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tv   SETA Foundation Discussion of U.S. Withdrawal from Syria  CSPAN  January 19, 2019 3:11am-4:39am EST

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this morning. join the discussion. next to discussion about the withdrawal of u.s. troops from syria is digital impact on the region. this is one hour and 25 minutes.
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>> forces on the ground that i would with u.s. to fight isis. there's been a lot of debate and we are hoping that we won't cover all of it because that will take probably many hours. we are trying to focus only on the withdrawal decision and what it could mean on the ground in the relationship with turkey. how do nato allies figure out how to do this. i'm sure in the q&a session, many issues will come up and we will try to respond as much as possible. panele a distinguished here with me. left, retired general mark kimmitt. current defense counsel but he appears on cnn and i'm
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not going to go into the long bio. you can read it in the handout. we appreciate him being here to discuss this issue with us. >> he is with georgetown as well to his left, he is no less prominent analyst. with the washington institute for iranian policy. we are very grateful they are here.
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we are hoping at some point he will make it but we will proceed without him at this point and i may have to intervene a bit more to discuss turkey related issues in his absence. ado, autostart to my left. >> i was taken aback that and was referred to as distinguished i was referred to as retired. it.ll try to get over i discovered back from iraq on monday and this obviously was a topic of conversation while i was there. sorry that it took the death of four americans to
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highlight this question of the u.s. withdraw out of syria. i think the debate has been abysmally superficial and anytime you get a bipartisan consensus on anything in this town, you have to question it. i'm afraid that many decisions and views on the raw were because people just alike trump. i'm an analyst and it is not my opine, it is my decision to lay out the analytics on this. as i have laidns -- that there remains legitimate reasons and perhaps overwhelmingly positive reasons for the united states to -- out of the area syria rather than stay in.
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let's talk about the legitimate reasons that may have been in the consideration or the with drawl. defeated. not be it is certainly degraded. their ability to operate his military forces no longer is based or threat. nobody doubts that. but they are not next scheduled threat divides dates. it's 25 different countries and we are in two of them. using this argument stay in syria to complete the destruction of isis carries over to if they are not completely defeated we need to stay in the question is where we and three other countries. that's number one.
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it's somebody else's problem. it's not a threat to the united put ourdo we want to soldiers on the line when someone else and do the job -- do the job? the had one purpose to be in syria that is defeat destroy ice. were starting to see a notable signs of mission creep inside syria. it were talking about training local troops. that's a multiyear prospect. if we were there, no doubt we would be signed up for peace enforcement operation. i don't think the american people at the issue of a sustained an extended u.s. .resence syria
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as a military person is serve , with what thed military was looking at, additionally these other issues , violatedhe iranians the terms of us being in that country. those rob verizon the use of authority for military force. all these other missions, classic mission creep. notion that if for not doing this because of the ypg are somehow brave democratic seeking allies of the of -- united states, i think it's to be question.
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jim jefferies reminded us of the mission of us were alongside the ypg was temporary, transactional and tactical. there was never an expectation that we have responsibility to protect the ypg when the nation was done. we have embraced that mission, , but i think we also need to understand who our newest allies are. what they want to do, with their long-term aspiration to our and say is that in long -- aligned with what we plan to do is. -- as americans.
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i was also concerned had an expectation that we were going to confront that inevitable. turkish forces were to come into in the with u.s. forces ypg. that was inevitable. to risk a major confrontation between two nato allies. do we fight the turks? who owns what territory? we are beyond our mission authorities. isis is degraded to where they are no longer our problem. we are looking at a long-term mission that has not been well advertised display and. -- advertised and explained. there are legitimate reasons for
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us to have a national debate rather may super official debate -- rather than a superficial debate. we owe that debate to be had. want to make two points. debate one problem the is that it has been hijacked by two arguments. couldrst one is that what ?e possibly do in syria iran i think is irrelevant to this.
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hijacked.e say was hijacked it.sts as an analyst of syria, want to settle the question you make and iranying there becomes less of a problem, in my opinion. not for us. he wants his own regimes of ptolemy. regimes autonomy. also what could 2000 troops do against isis as if these 2000 people were fighting isis i think that's also
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because you can control and manage your presence inside syria without having 2000 troops. still work with other countries. debate has been flawed from day one. it was under the previous administration. they both take the blame for this. it was predicated on this idea that you could fight isis which is a symptom of the conflict.
