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tv   The Bottom Line 2020 Ep 2  Al Jazeera  January 9, 2020 2:32pm-3:01pm +03

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goan spoke publicly for the 1st time since arriving in beirut saying he left japan because he had 0 chance of a fair trial a taliban commander has been killed in a u.s. airstrike that's according to afghanistan's defense ministry it happened in the district of hard at province late on wednesday the government says it's investigating reports of civilian casualties in the attack firefighters and residents in southeastern australia are preparing for the return of dangerous weather conditions that could make bushfires more intense new warnings and evacuation notices have been issued urging people living in high risk areas to leave 27 people have been killed since the fire started in september more than 2000 homes have been lost and those are the headlines the news continues here on al-jazeera after the bottom line from the.
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hi i'm steve clemons and i have tons of questions that day how dangerous is the situation between the united states and iran and how did we get here let's get to the bottom line. it's hard to believe today but less than 4 years ago there was hope that major conflict with iran was off the table the major world powers had signed a deal constraining iran's nuclear program and a new chapter in u.s. iranian relations was being written or so that was the thinking well think again after a radical change of administrations in the united states the tearing up of the nuclear deal with iran and the assassination of one of iran's top generals are all bets off and does anyone know where we're heading fortunately we have 3 people in the room who have all the answers to these questions valley nasser is professor of middle
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east studies at johns hopkins university and author of the shia revival which foresaw much of the tension in iraq that we're witnessing today michele dunne is director of the middle east program at the carnegie endowment for international peace and a former u.s. diplomat in cairo in jerusalem and matthew broderick he is a senior fellow at the gold institute for international strategy here in washington d.c. thank you all so much for being with us on this important topic matthew let me start with you i am interested in whether or not the course we're on today in the middle east is one that makes sense are we on the verge of war with iran well 1st of all everything fits under the umbrella of preventing iran from getting a nuclear weapon which is a deal that we had in place actually kind of fast track that and left them really close to being able to have a nuclear weapon. at a certain date legalized it everything that you've seen from iran in recent times is because of our maximum pressure campaign of economics strangling their economy
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basically we want iran to come to the table and have a negotiation over their nuclear program and over human rights abuses and over their role behavior throughout the region and other issues as well the thing is what they've been doing is what money or what sum of money has been doing for so long is essentially leading ethnic cleansing campaigns as a terrorist from iran throughout the region you could not have the 500000 dead in syria without sula money and without iran's help there valley we clearly have different tracks between the obama administration is going now with the trumpet ministration is going although the trump administration looked like it was pulling out of the middle east now it looks like it's getting back in with regard to this point that matthew said about iran's nuclear weapons capacity its intentions where it's going i mean i'd love to get your sense of whether u.s. interests are being served by both the killing of soleimani and what we're seeing is the replications of that 1st of all let me say there's no ethnic cleansing
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policy in syria i mean let's not just keep throwing adjectives there to justify the assassination it was a war in which there's a lot of refugees and refugees is not is not is not an ethnic cleansing issue and let's also not also forget that the united states was collaborating with general soleimani in iraq to fight isis and in parts of syria there are points said which he was on the ground supported by american air cover fought fighting isis in towns like mosul back in fallujah back you know there are actual battle right in which he and his forces were on the ground supported by by american air cover so you know this is this is much more complicated secondly the u.s. strategy right now is actually an encouraging not just put it on but for many other countries to go in you. clear because the iranians will conclude the only reason the united states could and would assassinate soleimani is because they do not have the bomb the only reason why the united states can so cavalierly go about
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destroying their country's economy is because they have the bomb in fact that difference between north korea and iran in their iranian viewpoint is that iran doesn't have the on the reason president from can't say i can pick 52 sites and also destroy your cultural heritage. in the process is because iran does not have that kind of deterrence so if you're sitting in iran you would say it was a catastrophic mistake to have the nuclear deal with obama because by giving up that that even what we had. we actually invited american pressure and we went to the table too soon we should have pursued persisted we should have got the bomb and i think that's where eventually we're going to end up with iran and as we escalate they're going to look more and more for for protecting themselves which is they're going to march down the nuclear plant i don't see any right now way in which the administration says left for the iranians to come back to the table
