tv Discussion on Turkeys Role in the Middle East CSPAN December 3, 2018 1:37pm-3:17pm EST
of american presidents. at 3:30 when the president's plane arrives at joint base andrews with a short sure money. then at 4:45, members of the house and senate will have a ceremony in the at 3:30 when the rotunda before the lying in state begins. the public can pay its respect this evening through wednesday morning. also on capitol hill, the u.s. house meets at 3:45 eastern time to consider resolutions authorizing the former president lying in state in the rotunda. legislative work has been postponed until after president bush's remains leave the capital. wednesday has been declared a national day of mourning with federal government closed. any legislative work will take place late this week. we will have live coverage of today's tension starting at 3:45. a number of ceremonies happening today from houston to washington as the casket of former bush makeseorge h.w.
my name is richard, chairman and the board of the middle east policy council. i'm pleased to welcome you on behalf of the council, for our 94th quarterly capital conference. the topic for today's program, saudi arabia and turkish rivalry in the middle east, is an issue which we feel gained quite a bit of prominence in the aftermath of the october 2 murder of journalist jamal khashoggi. as information about khashoggi's state emerged in the weeks following his death, a dynamic began to play out between saudi arabia and turkey, and this dynamic suggests a kind of a rivalry between the two countries for influence in the middle east. i think it's a dynamic that maybe has been underappreciated events events inow
the region. so today we will have an opportunity to delve into that topic. before i turn to the program, i would like to say a few words about the middle east policy council. our organization was established in 1981. we are an ngo. our purpose is to grow dialogue and education concerning the u.s. and countries of the middle east. we have three flagship programs, money is this conference, our quarterly capitol hill conference. we hold these every three months on the capital, specifically because we are looking to engage with people, staffers and others , involved in u.s. policy issues. journal, you probably saw some copies on the table outside as you came in. we are proud of our journal, quite well known for the information we put out.
it is found in 15,000 libraries around the world so we feel that is one of our most effective programs. ourthird main program is teaching mideast educational outreach program which is aimed at secondary school students and teachers, another group who we feel could learn more and when do well to learn more about the middle east, so that is what we try to put out. if you have the opportunity to visit us on our website, www. any pc.org, or our teaching mideast website, teachmid east.org. let's turn to today's event. the program is being live streamed on our website. let me welcome all of those who are viewing the program the of the internet this morning. putting the
proceedings of the conference up on our website and we will also be publishing transcript of today's event in the next issue of our journal. there will be a recap of the discussion put up on the website in the next few days as well. with that, let me turn to our panelists. we begin the program with ambassador ryan crocker, whom i had the honor of serving with in the u.s. department of state, foreign service officer. ryan has served as a diplomat, had served as a diplomat for almost 40 years, attaining the rank of career ambassador, which is 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 diplomat in residence at the woodrow wilson school at princeton university. will be dr.aker
hussein who fish, a senior resident scholar at the article states institute in washington. he is a weekly columnist for bloomberg and also for the uae-based newspaper the national. also a regular contributor to other u.s. and middle eastern publications, and a frequent radio and tv commentator. our third speaker is repressor -- on the faculty of arts and social sciences near istanbul. he is also a visiting researcher at the rensselaer polytechnic institute. has published 13 books on turkish foreign relations including several dealing with turkey and the middle east. i want to welcome all three of you for joining us today. the program will begin with each panelist delivering brief opening remarks.
this will be followed by a discussion session which will be moderated by my colleague, dr. tom matera, executive director of the middle east policy council. please note we have placed index 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 cards and attair, whoo dr. m can consolidate for the q&a session. with that, let me turn the podium over to ambassador crocker. [inaudible] ryan: good morning to all of you.