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you ignore what others objectives are. you ignore turkey, you ignore the syrian, you ignore the kurds. you fight isis there and that's the mission. when the obama administration designed the campaign against isis, with we should align ourselves with syrian government to fight isis are not. to align ourselves with a oppressive regime by the should stop this trend of weakening the regime further. that started to materialize and manifest itself. i met someone senior at the time in the administration.
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somehow worrying about the collapse of the regime was no longer worry. the whole concept is flawed. what's the nature of the withdrawal? i don't think the risk of this withdraw -- in my opinion, the biggest worry and contained a little bit about the of the withdrawn up being immediate and rapid, it's the syrian conflict. was the escalated by the .ussians in turkey and others
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the piece was fragile and is still fragile. it could crumble and we could fightinger wave of exploited but not by the moderates because they have been decimated. a bad fight if there is a renewed fight. it would be hijacked by groups like nostra and isis. we would no longer have the same dynamic and we had it 2012, 2013, in 2014. that's one big worry for me. what headline say these days and what date this is about the
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i still think there are thousands of isis empathizes. not fighters. there still huge numbers of people were staying at home with their families, there are children, there are adults who are still sympathizes with isis but they are no longer in the fight. i don't find they are sleeper cells. are they preparing for another day to fight? no. damascus and elsewhere there are so isis sympathizers. i worry about these numbers because syria will return to
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violence at some point. 60% of settle conflicts are turned to violence and i think syria will be one of those. these circumstances in the areas where the americans operate are not ready for a lack of control. [indiscernible] the americans were on the way out and isis were on the way out -- also slow down the idea that isis was on the way out. the pleasure to be up here.
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couple of comments. first, i agree with my colleagues. one distinguished, one retired. >> exactly. all of us agree. as someone who has focused on , i focus ono long syria policy and as many of you know i used to live in syria and work there. deep affection and sympathy. one of the aspects of trying to talk about syria policy is the superficial nature of not only the debate but the basic material that goes into the debate.
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i don't think it's because people are stupid or they want simplified answers necessarily. it's because it's an complex and there are a lot of moving parts. your book veryw well to understand the moving parts. they did a very good job of talking about the eastern part of a country and the western part of the country. it's an almost every paper every day. it's legally true. ofleast they western part the country you have the regime with flags that there the insignia.
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however many of the syrian military are organized by russia with units who have been trained by the rtc. the you have a whole host of other groups. which also are uniformed and have their insignia. they fly flags in march out. in broad daylight for everybody to see. this is the way that the assad regime with russian and iranian support was able to take over about sis the percent of syrian territory. that 60% of syrian territory. but in other areas were the fight against isis was first and foremost, you had the intervention of turkey which has
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held for the syrian opposition takeover. in eastern syria were the united states partnered with the ypg to defeat isis. war is not runl by assad in the traditional way that a leader would win back his territory. the way the war has the escalated until now is the military intervention. you can see this on the maps. the problem is the complexity. there are a number of outfits around town that will put out some maps. institute, the institute for the study of war, a whole host of others. he gets down to the realm of which all then other parties are involved.
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of that war was unacceptable to to neighboring countries and remain so. and israel. israel, the outcome is something they have recently talked and acted to interdict. other aspect, turkey regards the pkk as an existential threat. the united states presents a challenge. the trouble administration inherited a policy that it did not make. we are democracy and we shift every ford eight years. we inherited the policy for the
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, thed states back to ypg ypg is the military wing of the pyd which is the syrian wing of the pkk. leaders went to pyd litter and the ypg and said if you want to spin off the pkk and not antagonize the turks, you have to do it. you really need to spin off and become your own mast is. there were a lot of things that wait on that. i first and foremost was the nature of the organization. overlap heavily. some separation but not enough to satisfy nato ally. of us sawmething many coming. it was an inevitability. time was that would be more manageable.