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valley where is he meeting general soli money an evil man who deserved to be taken out well again let's not come flayed these things he's a general generals are bureaucrats they implement orders that they're given their orders that. the other is not here is the amount of blood in his hand but there are values in their mind there's never a bloody 100 i mean even even democratically are great but i didn't try all start their statement was this was an evil man with lots of american mother and as i speak i want a lot of acquittal motion on a good question is not evil not the question is not evil or the question is not that it generally is responsible for killing for killing civilians or soldiers in another team the question is is that you know we shouldn't start you know make a decision and try to justify that decision by. adding adjectives that somehow just the 1st i believe it was evil he should have been tried he should of been brought to justice there at some point would be
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a north america trial you would do that unilaterally taking a decision to take out a sitting off the shell of another country goes beyond the norms secondly. you have to say he's implementing state policy in iraq it's wrong decision and that they're going to protect us that it's it's right now president putin's decision to support massacres in islam so somebody in the take carrying putin orders is giving it to pilots and generals to implement and somehow i don't see us talking about the russians carrying out ethnic cleansing in syria the russians are iranians are partners they see president putin seems that he's protecting little kids forces or normal army in iran which it is not this isn't a form of terrorist that is specifically designed to wreak havoc outside of iran to claim that what he was doing in syria those activities of training and
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arming militias for ethnic cleansing campaigns yes let's call it what it is no it's not and i want i want to go to another how do you see things today is that more cooperative i would even call you know what you were written about the deescalation option still there or is war now inevitable. well 1st of all i think it's really important at this moment not to accept that war is inevitable i also think we have to accept that sometimes u.s. strategic calculations fail so with the j. c.p.o. way for example i mean i think it was successful in calming down the tensions on the nuclear file for the time it was it was a temporary fix it didn't help at all in terms of iran 5 reach in the region and its activities which i think have been very harmful whether in syria iraq to a lesser degree in yemen it didn't help it did not lead to an ability to work out those issues i also think we have to accept matt that i mean for example you know
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president trumps the maximum pressure campaign was supposed to bring iraq iran to the table on the nuclear file i mean you have to say this failed it did not the calculation was that either the iranian regime would be forced to negotiate or somehow this would escalate pressure from within iran to the extent that the iranian regime would start again earlier and neither of those things happened even though you know there was a lot of pressure on the regime from iranians but not to the extent that it was going to bring about regime change so and i think that with the custom me assassination it's been another it's another failure i personally think it's wrong from a moral point of view i don't think the united states should be assassinating the officials of other countries even if and it's certainly true that custom he had a lot of blood on his hands ok i'm not going to defend him but i so i think it's
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wrong from that point of view but also just strategically it has i don't know how secretary pump can go out and say that americans are safer now than they were before he was dead i mean there is a choice you know whether this was a feel good. polls done on a moment's notice without broader strategic planning and matthew when you think strategically i mean i may just put this to you if you were to plan the assassination of sol imani as a major piece of america's deterrence campaign is this the way you would have done it if i were planning to take him out i would have done it a long time ago it's amazing that he has been able to do what he has done throughout the region this long it's frankly unthinkable that's number one number 2 as i've heard from many senior officials in the administration he was in the midst of planning new attacks and that there was an imminent attack as well now for some
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people they need to know that there has to be an imminent attack but his long track record the amount of american blood he has in his hands just in the last decade 600 americans killed over a 1000 injured from the work he's done trying to kill americans inside of iraq this there was every justification for now as far as what occurred at this moment let's let's be clear president trump has been quite patient when it comes to responding to what iraq has done throughout the region ok after the saudi fields were attacked no military response no response after an american drone was taken down by iran over international waters we had been warning from the administration they have been warning for a long period of time for over a year that there would be consequences like this and that's what happened and what they did was try to sack our embassy right after a after a very pinpoint matthew i'm glad you weren't on timing let's let me show you
