tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 14, 2014 3:00pm-5:01pm EST
and leading it to where it is today, offering a unique global vision. they are going to succeed. i thought i would share the news with you. okay. our plans this morning will focus on iraq, syria, lebanon. while we have included the islamic state on the session, we want to go well beyond this state and consider the local root of the current fragmentation of violence in this country as well as the challenges by a rising influence of non-state action. including islamic groups such as isis and others. our focus will be on understanding the key factors with the security dynamics in these countries and the likely impact with the engagement in the region. finally we will also examine the
dynamics between the region of government of baghdad as well as shifting relations between the groups including the syrian and iraqi satisfactions and implications. >> i am pleased to have with me an extremist group this morning. they include our own associates at the carnegie little east foundation. i can't see him from there. the research focused on the dynamics of the syrian conflict and the political role and security transformation in the arab world. we are also joined by our associate. he is formerly a researcher at the academy. his research has focused on iraq
and authority in islam and middle eastern history and politics. natalie is the senior fellow of the national university here in washington. denise was formally a researcher working in the turkish regions of iraq. turkey, iran, and syria. she specializes on the regional energy security and conflict state building. finally to my immediate left is joseph who has just joined us here in d.c. as a visiting scholar at the carnegie endowment. she is a researcher in paris and an adviser at the academy with that, i turn the floor.
i am afraid it will be helpful, but hopefully it will be today and we will keep you with us until the end. then if that's okay with you. >> thank you very much. i would like to thank the endowment for inviting you today. it's a great pleasure to be on the distinguished panel. i was invited today to address the situation in iraq.
the outlook with the new government. the engaged sunnis and the role of iran. by saying that's in the right direction. some of these have been symbolic and they have the use of the pictures in all government security check points and military establishments, but others such as the office of the commander in chief are serious attempts to break away the formality policies. many of you know that was established by the military chain of command and move the iraq army unit. without even the knowledge of the ministry of defense. of course the key security policy now we are trying to push and even they have to get
serious about the establishment and standing up for this army. the sunni arabs will no longer tolerate the government forces. proposed bill of the national guard would not just drop and the key aspect is that the commanders of these forces will be local commanders. now of course this is i believe a short-term solution and a necessary one to empower sunnis to push back again. it could very well be a serious problem in the future. especially if they had incidentss we have seen for the last years. if militants cross over into the
area and conduct terrorist operations, it won't just be groups facing each other, but many armies. a sunni army versus a shiite army. it's not clear how the government is going to react or control these units. they will be answerable to the governor. as with everything else, the devil is in the details. who makes up the details and who makes up the units in the provinces. will it be shia militias or sunni militants who will turn against isis? none of this is clear. as a concept, everybody now seems to have agreed on the national guard. but the details have yet to be wiped out. i want to mention, it's very different in terms of the leadership style. that doesn't mean he is going to be successful. a friend who worked for decades
with the exact opposite of this, he comes from the same context and the same party and the same limits. it's a conspiracy background. it could be the downfall as well. where he refused to listen to the advisers, he listens too much. he wants everybody's opinion around the table. even by some of his friends as indecisive. maybe the prime ministership will force him to react, but this is something to watch out for. this is not the preference of iran. they are up until the last minute, they lobbied very aggressively to keep him in power. it wasn't actually the iranian
or the american shia arrival or the isis. it was the religious establishment that effectively blocked iranian dreams of a third term. we talk about the influence in iraq, but it's not a one-way street. we nuanced that with saying that the leverage of iran, because of that decision, they have more than made up due to the reliance of the governments on the driven shia militias. these are the militias that were holding the lines and prevented that which is crucial and remains crucial in preventing the war. the spearheads has the iraqi army advances. i was there on june 10th when they fell. the contrast between how the americans and the iranians
reacted will have long-term consequences on iraq. after the isis advance, obama saw this as bush's war. a country he ignores. very little engagement, at least serious engagement with iraq. even as isis was encroaching on the capital, the obama administration kept signalling them to be physical reform in exchange for military support. contrast this with iranians, immediately mobilized. they stood up and sped up the mobilization of shia militias and within 24 hours, you could have been in baghdad. within 24 hours, you were checking up on the check points from baghdad. they sent weapons to the kurds and the central government. they even support back iraqi
fighter jets. they were left over from the 1991 war. with isis advancing closer, the americans while the iranians mobilized to save iraq. earlier this month, i was in tehran for a workshop on foreign policy organized by the european council on foreign relations. the meeting was held under the rules, but one line we kept hearing was iran saved iraq while america failed to. at the time the official told me and i quote, both the u.s. and iran are our strategic allies. iran doesn't let friends down in times of need. this is why i say they will have long-term consequences not just on how the shia dominate and view the iranians, but how they will continue to view the government. of course this has been made worse with the recent
appointment of a better politician as interior minster. the militia group created and supported by iran. it doesn't bode well for national unity prospects on iraq. one thing i would like to touch on during initial remarks is one of the key ships i have seen in baghdad over the last few months. how the shia masses have reacted to the isis crisis. we will all familiar with the tribes men and the kurdish frustration with the central government. now the shia themselves are left committed to iraq as a nation state. more and more shia essentially see iraq as something between baghdad and basra. if isis wants them, it's not our
problem. of course this is dangerous. it's a dangerous sentiment that is not going to bode at all well for unity in iraq. the vast majority of shia know and understand that the vast majority the shia are confident they can protect it and contain i 'tis from iraq. just to put that into context, it's worth remembering the only fiscal policy pushing for them was to create counsel of iraq and they were heavily punished. five years later, given the rise
at the very end of the price zone was, and i quote, will not be ready in the future and i want the people to support them. it's a widely held sentiment and why are our sons being slaughtered and massacred in places like tikrit? on that note, they watch out for i think it's a matter of time before we see a showdown between them. we did see signs of this isis is
the headline news. they are approaching baghdad. at the same time isis views dozens of cities and towns for the items. the news is buried somewhere. isis couldn't manage to capture the refineries. that's the largest extremely hard to defend and only a few hadn't until now have stood up against isis. that's in the out for over three months. defended only by a few hadn't iraqi militias.
and to isis. they are using hundreds in kobani in syria. we are seeing a strange alliance. you have u.s. air force bombings and check points and vehicles. you have iranian revolutionary guard on the ground, directing iranian militias being supported by the kurdish. it was a couple of months ago, the general warned that the u.s. air force shouldn't be the air force of the militias. at times it seems that it was the air force and being fed it is iranians and fighting
alongside the shia militias. i quote, we are ready to deal with the devil. i don't know if he means the central government or they reached the maximum in iraq. they may have potential to increase and there many reasons for isis popularity in sunni areas. isis is a story scene and dignity being a voice.
