tv Discussion on Turkeys Role in the Middle East CSPAN December 1, 2018 2:13am-4:13am EST
next, a form on turkey's relations with other countries in the middle east. on thursday, israel announced they would not be appointing a new ambassador to turkey after turkey deported the serving israeli investor and recalled its chief diplomat in protest over the recent killing of palestinian protesters. the middle east policy council host this discussion. >> good morning, everyone. i ask everyone to take your seats, grab your last cup of coffee, and then we will get started. have just two hours and three fantastic analysts so we do want to take advantage of the time that we have.
good morning and welcome. i am the president and chairman of the board of the middle east policy council. i am pleased to welcome you on behalf of the council to this, our 94th quarterly capitol hill conference. the topic for today's program, saudi arabian-turkish rivalry in the middle east is an issue which we feel has gained quite a bit of prominence in the aftermath of the october 2 murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. about his fate emerged in the weeks following his death, a dynamic began to play out between saudi arabia and turkey. this dynamic suggests a kind of
rivalry between the two countries for influence in the middle east. i think it is a dynamic that has been underappreciated by those who follow events in the region. today, we will have an opportunity to delve into the pic. program, irn to the would like to say a few words about the middle eastern policy council. our organization was established in 1981. we are an ngo and our purpose is to promote dialogue and education concerning the u.s. and the countries of the middle east. we have three flagship programs. conference, our quarterly capitol hill conference, as we hold these every three months. because we are looking to engage with people here, staffers and others, who are involved in u.s. policy issues. have our journal, you
probably saw some copies on the table outside. we are very proud of our journalists, quite well-known. it can be found in 15,000 libraries around the world. we feel that is one of our most effective programs. our third main program is our educational outreach program, which basically is aimed at secondary school students and teachers, another group we feel could learn more and would do well to learn more about the middle east, so that is what we try to promote. opportunity to , our us on our website teacher website. now, let's turn to today's event. it program today is being live
streamed on our website, let me also welcome those who are viewing the program yet the internet this morning. -- via the internet this morning. w we will be putting the proceedings on our website. thethere will be a recap in next few days. with that, let me introduce our panelists. we have ryan crocker, who i had the pleasure of serving with. ryan has served as a diplomat for almost 40 years, attaining the rank of career ambassador, the highest rank in the foreign service. he held the position of u.s. ambassador in six countries,
syria, iraq, pakistan, kuwait, afghanistan, and lebanon. he is currently a diplomat and resident of the woodrow wilson school at princeton university. is a senioraker resident scholar at the arab gulf states institute in washington. a weekly columnist for bloomberg and for the uae newspaper the national. he is also a regular contributor to other u.s. and the middle eastern publications and a frequent radio and tv commentator. is on thespeaker faculty of the arts and social sciences at a university near istanbul. he is also a researcher at the poly technical institute. the professor has published 13 books on turkish foreign relations, including several
dealing with turkey and the middle east. i would like to thank all three of you for joining us today. the program will begin with each panelist delivering a brief opening remarks. this is followed by a by mysion, moderated colleague, the executive director of the middle east policy council. please note that we have placed index by my cards on all of the seats. please use these cards to write down any questions which you have as the speakers are speaking. and hold them up so that our staff can collect the card. we can then consolidate the questions. with that, let me turn the podium over to ambassador crocker. ryan, could you step up here please?
>> thank you, richard, and good morning to all of you. hang around the middle east long enough, you get to meet a lot of people. the nice thing about it is the cycle through your life as one moves forward. here,gnize many people but two in particular i would ofe to mention as exemplars good things in terrible times. herermer colleague and is -- anne is here. is a survivor of the bombing of the american embassy in beirut. --ike me, that bast broke blast broke just about every bone in her body.
every single person injured in that attack and got to the american university hospital alive stayed alive. at that time, i think it was beyond doubt the best trauma center anywhere in the world because they had seen so much of it. i will always reverent going to visit you. and i just wanted to touch you , with 117 a breaks or whatever it was, you're not general lee -- generally available. gavend a hotel -- a toe, i a little tug on that toe. found a positive attitude reflected throughout the trial. thank you for that, thank you for your service through that and far beyond.
, mohammed, another figure from my past. i did not recognize him, even when he introduced himself. that is because when we intersected, it had been nine months before the horror of the embassy bombing. we intersected in september of 1982 in the immediate aftermath of another unexplainable horror, the massacre at the refuge camp. i worked a very intensely as a political counselor in big time -- in beirut at the time. we were able to bring him and his brother to the united states. these things count, they make a difference, they made a difference in our lives and your brothers, and from the work you
have done in this country, you have enriched all of our lives. before i go on this long sequence of doom and horror, i just wanted to get that out there. small good things. turkey and saudi arabia, great subject. let me tell you why. ways,y real and enduring both countries have been absolutely critical u.s. partners in the aftermath of world war ii. turkey, a founding member of nato. i, turkey had no longer owned the middle east as they had centuries before under the ottoman empire, but was always a place of significant
influence and, indeed, advice. nato relationship that had been there from the beginning. a little bit different, ,bviously, with saudi arabia but also an enduring relationship that goes back to 1945. the war was not even over in europe. in 1945, a historic meeting between a very ill fdr on the deck of the uss quincy. president would make that trip out at that time, and to have the meeting on a ship of war underscored the significance of what happened that day in february, 1945. that forged the enduring relationship with the kingdom.
and through the kingdom, the , based onhe region the fundamental premise or transaction, if you will, though it became far more than that, oil for security. oil, of course, had been discovered in saudi arabia for the second world war, but not really developed. nonetheless, coming out of the the largest that reserves of the world were likely located in saudi arabia. so, present at the creation, if you will. these relations go back very far and run very deep. in some respect, one could make the case that it is closer, perhaps, with turkey because of the nato membership.
