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tv   Inside Story 2018 Ep 104  Al Jazeera  April 15, 2018 2:32pm-3:00pm +03

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to move the american embassy to jerusalem is also likely to dominate the talk. thousands of people protesting in the spanish city of basra that is you can see the people addressing them at the podium and also for the jailing of nine cats and separatist leaders spain wants to try them on charges of rebellion that's a very has been in political limbo since spain took over its regional government following its independence declaration last year. voting is underway in montenegro as presidential election longtime leader djukanovic has never lost an election and is favored to win here and he's reading democratic party of socialists have dominated politics for more than twenty five years he favors closer ties with europe rather than traditional ally moscow last year the country went against russia and joined nato. the first rank of family to be repatriated from bangladesh has arrived and meanwhile as rakhine state the family of five has been given identification documents but not citizenship the united nations is warning the
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community still faces discrimination and persecution in myanmar within seven hundred thousand range of muslims a fled to bangladesh following a military crackdown in rakhine last year. somali fish is said to have stuff to plane from the united arab emirates from leaving the country this was off the iraqi military trainers refused to have their cargo checked. as are the headlines the news continues but first this inside story. the u.s. u.k. and france launched as strikes on syria the target suspected chemical weapon sites
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russia calls it an act of aggression and warns of consequences what does this mean for the war in syria and will the strikes stop chemical attacks against civilians this is inside story. hello and welcome to the program i'm fully back in what is the biggest military action against president bashar al assad since the start of syria's war seven years ago the u.s. u.k. and france have bombed multiple government facilities the air strikes dog hit a research center outside the capital damascus and two suspected chemical weapons storage sites near the city of holmes the action was in response to an alleged chemical attack by syria on civilians in the city of last week the syrian government claims to have shot down many of the more than one hundred missiles
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launched and in damascus people celebrated on the streets honking their cottons in a show of defiance at the u.s. senate say the strikes were aimed at deterring for the use of chemical weapons and president donald trump directly address russia and iran the two countries supporting syria's bashar al assad. i also have a message tonight for the two governments most responsible for supporting equipping and financing the criminal assad regime to iran and to russia i ask what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men women and children the nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep no nation can succeed in the long run by promoting rogue states
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brutal tyrants and murderous dictators last night british french and american armed forces conducted coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the syrian regime's chemical weapons capability and deter the use this was not about interfering in a civil war and it was not about regime change as i discussed with president trump and president macra it was a limited targeted and effective strike with clear boundaries that expressly sought to avoid escalation and did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties we would have preferred an alternative path but on this occasion there is none. we can also now the use of chemical weapons to become normalized or russia has warned they would be consequences for the attacks present that image putin said the as strikes were an act of aggression against
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a sovereign state that is on the front line in the fight against terrorism and we're committed without a mandate from the un security council and in violation of the un charter he said the current escalation iran syria is destructive for the entire a system of international relations history will set things right and washington already baz the heavy responsibility for the bloody outrage in yugoslavia iraq and libya now while president trying to save the s. writes would continue until the syrian regime's use of chemical weapons ends his defense secretary described them as a one off clearly the assad regime did not get the message last year this time our allies and we have struck harder together we have sent a clear message to assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack for which they will be held accountable but right now this is a one time shot and i believe that is send