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-- i'ves in general never served in the military other than so are you see training in college -- and sometimes your sin to a situation to stall. you need time. the u.s. needed time to try to work this out so that turkey and the ypg would not antagonize and the winner of this would not be isis and the assad regime and iran. there a great book on isis. that was the challenge. is been hustling to try to have that off. missionlem was that the of the military defeating isis and keeping isis down became too -- twont sayings
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different things. the creation of internal security forces and that was something that police for my reading of the situation said also alarm bells with turkey. a gordian , thest point is announcement of an american withdrawal from syria, however that straw will look like and what will replace it is a matter of intense and very unsettled debate between the u.s. and turkey. of course the various parties are active inside syria. think the larger issue for me understating turkey's
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concern, it's important to that if the assad regime, the russians, and the iranians benefit from this withdrawal, you are going to see the encirclement around you of a constellation of forces that is probably going to constrain the turkey does. this is something i think the u.s. and turkey share. how you had that often what kind of timeline i don't know. i hope we can work this out diplomatically. thank you. let me say a couple words.
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insistence for the last several been, turkey has pressuring the u.s. to stop cooperating with the ypg. they are terrorists. they are linked to the pkk. to fightnot in it isis. many arguments. u.s. went with technology quite a bit of the concerns but went for a stalling tactic. it wasn't clear what the u.s. alternately wanted to do but in the meantime, the ypg kept enlarging its influence and legitimizing itself in the eyes of the west. most critically, under the umbrella of kurdish allies.
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there are many different kurdish groups in the region and turkey is allied with a few of them. turkey, it was specifically u.s..g and the it translates to much bigger political support. political legitimacy. that's one of the big problems. turkey undertakes some of the operations on its own. especially west of the euphrates. and waseen pushing threatening an imminent operation along the border. turkey is first and foremost in servant that the turkish border should be free of isis and ypg
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control. interestingly i think this decision was abrupt but as we were discussing earlier, trump did this six months ago. he wanted to leave and everyone knew. how and when and where was the unanswered russian. if i dared a gun saying this is the right decision. i think in the sense -- you put the name on this mission. this was an isis mission that you promised and isis is no longer holding territory so we can pull out. it actually give us some sense to the american presence. argumentates a strong
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or u.s. with drawl. i want to turn to general kimmitt. you have been engaged in these type of -- within nato partners -- discussions you are mentioning. how long do you think the u.s. and turkish military is right now? forward --uld move what kind of withdrawal related issues specifically. that's my most recent article talking about safe zones and syria. i'm doing a shameless plug. meandoes a safe cell russian mark -- sell mean it?
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my views at the closest approximation of what were trying to come up with is not operation overwatch. it's the zone of separation that we have established as part of a peace accord. it would seem to me that is what they are trying to do. -- inory, low-interest theory what we are trying to do prevent a potential conflict between turkish forces and the ypg. something united states is trying to do weather isn't a separation. ypg is protected.
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the legitimate national security concerns are honored. 20 miles in from the border would be considered a buffer zone. my speculation. no effects of those forces would be allowed in. so on, so forth. none of the effects inside the buffer zone would be allowed out. robustld need to get a force in there to be a peace enforcement operation. probably would not be from either side. i can't imagine that would be helpful. you bring in a monitoring force for the purpose of monitoring
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the agreement. what is the mandate of that enforcement russian mark whether it's u.n. or nato. are they there to just monitor and report? are they dare to impose a piece? what will be the rules of engagement? will they be able to use lethal force? what are the military aspects they could bring in? what you do about violations? these are all the technical issues that what we are trying to do is set up a comfortable space between the ypg forces and the turkish forces so that we can focus more on defeating isis that arbitrating a dispute between two organizations. he said in the eastern part
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of euphrates it wasn't exactly ready for withdrawal. based on what the general was , going forward, when will it be ready for withdrawal from your perspective? i think a perfect example is a recent example. anyone can understand. october 2017, year and a half ago. city for the province shifted hands from the kurds. time to go over advanced kurdish areas. when they took over, they stabilize the area and then what happened was how badly the
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inernment wanted this area october 2017 was when it shifted hands. security forces went in and took over. but happened was isis recovered. he can see the data, you can read the news. a perfect example of what happens when us any ship sans without a very thought out strategy on who takes over and how. forces, --curity they secured some of these areas. when one forest leaves and another force comes, that creates a vacuum. it creates new opportunities for isis and others.
