tv Cross Talk RT November 17, 2017 3:30am-4:00am EST
trump ministration appears to be on board. across talking saudi arabia i'm joined by my guest martin jay in beirut he is a freelance broadcast journalist also in beirut we have. he is a political analyst and in washington we have joe marker on he is a policy analyst at the arab center washington d.c. all right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want i always appreciate martin let me go to you first in beirut there are so many elements of what's going on with this story domestically in saudi arabia and of course across the region particularly in lebanon which of course always includes iran. if you could for our audience because it's not getting a lot of air time because of domestic politics in the u.s. and the u.k. how would you sum up what's actually going on in saudi arabia and in the region go ahead martin. well the both there's a link with between both of them i mean saudi arabia is basically getting ready for
a new king to take the throne and this one had been some of the new crown prince who has been installed in the position by israel and america is very insecure about its position a very insecure about the future so he's created a sort of anti corruption purge which no one really believes and is basically wiping out all the opposition anybody who's rival to anybody who could question him or dealt him and given problems in the future but concurrent of that what we've seen the last few weeks is a. more attacks on the saudi capital from yemen which is linked to the whole hariri thing and basically a massive fuse blowing in riyadh where this this entourage of people around have been someone who basically said money in lebanon mr hariri is not doing enough for us he really hasn't done anything for us in the last year in terms of rebalancing this power balance that we have in the middle east between them. one side of saudi
arabia and all of the west and gulf arab countries on the other side iran and its affiliates basically saudi arabia has lost so much in the last five years that for this new saudi prince to come into power he needs to feel as though he's making a statement he needs to send a message to iran but he also is sort of holding out a hand to has a pool of hariri to say country just give us a little bit back to show a little bit humility we lost so much in syria we lost so much in the end and we've made fools of ourselves in that. but let me go to joe does that help politics works in the in the middle east i mean give me something no i don't think it works that way i mean saudi foreign policy is the been nothing less than a catastrophe over the last few years i mean and then going back in and meddling in in lebanon trying to rebalance and whatever that means it's up to the lebanese people to do that what is in your mind what is going on in saudi arabia go ahead joe in washington. i mean obviously it's not them to grab power of the
system became very complicated a lot of princes a lot of branches in southern would have family that wants to control and obviously you want to call so the. power since he came used on the first. he's making people worry with and washable of the capital is that of the word and this is not only impacting of course. the impact on lebanon on yemen or qatar we saw. a bit of humiliation of crisis in that sense and for that reason i see the what's happening inside lebanon as mostly linked to solve the politics right. and this is the scary part in that sense ok well aleem if i go to you also in beirut i mean if the crown prince wants to make a big splash if i can use that term or he's really it's all completely backfired on
him in lebanon i mean instead of. ceding vision you've actually seen unity and even a quite a few western players are are a bit frustrated that you know this saudi arabia is destabilizing lebanon and that's not it's not very difficult to destabilize lebanon lebanon's a very fragile place go ahead in beirut. well just to get said before about. mine is that yes on the one hand he is trying to capitalize power prior to taking on the throne of the saudi kingdom but at the same time he's kind of tapping into some reforms that have gotten a bit of positive review internally and also externally so he's using that perhaps for example beside the issue of the entry reform agenda he's using some of the his statements on the need for social change and the need to you know address change the way the country is going for the last thirty years. you know giving women the right to drive and and other issues speaking to the youth so that's on one hand
kind of to also complete the picture in terms of what i believe. man is doing but also when you when we get to lebanon yes indeed i mean we can't say with certainty that he has lost yet. absolutely as you rightly said there has been a display of national unity given what has happened in the last two weeks or less than two weeks since how did his resignation which was extremely bizarre and it was described as bizarre not just by the how do you to media or the process by the media it was described as bizarre even by the international media given that you have a prime minister who is missing in action in riyadh but at the moment i just want to also add this is the point that anything we say at the moment is really uncertain given that we have not heard from how do you know face to face and he mentioned in his interview on on sunday november twelfth that there are there are a lot of secrets that he can only tell when he comes to lebanon and speak to president on ok well go back to martin uncertainty is the worst thing you need in a situation like this here i want to go back to the issue of reform and we had the
