tv Cross Talk RT January 16, 2019 11:00pm-11:31pm EST
week in british politics as trees amaze governments riot survives a no confidence vote a day after her brags a divorce agreement was shot down by her fellow in. the maze a battle may not be over as opposition leaders and lay out terms of for negotiations but must remove must remove once and for all the prospect. of a no deal principally. and in syria four americans including two soldiers are killed by an explosion in the strategic city of mount sponsibility for the attack has been claimed by islamic state. there's a full news rundown heading your way in about an hour's time but first cross talk shines a spotlight on the planned u.s. withdrawal from syria stimulus.
hello and welcome to cross talk where all things considered i'm peter lavelle president donald trump has repeatedly said the u.s. will withdraw from syria it would seem he's the only one in his administration backing this move is trump in charge of his own foreign policy are john bolton and mike palm pale actually running the show. cross talking to syria policy i'm joined by my guest. in london he is a lawyer and an independent political analyst as well as an expert in iraqi affairs in damascus we have amar why cough he is founder and director of know so it's an organization expressing stakeholder opinion in syria and in the middle east and in
norman we cross to joshua landis he is the director of the center of middle east studies at the university of oklahoma are right gentlemen crosstalk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want and i always appreciate joshua let me go to you first in norman i have a very simple question but i don't think there's a simple answer is foreign policy is befuddling. frustrating to understand and it seems quite fluid so what do you make of his policy as his major foreign policy advisers including the u.s. secretary of state is essentially contradicting their boss on their middle east tour go ahead joshua well you're absolutely right and for americans it's just as confusing as it is for the rest of the world because the foreign policy. elite really has come undone and the way this this process is hammered out has now been
thrown into some chaos because the president has taken charge of the syrian issue himself and then started in december fourteenth when the turks escalated they threatened to invade and were bombarding northern syria this forced an escalation beyond the sort of the top state department the national security council people and the president took a phone call to air to one and which point he said we're pulling out this was news to the foreign policy elite who wanted to stay in syria to counter iran and roll back iran so that through everything that chaos then they immediately sort of roll back or. trump statements and then outruns come on again and said we're going to leave and he's gearing up for a national campaign in two thousand and twenty in which he wants to promise the people that he's going to end these stupid wars the way he did for years you know several years ago and and so we're at
a crossroads here on the syrian policy and there is a lot of confusion you know it's about the you know it can be all nice and fine if donald trump and it's advisors want to have this sharod played out in public fine ok donald trump is a person that easily changes his mind or he says something different contradicting himself that's all nice and fine we're used to it but the region is and the turks don't know how to react to damascus government is confuse the russians or confuse the iranians confuse and lo and behold the american people finally found out who the kurds are because of all of this so it's just not the confusion in washington it's creating confusion all through the region go ahead sob in london. one of quite frankly i think the americans never had a policy they wanted to have a regime change in syria that's as far as they can think off anything else after that i don't think anybody knew on the american side they have no idea about the
kurdish problem they don't know the differences between the various fick kurdish factors they don't know anything about the so-called isis and other islamist terrorist groups they don't know anything about the syrian free army but they feel they where they are the power that has the power it has the plane it has the voice that can make and it can threaten turkey and it actually did so a little while ago when they imposed economic problems for for turkey so the confusion is right from the outset the outset and at the outset they wanted to change the regime then they decided they want somebody else to do that and then after that they decided well it's been we can do now so let's leave it now as it is this is the i think this is how i would describe them out of come policy as far as the administration is concerned you have a president who is unique in the united states of america where he is taking the
lead into things which he doesn't know anything about it he keeps on telling lies he's the only president that the american public and the media is counting the lies he's standing he says one thing and he says another thing then you have the right wingers within the administration who know a little bit where they want to go they know that out against the iranians they want to support israel they are against said i'm probably that against the russians this is how they view it so of course you have this confusion but i the end of the day i don't think the syrian issue has changed from the beginning until now i said continue to kill the people and the people want to revolt against it ok let's go to them. because some are i think you know i'm sure you read mike pompei or cairo speech is one of the most bizarre things i've ever read in my life i'm i'm not sure what region he's talking around the world but it certainly wasn't the middle east ok and it was more for the most part about three things iran's iran in iran
