tv Inside Story Al Jazeera September 16, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
american teens. the incredible journey continues... on the edge of eighteen only on all jazeera america among the partners the united states has rallied to the cause of degrading and destroying the so-called islamic state, there are country that don't see eye to eye on much of anything else, is that any way to run a counter terrori terrorist -- alliance? it's the "inside story." ♪
hello. i'm ray suarez. secretary of state kerry is corralling commitments from governments as the united states figures out how to destroy the gorilla force that calls itself the islamic state. but a complicated flowchart would emerge. the saudis and qatarees have good relations with the united states, but have been snarling at each other. u.s. leaders despite the government in tehran, but both the u.s. and the islamic we republic are friends with the shiite group in iraq. but the u.s. and iran on different sides right next door in syria where washington would love to undermine the government of bashar al-assad, while iran supports it. and both support the destruction of the islamic state, which is
also trying to bring down assad. turkey also wants to defeat the islamic state, but wants to do it without embolding the kurds. this latest turmoil in the middle east has created a strange alliance. some 30 nations from around the world met in paris discussing how to destroy the islamic state or isil. >> translator: the message is very clear, no country will be abandoned if it were to be attacked by terrorists. >> reporter: monday's conference included diplomats from europe, gulf states and others cautiously broaching the idea of forming an unprecedented coalition lead by the u.s. france has already agreed to help the u.s. in its air campaign. >> translator: the fight of the
iraqi people against terrorists is ours as well as we have to about together, and there is no time to lose. >> australia pledged 600 troops and eight fighter jets, and the united kingdom may join the alliance soon. >> we cannot just walk on by if we were to keep this country safe. we have to confront this mem noise. step by step we must drive back, dismantle and destroy isil and what it standings for. >> saudi arabia and the united arab emirates are two gulf states supporting the u.s.'s mission. after generations of religious
and political strife in the region, a united arab army on the front lines in iraq and syria will be a challenge for the u.s. to put together. on "inside story" last week, graham allison summed it up like this. >> it's a mine field full of mines, because the fishers among the parties who will be part of this coalition of the weird, that is parties that hate each other almost more than isil, but isil is the enemy of everybody. the enemy of iran, assad, saudi, bagdad, the enemy of civilization. >> iran's foreign minister was not invited to paris. iran's support for bashar al-assad makes iran's presence
inappropriate. iran's supreme leader said monday kerry sought iran's cooperation privately earlier. but iran refused. >> their american hands are dirty. how can we cooperate with thoses who hands are dirty. they will come across the same problems they face in iraq in the last ten years. >> white house chief of staff continued to rally for confidence and support in the u.s. >> this is obviously a complicated effort, and that's why the president is going about this in a painstaking and prudent fashion. we will take the fight to our enemies without putting ground troops into the effort. we need ground troops, that's why we want this program to train the opposition that is
currently pending in congress. >> the next conference will be hosted by bahrain, a date hasn't yet by set. they wi -- the fight against the islamic state this hour on the program. in his speech to the nation last week, the president said he would pull together an international coalition against isil and americans will not have to send ground troops. joining us for that conversation, professor of security studies at georgetown university. director of the center for middle east studies, and senior
fellow at the center for american progress. if we were to poll all of the people we saw at that table and ask them about what they saw after this was all over, many would have mutually contra drikry versions of a post isil middle east, but they would agree they want that organization gone. >> that's right. >> is that enough? >> sit enough in the short-term, and here is why. every member of the coalition has a different agenda, different capabilities and different restraints, but they all face a common threat, and to the extent they recognize that threat as being real, credible and the extent the united states can play the role of mediator, they all share a common interest in confronting this adversary.
>> joshua is there a enough of a track record to make us believe many of these countries can set aside their own differences to work on this challenge? >> iraq seems to be quite doable. the problem is in syria. very few partners in syria. we don't want to work with the syria government. assad still owns about 50% of syria, and more than that in the percentage of people. and amongst the rebels, about 70% of the rebels don't want the united states to come in, because they are worried that we are going to work with the free syria army or about 40,000 rebels and about 70 groups that are not coordinating, but 70 groups that we have been funding and helping in the past. so they are worrying that if we help those, that we're going to get -- that we're going to help some fighters against others,
and that we're going to turn this into a battleground that will turn one syrian against the other. so there have been a lot of resistance to this u.s. effort. we don't have many partners in syria. >> lawrence you saw the ayatollah, he didn't say don't help at all. he said don't bomb syria. >> that's right. and i think joshua is right. there is a big difference between iraq and syria. in iraq, we do have not only the help of the iranians. we finally got an influencive government, we have the peshmerga on the ground, and some of the shiite militia that iran is putting in there, so that's a completely different thing than syria. but we have to get over it. who did we ally ourselves with in world war ii? the soviet union.