some of the deep political issues not only between the kurds and baghdad and baghdad and turkey and syria, they were leading to some of the deep vulnerabilities of the surd stan region. if you look at the information, the region counters intuitively is not more, but in fact less. some of the i would say strategistr strategic miscalculations enhanced the vulnerability of the region so that is not only more dependent on baghdad, but in baghdad and turkey. the patrons of the region is increasingly becoming turkey alongside baghdad. there is the uni10th marker and let's look at some of the key
dynamics and trends before june 10th that were there. what has the presence of isis done to reinforced or weaken the leverage. what is the leverage of the curd stan region. we know that there has been movement to enhance the internal sovereignty of the region since 2005. you had issues of the territories. oil exports and creating an independent state via turkey. one of them and i really do see the isis dynamics playing out, not coincidentally in the northern disputed territories. they have been approached since 2003 and 2 thousandpousand 3 tor
2010. they are in mi noah and some other areas. that has not changed and that still remained an issue of dispute, not only between the kurds and baghdad, but as we are starting to see the shia, say you take it. this is not our problem. this is becoming now a problem between the kurds and those populations directly. i mean the sunni arabs. the oil contracts are being signed and even though the governor of mosul may switch it now and he is cutting deals, there tribal groups and people that do not support it that are very much against what they referred to as kurdish
encroachment and territories. when june 10th arrived. i was with some of these folks about three weeks later. there was a lot of excitement. 45,000 to 95,000 square kilometers. that issue remains and didn't go away after and thafsz the ole export. this is a long ongoing dispute. there also has been the kurds and efforts to develop an economy of oil exports independent of baghdad. in may of this year, one month before the isis came in and took over mosul, they made this unthinkable break with the
president and exported these oils. what happened in the iraqi parliament? the shias -- this is during the so-called government coalition formation period. they said the kurds can't form a coalition. even the party said you put us in a very uncomfortable position. in some ways, in the beginning they saved the kurds from this predicament because there was no iraqi group in baghdad willing to support the independent oil exports. i say this because i will look at it beyond the new prime minister. this is going on when the budget dispute occurred.
30, it's the idea that increasing -- and this is from one group in the region and largely being the group that the kurds didn't need baghdad and they would be independent through an export with turkey. it certainly would be better than being with baghdad. i say part of the curd stan region because a good part south of the bill is very much against this or at least very worried about it. now, what happened after june. >> it's a nationalist surge that
the kurdish are finally back and in kirkuk and there is a cross border transborder surge about cobany and syria. and the international partnerships that the kurds established as part of the coalition against isis military weapons. when you take 1,000 kilometers, you have to defend it. my children. the iraqi government forces are not going to be there. they are not going to be there
we can call it isis and you can this is going to be very complicating for how the kurds keep the oil fields and territories that are in my view the heart and soul. and certainly kirkuk. secondly, this reinforced the vulnerability and the cam gel. they meant no, that they haven't been able to retake $13 billion a year, but instead you had billions being borrowed from turkey. you had further indebtedness internally and almost a collapse of the economy. in addition to the isis threat that yes, some oil companies had
left and called for whatever it may be, you also have the issue of payment. is turkey able to do it. turkey in my view has the regional government in pretty much of a controlled situation. they have their oil and they can pay them and haven't fully paid them. there is a deep crisis right now that is so-called -- this was the kurds and capital of the arab world and when you have an isis threat and an economy that can be collapsed and again, the precariousness of the energy sector. despite the fact that there is still a small scale, about 200,000 barrels going out, the idea of derisking large scale exports have not occurred. and finally, you have the vulnerability of the kurds themselves as you have the syrian kurdish groups merging.
when they withdrew from there, this was a bit embarrassing for the kurdish. it was actually they saved the forces and this is being played out on the ground. local populations, i hate to say he said a bit of safe savings make. none the less, it was the fact that a, it was a pkk. that turkey did not come to the defense militarily and the kurds expressed their disappointment. the fact that the economy was in a state because of the oil gamble and fourth, there is a kobani crisis. you will have now this movement and the nationalist coming from each of the different kurdish groups. that's the internal power struggle and even though this anti-isis movement has created a
kurdish coalition or partnership on the ground, the people are able to enter the region and they are having meetings, still the underlying power struggles are going on. not only between the pkk or py, but internally in the region. you have a new president of iraq from curd stan and you have a governor of kirkuk that is largely a pdk area. this does not bode well for the idea that it will jump on board with turkey. again, the fact that turkey and i still am surprised that some kurdish thought turkey was going to enter and defend the kurds, but this cut into the streets of the region that they have to be
reliant on turkey. certainly to the south and i mean puk that baghdad is realistic option and of course to have been enforced with the enforcements in the curd stan region. they have been fighting in these areas that are not privy tow coalition air strikes. south of kirkuk and alongside the militias as well. a lot of these dynamics and the idea again when you ask, will the kurds be independent, the question is, how autonomous can the region become and what state do they want to become and how dependent will they be? those are the questions i will look at? contrary to discourse, i don't see any department state at least inclusive of kirkuk and mi noah in the future.
this issue of how to negotiate will be beyond baghdad. this will be a curd, sunni arab issue. the dialectic will be there between the central government or the iraqi government when they come to revenue and payment, but delineating borders, particularly if the sunni-arabs decided to create their own region. it may not be in their favor. finally, oil is high risk. i don't see where the kurds have enhanced their leverage when baghdad is not going to pay these oil companies's contracts. the question remains unanswered how the experts will be derisked and be able to stay in the region. it will be a deal cut with turkey or the sunni arabs or baghdad and this may have to force their hands and may actually have to realize less than what they imagined. thank you. >> thank you very much, denise.
