is iran continues fighting. at the same time nobody knows what the post-conflict intentions of iran would be. whether they would like to remain in syria, whether they would like to have their bases in syria. here we also have to take into consideration the concerns of israel. you know that we have a very good relations with israel
nowadays, despite the fact that we agree to disagree on certain issues. still, the relations are very good and personable relations as well. what is real is saying and what they are doing -- israel is saying and what they are doing. i just mentioned several players. we can of course mention -- also. if we come back to the russian american relations, i would say that the results of our coordination was a bit ambiguous and ambivalent. on the one side we cannot deny that we managed to work out together at the security conference the resolution to fight, which is very important. it is a resolution for the solution of the syrian conflict.
of map whichsort shows out by stages what should be done. provisionals periods, including elections, new constitutions, and things like that. --also have very effective policy in syria. it seems now that it is not ,nough, because with isis gone the two coalitions are getting closer together, even territorially. to --n groups might try iran. you know there are already such
provisions, i mean that contractors, these are private contractors of course, but still, it was a very an easy to to find outuneasy that they were working with americans. they do not belong to the ministry of defense, but they are human beings, we cannot ignore it. this is a big problem, because the goals in syria are now getting further apart. approach have a common to the future, to the political future of syria, including the syrian regime. i would not say that anyone right now insist that stepping down as a precondition to any solution. it is not true. we still do know that the western coalition and its allies would not -- were not there for than is period requested by the resolution to
fight for. political process is concerned, you know that now there is unfortunately -- there are no positive developments in geneva. russia will use its original allies -- regional allies and partners to make a new process. that was not thought of as a substitution for geneva, but on the contrary, is a process that might probably help geneva, because to start with it is resolution you have to start with the situation on the ground. you have to start fighting on the groups -- stop fighting on the ground, break humanitarian aid to the people -- bring humanitarian aid to the. some of them were successful,
and the south for example, where egypt and jordan also participated. at the same time we do understand that there are places where the theirists actually have -- and where the fighting still continues because of it. istanbul, for example. of course for us it was a sort of existential threat. know, and what is really bad about it is that unfortunately there were a lot of civil population, and many people thought. theyroblem was that
practically dug out a sort of underground city, underground town where they had all of what they needed. the people would live as they used to live, but it was very difficult to get to the terrorists themselves, because they were underground. example is --, where we also have a very complicated situation. many fighters came to egypt. it seems that turkey wants to take it all by force. it will probably be forced to take care of the situation. it means that the force will be used, because i do not see how otherwise the problem can be
solved. i am naming all of these issues just to show that the situation in syria is far from being stable. i really do not know how much effort would be needed, and how much time would be needed to improve it. what is absolutely -- is that this time we need on the one side coordination with the western coalition. on the other side we need coordination with regional actors. otherwise it will not work. the not discrediting russian policy, because i toieve that we managed establish good relations practically with all players, israel, saudikey, arabia, you name it, practically every country. we cannot establish good relations with the united states.
this is a problem. this is what i believe still, though i have left -- lost a lot of optimism, but rest of my believe that syria and other conflicts of the middle east can be instrumental to improve relations. not at the global level, but let's say only in the region. it is necessary for us. it is necessary because we need to stop the tensions in the region. it is beneficial for all of us, because these are hotbeds of tension. on the other hand, we need to get certain experience of cooperation. thank you. >> thank you so much. that was really a great overview and i think sets the stage very well for the rest of our panelists. i will turn this over now. >> yes, thanks.
>> he is also cohost of this program. >> that's right. and to the east-west center, based my fellow panelists for their ability to come today and have a frank discussion on an important subject. i will take a step back and look more broadly at patterns of terrorists, particularly jihadist activity, and try to put u.s.-russian cooperation competition and a broader context -- in a broader context. i think it is certainly true to start up with two points, that the islamic state, or daesh has lost territorial control not just in iraq and syria, but in other countries will had some control of territory. it has lost control of territory in libya, including cert, where it had control. it has lost control of territory
from levels of 2014 in afghanistan, particularly southern afghanistan. it has lost from its levels and nigeria, boko ron -- boko barometer -- boko haram. al qaeda has also struggled in many ways. i think it is worth noting that there still remain a large level -- number of jihadists across the world. really the highest recorded numbers in recent history. there are particularly large numbers and iraq, serial, libya, syria,ers in iraq, libya, and other areas. territory, attrol least at certain levels, but we see a lot of fluidity among a range of locations. notion,push back on the
in thehave heard even u.s. national security strategy, that these organizations have been crushed. i think they have certainly lost territory, but i have strong reservations that they have been defeated in any meaningful way. i will look a little bit about the juxtaposition between decline and control in april of individuals out there that i think are concerned -- in april pool of individuals out there that i think are concerning. they have a similar ideologies, but they have competed with each other in a range of areas. i think with the islamic state, or daesh, i think decline and territorial control has been pretty well documented by all sides, the syrians, the russians, the americans, the turks.
