tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 26, 2014 9:00am-11:01am EST
for municipalities, what we referring to as the ending balance, it's very much like the end of your month with your checking account in your own household. that is what you haven't spent. and that gets rolled over into the next fiscal year as cash that can be spent to cover whatever services. and typically municipalities hold onto those reserves for emergencies, as the mayor said, and sometimes to build up the
reserves so they can make a cash investment in a capital infrastructure to build a city hall or to do something like that and also to keep the bond rating agencies happy, to demonstrate that they are good stewards of the fiscal resources. so if you noticed the trend over time, it was much less than what we are now at about 22% of expenditures. some 25 or 30 years ago it was much less. what cities have done over the last 25 and 30 years is they've realized several things. one, that you can't predict the future as we all witnessed this last winter when salt reserves for at least the northern cities and some southern as well ran out very early and they had to dig into their reserves to buy more salt and snowplowing services. so preparing for these unexpected emergencies is one of the reasons that the reserves tend to grow over time. the other is that between the time that we started monitoring ending balances in the general fund to the present is that the federal government has become a much smaller actor or player in
the finances of municipalities. in the late 1970s, around 14%, 15% of all general revenues of municipalities came from the federal government. today it's 3% to 4%. the cities have to rely on their own resources, their own understanding of what's financially smart for them to do, and that means holding onto more and more resources in case there is an emergency, to demonstrate to the emergency, whether it's mother nature related or emergencies that come about because of other things such as water main breaks and those sorts of things you can't always anticipate, as well as holding up their bond rating so they can demonstrate that they can borrow because they have the cash reserves in hand as well as being -- collecting funds for investment in a capital asset that they wouldn't have to borrow for that they could use the cash. so i think what we're seeing time is cities are adjusting to those changes of what's required
of them and being much better stewards of their own financial resources, much the same way that households are stewards of their own resources. >> that praovides a great segue. there's a saying that the federal government has all the money. the state government has the all the power and the local government gets all the problems. at the end of the day, we have to get it done. there's no one to pass that onto, these unfunded mandate that is trickle down for us whether we are in good economic times or bad economic times. the trash has to get picked up. the health departments have to be open. the police and fire have to be able to respond. and so for us we are going to manage it one way or the other, but i think that when we are doing better, which we are doing now, now is the time to plan for the cities to grow, to make those capital investments, and i'm a huge proponent of keeping our municipal bonds tax-free
because it is the opportunity for us to make those major investments. money is cheap right now, so i think all cities across the country recognize that. as it relates to really saving and carrying over our fund balances, very important to us and thankfully, especially houston, we had a hefty fund balance so when it really got tight on us, we were able to draw down those, and i will agree as a cfo of the city, that is not a good thing to do all the time, but it's good to have it -- it's always good to have a rainy day fund because it rained a lot for many cities across the country over the last few years. so i think a balanced approach is the order of the day. when you are at the municipal level, you have to remember you represent people. we can -- we're not like general motors, we can't raise the price of the cadillac when we need more money. we have to be very cognizant of, one, the people who pay into the tax base and how it's affecting them because it all -- it's all
interrelated. if people don't have more money to spend, they can't buy more washers and dryers, we don't get more sales tax. if they can't buy homes, we don't get the property tax. if we overtax them, it's just all a vicious cycle, but at the end of the day cities i think will persevere, will continue to provide the services at the level that people expect but we will also be fiscally responsible and i think everybody knows that the tashtion payer expects us to be fiscally responsible. >> well, at risk of beating a dead horse, i'm going to do it anyway. one of the cutting edge things really in terms of state and local government finances right now is reserve balances, and not just the fact that they need more, because everybody can just say, well, they need more. as ron said, it's not just needing more. it's they need to know exactly how much they need to have without being too conservative and choking off those vital city services. we've done a lot of research in terms of stress testing state
balance sheets and state fiscal conditions. i know there are a lot of people who are working their way down to the local government as well. pew has done some really good work. it's something that has to be done now while we're cautiously optimistic, while we're coming out now. if we wait a few more years down the line, we'll get caught flat-footed again. one of the biggest problems going into the great recession, one of the reasons why, again, we're so sluggish coming out was states and local governments in general just didn't have enough reserve money put away because in the past the local governments have been able to depend on the state governments, and the state governments didn't have enough reserves so a lot of times the cities and the townships and the school districts got kind of left out. both levels of government need to be taking a better look at what their reserve policies are and maybe implementing certain statutory requirements in place because as we talked about earlier, states, local governments, it all rolls
downhill and without being able to take care of themselves, cities are really going to have to keep an eye out on the future because there's no guarantee that that help will be there. >> thank you. to close this out today, i would add that fiscal conditions are strength being. the economic downturn was so deep that full recovery is still on on the horizon. positive indicators can be seen across a wide range of areas from property to sales and income tax collections. at the same time these are tempered by challenges from increased cost of services, ongoing pension and health care costs, long-term infrastructure needs, and decreased levels of state and federal aid. overall, with economic recovery in the centrality of cities, we will see sol fid fiscal growth well into the future. thank you all for joining us here today. [ applause ]
here is a look at what's ahead today on c-span3. next, the carnegie endowment looks at the role isis is playing in the middle east nation building. then a discussion about the impact of political candidates' debates. and later a look at campaign finance issues. here is a look at tonight's prime time programming here on c-span3. at 8:00 eastern remarks by the president of kennedy center, deborah rutter on the importance of arts education. on c-span2 at 8:00. citizenship conference discussing what it means to be a citizen. and on c-span at 8:00, more congressional retirement interviews with michigan democratic senator carl levin
and texas republican congress ralph hall, part of our week-long series. this thanksgiving week c-span is featuring interviews from retiring members of congress. watch the interviews tonight through thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> as much as we've accomplished in 36 years, and i don't want to look back at that so much as to look forward to the next couple months, and in the next couple months there's a couple things i'd like to do. one is to get my defense authorization bill passed. this is an annual effort, a major effort involving large amounts of staff. i also want to finish up some work on the permanent subcommittee on investigations looking at some gimmicks which are used to avoid taxes. >> i've been a member of congress for 34 years, and, you know, to finally get beat, if i
was a manager for a baseball or a football team and i had a 34-1, i'd be in the hall of fame. so it doesn't bother me, and really it didn't bother me to get beat because i wasn't just set on going but i had 18 co-chairmen who were chairmen of my 18 counties in my district that were supporting me and wanted me to run, and i did. >> and also on thursday, thanksgiving day, we'll take an american history tour of various native american tribes. that's at 10:00 a.m. eastern following "washington journal." then at 1:30, attend the ground breaking ceremony of the new diplomacy center in washington with former secretaries of state. and supreme court justices clarence thomas, samuel alito and sonia sotomayor at 8:30 p.m. eastern. that's this thanksgiving week on c-span. for our complete schedule, go to cspan.org. the carnegie endowment for international peace recently head an all-day forum examining
the reasons isis is thriving and expanding in the middle east. panelists looked at the threat posed by isis, the rise of extremists, and authoritarian rule followed the arab awakening. this is just over 90 minutes. >> good morning. i'm katherine wilkins from the carnegie eni doment and i want to welcome you all to this all-day conference this morning.