it's really quite puzzling try to understand what that foreign policy from the white house and from the state department what direction they really want to go to really he did not address many important issues the palestinians shogi calling saudi arabia to live up to the iranians to live up to the human rights standards of saudi arabia what is going on with this administration go ahead in damascus. to the point of the fact of the matter is that the united states will always be seeking more influence and more stable and strategic influence in the middle east they're currently threatened by russian expansion because of the american policy in syria which you know created the circumstances for a russian increased influence in the region. very traditional allies of the
united states very established allies are not only talking more to russia. they're also having all these even weaponry like in the turkish example so the in the case of iran the united states probably thinks that having iran as a sole. enemy would gather as much allies on underwear on one front along with the united states as much as possible definitely israel would be interested in any american anti iran policy in the region the saudis would the bulk of the gulf states probably apart from qatar at the moment turkey would traditionally be. in competition with iran and so on and so forth so this is not new this has been happening all along but we need to understand that what is going on at the moment is that probably some people in the united states and definitely
a lot of people in israel are thinking this is the right time to pass it or to make some progress on what we can call perhaps the zionist project so let us push any and his or his project. sentiment as possible towards despair and let's make good of any alliance with some arab states against iran and turn it around into an enemy of the united states which some lobbying inside the administration would probably want that to happen but at the end of the day the main issue is that the united states feels that its influence may be dwindling that it could be its allies traditional allies maybe looking eastwards at the moment towards the likes of russia and china on that point i would definitely agree with you here joshua the issue between the united states and turkey in northern syria visa be the kurds has not been resolved and this i really felt american media and
western media in general they don't look at the other actors in the other players in all of this because i don't want to really bet a lot on seeing his policy become super wishin and if he doesn't know what the u.s. is going to do once it understands where the united states or what the united states wants to do then it can act in everyone is not a man known for his patience go ahead joshua. well you're absolutely right that the kurdish problem it turns out to be a problem for everybody nobody really knows what to do with it not america not turkey not syria not iraq and and this is you know with the collapse of the syrian central state during the civil war us side in many ways handed off eastern northeastern syria to the kurds into the y.p. g.m. and then america which had been helping the arab militias against us side hoping to
overthrow the regime put in a pro-american regime that would make peace with israel this completely collapsed and so the united states was left siding with the kurds to fight isis these this very reliant sunni kayla full group that was trying to build this big caillat and that that caused in a sense the united states to side with the allies of us if you would but now that they're withdrawing everybody is no none of the regional powers want there to be an independent or autonomy as kurdish entity with its own military and that is a very difficult problem for the united states to get out because they want to make sure that their allies don't get completely smashed in the process and ok says embarrassing let me say we're here to are almost going to make joshua let me stay with you here but it i understand that the various kurdish groups are in
negotiations with damascus right now to come to some kind of resolution as if and when the united states leaves go ahead joshua finish up before we go to the break is right and this puts the united states in a very embarrassing pollution because it means that if the kurds and damascus patch up their relations form a an agreement over bringing a syrian army back in to this whole northern region which would be the. best thing for the kurds it is going to barracks united states because then to fight against isis and continue the war counter terrorism or at least the united states effectively has to work with us because the wide p.g. will become part of the syrian army and and that puts the united states back at square one of reconciling with the outside regime even if it's just tasteful to them and working with it effectively and that's where the united states stands today as u.s. entire revolution it promoted and asked for the overthrow assad in
a sense it's discovered that the alternative turned out to be something worse isis or al qaida or other islamic groups that the united states didn't want to deal with and you know it's back to square one ok i'm going to jump in here gentlemen we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on syria state with our king. trump when he was running in two thousand and sixteen articulated a vision of foreign policy that was clearly at odds with what you would consider the sort of post-war liberal international consensus that that american foreign policy is held. there might be some claim that there are elements of that critique that has some validity here's the problem though it's not enough to offer a critique you can say that there are problems with the existing foreign policy and then you have to offer something that's better person period alternatives and this is where i think trump is as fail miserably.
