tv Russian Involvement in the Middle East - Relations with Israel Iran CSPAN July 31, 2018 5:29pm-6:50pm EDT
liberal politics and on friday, conservative politics. on a saturday, women's rights. sunday will look at the media's role. they will have a discussion about the vietnam war at home. the close out this series focusing on the cold war. watch "1968: america and turmoil," at 8:00 p.m. eastern august 6 through august 14. >> up next, foreign-policy experts discuss russia's involvement in the middle east, and their current relationships with israel and he ran -- and iran. this is about one hour 20 minutes.
>> ok, everyone. let's go ahead and get seated. we're going to get started. my name is glenn howard. i'm president of the jamestown foundation here in washington, d.c. we are delighted you are here today, able to join us for the wonderful discussions we're having. of the conference we are having is russia and the middle east. organizing a series of workshops and papers that have been coordinated and organized by dr. stephen blank who have helped us put together this conference today. in the past year, we have seen tremendous tension from every
over building around syria u.s. support for kurdish forces and the deepening tension between the syrian government and military forces every taken territory in the south. how russia balances the 'svelopment will test putin strategy. discuss hownel will russia balances its relationship is the u.s. increasingly removes itself from the same, eager to avoid becoming bogged down in the conflict -- from the scene. a new, we had the great honor of a retired general sharing his thoughts and assessments and u.s. efforts to de-conflict and avoid confrontation over syrian
airspace. i think this will be an enlightening presentation. he has a very interesting perspective on the region. who is chairing and moderating morning, panel this michael bryant is a senior fellow at the jamestown foundation. .> thank you, glen i understand my role is to direct questions and break up fights, so i will do that with vigor. listen tou want to
our illustrious panel members, so i will limit my comments, except for an initial common with three takeaways. .y background i wanted to say something about the labonte -- labonte -- levant . was responsible for some of the origins of jihadi ism.psism -- salaf they were part of the religious and also provided an interaction under the muslim brotherhood that served as its teaching .4 original al qaeda about how not to do and insurrection. they were handily defeated in syria. the second thing is a think
there is someone a -- somewhat qaeda,nsensus that al isis, no matter what they are called, will be around. there is a lot of bitterness and you have both the ideology and the men under arms to do it again. having said that, i would direct you to your materials to read the long and rather illustrious background of our panel members, but we will start off with a senior fellow at the american foreign policy council and many other things to talk about russia's intersection with this issue. and director of military security studies program, and i must say many other things which you will find in the biography,
,nd a nonresident senior fellow security for the atlantic council and many other issues as well. if we can start with dr. blank. dr. blank: thank you, michael. thank you, glen. it's a pleasure to be here and talk about how russia sees this triangle. i would argue russia sees itself as being in a fortunate strategic position but tactically rather delicate position that it has to maneuver among these three points of the triangle, if you like, but it also is strategically fortunate in that it alone is able to talk to everyone in this configuration in a frank and direct manner without rupturing ties irrevocably.
the united states does not talk to a side or iran. russia can talk to israel as well as it talks to aside into the government and to run. a majorhat signifies russian victory and it is something we have to keep in mind because syria is not the only place in the middle east. moscow is increasingly active across the middle east and what it does in syria is going to have reverberations across the .ntire region today, moscow holds the balance between iran and israel. tacticallyvoring to theind up the war, finish
military victory, which is almost complete, and create the basis for a durable political order in syria whereby a sod will rule the country, perhaps with a modified constitution, but with substantial russian insence and iranian presence syria, but not a presence that antagonizes israel to the point where israel feels it has to go to war or undertake military strikes against iran because russia does not want to see another israel e-arab war or an israel-iran war for many reasons. first of all, i think -- is -arab war orraeli israel-iran war for many reasons. first of all, i think it would undo everything they will top in the last either seven years. third, it puts the future of a sod -- assad's a
government at risk. rather beuch exploiting conflicts rather than having to stand on the sidelines or be dragged into somebody else's conflict, and the exploitation of conflicts or of leverageor regional is is the essence of russian foreign policy in many areas of the world and is thought of a deliberate -- thought of as a deliberate strategy to create regional bipolarity forcing the united states to treat russia as an equal in order to create global multipolarity where russia is an equal to the united states. we have to understand that russia is not playing a strictly regional game. is playing a global game. it sees itself as a global superpower. it is using the middle east, as
i will show, in order to leverage other kinds of presence of forced the west, not just the united states, to accept it on its own terms. moscow fully understand that israel will not try to undermine assad-- undermine that it is determined not to have iran threaten its vital interests. the problem is that for iran, assad drooling all over syria -- providing a and landline from iran to the mediterranean through lebanon, to support hezbollah and other terror just -- other terrorists is a vital interest for the government, so moscow is trying to forge an equilibrium between iran so that iran can get much