perhaps the question you can elaborate on the relationship of the position. you talk about syrian leb not to welcome in carnegie and i'm looking forward for several years of intense cooperation with you. let's talk about the border between syria and lebanon and who is doing what. this will be probably my first point, trying to shed a light on this component of radical jihad acting on the border and what i would try to say in this is that
the fact that in fact the name isis or the brand isis has become probably a generic brand under which a bunch of complex other organizations or actors are put under. that means that we have the going from isis to other groups, mainly operating in lebanon on the border and inside the territory. all this is probably lack of intelligence or lack of information and labeled under the name of isis. this is ampified for instance in lebanon by the fact that the most violent incidents that occur were not completely or officially claimed by something called isis. the bombings in the hotel or in
the suburb were claimed who is receiving to al qaeda a bit like for instance not the case of isis. the 44 lebanese soldiers that are today abductors as to the battle are also held supposedly and we still don't have exact information about that by probably ten of them by isis and groups among them. them and others which are still officially unknown or who doesn't have or who don't have let's say an official branding or name. that is to say that in fact the dynamics between what we consider to be isis and the lebanese or syrian region and other groups is something that
is dynamic. this sheds a light i think and here i will talk on the syrian landscape and say more on that. it sheds a light also on the contradictions and maybe the unintended sequences of the u.s. coalition-led effort to fight isis. prior to the strike of the coalition, all information leads us to say that isis was probably losing the battle and hearts and minds of syria. it was losing it to probably groups like these and others. the question of whether these strikes have given again some credit to isis in the syrian population is something i can't answer and i don't know. i don't think we know about this. however what we know and what we have indicated is that they have
so far probably benefitted also from the strikes. we have the labeling by the u.s. and other actors under the terror name, but also it has benefitted from the policy to the difference with isis in syria. it has been credited to be a very active component and to the anti-assad military campaign or operations. it's more on lebanon. this is the feeling when you look at the lebanese political
or security stand, what we can say is the following. the first point or the first striking and the hot spots we are having today, they are on the border between lebanon and syria, they have in fact left with what is happening on the border. the first that has begun in 2012 or 2013 was the city and the famous battle that put in confrontation with the army and the group that was led by mohamed at that moment. here is probably someone who is more linked also to and the the second hot spot which is today very flaring up is the tripoli and northern lebanon.
they are largely predating before the syrian revolution. tripoli for instance is a city where you have and you have other forces like the lebanese army after that. since this period, if you remember it traces back to the fact that for instance, the plo and yasser arafat took refuge in the city and there were fights
that is probably to be closely watched is and the refugees in the region. of course the sociology and lebanon is hard to understand, but let us say to the difference of 30 in jordan, the syrian refugees in lebanon are scattered all over the country. they control and they made sure that that human presence and they can say also that in the majority of cases and this is what is the second point, these are in regions with the
politically controlled or influenced or proximate mall to hezbollah. this is the first factor of fiction. and being the border. and the narratives of who started what and et cetera, what we can say today was the phasing of the border has been largely enhanced and the cross border operation has been very soon revolutionary and then the syrian war. this has in fact been incrementally and interesting low in terms of argument.
this is hezbollah entering the syrian war. it was the fact that and it was the first speeches was that we are there to defend the shia villages that are on the border. some of them are from the other side of the fence. then the argument that it slipped. it became our defending the holy shrine to say they are in syria. on the third level later on in 2012, the argument became we are defending a resistance regime. we are defending the access openly. lastly it became an openly shia discourse, very strongly under that or by the shia and leading
the war for the series and etc. the last part two or three days ago were going far and targeting them as being the most important thing today for the region. the syrian vote and it also has to do with some deep issues that are left in the lebanese team. i would conclude by saying what is happening on the lebanese syrian border and mostly inside the lebanese political space is something which is more resembling to iraq than to syria. in the sense that these are all
fuelled to them by the syrian war and syrian revolution. the sunni disenfranchising, it traces back probably if not to the fall of baghdad, but openly to the killing of prime minister and then the hezbollah take over of beirut and what happened at that moment. 2010 and 2011 and the syrian revolution and the war only added an additional factor of inflammation on this lebanese team. this leads us to say that there is a security treatment to the issue of isis and liz lammists
in lebanon, but this cannot by itself be a relevant answer if you put aside the political question of the renewing or the reshaping or the reviving of the political formula in lebanon. if we extend that question to the lebanese and syrian political scene, it means that in fact the security solution and i don't think i am telling you something new here, the military solution to isis and other shades of radical jihadism is not only a military solution, but it has also to embody or to include a political component and this leads to the lingering question which is in fact roaming around in the region and hearing washington and the question is what to do with assad and what to do after assad and lebanon and probably will go
into that. >> one thing i would like to focus on is whether you think that sunni marginalization, hezbollah and the sectarian tension in lebanon, whether you think that can amount to more. whether we are going to see a receipt, for example, of the civil war or is that not on the cards in lebanon? i will leave that question to the question and answer session. >> thank you. and thanks for leaving this. i am going to present a series of statements and questions that i'm not going to attempt to answer or to flush out in detail and i will leave that for them. but here's where i see a need to focus attention. first, syria. it's really quite striking if you think back a year ago or just over a year ago. how much has changed in the
politics on the military level on the ground outside syria and how little has changed in the conflict dynamic and the politics or the prospect for a political shift in syria. with the u.s.-russian cooperation that led to the elimination of most of the syrian government capability, the russian-american cooperation for the geneva talks that failed and the ukraine crisis completely changed that dynamic and the rise of isis since the start of the year and especially in iraq. any number of other shifts have occurred in the general strategic environment. on the ground militarily if you look at the map of where the so-called moderates and not so
moderate opposition was a year or over a year ago around syria, if you look at the map today, they are focused in two main pockets in the far northwest and the south around damascus. you flush that out lightly. in 2013, it was estimated that there were million people in liberated areas of syria. today the opposition will acknowledge there under two million people in those areas. i could go on with the details and the point i am trying to make is neither the opposition or the regime appeared closer to operating different low in terms of politics or shifting where the conflict is going. to be stuck in that position. the next point i want to make is that iraq it seems to me faces a risk of ending up in the same situation that syria is now in.
in other words, attempts made by the u.s. and the europeans and saudi arabia and iran and turkey and various layers to try and push and ka joel and nudge various political actors inside iraq into a new kind of politics or at least a minimum level of agreement that would transform the baghdad's government the way the iraqi state is run and allows a number of changes in terms of delivery of government services and so on. however, all of that is pretty messy. most of the actors are still trying to preserve their core positions and interests without changing too much. the sort of international coalition led by the u.s. today, i feel, is frankly minimal and way below what is needed whether this it is a fault of the u.s. administration or it's a realistic expectation for you to think about. but bottom line, i'm saying that i think the likelihood that iraq
will end up in a situation where no one can really decide the issue, where the sectarian dynamic rather than a new single army is likely to do as much damage as good, all that really points to yet another syrian scenario and we have to think about those implications. third, i think the islamic state, isis, isil will be around for some time in iraq and in syria. let me give you a glimpse from syria of what i mean. i u don't think isis is liked by people living under its rule, and i don't think it's the same to take a very useful historical analogy with another iraqi regime. so they have managed to cling to power for 13 years after invading kuwait and after they were subjected to severe sanctions. 12 years after the humiliating defeat in kuwait.