in iraq and syria it has been a combination of those -- both state activities and substate activities. the interaction of iraqi counterterrorism service forces, the local militia, and then european and other countries that are conducting airstrikes, and has special operations, and forces on the ground. they involve state and nonstate. the have lost levels of support. the same is true in libya, where it has been a combination of state and nonstate activity against islamic state activity areas.a and certain al qaeda has certainly faced challenges when we look at it globally. the court in the stand region -- core and the is danny region is in theival mode --
pakistani region is in survival mode. in syria al qaeda has traditionally has had a relationship with --. at the jihadists communities in syria, over the past year or two there has been intense discord, particularly with htf. the operational security has made it very difficult to provide guidance, in any meaningful fashion. i think what we see on the ground is a range of these groups have made a number of operational and tactical decisions, essentially on their own. in a few cases with the -- with individuals in direct opposition . if you look at his statements over the past several months, he has become increasingly frustrated with the core al
qaeda's ability to provide a meaningful guidance to the movement. so there has been a a lot of competition within jihadist networks within syria and other locations. i think a lot of fracturing. is how many name and a group changes we have seen in the last six months in the syria area. that is i guess the good news. the islamic state has lost control, al qaeda is in a bit of confusion. there is the discord in the core areaghanistan and pakistan has really been put in survival mode. the downside a little bit is that if you look at some of the is together a database of the numbers of jihadists, including groups. the numbers are telling.
the database is indicating that there are as many as 200,000 --bal selfie jihadists global jihadists. come to what we saw three years ago or five years ago, or 10 years ago, we are at nearly record highs right now. most of these fighters are in iraq and syria, libya, the afghanistan pakistan region, yemen. they are not always coming out of the umbrella of isis, daesh, or al qaeda, but they are operating with local groups in range of these areas. roughly 65 active groups along these same battlefields, on multiple continents. is substantial fluidity, i think, between and within these categories. syria is a really useful
example, because we have seen a constant series of rebranding, fissures between jihadists. way, i thinke there were a number of countries, including the u.s., that were concerned about significant return of foreign fighters to places like europe. for the most part those numbers have been much lower than most have anticipated. there has been an exit is of fighters to a few -- exodus of fighters to a few locations, mostly the balkans. the numbers are relatively low compared to at least predictions and south asia. i just got back yesterday from south africa. the number of foreign fighters there is much lower. there is a lot of movement in and within battlefields in africa, including the nigeria, includingalia,
northern mali. not a ton of moment from iraq and syria into those areas. i think it is helpful that we as analysts, and i think governments like to put these groups into categories. we like to call them group x or group y. i think it is important to understand that we are really dealing with fluid networks, and lots of changes in names. the large numbers right now. i think this leads to a range of key questions that are worth considering, particularly on the u.s.-russian radar screens. , and how is turkey will turkey be impacted by some of the near term battlefield efforts against these groups, particularly in syria and iraq? damascus,y think that there has been it shouldn't eastern guida and -- in a push
in eastern guida and damascus. turkey is the closest location. turkey, there is fairly substantial amount of evidence that turkey has divided assistance to some of these groups, and may provide sanctuary. i think as we have seen from syria, during the iraq war, 2003, there are always opportunities for blowback when states allow groups to operate on their territory. i think there are a range of questions about the stability in turkey if we see a decline in territorial control, particularly in the -- area of syria. second question is, will we see collectively a change, particularly in groups among -- like al qaeda, a shift towards more external operations?