then we had 50-year cold war that we had to deal with them. franko in spain allied with us against the soviet union. i think you get help where you can. >> but is there danger in syria? yeah, i understand your point about sometimes not being able to pick your short-term friends, but is there danger in syria that just doesn't exist in iraq where there's wider agreement on how to proceed? >> oh, definitely. it's a completely different thing. and the president was quite right when he went into iraq the way we did. we had a moral responsibility. we created the mess there, so i think we had to do something. and the president said i'm not going to do anything until i get an inclusive government, which is really the future, and they are going to have to determine it. but this reminds me of the holy
roman empire, the free syria army. so it's much more difficult to figure out who your ground forces are going to be there. >> the president walks right up to the edge last week. he didn't say the united states is definitely going to start strikes in syria, but left it open as a possibility. why that careful word -- wording? >> well, he has got to see where this goes. he can contain -- u.s. strategy has been to contain violence in syria. this summer isis captured a big hunk of iraq, and that alerted us. we feel responsibility to iraq, and it was important to push them back. the problem here is with the destroy part. we can easily degrade and
contain isis. destroying them completely may be further than we can go in a year and a half. if you take an example like the big city in syria, capitol of the whole eastern region, center for isis. if we bombed isis there, who would take over the city in the regime has a giant airport and base close to the stern -- center of the city, and al-qaeda dominated the city before the government took it over. so there's some bad choices on the ground. we would parachute in free syria troops, but that's a hard thing to do. >> in a lot of the analysis of the president's speech there has been that doubt about the destroy part. but with these coalition
partners, can you help dry up the recruiting groups, and the funding, but bringing other people with you, does it make it more possible to do -- actually destroy, rather than merely incapacitate or make life difficult for? >> right. so i would say that the coalition is necessary in order to proceed both in iraq and especially in syria, but it's never going to be sufficient and it's not going to be sufficient in the short-term. if you look at the u.s. approach, the focus is going to be twofold, the first is on limited targeted drone strikes to the extent that our intelligence would allow, that's part of the reason the president made reference to yemen and somali, and you'll see an even fort to try to figure out who within the coalition of coalitions that is the free syrian army actually represent
credible people that we can work with. and here the administration, i agree with my colleagues, has a real problem. when i was in yemen in 2012, and the army was using american air power to push al-qaeda out of the two provinces that they had taken over in the south, we did a pretty good job as functioning as an axillary air force. but as soon as that campaign was over, the united states didn't have the relationships or intelligence capabilities that allowed us to see into the local tribal leaders that were fighting house to house. syria is a far bigger war, far more players, and if we don't start building those relationships and intelligence networks, our long-term strategy in syria is going to be a very light footprint indeed. >> we need to take a short break, when we return we'll talk
about the need to defeat the islamic state on the ground. stay with us. ♪ for al jazeera america to change the way people look at news. >> we just don't parachute in on a story...quickly talk to a couple of experts and leave... >> one producer may spend 3 or 4 months, digging into a single story... >> at al jazeera, there are resources to alow us as journalists to go in depth and produce the kind of films... the people that you don't see anywhere else on television. >> we intend to reach out to the people who aren't being heard.
>>we wanna see the people who are actually effected by the news of the day... >> it's digging deeper it's asking that second, that third question, finding that person no one spoken to yet... >> you can't tell the stories of the people if you don't get their voices out there, and al jazeera america is doing just that. welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. this time on the program, the unusual alliance that is being cobbled together to fight the so-called islamic state that is destabilizing both syria and iraq. last week, president obama told americans u.s. ground troops would not be involved in going after the islamic state, and that others would carry the fight to the gorilla army, while the u.s. attacks from the sky, but many other alliance members
are telling their people the same thing. can this really be an air-based campaign on the part of all of the big nations involved. and just over the weekend, larry korb, uae, and the saudis announced they would send planes. france last week said the same thing. it sounds like the idea of just bombing this group is very popular, but not necessarily sending in soldiers. >> well, there is much less risk. you saw libya all of the bombing and none of the planes were lost. and the other is it doesn't inflame the local population. i don't think it's a problem in iraq, because you have the iraqi forces, the peshmerga, and some members of the government, and the shia militias. the real problem is going to be
syria. the free syria army may be ready at some point, but it is not going to happen very, very quickly. in syria, you don't want to help someone you don't want to help. you get isis out, and you bring in the al-qaeda offshoot, or assad. i think the hope would be in syria that we could do kind of a decapitation strike like we did with bin laden or something, and hopefully at some point have the russians intercede to come up with a solution down the road. but it's hard to see us taking over on the ground. >> was the willingness to send planes send a squeamishness on how difficult this is once you put soldiers on the ground.