the topic is isis and the shifting geopolitical dynamics of the middle east. the islamic state and the levant leapt into public and international consciousness earlier this year with the horrible beheadings of western journalists. since that time the public debate over the situation in the region has often tended to be oversimplified and focused on isis itself and the effort to degrade and destroy it. today offers us all an opportunity to step back and look deeper at the complex dynamics in the region today and the forces and conditions that are shaping the political and security situation in iraq, syria, and lebanon as well as the actions and the policies of neighboring countries in the region. we have an excellent group of carnegie and regional speakers -- experts speaking today. our last session will be with deputy national security adviser anthony blinken. that session will begin promptly at 3:00 p.m. and anyone atte
attending will be asked to remain seated until mr. blinken leaves the building. finally, we have c-span and a number of other news agencies filming the conference today. i ask you to please be conscious as you move around in the back of the room. now, with no further ado, i'll turn the microphone over to marwan washer, vice president of policy and director of the middle east program who will moderate our first panel. thank you. >> thank you very much, katherine, and thank you for organizing this conference at such a timely time. the reason we were late, and i'm sorry we are, a bit, is because we just stepped out of a meeting in which our president, jessica matthews, announced that she would be stepping down after 18 years of service and of leading the carnegie endowment to where it is today offering a unique global vision and that deputy
secretary of state bill burns is going to succeed her on february 4th. so i thought i would share the news with you. okay. so our panel this morning will forecuss on iraq, syria, lebanon, and the kurds. while we have included the islamic state in the title of the session, we want to go well beyond the islamic state and consider the local roots of the current fragmentation and violence in these countries as well as the challenges posed by the rising influence of nonstate actors, including radical islamist groups such as isis, al nus nusra, and others. our focus will be on understanding the key factors influencing the political and security dynamics in these countries and the likely impact of the international coalition's engagement in the region. finally, we will also examine the dynamics between the kurdish region of government and baghdad
as well as shifting relations between different kurdish groups, including the pkk and syrian and iraqi kurdish factions and implications for the region. i'm very pleased to have with me an extremely strong group of panelists this morning. they include our own senior associate at the carnegie middle east center who will be joining us by video conference. i hope he's there. i can't see him from here. his research has focused on the dynamics of the syrian conflict and security sector transformation in the arab world. we are also joined by an associate fellow of the middle east and north africa program. he was formerly a researcher at the center for academic shia studies. his research has focused on iraq, clerical authority in shia
islam and middle eastern history and politics. and to the far left is denise natalie, a senior fellow at the defense national university here in washington. denise was formerly a researcher working in the kurdish regions of iraq, turkey, iran, and syria. she specializes on the kurdish issue, regional energy security and post-conflict state building. and finally to my immediate left is joseph bahut has just joined us here in d.c. as a visiting scholar at the carnegie end endowme endowment. he's a professor and searcher in paris and a research adviser. hiss research has focused primarily on lebanon and syria. with that i'll turn the floor to yazid from -- where are you? are you in beirut?
>> yes, i am. the sequence you had me on the agenda which was last so i'm going to ask you to stick to that, if you could. >> sure. you want to be last? >> well, not first anyway. >> that is fine. that is fine. i'm always afraid technology will not be helpful and -- but hopefully it will be today and we will keep yazid with us to the end. then, if that's okay with you, then we'll turn to hidir. >> i'd like to thank the carnegie endowment for inviting me today. it's a great pleasure to be on this distinguished panel. i was invited today to address the situation in iraq, the outlook for the new government, the efforts to disengage sunnis
from isis, and the role of iran in the shia militias. i'll start by saying prime minister abaddy is clearly making many steps in the right direction. some of these have been symbolic. he's banned the use of his pictures in all government buildings, security checkpoints, military establishments, but others such as dissolving the office of the commander in chief are serious attempts to break away from maliki's policies. in fact, many of you know that office was established by maliki to bypass the military chain of command and move iraqi army units without even the knowledge of the ministry of defense. of course, the key security policy now
abadi is trying to push and even some shia partners are hesitant about is this idea of the national guard.
it's one of the key demands of the sunni arabs and abadi is serious about establishing and standing up these armies. it's clear that the sunni arabs will no longer tolerate central government forces, especially sectarian iraqi soldiers who man checkpoints and control security, so the proposed bill of the national guard would not just draw up soldiers to protect the provinces, but 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, a necessary one to empower sunnis to push back against isis, but it could very well be a serious problem in the future, especially if there are cross provincial security incidents
as we've seen over the last years. for example, if militants cross anbar and conduct terrorist operations, it won't just be
groups facing each other, but in effect many armies, a sunni army versus a shia army and it's not clear how the central government is going to react or even control these units because they will be answerable to the governor. and, of course, as with everything else in iraq, the devil is in the details. who makes up the units in the sunni provinces and who makes up the units in the shia provinces? will it be conscription, shia militias, 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 worked out. i also just want to mention abadi is very different to maliki in terms of his leadership style, about you that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to be successful. so friends of abadi who have worked for decades with him say he's the exact opposite of maliki though he comes from the same context, the same party,
the same islamist sort of conspiratorial, paranoid background. he's much more open than maliki and this could be his downfall as well. where maliki was stubborn, refused to listen to even his closest advisers, abadi is seen to be too open. he listens too much. he wants everybody's opinion around the table, and is seen even by some of his friends as indecisive. maybe the office of the prime ministership is going to force him to react, but this is definitely something to watch out for. i also want to say it's interesting that abadi is the first iraqi prime minister who isn't the preferred candidate of iran. iran up until the last minute lobbied very aggressively to keep maliki in power for a third term, and it wasn't actually the americans or the shia arrivals
or the sunnis or isis or the kurds. it will ayatollah sistani which effectively blocked iranian dreams of a third term. so we talk about iranian influence in iraq but it's not a one-way street. i would just nuance that with saying that whatever leverage iran lost because of that decision, they have more than made up due to the reliance on the iraqi government on ideologically driven shia militias. these are the militias who are holding the lines on the outskirts of baghdad. they prevented the fall of sa r samarra which was crucial and remains crucial in preventing an all out sunni/shia war. i was in baghdad on june 10th when mosul fell, and the contrast between how the americans reacted and the iranians reacted will have long-term negative consequences on iraq.
