what we made clear is that the u.s. should not use syria as a battlefield against iran or or whether as a battlefield to try to stop iran or to block iran that should not be the goal the goal today and i believe this for some time early on should be to end the violence and the conflict and that for the political issues a to the side for now but you know you have hundreds of thousands of syrians who died as a result of this conflict they should be the ones who are thinking. ok rob we're going to take a short break right now and when we're back we'll continue talking to robert malley obama administration's advisor on the middle east and present their actual crisis group about the situation in syria stay with us.
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now we're back with robert malley is a obama administration's advisor on isis on the middle east now had of the international crisis group talking about the war in syria is growing more and more complex mr malley you met president assad in person do you think you will stop short of conquering the whole territory from the rebels i mean what recovering its unity under asset may ultimately be better for syria than splintering it into a patchwork of rebel warlord controlled areas. so i met a many many years ago before before the war so i can't i can't really claim that i know from those meetings how he would react i think we know from the way he's been conducting the war that the goal is to reconquer or to retake as much of syria's possible and perhaps all of syria i don't think that that's something that's going to happen in the near term because of turkey's presence and because of the u.s.
and kurdish presence in the in the east so i don't i don't think that that's going to be an attainable goal it is a goal that in the medium to long term the regime is going to continue pursuing you know does is going to raise an issue i mean again one one could one could say that when they take a position one way or the other about whether assad should go but it is clear that there be many constituencies in syria who would not be thrilled to see the regime extend its reach back on them and not part of the country where there are solutions and i know that this is part of what different countries are talking about whether the solutions that would involve greater decentralization in syria so that some of the areas that have been. not under control of the regime for some time could be slightly more thomas even though they fall under the sovereignty of the state that's something that needs to be discussed in the context of the political the political talks that are ongoing go whether in geneva or a place in sochi in the context of talk about a new constitution so theoretically should the come through as a country be reunited and not be
a patchwork and not have influence by different countries of course and i'm sure that's what most syrians would want i don't think that's realistic under current conditions it may not be realistic as long as the regime is what it is today i don't know that's that's obviously something that the syrians are going to have to decide but that is unfortunate lot of blood that's been spilt and i'm sure this. it's going to take some time for many syrians to reconcile themselves to the different reality now the geneva she asked to not talks about achievements such as different the confliction zone observation pos reconciliation centers but obviously failed to dent the greater war itself can post war syria be decided during this conferences i'm in is that realistic. you know having spent a long time in geneva both with the russian colleagues but also with the un and others it's hard to be particularly hopeful that was going to be decided in geneva is going to make much of a as much of
a difference as one might have hoped the reality on the ground is what's going to determine the future of syria that means the balance of power between among the warring parties the warring syrian parties in there the regime certainly appears to have the upper hand in most of syria i think as i said the exception is the larger the kurdish areas and it live but then there's also the competition as you say among foreign powers turkey iran israel. cetera and. there are their views are also going to weigh heavily as to the future of syria so my own i think my own in crisis group's own assessment is that at this point we are looking at a patchwork that's not by any means ideal and hopefully that can move towards a more decentralized syria in which foreign parties exit but that's again i think we're at it depends on what time horizon you're talking about i think for now the aspiration should be the priority should be lessened if not end the violence and if that means having zones that are slightly different in terms of the way they're
governed and choose the kind of influence of the regime. if that's the price to pay that's an acceptable price to pay in order to stop the suffering the bombing of hospitals the bombing of civilians the displaced with the refugee if that what we need to do is put a priority on that and that may mean for some time that syria will not be as unified as as a regime or others may like it to be so they've taken flexion agreements don't include jihad as brigades fighting in italy or elsewhere and since they control the whole lot of territory i mean assad soldiers will and have the right to move into a blip and fight them. and that's probably what they going to do if it comes down to it so is dick confliction there for just a symbolic move saying how it doesn't really concern the main front of the war. so i mean this is been one of the issues that since two thousand and fifteen we've been debating with russia and others when i was in the ministration our crisis group is grappling with which is of course. you know we can't treat jihad as same
way as you treat as civilians and they are parties that are going to have to either change or behavior are they going to have to be fought. but it was all too often it's been used as a pretext justification to go in and bomb everyone including if they're not out it's and again you know the maybe disagreement on this but that's certainly been the experience that i saw the screen so there are a lot of folks on the ground that the figure leave for the pretext of saying we're going after jihad this we don't have to miss really going after al qaeda is often used to indiscriminately bomb people are nothing to do with them now the answer to that is a not indiscriminately bomb of course but it's also to find ways to pressure those groups either so that they disband or that they the they change i mean this is not this is been one of the issues that has plagued syria and again i think responsibility is not only on the regime and its allies many of the supporters of the opposition turned a blind eye when some of the more the less jihad is groups were. get intermingled