of what it wants. israel has signed off on this, they think the united states has or at least did before helsinki, and at the same time, that iran will allow itself to be "evicted," if you want to use the term, from the area around israel. a week ago, moscow proposed in jerusalem that iranian forces be kept out of the district, which is 100 kilometers from the 62 miles from the golan heights, that israel and syria abide by the agreement on the golan and they would guarantee it. the israelis turned them down flat. israel's policy is that the iranian military presence in be completely withdrawn. the problem from moscow's point of views that while they understand israel's security interest, taking the iranians out of syria means that a sod --
that assad's government is not .ecure at any point in time the ideal outcome for russia would be a solution that holds the balance between israel and iran, gets the united states out , perhaps russian recognition in europe, about which we can talk, the creation of some sort of antiterrorist coalition with moscow and washington in the lead that allows moscow to do what it ssad rules then i saia over syria, possibly in a modified way but without any moscowges, and that cannot eject iran from all of syria and it would be
counterproductive for it to try. underlying that kind of thinking is the fact that iran has long been seen in moscow in the following way. one, it is a state with which we must have an enduring relationship despite all the difficulties that exist in iran/russian relations in the fact that, let's be honest, toronto is not like moscow and probably moscow does not like to tehran does not like moscow and moscow probably does there is muchn either. if we will have a peace conference in the region, iran must be invited, recognizing iran's interest in that part of the world. iran also as a potential market for major energy deals. there are other major deals already in progress on the table. third, moscow has always tried
to create a block in the middle east of states that support it against the united states's efforts to be the unilateral security force in the middle east. now that we are foregoing that quest, the creation of this block becomes all the more attractive and vital for russia. it so happens that they created this block in 1978-1979 -- i might be the only person in the room who remembers that -- it was called the rejectionist front. oddly enough, those are the same three states they want to create a block with now. not necessarily a block, but a working partnership. interestingly enough, they are all shiite. iran is important from that point of view, but at the same time, the russians know that
what is most important to them is a working partnership, as they understand the term, with the united states, with the u.s. and the west recognizing their cradle -- greater global status pretensions and they are prepared as they always have been to sacrifice their relationship with iran to that imperative in the quest for -- and the keyword here is a working-- a durable relationship with the united states. they can do that because of the fact that once the united states walked out of the jcpoa, the russian government became the only refuge for iran. europe will do nothing for iran, that is pretty clear. iran does not have anywhere to turn except russia and possibly china and while china may give it money, it cannot give it the political and military support .t needs against the west
russia is in a position, or so it believes, to deliver, if i may use that term, to deliver iran in some sense, but it is not strong enough or willing to enforce the situation where a man gets kicked out of syria altogether because it cannot do that and knows it would simply further destabilized syria and everything moscow has accomplished. so it is in a strategically fortunate decision. it is now the primary interlocutor between israel and iran and the united states has been forced to accept russia on its terms. it is also the primary interlocutor between syria and jordan, as the recent agreement shows, and also, it is, as we will discuss later today, fully active in north africa and the gulf, and using that springboard to go into sub-saharan africa, but tactically, it is now in a delicate position because as the war winds down, it has to change
primarily aeing military actor to an actor who now builds a durable and legitimate status quo, and the jury is still out as to if that can happen. thank you. >> thank you, stephen. >> good morning. i want to thank the jamestown foundation for holding this event and extending the of predation. i will start with my bottom line, which is kind of a general assessment, and i will segue to my perception of how the israelis viewed the evolving conflict with iran and syria -- . if you want to know what and israel-iran war looks like, you have seen it already in the limited engagement both have already had in syria both sides
want to avoid a general war for reasons of geography. it's very difficult because they do not share borders, for such a war to occur. but the fact that the last four arab-israeli wars -- the three in gaza and the one in lebanon in 2006 -- occurred as a result of an unintended expletive or process gives reason for concern something much broader could occur. i would argue that of hezbollah were to get involved, that would be the factor which would cause a broadening and escalation of regionalict or perhaps war, but i will discuss that a little bit in a moment. getting back to israel and how it looks at developments in recent years, it is important to note that the goal on front with israel has since 1974 and the disengagement agreement probably -- for a border with a country that is still at war
with israel, it has been very quiet and just about as quiet as israel's border is with countries it is at peace with, the jordanian and egyptian border. the syrian civil were kicked off, israel was faced with a situation that from their point of view, there was no good outcome. was not so great, although he was the devil they knew, and as i said before, he was able to .eep the border quiet on the other hand, opposition forces contained in their ranks haddist groups who probably from an israeli point of view the intention of once getting rid of assad, turning their guns on israel, so from their point of view, there was no good outcome, so israel basically defined itself defending red
lines, which is violation of the golan cease-fire, transfer of game changing weapons to hazlitt and limitation of -- transfer of game changing weapons to hezbollah. we have seen since 2015 or so dramatic geopolitical 's rolermations in iran in the region from a strategically lonely power to the head of the block along with the foreign legion which is now .perating in syria iran has been transformed from -- to a country practicing encirclement with regional allies and now they are trying to establish a base of operation in the gallant -- in the gallant -- in the golan.