they focus predominantly on fighting in local areas. the focus is mostly on fighting the near enemy. and trying to inspire attacks in the west or in russia. will we see groups start to migrate towards more attempts to get directly involved in external operations? i think that is on open question right now. it certainly would be concerning if we did. finally, i think my most serious is -- andving forward i think there are opportunities for the americans and russians tote to ameliorate -- ways ameliorate governance. as long as there are governments
that are weak, ineffective, illegitimate, in many cases there will be opportunities for groups to use those territories for sanctuary, and to conduct attacks in those countries, and also use them as a launching pad externally. i see very limited optimism that in the next 2-3 years, so for the immediate short-term, we are likely to see significant improvements in governance. i think there is a very serious counterterrorism -- it is not just a military effort, broader diplomatic development need to build more competent and effective governments in these areas, or we will continue to face these problems. even in syria, estimates are still between 30,000-50,000 jihadists in syria that may
move across the border to turkey. i do not think that we will get much progress if we don't have --. let me conclude with a couple of final points. i think the u.s. has to be really careful that it does not try to move on to complete away from -- move on to complete away from-- too quickly counterterrorism. think, again, based on my comments earlier, that there remain there may be competition in
libya where the russians and americans have competed. there will be competition. remark, i concluding think there will have to be avenues for cooperation. both countries have substantial interest, and should, and have common interests in targeting groups like al qaeda and the islamic state. both consider washington and moscow enemies. they have a reason and need to
share intelligence, and to work together against those groups. where they have common interests, there is a need to continue to talk and share information, and then to cooperate. interest inmutual trying to establish a settlement in afghanistan. my broader point to summarize, i think while al qaeda and the islamic state have some unsettling times, there are a number of networks operating on multiple fronts. if you put the russia and u.s. relationship in context, and things outside counterterrorism, there will be competition, we should expect that. i also think there are avenues of potential cooperation. i'm struck, how little
terrorism has come up. we talked a lot about insurgency. we talked a bit about competition. glad our final speaker will bring us back to terrorism, the actual tactic, as opposed to the groups, the insurgent groups that we worry about. insurgency and terrorism are not mutually exclusive. the way it sounds suggests its primary focus on transnational terrorism, but the part of the title i have a problem with is after syria. even the defeat of the isis , itphate does not yet imply does not mean the end of
conflict. probably what was in pot -- daesh, what, after happens after? that leads me to two questions which i will try to answer. one is, how does the challenge of transnational terrorism evil in iraqe demise of isis and syria? and second, what are the related problems for international in thetion, particularly russia u.s. context. we will have to be selective. on question one, i will try to focus, how much change could we expect a global terrorist
patterns? after daesh is gone. two, i willion argue that the main impediment, the main complication in international cooperation on anti-cloak -- anti-terrorism globally has nothing to do with the east west divide, nothing. although it has important implications for the russia u.s. relation. on question one, up until the present day, international terrorism in this century, early 21st century has been dominated by radical islamists. layering is that the main , maine in terms of intensity of terrorist activity, the core of
this type of terrorism was not formed by any single group. even by a single micro network. the mostlayer, problematic layer of terrorist activity of this type has been of no morehandful than six, seven regionally based militant movements all engaged in complex in the middle east, south east asia, and east and central africa. these movements are distinct. they generate in different regions, the emergent different context, but they share similarities. in muslim muslim populated regions.
regions.slim they are all regionally based and absolutely endemic in their regions. thatmay have developed transnational connections, but they remain the product of their regional context. they are endemic of their regions. are in week, failing states. by a couple ofd week and failed states. they all aspire to build autonomous governments in their regions. in activembine combat, intense combat against governments and for an armed security forces.
with their lead role of terrorist activities globally. to give you an idea, we have , 74% ascs on terrorism the middle of the decade which is basically now. 74% of all terrorist for tallies accounted for caused by six or seven groups. that is isis, the taliban, boko and other groups. sometimes more depending on the year. and daesh is not always the lead actor.
regionalization, and they going across the border and getting regionalized. outmain reason isis stood was not the intensity of his terrorist activity. it is compatible to other groups of this type. the reason it stood out is that they own not just syria but the middle east. they grew up into a category of its own. isis is a key much of product. overall, i would say it is three trends and transnational terrorism. second, i call it network fragmentation of global jihad. mostly in regions outside the muslim world, in the developed world's we see this fragmentation.