so after the isis advance, obama, you know, he saw this as bush's war, a country he'd rather ignore, very little engagement, at least serious engagement, with iraq. and even as isis was encroaching on the capital, the americans -- the obama administration kept signaling there needs to be political reform in exchange for military supports. contrast this with the iranians who immediately mobilized. they stood up and sped up the mobilization of shia militias. irgc -- within 24 hours he was there, he was personally checking up on the checkpoints on the outskirts of baghdad. the iranians sent weapons to the kurds, to the shias, to the central government. they even sent back iraqi fighter jets leftover from the
'91 war. so in other words, with isis advancing closer to baghdad, the americans dithered whilst the iranians mobilized to essentially save iraq. earlier this month i was in tehran for a workshop in iranian foreign policy. now, the meeting was held under the chatham house rule but one line we kept hearing was, iran saved iraq whilst america failed to, and at the time a senior iraqi official told me, and i quote, both the u.s. and iran are our strategic allies but iran doesn't let its friends down in times of need and this is why i say it will have long-term consequences not just on how the shia who dominate baghdad view the iranians but how the sunnis will continue to view the shia dominated government. and, of course, this has been made worse with the recent appointment of a politician from
a group created and supported by iran. one thing i'd like to touch on during my initial remarks is one of the key shifts i have seen in the political discourse in baghdad over the last few months, and it's been how the shia masses have reacted to the isis crisis. we're all familiar with sunni disinfranchisement, kurdish frustration with the central governments, but now the shia themselves feel less committed to iraq as a nation state. more and more shia essentially see iraq as an iraq that runs between baghdad and basra and to hell with the rest. there's an increasing sentiment from baghdad to the south, if the kurds want to have kirkuk, let them have it, let them fight with the sunni arabs. if isis wants anbar and mosul, let them fight with the sunni tribes. it's not our problem. and, of course, this is
dangero dangerous. it's a dangerous sentiment -- it's not going to bode at all well for unity in iraq. and the vast majority of iraqi shia know and understand that the vast majority of iraq's wealth lies deep in the shia south. isis may have a long arm but it's not somewhere they can penetrate due to simple demographic reasons. so the shia are confident that they can protect this iraq, contain isis from this iraq. and just to put the sentiment into context, it's worth remembering just five years ago, the only shia political party that was pushing for shia states was the islamic council, the islamic supreme council of iraq and they were heavily punished by the shia voters because they saw it as an iranian plot to control and divide iraq. five years later given the rise of isis, more shia are open to this idea, and it's not just a sentiment on the grassroots level. the very first press conference
abadi gave, it wasn't picked up i think by the international media, one key line he mentioned at the very end of his presser was, and i quote, i will not be ready in the future to send units from the south to fight in anbar. i want the people of anbar to liberate anbar, and i will support them. now, of course, the backdrop to this is a widely held sentiment in the south of why are we dieing in places like anbar? why are our sons being slaughtered and massacred in places like tikrit? it isn't our problem and we shouldn't be wasting resources or we shouldn't be dying to save sunni towns. and on that note the key battle i think to watch out for is the coming sunni war over who controls the territory that now isis dominates. i do think it's only a matter of time before we see a showdown between the baathists and the islamists, and we did see signs of this after the initial mosul advance. it was quickly settled swiftly
by isis which essentially killed anyone who stood in their way and assassinated key baathist commanders. but given now it seems the whole world has turned against isis with the exception of perhaps turkey, i don't think isis is going to sustain its supremacy in sunni areas at least in iraq. as popular as they are now, i think the other insurgent groups will be able to sway local loyalties and isis is already losing ground in iraq. also, isis way implode from within. it's no secret that many of the senior key military commanders are ex-baathists who served under saddam hussein's regime. so i question i ask myself is are we to believe that these hard core, secular, pan arab, anti-islamist baathists, southernly diehard ideologues
and the western media plays heavily into isis town. they take over a town in anbar recently, headline news, everybody is talking about it, oh, my god, they're approaching baghdad. at the same time isis loses dozens of cities and towns and the news is buried somewhere in paragraph eight, page 9 of the "new york times." so it's worth remembering isis even until today couldn't imagine to capture the oil refinery. it's the largest oil refinery, extremely hard to defend, and only a few hundred iraqi special forces until now have stood unagainst isis and it's in their heartland where they control. isis couldn't even capture a town completely surrounded on all sides for over three months. again defended only by a few hundred iraqi shia militias. and isis couldn't take it. the capital of anbar has never fallen. still hasn't fallen to isis. and even now they're losing
hundreds of soldiers in kobani in syria. we're seeing a very strange alliance against isis in iraq. clearly demonstrated in the u.s. air force coming isis checkpoints and vehicles. you have iranian revolutionary guard advisers on the ground directing iranian-backed shia militias who are assisting the federal forces who are being supported by the kurdish peshmerga. it was a couple months ago general petraeus warned that the u.s. air force shouldn't be the air force of the shia militias but at times recently it seemed the u.s. aforce was the air force of the iranians. they were being fed information from the iranians. north of baghdad, the alliance was even stranger because we saw the inclusion of sunni tribes who believe it or not were fighting alongside the shia
militias. one tribal's leader said, and i quote, we are ready to deal with the devil to fight isis. i don't know if by devil he means the central government for the militias, but that is changing, and more and more sunni tribes are actually turning against isis. so i will conclude by saying isis has reached its maximum territorial expansion in iraq. in syria it may have potential to increase, but in iraq they've hit a large natural demographic barrier and if anything they're going to be squeezed now in these territories. there are many reasons for isis' popularity in sunni areas. there is genuine support. there's the element of fear. there's pragmatic reasons. there's ideological reasons. many see isis as restoring sunni dignity or being a voice of the sunnis, but in the shia and kurdish area there is is no such
ambigui ambiguity. there's over my dead body mentality when it comes to eye significan sis. combined with the sunni tribal push back from isis, i think we are witnessing the beginning of the downfall of isis in iraq at least. thank you. >> thank you very much for an insightful presentation, even though i think some aspects of it are worrying if the army in iraq is going to now be divided into sectarian militias in each sector and if the shia now also have the same feeling as the kurds, that they, you know, do not mind being -- going into a state of their own. but to maybe shed more light on the kurdish situation, i want to turn to denise natalie, and i ask that you all limit your presentations to ten minutes.
we have a large number of people here in an overflow room and i'm sure we have lots of questions for the panel. so denise, the floor is yours. >> thank you very much. i would like to thank carnegie -- >> mic! >> oh, can you hear me? >> no. >> okay. now you can hear me. i'd like to thank carnegie, katherine, and note that my comments are my own and not that of the department of defense or u.s. government. i'd like to -- i'll make this brief, seven to ten minutes. i'd like to look at some of the political dynamics in the kurdistan region and move beyond what we have heard as a statement, isis has ruined everything. the kurds were just about to have a state. we heard this in the summer. there was a lot of brouhaha in the news and barzani, the president of the kurdistan region, was going to declare a stage and darn it, isis blew it. actually i'd like to look, it wasn't just because of the islamic state coming -- or isis
coming into mosul on june 10th, that some of the deep political issues not only between the kurds and baghdad but between the kurds and turkey and baghdad and turkey and the kurds across in syria were leading to some of these very deep vulnerabilities in the kurdistan region. if you look at some of these dynamics years back that were in the making, we could see that the region counterintuitively is not becoming more autonomous but, in fact, less. some of the i would say strategic miscal class made by barzani has enhanced the vulnerability of kurdistan region so it's not only more dependent on baghdad but now stuck between baghdad and turkey. i would say now that the patron of the kurdistan region is increasingly becoming turkey alongside baghdad. what's happened, you know, there's the june 10th marker but let's look at some of the key dynamics and trends before june 10th that were there anyway, and
what has the presence of isis done to reinforce or weaken the leverage, and i want to look at what is the political leverage of the kurdistan region and how has it changed. there were three big issues. again, we know there has always been movement to enhance the internal sovereignty of the kurdistan region since 2005 because the 2005 constitution allowed it to. and you had issues of disputed -- i'll give you the three big ones. disputed territories, the issue of independent oil exports, and, of course, creating an independent state via turkey. one of these big issues of the disputed territories, and i really do see the isis dynamics playing out, not coincidentally in the northern iraqi disputed territories, because there has been a push by the kurdistan region since 2003, from 2003 to 2008 or '10, a movement into some of these areas. these are sunni arab areas.