you hang around the middle east long enough, you get to meet a lot of people. the nice thing about it is they cycle through your life, as one moves forward, recognize many people here. two in particular i want to exemplars of good things in terrible times. here.mer colleague ann is she is a survivor of the april 1983 bombing of the american bombing in beirut -- embassy bombing in beirut. unlike me, that broke just about body.bone in ann's every person injured in that attack, and got to the american university hospital alive, stayed alive. at that time, it was beyond
doubt the best trauma center in the world because they had seen so much of it. i will always remember going to visit you. and i just wanted to touch you 117 differentith breaks or whatever it was, you are generally not available for touching, so i gave you a little tug on that toe. you never lost your positive outlook, cheerful attitude. not only sustained you through that trial, it reflected off the rest of us. so thank you for your service through that, and far beyond. mohammed, another figure from my past. i didn't recognize him, even when he introduced himself. that is because when we intersected, this would have been nine months before the
horrible embassy bombing. in september 1982 , in the immediate aftermath of another unspeakable horror, the massacre at the student refugee camp. intensely as the political counselor in beirut at the time, with some truly great americans on this end, and we were able to bring him and his brother to the u.s. but theseamong many, things count, they make a difference. we made a difference in your lives and those of your brother. through the work you have done in this country, you have enriched all of our lives. before i go into this long sequence of doom and horror, i just wanted to get that out there. the small good things.
, greatand saudi arabia 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. , a founding member of nato, after world war i, of course, turkey no longer owned the middle east, as they had for centuries before under the ottoman empire, but was always a place of significant influence and, indeed, advice for us. again, a critical nato relationship that was there at the beginning as a foundation of nato. a little bit different obviously with saudi arabia, but also an
enduring relationship, again, that goes back to 1945. the war was not even over in europe. february 1945, the historic meeting between a very ill fdr counterpart on the uss lake quincy. , an alien president, would make that trip out at that time, and to have the meeting on a ship of war underscore the significance of what happened that day in february of 1945. forged the enduring relationship with the kingdom, and through the kingdom, the heart of that region, based on the fundamental presence or transaction, if you will, though
it became far more than that, and is, oil for security. oil, of course, had been discovered in saudi arabia before the second world war but not really developed. nonetheless, coming out of that war, we knew the largest reserves in 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 respects, one could make the case that it is closer perhaps with turkey because of we nato membership, because the use of turkey as an air base, crucial to what we
have done, and together, against the islamic state syria and iraq. it would have been a very given situation for us, for the region, indeed internationally, had we not been able to base many of our operations out of there. it becomes pretty important. turkey stood with us in korea. they wanted their troops to go .herever it was hardest i had a friend in later years who had been in the military, of greek origin, spoke greek, so it was attached to the greek troops storyea and recounted the that you saw time after time, the turks would be given whatever impossibly hard objective there was to take.
there would be a tremendous din of gunfire, plumes and clouds of battle after battle, when the smoke cleared, there would be a turkish flag on top of whatever the objective was. the point being, don't mess with the turks. we will get into all kinds of things in the q&a. fast forward to where we are today with both. you can say, if we are not in a ,elationship crisis with both we skated pretty close to it. countries, itoth could get better, could get worse. for those of you who may be new to the region than i, bear in mind, as bad as things look in the middle east, they, in fact, can get worse. i'm kind of the poster boy for that.
there is no bottom. again, i underscore that turkey and its post world war i form, notagain, i underscore that tury an arab land, does not control arab lands and occupational cents, but because of its unique position can bring considerable influence to bear on what happens in the middle east. when i left the middle east for what i thought was the last time 2009, ibassador, early look to back with real gratitude for the turkish role in iraq at a critical time. a verynegotiated difficult set of agreements, one on security, something that
served as a framework for our forces going forward, and another much broader political agreement that we envision at being the basis for an ongoing relationship in iraq and beyond iraq, something the u.s. has not had before with any iraqi government. the complexity of politics at it is notmeant that over until it is over, and then it isn't over. ministers and i signed in 2008.ment 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 then because democracies are complicated, there was also the issue of the vice president signing off on it. representingas largely the sunni community. he, i think, with perfect reason, had a lot of questions that we sought to answer. most critically at that time, so did the turkish envoy, with whom had ak very closely and connection that when back years with iraq. i have always thought that bringing the vice president finally aboard on that agreement had a great deal to do with the turkish role. these are things that do not make the headlines, that no one
knows about, unless you are out there. how personality counts, how history counts, and a little bit about how to try to manage those. i will not try to stand here and take any whacks at a given administration. maybe i actually will. again, looking at the moment here, both turkey and saudi arabia are in a process of significant internal change. in turkey, of course, the ascension of president erdogan. he has really remade the entire middle structure inside of something i never dreamed i would see with respect to the turkish armed forces, the turkish army.