intensifiedse, they targeted flows of jihadists within regions and across regions. these are interrelated but distinct. they may be rooted in different contexts, they develop in parallel, and they overlap. at the interface of all three you get daesh the way we knew it. a physical caliphate, reinforced by inflows of fighters and settlers from the middle east and beyond the middle east. and expanding its propaganda influence, ideology, whatever, to many localized groups in other parts of the world, micro
cells, jihadists in the developed world, and so on and so forth. the demise of isis court in serious and iraq, it may not be complete, i agree. it is more or less bringing an as this ambition to have a global caliphate. -- dependent get on controlling territory. thisis an end of centrifugal system of this claim. however, it does not necessarily change the overall pattern that i have described. there are very solid grounds to expect in the foreseeable future
the bulk of terrorist global activity will still be produced by a certain type of movement. territoryively large -based movements combining combat with terrorist activity in the muslim world. i do not see any grounds to suggest that this pattern is likely to radically change. i think this is a more important finding, whether isis would be whether al qaeda will come back again to read assert itself -- to reassert itself. we are dealing with a complex thing. moving to the second question, which is international cooperation, what does this mean for terrorism, international cooperation on antiterrorism
faces many impediments, many constraints. i do not even want to go to the list, anything from bribery's, rivalries. from sometimes domestic political territories interfere. standards,se double one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. i would argue the main complication here is actually far more serious at the global level. contrast, a a sharp colossal disproportion. imagine a dividing line which is not along the east west divide at all. which is -- not exactly north-south, but i would rather say it divides between the
, the developed world on the one hand, and then several areas in the muslim world on the other. itself ine manifest ofremely uneven distribution terrorist activity. a physical harm suffering from terrorism between these two worlds, if you like. just a briefly given an example, 90% -- 94% of people die from .errorism in the middle east 94%. nor inthe global west the east, however you define it, russia, china, eurasia, whatever. they die in these parts of the
world. furthermore, if you go beyond fatalities, several parameters of terrorist activity, 90% of all terrorist activity is .ccounted for just in the top 10 states, none of them are western states. none of the top 20 in the world are western states. and afghanistan, war-torn, they lead by all counts in this century, the two countries most affected by contextm, followed by in syria nigeria, and pakistan. just five countries in the world account for two thirds of all in terrorist attacks.
concentration of so much terrorist activity globally in just a few areas, and in the hands of just not that many handful of groups, what does it imply for international cooperation on terrorism? the up location is obvious. if we want to reduce terrorism globally, because some of its -- so much of it is concentrated, let's pull ourselves together and concentrate on the first. even if you increase pressure internationally, regionally, it is national, regional, and an international level even against one or two groups, you see a substantial reduction in global terrorism indicators. this is what happened in the past few years in syria did increased international pressure. increased international pressure
on isis. in nigeria, because of national but justnal efforts, reducewo helped terrorist for tallies by 22% in just two years. the peak was in 2014. no matter what happens between russia and the united states, no matter how they hate each other on other matters, whether they like it or not, they both actively contributed to this decline. through their military constraints in syria. through cooperation, but to parallel efforts with one shared goal, anti-isis. coming back to this colossal disproportion globally that i
was talking about, with so much activity concentrated in just several areas, while in contrast what we see in the developed world, in 2016, that accounted for just 1% of global terrorist for tallies. impression.the we are coming to the reverse disproportion here. there is a disproportionate physical manifestation. media, attacks have on politics security, global antiterrorist agenda, and you see this disproportion against this indirect destabilizing.
