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tv   Inside Story 2020 Ep 169  Al Jazeera  June 17, 2020 8:32pm-9:01pm +03

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it won't stop until president bashar al assad ends the war against his own people the caesar act as it's known as now being imposed on the syrian government a court in france has found the syrian president bashar al assad's uncle guilty of international fraud. will serve 4 years in prison he was found guilty of using syrian state funds for personal gain the paris court also ruled real estate in france and $32.00 and a half $1000000.00 worth of property in london should be seized the footage has emerged showing what some are describing as mistreatment of in the group of police officers during a protest in paris on tuesday the woman can be seen here throwing projectiles at the protest on tuesday then in another video she is surrounded by a group of french officers dragging her by the here at the health care protests those are the headlines up next it's inside story our have the news for you in 30 minutes see that.
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it's called the seas act and targets backers of a strong man u.s. sanctions came into effect wednesday against the acid regime in syria but it did not have a government of a political victory after years of conflict and how will regime allies react to new sanctions this is inside story. hello and welcome to the show i'm sam is a than the war in syria has devastated much of the country and its people but
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president bashar assad has remained in power with the help of foreign allies what is now another threat facing tens of millions of syrians though the economy has been decimated it's now a 3rd of what it was its currency is in freefall and that so that a shortage of basic goods and rising prices but might not be able to count on his friends anymore to rebuild this state new u.s. sanctions are now taking effect to punish anyone who does business with this country it targets politicians institutions businesses and those in gauged in transactions with the syrian government they could be banned from travel deny that access to u.s. markets or even face arrest it could also affect partners like russia and iran but also those in the gulf and europe to american officials insist the sang. sins will not harm syrian civilians the u.s. congress passed the so-called caesar act that sanctions syria last december it's
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named after a pseudonym used by a syrian defector who leaked more than 50000 the photos and videos documenting torture by government forces the u.s. says the sanctions will put political and economic pressure on president asad to hole to human rights abuses and support a transitional government and they go further than existing measures in targeting the government's backers outside syria including businesses banking and oil and gas entities acid's main backers in the war are russia and iran for law is seen as also targeting to her and lebanon based hezbollah the conflict has pushed nearly 80 percent of the population into poverty the un says syrians are now facing even more hardship the economic crisis is hitting every. regardless of territory controlled from damascus and the so it's best to our left who and what
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they're saying and i'm not. medicine is more expensive and scarce food prices have skyrocketed and supply chains have been disrupted through tracing problem or ordinary syrians as seriously diminished as a very truce old argument and public sector are also inadequate to meet the demands on today. the economic crisis has led 20 government protests in a sad strongholds of latakia and so wader the president sacked his prime minister after he criticized the government's handling of the situation but syrians fear the sanctions could limit their access to basic goods for them and some other means mean the syrians have been suffering from the power shortage for many years because of the destruction of the infrastructure during the war but now the question is will the electricity situation change or become worse than it is now. we are afraid
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for the medical devices that we have they are mostly imported from abroad we do not manufacture medical devices locally especially electronic devices unfortunately every device that goes out of service due to maintenance or another function is taking a lot of time to be repaired we are losing a lot of parts during this crisis and now we are more concerned for the future of these devices in particular. let's bring our gas into the show now we have joining us from norman oklahoma joshua landis director of the center for middle east studies at the university of oklahoma in istanbul dr markel executive director of the arm run center for strategic studies and in moscow alexei klebnikov middle east expert at the russian international affairs council thank you all for joining us if i could start with joshua so just to make everything clear now anyone in gauging in virtually any sort
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of transaction with the syrian government or an entity controls will fall under these sanctions right. yes that's going to be particularly designed to hurt the lebanese lebanon's only trading partner or next door to it is syria it has been the banking system the lungs for the syrian economy this is going to use send a message to all lebanese don't trade with syria and it's having a terrible 'd effect on the line why would why would it need as you said designed to target lebanon is this a message to hezbollah in particular well i'm sure that people in washington hope it's going to bring down his bylaw and turn lebanon into an american partner that has democratic elections the chances of this happening are very slight his well off is much better positioned to win this struggle in a collapsing economy it's the christians and the wealthy sudanese who are likely to