the use ofstill have turkey as an air base, which is crucial to a lot of what we have done together against the islamic state in syria and iraq. it would be a very different situation for us, for the region haddeed, internationally, we not been able to base many of our operations out of turkey. so it becomes pretty important. turkey stood with us in korea. they wanted their troops to go wherever it was hardest. i had a friend in later years who had been in the military. he was of greek origin and spoke greek and so was attached to greek troops in korea.
he recounted the story he said he saw time after time. the turks would be given whatever impossibly hard objective there was. there would be a tremendous din of gunfire, plumes and clouds of and battle after battle, when the smoke cleared, there would be a turkish flag on top of whatever the objective was. the point being here: don't mess with the turks. so we will get to all kinds of things in the cuban day. fast forward to where we are today with both. you can say that if we are not in a relationship crisis with both, we have skated pretty close to it. with both countries, it could get better, could get worse.
for those of you who may be a little newer to the region to i -- van i, the matter how bad things look, things can get worse. i am a poster boy for that. there is no bottom. that turkey and , not an-world war i arab land, does not control arab sense,n any occupational but because of its unique position can bring considerable influence to their on what happens in the middle east. when i left the middle east for what i thought was the last time 2009,ambassador early in i looked back with a real gratitude for the turkish role in iraq at a critical time.
we have negotiated a very difficult set of agreements, one , and something that served as a framework for our forces going forward. and another much broader political agreement that we envisioned being the basis for an ongoing relationship in iraq and beyond, something the u.s. had never had before. the complexity of politics at that time meant that it is not over until it is over, and then it is not over. ireign ministers of bari and signed the agreement in october, 2008. by signing it, we closed it.
gowould mean that it would up to the iraqi parliament for ratification with only an up or down vote possible. the text would not be reopened. and we got that positive vote. but, because democracies are it was also the issue of the vice president siding off on it. one of whom was representing, largely, the sunni community. with perfect reason, he had a lot of questions that we soft to answer. time, soically at that did the turkish envoy, with who we worked very closely. he had a connection that went back years and i have always thought that bringing the vice
president finally a board on that agreement had a great deal to use -- to do with the turkish role. these are things that did not make headlines unless you are out there. how personalities count, how histories count, and a little bit about how to manage those. now, i will not try to stand up. any whacksyways -- givi -- given to the administration. maybe i will. arabia are and saudi in a process of significant internal change. course, we see the dissension of president erdogan.
he has remade in the entire structure inside turkey, something i never dreamed i would see, with respect to the turkish army. , it as luck would have it got to be in istanbul for two of and 1980. 1970 i had a certain sense of the resilience of turks. restaurants stayed open, bars stayed open, traffic went down, kind of nice. also had to live with the fact that the army is never going to be checked a civilian government. well, that happened. and it continues to go on happening, if you will. so, what role does president
envision?-- erdogan i'm not going to start going on about the kurds, i know that will,. just saying, it is not that i have forgotten it, it is just not something i want to deal with in opening remarks. forward?is the look beyond the outlook mendage? these are places that nobody has ever heard of, but then we have never heard of an archduke in serjevo intown in 1914. there are numerous flashpoints. book the war in
august,: -- ausgust: the war nobody wanted. you can see how world war i got started. predictin, i will not doom here, although my colleagues do it. , we noin saudi arabia longer rely on saudi oil, but believe me, our friends do. particularly in asia. so the question, and i don't have the answer, i hope it will come out of our conversation, is our special relationship with these two countries now going somewhere that really has not been since 1945? that would be somewhere not good. arabia, is it going
to be the murder of jamal , somebody who i think everybody in this room had some contact with. the war in yemen, we're just seeing how the senate is reacting to that, both the killing of the war, where is that going to take us? there is a completely new leadership approach with mohammad bin salman on. -- salman. turkey, to a very large , i believe that where we are in turkey has a lot to do with europeans, quite frankly. time the message
for the eu became pretty clear. turks, you are certainly good enough to be a founding member of nato, but you will never be good enough to join the gentleman's club of the eu. i believe, and i put this out there so that you can tear it , is that had something not insignificant to do with the rise of the politician. to take the message to anatolia, not simply the drawing rooms of develop annd impressive, popular constituency . something his predecessors did
not have. so i'm sure we will about this in a much more authoritative way. one thing i will say here, because it is something i know , there arebout differences between the two that we may see playing out a bit. the leadership of both turkey have ani arabia ideology, if you will. arabia it is incorrectly labeled wahhabism. in turkey, with president
erdogan, it is the muslim brotherhood. there is a huge variety of flavors. the syrian would be brotherhood, which was way off on the far end of the scale. on bonds,very big anything they could make blow up in damascus, aleppo, or well, everybody in this room knows what happens. 1982.ruary billy outside of this room has a clue, but it had a significant amount to do with the civil war that broke out in 2011. of theother end continuum, i would suggest you could find say muslim brothers in turkey.
