tv [untitled] June 1, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT
. today violence is once again flared up. these are the images the world seeing from the streets of canada. operations are. can't. stay. away and welcome to cross talk i'm peter lavelle is the chaos being played out in yemen turning the country into a failed state how should the international community be reacting to events there
and will be endgame for the regime in yemen result in still another terrorist base that threatens the region and world. you can. start. to cross talk protests in yemen i'm joined by daniel pipes in philadelphia he's an author and director of the middle east forum and in washington we have edwin hall he's a former u.s. ambassador to yemen and he's also author of the book high value target countering al qaeda in yemen all right gentlemen this is crosstalk that means you can jump in anytime you want mr ambassador if i go to you first here i mean as we go to air here there's a lot of speculation some people say evidence that the the leader in yemen is opening the door to al qaeda to make sure he can stay in power in what looks like what most people are saying now is a civil war how would you assess that statement. well al qaeda in the arabian
peninsula was a threat before this current revolution in iran then and it has become more of a threat since it started simply because its operating space in the country has expanded but i doubt the president is intentionally exacerbating that threat he may seek tactical advantage from that but i don't see that he has an interest in opening that door. in any case i don't think he's getting any benefit from that and in any case. the challenge remains to get me on the current impasse and to deal with this threat in the long term ok daniel what do you think about that because this is even if there's. any evidence of this or it is true is that you know we have got a leader in yemen that has been a very loyal american ally for a long time and if there's even any hints that he's trying to use this to keep himself in power which his critics are saying that he's doing right now i mean what
does that say about how the u.s. is picking its allies in the region. well i would be a little less strong in my terminology than a very loyal us ok. ok fine give you more details than i can but he is someone who we could work with who was on again off again not not the greatest ally actually and part of that is that many elements in the country don't want you to have a role there don't want to be fighting al qaeda and he's not that strong i mean yemen is a very difficult country to rule and the central government's writ doesn't go very far so he never was great shakes from the american point of view and now he's even less useful i join the ambassador in doubting that he actually is complicit with all carter or benefiting from carter but it certainly is an accusation from his opponents that in both jobs and zinjibar to towns that are now
under islam this rule that he has fomented this has has allowed this to happen i doubt it but that is nonetheless a an important consideration in yemen these days mr ambassador is salo of words a worthy of protection by the united states now is that they would just like to see the backside of him in but still have someone there that would protect american interests in the region after all it does border on saudi arabia. our current terrorism cooperation with yemen has has always extended beyond president salva he was an important part of it but not and essential oh mr ambassador you are he said what you already said was so if you're implying that he's in the he's in the past tense category now. well i think in terms of ongoing counterterrorism cooperation it's considerably reduced and also in terms of his long term. shelf life and i think he's part of the past not its future it's interesting daniel
pipes i mean in looking at this and i guess we could ask the ambassador because he probably knows far more about it because i having been on the ground but i mean yemen is a very very difficult place to rule because there's so many different variations right there do you see there's a possibility and salah says this in itself the do you know if this continues we could see another libya scenario where the country becomes partitioned in not just in two parts but in more parts of that what do you think the likelihood of that is . rather than expect partition peter i would say anarchy you would see that no central government has control over the countries already or in fact some with the case that would be all the more the case more the somali or the afghan or the lebanese where it's nobody will say what's so remarkable in the yemeni case is how many opponents the central government has i count like a new american if you like but there are so many it is very hard to see. the seller
will remain in power mr ambassador i mean that there is given the u.s. interest in the region they wouldn't want the united states does not want to see chaos in yemen for a very long i mean what kind of role can the united states and i would stress positive in this case a positive role now given the obama administration's at least new wants to approach maybe not a radical change but what is the united states going to be doing now looking is this country falls into absolute chaos i would agree with daniel i mean there are so many different elements right there how does the how does a country like the united states would like to have a relationship with him and how do they decide now how to how to proceed maybe the best procedure is to stand back for a while. no i think that would be a serious mistake first of all i would emphasize that it's much more than us inconsistent at stake here there are very significant regional interests first and foremost saudi arabia and you've seen that because the gulf cooperation council has been engaged in trying to work
a solution to this but beyond that there are international interests what we see here is is in some ways reminiscent of the situation that was developing in afghanistan pre nine eleven where the international community as a whole was threatened by increasing safe haven for al qaeda now now what we do about that is another matter but i think we have to be active and take the initiative and i would suggest that you've got three forces at play here you've got forces within yemen and there are significant not only the protesters in the street but generally lawson and the other tribe leaders of the tribes so there are there are very strong forces inside yemen moving toward change you have the regional forces the gulf cooperation council which have a great deal of influence and then i think the international community needs to step forward and needs to step forward in a much more purposeful way than it has. then you know i mean if we look at the
