tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN December 18, 2014 9:00am-11:01am EST
basra region and the efforts. if you look at the israel of the last two, three years, the issue of basra region would come up when there is negotiation with kurdistan region. it appears for me that baghdad is trying to use the formation of basra region as a leverage. so my question is are there like real efforts or credible efforts by the people to form autonomous basra regions to the kurdistan region. thanks.
>> there is right now a movement led by mainly figures from basra like a judge who was a minister and then a parliament member who is probably the best person to articulate the cause of basra right now at the national level. his narrative is right well known. that is there. i think what goes on in basra, see basra is not just about basra. the leadership in basra, the political leadership, the governor and city council, they belong to strong parties that are national parties. these are the leaders who are from outside basra who call their own politicians and say don't approve this. the biggest problem basra has to achieve its provincial status is the politicians of basra and
baghdad who are resisting it. but i think right now -- there is a mechanism to collect sits and then present them to the election commission. then it will go forward that way. the question is will the same people who caused the previous attempt to fail do it again, or is the momentum too strong right now in light of the national changes that will force it. that remains to be seen. i am personally -- i think it is more workable to have not just basra but at least three south provincial -- what used to be in the ottoman times, basra reliant. that's more contiguous goe graphically and many other suspects, that will work. but also this idea of having a full-fledged shia province. if you get that at least you are going to force more one province
that will lessen tensions nationally that you don't have really three-way division but -- >> i think it is a real thing but it becomes more salient whenever their perceived bargain, vis-a-vis the rest of iraq, looks worse to them. i don't think the two ways you are putting it are in tension. they are very, very real. as the perceived deal that basra gets vis-a-vis the rest of the country starts to look worse, than the salience of basra's regional status or a larger southern regional status just becomes more salient. >> i'm from the city college of new york, graduate student, city college of new york. again i want to go back to the role of the u.n. itself. you mentioned that it has no
obliged power over iraq. actually they do have. in 2005 the outcome of the 2005 conference, all members are obliged to act collectively should any member face fail to protect their own citizens and they already did that in libya, for example. they could do that using peaceful or coercive means. but the question is the p5 led the u.n. into fear in the iraqi issue. for example, they could rebuild the trust of the iraqi political system. so i think they do have that wrong. i don't know if you agree with
me or not. >> i think the u.n. has a role to play. and it has played since 2003, it has played important roles in helping iraqis reach an agreement on some lows and it has played a role in training with the iraqi government. but in terms of national reconciliation level involving the top political elites, i think the u.n., while this process needs to happen under the umbrella, but in terms of the actual leaders, the actual people to lead this process, my theory and my hhypothesis, it hs to be led by arabs, it has to be led by people from the region and it has to be led by a country that's seen for all practical purposes still as an important country and as an anchor in the region an egypt is such country.
and because, as has been outlined before, doesn't evoke the kind of negative attitudes that -- among iraqis that other potential regions who can play this role evoke right now. but i agree with you, the unhas to play a role but we are now in a different game in terms of iraqi politics. and having egypt lay that role off a convener, it could be a member of the convening team, bring that game to the level that it needs to be brought to at this stage of the conflict in iraq. >> i agree. i think the u.n. has a great moral persuasion role to play but in terms of enforcement mechanism in terms of getting a chapter 6 or chapter 7 on iraq? i think that's a paper tiger. i don't think any of us think that's within the realm of political possibility unless there is a quantum change on the situation in iraq.
>> i think we need to be realistic here. we are talking about region in which there are almost five failed states now. i don't think -- probably there are more coming. and i don't think that the international community will be able to have the same commitment it had in 2003 towards the iraqi issue. i do think that still if you need to renegotiate the political processes in iraq and to reach a new compact between the iraqi factions, you need a third party, or in this case a fourth party, who's able to enforce a solution or at least to ask the parties to oblige themselves by what they promise to do. and i still think that a sort of collaboration between the united states and iran and turkey might
be helpful. i mean you cannot exclude original powers because if you are to exclude them, they are not exclude themselves so they will try to influence the process. and the best way is to involve them to be part of the solution rather than be part of the problem. >> my question to my dear fri d friend -- dear friend abbas. you mentioned that the sunni, they kick out the shia from their many areas. can you elaborate more about what they did, assad and sunnis as well, about how the sunni
will react to the shia, and others, will fight isis in their own areas. and dear friend, when we invade 2006 in damascus, you were there to brief us "syria" at that time -- >> "us" meaning the syrian government. >> yes. >> yes. >> -- about the effort that we were doing, or try to, within the iraqi community. what do you say to there is no money ton presenting. how do you pick up the people that they don't represent? how -- you know the point. thank you very much. . >> since the coming of isis in
mosul, and in later provinces, isis clearly did not allow -- i mean they gave the christians -- not just the shia, by the way. the christians were all sort of pushed out. but at least they were given 24 hours to leave or some of them were asked to convert. i went to school in mosul, to college, for four years. it is a shame that mosele for the first time in over 500 or 1,000 years that has no christians at all. not a single one. the yazidis were slaughtered. the shia were to be kill wherever they were caught. the other areas before isis came there was a slaughter of the shia. 1,700 cadets were killed by sunni tribes, not by isis, before isis got to that place.