and the loss of most of the oil revenue. and nonetheless despite being a reviled regime, it managed to survive. so that's not the issue. the islamic state from reports have come from the ground, the islamic state is constantly developing and evolve iing its m of rule and organization, of bureaucratic service delivery, building of the tax system, a database, all sorts of things going on every day, which mean that whether people like it it or not, they regard areas of rule as being more secure and more dependable and predictable than areas held either by the so-called moderate opposition or assad regime. and doing business is cheaper in those areas in terms of the taxes they have to pay versus the describes and other fees that are extorted from them elsewhere. so i think we really need to start looking careful ly at wha
it is regardless of how we feel about it. fourth, even if it's correct, i was interested in his presentation. this is the begin ining of the end. for i.s. in iraq. going back to where iraq was is no great thing. the iraqi state had failed basically its people. since the removal in the first ten years after that. the iraqi government spent $500 billion of public revenue and did not build a single hospital, a single power plant. that is failure on frankly of astonishing scale. so defeating isis, if that means going back to what the iraqi state was and i really see little prospect of going back to anything different all of a sudden, then we have to keep focus and very worried about what happens next in iran. now, i described in a way where i think we are now.
i'd like to add a few more comments in the form of questions if you'd like as to what next. well, first, who of us still remembers that there's an air campaign going on. i'll confess frankly i get. up in the morning and look at the news. that bit of news i never look at. maybe the strikes stopped a week ago. maybe someone will tell me. because i don't think they are relevant. certainly in syria. what i'm saying, what if this air campaign goes on for another month, two months, six months and then what? is this like iraq in the 1990s when there were daily bombings going on to the point that none of us remembered this was going on? i don't see this campaign in syria at least and probably not in syria and iraq going on without more of a game plan. and i don't see a game plan. the follow-up question to that is what if isis is not e
defeated quite soon? the pentagon very sensibly anticipates or is planning for a campaign up to three years. that's the best case scenario. and even that is a long time. if this campaign continues, what started to happen elsewhere in iraq or in syria. maybe in lebanon and jordan? what about the sort of the mimic effect in places like parts of egypt and yemen and algeria, i don't know where. we have become so focused on iraq and to a lesser extent syria or at least. but the threat can be held at bay. it's holding for a moment in
lebanon because others have come to understand that they need each other and have to be wary about undermining each other any further because they are all going to lose in that game. in jordan it's a strong state. there are competent institutions, but there's a massive underclass that sees the islamic state as representing everything they resent -- they are representing e e radical challenge to everything they resent about the affluent, the ones driving bmws. these kinds of dynamic are ongoing. and so if the fight against the islamic state goes on and seems to be conducted either in ways that are problematic or to fail, then i think we should worry about what happens in the wide eer region. that's my final question, which is what if iraq moves from a state of defacto partition rather than in syria?
what if the emergency military forces to counter the islamic state that are militias assuming others stand in for the iraqi army and if that happens with the intelligence service, with public service delivering ministries and so on, what if we move from defacto partition to something that looks more like a broken up state or a partition state, not simply a partition territory. what will the implications be for other parts of the region or will we see another syria that most of us struggle to contain and keep within those limits? but don't really resolve in fundamental manner. >> thank you for provascular tick questions that we also need
to think of beyond the military capability of isis. in the interest of time, i want to open it up immediately to questions. we have half an hour only. i will take questions in batches of three. please limit it to one question and make it short. can you wait for the microphone and identify yourself. >> you did not mention iran or israel. israel booked that oil from the kurds and actually deposited the money as the turks demanded. then gaza intervened and mosul fell. it seems to me that something could have happened there that fell apart. and as far iran, don't you think that after mosul and the lack of intervention on the part of the
turks at least visibly, the iranians did not gain ground and then helped the people in krg. >> the woman, please. >> i'm national defense expert and also in the national defense university here. my question is very simple. i would like to know the difference between decides the difference between sunnis and shias, which is the difference between the education of those groups and why if there is a big gap?
>> from safe foundation. just wanted to point out from what we heard frothers too, it seems like the u.s. invasion of iraq was the main problem and is what has created all this turbulence in iraq and all this. and in fact, the syrian situation that's gone on was also planned by cia and u.s. military in terms of sneaking in all these groups into syria. because they have once said if you don't cooperate with us, you'll be in trouble and i think all this great cahaos that has been caused by the united states and what should be done with it, should the united states get out
of it? >> don't feel you all have to answer. >> i'll respond to your question. i tried so hard to make the 7 to 10 minutes. israel -- remember iraq's threats against any company or country that buys kurdish oil doesn't affect israel because they are officially at war with iraq. so they have bought this oil. i think seven cargoes or whatnot and that continues. that's significantly dig counted rates. ships go out to sea, radars get turned off, ship to ship transfer. this is the way this has been a very murky business and will continue. but you're right, it's gone through turkey. some can say we have to thank them for allowing this all to happen. the problem is this too in terms of the business.
this was the red line, by the way. i actually think that the kurds at least some of them were willing to cut that deal with baghdad. because they have to. but it was him who said the money has to go in my account. not the dfi account in new york. he wouldn't have it. obviously. so even if this money is going in, what's being stated is 17% is going to the kurdistan region, no more. then you have to take out your deductions. that's not clear how much. so this will continue. and the israelis will continue. back to iran, remember after the islamic state came in, there was six week where is he said we're not getting involved. we're not fighting them. then there was a press conference and he made a clear statement. we want to thank the iranians. they were the first ones to come into. the kurdistan region and help us. so i don't know if they gained or lost ground because they will always remain an important influence in the region.
so that said we reck news you. they have been very active and they have gained some support. more so you have seen all these photos with his arms around the kurdish peshmerga. particularly since the coalition airstrikes in the perception of kurds and others have largely been targeted on the areas. most of the military aid is being perceived or it's true being doing to irbil and not the puk. this is moving them to say thank goodness we have the iranians. they are fighting next to the forces. again. i don't know if this is significantly changed, but it it certainly has reenforced the dependency in returning to iran by some of these groups.
>> the gentleman who asked about the u.s. invasion causing all these problems, i think it's a very simplistic way of looking at the situation. you had during the war with iran, 1 million human beings were killed. you had had the 1990 wholesale of kuwait. you had the 1991 uprise wrg up to 200,000 military-aged men were slaughtered. so a lot of people unfortunately think sectarianism started in 2003 because that's when it first rose to the surface in terms of politics. i think it's very unfair to
pretend this started in 2003 or some argued in 1979. i mean in the first century you had civil wars over the very soul of islam and what it means. you had violence in baghdad. you had mass slaughters of shias and sunnis in iran, in iraq, in turkey. this is nothing new. so, yes, action in 2003 had consequences and we're seeing this today. but inaction has consequences and we can't see that. if there was no regime change, saddam hussein would likely be in power today. if not one of his sons would have been in power. that brutal regime, which systematically slaughtered iraqis in its three decades of rule would still be in power today. it's not as simple as this started in 003.