these are minority areas, they're in kirkuk and in some areas of di allah. that had not changed and that had still remained an issue of dispute not only between the kurds and baghdad, and as was discussed, as you're starting to see some of the shia say, you take it, this is not our problem, that this is becoming now a problem between the kurds and those populations directly, and by that i mean the sunni arabs and the minority populations. that remains very sensitive, and so when you started having now oil contracts being signed in disputed territories, even though the governor of mosul made a switch and now he's cutting deals with barzani, there are sunni arab tribal groups, people that do not support him that are very much against some of what they refer to as kurdish encroachments in these territories. so when june 10th arrived and i
was with some of these folks about three weeks later, there was a lot of excite am, new maps were coming out, the kurds had 1,000 kilometer border now with isis, 45% more territory. so that overnight the kurdistan region expanded from about 40,000 to 95,000 square kilometers, and part of that included kirkuk, okay? so that issue remains, and it didn't go away after june 10th. the second one was the oil exports. remember, in may of this year, and this has been a long, ongoing dispute. there's no hydrocarbon flow with baghdad but there's also been the kurds increasing effort to develop an economy of oil exports independent of baghdad. now, in may of this year, one month before the isis came in and took over mosul, the kurds did make this unthinkable break with president erdogan and they exported the oil out. what happened in the iraqi
parliament. and this was during the so-called government coalition formation period. the shia group said the kurds have done something, we canted form a coalition with them. in some ways in the beginning isis saved the kurds a bit from this predicament because there was no iraqi group in baghdad willing to support these independent oil exports, and i say this because i would say this is beyond abadi, beyond the new prime minister. this was going on when this budget dispute occurred, that is the other oil producing provinces are starting to say, this is not fair. why are the kurds receiving so much money and not giving back to the iraqi state? that sentiment has not changed. in fact, it's probably become reinforced. third is the idea of
increasing -- and this was from one group in the kurdistan region and this would largely be the barzani group, that the kurds didn't need baghdad and they truly would become independent. and so be it, they may become a vassal state but it would be better than being part of baghdad. a good part south of erbil were very much against this or very worried about it. what happened after june 10th is, in fact, has the kurdistan region gained more leverage? has this worked to the kurdistan region, and are they -- is it well on its way to becoming more independent? and my answer would be clearly no. now, what has happened to the kurds' benefit, as i said, more territory, kirkuk, they're swearing they will never give it back to the baghdad government. and there's been obviously a nationalist surge that the kurdish peshmerga are finally back in erbil -- sorry, kirkuk
and there's a transborder transnational surge by kobani and syria and the international partnerships that the kurds have established as part of the coalition against isis, military weapons, light weapons, and a coalition support. this has been to the kurds recognition internationally. but the bad news is when you take 1,000 kilometers of border, do you have to defend it. my concern would be in the future that, again, i go back to if the iraqi government and security forces aren't going to be there, somebody will be there and that will be a strong sunni arab militia or a strong sunni arab province. so the american forces, the coalition forces, they're not going to be there forever and they're certainly not going to be the kurdish air force forever. so i would see one of these challenges are going to be the kurds will have to cut a deal not just with baghdad but with the sunni arabs that control these borders. we can call it isis, you can call them the former baathist
military officers, and i see this is going to be very complicating for how the kurds are going to keep these oil fields and keep these territories that are in my view some of the heart and soul of sunni arab nationalism in kirkuk. secondly, this has reinforced the kurdistan's vulnerabilities. the gamble, the oil gamble, how to derisk large-scale exports hasn't worked. okay. the fact that 95% of the kurds' budget came from baghdad and that this deal was refused in april has meant they haven't been able to replace $13 billion a year, but instead you have had billions being borrowed from turkey. you have had further indebtedness internally and almost a collapse of this economy. in addition to the isis threat that, yes, some oil companies have left, called force measure or whatever it may be, you also have the issue of payment.
that who is going to replace baghdad and is turkey able to do it? so turkey in my view has got the kurdistan regional government in pretty much of a control situation. they've got their oil. they can pay them, and they haven't fully paid them. and there is a deep financial crisis right now. this so-called -- well, this was the tourism capital of the arab world, but when you have an isis threat and you have an economy that can be paid, much of this tourism industry has collapsed and the precariousness of the energy sector, despite the fact there still is small-scale, about 200,000 barrels going out, the idea of derisking large-scale exports has not occurred. and finally you have the vulnerability of the kurds and barzani himself as you have the syrian kurdish groups emerging. when the kurds withdrew or the barzani group withdrew, this was
a bit embarrassing for the kurdish peshmerga. it was the pkk who came in and saved some of the ya i did zi forces and this is being played out on the grounds. i hate to say barzani has a bit of face saving to make, but nonetheless, it was the pkk that saved the yazidis, turkey did not come to the defense militarily and the kurds expressed their disappointment. three, the economy is in a state because of this oil gamble and fourth, there's this whole kobani crisis and struggle to save kobani. you're having now this movement authenticate these nationalist credentials coming from each of these different kurdish groups and it gets to my final point which is the internal power struggles. even though that this anti-isis movement certainly has created a kurdish coalition or partnership on the ground, pyd people are
finally able to enter the kurdistan region and they're having meetings, still some of these underlying power struggles are going on. not only between the pkk or pyd and barzani but internal instead the kurdian region. you have a new president from iraq who is from the patriotic union of kurdistan and kirkuk is largely a puk area. this does not bode well for an idea that the kurds are just going to in one unified entity jump on board with turkey. again, the fact that turkey, and i'm still surprised some kurdish groups thought turkey was going to enter and defend the kurds militarily, but this has really cut into the streets of the kurdistan region, that do they really want to become an independent state that has to be fully reliant on turkey? so this is creating some changes on the ground as well and certainly south of erbiel and by that i mean puk, that, you know,
baghdad is the realistic option, and, of course, as discussed, there have been important iranian enforcements in the kurdistan region. the puk, not the kdp peshmerga, have been fighting in these areas that are not privy to coalition air strikes, di allah, south of kirkuk, alongside some of the shia militias as well. you have a lot of these dynamics. when you ask will the kurds become independent, is this a nation building moment? the question is how autonomous can the kurdistan region become and what kind of state do they want to become and how dependent will they be on turkey or baghdad. contrary to popular discourse, i don't see an i want standepende at least inclusive of kirkuk anytime in the future. but this issue of how to negotiate stability, it's going to be beyond baghdad. this is now going to be a kurd,
sunni arab issue. so the dialectic will be there between the central government and kurds when it comes to revenues and payments, but sharing and delineating borders, particularly if the sunni arab groups decide to create their own region, is not or may not necessarily be in the kurds' favor. finally, oil is high risk, and i don't see where the kurds right now have enhanced their leverage when baghdad is certainly not going to pay these oil company contracts. so the question still remains unanswered as how these large-scale exports will be derisked and to be able to sustain the region. so there's either going to have to be a deal cut with turkey or a deal cut with the sunni arabs or a deal cut with baghdad and this may have to force the kurds' hand and may actually have to realize less than what they imagined. thank you. >> thank you very much, denise. perhaps later on in the question and answer session you can elaborate on the evolving relationship with turkey and
turkey's position. >> i only had ten minutes so kind of watching the clock. >> joe? joe will talk about syria and lebanon. >> thank you for carnegie and thank you for you for not only having me in this session and this panel but to welcome me in carnegie and thanks for katherine also. i'm looking forward for several years of intense cooperation with you. in fact, now, lets turn a bit westward and talk about or try to talk about syria and lebanon and the border between syria and lebanon and to try to understand what's exactly happening there and who is doing what. and this will be probably my first point, in fact, trying to shed a light on this nebulous component of radical jihadists that are acting on the border, and what i would try to say in this first point is that -- is the fact that, in fact, the name isis or the brand isis has
become probably a generic brand under which a whole bunch, a very complex bunch of other organizations or actors are put under meaning that we have shades going from isis to al nusra to other groups mainly operating in lebanon on the border and inside the territory, and all this is because probably lack of intelligence or also lack of information and et cetera labeled under the name of isis. now, this is amplified, for instance, in lebanon by the fact that the most vial lent incidents that occurred a year or two from now were not exactly or completely or officially claimed by something called isis. for instance, the bombings in the hotels in beirut or in the southern suburb were claimed by