and beheadings of shia became common place. so that's there. like i said, it is not every sunni kills every shia. many people in those provinces risked their lives and send them back. so that's there. but also if you look at from the other time, all of the internal displaced people from fallujah, where are they? i dine with them. sunnis who are ousted for months right now by the karbala, nothing like that happened in the south in basra or nasiriyah or other places. there was no sort of counter act where the sunnis were slaughtered and shia. none of that happened. but i think what you refer to is what assad and others were doing in the fight. you are referring here to groups
that have been acting out of -- they have their own leadership, their structure, and they have done -- it is a mixed bag. a lot of the footage that was shown was very disturbing, to say the least. and no less than the torture that happened elsewhere. but also let's face it, those groups, whether you like them or not, they were the only ones who did any successful fighting in iraq since isis came in. the iraqi military with ghosts and all of that, none of -- they have not done anything to speak of. they are the ones who achieved an honor league, the so-called external fighters, as they are called. and they are the ones who achieved in the outskirts of baghdad, they held some places.
are they the favorable way to go? no, for sure. you would rather see the state does its job and the military does its job. the military has not functioned and iraq was left to those groups to defend it. it is very hard to speak of them in terms of, yes, they have american blood on their hands from the old days. but so do the others who are being trained by the united states right now. i mean who are the recruits from the sunni militias that are being formed by united states equipped and funded. they are the ones who shot at the americans in fallujah and elsewhere. so we have the same history dealing with them also is problematic. i think the american approach to it, rather than sort of doing something for the iraqi military, they are approaching it in a madisonian way. you know, madison and federalists say if you have a problem with factions, the solution is to make more of them.
so seems like have being a problem with shia militia, now we are making more of them and we are making sunni militias and we are having others and i don't know -- let's hope that madisonian solution for iraq will work just like it did for the united states turning it into interest groups. i doubt it. but, yes, it is -- i'll not sugar-coat anything for you. but there is a hell of a difference between cold-blooded butchers who were killing shia for being shia, and there are those who are in the battlefield doing things. both of them are wrong. but equating them i think -- isis and the militias -- is kind of really being misleading in that sense. but i'm on the record. my favorite way is to have the iraqi government -- and in fact even i was hoping that american troops would go and do the job.
but since this is off of the table as a policy by the president obama administration, then there is no other option but to use whoever is willing to curry up the arms. also, let's remember that the tricky issue is that these people are backed by a fatw fatwa-government. it is very forward to go forward in the situation in iraq. any loss of life, sunni, shia, kurd or yazidi, the past few months since june until now, particularly, even though all of the time was bad, but the last few months have been heartbreaking for anyone with any sense of decency to watch those people killed -- christians, yazidis, kurds, anyone else whose ill fate put them in the cross fifire that w
not his or her battle. and it is shameful. >> just to add to what he said, i think when it comes to expanding these militias is going to happen in the future for iraq, i think those militias, mahdi brigade, answer and march to the army. whether iran decides in the future that their presence serve or undermine its strategic objective for iraq will go a long way in what happens to them down the line. in terms of how you pick members or people from this national reconciliation issue, i think you work with what you have. there is a problem definitely of which sunni represent the sunni communities and there are ways to go about that. in if the case of the fight in 2006, 2000, we basically went
and chose members of parliament at the time, tribal leaders, and some society representatives. but at the same time we had a track which convened only one time involving members of sunni incursion groups, some of now are part of the most -- but that was a one-time meeting to just get to understand the lay of the land in terms of their own calculations and in terms of their own plans going forward. but in terms of going now forward, i think you have to work with what you have. you work with members of parliament, you work with civil society and also you work with tribal leaders. these groups remains the components that they need to work with. >> we out of time? >> i think we are out of time. >> thank you very much. and we certainly want to encourage you to remain. we'll have a syria panel
featuring ambassador robert ford. thank you very much. if you like the first session about iraq, you're going to love the second panel about syria. i was struck, i mean given that both countries are going through very difficult circumstances, at least in iraq there is a constitution, there is a government which has some power sharing, there is aen order, there is discussions, there is a lot of politics going on. indeed many of the discussions we heard in the first panel maybe are healthy to be shared, to be aired. maybe those are discussions that should have happened a century ago when iraq was formed but maybe it's good that those very difficult discussions about who
gets what, when and how are finally taking place in iraq. sadly, very little of that is taking place next door in syria. syria obviously has a very large isis problem but it lacks an inclusive constitution and it lacks any government which shares any kind of power, whatsoever. and up until today there is no political process that has gained traction, whether within the country or in various international efforts that have been suspended for the time being. but we will discuss a lot of these challenges and how syria might be able to move forward politically with our panelists today. we have four distinguished individuals. i will introduce them briefly at the beginning of the session. and then we will hear from them individually before we get into a discussion.