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a clip of a new york times piece in the time of bill clinton impeachment vote in the house delayed as bill clinton launches the iraq air strike citing military need to move slow swiftly so i take your point that maybe saudi money was a target there. valerie the timing seems like you're well i don't know if it's trickier in terms of our domestic politics or not but but look at the argument that the administration would move out of the put pressure on iran and then basically say that i as i said on you don't react and just take the pressure is just doesn't work it's actually that's the most important strategic miscalculation that at some point the iranians would have reacted and then you're you're caught in an escalation cycle from which you can't extricate yourself and yes we can say you know all of the things about what soleimani was doing what he was planning but the reality of the is that the administration decided to escalate this and again this
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is very clear that they they miscalculated they didn't understand how the iranians would 1st of all understand what soleimani was doing and interpret what we did clearly the iranian public which successfully promptly or seems to know very well and continuously sort of says how they're feeling did not see syria the way matter is describing it they saw it as an existential threat every iranian political religious iranians remembers 2006 in in syria in iraq when the shrine in samarra was blown up they were worried about the shrines in syria and damascus the shrines in southern iraq to them this was a this this this is what he was doing in syria and to demist justify to them its national defense to iranians iraq is always going to be a launching pad against iran whether by the united states by another arab government just as it was by sat down now we don't agree with iran strategic plan
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but you know soleimani or the guy who is going to replace him or the guy is going to replace that one is not it is not sort of their freelancing personal on their own the whole point about the nuclear deal with the world nor all the protests that have gone on in iraq what we do 'd over a year ago you will hear it. one thing the regime pointed out we know but we know there was any point to your apparently saying that's what all the iranian know you have done with what it is i believe i mean i think what's going on in the middle there is it that we i think there is a domestic dimension domestic political dimension to both of these both inside iran i've been watching these protests around saudi can tell you that as a political dimension in iraq where they've been protesting against iran's presence there have been in the average american leadership as well but lately michel sort of building on that instead of building on that undermined it in both countries with their mind that we created a nationalist issues but keep the regime or run a show we have that's on the united states now we have a saying it's made its way to the movies on occasion wag the dog was this wag the dog was this
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a distraction from president trumps and so no i don't i don't think so i mean from what we've seen with you know the american contractor killed in iraq and then especially the storming of the u.s. embassy in baghdad president trump very much had been ghazi on his mind and how much he criticized obama and hillary clinton as secretary of state for not acting firmly and he felt now is the time for him to take bold action now let me just add though that of course the impeachment is going to play into every decision president trump will make going forward it will be an element there i sort of doubt that he did this only because of the impeachment but let's face it that's going to be very much every day very important point about iraq and the solvency of iraq america's stance and position in iraq we are there today not through a status of forces agreement but between an exchange of letters letters in the
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presence of the united states and the prime minister is that fragile now and in the end are american interests served or not served if we have to withdraw from iraq well so 1st of all i mean that's enough. there element that one wonders whether the president and the secretaries of state and defense thought about that i thought about the fact that they were doing this in iraq and what it would do to us iraq e relations and us iraqi military cooperation i don't know whether they even took that into account but obviously it's sold the money him to syria would you view the situation in the fragility differently i think it would be different i still wouldn't have been in favor of it but it obviously you know since the u.s. you know doesn't have that kind of a relationship with syria wouldn't have put a bilateral relationship at risk you know what's going to happen now i i would suspect that the u.s. military presence in iraq is going to become