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a very strong message to dissuade him to deter him from doing this again. now is introduce our panel for today's inside story joining us in moscow alexei klebnikov who is a middle east specialist at the russian international affairs council in beirut rami khouri a senior fellow and professor for public policy at the american university of beirut also a senior fellow at the harvard kennedy school and in a red so in italy via skype is joshua landis director at the center for middle east studies at the university of oklahoma gentlemen thank you for being in on inside story welcome to you all joshua if i can start with you was this military operation enough to achieve what the americans say was their goal to stop bashar assad from using chemical weapons again i believe it will be successful the united states has had a large measure of success in this very narrow. part of the civil war and the use of chlorine gas that slipped under the radar it wasn't included in the original
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obama you know in two thousand and thirteen they put it in later but assad continued to use it because it killed so few people american over looked at this mistake is now being addressed by president trump i don't believe that assad will. try it again and it but it's not going to affect as all of your you know heads of state said this is not about entering into syria syria's civil war clearly it's going to be a depressing sort of aftermath for minutes of the syrian opposition and other states in the region that were hoping that president trump would take the fight to us from a career in beirut do you agree with joshua last year's u.s. strike failed to change crush al assad's behavior at this time would it be any different twenty use chemical weapons again or i agree with joshua that it will send a strong message in a very narrow space for short period of time and you might find four or five months
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down the road people testing again this. redlines i think it's important to remember that it was exactly almost twenty five years ago that the united states bombed a site and sudan that it said was making was potentially a chemical weapons site that carter was using turned out to be a milk factory but in the last twenty five years the car the group has grown to be very big much bigger all over the world than it was then and other groups like it have grown so the lesson is that military strikes alone cannot stop this kind of action or address the underlying dysfunctions that lead to it and this is the challenge the americans have how do you combine any militarism with serious diplomacy and socio economic and in gauge meant to address the totality of the picture in syria and other parts of the middle east and this is not happening next a chemical of in moscow russia has warned that sax such actions would not be left
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without consequences so how will russia respond how will they retaliate in practical terms what are the options on the table for moscow. well in the first place russia warned by the consequences if its own objects and military personnel would be targeted and suffer from the strike but eventually we can see that there will be zero casualties on the syrian side in the russian side russia's military objects and personnel stay intact so this is why no reason for further escalation so basically if we work at this. in incident from a larger scale we can see that actually all parties involved kind of ended up in a win win situation by striking us kind of stick to its word delivered on its promises and appeased its domestic hoax who were getting you know more
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aggressive moves. regime and also appease its foreign allies so they don't raise the russian it didn't lose its image and syrians i mean syrian regime also won because. it suffered only limited damage of its infrastructure and had zero casualties so you don't think the russians are going to take any action at all. if we're talking about military action no i don't think so no one is interested in the for the military solution because ultimately everyone understands if the conflict will grew and between the u.s. and russia in military terms that work can spin out of control quite quickly so no one is interested in that ok joshua landis in a result we don't have confirmation yet what chemical weapons were used or who was responsible i mean the o.p.c. w. hasn't actually completed its work in duma even if we did have confirmation that
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chemical weapons were used is it legal under international law for the americans french and british to take this unilateral action unilateral military action in syria and that's a very good question and i don't i don't know the answer to it not being a lawyer clearly united states has done this on numerous occasions the u.n. security council has not challenged america's actions and even if it were to challenge it obviously three of the members that security council are sitting carried out the strike so it's very unlikely that any body of international body could uphold the law even if they decided that america had broken it so you know that the major policemen of the world were doing the bombing all right rami khouri your thoughts on this is it legal under international law and what consequences for the americans british and french if any because the russians are accused and accusing them of course of violating the u.n.