with the job as groups and that became a real issue and that's partly why we are in the situation we're in today but if again if one takes the position that the goal the priority today must be to lessen if not end the violence then we need to take some time where we're going to stop the bombing and try to resolve the question of what to do with jihad as groups and to do it in a way that actually does not go into effect and kill civilians because i think you know this and your audience know this under international law it's not an excuse to say the reason we bombed civilians is because we were going after after terrorists sometimes united states has done the same thing and not on the scale that russia is doing in syria i would argue but sometimes other countries have gone in on the on the claim that they were going after terrorist groups they've often hit civilians. it seems to be happening it in series that's being done in a more deliberate way in a more large scale way and that's that's really what needs to stop all right so
this whole assad must say assad moscow issue has been a debate forever and washington was first very adamant about assad must go now we hear well wait you can maybe stay do you feel that state department has a clear cut line one it comes to syria doesn't really know what it's doing as i think what happened is we went through as you say for a period of a sudden must go then during the first months of the trump administration it sounded as if that position had softened if you go back and look at some of the statements that secretary of state to listen or u.n. ambassador nikki haley made one thought that maybe there was a shift of late very clearly certainly in the words of secular tillerson were back to assad must go as i said earlier i think for already now should not be assad stays as goes we all could have our views and whether he's the right person to lead syria at this time the party for international crisis group is not let's not focus on that now let's focus on ending the war and let's not make intermingle the
humanitarian concern which is the bombing of hospitals the bombing of civilians the shelling of damascus by rebel groups that's not and obviously the bombing by the regime as i was mentioning earlier the sun makes it that with the political objectives which some people may still have we need to put those aside the political objectives of those need to be resolved at the negotiating table they're not going to be resolved in the battlefield at this point so so i think that's the i think the position of the state department today and of the i assume of the white house is clearer than it had been in the first one of the trip in this regime there back to the notion that a sudden has to go the new geneva process needs to leave to his his departure and again eyes are going to go share this with some of the many russians and many others we would spend. years arguing over whether such should leave in a month or in two months or in six months. and years have gone by so let's not waste more time on that question i mean it is not going away in a wasting we're going to milan italy but like you've said it does feel like you know the state dept is back on to the moscow thing you know and i mean isn't it
a little strange i mean you seem like a sensible man like you're not really picking sides is it a little strange the fact that there is a country or several countries which openly demands change in other governments by force why is that ok and if minutes well it just said you know sorry we've had enough of your trump you must go on that you know start arming the entire trump extremists how would that look like to america you know if i had to do the list of who's responsible i think we wouldn't we would have enough time in an hour but certainly to the regimes disproportionate response the decision by by several outsiders to to as i say makes the objective which is to end the violence with the political objective which was to get rid of assad the fact is sir became a battleground for regional influence between iran saudi arabia turkey its us and then russia all of that and the fact that people were in a way encouraging the rebels to believe that they could topple the regime which
which only through for the few of the comp i think you know we'll have time in the months and years to come to look back and learn everything that shouldn't have been done in syria and i said think everyone is going to come out of this looking pretty bad the regime may be worse by some measure but everyone else will look will look bad as well but i think there will be time to debate that to debate the bigger question about humanitarians vention when is it justified when is it not justified that's the debate that has been taking place now for some decades but let's not be paralyzed by that the bait and let's focus on what really matters today and which is that's just silence the guns so you know there's there's a question i you know everyone will have their opinion was it right to call from a bar for khadafy for saddam hussein for for for us to leave what has it meant for the middle east was that the right approach i think crisis group has had. as were in the past many times about the big flaws of u.s. policy that has tried to impose its will on other countries and often in ways that have hurt not just the countries but the u.s.
as well as we've seen certainly in iraq that let's you know we could have that debate is a worthy debate to have because there's also the way what does one do if one sees massacres in countries whether it's from the wrong or in syria with hundreds of thousands of people are killed does the international community whoever that whatever that means does it have a responsibility to step in and to stop that they've got a real question that people have to face to which we don't have a good answer today but you know all of those questions will have plenty of time to resolve the need to be resolved but let's not use that as a reason not to address the media urgent question of how to stop the killing in syria. all right mr malley thanks a lot for this interview we're talking to robert malley former advisor to president obama now president and c.e.o. of the international crisis group discussing crisis in syria and that's it for this edition of stuffing cost you next. thank you.