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a big question mark very unclear what is our status our status was clear we were there at the invitation of the iraqi government there was a letter of agreement now with the iraqi parliament having voted. you know to to expel all foreign forces you know unfortunately i mean the iranian backed militias in iraq are not seen as foreign forces those are iraqi militias so it's you know we're going to be in a real gray area in terms of our presence in iraq matthew i want to imagine for a moment that the you're the president's adviser in the national security council in this foreign minister zarif was scheduled and invited to participate before this incident happened at the u.n. security council do you think it helps america's case in the eyes of the world or to deny him a visa to deny serif an opportunity to get to the united nations you know if zarif is not allowed anywhere close to the united states i mean that's all part of
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frankly the media landscape you're talking about a wag the dog type of situation we're at a point right now were frankly most mainstream media in the united states and the talking points amongst leading democrats including including presidential candidates or more regime. then the iranian people are which is kind of crazy at the moment so i just want to put up a tweet from president trump here just to take a quick look in about targeting 52 iranian sites who are trying to 52 iranian sites representing the 52 american hostages taken by iran somebody very high level important to iran and the iranian culture and those targets in iran itself will be hit very fast and very hard now to be fair both defense secretary mark esper and secretary of state mike pompei o said that any targeting will fulfill all commitments of complying with international law the president has doubled down and said you know they can kill people why can't we knock out you know their cultural sites so we've talked about international standards of behavior whatever and value i see this and again looking
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at this broad question because i understand the anger and frustration of americans in this case but is this pug nation snus and this disregard for culture something that undermines our case as well i think it does i mean you look when 911 happened after that we sort of took stock about anti-americanism across the muslim world or even more broadly we hadn't seen it coming we're not really right now sort of livia's to the way in which i'm going to lean on happiness is believing that the way in which we were being judged and yet the secretary of state said to the defense can can assure everybody that that things will be done according to international law but the president is going out of his way as as sort of the most strongest communicator around the world through these tweets to say to say that we might do something that we condemn isis for doing which is destruction of cultural things that we're going to go after the foundations of the people i mean the
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cultural sites don't belong to this lawmaker republic of the wrong they're the heritage of the iranian people and so you basically are picking on the people so if indonesians egyptians chinese japanese you can go across the galley they're watching us and i think at some point. in time maybe past presidents from the united states would pay a cost for on their minding its own image and also the norms michel yeah i mean i frankly i would worrying about this to me i hope the united states will not do this it really it seems far fetched frankly at least at this stage assuming things don't escalate too much more and it's hard to imagine the united states doing this taking out cultural targets in iran what worries me about the president's tweet is where did he get this idea in our last couple of minutes i'd love to get a snapshot from each of you on. what you think the next moves are and it's often said that iran invented chess matthew i'd love to i've listened to jihad zarif who did an interview with al-jazeera and he seemed pretty calm and he said
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we're going to deliberate we're going to take our time we're going to move slowly we're going to pick targets but there will be a response and i'd be interested in how you see the next steps that iran is going to make and what the u.s. response needs to be no i think iran will lash out or maybe it'll take its time hopefully the leaders will think about the fact that the u.s. from what trump has tweeted and what we're positioning forces that are gloves are off and we're not going to simply allow them to continue attacking the united states and our allies throughout the region so that would be a smart moment for iran's leaders to figure out it's time to come to the table and negotiate because the president is said they will neither could a nuclear weapon nor can they target americans with impunity anymore which is what they've been doing and that's the most important message to come out of this valley . well i think the whole escalation came as
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a surprise so i don't think they had an immediate response in mind and they're going to deliberate every math is correct if there's not going to be immediate i don't think they can come to the table without some kind of saving face. in other words they can't come to the table after this without showing something so even if the united states showing what the killing of a general no no no they might be something symbolic but they have to show their own public that they didn't take a punch to the face and didn't respond in fact if the united states is is interested in diplomacy it have to calculate that there has to be that step but i think iranians it. is your own this remember if iran taking a strike showing face in all the death for killing well then i know that you guys are you know that is that's not the that's not what i'm talking about what would i look like well it might be it might be. i don't want to venture it might be symbolic attack on some site or or or it might be a cyber attack it might be something where they can basically say ok we respond