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leave the country and abandon it hizbullah which is a tough and and why are competitor ok that's an interesting perspective dr ahmad you shared that perspective will how how will this impact the syrian economy. i mean the syrian economy has been suffering for a long time now as a result of the systematic actions of the regime itself the regime has mismanaged its finances and this revenues and spend more on the war on killing people and pushing people out of the country and that is the root cause i mean the whole symbolic name of caesar was the rights of those who have been disappear at the rights of those who have been oppressed economically socially politically at all levels and so. one of the causes has been the lebanese financial crisis has caused the meltdown of the syrian pound that is
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a true statement in a lot of sense but that i mean that is the fault of. the lebanese hezbollah specifically i don't think that there was also a man who agree with joshua's analysis that it might ironically end up an bolding or empowering the very segment. that the u.s. is trying to weaken at least the least as it applies to lebanon when it comes to hezbollah. i mean just that it let's not over dre the a sense and the purpose of this law this law this act is is directed at all of the international backers of the regime and those who would like to invest in the in the reconstruction and is telling them the message that you're not allowed to go back and normalize relations and continue supporting the regime. i don't think that this will impact in bolton our strength and explore more than and it is in fact it
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will make their life much different much more difficult it will make the life of those who even tolerate this a lot. more difficult or even the russians in that sense or other countries in the gulf or other backers or investors that like to invest it will make people's lives those investors at the ok much higher difficult and can see alexey was shaking his head i take it in disagreement that so let me give you from moscow a chance to weigh in on this is going to make life more difficult for countries like russia the back has of the assad regime actually i was nodding meaning that i agree with both of my colleagues. anything we can still give you a chance to nod in agreement has well isn't this agreement. you know well because i think both my colleagues right and in general be. the act. primarily designed to weaken the or at least
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to change to reduce behavior which i personally don't agree with but it's more its main target is to the send a signal to 'd damascus backers early russia and iran and the west has a lot that might well be come. out of for them and also as recently james jedward ineffectiveness if you think to like keep you warm. terry will it be an effective message you said it's designed to send that message without any impact well definitely. well definitely it will make syria a hey their burden to carry for russia and iran that's that's for sure given especially the very limited economic financial sources both countries have and. yeah i mean that's definitely and impactful message but i don't think we
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should expect neither moscow nor tech wrong to change overnight their mind or to change their policies towards syria ok i want to bring joshua back into the discussion off the question of the timing why now i mean this war has been going on for a very long time the allegations of abuse of torture all internment of indiscriminate bombing all of these things have been well documented for a very long time why are we only now seeing the cesar act coming into the fact well it's had to percolate through all of these different systems you know i think look at these these acts are designed to punish. those 3 actors you know that the syrian regime the russians iranians and of course hizbullah the point though i think is that you know this is a retribution for these. leaders who have won the war in syria the
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problem is is that they're least likely to be the ones that are hurt the most they will be hurt of course that we hurt everybody's going to be hurt in this but it's the weak it's the feeble it's the hungry it's all the children who are malnourished that are going to really be crushed by this and we know what what terrible effects malnourishment has on mental and physical development in children this is devastating and if it's a you know a burnt earth. retaliation for assad's and iran is in russia's success and it will make life miserable for them you know that the u.s. special envoy jeffrey set my job is to make syria a quagmire for russia and iran and hizbollah and that's what this is really designed to do it's going to turn it into a quagmire but as the rats each other you know as you witness the people get hungrier it's going to be the strong who get the food the weak all right don't all
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right i guess that's seems very obvious you've made a very clear point nothing doc tom if i can read how your shaking your head i think you'll definitely disagree with that so let me let me give you a chance don't tama i mean i began the sole perpetrator of hunger of obstruction has been the government of syria that let's not lose focus of the true criminal on this planet and not the reactions of the international community not obviously caesar act is not going to change overnight anybody's behavior it will not change the regime in the end it may not necessarily at least alone change the behavior of this region but it will might it will make its life much more miserable and it will cause international actors to think twice before. making any contacts or engagements or reconstruction or normalizing with one of the most