and in iraq. as pledged to the system, and indeed, in the case of turkey, it is the system through president erdogan. so, this notion that we should labeled the muslim brotherhood a terrorist organization is as dangerous as it is idiotic, quite frankly. who are we going to talk to in --q, in turkey westmark turkey? if you want to talk about an assault of a democratically elected of a nato member, that would be it. as the only organized non-state-controlled political apparatus after the fall of mubarak, we all know how that
has gone since. again, i posed these questions for my colleagues to address. again, in particular the role of islamic ideology in both countries, or lack thereof. i just don't know, but we need to talk about it. that has a lot to do, in my view , with the crisis in the gulf, if you will, between saudi arabia, uae, and the state of has i don't know how many muslim brothers, but have certainly assisted muslim brother organizations outside to the extreme displeasure of the saudi's. it is a tangled issue we are wrestling with here. my bottom line is, i suppose, as
frustrating as difficult as they are, they're also very important. do we want to lurch forward into the 20th century with our relationships with both of these powers, and they are similar relationships, in tatters, getting worse. and what is the way forward? all the questions, thank you for allowing me that opportunity. i turn it over to my colleagues who will produce all the answers. >> anymore questions on the kurds? -- cards? >> thank you, certainly a tough act to follow. the title of this symposium is
rivalry. unstableets at is the nature of the relationships between riyadh in turkey. that, to describe particularly from a golf-arab point of view, or at least a saudi point of view. but what sets the stage for this is thean anything else turn by turkey away from the west. it helped to give rise, as he .uggested it suggests -- shifted from an
engagement with europe to the middle east, looking from the former imperial land to their fellow muslim countries in the arab world and other parts of the islamic world. element of erod ideology.'s understated the extent to which somebody has written this wave and also lifted turkey in this direction cannot be overstated. -- it has also altered the relationship. by the veryerbated aggressive, especially regional approach, that turkey has taken after the failed coup of 2016. again, i have to emphasize that
every time this process has gone through a change, it has been emphasized. there is a kind of distillation going on here. what you end up with is a situation where, very recently, in the context of the killing of friend,ashoggi, a good more than one senior turkish is the onlyturkey logical leader of the islamic world. it does not -- whether that is this or that area, does not really matter. challenge tot saudi arabia, which presents itself as the logical leader. on the grounds of history, geography, custodianship of the holy sanctuary. has been a vision since the beginning of the third saudi state in the 20's that only
saudi arabia has appeared islamic system that relies on the karate and not any kind of written constitution -- the quran and not any kind of word.n i would not try to characterize the way turkey sees its own foreign policy, because i'm not an expert in turkey. i think it is also very hard, my colleagues will do this. it has become very difficult, at least for me, to see where turkish national interest, as they are defined by the state, and, and the political interest of president erdogan begin. it seems to me a fuzzy line. can educatelleagues
us, but for me, that makes it a bit difficult. situationbing the , i willaudi perspective tell you how riyadh looks at turkey. first of all, i will think saudi arabia sees turkey as a rival. another large state in the region with allies and strong presence,nd a major capable of projecting power and has to be taken seriously as another large state. second, i think that is offset by seeing turkey as a necessary ballast against iran. that the major golf arab concerns since 1979, and particularly since 2003, has
been the idea of a revolutionary, hegemonic iran, which is both aggressively revolutionary, and shiite, combining all of these threatening qualities that have scared the gulf countries, especially saudi arabia very greatly. in the turkey, under the same circumstances, looks a lot less threatening. see turkey having quite that mix of threatening characteristics. turkey is an obvious, necessary ballast against iranian influence. time, turkey is another potential hegemon. and i think there are places in the arab world, including the golf, where memories of ottoman , wheree not extinguished talk about the only rational
leadership of the islamic world get hard. with the turkish efforts to cultivate their regional alliances with qatar and muslim brothers and others in the region, which i will talk more about, are seen as evidence of this growing potential hegemonic agenda. and, of course, the neil ottoman rhetoric that is sometimes itaged in by various turks is noticed in the gulf and is taken note of and taken exception to. i think this is more along the lines of a potential issue, rather than an immediate one, but it is very much there. , and thisre alarming is where you can see how this could shoji murder has brought
this last anxiety to the four is the idea of turkey as the leader of a rival third camp in the middle east. everybody accepts the idea that there are two rival camps in the middle east one is a kind of pro-iranian alliance. mostly shiites, also bashar al-assad. alliance, a shiite even though others are part of this in a weird way. but everyone he accepts that there is a pro-iranian camp. generally speaking, those opposed to iran are seen as comprising a second camp, no matter how loose it may be. israel and theot gulf states in the same kind general camp, it is not much of a camp. they do not have relations, even though they are working on
building relations. it is much less of a vertically integrated that the iranian one is, and that is a real problem, but i think it is fair to say that there is a distinctly on tiger ran in camp led by saudi arabia and the uae, and you could look at it as pro-american or call it whatever you like. many people and at that, but not the gulf arabs. the gulf arabs, saudis, and iraqis would say there is a third distinct camp, the sunni ,slamist camp, led by turkey and it includes brotherhood parties all over the middle east and qatar. this is an ideological cap, and that is one reason why we have a boycott of cut back -- qatar and a reason we are upset. , andare turkish oriented while there is a sense that
turkey helps to balance iran, there is also an understanding that turkey and iran, historically, do not go to war, and they are not going to fight it out. it is very hard to imagine a situation where turkey and iran do not do some kind of deal in any given situation to share their interests. this is not making anyone in the gulf sleep any easier. in other words, it is easy to imagine the turks and iranians just splitting the difference at their expense. this is highly alarming. and when they imagine the rise of a third camp, which is completely beyond their control, it looks like the whole region is a net loss to them. because this camp would not be in the pro-iranian corner, it ought to be, the thinking goes, part of a saudi led pro-american alliance, and what are they doing playing footsie with the turks?