to my immediate right we start with hint kalawat. she syria. senior a visiting fellow for the -- senior program officer in the u.s. institute of peace, usip working on syria. a senior research associate of public diplomacy and director of the conflict resolution program of syria at the center for world religions at george mason university. she has been spending the last few years visit something refugees and idp camps in the liberated areas of syria working on negotiation, conflict resolution and other challenges facing the syrian population. we have ambassador robert ford with us today. ambassador ford is well known to most of you. he is currently a senior fellow at the middle east institute but of course he is a distinguished
retired u.s. foreign service officer as you know, the last u.s. ambassador to syria from 2010 to 2014. he had also served as deputy in iraq in years previous to that, and ambassador to algeria. so he certainly comes with a lot of experience in the region. but has worked on syria and continues to do so very, very closely. to hin's right, dr. kenneth katzman, senior research analyst. he focuses on the gov, iran and iraq, has done extensive research and writing. some of you might know his book entitled -- on the revolutionary guards of iran called "the warriors of islam, iran's revolutionary guard." finally we have also with us an old friend from turkey who is
currently in washington. mr. saad igler. a regular columnist in "today's man" and "radicale" in turkey. two well known papers there. he was past chairman of the foreign affairs committee and chairman of the interparliamentary friendship group. in 2013 he managed a mayoral campaign so he comes with a lot of turkish experience and international experience an we're very happy to have him in washington. we'll start and go in the order i introduced them. i'll start with hind who has been working very much on the ground in syria to sort of give us a bottom-up view of the mood
there. obviously the population is exhausted facing many, many difficult challenges. but since this session is about either truces, negotiations, reconciliation, what are the bottom-up pressures that are putting pressure on players to reach either cease-fires or truces or beyond that, local negotiations, reaching out to the larger efforts that we're seeing today, for example, by the russians, an attempt must bed "moscow 1" meeting to bring together members of the regime with president assad and some opposition figures. i know you have some contacts there. so if you could take eight to ten minutes and give us your views about those range of issues. >> well, thank you very much. i promised myself six months ago when i moved to d.c. to speak on behalf of the people in syria.
you don't hear their voice. >> i met a woman from jordan. she told me it is so hard to see my son die in a chemical attack, more to see him dieing from a chemical attack than to see him dying from starvation. so i want to speak today on behalf of that mother and others on the ground and also to give you what's happening in the negotiation bottom-up. there is some few negotiation happening and lat happening. but there is also -- while -- i'm going to tell you some
examples while i'm explaining this. first of all, every truce or negotiation the regime would like and is doing because of the pressures -- first of all, because of his interest. he doesn't care about anything else. only his interest. second, always after siege of the city from starvation. like what's happened already because the people are so hungry and there is a pressure from the civilian on the fighters and they say we can't, we can't see our kids dying. so this is the pressure. two weeks ago when there is no water in damascus for six days, and i got the word from dear friend saying we have nothing
today here and we're sick and tired of the fighters and the regime. so the regime, because of his interest to keep damascus, the suburbs, and the homes with the highway to go to either homes and later to be able where there is hezbollah, he doesn't care about anything else. he cares about his control in damascus. he wants all the other area of the suburb to control them in a way because, for him, it is for his safety. not because he cares about the people who are dying. he doesn't care. the regime cares about his interests. so because the fighters own the source of water in the valley and the regime in the mountain, they have the agreement and
there is this truce because of the regime is scared from the fighter to stop the waters. they need access to military hospitals. in areas where they have all the civil societies, people there is destroyed. there's 2,000 people from that area that are in prisons. when we start in a way that we start helping them and they want to negotiate with the regime in
august. in a way we were just like planning with them because they're all students of mine. the regime refused. refused to negotiate with the town because it doesn't care. first of all, the first condition was to release the prisoners. we know that from there, there is 2,000 and we have no evidence that they are still alive. the regime think, you know what? better for us to keep the area and the siege and we don't care about if we do any truce with it or not. so the things look the same. the truce happen after the starvation of the village. there's always violation from the regime. there is always something happening on the ground. and there is always a collapse of agreement.