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criminal regime in modern history and so the real focus is that where is the cause of hunger and i mean we all know the humanitarian aspect is exempt from this law so let's not directly say that it will definitely pozen there now it will cause i see some negative repercussions on average individuals and average communities and across syria whether in north east north west and we know that the population of series. it's been depopulated mostly and so this is where the humanitarian and the u.s. has increased and europe a lot of its aid in during the last year and even the last few months to support those who are hungry and even in b.g.p. areas and so this this doesn't mean that we abandon i mean obviously if you do this without the humanitarian element to to to cover it will be problematic but i can also think about if you don't do this it's going to be emboldened it's the prejean and its backers at the same time so it's like you do it you're doomed and you don't
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do it and you get the same result so whether you can act this way you don't enact it the regime will always find its way and its backers to to circumvent it and to to go around it or eventually want to say better of potentially countries canceling contracts alexy in moscow what's the likelihood of course we were russian iran they have a history of of facing us sanctions what's the likelihood that they're going to now cancel perhaps contracts. get how to perhaps deals. related to either rebuilding syria or investing in its oil and gas industry well i don't think that's going to happen. either in the short term nor in that made the long term don't forget that russia it was talking about russia it's in syria for at least one yes this is the woman which was signed between russia and syrian government for the lease of the military base in the main and the 2 so that
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means that my sheer will carry that burden no matter how hard it how heavy a. so i don't expect that change to happen either from russia nor from iran inside i also want to get back to what mark mentioned about humanitarian aid already before the fees are act existing u.s. sanctions and e.u. sanctions in the e.u. officials already acknowledged. that those sanctions they say they need to complete obstruct the delivery of humanitarian aid to syria that is no question about that and opted in action and in act meant this is their act that will make it even even harder and actually the achmet of the future act it actually makes the e.u. sanctions meaningless because. the see they're acting compasses everything basically so that's a very. tricky story ok dr ahmad give
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you a chance to come back in very briefly i can see you want to have a rebuttal on that very briefly in 30 seconds i mean that the yes the russians won't cancel any contracts but the russians are going to continue to see dialogue with the united states and that's what the us has been trying to do and the russians and i think that's unusual interest further dialogue between both countries not just on syria but are many files and i think that's one of the perhaps indirect objectives of the caesar act ok and that's an important point i'll pick up on in a 2nd but if we can perhaps just finish this thought on the economics of the whole situation joshua the syrian pound reached a record low to the u.s. dollar on june the 8th. is what's happening demonstrating that the syrian government can really no longer manage the economy and even its backers like iran and syria called ready say that this time. you're right you know what they both
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need this is really the syrian pound has inflated in tandem with the lebanese pound it stems from the lebanese banking crisis in which they froze all dollar accounts and much of serious economy businessmen and probably you know even elements of the government have kept. accounts in lebanon all those were froze the money is gone the lebanese have mismanaged and run a big ponzi scheme and so there are no dollars to try to shore up the currency and the government is scrambling now and obviously it's counting on russia and iran to step in and try to shore up the currency but in the meantime we're in a hyperinflation situation with cove and with the war with the banking crisis all of this is compounded and the united states i think is you know obviously time this very well in order to kick the last props from underneath the syrian people in order to tumble the country into
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a state of starvation hoping that this will. force asada into some kind of political concessions and that's the idea you know that the stated goal of the united states is not to turn this into a quagmire it's to beget some kind of democratic outcome overseen by the u.n. but i can't see that after 9 years of war with assad winning that he's going to all of a sudden decide he's going to leave office and allow the opposition to come in and have a political process that has defied the united states for 50 years in syria it's just not going to work but it will help start a lot of people want it and so i see this is a very negative thing but good for bill thomas point just if i may how how do you respond though to the perspective that says look the syrian people in any case the suffering that's the whole reason why this pseudonym mr caesar had to bring 50000 photos and videos you can't leave people suffering. under
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a regime like that anyway but they are they're leaving it suffering this is not going to bring regime change i don't think anybody thinks even you know even the promoters of this don't think it's going to have a real effect on assad's behavior or the regime you know this is like asking a few hungry people to overturn a big military regime. they're not going to do it they can demonstrate but they can't overturn the regime and that's the problem this is going to start ok it's not regime change let me perhaps the thought might go to if the people can change the regime maybe the backers of the regime can change the regime alexy in moscow you said a moment ago of course you explain how much iraq russia is too heavily invested over the last 9 years in syria with the base and so on and so forth well is it possible they might not want to pull out of syria is it possible they might decide that the bashar assad regime is too costly and might try and put their influence into regime