as your officer. told you to get up off the ground to serve began to. your game face on the sounds of an mit grown man mislead us into the. truth is. it is you wish to do away from your office or. to this group. the obvious or did they kind of lunge for the weapon once missed and then when it happened on tree swung at the officers hands didn't hit them i never saw any contact between the two and the kind went back to where they were so the officers back here there try again fifteen feet apart at this point and that's when the officer pulled out his gun and aimed it on tree. welcome back to crossfire we're all things considered i'm peter lavelle to remind
you we're discussing syria. ok let me go back to sabah in london so i couldn't help but notice when i was asking questions of joshua landis so norman there you were where i think you were disagreeing go ahead a lot of. that that's correct it's the kurdish issue i think everybody is relying on the kurdish issue as the main cause of all these confusion and this is not true the turkish the kurdish issue is a real issue for the turks but not for that medical exam going even for the syrians the turks as far as they're concerned this is a domestic problem which they have to resolve it and america don't even understand the difference between the various kurds whether that in iraq or in syria and turkey they don't know the movement and they're willing to decide they have a design to made could dish movement some of them are good some of them are bad
just as much as they were doing with the islamist movement some of them out of good muslims and some of them out of bad muslims this is not the issue the issue is their medications started to change their regime they decided not to because they can't or for whatever reason the situation is staying as it is the turks are determined they're not going to allow the kurdish problem to be an issue for the national security of turkey and they're not going to use force they are going to use force even if the americans stay there now americans have to get out for a variety of reasons including money because. being saying he says he wants money he doesn't want anything other than money he doesn't he doesn't care about politics on international middle east or anything else he wants money from the regimes from everybody else and he wants money for his services that's what these. telling them out of can people because he cannot afford them what the american people are expecting from him but only see the scene i think the situation is as it is it
hasn't changed the americans are going to withdraw whether they have slow or fast or whatever and the turks are not going to allow the kurdish movement to stop a new country as happened in the north of iraq under the watch of the americans and this is where the problem is it's go back to damascus i mean it's interesting what sabah saying because john bolton when he was in ankara was publicly humiliated when erda one refused to meet with him and instead to want to have the time to address the turkish parliament to basically borate. bolton i think the western media coverage of this situation here does grossly underestimate how turkey feels now you know i don't believe invading a foreign country saw a sovereign country is right is a breaking of the internet international law but it's very right the kurds matter not as some kind of. political trophy to pass around or give excuses for it does
matter to the turks can you think damascus and the kurds come to an agreement where turkish aggression can be avoided go ahead in damascus. i don't think the question is inevitable we need to remember of the turkey isn't working alone on this they're working with russia and iran and if we go back a few months to september when they had. a summit in tehran between. hunting they had a statement afterwards in which they said that they refuse americans changing the facts on the ground under the pretext or umbrella of fighting terrorism that these three states would work against. this project that basically threatens the integrity and safety of the unity of the syrian territory and at the same time and this is the most important point i think here it's the national
security of neighboring countries and this is a public statement they are not you know the sort of commitment is taking place so would turkey coming from that analogy would turkey go alone in northern syria without consent from russia and actually behind the scenes damascus we don't think so but probably all these parties if we think of them now as a quartet russia iran turkey and moscow syria they're probably pushing the kurds to words or maneuvering in the kurds towards lowering their demands when they are talking with damascus we think that the kurds do not really think and autonomy is possible definitely the americans don't think the an autonomy is possible in northeastern syria so probably what the americans wish out of this is to avoid a humiliating situation where the arabs over there for example would be so enraged with american presence think about it as an occupation that they would actually
start attacking u.s. soldiers and be probably the united states would want to withdraw swiftly so that they create a vacuum that would lead to conflict between those four parties era. to syria and russia now that that said the safe way out of this would always be a negotiation with the central government in damascus what the kurds would come out would bring out of that because he has yet to we have to see that but hopefully it will be good for all the parties ok well you know every time there's a negotiation to end the conflict in syria the u.s. seems the upset it may be once what once it does leave it will leave the the players on the ground because they have real genuine interest they can resolve it joshua it's been reported that in september john bolton went to the pentagon and was asking for. a menu of ideas how to react militarily to