and many times the regime won't accept to release all the numbers of the prisoners he promised that he will do. also, there is geographics. so it's different because of geographic and interest for the regime. the truce is different as we talk place to place. many people the civilian, they pressure the fighters. they want it because they're hungry and they want it -- they can't, they want to go back home. there is a big challenge here because i can see that people like -- i was in an idp camp in august. the women, all they want is to go back home to bake their
bread. and they want to go back home, they want to stop. but they can't see themself living under the assad regime because there's so much there. there is so much destruction. so when we talk about -- and this is the challenge from bottom-up. they're -- there is a fatigue. and in the conflict resolution. it's always a big reason for people to make a negotiation. but we need to know that also there is a big problems if we accept all those truce and not to think about the bigger picture, syria, the political solution. remember, the regime won't do anything without pressures so we need to pressure the regime, not only to freeze aleppo and to have a truce. we need to find a political
solution for all syria because all the syrians are suffering. and believe it or not, even the others are you ever suffering because they cannot die in the name of the regime anymore. we need to think of syria as a whole, not by individuals. for the moscow initiative, a very dear sheikh friend and moderate muslim. and we all think very high of him. he has -- he can see syria being destroyed more an more. we need to do something. so there is in russia now this initiative of bringing all this opposition together. myself and others we have some problems here because this is
russia who provided the syrian regime arms and used veto against the syrian people. ethical and moral problems here. am i going to go to russia now to unite the oppositions? this is like a question -- there is some moral question here. russia is going to put us all together to negotiate with the regime? where is the international community here? and i don't want to sound like the complain box, like they calling the syrians here, we always complain. i don't want to complain. i just want to ask you all, ethically and morally, we need to do something. the syrian people are dying and they're dying every day and there is some negotiation on the ground to survive, but we need to ask you, do you want like the
imam and others to die while the world is watching? we know to know that the dictator -- if there is no political decision and pressure on the regime to solve the syrian conflict, this is a confirmation to every dictator in the world that don't worry, if your people rise against you, if the people ask for freedom and democracy, don't worry, you can kill them, starving them, everything. you're going to keep in power. so this is a question we need and if there is any other question later you want to ask. thank you. >> if i may also press you a bit, the u.n. is proposing the aleppo freeze. somehow different than other freezes and other truces linking it to a process that you start there, and it might spread and become a platform for resolution. obviously others say, no, that's not the case. what views do you have on the u.n. approach? >> for me now, after two years
of bargains thrown on aleppo and all the death and destructions, of course as a human rights activist i want this death to stop. but, we have to ask ourself, if this is going to be in one side -- we have to do it win-win. you can't do it only in one side. if they want to free, they have to tell the people of syria there is end of bashar's regime. maybe transitional now. but they need to see the light in the end of the tunnels because this is ethically they have to. and you don't want to pressure the moderate opposition now who are -- and there is lots of civilian and similar resistance in aleppo and we deal with them every day. i was in aleppo last year and my students still there and they're doing great job and you don't hear about it because you hear only about war and death in the
media. do you need to pressure them so side with al nusra? because this is a big question. yeah, if you push them, we are going to free but bashar is going to be with you and we don't know when we're going tend to the dictators. this is going to be a reaction. they might say, you know what? i'd rather to be in al nusra because i can't -- this is bashar al assad who killed seven members of my family and burned my house. i want this death to stop in syria. i want this humanitarian to i q iraq. i want the starvation to stop but i want also to have a political plan for the assad regimes to end because you cannot continue like this with a dictator, his handful of 200,000
deaths. >> thank you. ambassador ford, let me turn to you. obviously a year ago the u.s. and russia were working on sort of a common track. the u.n. obviously was involved. and that has collapsed. now we see cessation of major efforts. then a splintering of some efforts, u.n. working in one direction, russia working in another. could you share with us some of your views, why things failed in geneva, where are we today, is there a path forward. >> sure. happy to. first let me say i graduated from sise in 1984. it is really night to be back. it is especially nice to be back now when i don't have to take semester final examples. and just sit up on the podium and talk. let me say a couple of things in answer to paul's question. i'll talk a little bit about where the formal united nations effort to get a comprehensive political solution ended, in february.