>> i would also leave the question to, but you partly answered it. i would turn to the question which i u don't have time to tackle. the question is how far and how long can we keep contained the potential violence in the country from transforming from sporadic pockets to friction to all out civil war, because civil war is something to be defined. briefly, let me say that so far two factors, in fact, has contributed to very much contain the violence in lebanon and keep the country more or less manageable. if we agree that today we have an entire space, which is iraq, syria, lebanon which is sunk into a kind of dynamics of
violence. what has helped lebanon to be relatively contained is two factors. the first one, i think, is a regional minimum consensus not to throw the lebanese guard into the volcano, into the syrian volcano. this minimal regional consensus is mainly a saudi iranian agreement not to fight on lebanese soil as they are fighting on the iraqi, syrian and probably yemen soil. plus a kind of relative domestic appetite that, in fact, the hezbollah camp are, in fact, more or less needing each other to keep things going. the second factor that kept it also contained
course, with the regional construction. if we don't reach a proper satisfactory deal or understanding with iran in the months to come, probably the cold war between iran and the saudis, iran and the gulf states, iran and others and turkey maybe will get hotter and hotter. at that point, one or both actors could think that now we maybe need an additional card or additional theater in order to mend fences.
let's put lebanon in the e equation. yemen is very interesting to see. there's a new front that has been open in yemen. maybe potentially lebanon could be also a new front. the second factor, i u think, is more worrying. it is changing due to the refugee. in the sunni mind set, the syrian refugees are partly syrians, but they are also sunni refugees. and in a way, these poor people living in very poor conditions in regions and areas could easily be weaponized armed and mobilized against hezbollah and lebanon. and even without a kind of impetus by a sunni leadership in the region, by nature themselves, they could become weaponized with time if the kind of persecution they are any way
perceiving as such is continuing against them. if you take the numbers in lebanon, you can easily imagine that you can mobilize arm and finance 20 to 30,000 young guys stretching from 16 years old to 25 years old and like in 1975, build a kind of reserve army for the sunni political force which feels more and more humiliated in lebanon. this is the factor that has to be closely watched and it has to be watched from the lebanese leadership point of view and mainly from the sunni leadership and this is an additional factor to be feared of, which is in fact, they are more and more
fraj liezed, weakened by radicalization in the region or by the near fact that in terms of balance of power, they are not enough existing on the ground. so far all these factors, i think that what has contained the lebanese scene so far is something that is unfortunately to be questioned more and more in the month and years to come. which has to do with what he was saying that, in fact, if we look to the entire region broader than iraq and syria and the pockets of isis and et cetera, the dynamics in the region are, in fact, very worrying for the period ahead. >> indeed. >> i guess people in the audience still appreciate the irony of asking someone called
yazid to comment. i'm not sure i heard or understood the question about sunni/shia. it seemed to be about education. it's an extremely broad question. it's like the different between catholic and protestant religion in europe. what's more useful is if i try to step back from the new way we have all the region through the prism of sectarianism. and then for awhile, everything became about tribes and tribalism. right up until the present, there's very little understanding of tribal society in its dynamics specifically or in syria for that matter.
and now the new thing is sunnis and shia. and i think there are counter examples across the region that show of course, there's sectarianism just as there are other forms of motivation or jewish nationalism. these do reflect realities. at the same time s that the primary. driving force. . . you look at yemen, where now we're told the shia rebels specifically. they are called shia rebels because they can be fit into the wider framework of analysis. how come from the late 1970s they ruled no one ever spoke of shia or minority rule in yemen. because for most you thought it wasn't the issue.
and wasn't the frame for which they understood that relationship. it's about tribal alliances and so on. and fundamentally that's still the case in yemen. then if you look at tunisia, it's almost entirely a sunni country with the exclusion of a few jews, maybe the odd christian, but no shia. and when they use the anti-shia discourse, it has nothing to do with their direct reality. it has to do with the fact that most volunteers come from pe riff yell towns. who have given up on their hopes of the revolution giving a new scope on life, new realities and seek something that fundamentally changes everything. and they go to syria and iraq in terms of anti-shiaism. what that really is is what really drives them, i would
question that. so there's a much more nuanced mix of things where there is a sunni and shia, that's more real in lebanon, syria, iraq, saudi arabia, definitely. whether the sunnis and shias were involved in this are primarily motivated by their sectarian perspective of the other or not, i would question. there's a lot more to it than that. and i think i will stop there. >> let's open it up for another round. >> about yemen, he said there was nothing about shiaism in yemen. there was no iran at that time. and things happen when they came back and start spreading iranian influence. so my question is, it's a
serious question. since the start of the campaign, we have not heard from him, which is very unarab. arab leaders give speeches and so we haven't heard from him. what does this say about the leadership of isis and you talked about the other groups with them. there were like eight groups with islam and isis when it started in iraq. then we don't hear about them. do you think what you talked about some kind of defection. do you think people can pull iraq from under their feet by take i taking the other groups and other people who are supporting him literally, thank you. >> okay, yes, in the back over there. >> hi, i'm associated press. i wanted to ask you all about where should we be thinking about bashar al assad going on
from here? the obama administration made it pretty clear that dealing with isis is the number one priority right now, not dealing with assad. what i heard today is that the pentagon's plan or three-year campaign for fighting isis is pretty optimistic. so are we looking at not dealing with assad for three-plus years going on, or how do you see any kind of resolution to what is cle clearly something that's going to destabilize the region for some time as it has already, thank you. >> yes, sir, please. >> it's a pretty depressing picture. are there any stabilizing forces at all for the region and what would a stable middle east look like? >> let me add also if you can
elaborate on the new role on fighting isis and the relationship between the syrian and iraqi kurds now, particularly the kurds that are holding of isis. and i think we have five minutes to answer all these questions. so maybe we can start with joe this time. >> the question of assad i think i concluded on that i think at least in iraq and lebanon when you see the nature and the depth of the syrian feeling of humiliation, this franchising and et cetera, regardless of how real and how constructive and overperceived it is, it's another debate. it tells us that, in fact, without the political component to what is happening, political component meaning a political