influence of the gulf countries i mean i lost count how many deals that saleh was given what four already now and he's probably locked away from each one of them i mean what can the region do and i would like to point out that saudi arabia does acts very harshly and swiftly when it sees its interests threatened them bahrain comes to mind of course i mean do you see that saudi arabia would be emboldened to do to take a side in should be even actively getting involved on the ground. well the saudis have been involved there's the how the rebellion which has been going on and particularly two years ago in august of two thousand and nine the saudis sent their forces into yemen and back and i think sixty's they did they were full fledged participants in a war which egypt and i lived in austin was at the site so yes there's a history of saudi involvement in yemen in particular military history the final so far the final g.c.c. offer was turned down by saddam on the twenty second of may just over
a week ago and it doesn't look like the diplomacy is going very much further and by the way it didn't look like that was going to solve very much because what it four saw was sort of stepping down that his vice president taking over for a month and then having a very unwieldy and unlikely group of islamists and socialists and nasir writes and tribesmen coming in but it also saluted a number of important actors such as the house the rebel rebels and the tribal leaders and the youth. who are who started the whole thing in january so it was imperfect at best and i'm not quite sure that that much was lost by its rejection bus on the interim mr mansour is there a word to step down let's say hypothetically yes can i jump in there go right ahead yeah i'd like. yemen is not bothering ok. saudi intervention are about in yemen i think would be
a disaster any arab country. generally any country that's tried to intervene military really in yemen has lived to regret it certainly the gyptian the good and the saudi intervention these are the other two things was on the side of it wasn't against saddam but where the saudis have influences with the pocket book a great deal of resources flow from saudi arabia into yemen and there are recent indications that the. saudis are using that as a significant lever. i'm a little bit more positive on the g.c.c. initiative also then. mr pipes i think it was a a well designed effort i think it got for i think developments in the region really complicated it because when you started to see what was happening in egypt with hosni mubarak i think president saleh got cold feet and really questioned whether or not he wanted to give his state over and i also think
he was motivated in seeing developments in places like libya and syria where dictators have held on to power through military force so it's it's a larger regional phenomenon it's interesting daniel i mean if we take this on board here. no matter what happens the president steps down now it's going to be just absolute chaos theory i mean which way could he go and i mean there are other people but i know there are some people who are very concerned that it could we could see al qaeda really get a foothold that's how i introduce this program is that it would be a threat to the region and beyond how how serious do you think that is because we know that there is that we know al that is already there we've established are going. so it was that and i would take it as an assumption that ali abdullah saleh will not be the head of state in yemen for much longer i think he's finished i would put him in the past case there are different sorts of islamists in
particular there's the islam movement which has become a political movement and then there's the what we talked about the house the rebellion which was shiite and then there's all kind of which is sunny all of them with a different ideology with a different perspective oppressed different personnel competing in ways cooperating in other weights. but there are serious forces in yemen they wish to see a car off of yemen from the west not cooperate with the west not be part of the international system but rather as an afghanistan a decade ago to create an islamic emirate that tell you what you we will continue on this point after a short break an answer that's over we'll continue our discussion on yemen stay with hockey. stick.
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welcome back across dot com peter lloyd also remind you we're discussing him it's possible futures. ok. ok mr ambassador and we have been talking about yemen specifically but let's broaden it out and see what the international community possibly can do i'd like to add the caveat we have a intervention going on in libya right now that does it's at the very very least it's very very messy. and then make people go much further and say this is a stalemate this is a partition and that we have really nothing good has come of this intervention so with that in mind what can the international community do i mean are interventions off the table now or is it going to be turning into the flavor of every single month as we go forward in the in the arab awakening. well an armed intervention in yemen would be a terrible mistake. it would be even more problematic than libya
so that is not the way to go in my opinion however i think what you need to do is construct some positive exit from the current impasse and it can't be all negative it can't be all sanctions and it certainly can't be passivity watching the country just spiral down into a death spiral but yemen does have a political culture. that is surprisingly positive they've had several elections that have been deemed generally free and fair by the international community in two thousand and three two thousand and six the presidential election was contested then. it has a political infrastructure that includes functioning parties including an islamic party that is more reminiscent of a turkish islamic party than a radical one so you have material to work with and my thinking in my
opinion what the international community should do perhaps in the united nations is to come up with some kind of a an exit strategy from the impasse that may involve some sticks sanctions but also in some carrots building upon yemen's tradition politics traditions of elections but with a more robust regional and international involvement in that to make that path forward more credible and mr masters i can stay with you on this point but how do we get rid of salo are you know because it seems to me that that's the has to happen for this for your scenario to work out to be viewed you know get relief quote unquote and i'll let my audience decide what that means. well i think you start working more on what comes after sol you don't focus all of your attention on just getting rid of saddam because you shape what comes afterwards you grease the
skids for his exit. and beyond that what you have to do is to continue to narrow that base of support it's already we're all very dramatically most dramatically when general allen less and. left him and i think you have to create a situation where his current supporters have to choose they have to choose between him in the past and the future of yemen as it's evolving where their interests are better served daniel if i can go to you i mean i want to stay with the international community but let's go back to yemen real quickly i mean the current leader is what he nights all of these protests i mean if you were suddenly to disappear do you see that civil society is political society is strong enough as the ambassador is pointed out to do to really wind down the violence and actually sit down and have elections and have a civil dialogue because it is the longer this violence continues that seems more