and then how we got from that to the very capable u.n. envoy's efforts to get a cease-fire or what he calls a freeze in aleppo and where that is. then talk maybe just a minute about the problems and challenges that stefan has taking that freeze effort into a broader political solution. russians have ideas. iranians have ideas. let me go from there. so to start with, geneva, i was with secretary kerry for all of those efforts and geneva process ended in a complete collapse in february. the invitation from u.n. secretary-general ban ki-moon to the parties was to come to geneva, to discuss implementation of the june 2012 geneva communique, and ban ki-moon's invitation
specifically said, starting with the establishment of a transition government. however, in geneva itself, although a syrian government delegation did come, headed by their united nations ambassador, and an opposition delegation came. there was absolutely no progress. couple of things on the delegations first. the opposition delegation was led by the political oppofdd=çey what they call the national opposition coalition. there were also representatives of armed opposition groups in geneva. they were staying in a hotel there and the political people were in touch with the military people constantly but there were no armed opposition figures at the negotiating table. they stayed in the background. the regime frequently said to the political opposition why should we talk to you, you
represent nothing. when the political opposition responded, no, no, we're in touch with people on the ground and we'll coordinate with them. the regime was really not interested. the political opposition in february, after the first round in january's total failure, the political opposition in february gave to the united nations, in writing, to their envoy, lakhdar brahimi, at the time, a written proposal which basically said, if i can sum it up, we're willing to negotiate a transition unity government. we're open to discussing all aspects of it on the understanding that it has full executive authorities in line with the agageneva communique. and it did not precondition bashar al assad's removal. it even said, we're willing to negotiate even that.
we flo the american delegation thought that was quite forward-leaning and i feel safe in saying that lakhdar brahimi did, too. however -- the syrian government delegation refused to discuss anything about an agreement. they said they would only discuss security. the opposition said they were willing to discuss security on one track, as long as there was a parallel track simultaneous that discussed a transition unity government. the syrian government delegation refused that and the talks collapsed. i have to say, i don't think the russians did very much to convince the syrian government to move and accept just a basic negotiation on a transition overnment in line with tion the invitation froma6x
dozen locally negotiated cease-fires and only one has had any sticking power. and that's in a place called barzai and that's in damascus. the armed opposition fighters there, moderate of the free syrian army are actually pretty strong there and they control a road to a military hospital that the syrian regime really needs because they have a lot of casualties and they like to access that hospital. so they've respected that agreement generally, although i've heard, hind, now, there are even problems in barzai. the roughly three dozen cease-fires conclude have almost all collapsed. i would encourage the audience
to read the report put out by a team connected to the london school of economics about three weeks ago, the biggest single driver of failure were regime associated militias. that. constantly would interrupt the floor of vitally needed food supplies into the civilian populations in these districts where there had been cease-fires. and there's no enforcement mechanism. i was very struck today by an article that appeared in the london daily newspaper by -- said the plan that calls for a "freeze" -- seven doesn't want to use the word cease-fire because of the bad results today. the freeze would involve, among
other elements, international observers. would include some kind of an enforcement mechanism not further identified. and a release of prisoners which has been an element of other cease-fire agreements. so stefan right now is in europe trying to gain european support for this among european union countries and he has a deputy, a very polished egyptian diplomat who is just in tehran today trying to get iranian support. so we'll see if we can get any traction on this. there has been no formal response yet from the syrian government to the aleppo freeze idea or from the syrian opposition. now if stefan can pull a rabbit out of the hat, if he can pull a rabbit out of the hat and get an aleppo cease-fire -- which we actually tried do in advance of the geneva talks in january last year and failed utterly. the regime said it would not cease-fire in aleppo until armed opposition withdraw. if they accept it this time leaving in place the armed
opposition, to me that's a sign that the syrian government has made a concession by allowing armed opposition fighters to remain in aleppo but to conclude a cease-fire, nobnetheless. so that would be an interesting change in the syrian government's position. but even if they do, how do you translate a freeze in this big city in northern syria for our political deal. that's tough. stefan, i think, is hoping that you can conclude some local arrangements. maybe rebuilding the health care sector. maybe re-opening schools. allowing humanitarian aid in. all of those things would be very valuable. all of those things are laudable goals and i sincerely hope that they make progress towards this. but it is going to be a very far reach to go from that in this one place this syria, to a broader political solution. please keep in mind that syria, before the uprising, was a
highly, highly, highly centralized state. all budget decisions came out of damascus. all project decisions came out of damascus. all hiring and firing decisions came out of damascus. in order for this decentralization effort, which i think is what stefb is tan and team is trying to do, they're going against the grain of syrian political culture and syrian government experience over the past 50 years. and it will be especially difficult given that this would require the regime to be given basically money for projects and rebuilding to opposition actors. i can't think that it will be very easy for the four different syrian security and special police -- secret police forces to accept handing resources to people that they have been
fighting so bitterly now for four years. that's one effort that's under way. we'll see if the united nations makes partners on the freeze. separate from this -- i'll just take two more minutes, paul. there is a russian initiative where hind mentioned where the russians brought the first leader of the national opposition coalition from two years ago now. he's a very prominent imam. was at the main mosque in damascus. and mwaz is a wonderful human being and he sees the horrific suffering in syria so he has said he's willing to sit and talk with the regime. the syrian foreign minister was just in moscow two weeks ago and he said that the syrian government would perhaps accept to come and negotiate in moscow. no dates have been set. i am not aware that the russians have an agenda. there is very much a russian initiative. it's not the same as the geneva
process where the americans and the russians tried as best we could, many, many meetings between kerry and the russian foreign minister lavrov to sort of chart a way forward together. this is very much different. there is a russian initiative. it's not even clear that it's going to be consistent with the various items of the geneva communique. that remains to be seen and there's been no date set. how do you connect that to a freeze in aleppo? not immediately clear where they connect. they've not necessarily mutually exclusive, but the one doesn't lead to the other, freeze leading to moscow talks, or moscow talks leading to a freeze. they might, but they might not. i was very struck that the iranians reminded stefan's deputying with the egyptian diplomat, ramzi ramzi that they, too, have a different proposal for talks between the syrian opposition and the syrian government.