why are the turks running around trying to build alliances. everyone should be working together in coordination with the united states after a running hegemony, and this just looks like a terrible betrayal of that. and so here, i think, is the epicenter of concern, the idea that turkey is the leader of this rival camp. and actually, the thinking goes even further. almost always unstated, but there is this deep fear that this third camp, if it exists at all, many would say it is not, but that this third camp could of all into the most dangerous thing of national, really, an alternative to the current pro-american camp of saudi and a verythe uae loose arrangement with the israelis, egyptians, and others. in other words, it is unimaginable, i think, from a
gulf nightmarish perspective that the united states would conclude that this alliance is fundamentally unworkable, dysfunctional, falls apart. completely gcc having fallen to pieces over qatar and kuwait. concernink there is a that, if the probe turkish camp, the sunni camp could strengthen, you could see it not only vertically integrating, but starting to bring in other countries that are nominally part of the pro-saudi camp, but could conceivably defect. i am talking particularly about kuwait and jordan. in other words, you can't imagine a block of turkey, kuwait,qatar and providing an alternative ballast
for the united states against in a much more vertically integrated alliance. you could easily turn around and say washington is not getting in bed with a muslim brotherhood correlation, the jordanians are not going to join this. reality,alking about a i'm talking about and anxiety, but it is very real, often unstated, but i would be remiss if i did not convey that nightmare scenario to you, because it is out there. and you can see all of this playing out in the context of the could shoji affair. and he could shoji affair really tells you where relations are. in particular if you look at how turkey managed the scandal. done byery, very deftly president erdogan and's people. -- and his people. they thought this was a great
opportunity to hobble a regional rival. and they did that, saudi arabia in general, and mohammed in someone in particular targeted and the slow drip of information , the mixing of credible information with absolutely learned exaggerations. it is hard to exaggerate the killing of jamal khashoggi, but they managed to do it. stuff that is no longer all discussed, this hilarious idea that the whole thing was transmitted live on his apple watch, really silly stuff, all sticks together to ensure that the story did not leave the front page for weeks and weeks, right? in a kind of uncoordinated partnership with the washington post the one that, quite rightly, considers this a killing in the family, and is still hammering away at it, which i think is perfectly understandable, at the same
time, turkey did not want to precipitate a rupture saudi arabia. what serves their interest is to weaken saudi arabia, but not create a total meltdown. so there was never a public ask accusation -- accusation from senior turkish leaders, it was all either implicit or said by anonymous officials, the media, always denials. and president erdogan has gone from -- to great lengths to shield king someone. it does not really withstand scrutiny mohammad bin salman is not the de facto leader of saudi arabia the way there is a de facto leader of abu dhabi. anyone who is furious about saudi politics who does not recognize that the king retains ultimate authority here.
major national decisions are not being made against the wishes of the king. that is just not where we are. and he is not a vegetable who cannot be consulted like some other leaders mae. that is not the situation, otherwise we would not have seen this grand tour of asia know. the day-to-day of the administration is not the same as really cushing authority. erdogan writes in the washington post that i'm absolutely sure that king someone had absolutely nothing to do with this and no knowledge , and therefore, this does not constitute an active policy, therefore, we do not have to break relations with saudi arabia, it tells you exactly the kind of narrow tightrope that danced merrily up and down on with great success.
and i think they managed to greatly strengthen their hand and we can saudi reputations, particularly the crown prince, creating all kinds of headaches for the saudi government. managed to unload passer brunson, who was useful for a while, and then became an unbelievable headache, and the question was how do we get rid guy?e sky -- this they release him, get all the credit, nobody into it he said we taped, they all said, what a brilliant move. what a smart guy you are. it was perfect, it was like excising a rotten tooth, just great. impressed withly the skill with which this happened. and what it shows you is how bipolar, and i use that term advisedly, turkish saudi relationships are within the
context of this rivalry. they are pendulum or. they swing back and forth between cooperation, particularly when it comes to reducing the role of iran or other in his, versus a kind of unstated cooperation. at the way the relations have developed on syria, you can see how that works really well. when the uprising began in earnest, both turkey and gulf countries were supporting armed sunni rebel groups sometimes, and especially in the case of qatar, same groups and groups operating in coordination. after the joint intervention by the and russia in 2015, actual rescue by this foreign
intervention and the big surge -- it all helped to reshape turkish ideas about what should happen in syria to emphasize containing the power of kurds in the southern border of turkey. which really was one of the two or three things that kind of killed the ambition of the gulf countries to get rid of a damascusan regime in and replace it with a neutral or anti-iranian regime, taking away this major iranian asked that. -- i set. there was almost this confrontation that was supported -- there was a real confrontation of interest.
the rubric of a trump administration policy that is becoming much mo cowan here in and focused on doing what the gulf countries were hoping for, working on the ground to block iranian interests from creating a military corridor through iraq and syria to the mediterranean. a year and a half ago i would have said it won't happen but it's not going to largely because of the trump administration not leaving syria. in addition there is a move by the trump administration to start a dialogue with turkey and with russia to see what can be to squeeze the iranians, to make sure to ran is not the big winner and limits their games. so all of that indicates the way in which saudi arabia and turkey can still find themselves
roughly on the same side. you are seeinge turkey into a new military operation agreement with kuwait which brings us to this year of the new turkish hegemony and the emergence of a camp that could easily strike out to incorporate countries that most people couldn't imagine being part of mentioned jordan and kuwait as possibilities. but when youciful see new military cooperation agreements, that tends to exacerbate fears. is a reallyup with bipolar, pendulum or relationship. i want to end by thoroughly endorsing ambassador crocker's comment about there being no bottom in the middle east. things can only get worse, that's for sure.