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the newcomers may develop affinity to them. in.omers come maybe they don't like the newcomers and it opens doors for isis. this is an example of what happens. think -- >> i'm sorry to interrupt but goinge are talking about from a nonstate actor to state actor. >> i will continue. it's a tragedy what happened in the attack but it's a useful reminder. it was a city the u.s. paid a lot of attention to. thanks wayne how the city is ,eavily guarded by the ypg
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checkpoints. i have a presence on the ground. -- a heavy presence on the ground. they tried several times to attack the u.s. and failed. even though -- again -- the u.s. is paying so much attention to an isis attack. tos will continue to try cover these areas. they have sleeper cells. they have sleeper cells within men bench. e. within membeg it will open doors. it will create some vacuum. the regime comes in and takes over.
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they were satisfied with the sdf and content. when the regime comes in, that's a whole different ballgame. another concrete example of that, the regime liberated the western parts of the euphrates river. in october 2017, the announced victory there. --ll not a single person this is an exaggeration -- went back there. nobodye destroyed and came in. even people are comfortable coming back, there's nothing to come back to.
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i have to come back to the initial point i made. the whole policy was flawed. things already at the beginning. turkey is going to be happy having the pkk are ypg presence. i also understand the practicality. i want to say that in order to avoid what happened, men bench has to be dealt with. the pkk has to leave town. it has to be politically addressed. it has to be done peacefully without new forces coming in and taking over.
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as for how that will happen that's the big question. when it would be ready for withdrawal, do you mean these attacks in some sort of deal has to be found first? >> i have an exit strategy for the united states. opinion,rategy in my these it -- areas have to return to the syrian state. they have to be controlled by damascus. that's why to tie it to my remark, you have to have a peaceful handover through political settlement. all these areas should not return to the regime. through violence.
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it has to be political. that's why he was wrong fundamentally much up to say we are leaving syria after all the work is done. this is not about iran, this is not about isis. this is about making syria a stable region and deciding where it will go no. situation,-conflict not a conflict situation. you need to sustain that gain you made. how to sustain the gain? do it by stabilizing these areas. turkey -- it will have to be done to address the grievances.
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it somehow way too ignored turkish priorities. to read history. bunch of fighters that seem to be great war israel fight isis and get out, that's not how it. my last question to the panel then we will turn to the questions from the audience. is this more focused on politics while managing the withdrawal, and how that will play out? is dual headed. he is the isis sarin the special envoy for syrian engagement. this is where juergen to seep gettinghis efforts
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people back to the table in geneva and seeing a negotiated settlement. this is where can get very tricky. agreements which have been put into place because the regime was militarily weekend, a lot of times when there is progress the regime goes off elsewhere and goes on the offensive. i think that's the real issue here. if the u.s. state a little longer, maybe things with a bounce back a little bit more. that could have got talks going. i'm not terribly confident at all that we you have the outcome of talks. we will see. that.k there's
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isis,erall fight against there's the military aspect of the nature of the organization itself means you had insurgents in a different form. this is an inevitable part of these counterterrorism activities. that's going to be a real challenge. how do you do that? who is from is that going to be? if you have american troops there, that's a liability. a political liability. a very serious one. next one point. -- this is a next one point. you have the regime poised across the river. they're not the most popular people.
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you use repeatedly strategic weapons against her own people, let's you are entitled to stockpile and you end up in the situation, and you go back to these areas, i think a lot of people realize that governance under that regime as unpalatableing is and is going to be hard to manage. stop the secret of syrian engagement that i used to do. anytime that regime feels confident and relaxed, it becomes more difficult to deal with. it's a paradox. were lookinguation at as we going to talks with geneva. >> let me turn to the audience. andrew. let me collect three.
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maybe one of you can help answer this question. i don't understand what this proposal is about. there will be a safe zone, the 20 mile buffer, but what about the rest of eastern syria? remain under their control? and if it doesn't remain under control, is turkey capable of controlling the area? who will be in charge of it? row.ere on the third >> morning. i am from the iraq embassy. i need your idea on what is going on idlib. theave this hegemony by
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government. idlibt threatening the deal? is there any compromise with other state actors? thank you. my question is, turkey can operate thousands of miles into syria without u.s. participation. does that mean turkey will take control of the situation?