reconstruction of these koun i tries, a new political fact, which has to do with authoritarian regimes and the way it was described in the past, which is resemiblant to the regime. regardless of that it, i think all other military answers drones sending, strikes and et cetera are nice but they won't lead anywhere. provided they won't also amplify violence and the recruitment of jihadists or radicals in the future. so that's the first level of answer. now on syria, also regardless of their narratives and what their assessment is assad partly responsible of the creation and rise of isis, which i partly believe, but it's not only the case. isis existed before and will exist probably or another form of radical jihadism will exist
after assad. this is beyond the question. it's sure that it will be the case. but also it raises the question of the feasibility. let's put aside earthics or a normative approach to that question. should assad leave or not, everybody has their opinion. but in terms of technical feasibility of the issue, i think that so far what we see, the western coalition putting aside assad factor in the struggle or crusade against isis, if i want to use terms is backlashing so far. for instance, give you an example. yesterday something new occurred northwest of syria where they attacked one of the labeled moderate rebellious factions in syria. the syrian revolution and very
directly under the argument that these people are today only fighting isis and forgetting about the core of the revolution, which is fighting assad. so if at one point there are no two legs in this fighting against what's happening or trying to curb what's happening in the region, two legs, i.e., fighting and curbing isis and the relatives of isis and seeking a political solution to the regimes in that region, to the political construction in that region, i think that this one leg approach will soon falter and probably fall down and produce unintended consequences. so even if you put ethics aside or political normativism, by mere fact, we have to include a political component and in syria it has to do with something called the assad question and political solution for syria if we know what is a political
solution for syria. >> thank you. >> where is the million dollar question? if i knew the answer, i wouldn't be sitting here today. it appears he's keeping a low profile after the first flamboyant public appearance in mosul. but in terms of the factions, i was a few weeks after the fall of mosul. i spoke to an iraqi christian whose family fled as isis advanced. he said, according to him, it's true that they were only about 800 to 1,000 isis fighters who made the initial push into mosul. but he said the next morning there were 10,000. what does this mean? mere membership offi isis as fluid. they have managed to defeat a
30,000-strong iraqi army. but this is why i think isis can't maintain their supremacy because they have kicked out very successfully kicked out the mutual enemy and now their attention is focused on each other. who that will be, i don't know. other nonislamic tribal forces, it's not clear who is going to come out on top, but isis is losing ground today. sunni tribes are turning. some sunni tribes are turning. they are usually a good indicator of which ways the winds are blowing. that's where i see the father is going to diminish u. they have massive economic problems to deal with, especially in mosul. i can't remember who first said
this in june. isis went from one of the richest to one of the poorest states in the world. that's why i say they are not going to maintain their trip. how, who, when, i honestly can't say. >> i'll take on the question and try to make this brief. the pkk fighting isis, one thing this whole bit has done is elevated the pkk. and i say pyd as well. they have become, at least in the eyes of most kurds, legit u miezed. that coincides with the fact when the forces withdrew from sinjar, it was the pkk that saved them. there have been demonstrations and mobilizations a -- tens of thousands, so pkk is emerging as a hero.
there are kurds in iraq that are leaving to join this group. you'll see they'll have these young fighters who don't have a quarter of the weapons of the kurds in iraq and they are still able to maintain. this has really reenforced their image. weapons have been distributed to the pyd and has been a differentiation has semilegitimized them as well. the relationship between these two groups. there's two main trends in the region. there's the group who dreams to be king of all the kurds and there's the pyd/pkk group. both of them, they are not having an outright civil war, particularly since the pkk is lodged in the mountains in the north of iraq. however, this has this joint isis partnership certainly has brought the two groups together who have been feuding over the past couple of years. they have built a trench and forbid the pyd leaders from entering the kurdistan region.
the fact that the blockade is gone and now the pyd leader can step foot in irbil is a a big thing. however, i don't think the very fact that barzani represents the envoy and as long as he represents the envoy and as long as the kurdish problem in turkey is not only not getting resolved but worsening, these power struggles are still going on. they are distreat between where the pyd and how far the groups can go. for example, now that turkey has permitted some kurdish peshmerga to enter syria, it was only the kdp. so there's going to be some power struggles and some game playing. and again they are still tied and very controlled in some ways by turkey. that's going to be a red line for the kurds and syria. i want to make one point about the question about our strategy
to overthrowing assad. i speak on my own behalf, but there seems to be two trends within the coalition. as of this point the united states strategy is not. regime change in syria. there are coalition partners and i will say turkey is one that prioritizes regime change in syria. for the united states it seems that iraq is an easier beast to tackle. there's already a government in place. there are forces on the ground. there are people working in partnerships. syria does not have that. so one of the issues between, i'd say, some u.s. and coalition partners in turkey is turkey wants the no-fly zone, the buffer zone and overthrowing the assad regime. so i don't see that in the larger game plan unless we want to have more than three-year plus commitment to fixing syria. >> you have the last short word.
>> i just wanted to say that i think the u.s. does not have the option and should not exercise the option of dealing with the a assad regime politically outside of some type of power sharing agreement involving the opposition. that really means power sharing. anything else, i think, can only mean any other form of dealing seriously with the regime -- outside of the context of an agreement means hoping to destroy the opposition, and i think that would be very mistaken, not to mention wrong morally. the only other option, i think for now, the less costly option, which i have argued recently in an article is to work with the regime in russia and the oppositions to engineer truces on the two sides.
total regime truce towards the opposition, total opposition towards the regime with no other political strings attach ed. that is the sort of thing that can be done without fundamentally undermining the opposition and fundamentally extending the regime's life. i should add one thing. that the they would be able to take on isis if only the u.s. supported it or gave it that political cover. the regime is badly stretched and it simply doesn't have the man power and the means to go beyond its current lines, except incrementally. whether by political or military standard, dealing with the assad regime should not be beyond the conditions attached on the truce on both sides u.
>> thank you so much. with that, we come to the conclusion of this session. please join me in thanking or distinguished panelists. [ applause ] we will have a 15-minute coffee break and. come back to discussion coalition dynamics, fighting terrorism and other priorities. thank you. more from the conference on the threat of isis with a panel on iran and its role in the region. the opposing interest within iran and its interactions with the u.s.