as usual, shakespeare wrote it says edgar in "king lear" "this is not the worst so long as we can still say. this is the worst." that's true. >> thank you. anymore? thanks for all participating in this conference. i'd like to thank the policy conference for inviting me about my involvement -- i published my first academic article in 1998 in middle east policy and since then i continue to publish. with what thesed
and the game changer here has been the arab spring. supportedh support movements and what has been called the electoral transition. but to beyond this -- of course -- beyond the thereences in ideology was also an increase in influence in north africa, central asia, the lamont, and even india. wanted tople --
overthrow the assad regime in syria, but later, when it turned out that the decision became a matter of rivalry and competition, they supported a different kind of transition in .yria afterwas a brief period -- or during the arab spring there was a chance of rapprochement or approximation between these two countries. there was a policy of
condemnation of iran -- they backed the saudi position in and if you remember early 2015, this saudi position brought a start to the collapse in 2015 but it didn't survive much and mostly because of the to back there asked saudi designs. this has been very costly to turkey. wherewas a brief period they made a supportive position and gained much following in arab spring.
measured from the and regional stability and security hurt turkish interest to arab markets and the gulf financing. and also on the saudi side, it was strategic to eliminate turkey. there is also uae factors. back in 2011, particularly in libya, you adopted an emotional position against turkey. ,hy is turkey choosing qatar and this uae line against turkey has been able to convince saudi arabia, according to the turkish perception of what's happening. in the gulf the uae has been and theyl to proceed,
are progressing in the region. the feelings are mutual. the government circus believed that the uae was behind the with saudi approval. meantime, looking at u.s. factors for turkish leadership, they had a euphoric welcome for colombian administration. president is going to find a common ground with turkey and syria, they are going to -- they are even going
to adopt a staff in syria. saudirkey in return got which hurt alliance, turkish interest in syria. we follow against iran which will eventually deconstruct the impact in turkey. well this will turn out as a the uae sawnt, this. 2017, they also had to consider turkey's rise from the gulf and even beyond.
they provided daily production to save qatar and they reinforced their presence without any kind of manual. attempt to mitigate between qatar and saudi arabia but it was rebuffed by the saudi's, and later on it turned out that the turkish presence became a strong part of the saudi ultimatum against qatar. here,are some factors when it comes to turkish-saudi relations.
there are many conspiratorial reports and arguments if you inlow the turkish media but ofch 2018 turkey was a part an axis of evil, part of a coalition. i believe this was part of a confrontational approach that both sides adopted and both sides are unable to recover. in particular from a turkish perspective, mohammad bin salman's decision to eliminate all rivals in the region. agenda toin salman's develop an anti-iran bloc in the region stays alive with israel. i believe it alienated turkish
to help in their regional policy. while the crown prince is in a position with the muslim , there was corporations. going back to the uae role, it orchestrates the open only anti-turkish influence, from somalia to washington, and it was never lost on the turkish foreign policy. there were a number of u.n. members in turkey's bid for becauseip to the u.n., it resulted in a kind of
--iliation of turkish defeat turkey unanimously elected as a member of the u.n. and security council. when it comes to the case, it thisinly has advantage and is the start of this discussion that hurts saudi arabia in the region. that the uaegh will limit mohammad bin salman's role in politics. and to encourage the other elements if there are any.
the expectation is not to change the democratic landscape, but some progress will be considered effective in turkey. we are referring to a very delicate relationship with saudi arabia. on the one hand turkey wants to have access but on the other hand it finds itself in the middle of this dangerous turkish-iranian rivalry. and here there's an emerging rival and what turkey can do is to weaken mohammad ropeit's a tight
but this can work to preserve the relations with saudi arabia and there's unassertive line against turkey, but it's a matter of time to see. domesticnnot put its integrity at risk on either side. it, there is a certainly are of caution. it is actually a negotiation to a moderate a traditional rivalry and interest in the gulf. but this is aside from the humanitarian issues.
rivalry the uae/qatar needs to findisis common ground amongst the gcc. in order to make a rational discussion in terms of leadership, first there is a and to put affairs in order then we can talk inflation alley. and this will continue the .ngoing risk and alienate perspective, turkey and saudi arabia need to find a common ground on original matters, which will calm many
issues from palestinian questions to yemen. saudi is campaign rose to put an end to egyptian relief, and that can start from here in a matter which int balance believe saudi arabia needs very much. if you are talking about working , i believe there is room for consolation between turkey and saudi arabia, enough for major powers to crop up in the sense that turkey and saudi arabia understand each other better in comparison to the earlier terms.
saudi's distance from the anti-qatar motivation -- you may think it is not realistic but the alternative is the illusion of stability and peace. , what i see isly geopolitical crimes committed by all sides, and i believe the choice is now between continuing ,o commit geopolitical crimes or working powers, toward common ground for addressing the crisis. and this is all i will say for now, thank you.
arabia both look at the and thatonal system declining american power and influence and commitment and , certainly over the last 10 or 15 years, and when they consider the advice they've given to the united states that hasn't been followed, for example king of dollar advising the united states not to invade which then left the door open for iran to enter the region or the turks not being way the u.s.he enabled the kurds to have autonomy in iraq in the 1990's and beyond.