i would hold out as an aspirational iranian goal to create a situation where they can arm palestinians in the west bank, but that will not happen any time soon as long as israel and jordan remain able to secure the border there. with syrian civil war winding investedn increasingly resources and its attention in creating an infrastructure in as a that could be used platform for projecting power in the levant as well as israel. there are several components of this buildup we've seen in the past few years. first of all, efforts to syria andfactories in lebanon, for you specifically in lebanon by hezbollah, and syria,
by the syrian government and various iranian proxies. keep in mind in the past, israel and the united states have been able to interdict iranian arms and some to hezbollah of its other proxies, and israel has conducted over 130 strikes against arms shipments in syria. by creating factories in lebanon and syria, it makes it easier for iran or for iran's proxies and for theelves united states to interdict these shipments because the weapons are being made locally. we have also seen iran greeting creatingd iraqi -- syrian and iraqi missions. in iraq, they were created to fight isis, but of course, you know, they can be easily
inurposed, and we have seen an iraqi group, they announced the creation of a goal on -- a golan liberation brigade. with the idea that they would have elements that would fight against -- fight in any future war against israel. presumably a kind of area familiarization kind of visit to prepare them presumably beyond the propaganda purposes of these visits to prepare them for the possibility of participating in future wars. part of it is early warning but part of it is to build up their knowledge of the israeli enemy in order to facilitate future operations in the logistical facilities in syria in order to support their malicious -- militias there.
and perhaps to garrison the use them as a staging area for operations in the future against israel. as i mentioned, it's part of a kind of larger project of creating a network of proxies and othersisrael against saudi arabia to enable iran to threaten america's foremost regional allies from multiple directions. israel has been motivated by its concern of avoiding a repetition of the scenario that evolved in the last 30 years with regard to hezbollah where hezbollah in the 1980's was a small, ragged guerrilla group and now has emerged as a world-class hybrid military organization. sees initial first steps of such a process occurring in syria with the creation of hezbollah-like organizations and
syria. again, the main purpose has been to fight the opposition in syria, but again, once that war winds down, if it ends, they could be repurposed and eventually built up to serve iran's purposes in the context of a fight against israel, so israel is watching these things happen. as i mentioned before, israel since 2013 has been engaged in what they call a campaign between the wars against hezbollah. more than 130 strikes against hezbollah-related targets, convoys and arms depots, and they have now brought in that for iranian targets. on the one hand, the fact that israel has been able to conduct over 130 strikes against hezbollah-related targets in syria since 20 that leading to a war perhaps gives reason to hope that the emerging israel-iran
conflict in syria can be successfully managed or contained -- the fact that israel has been able to conduct over 130 strikes in syria since 2013. their preferred mode of operation in both cases is to operate below the threshold of general conflict, ok? that is a factor toward the continued management of the conflict. on the other hand, as i mentioned, last israeli wars started that way and escalated to something much larger, so that is a countervailing factor. there are several others that have to be considered. i mentioned before, the thing that could really change it is if hezbollah gets dragged into the conflict. iran has limited military structure in iran right now.
they have not built up a missile array or ground forces there like you have in lebanon, and it has below were to be dragged into a conflict, again, you have 100,000 rockets that hezbollah arrangeduding rockets throughout israel, and if israel would want to stop the launch of rockets, they would have to go in on the ground. now,he fact is right hezbollah has become too important for iran to risk in such a war, and as a result, proxiese created these -- i mentioned before these groups being created to engage israel from the gallant -- from the golan so israel does not get dragged into the war. israel is also being concerned that iran and hezbollah may have been emboldened by their reinforceand might
the propensity for overreach. we sought incidents, one involving syrians in eastern syria, the syrians working with russian mercenaries to attack resulting force units in american airstrikes and the killing of at least 200, andaps, of these russians pro-regime forces, and we still have the iranian overflight of israel by the uav in february, .upposedly an armed uav the israeli and american response i think has put both iran and syria on their heels and caused them to act with greater caution as a result, but this, when they decided on a strategic direction, they will sometimes back off but then try to find other ways to achieve their goals until we attacked by other means, so to speak.