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that now we're satisfied now we can move to this step that math is you know the rest of it works well you know if it doesn't work you know i said if it's going to work even if we don't have a conception of diplomacy they're not going to surrender because they're not going to survive and we've seen in this region whether in libya in syria in iraq dictatorships don't go quietly they don't just sort of pack their bags and go so if this becomes an existential issue they're going to fight to the fight to death and then we're going to end up in scenarios that michelle was saying but also i think the iranians are interested in deterring if they don't do anything at all they they fear that president trump thinks there is absolutely no cause then why not take out the supreme leader next why not why not go for i think that's the dial m. and that's why it's not going to be an immediate response but they will have to give a response because they cannot credibly come to the table as a defeated party that's not going to harm a show or get your share. shot of the next steps ok so 1st of all you know i
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i hope that in that iran takes into account right now that most americans don't want war with iran we're still at a place in the united states where the predominantly the american public and i would say most of the american congress is very opposed to going to war with iran that unfortunately can turn around very quickly if the iranians draw blood from americans in their response so i hope you know iran as much as they are there the u.s. has struck at them a heavy blow and they they've said they have to take revenge but i hope they bear this in mind that it's in their interests for americans not to be charged up about war with iran and now let me say what i what i think should be the next steps right now the omani foreign minister is in tehran oman has been a good channel between the united states and iran another good channel for example
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are the swiss there have been some messages going back and forth the swiss handle relations since the u.s. and iran don't have relations the iranian foreign minister zarif is going to davos will be there i mean so there are opportunities for behind the scenes diplomacy to take place and i hope it will take place before another blow is struck that you know only shows that as you are sure you know iran's hands. is that you know that i think a rockies want to be in iran's hands unfortunately by doing this we have strengthened iran's hand in iraq and i think we're going to have to think about how to reverse that and we'll have to end it there great conversation really very constructive i'd like to thank you all for being with us michele dunne from the carnegie endowment for international peace professor valli nasser from johns hopkins university and matthew brought to the from the gold institute for international study thank you all for sharing with us your thoughts on this very very important set of events
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that are unfolding thank you so what's the bottom line custom selling money's assassination is now forcing a hard look at america's posture in the middle east is america muscling up sending signals that it's back taking steps to deter iran destabilizing activities around the region or is this a punctuation point for further american disengagement leaving iran stronger in the long run we just don't know yet one can hope like michelle suggested that both sides cool it but like matthew claimed many americans strongly support trump's actions and don't forget that it's an election year iran is going to be a white house obsession both is a distraction from impeachment and because iran is unlikely to take a hit and not respond either way very rough waters ahead for the entire middle east and that's the bottom line.
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iran's president seeks a 2nd time facing. advocates restoring lusa ties with china will this election move beyond inclusive to the mainland who continue to resist beijing's push the unification taiwan's 20 times as it is. this yr. his new tour is the creation fake passports that full authority be used for one of many streets the most a forger as he reveals the secrets of the strike on al-jazeera. take the whole d.n.a. of al-jazeera is to deliver news of people who are subject to the decisions made by the powerful are simply no way to put all these people they're all individuals with
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children the lawyers and the box stores this place has become a complete trust you have to feel orders come to treat the issue to the tune respects. the order or go on. as iranians celebrate the life of a general killed in u.s. air strikes terror on projects talks with washington post on the sanctions remain. probably the worst briefing i've seen at least on a military issue and members of congress criticized the white house for carrying out the attack that killed the iranian commander. and how he did and this is al jazeera life in doha also coming up turkey and russia push for a cease fire in libya the e.u.
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warns of a 2nd syria if the conflict is not resolved lebanon imposes a travel ban on forming this and chief carlos ghosn he skipped bail.


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