a group called -- that is directly linked to al qaeda which is not the case of isis. the 44 lebanese soldiers that are today abducted after a battle are also held supposedly, and we still don't have exact info about that, by probably ten of them by isis and others by groups, among them al nusra and others which are still officially unknown or who doesn't have -- or who don't have let's say an official branding or naming. so that is to say that, in fact, the dynamics between what we consider to be isis in the lebanese/syrian region and on the border and other groups is something which is fluctuant and
dynamic. i'll talk a little bit on the syrian landscape, but it sheds a light also on the contradictions and maybe the unintended contradictions and maybe the unintended sequences of the u.s. coalition-led effort to fight isis. prior to the strike of the coalition all info 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 al nusra 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 jabaat al
nusra has so far probably benefited also by the strikes. have benefited also by the labeling of the u.s. and other actors under the terror list, but it also has benefited from the fact that in fact historically, al nus ra to the difference with isis in syria, at least, has been credited to be a very active component and to the anti-assad let's say military campaign or operations. which is not the fact of isis. this in fact sheds the light or emphasized the second point which i would like to talk about which is more on lebanon. which is, in fact, this famous sunni disenfranchising feeling and sentiment. in fact when you look at the lebanese political or security
landscape or security scene, what we can say is the following. the first point or the first striking element is that the hot spots that we are having today in lebanon are partly on the border between lebanon and syria, but partly have, in fact, less to do with what's happening on the border. the first hot spot that began, in fact, in 2012, or 2013, was the city of saida with the famous battle that put in fact in confrontation the lebanese army and the group led by mohammed asir at that moment. and asir is probably someone who is more linked also to the -- al nusra than to isis. the second hot spot which is today very flaring up is the tripoli and northern lebanon. tripoli and the region above
tripoli. this is very interesting, because it tells us something, in fact, which is much more related in fact to the iraqi case than to the syrian case, which means that, in fact, all these hot spots, or points of friction between radical sunniism and other forces are, in fact, largely predating and tracing back to before the syrian revolution. tripoli, for instance, is a city where you have sporadic or sometimes more than sporadic fights between radical sunni groups, and other forces like the syrian army at one point, and then the lebanese army after that. since a period of 1983 -- 1984, 1985, if you remember, it traces back to the fact that, for stainness, the plo and yasser arafat at that moment took refuge in the city and then there were fights between various shades of radical
islamist groups, and al away fighters at that moment and then the syrian army and then subsequently the lebanese army after the ousting or the exit of the syrian army from lebanon. now the latest of these hot spots has to do directly with what's happening on the syrian lebanese border. and this is the shade, this is the arch going from probably arsal or the northern bekaa. until or reaching down southward to rashiya, and the shabaa region. now probably this third shot spot which is the potential danger as far as security is concerned in lebanon, is itself directly related to what is happening in syria. first of all, i think the fact that is probably to be closely watched is the presence of
probably more than 1.5 million syrian refugees in that region of lebanon. now, of course, the sociology of refugees of syrian refugees in lebanon is very hard to depict and to understand. but let us say that to the difference of jordan, the syrian refugees in lebanon are scattered all over the countries. we don't have specific counts. so it is difficult to, let us say, to judge exactly the level, the intensity, the nature of that human presence. but what we can say also is that in the majority of cases, and this is what leads to the second point, these refugees are in regions where there is a strong promiscuity with the shia lebanese population and with population which is politically, militarily and et cetera controlled or influenced or
approximate imal to hezbollah. so this is the first factor of friction. now the second factor of friction in this area stretching on the border, is in fact what we now all call and know as being the borders fading away. and regardless of the polemics and the narratives of who started what, and et cetera, what we can say today with great assurance is that the fading of the borders between lebanon and syria has been largely enhanced, if not caused by, in fact, the cross-border operation that has started by hezbollah very soon in the syrian revolution, and then the syrian war. this has slided, in fact, incrementally and very interestingly, in terms of argument. if you remember the first argument, or the first legitimization of hezbollah entering the syrian war was the fact that, and it was the
first -- the first speeches by has up nasrallah, was that we are there to defend the shia villages that are on the border. and some of them are from the other side of the fence between syria and lebanon. and then the argument slided a little bit, or slid, it became we are defending the holy shrines. in syria. and then on the third level, later on in 2012, the argument became, we are defending a resistance regime. and then lastly, it became an openly shia discourse, very strongly under or intoned or tainted by shia, let's say, lexicon. we are the sons of al hussein, et cetera, and we are waging or we are leading an existential war, et cetera, et cetera. the last peach of hassan
nasrallah two or three days ago even going very far openly and mainly let's say targeting sunnis, and as being the most important danger today for the region. so this phenomenon, in fact, is something that has to do, of course, with the syrian let's say focus of violence or the syrian volcano, or conundrum, but it also has to do with some deep issues that are left unsolved in the lebanese scene. and what i would conclude by saying here is the fact that in fact what is happening on the lebanese syrian border, and mostly inside the lebanese territory or inside the lebanese political space, is something which is more resembling to iraq, than to syria. in the sense that these are old feuds, or old, let's say accounts, unsettled, that are
today fuelled again by the syrian war and the syrian revolution. meaning that, in fact, the feeling of sunni disenfranchisement in lebanon is something that traces back probably, if not to or three in the fall of baghdad but very openly and very visibly to 2005, the killing of prime minister rafik hariri. then in 2008, the hezbollah takeover of beirut, and kind of coup d'etat that happened at that moment, and 2010 and 2011 and the syrian revolution and the syrian war, only added an additional, let's say factor of pin flapation on this lebanese scene. so this leads us to say that there is a security, of course, treatment to the issue of isis, jabaat al nusra and other islamist radical shades in lebanon but this cannot by itself be a sufficient or 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. now 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'm 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 in syria. i'll stop there and probably will go into details. >> thank you very much. one thing i would like you maybe to comment on later in the question and answer session is,
is whether you think this sunni marginalization, hezbollah's role, and the sectarian tension in lebanon, whether you think think that can amount to more. than just the tension. whether we are going to see a repeat 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. the floor is yours. >> thank you. and thanks for leaving me to last. i am going to present a series of statements and questions that i'm not going to attempt to answer or to flesh out in detail. and i'll leave that for later on. but here's where i see things and 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
geopolitics, on the military level, on the ground outside syria. but how little has changed in the conflict dynamic, and the politics or the prospect for a political shift in syria. just over a year ago we had the chemical weapons attack in damascus and a rare moment of u.s./russian cooperation that led to most of the disarmament or elimination of at least most of the syrian chemical we7ens capability. russian/american cooperation leading to the geneva ii talks that ultimately failed. the ukraine crisis, which completely changed that dynamic. the rise of isis since the start of the year. and especially since june, of course, 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 of al nusra
was a year or just over a year ago around syria and you look at their map today they now basically are focussed in two main pockets in the far northwest and to the far south with a little bit around damascus. to flesh that out slightly, at the start of 2013, it was estimated that there were 10 million people in liberated areas of syria. today the opposition will acknowledge that there are under 2 million people in those areas. these are all big changes and i could go on with the detail, but the point i'm trying to make is that neither the opposition nor the regime appears any closer to operating differently in terms of its politics or shifting where this conflict is going. we seem stuck in that position. the next point i want to make is iraq seems to face a real risk of ending up pretty much in the same kind of situation that syria is now in. in other words, attempts made by
the u.s. and europeans, by saudi arabia and iran, but turkey, by players to try and push and cajole 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, where a new sectarian militia, 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 don't think isis is liked by people living under its rule, and i don't think that's quite the issue. zam took a very useful historical analogy with another iraqi dictate oral regime. saddam hussein managed to cling to power for 13 years after invading kuwait and after iraq was subjected to very 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. of the islamic state. the islamic state certainly -- from reports that have come from the ground, the islamic state is constantly developing and evolving its forms of rule, of internal organization, of bureaucratic service delivery. building of the tax system, a data base of what people do for a living, all sorts of things that are going on every day, which mean that whether people like it or not, they regard areas of i.s. rule as being more secure and more dependable and predictable than areas held either by the so-called moderate opposition or the assad regime. and doing business is cheaper in those areas in terms of the taxes they have to pay versus the bribes and other fees that are extorted from them elsewhere. so i think we really need to start looking carefully at what i.s. is regardless of how we feel about it.