the tensions in gaza -- i think that is a factor that maybe is a constraining factor in some ways having to deal with tensions on the border and violence on the border in recent months does not want a two-front wore it they can avoid it. to the degree that israel sees to some extent iran trying to a gaza mights on in militate in the other direction, so it's not clear how gaza plays out in israeli calculations. is also a couple getting factor right now. in thatas played a role they have apparently -- i don't know if they have been a green light or yellow light, how you would characterize it, but has not done anything to interfere with operations, and as long as that remains the case, i think
israel will be able to conduct air operations against iran's imaging infrastructure, and the question is if iran is able to build infrastructure faster than israel can destroy it. i think the verdict is out on that, but if russian policies were to change, that could have a major factor on israel's freedom of action, and it's not clear if it will constrain it or actually cause israel to double down to try to reassert freedom of action to prevent iran from in russian policy to further build up its infrastructure there. there's also another factor at work here. the israelis recently hit a resort, killing up to 50 people, including 20 members of the
iraqi militia. at first, i think there were concerns that this could lead to perhaps targeting of american troops in the region, but they came out with a statement saying that if israel hits them and is, the israelis hit them in syria and i do not think the israelis had intentions of hitting them in iraq. as long as this remains for hezbollah, that will be a factor against escalation. u.s. resolve the jcpoa. there is always the possibility ,hat these two parallel lines israeli operations against iran , andria and vice versa perhaps emerging tensions between the united states and iran as a result of the jcpoa could merge and have a reinforcing a fact. thate conclude by saying as i said before the fact that
israel has conducted some of the strikes against hezbollah in the last five years raises perhaps and could provide a reason for hope that israel and iran could manage their conflict in syria. but, there are a number of factors could lead to escalation. first, if israel proves unable to limit the growth of iran's infrastructure over time, it will probably incentivize them to intensify operations there. to response by escalating further against israel as a result either from syria or elsewhere in the world. or if iran or syria feels the need to strike back at israel, they might decide to act against israel outside of serial, by perhaps conducting terrorist attacks around the world and that could provoke israel to respond. the last point i will make is as i mentioned, is is -- hezbollah
gets in the fray, all bets are off. it is quite likely will use their inventory of rocket against critical infrastructure in israel, and israel will want to hit back, not just in lebanon but perhaps in iran. i will note that iran's oil industry is located in the southwest part of the country, which is the part that is the closest to israel. this might be at a time when the united states is trying to put maxim economic pressure on iran and it might be a tempting target. if israel hits iran's oil industry, iran might respond by hitting across the gulf in arab states, especially if they are cheering israel on. i think this is a low likelihood, high impact event. i do not think this is something that is likely, but i'm trying
to show a path how a local concept could become a regional conflict despite the desirable of the parties to keep it. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. emi on now? can you hear me -- am i on now? can you hear me? would you like to start question mark -- start? >> thank you for organizing such a timely conference. as a leisure to be a part of this panel and iran's strategy in syria has changed. interference in syria and intervention at the outset in 2011 with the specific objective of defeating the sunni
opposition and keeping bashar al-assad and power. the objectives were --tually and aleppo, it was the beginning of the end of the opposition movement in syria. logically, iran should have evacuated forces, including those in syria. it did not. that is when it strategy changed. the new strategy in syria for iran is basically two main goals. power,projection of especially in regards to the shia community in the region, showing iran is still involved
as a major power in syria, even in post-conflict syria. the second and probably more important for iran is to be -- to have forces deployed close to the israeli front decisions. it has been something they have been talking about since the first days of the revolution. agencytter of fact, the -- iranian agency in charge of was an policy in syria force that was named to goal ofly be the stated the republic. they chose this opportunity to be in syria to be as close with the israelis as they ever dreamed of to counterbalance israel's cover and israeli influence in the area. is anthose two new object
thestrategies, iran needed , whichunder command included and aleppo 80,000 shia militia acting as the ground for thes the land force operations. movemented freedom of in the country. also, they needed to have a direct supply line from iran syria. if they wanted to stay there permanently, then they had intended that. they did have air bridge between iranian air force damascus airport, but during times of conflict, airfields can be taken out fairly quickly.
them position of cover and they could move heavy equipment and larger formations of personnel easier on the land forces. they had to create a so-called land bridge, connecting iran to iraq to syria, lebanon, and the israeli positions. on a technical level, iran wanted to stay in syria because they thought the u.s. under both administrations would be leading -- leaving syria soon and they would follow the u.s. to fill in the vacuum that was left by the territoryove into the that will be left by the u.s. and its allies in syria. to do all of the new object is, iran needed to permanently base its forces in syria.