>> i'm a senior associate in the middle east program here. it's my pleasure to moderate this panel on the iran factor and regional calculations. now we're focusing on this session on a country of e enormous consequence. some would say the strategic pivot around which the entire campaign revolves or if you believe certain narratives the region's indispensable power. now regardless of where you stand on this, iran's involvement and influence on the two key theaters of the anti-isis struggle have profound implications on a number of levels. at the level of military
operation. iran wields enormous power projection capabilities in terms of its relationship with shia militias. its political influence in damascus and baghdad among the factio factions. . and especially at the level of broader geopolitics and its relationship with the united states. iran's alignment with the united states against isis is part of a broader convergence of regional realities that includes the nuclear talks. this has thrust the united states into a delicate balancing act with regards to its traditional allies. but the key question here is what does it mean? is it a flash of tactical convergence in the face of underlying and strategic disagreements with the islamic republic, in light of the revolutionary guards in a world view. in this panel, we want to explore all these issues
highlighting the view of the islamic state from tehran. their view of how transformative is this movement for iran's position and interests, the policies that it is pursuing at the military, political and diplomatic level. and what does this all mean for the region and especially the united states. now all of our panelists both those are that are present and -- actually, they just stepped in, very good. they all bring enormous expertise. and i'm delighted to welcome them. to my right is senior fellow at the council on foreign relations, a long-time scholar of the islamic republic. he's published numerous publications and served in. government as an adviser on iran at the department of state. and just joining us is senior research fellow at the national defense university. he's a historian by training, but more importantly, he brings
an enormous wealth of on the ground operational experience in iraq as an adviser to general petrae petraeus. to my left, my colleague a long time student of iran here at karn give. >> thanks, again, for inviting me. i'll just say a couple of things as a way of introduction to what they have to say. first of all, i think if you're looking at the middle east today, my talk is already being provocative. if you look at the middle east today, it's a very different
middle east than the one that we grew up in. one of the things that was said about prur u to the arab spring is whatever the deficiencies of the state power may have been, the state governments in the middle east were often corrupt, certainly economically mismanaged, but they have command of their territory. that's no longer the case in a number of middle eastern countries. that's not the case in iraq or in yemen, syria, it's never been the case. this is essentially you're beginning to see the fragmentation of middle eastern states along sectarian and ethnic cleavages. this creates enormous opportunities for a mischiefous actors looking at it. as the state power decomposes and as you see people clustering
together in various identity groups, at the same time, what has taken place in the region is a cold war in the 1960s it was call called the arab cold war which pitted what was called radical republics against conservative monarchies. a similar cold war has descended and is pitting the islamic republic of iran against saudi arabia. this cold war is playing itself out in a lot of different places where you already see measure of sectarian fragmentation. certainly in lebanon, iraq and again in syria and elsewhere in the gulf. fred has written about -- the saudi claims of the mischief are exaggerated, but perhaps not without evidence. so you begin to see, in my view, isil is not a new phenomenon, but in the future we'll see many
isils. again, history of the middle east had isils before. in the early 20th century there was a sunni radical group sort of galloping across the arabian heartland beheading people, sanctioning its activities by using islam. and you see other sort of things like that taking place. at the time when the state is no longer in control of his territory and people are relying their u religion and tribesmen and so on for protection and services, you are likely to see manifestation of many such groups that happen. now iran has always had a contradictory of policy towards iraq and i would say rather consistent policy towards syria. toward iraq it always thought that iraq should remain a
unitary state, but at the same time, a weakened state. it sought in iraq that was dominated by political actors, but made some accommodations for the sunni minority. . he began to see the tension between the two. some of the problems of the sectarian polarization that has taken place in the region is a product of your own. so some extent, they are suffering from the problems that help create themselves. they are pushing the regime in different directions. i also don't think it will be material. i do think that they tend to
exaggerate the level of support they give as a means of maintaining leverage on all the actors. i don't accept claims that iranians are secretly funding isil. but nevertheless, i think iranians have a capacity of subject. iranian policy has been consistent from 2011 they have maintained that assad would survive. and they didn't think history was going to redefine itself. unlike the russian federation, i don't think iranians are necessarily beholden on the assad person, but some measure of influence in syria beyond assad dineny. in both places where you kind of listen to the iranian debates and discussions, they too find themselves very comfortable in the new middle east. which is kind of paradox call because nobody is comfortable.
their claim is that actually they have a history of operating in sort of a murky, muddy places and that has given them experience to deal with the situation better than the united states and in many ways better than the incumbent sunni regimes. there's been a lot of talk about whether the united states should cooperate with iran on arresting the surge of isil. i tend to be skeptical of those claims in the new middle east where the states are weakened and you have ethnic groups rising and factions, you have to have a great deal of tactical convergence but that doesn't result. and i don't think that it should be mistaken for another. iran's vision for the middle east are different than those of the united states. the iranians were responsible for substantial level of harm in
iraq during the time of his occupation by the united states. principally in terms of transporting missions and training militias that e lacerated american forces in that particular country. and they have played a mischievous and unhelpful rule in terms of the syrian conflict. so i'm not -- also their vision of the middle east and particularly their vision of the gulf is one where american interests is diminished on its way out. . and also this is one of the things that often is never discussed. iranians have rejected cooperation with the united states toward isil. that's the beginning point and it ought to be the end point. one of the things you can say is he's a person of sbintegrity. he's not corrupt and voracity. he tells you exactly what he
means. he's made his views on the united states an international history quite plain. you can reject those, but his views are consistent and elaborates quite frequently. i'm not sure if there's likely to be significant degree of cooperation. there's no commonality of views or a shared vision of the middle east. there will be contact call convergence. but i'm not quite sure if that will result in a larger harmonious relationship. iran remains what it has been for a long time. weaknesses should be appreciated. it is a weaker power in the
negotiation. s. and there are organic strategic barriers. there are likely to remain what they are and have been for a long time. one has maybe some alliances among the shia groups, but i don't buy the claims of predominance over the middle east. nobody can be a power in the middle east. the united states has not been able to be the power in the middle east. great britain was not. i'm not seeing iran as a threat to dominate the middle east, but i also think it will be a bothersome actor whose surges can nevertheless be contained. >> perfect. >> build. ing on that, i will turn it over to you to discuss iran and iraq. >> it's my copy of my remarks. i'm going to try to remove.
i will e e-mail them if anyone is interested. i should state up front that i'm here to give my own views and i don't purport to speak for national defense university, which is kind enough to host me and my project or for dod or anyone else in the government. and i also don't purport to be an expert on the inner workings of the iranian regime. i can only speak of what i observed of the behavior in iraq during the time that i was in iraq and have been following iraq essentially since we invaded, but more intensely since 2005. and based on what i saw in iraq from 2005 onward, i think you cannot escape the fact that the iranian regime waged a war against the united states.