>> absolutely. turkey is very reluctant to get into this. and we need turkey. most of the isis and other -- most of the rebels go back and forth between turkey, and they have refused to join in the military side of this. they don't want to allow us to use their bases to fly military operations. they will join us in resupply efforts, but not on the military side, and that's partly because they don't think we should be prescribing the al-qaeda wing and other groups brought into the rebels. so we disagree who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. the vast majority of rebels in syria is islamists. they do not trust in democracy. and this makes it very difficult for america to work with them,
but not necessarily other people in the neighborhood, whether it's the saudis or the turks. so we're not on the same page, and that's where the squeaky wheels, so nobody wants to commit their troops if they don't know who they are allied with. >> if you don't agree who the bad guys are, you don't agree on who you are supposed to be killing. >> everybody agrees they should be targeting isis. it gets back to how do we coordinate a third front inside of syria? and we have a three-sided civil war in syria. we have had for the better part of three years now. and that is something that we have to contend with. and part of the process of identifying who we can work with in syria, is going to be managing these different issues and relationships.
>> but in divvying up the chores, the saudis were equipped with training an army that will be fighting isil. >> but we see how much they do at that point. larry mentioned a sort of decapitation approach to dealing with isil in syria. if you look at the kinds of campaigns that have been most effective against groups like this, including in pakistan and elsewhere, they are the kind of campaigns where drones and air strikes hollow out the middle management, separating the senior leadership from the average foot soldiers. that's the kind of strategy that precipitates collapse, and as we gain more intelligence, i think you will see a shift towards that kind of hollowing out
strategy, rather than a decapitation strategy. >> we'll have more "inside story" in a moment. when we come back, i want to ask my guestst about the act of roping international rivals. will a sustained struggle against the so-called islamic state carry with it the possibility of calming some long-standing regional tensions? stay with us. ♪
news... you're watching "inside you are watching "inside story" on al jazeera america. i'm ray suarez. the fight against the islamic state and the unusual set of countries joining to fight the gorilla army that is now consolidating its hold on big chunks of syria and iraq. if the fighting continues for a while, does the common goal have the possibility of lowering tensions in that part of the world?
professor landis, what do you think? can it help assuage some of the simmering tensions that exist between regional neighbors to work together on the project of routing isil from syria and iraq? >> well, the big problem, and -- is -- the sunni shiite divide that has really split the middle east right down the middle. we are trying to bring these two sides together on syria. it's going to be very difficult to do. and we're for getting the syrian people here. the sunnis -- sunni arabs, or 70% of the syrian population, the government is dominated by shiite alawites, and these shoenys are trapped between a bagdad government which is still very sectarian, and assad's
government, very sectarian, and they are caught in these vice grips, unless we ultimately find a solution for the sunnis caught in the middle, we're never going to clear up the isis problem, which is extremism, fighting to gain a voice. many sunnis do not like isis, but they don't like assad even more. and they don't like the government in bagdad. and we talk about an inclusive government in bagdad, this government is far from inclusive. we're coating it over, and presending -- he has brought in some sunnis into government, but they with are week sunnis. and it's not clear that we are going to win a sunni center to make this a fight against the moderates against the extremists. >> does this new alliance push that day of reckoning further
away or bring it closer in? >> i think all things being considered it is not going to it, but it brings it closer. the saudis have reached out. you have had the iraqis and iranians come visit them, so it does give them the opportunity -- >> but things are happening, right? >> yes, they -- they are. and -- and i think it does give you this opportunity. i think the processor is right about the government in bagdad. we have to keep pressure on them. if you want us to help you, you have to be become more inclusive. and the final analysis is up to them. they have got to solve it. it gives you the opportunity, but it's not going to be easy. >> the sense that this is going to be a long-term thing started to set in right after the speech. does that make all of this harder? that you have to keep these people in harness for perhaps years? >> it makes it harder and that
much more important. there's a near-term game, and a long-term game, and this administration and its successful administration have to play both of them. if you look at the middle east even over the last ten years, you see the break down of old orders and equal lib reums and efforts to create new ones. we saw with this the arab spring, and the sunni shiite divide, and in the rise of organizations like isil, which is also seeking a new kind of equilibrium in the region. so everything we do in the short-term has got to be tailored in such a fashion that we are eaching a new equilibrium. sometimes war can do that. sometimes it has the opposite effect. >> gentlemen thank you all. that brings us to the end of
we're at war in isil as we are in al-qaeda. >> going after the islamic state of iraq and the levant, the u.s. says it will target the group in syria. ♪ hello you are watching al jazeera live from doha, i'm jane dunton. also a vaccination campaign gone wrong in syria. dozens of children affected. at least 15 have died. first steps towards peace. ukraine's parliament grants rebellious eastern regions greater autonomy.