fourth, even if it's correct, i was interested in his presentation. this is the beginning of the end. for i.s. in iraq. let's not forget, going back to where iraq was is no great thing. the iraqi state had failed basically its people. since the removal of zairm saddam hussein and the first ten years after that the iraqi government spent $500 billion of 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 very much focused and very worried about what happens next in iraq. 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. i'm not even aware. maybe the strikes stopped a week ago. maybe someone will tell me. because i don't think they are important or 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 i.s. is not defeated quite soon? the pentagon very sensibly
i think anticipates or is planning for a campaign of up to three years. i think that's the good case scenario. 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 knock-on effect or mimic effect in places like parts of egypt and sinai and yemen, in algeria, tunisia, morocco, i don't know where. we have become so focused on iraq and to a lesser extent syria or kobani at least, rightfully. that i think we're assuming that these other areas can be held in limbo pretty much and that the threat can be held at bay. it's holding for a moment in lebanon because the hariri camp and hezbollah and others have come to understand that they need each other, and they have to be wary about undermining
each other any further because they're 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 a radical response or challenge to everything they resent about those money, the affluent, the ones driving bmws and mercedes around western ayman. these kinds of dynamics 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 wider region. that's my final question, which is what if iraq moves from a state of de facto partition rather like that in syria for the last two or so years, what if the iraqi state visibly
disintegrates. if by building up the emergency military forces to counter the islamic state that are actually entirely sectarian militias, a sunni national guard and other militias that stand in for the iraqi army and if that happens with the police, with the intelligence service, with public service delivery ministries and so on, what if we move from de facto partition to something that looks more like a broken up state, or at least 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 so much for a series of very provocative questions that we, i think, also need to think of beyond the military capability of -- and reach 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 either iran or israel. israel bought that oil from the kurds, and actually deposited the money as the turks demanded. then gaza intervened and most up fell. it seems to me that something could have happened there strategically that fell apart. and as for 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 among the barzani people in krg and then hauped the non-barzani people in krg? >> yes. yes, yes, yes. the woman, please. >> i'm national defense expert from argentina, also ndu, nasal defense university here. my question is very simple. i would like to know the difference between -- besides the difference between sunnis and shias, which is the difference between the education of those groups, and why if there is a big gap? >> okay. in the back over there. >> from safe foundation. just wanted to point out from
what we heard, 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. in fact my teachings is that the syrian situation that's has gone on, was also planned by cia and u.s. military in terms of sneaking in all these groups into syria. because george bush has once said to assad, if you don't cooperate with us, you'll be in trouble. and i think all this is, this great chaos that has been caused by united states, and what should be done with it. should the united states get out of it? >> let's take one more question. okay. then let's start.
don't all feel you have to answer every question. please pick and choose the ones that you think you -- >> i'll respond to your question. i tried so hard to make the 7 to 10 minutes. i couldn't even get on an israel. yes, israel, remember, iraq's, you know, threats against any company or country that buys kurdish oil doesn't necessarily -- doesn't really affect israel because they're officially at war with iraq, correct? so they have bought this oil. i think seven cargoes or whatnot and that continues. at significantly discounted rates. significant. so, you know, the way that it works is ships go out to sea, radars get turned off, ship-to-ship transfer and this is the way that this has been a very murky business and it will continue. but you're right. and it's gone through turkey. so some israelis can say we've got to thank erdogan for allowing this all to happen. the problem is this bank business. this is erdogan's red line by the way. that i actually think the kurds,
at least some of them, were willing to cut that deal with baghdad because they know they have to. but it was erdogan who said the red line was the money's got 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. again 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 weeks where barzani said we're not getting involved. we're not fighting them. then there was a press conference and he made a clear statement. not the puk. 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've necessarily gained or lost ground because they will always remain a very important influence in the region. there's over 200 kilometers of border there that they share
with the sulaimaniya syria. that was a statement that said we recognize you, we're not moving too far. they have been very active, and they have gained some support, and more so as you've seen all of these photos, right, with his arms around the kurdish peshmerga, in deeal la, particularly since the coalition air strikes and the perception of kurds and others have largely been targeted on barzani areas. most of the military aid is being perceived or it's true being going to erbil and not the puk. this is moving them to say thank goodness we have the iranians. and in kurkic kirkuk they are fighting us to the iranian forces, and the puk forces. again so i don't know if this is significantly changed events, but it certainly has reinforced the dependency and the turning to iran by some of these groups.
>> i'll leave the sunni shia questions for yassid and joseph to tackle. but 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 the baath regime during the '80s, the war with iran, 1 million human beings were killed. you had had the 1990 wholesale rape and pillaging of kuwait. you had the 1991 uprising where 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. sectarianism is as old as islam. i think it's very unfair to pretend this started in 2003 or
some argue in 1979. in the first century of islam you had civil wars over the very soul of islam and what islam means. you had tenth century violence in baghdad. you had 15th, 16th century mass slaughters of shias and sunnis in iran and iraq, in turkey. this is nothing new. so, yes, action in 2003 had consequences and we're seeing this today. but inaction also has consequences and we can see that. if there was no regime change, in 2003, saddam hussein would likely still be in power today. if not one of his sadistic 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 2003. >> i would also leave the sunni shia question to yassid,
but although you partly answered it now. i would turn to marwan's question which is probably i didn't have time to tackle, which is the most important regarding lebanon. 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, quote/unquote 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 is, so far, the fact that hezbollah is by all means militarily and maybe sociologically, et cetera, the
absolute strongest force on the landscape, on the scene. and so it is in the mind of all other forces, use this to try to resist it, fight it, et cetera. now my view, and this is maybe pessimistic, is that these two factors along the way are probably risking erosion. we could see erosion of these two factors. the first one has to do, of 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. or to settle our accounts. let's put lebanon in the
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 think, is more worrying. it is changing due to the refugee sociology. in the sunni mind-set, the syrian refugees are not -- 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 in proximity with hezbollah could easily be weaponized, armed and mobilized against hezbollah in 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 let us say persecution, quote/unquote, they are any way perceiving as such is continuing against them.