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charter violating international law by conducting this unilateral action. well i just was right as usual that whatever happens in the security council is going to be vetoed by one party or the other the russians will veto anything that takes place in syria the americans consistently veto anything that takes place in israel and palestine so the security council is immobilized as a peacemaking body when you get the interests of the great powers involved but on the initial question as far as i know international law allows you to use preemptive military force if there is a direct and imminent immediate clear threat to your national well being in this case there obviously wasn't assad wasn't attacking americans unlike say the car that attack against the u.s. when the u.s. was retaliation many people thought was the nine eleven many people thought that was legitimate but this is not about the fine points of the rule of law this is about big power kind of neo imperialist actions whether it's the russians or the
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americans doing it they're both acting in similar ways the french and the english joined then the iranians join in the turks join in a little bit now the regional powers but this is really a story about people who have military force and they use it the difference is that the russians are much more subtle patient nuanced and strategic about how they react to issues like this they find the openings that have been created by american military blunders and they go in there as do the iranians so if you look at iranian and russian influence in russia and syria and other parts of the middle east compared to fifteen years ago it's enormous the iranians and the russians are everywhere and the americans are gradually losing influence other than being able to carry out military attacks so i think we should look for a non military response from the russians on the iranians and expect that to happen so what would this all mean for the war in syria gentlemen let's just remind our
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viewers now of the different actors in syria the situation is extremely complex but . different global powers fighting for control russia which has forces mainly on the mediterranean coastline a permanent base and a naval port in tartus supports the syrian president bashar assad is also backed by eve ron the lebanese group hezbollah and other militias who have been battling a spectrum of rebel groups opposed to the syrian regime moderate rebel factions are mainly backed by the u.s. which is also leading a coalition that includes kurdish fighters to get rid of eisel this is america's nato ally turkey which considers the kurds a terrorist group and a threat along its border with syria has recently launched an offensive north of syria to clear the area of kurdish fighters alexei kaepernick off in moscow how far is russia willing to go to support bashar assad. well as moscow. a retailer it numerous times it's not supporting the in do in person
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it supports the state structures the institutions the state from from collapse and as usual as usual moscow puts in example the story of iraq afghanistan libya where the collapse of state institutions basically ended up in a in a chaotic situation so this is the first thing russia i mean it claims to support the regime but the state sovereignty institutions secondly about how far russia would go it's where a complicated situation in terms of that many experts see it as russia having a huge leverage over us so if to look at this from other angle russia is kind of trapped itself in this situation because it cannot pick up again and withdraw because if it decides to do so to seize its support to the syrian government then
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it will kind of undermine all this three four five years of its policy of support to the regime and it will lose its image its its power and they will be like a long term consequences for russia's presence in the middle east but so this is why it's very complicated in terms of like how how far russia will go but this is why it's important to underline that it's in russia's genuine interest to. finish the conflict to find a political solution as soon as possible as quick as possible but joshua landis but does russia still have leverage over bashar assad as that. suggests if russia were to have a stern word with us today would he listen. it's not clear that what you listen to of course russia has tremendous leverage just the way united states does over israel but but us side can do much as he pleases because he has the russians and
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indeed the syrian people over a barrel if he has to go and if you got rid of an outside and his family it's very possible that the state of syria would collapse because who would take power if one alawite general tried to take power it's not clear that he could hold other generals would buy for power there would be coo after who just as syria suffered before this before the assad family consolidated its position this is the problem with the syrian opposition it's very divided there are over a thousand different groups they don't agree on anything it's very unlikely that the men under assad would agree on anything once he's gone so the russians have to . treat him with kid gloves because if they just got rid of him or kidnapped him the whole syrian state could collapse and syria would then fall into chaos and this would be terrible for russia so that's that that's the dilemma it's also the
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dilemma for the syrian people because they don't know they don't want chaos they don't want the kind of militia warfare they see in libya or afghanistan but at the same time of course. they want change and nobody knows how to bring it in a peaceful way and as you say nobody knows how to bring change and who's going to bring it rami khouri in beirut i mean what consequences now for the war in syria the message that western powers seem to be sending here is that they're concerned about chemical weapons and what bashar assad does with them they're concerned about i saw but should they not also be concerned about conventional weapons that have been used against civilians in this war how often million people have died as a result of conventional weapons i mean this the message is sending to the syrian civilians to the syrian people surely is you know something that must disappoint that. the message that the americans french and british are sending is really very