the proposal is basically bashar al assad would stay. there would be changes to his cabinet, including the prime minister that the opposition could, more or less, give approval to a new sunni prime minister with enhanced authorities. don't know what other people on the panel would think. my own experience with the syrian opposition is that they would be very nervous about accepting that assad stays with those four secret police agencies in place. a real deep state without some kind of international guarantee that the deep state isn't going to turn around and imprison whatever opposition or independent people enter the government as a result of the iranian negotiation process. so lot of distrust, and distrust on both sides, paul. not just on the side of the opposition. regime, not without reason, has distrust of the opposition. and then there is the wild card factor. this wild card factor is a bigger factor now in december
2014 than it was in january and february of 2014. or much less when the geneva communique was done in june 2012 which are the jihadis, the islamic state didn't even exist formally in 2012 when the geneva communique was signed. and although we certainly were aware of it when we went to geneva, it is much stronger now than it was then. and they are probably not ever going to accept cease-fire, much less peace negotiation. and even the nusra front, connected to al qaeda, probably is not going to accept a cease-fire, much less a negotiation. these groups, these complete rejectionists are very present on the battlefield. they control more than half of syria already. so there are huge challenges in front of the u.n. effort to get a freeze. and there are huge challenges to link that to getting something more comprehensive over the longer term. >> thank you very much, robert. let me just ask a couple of
follow-up questions. on the regime side and on the national opposition side, and in bringing the conflict to resolution -- at least clear sides, needs to be clear sides. one usually exhausted. on the regime side, first of all a, some look at this truce as part of the regime's prosecution of war. there are oversfretretch. they want to move troops south where the progress of rebel groups is taking place. few things about the regime. how in your reading do they see a potential truce? as a way to prosecute war out of places or some of people close to the regime saying the regime would like to resolve this conflict through cease fires and pacify the rest of the country through truces and ceasefires? or is it something else on the opposition side.
as you said, now it's difficult to identify there's an opposition to come to any table. if they were weak a year ago, they're almost non existent now. in the north they're losing ground rapidly. a different scenario takes place in the south. do you see that as transformative. are we interesting a phase where radicals in the north and rejeem in the south. is there something new and significant in the south? if you tried to push negotiation now, which opposition would come to the table and make a deal credible with the regime? >> that's a lot of questions paul. maybe i will go upstairs and take a final examine stead. >> let me also mention robert has to leave at 12:45 to catch a plane. that's why maybe i'm grilling him now. i'm taking advantage of his presence. >> just a couple of things. first, there's a lot of hard
fighting going on even yesterday and today to the north of aleppo. the regime is trying to surround aleppo. i think they're doing that. my sense of them is they have a serious manpower shortage now. there are even afghan shia iranians have recruited around the city of aleppo. that's a man power shortage. my guess is regime is trying to get tactical advantage before they get negotiation. cease fires are obviously. they don't have enough men to storm these opposition passages. they don't have the manpower. in contrast to a year ago, there are small but noticeable antiassad demonstrations even in the heart land of his main supporters, the community. there's demonstrations against assad in areas. there are reports of syrian
soldiers firing on demonstrators a week ago. we didn't have that a year ago. the community, not surprisingly is exhausted. they've taken tens of thousands of casualties. they're not a big community to begin with. they're terrified of jihadi is. i have to say with reason. they're looking if for some kind of way out. the regime has incentive to accept the freeze proposal. if it leads to negotiation i understand why the foreign minister would go to moscow and say they'll play along. i think very much is said that ideas not to negotiate the removal of assad rather than purposes to negotiate the survival of regime with changes, probably cosmetic given the four secret police agencies will still be there. they're particularly taller to many reform. on the opposition side paul, as i said, i don't think the
jihadis are all in the mind to negotiate. that's a challenge even from the u.n. to get the freeze in aleppo. in particular, the al qaeda-linked front is now in the fighting in aleppo. how they're going to get them to stop fighting i don't know. there has been a thought expressed by some observers that oh if we could just get the cease fire in aleppo between the regime and moderate fighters then they could join forces against the jihadis. i have to tell you, i think that's never going to happen. there have been too many barrel bombs, too many gas attacks dropped from regime airplanes. too many cloer rehlorine attack. there was another yesterday. there's bad blood between the moderate opposition and regime they're going to line up against the islamic state.