crown prince and people around him talking about moderate islam that is remarkable coming out of riyadh i mean if he's you know like a bull in a china shop you know with his persian like that he does he could have the political strength base to be able to do something like that because i have to wonder if that's just for western consumption that's my first take away go ahead barton. no i think you're going to firmly on the head yes the question all journalists none of us want to ask is the same what how long would this guy be around you know when you do when you're going to those measures when you're going to such extreme measures to create all this destruction all this smoke and mirrors i mean the whole hariri drama is in many ways a distraction from what's going on in riyadh right now which is chaos and calamity you know i mean what's not getting reported by western journalists is the correct. down the human rights abuses and the crackdown on people being detained without
trial and even being beheaded and then and some of these people are political opponents so i don't think we can talk about reform i mean i think when ali mentioned reformed i think he was very current to be so i think come give in letting women drive and maybe creating some program which may or may not work in two thousand and thirty you know having a minister of this is is all really very superficial and doesn't really have that much substance to it you know what we're seeing i think is is saudi arabia going backwards you know i don't see anything going forward or not i'm not positive and i think the fact that you need to go to those measures you need to take those extremes you need to use your man hariri in lebanon to try and destabilize a tiny country and you say to yourself you know it's easy to destabilize lebanon it's poor it's backward it basically doesn't really have hasn't really ever had a functional government in the five years i've been here you know so low hanging fruit of you know shaking that particular country but i mean i don't think we can take another we can take this guy seriously and what's happened with drama is the
whole thing is massively backfire look at what's happened in lebanon you can find now yes it's nothing less than bizarre illegal but let me go back to joe here i mean we had the president of the united states its first major foreign visit and he went to among the city's strip was to riyadh and the twitter in chief was given full support to the crown prince here is there any cause and effect there because it's the feel like he's got kind of like a blank check from the u.s. because you know maybe it's twitter account you know that gives him a blank check from the president but from the rest of the u.s. administration it doesn't seem so clear again this is very callous risky behavior go ahead joe yes i mean obviously there is. a difference between between the white house on one hand and the bottom of the public on the other hand you saw and we saw in the vehicle thought. crisis for them to bridge the wire and then
eventually the president called. gyptian president of they were meeting in cairo and basically to stop the escalation and basically that they didn't force a solution on them but they are sent to stop the escalation and the case of lebanon on that bridge was much quicker i'm not sure maybe because there are sort of was and there was on the trip but that became more and basically the u.s. was able to do the saudi search it got a call in lebanon and basically at the top of that authority the government gave us they would need stability would not going to play with fire you know so we saw them to the saudis were to retreat that in a very clear and a graduate way leading to how deeply moving so yes there's a big tension on on on on this issue and i think the concern is is. the expense of building i mean build a good relation with trump and his advisers including it's coming at the expense
of the saudi relation with the u.s. establishment because they feed now you're undercutting exactly go about levels actually we don't know about you're just playing with fire back to our influence our u.s. forces and our u.s. influence in lebanon but when you have to be on exactly i think you are agreeing here let me go let me let me go to you i mean again i mean because the position of the u.s. is very ambivalent here does it give the players on the ground a little bit more elbow room to do what they want to do because it seems like that's going to play including the israelis by the way go ahead. yes i agree but of course we need to remember that we still even when you're reading the u.s. for us and other in other reports we still don't know exactly what you want from spotlessly years in the middle east but having said that we know one thing is that he has decided to single out iran as the main thing. in the region exactly so he has completely adopted the line with israel and saudi arabia now whether he's right
i mean whether whether his plan is well thought out whether you house practical steps in doing that we know in the case of lebanon there has been increased sanctions by the u.s. congress against hezbollah and again. gentlemen. i have to jump in here we're going to go to a hard break and after that break we'll continue our discussion on saudi arabia and some on iran state.