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he makes the point that turkey d.f. areasched into s. and cause chaos and an environment for extremist to thrive. will isis reemerge and thrive? and he said, we are going to take this from a nonstate actor to a state actors hand. turkey is working with proxies that are not necessarily part of this act. thank you. >> what a night turn to the issue of the safe zone. on the capabilities of turkey, i will respond a bit, but which elected take that? i don't think anything in the
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safe zone initiative is -- considering having turkey go hundreds of miles come i think that is what she said, hundreds of miles? let's take it one step at a time, the initiative will end up being an exclusion zone where both turkish forces and for y. p.g forces. a good also be an exclusionary zone for american forces. i think there is more security around that decision. we will see what comes out. >> i read the article, and a bigsly, mcgurk's champion of the relationship .p.g. he y
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the argument is based on i think the press reports a couple of weeks ago about turkey asking the u.s. to give a lot of military support, to be able to hold the territory. but i think it is a bit represented in the fact that these are discussions about how to do a u.s. withdrawal. i do want to get into the general's expertise area, but the air zone that the u.s. is controlling -- >> the euphrates? host: at the u.s. for example not leave that airbase. ypg exactly goes
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to reassure turkey along the border, i think you could -- these kinds of discussions by saying, oh, turkey is requiring too much, and we need to actually stay even more. think that is true. that is a push back by people are looking for a continued u.s. presence and continued u.s. relationship by the whit -- by .g. y.p turkey does work with opposition forces. it is not on the state actors. -- someate actors nonstate actors are also in
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engagement come about turkey is the one with forces on the ground that have fought isis. let us not forget that. ,ne more thing about capability when turkey said, this is not working out. ago, turkeyears headnote troops in the north -- turkey had no troops in the north of syria. once turkey entered, they said, turkey will not go far enough. turkey conducted further and further operations. so i think it is often , turkey'sated capability and willingness to go after what it sees as the syrian branch of terrorist organizations. i think turkey will be ready to .ut in a lot more resources this was suggested before the raqqa organization as well.
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>> let me also make sure. comment.flippant we have a very good air coordination mechanism between the russians and the u.s.. obviously, my point was flippant, so i would like to withdraw it. host: that is a good nuance to point out. maybe you could talk a little bit about idlib? of the u.s. think forces in syria, i am reminded -- i think theng american presence in syria is at least expensive one. if they leave, i think they will come back at some point. but they will come back to fight a more complicated war. will they provide cover
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for the syrian regime? you might even see chechens some point if at there's a settlement negotiated. turkey will be in the north. i also want to concede that i am ,uilty of what you just said about underestimating turkey's willingness to go to syria. i didn't expect that syria would that turkey would go into the stronghold for the kurds. they seem to be more willing -- we tend to forget the history. in 1998, the turks wanted to invade syria, even though syria was much stronger than now.
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they had to bow and say, ok, whatever you want. y --.p.g.. of white b .g. egardless of the y.p the situation recently with the al-nusra taking care of this area both makes things easier and difficult. these in the sense that are now arguments where russia there is nobody in control that area and we need to clear that area. a lot of people agree that that
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area and is to be cleared of al qaeda. it is a lot easier for the regime to make the argument now, but it is harder because the choice is not clear. it is binary. either the regime goes back to idlib, or al-nusra stays there, al-sham. host: andrew, did you want to address anything? andrew: no. host: the me get another question, all the way in the back. >> keep it to one or two
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that most. >> ok. wetalk about safe zones and have seen many attempts in syria of de-escalation zones and safe zones and nearly all of them fail. actually, peacekeeping operations throughout the globe are prone to failure. in syria, many groups were existentially threatening each other in the same area where we are trying to implement a safe zone, which is suggested, that may be an international, organizational coordination would lead the safe zone. crucial, or a substantial force taking control of the territory, how could it be possible to create a safe zone in that dangerous unconjugated area?