just as luck would have it, i got to be in istanbul for two of s, 1970, 1980, so i had a certain sense of the resilience of turks. open, bars stayed stayed open. traffic was down, it was kind of nice. but it also left me with a sense of we are going to have to live with the fact that the army will never be checked by a civilian government. well, that happened. and continues to go on happening, if you will. so what role does president erdogan now envision in the middle east? i will not start going on here about the kurds because i know that will come up. just saying -- not that i forgot
it. not something i want to try to deal with in these remarks. so what is the look forward? idlibs the outlook beyond ? places?ther these are places that no one had ever heard of in this country, but then we have never heard of an up scare archduke in an even go --bscure town in syria sarajevo. there are any number of flashpoints as we look at syria. and i know we will talk about that, too. in the meantime, dust off your book, the guns in august, the war nobody wanted and everyone got, and apply that to the developments in syria, the syriang regime --
regime, the turks, russians, you can see kind of how world war i got started. again, i will not predict doom here. i will let my colleagues and all of you do it. arabia, we noi longer rely on saudi oil, but believe me, our friends do. particularly our friends in asia. japan and south korea, for example. so the question -- i don't have the answer, i hope it comes out is ourconversation -- special relationship with these two countries now going somewhere that it really has not been effectively since 1945? that would be some were not good. with saudi arabia, is it going to be the murder of jamal probably, one that everyone in this room has ,robably had some contact with
and the war in yemen, all seen how the senateg, react to that, the killing and the war. where will that take us? a completely new leadership where is that going to take the relationship? and in turkey, to a very large believe where we are has a lot to do with the europeans. basically it became pretty clear. you are certainly good enough to be a founding member of nato.
but you are never going to be good enough to join the germans club of the european union. i believe, and i put this out there, that that had something not insignificant to do with the rise of a politician who could the sense of being dissed by the west. to take the message to anatolia, to anatolia, not simply the drawing rooms of istanbul, and develop an 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
the least about, there are differences between the two that we may see playing out a bit. the leadership of both turkey and saudi arabia have an ideology, if you will. in saudi arabia it is incorrectly labeled wahhabism. in turkey, with president erdogan, it is the muslim brotherhood. there is a huge variety of flavors. one of them would be the syrian brotherhood, which was way off on the far end of the scale.
many were very big on bonds, anything they could make blow up in damascus, aleppo, or elsewhere well, everybody in this room knows what happens. in february 1982. 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. at the other end of the 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 iraq, 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
qatar, which has i don't know how many muslim brothers, but have certainly assisted muslim brother organizations outside to the extreme displeasure of the 70's -- 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? having pose 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 cards? >> thank you, certainly a tough act to follow. the title of this symposium is rivalry. what it gets at is the unstable nature of the relationships between riyadh in turkey. i want to describe that,
particularly from a golf-arab point of view, or at least a saudi point of view. but what sets the stage for this more than anything else is the turn by turkey away from the west. it helped to give rise, as he suggested. 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. this is a core element of erod -- erdogan's ideology. it can't be understated the extent to which somebody has written this wave and also
lifted turkey in this direction cannot be overstated. intel's also -- it has also altered the relationship. this is exacerbated by the very that aggressive, -- this is exacerbated by the very 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 jamal khashoggi, a good friend, more than one senior turkish leader said turkey is the only logical leader of the islamic world. it does not -- whether that is this or that area, does not really matter. it is a direct challenge to saudi arabia, which presents itself as the logical leader. on the grounds of history, geography, custodianship of the holy sanctuary. and this 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 written word. 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. maybe our colleagues can educate us, but for me, that makes it a bit difficult. but describing the situation from a saudi perspective, i will 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 military and a major presence, capable of projecting power and has to be taken seriously as another large state. second, i think that is offset 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 shiite 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. it is hard to see turkey having quite that mix of threatening characteristics. turkey is an obvious, necessary ballast against iranian influence. but at the same time, turkey is another potential hegemon. and i think there are places in the arab world, including the golf, where memories of ottoman rule are not extinguished, where 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 engaged in by various turks it 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. what is more alarming, and this 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. i think almost 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. but mostly a shiite alliance, 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. when you have got israel and the 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 islamist 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. they are turkish oriented, and 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. 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 arabia and the uae and a very loose arrangement with the israelis, egyptians, and others. in other words, it is imaginable, i think, from a gulf nightmarish perspective that the united states would conclude that this alliance is fundamentally unworkable, dysfunctional, falls apart. look at the gcc completely
having fallen to pieces over qatar and kuwait. and i think there is a concern 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, jordan, qatar and kuwait, providing an alternative ballast for the united states against iran 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. i'm not talking about a reality, 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. it was very, very deftly done by 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? the story did not leave the front page for weeks and weeks, 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. i don't know 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
and he is not a vegetable who cannot be consulted like some other leaders maybe. that is not the situation, otherwise we would not have seen this grand tour of asia know. outsourcing the day-to-day of the administration is not the same as really cushing authority. so in 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 the turks 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. and also 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 of the sky -- this guy? 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. so, i am actually impressed with 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. and if you look 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 iran and russia in 2015, the 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
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 pro-iranian regime in damascus 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 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 -- more coherent in syria 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 done 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. at the same time you are seeing 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 it -- i mentioned jordan and kuwait as possibilities.