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welcome back across like we're all things we're considered on peter money we're discussing saudi arabia. ok martin let me go back to you are brought up the topic where i want to go with on this program that let's talk about the iran angle here i mean it seems that that's part of the the chessboard right here. is the crown prince trying to make some kind of you know grand gesture or leave his footprint in history i mean i mean again you know looking at what's going on in the region failure in syria failure in yemen i mean maybe you should step back a little bit here disable destabilizing lebanon i mean now you're you know we have this rhetorical war which is always there but there are two one level or another
but i mean it looks like you know he's priming up the region to get used to a conflict with the round in of course you know the israelis officially unofficial leader always kind of egging that along there too so i mean this is what i find very worrisome someone that is not experienced coming in you know i could work like a child in a in a i'm sorry a bull in a china shop shop kicking everything around arresting people worse taking their assets away and the we have the u.s. that's kind of asleep at the wheel that seemingly at least martin your thoughts only ran. because basically the summit of the american idea of the trump camp whatever we do with iran the middle east we can't really go wrong you know there is this idea that there is a huge safety net there and whatever whatever they actually try and pull of whatever initiative is whether it's military wanna whether it's what i believe will be an economic sanction crackdown call it what you would on lebanon you know they they feel as though that there's no accountability there it's almost as though
there are they're creating policies which in three four or five years time they will be accountable to anyway but what we are seeing what we're witnessing in the middle east particularly with saudi arabia and lebanon with this whole context of iran is israel coming closer and closer together with this paranoia which is being stirred and provoked and goaded by the trumpet ministration particularly since the not sign the certificate for the iran deal signed off a couple of weeks ago this is just makes things much worse the hezbollah who will believe. to be in yemen firing rockets at riyadh is just it's just stoking everything up and it's reached a point now where no logical argument matters anymore you know just today the foreign minister of saudi arabia said we're all talking now so allies about a new policy towards iran what does that mean you know i mean it they can all in in m.b.'s his wildest dreams he cannot possibly imagine a military campaign against iran or hezbollah in lebanon can only be that mad yeah
well no no no he's not mad he's just get the americans and the israelis to do it and that's what really worries me ok. let me go to you i mean it's not going to work i agree ok martin when has it worked recently ok and that's the whole point i want to go with joe here in washington you know ok let's look at iraq ok iraq after the illegal invasion and occupation two thousand and three it falls into iran's fear of influence ok now you have this proxy war in syria who comes out the winner iran ok the blog goes in and fights isis they carry water for the iranians ok they win again now why in the world would anyone on the crown of of the saudi royal family thinking they're going to throw the dice one more time i mean every it's could mistake mistake mistake mistake one after another oh sorry i forgot yemen go ahead joe. i believe that the
saudis i mean never have to confront iran i mean they never have the intention i'm sorry to confront to them not to not to do and this is why they went to what i call the weakest link which is there but on and on this is where they can basically force the hand of the corrupt in syria because not the new york so yes they were thought of the u.s. and saudi are thought of basically getting higher or more ten times with iran in the past year or so but this is the policy on the grown because we see see and. there is an agreement now between the u.s. and russia and you see iran you're getting close to call for the iraqi syrian war to the iraq you have solid engagement you have coexistence between quotation between the u.s. and iran in the iraq throughout the through the. situation over there so that it's not it doesn't match what's happening on the ground and this was the u.s. message to saudi arabia they do want lebanon to explode everything for us that it's
very tricky what's happening we have to. deal with the mission in c. to try to contain iran that's not the time to go into a. conflict that's not the big priority for the rest of this point which is liberal and there you see you know that's a completely shift in that sense so again i mean the saudi authorities does not much and will not much anytime soon toric specially in lebanon will be open options are very very very limited. let's let's talk more about lebanon i mean. i think we all could agree that it's not over yet whatever this gambit is ok but you know the first signs are it is this solidified i mean people have come together to explain to our viewers what kind of consensus there is is there now in dealing with this situation they're seeing this foreign meddling from from saudi arabia and it's sent. shivers through the spine of a lot of people because i mean to remind our viewers you know people remember the