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that is my first question. -- dangerous and complicated area? that is my first question. question, inside the syrian population, how could you insurgency orr another kind of terror threat inside syria if you are encouraging a group to take over a territory, like for example, the y.p.g., or encouraging them to take other territories. and the rest of the population stays discriminated on, or deprived from certain powers? host: i think that is enough, if you don't mind. there is a question all the way in the back. thank you. >> hi, last year, we saw drastic
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changes in the u.s.-turkey relations. is there a chance that in 2020 election cycle, it will hamper the coordination? what happens if that becomes the reality? host: ok. it?d you like to address >> i will take it. i think every humanitarian safe zone, zone of separation, humanitarian corridor, all of them are fraught with difficulties. i think there's a difference with this particular mission because of the u.s. will be the guarantor since they have good relationships with both the turkish military and the y.p.g. i think it has a good prospect of being successful.
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i would not want to see the u.s. forces there monitoring and enforcing, because in both cases , we would actually be monitoring our allies and we would be enforcing against our allies. as i said, concluding my article, it may not work, but just because it hasn't worked elsewhere is not justification here.t attempting it i think in this case, the conditions are such that there is probably a higher prospect. and if you take a look at the ,one of separation during the time the boundary line was up, there were no violations of it, no casualties associated with it, and it was a good transition for setting up for the inter-entity boundary line between the two federation locations. if you have a better idea, i
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would be more than happy to hear it. certainly, de-conflicting zones have worked to a certain intent, wouldn't you say? >> they were for some time, but it was not a safe zone, it was a de-escalation zone. when he start hearing words like these, you get into technicalities. missionary that it is a transitory nature of the zone -- they show you that it is the transitory nature of the zone. we could see that -- i think it is likely that we will see it in other parts of the country. the assad regime. is stretched pretty thin. we will have to see. this will buy some time. it won't, i think, solve the problem. we will have to wait and see -- what thees
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political moves are of the y.p.g. with the regime in the coming days. that is the thing to really watch. host: you think it could hamper whether general was talking about? >> the syrian regime's objective is to get the united states out of syria posthaste. because it have the ability monetarily to seriously constrain them. butpush out iranian forces, a really concerted long-term effort. we have the ability to turn things around. what we have seen military activity against the forces.itia and other they are indicative of this. a quick response, i don't think there's any comparison , anden de-escalation zones
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syria, where he actually had hard toparties fighting a lot of de-escalation zone. i don't think it is what we are contemplating here. >> i saw that firsthand in the results. syrianrces of the regime, when decided to see worried, they became because iran and shia militias are always seen suspiciously. tribesumpeted a specific , who traced the origins to the
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prophets army and targeted those people to say, your origin is shia. so there is all that kind of extra sensitive dynamic when it comes to shia militia. current -- the kurds, dues critical around them to the y.p.g. expansion in that area. i might see problems with the shift now, it is a sensitive issue for these people to be controlled by out-of-towners, people who are not from their. an extra sensitive issue for these people. a lot of people don't know, and for people who follow this closely, how isis is today, where it is going next. i think it would be another year know, tor us to really
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really see the potential of isis, the potential it gained over the past few years when areas.ok over for now they are on the run and there are trying to regroup, trying hard. it is not working very well for them. they are calling on their sleeper cells to wake up. it is hard. but they have the numbers. they could recover. history, inent iraq, for example, i think it would take two years. that is why leaving now is the worst thing that anyone could do . one thing i learned living in washington over the past three years is that it is a hopeless city. host: until they do the right thing. right?
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injury. , theuestion about 2020 syria withdraw position created some interesting dynamics. and his ofwere opal getting involved more in syria for such a long time for the ones who opposed trump's , as the general mentioned at the beginning, it became so partisan. the house is asserting itself more going forward. , the see that playing out politics of it? >> i think it is likely it will play a role in the foreign policy aspects of the 2020 campaign. i caveat that by saying, the battleground between president trump and the democratic opposition is primarily domestic in nature and
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much more. oriented towards things here at home -- much more oriented towards things here at home. it seems to me that the main criticism was coming from the democratic side. i think -- many of the people in the democratic party political establishment wanted there to be a deal between the y.p.g. and the regime at the end of this, including, i think, brat-burger, as for -- mcgurk. he talked about it. i think it was the timing of the decision, which was of concern. people why you see
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coming out of the different political spectrum, who said, i think it is great to leave syria. it becomes a political hot potato, so to speak because it is likely, unfortunately, that we will have more of these kinds of attacks by isis. they are desperate, they are defeated. being they have sleeper cells with the ability to carry out these attacks. so i think it will be an issue in 2020, but unless it is tied to something much larger, llc it being the issue. >> first of all, foreign policy is really an issue in presidential elections. i think if they do talk foreign policy, it will be much larger russia, sohina, with on so forth. the democrats completely agree on the issue of
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foreign intervention in the first place. president trump's rationale for doing this was, he wanted to get out of the middle east. obama said iraq was a stupid war and we needed to focus on afghanistan. so i don't think it will be an issue at all. president trump is using the democratic bullet points on the issue of foreign intervention. so don't expect syria to be mentioned in 2020. host: he criticized obama for leaving, right? kimmitt: he criticized him but he will say whatever he can to make it some points. host: anymore questions? >> [indiscernible] host: ok. aboutarding the question
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who will control the safe zone -- last year, some representatives from other kurdish political parties in d.c. held meetings in wash -- in washington dc. they held other meetings with , with theficials syrian kurdish council. could there be some kind of new deal to in the united states and turkey for finding another ?lternative for the y.p.g. maybe looking for other parties there? thank you. host: from the turkish perspective, these areas in the north should be repopulated with people who originally left from there.