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change in syria. well i think there is always a risk of you know rising costs of your. involvement there but so far i don't think that the cost of russian involvement is. this is very pavey for to moscow so 'd i think that the involvement will continue and actually. let's not forget that. moscow clearly understands that damascus and selves are not the i mean it's not the easiest part to deal with and i mean. if recall russia's relations with its allies like for example below russia and armenia there are also tons of differences and promotions between them so you cannot expect relations between partners be being always smooth so this is why and that's the nature of disagreement
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natural friction but in general i don't think moscow will be ready to abandon what it has been investing in for the last 9 years and especially over the last 5 years and one of its main goals is to 'd showcase demonstrate is it a couple i don't raise but is it possible that in order not to abandon what's it has invested in i might decide the best thing is to get rid of this regime and have some kind of transition some political transition. well. i wouldn't go that part saying that their regime it was i mean if we talk about the regime change we're talking about the political situation we're talking about the this stage structures russia is not read it to change that what russian mind computer is changing on the. leadership i mean moscow be in the country was saying that it's
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not backing off that as a person i often as a leader bought in in his in bottom and it backs the the syrian status or institutions from to prevent them from collapse to oppose what happened in in iraq or in libya which threw those countries in uncontrolled couse ok let's bring dr ahmad renault out did you see the possibility of perhaps political transition being instigated by the season a sanctions act i mean i mentioned that the cesar act will not create miracles it will not. overflow the will overthrow the regime or cause by itself. it is one of the tools for accountability it is one of the tools that the u.s. you seem to to create rifts to create gaps between partners of the regime and that and therefore creating more opportunities for dialogue and negotiations. and so i mean that in terms of the hunger the hunger is already going
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and is he basing in syria as a result of the systematic policies of the central government and so let's that's not overexaggerating at this act is going to create americans but also let's not also underestimate its power in creating new alliances in creating the new avenues for discussions and negotiations all right i think we've got about 60 seconds left let me give it to joshua and say looking at things from a. best think us political perspective or about what 5 months away from elections how important is it containment of iran and russia domestically to the u.s. political calculations. you know president trump is very transactional and he's working with various interest groups in the united states who have a big interest and and in syria and you know those we know are gulf in israel
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and so this this is what it's about for the domestic it's about winning the elections for president trump and allowing certain interest groups to have their way in foreign policy and and that's you know i think it comes down to something very simple about the powers it domestically because americans don't care about syria that you know if the syrian star it doesn't make any difference to them or if i side survives or doesn't survive it's really a very little material interest to the average american who don't even know where syria yes but it is important for the political you know for the election process sad for the the syrian people who so seem to be constantly on the you know the suffering end of this that's thank our guests very much for all of their contributions to this show joshua dr ahmad and alexey and thank you to fortune you can see the show again any time by visiting our website al jazeera dot com for further discussion had ever taught facebook page that's facebook dot com forward
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slash a.j. inside story you can also join the conversation on twitter handle there is that a.j. inside story from me sam is a that and the whole team here for now it's good fun. when the news breaks children here say they're excited to be back at school but also nervous when people need to be heard while qatar certainly has one here so if they're kind of free on foot in part limitations and that push the country focus on
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it the method of production al-jazeera has teams on the ground just because it's large doesn't mean it cannot be crushed what about the guy that can afford it to bring you more award winning documentaries and life. the plight of the syrian people and the violence they enjoy is plain for all to see. but behind closed doors lurks in unspeakable brutality inflicted on the women. from the brave few who survived my c.d.'s and dignity and dead to tell the tale. silent war i witnessed documentary on al-jazeera this fire is the story people's lives for essential workers on the front lines either a pride yes is it you share their experiences of the u.s. response to cold with 19 what i called a light bill is like
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a do it it. can go one pager system or it's fairly nice to do everything in our power to change this system completely full blown america's pandemic workers on. a war. this is al jazeera. hello again i'm peter dhabi you're watching the news our live from our headquarters here in doha coming up in the next 60 minutes efforts are underway to deescalate tension between china and india after violence on the border in the disputed himalaya region. dramatic and to reconciliation efforts with south korea now north korea announces it will send troops back to the demilitarized zone.


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