the west is more central. direct minimal manifestation comes from terrorism in the developed world aiming at that. , brussels, orlando, whatever. it overwhelms global media. global media political attention. compared to far more frequent and deadly attacks in kabul, , you name it.ishu the problem, minimal
manifestations of terrorism in the west because of its centrality, they also have disproportionate influence on global antiterrorism agenda. for instance, some of the issues or concerns specific to a ,eveloped western society radicalization of second generation of migrants, the emergence of cells generating micro cells of jihadist type. anti-migrant, the rise of , they may be down in importance in the west but they have a priority and are relevant to much of the rest of the world, and particularly for those countries which suffer incomparably more from both direct manifestations of terrorism and broader consequences of armed conflict at the same time. they have every right to claim
their concerns are underrepresented in global antiterrorism agenda. these countries lack resources to face the threat. some of have minimal state and even toy, implement those antiterrorism obligations that they sign up for. globally, there is a huge need to bridge that gap somehow. it is an objective. i think russia, actually, has been somewhere between the two worlds. one of theaybe countries that can play a role in bridging this gap. anti-global terrorism agenda more balanced against this colossal disproportion. russia, on the one hand, is a major player at the u.n. security council. they are one of the champions
along lead western states, along with india of antiterrorist agenda at the u.n. at the same time clearly a non-western power. if there were any doubts that they should be gone by now. also, in terms of vulnerability to terrorism, russia is actually , it runs through the world. russia went through the worst. country that made it into the top 10 earlier this century. the only one. and it was also the only one effectively improved its position by falling out of the top 10 then the top 20. then from the top 30, and by now, if you look at the objective indicators, doing
better than the united states or france. russia is in a position to do that. to conclude, if we come back to the fact -- because i think it connects us back to what irina if we come about, back to the fact that the alliance share of global terrorist activity is linked to the agenda and the contacts of armed conflicts, measure of complex over -- of a very they are very intense, the most intense in the world. are in weak and failing states mostly in the muslim world. this should be the best evidence to the need to
qualitatively upgrade international capacity to address to fundamentally resolve , and if this can be solved without improved relations among the east-west divide. especially on syria and afghanistan, that is the big question. this should be an open question the audience, but my answer is no read unless you get some normalization along the east-west line. in certain places you were not getting anywhere. i have to stop here. i think this sets the stage nicely for questions i want to .sk all of you to rea and iranestion of iran 's interests.
you indicated it is not clear where it wants to go. i wonder what you think russia's interests are in terms of where iran will go, and how much influence russia has on iran. extent, question to an you both touched on this. it is a convincing case that most terrorism, not insurgency but terrorism is the product, the work of a small number of groups in their own neighborhoods, where they live. my question to the two of you is twofold. one is, what proportion of these group strategies is terrorism by insurgency, particularly now after the defeat of isis? and is their focus on their
neighborhood a matter of ease and opportunity, or is it intentional? westernat they target countries rarely because you get so much bang for the buck, so you do not need to target them more often? or would they target them more if they could? i think that speaks to some of and moscow are trying to assess the danger and the threat? sayirst of all, i would since the competition not over, and unfortunately seems it will last for some indefinite time, we cannot say what the endgame in syria.n we can suspect of course that sense iran -- since iran contributed to the destabilization of syria, and
the rise of jihadists coming to , so from this point of view we can say iran will be in gettingnterested something in return. what can it be? presence.a military it will not be that easy because it is ambivalent. helped assad to stay in power, but if assad -- it will become a threat from the domestic point. as far as russia is concerned, as i have already said, we are not interested in the division of syria.
there should be a unified syria. and the effort of the regional powers to identify their zones i believe it is part of a political settlement. as far as russia's leverages on certaini believe conditions it might be useful, but unfortunately the background is unfavorable. inause the ambitions of iran syria has increased against the background of the united states and european countries, some european countries just exerting pressure and happening to undermine. this is a very complicated game. >> thank you. i'm going to differentiate
between the far enemy, the west, russia, and the near enemy, rather than terrorism and insurgency. i think the evidence is overwhelming that the vast majority of violent is happening by local groups in the countries within they are operating. if you look at the data from any of the databases it overwhelm a leash shows the vast majority of violence is directed at near enemy regimes. and countries operating against example, theia for primary regional terrorism is directed at the canyons in inticular -- at the kenyans particular. here is the challenge, and i think this is where, this
becomes an issue for states outside of that, whether moscow, paris, or washington. and that is a few things. one is, when you look at the leadership of virtually all of these groups, i am going to call some of these groups within the al qaeda sphere because they pledged allegiance to the watery look at the leadership comments, if you look at some of the comments from the leadership africa,eda or in west they do focus on enemies being internal in the areas they are targeting, and also the countries that are supporting them overseas. this is why we get a tax against the french.
they tie those two together. it is not just the regimes locally where we see most of the violence happening, but it is also their supporters, wherever they are, moscow or paris or washington or london. timenk there is some between his organizations. twoave seen these groups do kinds of things to tie the context together. one is inspire attacks in the west. i think this is where daesh based on its social media and a range of factors have been more successful in inspiring attacks in the west. would not underestimate as we have seen in france in the past two years the ability for individuals to be inspired. the numbers in france and europe were much smaller than they are or afghanistan.