parts ofted leasing dozens of the syrian military bases across syria, especially in the south. people have counted up to 40 different bases -- military bases that iran has installations in. bases,y need all those they need to have a command and control center, house haveligence, they need to andcommand and control runways, and they need more than anything else to base tens of thousands of shia militias under their command in those bases. they are trying to
be in syria on a permanent basis. this is not happening in vacuum. while they were successful in syria and aleppo, ironically, iran itself started facing serious problems -- economic problems inside iran. following the meltdown -- economic meltdown in the country, collapse of the national currency, and the results of that has been discontent among the population, and we have seen it in a wave of presentations and protests. this is happening within that context. syria,n, aside from
there are also things happening affect eating iran's strategy -- affecting iran's strategy. a commander said that if iranian oil will not be exported from the persian gulf, no oil will be exported from the persian gulf. the larger extent of that is for iran is getting ready some kind of operation in the region if the time comes that they follow the threats they have made in the past few weeks. you have on one hand, the s and unrestblem in iran. you have another front in the
persian gulf and in yemen that might open up. limittwo could very well iran's desire to stay in syria permanently, and could be the factor that can push iran to come to some kind of copper mines in syria. i will get to that in a second. permanently,ria to all is really's intentions -- israelis intentions. it is very clear that israel did not want to have any iranian military formations permanently stationed in syria. they has said so publicly. they rejected the russians offer
of 100 kilometers and a buffer between iranian forces and the forces under the command of iran including hezbollah, and the borders of israel. not that they don't want to have that, but from the israeli point of view, it was not enough for them. iran can still have its shia militia stationed outside the buffer zone. iran can still have longer range rockets and missiles deployed outside the buffer zone. iran can still have the land ,ridge outside the buffer zone and all of those things would be an acceptable to israel -- unacceptable to israel. from the israeli point of view, the solution would be that iran has to leave syria altogether.
loomingcan see the major conflict in iran and israel brewing. one wants to say there permanently, and the other side wantsisrael to leave -- them to leave syria now. whispering in that part of the world. israel -- that is what is happening in that part of the world. israelis have hit iranian forces directly. there were 10 incidents that is really forces it back at iranian after they had sent rockets into the israeli occupied go on -- golan. back andlis hit coordinated air and missile
attacks on almost all of iranian installations within syria. major action by the israeli military directly against iranian forces, and these were the basis we were talking about. it israel hit dozens of those installations within those bases. israel was very clear that iran cannot stay. can the compromise be between these two extreme objectives? the russians are trying their best to do so. they are trying to have iran to pull back 100 kilometers on the border.
that might not be enough for israel and is not enough for israel, and they have said so. it has to be more than that. a solution like iran keeping some advisors embedded within the syrian military, and then having hezbollah to have a presence and operate out of areas adjacent to the lebanese above and beyond pulling back 100 kilometers from the border. thoseination of all of could give israel a reason to compromise on the subject. that is what the russians are really pushing hard these days. view,he iranian point of this was probably happening to years ago. inngs are not happening
vacuum and the situation in iran and the situation in the persian gulf is very serious and could push them into such a compromise. thank you. >> thank you very much. before opening the floor to questions, i would like to ask the question of each of our panelists, starting with stephen. meetings andin government circles that russia's relationship with the united states involves an analysis of what our threshold is before we andt with military force significant other kinds of actions. what, in tell me essence, russia's view of the as far astes red line
russia goes in the future? that thei think russians have never articulated their view of what constitutes an american redline, although i am sure they have discussed it among themselves. any direct attack on russian forces or russian weapons being used on american soil or american citizens or a commercial bustle might constitute one of them. , use the wordian collusion, in an attack against israel would certainly be a .edline an incident involving turkey, as a member of nato, could precipitate article for our article five action i nato -- by
nato would be equally as bad by russia's point of view. any iranian military offensive against the saudi's or one of the other emirates where it runs fingerprints are all too visible would also probably galvanize american reaction in a forceful way. the same might be true for egypt, but i do not think egypt is in danger from those kinds of things. lines. those are red moscow has a thriving relationship, apart from all of we have discussed this morning, has commerce and trade. there are four flights going between tel aviv and moscow. at one point they were buying israeli weapons. ago, things were unheard of, and i don't think they want
to jeopardize that. i think those are what they understand red lines to be. >> thank you very much for you mentioned israel's for red lines. could you repeat them before we start the questions? the red lines were related to the civil war 2011 and present, which were any violations of the golon cease-fire -- cease-fire. transfer of chemical weapons to terrorists, which is not happened. the chemical weapons use has been by with the regime. the israelis have not acted on that one because the weapons were under government control. transfer of game changing weapons to hezbollah. israel has act and -- acted for the 130 times.