iran for an alleged terror attack within the green line in baghdad. does that tell you everything we need to know about john bolton in the middle east. well you know it's not only that but john bolton had been. before he got his present job he was he was lobbying for regime change in iraq he was talking to me rejean change in iran excuse me was he was talking to figure running groups united states and saying that he was all in favor of regime change in iran so he has very aggressively anti runyan and which i presume is part of the reason that he was brought to the top of the pick for president trump so president trump is sitting on a very anti iranian foreign policy crowd and we saw he got from pompei when his speech in cairo as you you explained in your opening which was really a love letter to saudi arabia. exactly. all the problems in the middle
east on iran and this is of course a the anti obama policy in some ways but it's also it puts the united states. in a very small and it's a camp that's very divided because the gulf arabs and israel which of course america is trying to bring the two together to face off against iran. divided and we see between qatar and saudi arabia but none of the gulf arabs really trust each other they're not ready to really combine and it's a mess the middle east is a mess today and the united states doesn't really know what to do with it you know sabra it's go back to london i mean we went when trump made his announcement original announcement in december of last year of withdrawing from syria it was quickly followed up by. lowering the number of troops in afghanistan after trump
made his trip to iraq not going through the diplomatic procedures which obviously annoyed the iraqi government they too says he said it's time for american troops or some of them to leave here i mean we do have an exit is of one form or another and it's all of these countries want america to leave it's interesting a pompei is that we only go where we're asked to go and we leave when we're told to leave which is this patently untrue but there seems to be a movement across this very large region to see a lowering of american military presence in the different countries that have different interests this seems to be a trend and i think this is what the form of policy blob is terrified of because it's this kind of this. imperial role in the middle east is the glue that keeps the political class together if it's republican or democrat they all seem to be in lockstep on the day u.s.
should never leave once it's gone somewhere go ahead. what do you see here in britain when we were out of the empire in that region we knew how to run things that's the british not me. the americans. trying to do the same thing but they have absolutely no idea how to do this thing when i go to america if i tell somebody i'm from them then i have to say london england because they think it's some sort of a village in one of the wyoming state they they have they have no idea about that region now at the present moment the regimes that indigo in jordan in egypt and precisely in iraq are all protected by the americans and trump is absolutely right in saying we are protecting all of you and we are keeping you there all of you this is absolutely correct america never talks about iraq he has five thousand soldiers in iraq that's tom he talks about syria he talks about
afghanistan he never talks about iraq because under the pretext that he's fighting iran he's keeping the american soldiers to protect the regime in baghdad which is pro iran which is a conflict off nobody can understand this idiocy of policies but as far as the american policy america no longer has friends other than israel and even in israel they are beginning because because of trump's loose talk every time he talks from the hip and he keeps on sending these tweets and the and noise everybody even his or eat is out getting annoyed with it he has no friends in the middle east nobody trust him not even m.b.a.'s who has given him half a billion or have it really and dollars off investment even he doesn't trust them anymore ok so the reason to be here and we're almost out of time and i want to go back to damascus mark what's really interesting again it's under reported in
western media is that essentially syria's been welcomed back into the arab league gulf countries are moving that opening up their embassies here i mean. there is a wide acceptance now in the region that the government and assad will stand and remain go ahead in damascus. yes i think a lot of people in the region and probably in the west as well we've heard for example from britain foreign secretary jeremy hunt saying the same we have to expect to be there for a while and we have to work on that and they congratulated russia for winning influence in syria and they full of this comes with some responsibility and so on but these are a few of the arabs it's also a little bit more complicated than what it seems perhaps the likes or the access now we can we can probably talk about an axis of saudi arabia you he egypt bahrain
they took the first step they took the initiative to do new. relationships with the mosque and bring back the mosque is to the for the u.a.e. was the first to open its embassy there and the saudis are ok couldn't. jump in here we all run out of what was interesting was the tiny thanks to my guests in london and in norman and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at r.t.c. you next time and remember. when i came back from iraq now.
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