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mixed they probably are genuinely concerned about the awful use of chemical weapons but they're not genuinely concerned about the deaths of syrians the french and the british and the americans collectively in the last century have been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of arabs the injuries of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of tens of millions of people over the last century the french have been fighting in the middle east since napoleon so we have to be really hard nosed when we analyze the motives of these western powers and i think the russians are pretty much in the same boat i wouldn't let them off anymore easy these foreign powers will do anything they want in this our countries because the arab countries have not been able to pass the test of sovereignty or statehood cannot protect themselves cannot take care of their people and open themselves up both to the kinds of civil wars that they've suffered and then the foreign interventions and the basically my last point is that what's going to happen in syria is that turkey
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russia and iran primarily will meet over and over as they have been for the last year to try to find a way to wind down the fighting inside syria and then to find a way to move to some kind of political transition in which iran and turkey primarily dominate the scene from outside the borders and the russians continue to have strategic interests there and the sovereignty of syria will be diluted but at least the fighting will be over and people can try to live a normal life and most syrians would accept that in the short run because they can't continue to live in this kind of warfare and mass human degradation alexei in moscow what would it take for russia for this war to wind down for them to withdraw to syria what is the end game basically f.-i second hand in syria. well as oda mentioned and i agree with. with mcaleese that. it's quite
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complicated situation because it's you know the more viable as an equation the harder to solve it and it's exactly the case but to underline one important thing that as old mentioned it's very important for russia to finish this conflict sooner rather than later but what does the finishing then conflicts between what does finishing the conflict mean we've seen a president trying to eat today mission accomplished oh i shall what would mission at qana best look like. apparently it's the time i mean the situation where the syrian government takes control of the majority of rebel held territories and the as you never based political process which will end up in the new constitution transition period and elections so that's what russia want to finally implement
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and exactly for that reason all those additional supportive platforms in austin and in sochi were launched to basically try to. kind of make the syrian opposition which is highly fragmented as joshua rightly mentioned highly fragmented and addition ited and that is exactly an attempt to kind of try to bring them to some. some unity to then. accelerate the political process because now it's not only i said who doesn't. it who is not interested in you know political compromises but also in opposition because it's has lots of factions it's. this integrated right and they also cannot come to some basis for for for the negotiations joshua landis president tweeted earlier today mission accomplished but as we know it's far from being mission
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accomplished as it is in syria even though assad has made huge gains over the last year territorially he still doesn't control the whole of syria is there anyone that can stand against him and what would constitute mission accomplished you know for western powers in syria. let's get a tremendously important question and we're all confused because we heard tillerson who's now been fired had a secretary of state saying that america is going to stay in syria for the fall and it was going to try to use its leverage by owning a third of the country in the north and perhaps fifty percent of its most important resources was going to try to displace a site that is not clear today trump has said he wants to get out and even in the middle of this message to strike he said american troops of the company so if he in fact carries through with this promise of coming home soon that will throw
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a bit of a third of syrian territory or close to it in the north and assad will line up to russian troops in there turkey will of course try to hit the kurds it could be quite destabilizing but what we're seeing today in this sort of endgame is syria being divided into three sections one an american section in the north east a turkish section and it looks like turkey will take it live province as well and at that woods gains and then on our side in about sixty to three percent of the country a selling out his gains as he did most recently in dubai so syria will remain fragmented it will remain poor and it's likely that this rug between the great powers and regional powers over syria will continue but not on the battlefield perhaps on a much more diplomatic level but it's going to hurt the syrians as a people rami khouri i'll give you the last words coming back to this action that
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we seen from the u.s. france and the u.k. the last two major western interventions in the middle east. didn't go very well there were disastrous and i'm thinking here of libya and iraq of course where is syria headed right now look it's been clear since trading them. creation and roman days that you cannot use military power in the middle east if you're a foreign imperial power and expect things to go your way you can dominate the local situation for a few years maybe a few decades but in the end the foreign power leaves and this is what we're going to start seeing happening here in syria we have the problem that one hundred years ago and today we have a repetition of the situation where foreign powers european powers one hundred years ago today with russia and iran and turkey involved are shaping the future of syria and trying to to to hand-craft it in a way even writing constitutions for the syrians so this struggle for syria the struggle to define syria to own syria to control syria is going on now like it did
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a hundred years ago and it's going to continue to go on until one day somehow the syrian people can be self-determined and can define themselves and we hope that will happen after a transitional period where the foreign powers might bring about the end of the fighting and then a transition could take place after that ok thank you very much rami khouri and joshua landis and alexei kaepernick off of our very interesting discussion thank you for joining us on inside story and thank you as well for watching you can always watch this program again any time by this ng our web site at al-jazeera dot com for further discussion go to our facebook page at facebook dot com for slash inside story you can also join the conversation on twitter of course the handle is at a.j. insights only for me for the back to one whole team thank you for watching. travel
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