it may be fanciful but when you see new military cooperation agreements, that tends to exacerbate fears. what we end up with is a really 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 best, edgar in "king lear" says "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. i'm not surprised with what the doctor said in his speech. the contents between the leadership -- i've heard what they have said and mary any -- in many areas.
i would like to start with a warning, and i believe it will be -- it may be defined as concurrent elements of competition and cooperation together. when he first came to power it was a welcome development in saudi arabia, and they were forced to mount defenses with what has been considered an asset. and don't forget, the secretary-general -- this is what happened, and from the
saudi perspective, the saudi's also improved to the turkish gcc relations -- i also published a piece on the gcc back then. and the game changer here has been the arab spring. the turkish support supported movements and what has been called the electoral transition. but to beyond this -- of course this position -- beyond the differences in ideology there was also an increase in influence in north africa, central asia, the lamont, and
there was a brief period after there was a brief period after the 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 yemen 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 exit they were asked to back the saudi designs.
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. why 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 successful to proceed, and they are progressing in the region. the feelings are mutual.
the government circus believed that the uae was behind the failed coup with saudi approval. in the meantime, looking at u.s. factors for turkish leadership, they had a euphoric welcome for colombian administration. the new president is going to find a common ground with turkey and syria, they are going to extradite -- they are even going to adopt a staff in syria. but turkey in return got saudi uae to drop alliance, which hurt turkish interest in syria. we follow against iran which
will eventually deconstruct the impact in turkey. well this will turn out as a disappointment, the uae saw this. in june 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. there was an 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. there are some factors here, when it comes to turkish-saudi relations. there are many conspiratorial reports and arguments if you follow the turkish media but in march 2018 turkey was a part of 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. mohammad bin salman's agenda to develop an anti-iran bloc in the region stays alive with israel.
-- 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. mohammad bin salman's agenda to develop an anti-iran bloc in the develop an anti-iran bloc in the region stays alive with israel. i believe it alienated turkish expectation to help in their regional policy.
while the crown prince is in a position with the muslim brotherhood, there was corporations. going back to the uae role, it orchestrates the open only anti-turkish influence, from him and 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
membership to the u.n., because it resulted in a kind of humiliation of turkish defeat -- turkey unanimously elected as a member of the u.n. and security council. when it comes to the case, it certainly has advantage and this is the start of this discussion that hurts saudi arabia in the region. it's not enough that the uae 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 use this case to weaken mohammad bin salman and it's a tight rope bin salman and it's a tight rope 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. turkey cannot put its domestic
integrity at risk on either side. and we see 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. overall, the uae/qatar rivalry -- the gulf crisis needs to find common ground amongst the gcc. in order to make a rational discussion in terms of
leadership, first there is a need to put affairs in order and then we can talk inflation alley. and this will continue the ongoing risk and alienate. from my 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 of account balance which i believe saudi arabia needs very much. if you are talking about working together, 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. more academically, what i see is geopolitical crimes committed by
>> first i'd like to thank everyone for a good presentation, and i think it would be good if we could come out of this meeting with some ideas for the future of american policy. we might begin with an issue that was touched on but maybe not covered enough, which would be this -- when turkey and saudi arabia both look at the
international system and that declining american power and influence and commitment and engagement, 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 iraq, which then left the door open for iran to enter the region or the turks not being happy about the way the u.s. 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 the region -- 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 syria and elsewhere, vis-a-vis iran? can we start with that? anyone who wants to -- >> i could.