the united states sponsored a long and broad military campaign against the u.s. military and against other representatives of the u.s. government inside iraq as well as those of our allies that were present in iraq. so i'd like to break my remarks into two different aspects. the first is to talk about the nature of that iranian military campaign against us in iraq and in what i think it meant about iranian intentions toward us. and then to back out from that a little bit and to talk about maybe what it indicates for iranian intentions in iraq now that we're gone or -- since we left as a large scale force at the end of 2011. so getting a bit technical, the way that we know that the iranian regime was waging a war inside iraq and intended to do
so in the military senses you can follow several signature weapons that the iranians produced and disseminated inside iraq in which curiously were never proliferated beyond groups that were affiliated with iranian regime. so they weren't copied, they weren't up for sale in a weapons bizarre that the iranians were able to control their distribution and their use once they were inside iraq. they were only used by shia militant groups that were trained, funded, armed, otherwise sponsored and politically sponsored by the iranian rescream. the signature weapons, never, other than a handful of occasions, fell into sunni insurgent hands. the first was the road side bomb or the ied, which was a
sophisticated anti-armor weapon which could destroy virtually any armored vehicle, et cetera that the u.s. military had in its arsenal as well as the coalition had in their arsenal and did a great deal of damage to us over the course of about six years. second was 240 millimeter rockets, which are produced in iran in which showed up on the battlefield in iraq in great numbers and were used only by shia militant groups associated with the iranian regime and the last was something called the improvised rocket assisted munitions. which is something like a propane tank or container packed full of explosives and shrapnel and is put on the top of a rocket and then shot like a blunder bus usually over the walls of a base intended to cause mass casualties. there were numerous times during the war when iranian-sponsored militias tried to fire those
against our bases trying to aim them at areas where our troops were sleeping or gathering. things like dining facilities, places they could kill a lot of people all at once. it was the version of the marine bar r barracks bombing in beirut, but it was intended to gather the shock value of a mass casualty event. they never succeeded in that. they killed smaller numbers of our troops and contractors and so on, but they came close on a handful of occasions. had they done so, can you imagine if, for example, the problem is it's not very accurate weapons. you can't aim a blunder bus very accurately and get it where you're trying to aim. it had they been able to pull that off, they could have killed 200 of our troops. between 2005 and 2008 there were
over 1,000 efp detonations against us and against other coalition members inside iraq. and during that time, there were also more than 500 efps that were found and diffused before they went off. that means over the four-year period, there were more than 1,700 efp attacks or intended attacks against us and our coalition partners inside iraq. but if you narrow it down just to 2007 and 2008, the surge period, it was even greater. there were just under 900 efp detonations across those two years and more than 400 that were found and diffused before they went off, meaning there were just under an average two attacks a day during the period of the surge. they did a great deal of damage, and i can give you some snapshots. during the last quarter of 2006, efp attacks accounted for 1 in 5
of our and coalition troop deaths in iraq. in the month of july 2007 alone, our multinational core iraq at the time was tracking 99 efp at month alone. and during that month, those efps killed troops. they began using. operatives inside iraq to coordinate and help plan operations against our troops. such as the infamous senior lebanese operative who was captured in early 2007 after
having had a hand in carrying out an attack against our troops that wound up with the execution of several of our soldiers. there was also a a spike in efp and rocket and iranian rocket attacks against our troops in june and july of 2011. so just about three years ago. when efps killed 18 of our soldiers in that six-week period.
would have kept a residual u.s. force in place, something that i think they succeeded in having an affect in doing. now, to switch gears for a moment and talk about broader lessons from the technical details, to my mind, what this meant was the iranians were able to destabilize iraq during the time we were there in order to try and force us out militarily. that ran counter to the assumptions or perceived opinion here which ran that the iranians and we had a shared interest in a stable and nonviolent iraq. i don't think the facts bear that out. i think the facts show that they
were willing to -- they were willing to have as crocker put it, free of our serious influence. i think this stems from the broader interests that the particular views that iran should have in iraq. i think -- i think they are intended to defeat five dangers from iraq for the islamic republic. the first is that the iraqi military should -- i think the ircg's view, should never again be allowed to pose a threat to the iranian republic, like it did in the war. so want to defeat our efforts to build-up a strong
western-modeled iraqi nationalist army and air force. and so far they essentially succeeded in that. but more recently, we have seen them trying to replace that strong iraqi army institution with a militia-focused alternate security apparatus that looks an awful like the irgc. i think what the iranians are trying to do is raise up an alternate military structure in iraq so they can be sure there will never be an iraqi military and invade iran and pose a threat to the republic. it was important for them to try and suppress iraqi national identity, and it was important the rockie shia community viewed itself as shia first and not arab first, and through their
praub proxies, they have done that. and it should never be a platform for a group, or for other iranian potential adversary, such as us. it was important. sadr movement not be allowed to develop as a nationalist competitor, shia islamis competitor. it's why they sponsored their groups inside iraq, and it was important for them to do that within the sadr movement, so they could co-op that movement and control it. i don't need to comment on this too much, but it was for important them to contain the influence, so it could be a threat to the islamic republic's legitima legitimacy, and that's why it was important to have a shia militant proxy community, that
they could use that fear that could be a challenge to the influence. i will leave it at that. >> super, joel. thank you for that detailed look. kari karim, we are going to close with you. >> well, i would like to first thank carnegie for inviting me, and even though i work here i never take anything for granted. in giving the talk a few years ago, i would start with bullet points, but we are trying to become social media conference, and i will start with a few tweets. first points related to iran, and second points related to iran and the u.s. the first point is that in the fight against isis, iran is both
arsonist and the fire brigade. that's perhaps pointing out the obvious, but had it not been support for the regime's brutality, and for the malaky government's heavy handedness, arguably isis would not exist or be as strong as it is now. in the front line battles against isis, iran is playing an incredibly important role, as we have seen over the last few weeks with the tweets of sulimani on the front lines in regards to isis. in regards to the wisdom of the united states partnering with iran to fight isis, as mentioned, iraq rejected that cooperation, but i would add that iran can be effective at simultaneously killing sunni
radicals and also fueling sunni radicalism. it's similar to the israeli fight against the palestinian militants. i think that using shiite radicals to fight sunni radicals is arguably going to fuel sunni radicalism. the second point i would like to make, an observation about iran's role in the region, in the past and certainly in the previous decade and in the early years of the revolution, iran used its ideology to project power, and i think increasingly they are using their power to project ideology. what does that mean? ten years ago, 15 years ago, there was a lot of popular support in the arab world for iran. in 2006, when arabs were polled
about which leaders and countries in the region they most admired, iran was close to the top given iran's opposition to the united states and opposition to israel, and it had power throughout the region, and now we have a situation in which iran is really dominating four arab countries, syria, iraq, lebanon, and now yemen, but they are not dominating them in terms of the soft power but increasingly dominating them militarily. this is a position in which iran is not very comfortable with -- they would much prefer to have soft power and soft appeal throughout the region rather than having to wield military power and being perceived as a sectarian power. i think that one of the things in which iranian leaders express
concerns about is this increasingly divided muslim word, and a divided muslim world is not good for iran, and if you represent 10% of the region's muslim, you don't want divided, you want united which you can lead, not divided which you have to dominate. i would also say in terms of shia huh sto historyography, th to be victimized and retain the ideology of being victimized rather than being perceived as the oppressors. they are increasingly dominating the region, but it's not a position in which they are comfortable with. no
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