and deployment to the syrian regime that would limit israel's plan of action. as a result of the recent conflict with iran, israel has also struck at syrian air defenses that try to prevent them from operating. with regard to the current red lines, i would say in equilibrium could raps -- perhaps be reached. israel tolerated around's and in syria from 2013 until now iran's striking -- involvement in syria from 2013 until now without striking. rocketre building factories and i do not think that is a redline for israel. their highly active rockets of the critical structure. israel will not tolerate that redline. intelligence gathering facilities, all were on the
syrian and they were directed at israel. there was a warning and also intelligence used for offenses. logistical infrastructure that could serve the projection of force against israel in the golan. there is the potential for in add abrium, but it is much lower level than which iran had been operating recently. israel, as a result of the they cut they, grass down to the roots. if iran does not try to rebuild, that is the basis for in equilibrium in the long when, as long as they don't get close to the order and try to rebuild the factories. iran generally is very persistent, and i am skeptical they will accept that, at least
at this time. maybe in the future. >> thank you very much. iran hasa redline that before it would strike against israeli forces directly to mark -- directly? . the redline is not in syria. facilitiesranian almost all of iranian oldies on may 10. -- iranian facilities on may 10. wanted israelis to attack them, but they were not prepared iran is not prepared to go to a or a majorict superior military force. military to military conflict on foreign soil, it iran is not prepared for that.
they have always preferred to operate in the gray zone. some of the operations they did in syria contradict that. for example, sending rockets into israeli golan is in direct contradiction of the gray zone. they do not think iran is ready for his prepared or has the forces to start a major conflict with israel on the syrian soil. that is one of the reasons it might be -- there might be room for some compromise. the big redline would be if israel attacks facilities in iran or attacks nuclear facilities in iran, that would be different. >> thank you. i would like to open it up now.
basically --to before you ask your question, would you please identify yourself and if you are willing tell us what your affiliation is so we know where the question is coming from. front, andion was up then there was a second question. >> mark katz from george mason university. thank you for an interesting presentation. i have two questions for stephen particular. russiansoned that the advertise themselves as being in a position where they can talk iranians.e, israelis, as we know from previous american -- just being able to talk isn't sufficient.
there has to be a combination to stickshings, carrots and and the american support for israel. does russia have a combination of carrots and sticks it can use to bring about an israeli-iranian conflict resolution, or is that what it is interested in or are they simply interested in tamping down a conflict? that asd question is part of what we have seen that the russians have indicated that they cannot and won't remove the iranians from syria, and for all the reasons you stated, they also made clear that they are not going to get in the way of israeli strikes on iran. at what point does that affect the russian-iranian relationship? how long can they keep on cooperating or if russia does
respond, how this effect the russian-israeli conflict -- relationship? russia getting along with iran and israel will be challenged if there is an israeli, iranian conflict continuing. thank you. the ability to talk to everybody and make deals with everybody, and let it to the carrots and sticks, is vital to understanding russia's policy and its success in the middle east at large, not just in this articular series of issues. -- particular series of issues. for israel, they have a thriving trade. israel also understands that american support, although the
trump administration may be close to israel, is in the long run not as strong as it used to be and that israel has to talk to moscow also because moscow is a major player in the middle east. as far as iran goes, russia has carrots, arm sales, support with result to the jcpoa and united nations, its ability to talk to the saudis and modify prices is important for iran. they stuck it to iran because they worked with the saudis. were put on production and the russians and saudis said no. iran had to accept it. thatussian calculation is iran may be a difficult partner, but it is difficult. where we can support them we will. we helped them get number ship in the shanghai corporation. they have thriving train --
trade. their arms used to be made. we can act by virtue of our ability to make deals with others, we can restrain them from attacking iran. what russia is trying to do is from striking israel and israel from striking back. it is trying to be the referee in a boxing match. ever but he go to a neutral order and cool off and -- everybody go to a neutral corner and cool off. , what canond question we do to prevent that? the russians see their ability to control and escalate conflicts, not just in the middle east or the ones we know about in europe and so on. that is essential to their strategy. what they see from the united states is that they do not know how to impose escalation control and is fighting inconclusive, prolonged wars with no end in
havoc allare wreaking over the place. we can argue whether or not that is a correct assessment, that is the way they see things. they see their strategy as being one that allows them to maintain escalation control. once they make a deal, that site is afraid if they afraid badly as far as russia is concern or get in to a conflict with russian partners, they will lose that. they have a vested interest in cooperation with russia. this provides the russians for a basis for a long-term partnership and make them enablers to play a major role throughout the middle east. the carrots and sticks are inherit in the stability to make deals and have dialogue with people and say, we will support you up to a point. and then turn around and say, the iranians are right on this issue. issues inhas to keep