it is the dominant theme in french society, the most significant threats that the state assesses it has right now comes from jihadist groups operating internal he and outside that connection. plots, involvement in the paris november 2015 attack is an example where we see individuals plotting in the middle east and going to paris to conduct the attack. the pressure that has been put networks by broader outside powers, u.s. special operations, british, french, and even russian operations has for the moment degraded the external operation capabilities of these groups. in the last several years we have seen external plotting into europe. we have seen a number of
individuals that have been plotting attacks who were killed by strikes. in that case it was a u.s. strike. i think these are in many ways tied. the taliban is a good example of this. we have seen areas the taliban hasn't -- the taliban has controlled, in the indian subcontinent activity, i see continuing burning of these wars, these local wars, and terrorist violence in these countries as long as they continue, there will, and there continue to be connections and a desire that focus on attacking the regime in the country they are operating as well as to target if they can the groups that are providing assistance,
the countries that are providing assistance to those regimes. i think that means, look at the ,tatements this -- specifically they target in their word in plotting, moscow, paris, washington, and the london along those lines. if we do not deal with these burning complex, we continue threats. a small percentage -- >> a slight correction. we're not talking about all local groups. when we talk about the critical ofers, the most dangerous national terrorists, it's neither flat al qaeda style networks with no territorial base, not linked specifically to
any particular country. array, a wide , islamists, separatist groups fighting on the territory of otherwise relatively functional states mostly in asia and eurasia, mostly muslim minority states. there are many more of them. russia, china, india. asia, it is a very standard thing, almost every second country has this problem. it is at the global international level they may have connections and support, but if the state's functional it will manage more or less.
toetimes even intentionally have a final solution of that problem, because that is given fragmentation, low scale violence, it is not always possible. and the root causes continue to create this problem. it may take decades to address. decades for the violence to evaporate completely. it is a long-term process. the strategies containing it at a relatively low scale level. not letting it grow. a functional state can allow this, can afford to do this, and often does not need major external support. the problems are a movement of a different type.
there is a clear problem here and a link to states in the middle east, that is one of the main features of the systemic -- i do not want to preclude what they did, but basically there is a crisis of state in the middle east, and that is one of the core problems here. are many other issues involved, if you are dealing , mostroups that combine of them are prioritized combat over terrorist means. especially groups like the taliban. we spent the last two days the mainhey remain terrorist sector in afghanistan. connectivity combat clearly
dominates. the problem with movements like that, they are very hard, there is not much you can do without changing something fundamental, without -- and it is very hard to defeat them militarily just by mobilizing external international support. gilly reason that was possible in syria and iraq is because the movement is without region. it created the necessary degree , a western broad coalition. nevertheless, this is the broadest you can have. but the movement like the taliban, it does not have any particular goals beyond the afghan and pakistani area of operation. it is very hard to mobilize if
it enjoys a degree of support from neighboring countries. there is a comp looks regional complex-- there is a regional balance. cases, somalia, afghanistan, even libya, there is no military solution to the problem. this brings us back to fundamental things. , trying to find a solution. these groups are major parties. addressing key possibilities, they present the main challenge at all levels, national, regional, and international. >> we do not have a lot of time. i am going to take some questions and they come back to
our panelists to respond to them and say anything additional. over here in the great. please wait for the microphone. these identify yourself, and please do ask a question. yourank you for interesting discussion. is, different from the topic, it is about political's settlement. i want to ask your opinion, it is acknowledged by the geneva talks is now in a deadlock. do you see any alternative to this format, or do you see anything that can bring you this it tos just to force bring something new to the table?
>> hi. it is not often we get a russian perspective from a first-hand account. my question is, you alluded to divergent objectives between syria and russia and the u.s.. i want you to speak to what would be considered an optimal solution in syria from a russian perspective? and let's go to the back. >> hi. george mason university. my question is about the recent statements from the head of the u.s. forces in afghanistan alleging that russia helped support the taliban. is there any evidence, and regardless of that, what does it mean for the future of cooperation between the u.s. and russia if one of the most senior u.s. officials on
counterterrorism makes this kind of statement? >> and final question. thank you. i am from the voice of america. how about the new version of i think destroyed by this military attack. and to the second one, defeating , the kurdish fighters, what the big politic victory for the usa coalition. the usa by their silence gives the green light to turkey to
control the city, and killing people, looting, destroying the city. >> what is the question? >> the question is, the greenlight -- >> is it a greenlight? let's go in reverse order. answer what you want and give your final comments to keep in just a few minutes. >> geneva talks on syria, russia has been supportive of the geneva talks throughout. one of the primary backers. furthermore, i would say russia , the cease-fire format. one of its main goals was to
prepare technical ground for geneva. the three main issues prevented geneva talks to start in earnest. which was all previous geneva, several years of geneva talks. they did not involve major players on the ground. they involve bunches of immigrants mostly. they did not account sufficiently for the interest of key regional players, and they were not based on a lasting cease-fire. allpoint was to address three of these issues, to bring the major players together on the ground. position.oups are in it did account, it was co-brokered by turkey and iran.