war in the civil war it was horrific it was long and and they found some kind of consensus to move forward with lots of disagreements and a very complicated political system is it durable can it pull through this crisis go ahead in beirut. in my opinion the consensus is that we do not want the lebanese people do not want another war they do not want to be dragged into another war on behalf of somebody else but for the you know for the same. having also a comprehensive analysis of what the view is from lebanon and also in the region we need to talk about obviously saudi interference but we also need to talk about iranian involvement in lebanon as you well know hezbollah is an iranian ally and has a lot of power in lebanon but it's also been involved in the syria crisis and possibly in the yemen crisis in the iraq in iraq as well so we can't really discuss lebanon without talking about these two sides which is usually what is discussed today as
the regional power play between saudi arabia and iran so yes in the last two weeks saudi arabia's role interfering in lebanon and what i consider to be an assault on lebanon sovereignty has come to the surface but we also need to see that it's part of a bigger problem of both powers trying to interfere or trying to flex their muscles so to speak so let me also remind the viewers that part of what also saudi arabia claimed at least that this is all about or what the what its allies in lebanon were upset about was president rouhani of iran who mentioned two weeks ago perhaps that nothing happens in the region including lebanon without the you know without iran's . so to speak consent to do so in one way or another one can see the reader as ignatius saudi arabia saying well look we can also influence things on the ground we can you know we can create put a hold on on a settlement that brought the president on to the presidency and how do you need to the premiership so in some ways just to sum it up briefly there is
a consensus that we do not want a war if saudi arabia want a military confrontation with hezbollah it is my view that no party in lebanon want to start but at the same time what the how do you brought forward is that there is a need to have a discussion about the status of hezbollah going forward and also whether hezbollah should disengage from any regional conflicts martin what made it in that because i mean hezbollah would say nothing succeeds like success i mean they play their cards very very carefully ok and they've come out. on tarp and a throw away are also part of the number to call process they are erected democratically if you like it or not ok so i you know it seems to me that they have a pretty strong position in lebanese politics ok and they came about because of the illegal invasion of israel ok let's all remember the origins of all these things go ahead mark. well yeah i mean start off is very much a nationalistic organization but as has grown and develops now into. an
organization which permits but across the region here the problem we've got here is one of irony the saudis trying to take on iran and has been as proxy around the region and they lost and every time they keep losing hezbollah keeps growing you know if you look at hezbollah now i mean the israeli generals barely a week passes the israeli generals in the press down there is really talking about the strength of his rule since since has blur's come back from war in syria so you know the joke of word is a six hundred pound gorilla sits when it enters the room anywhere it likes applies very much to situation that we have now between saudi arabia and iran the problem for the saudis is hezbollah has just become too big too powerful across the region and now the saudis on the gross thing from a point of weakness not from a point of strength you know they've they've sort of kidnapped the lebanese prime minister we don't know exactly where he is exactly or what he's doing in saudi arabia there is this debacle and now which is a merger between now the international community in france is trying to usher him
back to france there's a huge question mark over whether he will come back as a prime minister and do what everyone wants him to do which is to talk to his beloved because frankly he's the only one the lebanese the saudis have got who can actually be put into that circle and who will be listened to and who can communicate with has been come out with a deal the million dollar question is to the saudis really want to negotiate a deal because they had an opportunity and they seem to have lost it i know ironically hariri areas become so popular in the last two weeks more popularly could be. eval and install a political career inside lebanon and yet the saudis have not capitalized on not the said let's put him back in my roots talk has. joe way you know that's a very interesting way of looking at it go ahead joe in washington. i mean i agree that has been a role and that sense has has grown beyond the. role that should be discussed in a way that doesn't impact you know the way we live on has edition with the with the
other board of the boat how investing what's happening in syria anybody's politics i don't understand why they would rush the little motivation was the most close most of all i think. religion would consume to have but the issue is how saudi arabia approached this issue i mean the way they did it now basically they're they cripple their own life he's. basically forced to resign he has to see his authority and this weekend him and not the first time they weaken how do you know they're going to be killing him for almost five years though whether in his company in saudi arabia or with the support of people on his right so basically i mean they should take a decision that what that's they can do if they want to go with. the one ready for that if they want is to go towards below the i'm not ready for that but they want the americans to do the reading so basically it's also a part of life everybody's government so the. gay plan not the people here i think
we've run out of time i think joe has really put it really well there's no game plan here that's what worries me many thanks to my guests in beirut and in washington and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at r.t. see you next time and remember crosstalk. cut cut. cut cut cut. cut. cut cut cut. cut.
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