balance. they are not trying to bring a resolution. they are trying to bring a perpetual timeout. is there a question back here? >> stanley clover. that you mayying not be interested in more, but war,s interested -- in the but war is interested in you. everybody is in control. what if nobody is in control? i am thinking about one issue, jerusalem. there is a lot of stuff going on in jerusalem. there was a riot last friday. what if there is an incident in jerusalem, and the arabians say, we will be the defenders -- they ends -- iranians say
will be the defenders of jerusalem. once that match is lit, how big is the conflict? are you directing that a particular member? >> anyone who wants to. iranians, i am infringing.m the iranians have a cold-blooded approach to their interests. if you look at the 2006 lebanon war, there were protests in toronto in support -- in tehran in support of hezbollah. if protests occur without official -- these kinds of protest usually have official listing when they occur. if people were volunteering to go fight, my knowledge, and there were a number of journalists who covered it at
the time, none of them were allowed to go. been -- war would have this was tailor-made given the to has commitments bought and the downtrodden, this would've been natural to let the people go, and they didn't. to get draggednt into a war and have iranian citizens killed and have domestic pressure put on the regime. they don't do anything for anyone if it is not in their interests. right now, by and large, they have been trying to act in a very careful way to shape an altar the regional status quo and balance power without having things spiral out of control. i said before, it could spiral out of control. they do not allow events to drag them into fights that they don't want.
that doesn't mean that they won't escalate or do things, but every once in a while iran does something loopy. the overflight of israel in february. you have hobart towers. you have the green barracks bombing raid have -- bombing. i don't rule out possibility they will do something to lead to miscalculation, but they only do it that they think is in their interests and not that they were dragged into it by protesters. >> i agreed with that here the initial concern i have is the most severe internal situation in iran gets, especially if you have a massive demonstration and movement against the regime, the more likelihood that iran would welcome foreign intervention or
foreign conflict to deflect attention from that, even if it is manufactured. that is a concern i have. like the other areas coast of yemen -- if those missiles that the iranians have given hit a u.s. ship or an allied ship and has major damage, you never know what could happen. >> i would say, stan, also that we saw what happened in march when we had the embassy ceremony in jerusalem. the only people who reacted were hamas, and they reacted in a productively self-defeating manner. nobody in the arab world took any kind of serious action for the rhetoric.
there are people now saying this administration's peace plan, which is probably d.o.a. anyway won't work unless it is something addressing jerusalem at the palestinian capital. i do not think an insolent -- incident in jerusalem will provoke the iranians to attack israel. it might provoke hamas are has the -- or hezbollah. that is a different question. >> the young man over here. everybody is a young man to me. [laughter] >> my name is ben williams. i had a question about hezbollah, which is -- has blood is often -- hezbollah is often described as a proxy of iran, but say the iranians were to have to cut off support tomorrow, would hezbollah be
able to act independently, and would they want or move towards another war with israel? that is for anyone. ran --ollah depends on a iran for many things, including a great portion of their budget, probably 80% or 90% of their operating budget. arms and forn for arming them. closes, hezbollah has bounds. it was formed by the iranians a few years after the evolution in -- after the iranians
were forced into movement and thening the shiites and bringing individuals, even leftists and lebanese and shiites and putting them all together and formed hezbollah. if iran stopped it support for hezbollah altogether for any number of reasons, and hezbollah would not be the hezbollah we know. it would be a political organization within the lebanese political system, not the hezbollah we know. >> next question. >> the used to be geographical bias here. -- there seems to be geographical bias here. >> my question can go to anyone in the panel. given the recent involvement of
iran going closer and closer to the golan heights, what are the implications of the disagreement disengagement -- and the management of airspace? over time, do we suspect those to degrade a redo -- or duly expect those to be maintained on both sides? >> if you will remember at the , two presidents were concerned about israel's security and wanted to ensure the 74 agreements were kept. the israeli government has said they will keep them, and it will abide by those agreements. 's coral is not -- quarrel is not with the this
policy -- the diplomacy. withare fully in agreement the agreement in 1974. if it was left up to israel and syria, that agreement would not be disturbed. the only factor trying to undermine that is iran. after what happened to them in may, i am not convinced they are going to do so in a hurry again. they will always try to magnify their advantage and push their interests. they are risk-averse when it comes to direct confrontation with a superior military force. i am not all that worried that the 1974 agreement is in danger. iran got taught a good lesson in may. >> it was in january 2015 where the israelis struck a convoy,
killing an iranian general whenever engaged in a battlefield tour. any iranians or malicious that tried to establish a presence in that area will be hit. apparently, both the united states and russia have agreed and essentially indicated they would support any israeli action in that regard. difficult a very environment for them to operate in. israel has excellent intelligence as well. they use the term intelligence supremacy in syria. question. i wonder if anybody could
talk about iran and israel's capability in cyber warfare as it pertains to either the u.s. or other act or's in the region -- actors in the region. we have discussed military attacks and how risk-averse they are, but they have shown some carefully,to attack and i think they have more capability. if you could address that. formidabletes have cyber capabilities. example, were involved in an incident showed high level of proficiency and a highly developed cyber state.