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any kind of engineering of population that happened over the past five years would have to be reset from the turkish perspective. because they feel like the throughout a lot of the kurdish actors, and also the -- they and believe that some of those people who were thrown out may be coming back. new could attach to the local administration that would be in power -- that would be empowered by turkey. but i think repopulation of those areas is a critical issue. kurdish't want to make cities a rubber or vice versa.
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they want those percentages to be reset. it is a critical issue from the turkish perspective. you could have a kurdish majority town run by local councils that are dominated by kurds, but not controlled by .k. g. or the p.k that is their beef. does anyone want to address this? ok. i will give you the closing remarks. >> [indiscernible] host: who will control the safe zone? >> was that your question? >> yes. >> i think it was mentioned that there will probably be an alignment between the y.p.g. and the syrian government, but i
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don't think it will be the united states' policy to either , nor try for that area to impose a solution on that area. heard. but i have andrew: i think it is a major goal for the united states, for the regime and for the iranians not to take over that area. how you achieve that, because of course, we are dealing with the likelihood -- i think in the not a military offense, but a regime necessary. there could be an arrangement between damascus and the y.p.g.. but we will have to see what they work out. of course, the regime, again, when it is engaged, feels confident and is even more rigid in its negotiations when it is under pressure. i suspect they will want quite a
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bit from the y.p.g.. that will give up their ideas of autonomy, or something thereof. then of course, the regime can also cut deals with the settled tribes and other sunni arab forces at their groupings. they already do this -- just -- we can the regime expect more things to watch from this conflict. >> i would make two comments. we have not brought up the issue -- the prime minister has made an open offer to be going because it is understanding that if isis tries to expand again, they will come .nto iraq second, i think you need to measure the zeitgeist inside the
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city about where this president stands with regard to foreign interventions. he is looking to do less rather than more. i suspect we will come to an understanding of what happens in it willa, but i think be subject to a lot of defeats before the decision is made. host: hassan, raqqa is an arab majority city. how is it being run now and how do we think this decision could ?mpact them think turkey is saying the y.p.g. will not exist in syria and you can see that in the with the map is being drawn.