grounds for athe cease-fire which, may i say, better than all previous ones, despite all the violations. it was the longest holding, and remains the longest holding cease-fire. in that sense, russia -- but you must realize, they do not even humanitarian situations properly. and let alone, made issues, political issues, the future of the country, the political transition, all the things that the un security council resolution. that is the job for geneva, which is why russia will continue to support geneva talks and tries to help in other ways a broaderng, inviting
range of people, tribal leaders. up.kurds could not come trying to engage a broad range of people, and dialogue about what kind of syria, and that is not enough, not nearly enough of this dialogue. among syrians about what kind of country they want. russia will continue to support it. at tricky area, is russia ready to support it indefinitely? remain stalled forever, if there is no progress forever, because russia is firmly set on diminishing its
direct presence in syria. and its ownership of the syria problem. it will consider other exit options. if not, it will consider other exit options. not a complete exit, keeping , ae of the gains it made couple of the bases and so on. its main focus will be diminishing its own presence in syria while preserving its growing influence and contacts in the region, in the broader region. i probably have to stop here. >> i will briefly touch on geneva, and i will talk about the telegram. , the geneva talks, my view is cynical. of examples of
effective successful peace settlements, including ones that have stuck. there are a range of factors that increase your probability of syria's settlements, one of them is stalemate. i think one of the single biggest challenges to geneva right now is the absence of a stalemate on the ground. i think the assessment from damascus is the regime is winning. i think that makes it unlikely to get a serious settlement on the ground. in that sense, it will continue to fight because it's prospects every day get better for a better bargaining hand. maybe we will get a settlement down the road, but my prospects are lower the more progress on the battlefield occurs. on the russia issue, this is something i focus of fair amount on, and have spent time in afghanistan and talk to a range of governments in the region including the specs, -- uzbeks,
the afghans. my assessment of the russia taliban relationship is to have a bit of context here. by far, the biggest backers of the taliban remains pakistan. this is where the leadership structure of the taliban remains. -- iran probably as a second state backer. iran has allowed camps in a radiant soiled to be used by the taliban. when the last telegram leader was killed, he had just come from iranian territory before he was killed by a u.s. strike in pakistan. this puts the russian assistance and my general sense is it has been fairly limited read i think russian objectives in afghanistan are primarily
weaken if not destroyed isis. serious concerns about isis , there still is a balance of power struggle with the u.s. the u.s. has, it's presence has gone up in afghanistan south of russia. the u.s. has a relationship that it continues to try to develop with asian states. i think that is something of a strategic concern. i think in that sense it looks like there have -- has been limited contacts between the russians in taliban. i think it can be overstated quite easily. i would say one of my general assumptions of the great game in afghanistan is most major powers play not to lose, not necessarily to win. if there is any way they could bog the americans down in afghanistan, there are a number of countries in the region that
would be happy to do that. as the settlement of the syrian competence concerned, i really believe the main obstacle is not the united states or western coalition, which probably did not do a lot to push it forward. not russia, who can be accused of not doing much. actually, we never take into consideration the positions of the locals. if you take their position, and if you take their government, the question is are they ready for negotiate settlements? are they ready for what is set up for them, they are not coming, they are not showing up. this is the main problem. syria and the region, they used to be dependent.
then we have a cold war. union,states and soviet and they are not doing anything for themselves. they believe it is a very important to teach them, to be responsible for the fate of their own country. if they are not ready, we cannot do much. then there was a question about russian, the solution in syria. will be agreedr on by the syrians themselves is fine. are not going to dictate to them what to do in their elections. let it be. there should be a new model of constitution.
then it will be easy to start with the conditional period. we would like to see a unified syria. i am not sure whether this will come through. on that extremely positive note, i thought this was a fantastic conversation. institute, andhe the corporation that supports this. our wonderful panelists for giving us so much to think about , and so much data that supports their arguments. i think this was a fantastically substantive discussion. and to the audience, i thank you for being here. [applause]
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