they did not engage deeply enough in syria after 2011. to what extent has this changing global picture in the changing role of american power and engagement at the same time russia started to come back into how has this influenced decisions that both countries have taken, that have alienated the other and helped create the rivalry and disagreements in places like vis-a-viselsewhere, iran? can we start with that? anyone who wants to -- >> i could. there we go. arabia had to play a much more robust and forward leading
role in the region for three reasons. it feels like it is threatened by the rise of iran and it is not going to fail to act on that. that is a circumstance that would have warranted a more robust saudi regional posture anyway. secondly as the collapse of the traditional centers of our arab power and influence -- cairo is looking inward, damascus is ripped apart from a national point of view. centersaditional power in the arab world are nonfunctional. they either can't rule their own territory or, as in the case of
egypt, they look abroad in such a limited way that it constitutes an extension of domestic policy. for example, egypt's concern in gaza is not foreign, if the domestic policy. there's such a geographical proximity that it becomes very hard to see this as projecting power much further than the border. turkey ise way that concerned about kurds, it's almost more of a domestic issue. so because of this vacuum of arab leadership i think saudi arabia has had to step up -- there's just a vacuum of and the third is the decreased role of the united states that you pointed out and in that context i think all these things come together,
the relative pulling back of the united states during the obama the americaon but first policy hasn't been coherently defined, but they look like they are extending caution, right? the idea that the last thing you want is another war in the middle east. sharing,n of burden one idea that is consistent between obama's and trumps foreign policy is the sense of and thataring translates into fight your own wars. they have done that in yemen -- and now they are getting crucified for it. now it is no problem making the but against the yemen war
from the point of view of burden sharing it is problematic. problematic to lecture saudi arabia about how they need to fight their own wars, and then when they do, get upset and put sanctions on them. this,t attacking any of i'm just saying thinking about it in terms of burden sharing. the relative vacuum that the u.s. sets up -- and there's a is lookingthe u.s. into a potential arrangement with iran in a way that didn't pan out -- there's a real anxiety about not just the american presence, but the reliability of the united states. all of this prompts saudi arabia to take a more robust role. by theis is magnified role of the first defense minister and the crown prince mohammad bin salman, who is a
very audacious, and at times reckless, leader. andcombine all of that there are limitations of what they can do. itsink turkey has defined interests more narrowly than before, but where they have identified something as a crucial interest -- preventing the rise of a unified pkk in northern syria -- they have remained very forcefully to stop it, even to the point of almost confronting american troops. that did not happen but was on the brink of happening and could have happened. what i'm suggesting ultimately is that the lack -- the
reduction of u.s. leadership and ,he sense, at least in riyadh theprobably elsewhere -- u.s. is not only less assertive but less reliable, and it creates a situation where these to defineare looking and secure their own interest independent of the united states and are operating in an unstable area where terms of reference powers are of being negotiated in real time, and changing. that i think does exacerbate a sense of rivalry and anxiety. i believe you said that it was actually the russian intervention in syria that broke
apart the turkish-saudi from that point on concernedrkey more andt containing the kurds therefore you have a confrontational policy because half the gulf arabs were supporting the democratic forces. that actually has something to do with the relationship between the united states and russia. russia, if yout thetalking about russia, implication in syria is out of because in syria there
was a brief moment of expectation. if you want to limit russian growth in syria, this was the perfect opportunity, but they did not. on when president obama said that he is not a legitimate point, up till this turkey did not feel it with the assad regime but they kept with the assad regime. there was an expectation that the u.s. would do something but -- it was ano intellectual declaration and it did not happen.
to prevent this wider pkk state -- it was mostly out of in turkey, iran, and russia, turkey has a different perspective. considers iran part of the solution. they still believe there is room for diplomacy. there should be a more complicated, multilevel approach. the iranian role should be limited and iran should appreciate it and have the
responsibility in syria. >> mr. crawford, do you want to comment on this american/russian involvement? >> yes. the fact that everything worth listening to has been said won't stop me from saying it again. this theme touches on a core issue. what is the role of the u.s., not just in the region but globally? the united nations came out of the san francisco conference,
and of course nato. you flashback to the end of world war i, where the u.s. was sidelined by the french and british, certainly in this region. you had a two decade truce between two halves of a horrific world war, that's all it was. leadership internationally since world war we have seen a world in spite of things like vietnam that has been broadly at peace in the way it never was before.
before we say the senate was right to vote down the league of -- consider the consequences. if we do not lead, who will? i fear the answer to that is no one will lead, because no one can. that i stay up at night worrying about the chinese taking over the world, nor anyone else would be even able to manage conflict. as we look at what's happening in turkey and saudi arabia, we see where this could go. and again, as you so rightly point out, this did not start with president trump, it started with president obama. president trump has elevated it to an artform, pulling us out of the tpp, the paris climate
jcpoa, which -- again -- the obama byinistration oversold that pretending it was more than what it was, and what it was was a reasonably good arms agreement, not a treaty of peace and friendship. so what are the consequences going down the line? -- they took a look around and said we are on our go --o we are going to they let us know 72 hours before , to lloyd austin at central command.
the saudi's weren't asking, they were telling us. you have neighbors we'd like to have but if you don't want to, go in any way. for someone in my generation it was unthinkable that the saudi's it ever be in that kind of position. say, that may not be where they wanted it to be but it is where they are and the irony of us it saying it's not going well and you need to pull out, that's also a reality if you look at the senate vote the day before. a couple of other quick things. -- i was in the kurds , i was veryvolved much involved with the effort to
-- one keyforts element of that was having a to be downont through turkey and northern iraq. thanks to the turkish general -- we werely prepared to give the turks very wide latitude vis-a-vis the iraqi kurds, dangerously wide in my view, as someone involved in our processes. if the turks has encountered kurds, hadth iraqi
that vote succeeded, it would be a totally different landscape, literally, in northern iraq. i know this sounds like minutia, but these things count. we have had a long, strong relationship with turkey. turkey is a major customer for our weapons systems. right now we are working on an f-35 sale of very large proportions. if turkey goes ahead with that appeared defense system, i don't think that sale is going to go. it would almost certainly compromise our most advanced
technologies through that system. details, lost in the but some of these things get very important as you are looking ahead to what kind of relationship we will have. back toe we come and whatpolicy, influence it has had on this somethinget's come to you said you have seen. where did the interests of the state begin and end compared to where the interests of erdogan begin and end? is there something about the nature of these two states, somey having post-grievances that carried all the way through the 19 century,
having different sectarian makeup and being a democratic and then saudi arabia having some grievances against the other alien empire. has the custodian of holy mosques, having pride in to own form of government modern economy and society -- to what extent do these differences contribute to the rivalry or make competition difficult? and then you come to hurt again the man where one person feels
rebuffed by the west islamist, is is an to sunni islam is him, is someone who is trying to engineer top down and does think that their solipsism is worth defending and that their form of government is against theing different vision that is being espoused by turkey the of the nature of the state and the two men. talk about that a little bit in terms of why they have different policies.