there we go. saudi arabia had to play a much more robust and forward leading role in the region for three reasons. first because 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. these traditional power centers in the arab world are nonfunctional. 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. in the same way that turkey is 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 leadership 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, particularly the relative pulling back of the united states during the obama administration but the america 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. the notion of burden sharing, one idea that is consistent between obama's and trumps foreign policy is the sense of burden sharing and that 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 case against the yemen war but from the point of view of burden sharing it is problematic. it is problematic to lecture
it is 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. i'm not attacking any of this, 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 sense that the u.s. is looking 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. then this is magnified by the role of the first defense minister and the crown prince mohammad bin salman, who is a very audacious, and at times reckless, leader. you combine all of that and there are limitations of what they can do.
him and i think turkey has defined its 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 the sense, at least in riyadh, and probably elsewhere -- the u.s.
is not only less assertive but less reliable, and it creates a situation where these countries are looking to define and secure their own interest independent of the united states and are operating in an unstable area where terms of reference and balance of powers are 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 agreement -- from that point on you had turkey more concerned about containing the kurds and
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. talking about russia, if you are talking about russia, the implication in syria is out of necessity 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. earlier on when president obama said that he is not a legitimate leader, up till this point 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 turned into -- it was an intellectual declaration and it did not happen. to prevent this wider pkk state -- it was mostly out of necessity but in turkey, iran,
and russia, turkey has a different perspective. but turkey considers iran part of the solution. they still believe there is room for diplomacy. him 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. >> do you want to comment on this thisn
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. with u.s. leadership internationally since world war ii, 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 nations thing -- 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. it's not 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 agreement, the jcpoa, which -- again -- the obama administration oversold that. by 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? saudi arabia -- they took a look around and said we are on our own, so we are going to go -- 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. as you 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. the turks in the kurds -- i was very much involved, i was very much involved with the effort to make our efforts -- one key element of that was having a northern front to be down through turkey and northern
iraq. thanks to the turkish general staff largely -- we were 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 problems with iraqi kurds, had 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. don't get lost in the details, but some of these things get very important as you are looking ahead to what kind of relationship we will have.
>> before we come back to american policy, and what influence it has had on this rivalry, let's come to something 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, turkey having some post-grievances that carried all the way through the 19 century, having different sectarian makeup and being a democratic country and then saudi arabia having some grievances against the other alien empire.
seeing itself has the custodian of holy mosques, having pride in its own form of government to 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 specifically, is an islamist, is committed to sunni islam is him,
whereas mbs is someone who is trying to engineer top down change and does think that their solipsism is worth defending and that their form of government is worth defending against the 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 anymore, 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 happened to mohammad bin salman -- this has been what we call some sort of the system of the oppressed, 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.
he had most of his people, they are products of turkey's modern secular system. they had 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. there was consolidated support, but the turkish state and it is with a love you
this is what he likes to tomay clear that he is going eliminate all of the rivals. is a common ground, not muslim brotherhood, he can forget about it like you did after the in 2015 downing of the russian jet. on daily basis, they are talking on the phone. i see him looking at his toctical side and he needs lead turkey from an optimist
perspective. did i understand you to say yes. pragmatic? >> what color is that, but also their are other colors. arabia,regard to saudi notdecision-making process only is murky, it has always been murky. .t is a more complex puzzle sources makes it almost a full's game. i think we can be sure of two things. nbs -- mbs has an
enormous amount of power. the degree of changes he is seeing the past two years constitute a self coup. it can't be overstated. and served modern feudalism, checks and balances, -- there hasis been a tremendous amount of prince.ound the crown also, a niece of the said that the authority for all of this comes from the king. the king is a non-figure. .is authority is uncontested
his right to be king is uncontested. mohammad bin salman does what he does because of the sense he is doing it all under the rubric of the king, the making and's delegated all of us. this is a king that has already replaced a crown prince. ef wasprince knife -- nay removed. the point is, it is not on unthinkable that he would not be the key. the amount of bureaucratic power means that assembled in fact he will be king. there is this very strange he can be king because he has come so
radioactive in washington. we will see how they figure that one out. in point i'm making is that distinguish easy to between national and political. , the monarchy so. this is not an accident or weird thing. , that is one of the big differences where turkeyically insofar and haveediately come problems with the republicanism. it is