islamic state killed 3,000 to 4,000 syrians. regime killed 150,000, maybe more. so the moderate fighters look at this and say 3,000-4,000, 150,000. this is the bigger problem. so it's a nice thought that they would line up, but i don't think it's going to happen. so when we think about who would negotiate paul, there are moderate fighters hanging on in the north in tough circumstances although they just captured two air bases from the regime in the north yesterday. kind of remarkable. they've made progress in the south. i think these are the people were he to go to moscow he would be in touch with to try to work something out. in the end i see the jihadis can easily play a spoiler role. i think it's going to be very hard for moderate fighters to watch the jihadis and stand back
and say that's not our problem. i don't know what the panelist think. >> thank you robert. let me turn to ken. you work a lot on iran among other things. iran is a major or maybe the major player at this point given that it militarily, financially has enabled or propped up what used to be the assad regime. now we have to call it some kind of hybrid situation. iran is under a lot of pressure. it's nuclear talks with the u.s. but maybe more importantly the drop in oil prices continued to pursue the policies they have been pursuing. as robert said, they've had initiative from the beginning. where do you see the process? a process to fix themselves or at some point if there's nuke
deal to be brought in for the political crisis at the higher level? >> thank you paul. i'm speaking in a personal capacity today not in connection with my position at the congressional research service. yeah iran did advance a plan in december 2012. it may be changed a little now. basically a ceasefire, delivery of humanitarian aid. a national dialogue would lead to free and competitive elections for parliament. the formation of assembly of experts for the formulation of constitution which is very interesting because iran has an assembly of experts can which writes the constitution, wrote the constitution and actually iran's assembly of experts is capable of impeaching the supreme leader or choosing a new
supreme leader if they were to leave the scene suddenly. it has never impeached the supreme leader but has the power. it would be interesting to see what the experts would be compared to iran's assembly of experts and holding of presidential elections at some time. no requirement that assad leave and i believe the opposition immediately rejected it because presumably under the iranian plan assad could run again. there would be no requirement that he not run again for election. release of opposition groups, process of stopping incorrect news transmissions. i suppose they're trying to say into propaganda or whatever and committing to estimate costs of damages and reconstruction. so presumably to get a bill to present to the international
community presumably including the well to do g 2c states. with oil less they're less to do with what they were a few months ago. iran's plan, iran advanced this plan after defaulting in syria to its basic playbook which it did in iraq initially. let me contrast two situations. iran's playbook is when a pro iranian regime or pro iranian group is threatened. you immediately flood weapons to that group. you flood money to that group. you send the revolutionary guards force to advise the group. you basically play with the people who support you. you do not compromise. you do not talk about compromise. you do not show weakness.
you stand with the people who are supporting you. that is iran's default playbook. they did it immediately in syria. this was the playbook. support assad unconditionally. he's president, elected president. they call them theories. now jihadis, sunni, whatever we want to call them. whoever is against assad is a terrorist, has no legitimacy. send the force in, get our little protege in lebanon. get hem to go to syria. give the money, logistic support. fly weapons over iraq to assad. deliver as much to a assad as you can. that's the basic playbook. in iraq, same thing. the islamic state takes mosul.