likely that would be. you know i'm more pessimistic than mr hall on true points first i think that there is no basis for a common vision beyond getting rid of the current regime. everybody agrees on that a lot of people here and that they don't agree what comes next they're competing visions and i don't see any serious chance that they can come together and work on a combined joint future secondly i don't think that we in the west have any substantial friends in yemen and mr hall referred to a turkish slums party where there are no friends of ours they've turned into quite a hostile element i don't think we have a base there so where is he we're trying to construct a apology the. it is that we can work with i think it's probably wiser to preempt and say that this is a state whose population is hostile and therefore we should put it on notice you
have it debate can i can i can i just speak it's just coming out of the can i can interchange i mean salo is because he's perceived as an american ally isn't that create the anxiety in the in the dislike of the united states in the west just by the very fact that he's been there is more out of the marriage thirty thirty thirty three years he's been in power and basically being called a friend by the united states maybe not the best friend but a friend. oh i don't know probably was not a wise thing to do but he wasn't as i tried to start really or really an ally he was someone we could work with know no more than mubarak was and i like these people we could work with we have no shared. values or vision with the saudis the same thing would go so my view would be more negative let's let's put this that the yemeni leadership whatever it might be in the future on may on notice that if we get any any hostilities from there we will make a painful for them if there are no hostilities then we will work with them and by the way this is a country that is and is at the point of near collapse there are such
problems with water with the economy that are extreme and i don't think i don't think that putting money is going to solve it i think we need to protect ourselves from the potential dangers and i might conclude by saying that i've never in my life but on a program television program before they discuss yemen yemen was obscure and it is in one way a sad development that we have to talk about yemen and yet it is an important development yemen is part of the problem today mr massereene you were prime minister moussa would you like to add to that go ahead please do. if you are first of all pessimism is not a policy i mean it's pretty easy to especially with yemen to wring our hands and say that downsides are all greater than the upside we're still it's imperative to develop an approach and i would argue an approach with the international community and the second thing is shared visions and values are great if you can get that and
i mean it's wonderful having great britain but the fact of the matter is in my experience as a diplomat what you really work on are shared interests and it's thankfully. does provide a shared interest not only with the un but many of the states of the middle east and it will continue to provide us a shared interest in that regard and we just have to be adept enough to let it lead to build on that shared interest either bilaterally with yemen i'm talking about solid young men who are opposed to yemen and internationally with the russians the chinese the europeans and more broadly this is our basis. if i could say with you mr ambassador and let's let's say the assumption is that the the u.s. and its western allies would be would support any leader in yemen who would take on al qaida in a serious way do you think that's a good idea what about backfire on the united states and the west go ahead. i don't
think that's true i don't think it's anyone gets our support i think we can be more demanding that listen the yemenis going against al qaeda is not a favor of to us al-qaeda is threatening yemen. it is a shared interest that we have so it's not a something that they can use to blackmail us but our interest in yemen should be much broader than just the kind it should be yemen's development it should be the political political stability there if we have a narrow approach i think we're doomed to failure and i think you can go back historically and that's what i do in my book and show from all one tool for when we had a broad sustained approach and i don't not only targeted al qaeda but also supported yemeni political and economic development that is when we made our major gains against al qaeda and actually severely degraded its leaders in its ranks and
in all four they constituted a negligible threat to the united states and the international community daniel pipes that i go to you let's let's really be optimistic super optimistic right now let's say let's say my family everyone says he would have enough fighting and we could sit down we can talk we have civil society political society and actually get some kind of reform there but i think all three of us in this program would respect wouldn't saudi arabia be really upset about that and we could change and you know going bahrain. well of course it depends what it's going to look like but i would say no or the saudis would probably be concerned if yemen goes back to its usual quiet what the actual internal rangelands are with in yemen what role the zionists have of what role the us shafi is have. the south in the north and the various tribal configurations the
hotshots in the book kills that really is not terribly important to the saudis if it were quiet the saudis would probably be quite happy mr ambassador if i can ask you it's brought in now for the u.s. cannot be riding to go right ahead that's what this program's all that's what this program's all about go right ahead. yeah but i i think it would be shortsighted on the saudis part if they just hadn't had a lot of stability and that was as far as it went because it's not sustainable in the long run the economic pressures the increasing water supply the greedy decreasing gas and oil the growing populations mean that for long term stability on the arabian peninsula you need yemen that is more integrated with the rest of the arabian peninsula and i don't mean integrated politically because the g.c.c.
is a club of monarchs and they're not going to accept a republic but i i mean economically you've got to address the economic needs of young men not with charity but with things like finding work opportunities in a labor starved gold for a labor rich young man and you've got to look at those natural complementarities between yemen and and its neighbors and build something positive on those complementarities all right jim overall run out of time and we're all going to keep our argument just because what the ambassador just said there are many thanks my guess again philadelphia and washington and thanks to our viewers for watching this here on our feet so you next time remember cross talk to us. if you can.