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beyond that area, there are no majority areas. not many. there are some. question of, who --going to take over realistically, it seems like the regime is going to eventually go there, but it will not be anytime soon. f. seems to be an .lternative for the russians to take over the sponsorship, so the russians s.d.f. overseeing the
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those are some of the horrible scenarios being explored. it sounds one problem, which is iraqi borders with coordination between the iraqis and the syrian regime, and that americans when they were there, the iraqis and the shia militias, it complicates the situation because both areas have to somehow -- both sides have to find a mechanism to talk about that. area,sia goes back to the it addresses the problem of the security architecture becoming more meaningful. but i think it is a difficult question to answer because is your question about who is going to be there, because we don't know, there is no clarity, or who should be going there? in which case you can go through a whole list of options. but i think the best option that russia will take over rather than iran, of
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those areas. each i want to give you one minute for comment. andrew. that it isould say to -- the original theme of this talk -- to not focus on what the film or tv orsion is of the withdrawal, even a fight against terrorism, or the outcome of this war. i think it is important to keep your eye as much as possible on these -- the way the syrian war is settling out, and the way that different parties are reacting to the outcome of that settlement. we are far from a settlement, i think. there are a lot of different ways this could go. it could go sideways. situationnd up in the where we get pulled into but aing in the future,
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lot less than we have at the moment. i know it is hard, especially these days, but i think we have to try. host: thank you, andrew. i thought of already said what i want to say. i think the worst thing that could happen in the next two , it is how theis syrian conflict will play out. if all these forces agree on something, then maybe we have a hope that peace returns. an orderly transition of these areas, i hand over to some force or the other. unconvincing,be and i think it will speed up the recovery of isis, to one or two
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years from now, becoming more destructive than we thought. again, look at iraq and what happened in iraq. if you talk to more analysts of , over the past two or three years, they did not expect iraq to return to violence, or crisis to recover, because of the sheer , thers of forces paramilitaries, the security forces. iraq had momentum against isis, but that momentum was challenged by ignoring local dynamics , in the north of iraq but also the shift of hands from one uk which another in kirk opened the potential for isis in those areas. this is comparable to what happen in 2017 in iraq and it will be worse in syria because fragile andiece is
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the pieces are still scattered around. there are so many stakeholders vying for one thing or another. hassan.ank you, i hope we don't have another panel in two years about isis. hassan: we'll. host: we will watch that. general. gen. kimmitt: first of all, i want to thank not only you, but michael panelists, for putting this together. we've had a deeper debate on questions that you don't hear as much in this set of town. secondly, a counterpoint, i spend much of my time in iraq working over there and i have strong connections with both federal police, order police, the ministry of defense. all i would say is the iraqi military and security force believe they have isis under control around kirkuk.
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they would rather have a destabilized area with the minor ukesence of isis and the kirk oilfields, which is why they went in. even if webecause saw a reemergence of isis to that level inside area after the americans left, that is manageable. that is not the apocalypse. degraded to the point now that they are not an existential threat to the united states. are not going to get into an airplane and fly to -- they may. states' mission was to push back. .hey haven't pushed back there is a small presence of terrorism, but certainly not
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large military forces, which they had before. they seem to have that managed. we are seeing the same thing in syria. .raq is defeated they have what they believe to be a manageable level of isis there. again, i am not promoting, i am explaining, as an analyst should do, this president feels that isis is down to the point where it should no longer be the responsibility of the americas to deal with it. if it is important to the region, let the region handle it. the last thing i would say is that there are a lot of mixed messages out there about u.s. .olicy you might hear about one thing mr. bolton, another thing from mike pompeo, and another thing from the president. i can tell you right now, the.
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military, as i remind everybody, they take orders from the president. there was a quick. from the washington post where an unnamed official said, we don't take orders from mr. bolton. i would listen very carefully to what the president says, and don't use the other voices you might hear that sound to the standard u.s. policy. we only have goes, one president at a time, and he sets the policy. and again, i don't say that as an advocate, i say that as an analyst. host: let me add one thing. since the fall of 2014, this has been a major issue between the u.s. and turkey, and this kind of clarity, as the general mentioned, is a positive thing from the turkish perspective.
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figuring everything out will be difficult, and i think it is definitely full of all the risks and dangers that were mentioned. from theillingness turkish perspective that the u.s. wants to work with turkey now, and the relationship with the y.p.g g. was transactional and transitory, that is giving turkey confidence. what this really shows is that a lot of things will have to be figured out going forward. i want to thank you all for sending this morning with us. we appreciate you being here. please join me in congratulating the panel. [applause] kimmitt: thank you for having me.
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announcer: the government day.own is now in its 29th president trump says he will make an announcement from the white house concerning the humanitarian crisis on the southern border, and the shutdown, today at 3:00 p.m. eastern. the senate is in session today. virginia senator tim kaine objected to adjourning for the weekend because of the shutdown. you can watch live coverage starting at 11 a.m. eastern on two.n the house is out for the weekend and the return at noon on tuesday live at c-span. announcer: watch c-span for life coverage of the limits march on the nation's capital today beginning at 1215 p.m. eastern live on c-span. >> white house press secretary sarah sanders took a few minutes to answer questions from reporters outside the white house on a range of issues.


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