if you take the numbers, 1.5 million syrian refugees in lebanon, you can easily imagine that you can mobilize, arm, and finance 20,000 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, i think, 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 in lebanon, which is, and this is an additional factor to be feared of which is, in fact, eroding let's say the moderate sunni traditional leadership in lebanon, embodied by the hariri camp, by other personalities, the contenders of the hariris, are today, if not
absentee, at least more and more fragilized, weakened by this wind of radicalization in the region, or by the mere fact that, in fact, in terms of balance of power, they are not enough existing on the ground. so for 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 yassid was saying if we take a look to the entire region broader than iraq and syria and the pockets of isis and kobani, 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. on the sunny/shia side. >> and he's not an aziz zi,
also. >> obviously, my people suffer. i'm not sure i heard or understood the question about sunni/shia. it seemed to be about education. that made me think, well, it's an extremely broad question. it's like saying what's the difference between catholic and protestant education in europe. it's something on that generalality. what's more useful is if i try to step back from the new way we have of seeing all politics in the region through the prism of sectarianism. you know 2003 the u.s. went into iraq and discovered tribes, and then for awhile, everything became about tribes and tribalism. although as far as i can tell, right up to the present, there's very little understanding of tribal society and its dynamics in iraq, 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 that, of course, there's sectarianism just as there are other forms of ideological motivation, islamism, or you know, jewish nationalism in the west bank and so on. these do reflect realities. at the same time, is that, in fact, the primary driving force? if you look at yemen, where now we're told that they are shia rebels specifically. we don't call them zadi's anymore. they're called shia rebels because they can be fit into the wider framework of analysis. how come from the late 1970s ali abdul hazadi who ruled yemen, no one ever spoke about sectarianism or shia minority rule in yemen. because for most yemenis that just wasn't the issue and wasn't the frame for which they understood that relationship. it was about author tear anism and tribal alliances and so on. and fundamentally that's still the case in yemen. then if you look at tunisia,
which has produced thousands of jihadist volunteers for syria and iran, tunisia is 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 jihadist volunteers from tunisia come from peripheral towns, the underdeveloped regions of the south, who have given up on their hopes of the revolution giving sort of a new scope on life, new socioeconomic realities, and seek something that fundamentally changes everything. and they go to syria and iraq in to wage jihad, they now cloak it in terms of anti-shiaism. what that really is, is that what really drives them? i question that. so there's a much more nuanced mix of things where there is a
sunni/shia divide, certainly that's more real in places like 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. >> -- could we have a clarification for what he said and then i could ask my question. >> make it short. >> about yemen, because he said there was nothing about shiaism in yemen. although there are zadis. there was no iran at that time. things happened when they went to iran and came back and start spreading iranian influence in yemen. so my question is, it's a serious question. when is the hallive fa, since the start of the campaign we
have not heard from him, which is very -- arab leaders usually doing battle, they give speeches, and so this 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 the -- isis that started in iraq and then we don't hear about them. do you think what he's talked about, like some kind of defections from the group? do you think this is going to happen? do you think people can pull iraq from under their feet by taking the other groups and other people who are supporting him literally, thank you. >> okay, yes, in the back over there. >> hi, i'm with associated press. i wanted to ask you all about where should we be thinking about bashar 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 clearly something that's going to destabilize the region for some time as it has already, thank you. >> yes, sir, please. >> i'm not in politics. but it's a pretty depressing picture that you presented here. are there any stabilizing forces at all for the region and what would a stable middle east look like? >> let me add also a question to denise if you can elaborate on the pkk's new role fighting isis and the relationship between the
syrian and the iraqi kurds now. particularly the kurds that are holding off isis in kobani. 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, disenfranchising, et cetera, regardless of how real and 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 countries, a know social pact, a new political pact, which has to do with authoritarian regimes,
and the way haidad described the regime in the past which is reaccept blant to the assad regime. regardless of that it, i think all other military answers drones sending intelligence gathering, 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 is our 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 ethics or a normative approach to that question. should assad leave or not, everybody has his opinion. but in terms of feasibility, technical feasibility of the issue, i think that so far what we see, i.e., the western coalition putting aside assad factor in the struggle or the crusade against isis, if i want to use pejorative terms is, in fact, backlashing so far. for instance, give you an example. yesterday something new occurred probably azid is much aware of it in the northwest of syria whereby jabaat al nusra attacked one of the labeled moderate rebelous factions in syria. the syrian revolution in front of jamal marouf and they affected very directly under the argument that in fact 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 of feesibility, i think we have to include a political component and in syria it has to do with something called the assad question, and the political solution for syria if we know what is a political solution for syria. >> thank you.
>> where is the caliph? the million dollar question or $50 million question. if i knew the answer, i wouldn't be sitting here today. it appears he's keeping a low profile after the first initial very flamboyant public appearance in central mosul. but in terms of the factions, i was in erbil a few weeks after the fall of mosul and i spoke to an iraqi christian whose family fled from mosul 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 of isis is very fluid. people see isis as the winning side. they've managed to defeat a 20,000, 30,000-strong iraqi army.
but this is why i think isis can't maintain their supremacy in these areas because they're kicked out, successfully, very successfully, kicked out the mutual enemy, and now their attention is focused on each other. who that will be, i don't know. the islamic army of iraq, other non-islamist 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. and sunni tribes are usually a good indicator of which way the winds are blowing. that's why i see the power is going to diminish. also 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 terrorist groups in the world to one of the poorest states in the world. that's why i say they are not going to maintain their grip. how, who, when, i honestly can't say. >> i'll take on the question and try to make this brief. the pkk fighting isis and the kurds in syrian iraq, one thing this whole bit has done is elevated the pkk. and i think pyd, as well. they have become, at least in the eyes of most kurds legitimized. they are heroes in the vast majority of all of the kurdish regions. and that coincides with the fact, as i indicated, when barzani's forces withdrew from sinjar it was the pkk that saved them. there have been demonstrations and mobilizations, across -- i mean tens and thousands, about this saving kobani. so pkk is emerging as a hero. there are kurds in iraq that are leaving to join this group. you will see that they have these young fighters who don't have a quarter of the weapons of
the kurds in iraq, and they're still able to maintain. so this has really reinforced their image. the fact that weapons have been distributed to the pyd and there has been a differentiation has semilegitimized the pyd internationally, as well. that's the pyd. relationship between these two groups, look, there's two main trends in the kurdistan region. there's the barzani 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 the last couple of years. the bar znnys have belt a trench, and forbid the pyd leaders from even entering the kurdistan region. the fact that the trench is, you know, the blockade is gone and now the pyd leader can actually step foot in erbil is a big
thing, i guess. however i don't think the very fact that barzani is still represents the envoy of erdogan. and as long as barzani represents the envoy of erdogan, and as long as the kurdish problem in turkey is not only not resolved but getting worsened i think there will be a limitation, and i think these power struggles are still going on, by the way. they're discreet. between where the pyd, and how far the p -- the barzani's groups can go. for example, now that turkey or erdogan has permitted some kurdish peshmerga to enter syria, no coincidence it was only the kdp peshmerga he allowed to be entering into. so there's going to be some power struggles and some game playing. and again barzani is still very tied and country controlled in some ways by turkey. that's going to be a red line for the kurds and syria. i just want to make one point about the ap 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. i say that relatively because 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 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 without -- outside of the context of an agreement means basically helping 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 sort of less politically costly option, which i've argued recently in an article, is to work with the regime's backers in iran and russia, and with the opposition's other backers, turkey, saudi arabia, qatar, to engineer truces on the two sides. total regime truce towards the opposition, total opposition truce towards the regime.
with no other political strings attached. 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 -- that it's tempting maybe to think that the regime is actually -- would actually be able to take on isis if only the u.s. sort of supported it, or gave it that sort of political cover. the regime is badly stretched and it simply doesn't have the manpower and the means to go beyond its current lines, except incrementally. and therefore the idea that somehow this is the one force on the ground that can transform everything is mistaken. so whether by political or by military standard, dealing with the assad regime should not extend to anything beyond, i think, no conditions attached unilateral truce on both sides. >> thank you so much. with that, we come to the conclusion of this session.
please join me in thanking our distinguished panelists. [ applause ] we will have a 15-minute coffee break and then come back to discuss coalition dynamics, fighting terrorism, and other priorities. thank you. coming up a discussion about the impact of political candidates debates. then campaign finance issues. and later a panel on voting rights.
here's a look at tonight's prime-time programming here on c-span3. at 8:00 eastern, remarks by the president of the kennedy center, deborah rutter, on the importance of arts education and cultural diplomacy. on c-span2 at 8:00, american university's citizenship conference with civic, business and education leaders discussing what it means to be a citizen. and on c-span at 8:00, more congressional retirement interviews with michigan democratic senator carl levin and texas republican congressman ralph hall. part of our week-long series. >> this thanksgiving week c-span is featuring interviews from retiring members of congress. watch the interviews tonight through thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> as much as we've accomplished in 36 years, and i don't want to look back at that so much as to look forward to the next couple months, and in the next couple months there's a couple things i'd like to do. one is to get my defense
authorization bill passed. this is an annual effort, a major effort involving large amounts of staff. i also want to finish up some work on a permanent subcommittee on investigations. looking at some gimmicks which are used to avoid taxes. >> i've been a member of congress for 34 years. and you know, to finally get beat, if i was a manager for a baseball or a football team and i had a 34-1, i'd be in the hall of fame. so, it doesn't bother me. and really, it didn't bother me to get beat because i wasn't just set on going but i had 18 co-chairmen who were chairmen of my 18 counties in my district that were supporting me and wanted me to run. and i did. >> and also on thursday, thanksgiving day, we'll take an american history tour of various native american tribes. that's at 10:00 a.m. eastern, following washington journal. then at 1:30 attend the
groundbreaking ceremony of the new diplomacy center in washington with former secretaries of state. and supreme court justices clarence thomas, samuel alito and sonia sotomayor at 8:30 p.m. eastern. that's this thanksgiving week on c-span. for our complete schedule go to c-span.org. the international foundation for electoral systems held an all-day forum earlier this month looking at elections and trends around the world. next the role of candidates debates in elections. this is just under an hour.