>> well, i'm not a policy person what i can offer is an academic analysis. my sense is that mohammad bin salman reminds me of king abdallah. the king came to power as a welcome development, less assertive but more rational, a wise king who will follow modern policies, rational containment policies against iran. mostly when this power shift salmand to mohammad bin -- this has been what we call some sort of the system of the
, looking into those two different perspectives, there is still a secular, urban people a good enough to protect turkey's modernization. up to the arab spring they were also using this as an asset. , they most of his people are products of turkey's modern secular system. the education system and talks about a new generation but all those generations will reduce the same system. they did not initiate an education system.
support, consolidated and it isrkish state still over that. leader, is not the only we can have a change from the himidential system making the only possible leader for the for seeable future. the only possible way to get him out of the picture was a coup, which is undesirable and it also failed. so we have the majority support. outside powers are trying to figure out how to get rid of it.
there is survival psychology which does not prevail but i think he will get over it. on the elections, there have been so many wars. fought many wars. survival isgy of --ded by the political elite it is going to converge at some point otherwise it is not sustainable. from an academic perspective, if , if can find common ground
mohammad bin salman can get control, he can follow the balance -- this is what iran likes to hear. he made clear that he is going and heinate all rivals is certain to eliminate them. , theere is a common ground islamic brotherhood, muslim brotherhood, he can get along like you did with clinton in 2015 after the downing of the russian jet.
looking at his practical side, to the way he needs to lead turkey, from an optimist's i'd say there's likely a convergence ahead. sayid i understand you to that he's pragmatic enough to distance himself from the muslim brotherhood? there are others which can do that. >> with regard to mbs and saudi arabia, the decision-making process in saudi arabia is -- it has always been murky. puzzle, the terse of good information makes it almost a fool's game. , though, that we can
be sure of two things. mbs has a norma's amount of power. he hasree to which overseen the past two years constitutes a self coup which i have been calling it from the beginning -- it can't be overstated. system, which was monarchical, a modern feudalism with checks and balances and accountability within the royal family -- all that is wrecked. there has been a tremendous concentration of power around the crown prince. saidt also needs to be that the authority for all of this comes from the king.
thinking king is a non-controversial figure in saudi arabia. his authority is uncontested, his right to be king is uncontested. his authority is uncontested. mohammad bin salman does what he does precisely because of this sense that he is doing it all under the rubric of the king, that the king has delegated this to him. and this is a king that has already replaced the crown prince. he was removed and mohammad bin salman on was put in. the point is that it is not unsinkable, from a structural point of view, that mohammad bin salman would not be the king. however the your credit power he has assembled and the apparent commitment to succession means
that he will be king, and now there's this strange reality where he can't be king because he has become so radioactive in washington, but he can't not be king because he's going to become king. we will see how they will figure that out. turkey it is easier to distinguish between national and institutional prerogatives and political and personal prerogatives. and in theory get mixed up. this isn't an accident. -- that's oneme of the big differences between where saudi arabia and turkey serve as a model -- the
i agree that it's not a brotherhood party but it is a republican party. none of that is true of saudi arabia. i too want to say one thing in addition. islamism -- iof think you are right to locate the fundamental contradictions between turkey and its allies. uae is the party in the region that is categorically opposed, unequivocally, tall forms of political islam and the politicization of politics. to abuthat is anathema
dhabi's perspective, they are committed to what amounts to secular politics in the region and to separation of religion and politics but this is not true of saudi arabia. particularly under mbs, saudi arabia is certainly anti-muslim brotherhood, and anti-islamist in a more general sense, but you can't have saudi arabia standing for a total break between religion and politics because saudi arabia presents itself as the custodian of the mosque and as a pure islamic state with the carotid is the constitution. you could say there's a difference between status quo, islamic politics, and revolution -- ok, but the point is there is no clear break in saudi arabia
the way there is in the uae. the second thing is that mbs is not categorically, unwaveringly opposed. the example here is yemen. saudi arabia in the northern part of yemen has been increasingly working with the muslim brotherhood party in yemen, which presents itself as part of this wave of who havemist groups broken with three aspects of the muslim brotherhood structure that are noxious and toxic to the arab governments, which is the revolutionary, conspiratorial nature, and especially transnational. these groups say we are not national, we are not
conspiratorial, and we are not transnational. it doesn't talk about sedan or , the moroccanthat islamists take this position and it is one that i think saudi arabia could end up living with because it doesn't threaten a return to arab spring. it's doesn't threaten the state that could potentially be a saudi perspective. i think uae would find all of its threatening so there's a big distinction. i just wanted to say that you can imagine -- in the next decade, if vertigo emerges and is recast as part of a , lackingmist movement those three qualities that i
talked about, saudi arabia could become very comfortable potentially. or not. >> you have less than 15 minutes, so can we get into american policy now? is there a way for the united states to reengage to support both of these traditional allies helps them resolve some of their differences and helps us contain our adversaries? i think turkey would not be happy with an iranian nuclear weapon. turkey is not happy with iran's expansion on the ground. so how do we harness them together in this endeavor better than we've been doing? and what is it that undergone wants? ?hat he would need to get
will it be necessary for him to make some concessions because of the journalist matter? is it useful for the united states to be imposing sanctions on turkey and saudi arabia if we are going to be trying to bring them closer together in an effort to contain our common adversaries, which includes russia? that's a big question, but it's a question about what should american policy be. ambassador, do you want to talk about that? >> sure. i think we can all be brief, because what american policy? this has been a very interesting conversation to me thus far. in my remarks i tried to point that in different roles,
saudi arabia and turkey have been absolutely critical partners in the post-world war ii world. i think that behooves us, before tolet all this drift away, put it under a tree somewhere and consider what our vital , what they had been, where they are likely to then bring traditional regional partners into the conversation. as thees turkey envision game it would like to make? what are the losses to avoid? but if you are going to do that, you've got to have a policy. we are short in that department. i'd like to say it's just the middle east but it seems to be
pretty well global and i just go back to that waking nightmare -- if not us, then who? if not us, with what consequences for our own security and international security? i find that a fairly frightening view right about now. side, we have heard from my colleagues that there is a flexibility and a pragmatism in both leaderships to who they could live with and who they can't, and i certainly garnered from that that we would have a lot to work with in on kara and riyadh. this isn't helped by the fact that this administration has not seen fit to move expeditiously if at all on things like ambassadorial or geographic assistance.