they have a lot of capabilities, and everybody knows it. iran does too. if you remember a couple of years ago they took down around amco which causes the saudi pain -- saudis pain and reverberates locally. -- globally. i do not think that alone will bring about the iran-israel conflict that people are afraid of. i think it is more likely to be something other than cyber that precipitates that. the iranians are not prepared for a cyber attack when it happened. after that, they started having in did defensive cyber warfare capabilities and that offensive. they have their own cyber
larger parthin the that are the major iranian act verse involve for preparation for cyber commands. important.mely >> next question? way in the back. >> might question -- my question is that you set iranians took aleppo. the russians had a major contributions in the attack on aleppo. .ould you explain who is who understand thete
rest of the question. that the iranians took aleppo in 2016. the russian government had a major contribution in the attack and aleppo. which information is true or are russians have the it isis orsyria, is opposition or everybody? >> i did not discuss the aleppo campaign. russia was critically important for the efforts of the pro-regime forces to defeat the operation -- opposition. the aerial campaign that russia
led targeted non-isis forces. attacked the american supported forces. they presented its limit to the rest of the world that either you support groups like isis and jihadists. that was the initial strategy. now they are going against isis area thataptured an from isis. initially, russia was targeting american supported rebel groups and rebel groups supported by other countries in turkey. they pivoted and were attacking groups that are jihadist in nature. that is my understanding. i hope that answers the question. question. we have time for another
question? are we finished and we have one more? we are finished with questions. a 15 minute coffee break says the boss over here. [applause] >> tonight, the aspen institute holds a discussion on the future of college sports, specifically the potential applications of athletic compensation. speakers include former college basketball coaches and players, ncaa officials and sports lot experts. that is on 8:30 on c-span2. officialsnment testify on border security and immigration policy for migrant
families coming to the u.s. they spoke earlier today before the senate judiciary committee. that begins at 9:30 p.m. eastern on c-span. ♪ c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up wednesday morning, the manhattan institute will join us to discuss automation and the future of the u.s. workforce. then, democratic socialists of america's maria schwartz talks about democratic socialism. the sure to watch c-span's washington journal wednesday morning. join the discussion. ♪ morning i'm a testimony from acting epa administrator and wheeler on his agencies -- andrew wheeler on his agency. it will be the first time taking part sent taking over the epa after scott pruitt's resignation. he will speak in front the
senate environment and public works committee. you can see it live tomorrow at 1030 eastern on c-span. eastern on c-span. cities tour bang takes you to las cruces, mexico. we will explore the literary life and history of las cruces, located at the foot of the oregon mountain and along the banks of the rio grande. john hunter explores the impact of the manhattan project j new mexico in his book robert oppenheimer, the cold war and a time at west. brought itenheimer to berkeley and caltech and then to new mexico, he changed particularly new mexico. was fourt estate that and had very little if the infrastructure and put in the middle of it a
federally funded facility that transformed the state. >> banc of america andrews the ofools -- discusses women southern new mexico in her new book on sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. -- thet the missile been done outas here, people think it has been mostly military testing, but it has involved civilian use its best usage. been done out -- civilian usage. it is still a big program out here. selden, her of fort located near the rio grande river established to keep peace in the region. watch the citibank to her of las cruces, mexico saturday at noon eastern and senate at 2:00 p.m. on american history tv on c-span3.
working with our cable affiliates as we export america. -- explore america. >> supreme court nominee brett have now continues to meet with senators on capitol hill. follow the -- cavanagh continues to meet with senators on capitol hill. watch live on c-span. watch anytime on c-span.org or listen with the free app. night circuit judicial conference held, justice anthony kennedy talked about his decision to retire from the supreme court effective today. this is 40 minutes. much.nk you all very what a great privilege it is for andof us to be here particulate for us to be appear on this stage with the justice kennedy. as i mentioned monday, this is a very unique