ladies and gentlemen, we will get on our way and hope that more of our colleagues will join us as we go along. as you know from previous sessions, we have translation on the headsets. and it might be an advantage if you wear a headset, just for sound quality, and also if anyone should ask questions in languages that you would like translated. on channel 7 we have english. on channel 8 we have arabic. on channel 9 we have french. on channel 10 we have indonesia. and on channel 11 we have spanish. so today's session is point and counterpoint. the role of candidate debates in political discourse. and we have from 1:30 now, and until 2:30, so one hour total. one of the most exciting parts of a campaign season are the
candidate debates. when nominees of political parties get to publicly express and defend their views on key issues of the day. debates are often televised, giving the public a firsthand, unedited view of the candidates. while debates primarily target undecided voters, all voters get excited to see their candidates go head-to-head with the opponent. on screen now you can see a picture that i brought along from the final debate in the recent 9 july presidential election in indonesia. my family and i are fortunate enough to live in this beautiful country. and i was in the audience at all these debates. these debates had a profound impact on a fiercely contested and very important election in asia. in the final debate, only days before the election, the thank you-president changed back to his relaxed checkered shirt, he rolled up his sleeves, he took
on his sport shoes, and he won the election. and i actually believe that if we look at those elections, the debates were immensely influential in him him getting six points ahead of his opponent. so this was a decisive moment in the election. and i do not believe we would have had the result had it not been these final gestures by the candidate. i believe that these debates are becoming increasingly important for the electoral races that we administrate, and as our speakers today are aware, some of the election commissions that are guests here with us also themselves are in charge of the debates. so for example, in the case of indonesia, it is actually the election commission that stages the debates and manages these. this is also an expression of the work done by some of the colleagues that are with us.
my name is peter erben. i know many of you in the room. i have met you over the years. for those who do not know me, i've been traveling around the world since the early '90s, and specialized in helping on leadership and managing elections. and today i'm a senior electoral adviser and i get to work out of indonesia where i also work as the country director. i'm extremely fortunate to be joined by two speakers today. and i start with diane. diane carlin is the vice president of international initiative at the st. louis university. she is a professor of communication. and associate vice president for graduate education at the university where she's teaching. a course on political debates. she's the co-editor, and contributed to the 1992 presidential debates in focus,
and the lead author in the third agenda in the u.s. presidential debates, debate watch, and your reactions 1996-2004. matt dippel is also with us today. as a deputy director of latin american and caribbean at the national institute. for more than a decade, he has organized democracy strengthening programs in some 15 countries in the region. he also served as nbi's global debate program adviser and liaison with a commission on the presidential debates, cpd. in 2004, 2008, 2012, he took leave from ndi and worked on campaign teams of the presidential and vice presidential debates. he's also worked with the cbd to help groups in more than ten counts to organized televised debails. so, we will have -- matt will go first today.
and then followed by diana. they have 15 minutes each. and we look forward to your questions following the two presentations. so if you will be patient with me, i'll get the technology up and running. over to you, matt. >> thank you, peter, for the introduction. and thank you for the opportunity to be with you here today. as noted, i'd like to speak a little bit, well, look beyond the midterm elections tomorrow, and look toward wednesday when we'll be talking about presidential elections in the united states. i'd like to present maybe the u.s. as a case study. case study in managing presidential debates here and then look at some international trends that we've seen. in the united states, as some of these slides to my left will indicate, candidate debates are expected to be an integral part of u.s. elections. two watershed forums are often highlighted to illustrate the
significance of debates in u.s. political life. the 1858 senate debates between abraham lincoln, who later became president, and steven douglas, and the first televised u.s. debates in 1960 between richard nixon and john kennedy. in that respect, i'd like to discuss the role of the commission on presidential debates in continuing this debate tradition. it's a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization to whose mission is to produce debates for the u.s. and vice presidential and presidential candidates. and to provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners about candidates and their policy platforms, to help voters cast their ballots.
also to make debates a permanent part of every u.s. election process. the commission is purposely focused only on debates, and serves as a neutral broker, and has no other roles or interests that could conflict with staging debates. the commission was founded in 1987, as a result of recommendations of independent studies by groups at georgetown and harvard universities, after the 1984 elections. the commission has produced every general election debate since 1988. most recently, the debates between governor mitt romney and president barack obama in 2012. the commission does not organize primary debates. the commission's approach is shaped by u.s. laws, including regulations from the federal election commission, and internal revenue service. i would add a few more facts about the commission. it's led by a board of prominent public servants, including former elected officials, and
business, civic and educational leaders. the commission has a staff of one and a half people. it's very small. but grows to over 100 people for the actual debates. the commission is funded by grants and private contributions. it does not receive funds from the u.s. government or political parties or candidates. and the commission's debates are generally held on university campuses, not tv studios, to help engage students and local communities as part of the commission's overall educational mission. i would add, too, that in the u.s., there's no law that requires candidates to debate, and therefore, no guarantee that they will attend. so despite a long history of debates, the u.s. shares the same challenges with other countries of getting candidates to take part. and i'll give you an example. after the 1960 kennedy/nixon debates, there was a 16-year gap
before the ford/carter debates in 1976. in the u.s., we found the main means of getting candidates to debate is the public's demand and expectation that debates will happen, and pressure in the media if candidates balk. in addition to help create the expectation of debates, the commission's organizational process is designed to be public and transparent. and the process starts about two years before the elections. so things are actually starting to get moving now in the u.s., looking forward to 2016. so although sometimes in the u.s. it will take two years to organize the debates, they've also been done in a week. it's not a recommended approach, but it's been done here. the organizational process has done by working with tv networks, to identify the best dates for debates. to reach the most voters, and to avoid conflicts with other competing broadcast events, like
sporting championships. it also involves creating and publicizing the criteria that determines which candidates will debate. and in that respect, many americans do not realize that there are more -- there are often more than 150 candidates for president in the u.s., which is obviously an impractical number to have debate. the commission's organizational process continues with planning for the big issues, which includes selecting university hosts, setting up a media center to help promote coverage of a debate, making security arrangements with law enforcement officials, designing the dates set, and format, among other areas. a key part of preparations is to select moderators for the debates, and the commission uses a single moderator who asks the questions and manages the debate. the debates are broadcast live
on tv and radio, by a special events pool of the largest u.s. television networks, which provide their -- provide the air time at no cost as part of their contribution to the public good. and the commission also negotiates with candidates on the details of the forums. the commission also organizes debate related civic education activities, such as debate viewing parties, to further engage voters as part of their educational mission. in terms of impact to date, the commission has organized 26 presidential and vice presidential debates. exit polling shows that americans say the debates are the single greatest factor in determining how they vote, although the vote -- the debates don't generally change people's minds on who they were going to vote for.
the viewership of the debates is second only to the most widely watched tv program in the u.s., which is the super bowl, which is the final of the u.s. style football championships. so to put it in scale, in comparison, a well-watched primary debate in the u.s. will have 3 million viewers, a typical network news program will have 6 million to 7 million viewers, and while a poorly watched presidential debate will have about 37 viewers, and a well-watched debate some 75 million viewers here in the u.s. and probably many more overseas. so i'd like to shift gears at this point and discuss the commission's international work, which is often done in partnership with the national democratic institute. in response to requests, the commission and ndi have collectively helped groups ni