in, youtwo years don't have ambassadors in important places like riyadh. that does raise another question, not a diplomat. in modern times, we have sent to iyadhr diplomats to r and the saudi's to not like either of them and both left short of tour. ist they do not seem to want someone with a background and oflls to make the politics the royal family less opaque than they are because opaque is what they want. -- he is not a
fluent arabic speaker but he knows the kingdom and the region. let us see how he does out there. it is the worst possible time for the saudi's to take issue with who we send. not to get lost in the weeds but i think what we have done here is to convince ourselves of how important these relationships are and that we have got a lot to work with as well as against. that puts us back against that overarching question -- you cannot do any of this without a policy. return of u.s. a leadership would be welcome and there would be a lot of work.
i will defer to my colleague on ankara's perspective. the saudi's are hoping for a more robust american presence and they have bitten off more than they can chew in some places. in other places, like syria, they are relying on the united states to pursue interests. , it has got to be a collaborative effort by saudi arabia and kuwait and others working politically to incentivize the iraqis to come back in the arab fold, with united states playing its role. iraqhas a problem in because it faces a combination of what the united states, saudi arabia and iraq bring to the table. confronting any of those on its
own it is in better shape. it is a good example of when these countries need each other to succeed in limited policies which are being pursued now. there is a tremendous lot to work with. well, i do not know to what extent your following the developments in iran. the disable is a and of -- the destabilization of iran is likely. the brink of on collapse sooner than we assume. destabilization on the prospect and what we need to deal with syria and yemen. there should be simultaneous to stabilize syria and
yemen to deal with this emergent destabilization that is going to have an enormous affect to iraq and central asia. thewe are going to do with powerful leaders? how they are going to handle it? >> is that a policy for reducing iran's influence in yemen in syria? ?estabilizing iran >> there should be a policy to deal with it but there should be simultaneous policies to work harder on syria and yemen to handle that one. that signal, that kind of signal from saudi arabia and the united states, there is a clear plan and policy on iran as well as
renewed engagement to yemen and syria is going to be a good be on theankara to board in those initiatives. seeing the agenda or the future policy on iran in turkey, turkey is going to try hard, this u.s.ve seen in invasion of iraq, a fear of similar developments. >> can i add one thing? that a strongying u.s. and gauge meant -- engagement would be so welcome that if there were a reestablishment of trust and confidence in the united states, the united states could shift to
trying to be a balancing power in the region with success and the backing of royadh. is not theit hard u.s. policy is not pleasing. it is that there is no confidence. if there is confidence and trust, you could have a more challenging policy and be successful. >> i have tried to reflect the questions they come out of the audience. there is one i want to read ended is for the ambassador. we will make it the last question. if you were to write a new version of the perfect storm memo, what would your warning be to the current administration. ? it would be pretty much what it would have been with the previous administration and again, i know this is repetitive
but it is important enough to repeat. do not cast aside american global leadership without some very careful consideration of the consequences. we have talked about that in the middle eastern context. , the risek at europe europe ofthroughout orientation.-wing i am on the broadcasting board of governors. we oversee the voice of america. we have restarted our phone gary and language service through radio free europe -- our hungarian language service through radio free europe out of concern the ways of current government seems to be
controlling liberties and press liberties. you have seen the stories about how they are shutting down their media. why is this important? horrific things have come out of europe in the 20th century. two world wars and the holocaust. ii and the holocaust are in living memory. do we think that can never happen again, that we have reached the end of history? he wishes he had never written that book. our post-world war ii effort was directed at containment of the wasets but a subtext under u.s.ity leadership to the structurally start to develop the
institutions and orientations that would make a return to that kind of conflict and genocides impossible. -- we cann see now see now how possible that might get. it is not just the middle east, not just the middle east and europe. by abdicating in east asia, the chinese are building new islands every day which they are using for basis. es. my message would not be on the middle east except by example. it would be on the world. what kind of world do we want to see and what are its implications? >> i want to say that within a day or so, this video of this
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