iran panics, falls back on the did default playbooks and the general is the head of the force, send him to baghdad immediately. revive the shiite militias iran started in iraq in 2004 when we the united states were there. iran set them up to fight us. okay, so after we left in 2011, the shiite militias put the weapons in the closet and started running for the parliament and various local councils. then the islam pick state takes mosul, shiite militias get weapons out of the closet, start a appearing on the streets again. we heard in the first panel they're fairly effective. weaponry, et cetera. now in iraq, we, the united states, some how got iran to
deviate slightly from this default playbook. okay. iran started out very strongly supporting prime minister malaki. sure him up, help him. but the problem is malaki was losing so badly the iraqi security force collapse sod badly iran was not certain this playbook would succeed. therefore iran calculated. even though we don't want to be in the bed with the great satan a, united states, the great satan is needed in this case to help sure up our interests in iraq. so iran looked at u.s.'s help. if malaki doesn't go, you stew in your own juice. then the islamic state helped
the kurds. united states immediately began helping the kurds. united states did not help malaki and shia until malaki left. then the supreme leader even though he did not want the prime minister. his preference was malaki to get a third term. the supreme said basically said the americans demand malaki go. we need americans in case. malaki is going to lose unless the americans come this. they a seeded to move malaki out and have a body come in. the question for syria since it's a panel on syria, can iran
deviate from the playbook in syria and go toward the iraq model? in other words, would they, could they be persuaded to ditch assad. i think my judgment is a lot more difficult in the sir i can't have case than it was in iraq because assad is a very, very long time ally of the iranians. assad is the key to protecting iran's main investment in the region which is lebanese. iran basically helped create his bala. this is a stunning achievement of 1979 islamic revolution in iran's mind set. anything that has to be done to protect those two will be done. assad is key to protecting. if assad falls, that could lead
to his destruction or in many ways jeopardy in lebanon. so i think iran is going to be really hard to dissuade from its playbook in syria which is unconditional basic support of assad and arming and -- we just heard about it. they're recruiting all sorts of shias, afghan shias. there are shias from all over the place. iran is summoning them to the syria battlefield. iran is really going all out. so, what gets iran to change its playbook then? okay so is they want assad to stay, don't want him to lose. very hard. what gets them to change? what gets them to change would be the fear, the perception that assad is going to lose.
until there is a perception that assad is going to fall, iran will not change its view. now this gets us into a whole discussion of what needs to be done to create that perception. we can certainly talk about that in the q&a. jeffrey white of the washington institute put out a great piece on the crucial role that assad's air force played in this conflict and idea a that sort of neutralizing assad's air force would strip the cloak of shield that assad feels. that could be something to talk about. in any way, as far as iran, they'll not deviate. one thing that is forcing -- could possibly force iran's hand a little bit, oil prices as we mentioned. iran under pressure, severe economic pressure. they now have to prop up shias
in iraq and assad also at a time when oil is now below $60 a barrel. the nuclear agreement, the interim agreement caps iran's oil exports at 1 million barrels a day. iran -- saudi arabia can sell more oil and make up the money. if the oil price falls, they'll sell more, get more market share and make up the money. iran can't do that because the nuclear agreement caps them at 1 million barrels a day. they are losing that money. very, very crushing to the iranian economy. the nuclear deal, you know, again -- the need for the nuclear deal could get iran to think twice. diplomats that visited teheran say they see evidence iran is thinking through a plan b in syria. that things -- they might have to change. also it's becoming logistically difficult to supply assad now.
the islamic state controls a lot of land area. it's very difficult for iran to really even supply assad by air because the united states and its partners are flying over iraq now. that puts a break on iran's ability. in a number of ways, iran's playbook is becoming constrained and perhaps iran might make a different calculation. >> thank you ken. i'd like to review your compare of iraq and syria as many people have been trying to see if there's day light there. it seems to me -- i want your impressions. isis in syria is not directly threatening the regime per se. it's actually solved a problem for the regime in many ways taking out moderate opposition which could be a part for real compromise. i don't get a sense from the
regime or hence iranians supporters that they're panicked about isis in syria like theicy panicked about isis -- that's my point about that. secondly, in meetings and so on they often say they recognize that this is sort of a losing proposition. they can't go on forever doing this. they would like a way out of the domestic crisis in order to reserve the basic regime and so on. unlike in iraq where you could remove one politician and quickly come up with another. in the case of syria, they say we don't know how to do it. if you take out this guy, the whole thing falls apart. there isn't a number two or three or seven or eight to put in place. it's almost a practickt
obstetrics -- a practical obstetrics kal. it's going to be harder in syria to get iran deviate. take one out, put one in. basically abadi, they didn't prefer him but can live with him. you know, syria is different because the situation -- you all know syria better than i do. it's not like you can take assad out and find some other easily. maybe you can, but it's more difficult. the point about isis i think is absolutely right because in isis in syria, it does not threaten iran directly. isis in iraq does. in fact, isis toward positions are 25 miles from iranian border right now. that's almost more distance,
little further. sure enough iran conducted an air strike ten days ago or so because right there where isis is moving forward toward the iranian border, isis could move east. they could shell the iranian border guards. they can drive a suicide truck toward the iranian border positions. they can shell rocket. yeah, isis is a direct threat. i think unless isis moved in large numbers toward the iranian border. this air strike is first of what will be more on isis. >> thank you the. we turn to you. turkey obviously is major regional player. used to be the most diplomatically active. used to have good relations with
everyone including the assad regime. since then, it's obviously taken much different position and become isolated in many cases. yet it remains a major player in syria. demands about a no fly zone, buffer zone are well known and mentioned by some of the other panelists. they also see no way forward without assad leaving. at the same time, the president met with putin. there's a relationship there their important to turkey. how do you see president erdogan's president government's takes on initiatives underway? any big initiative they want assad to go. the sense of the situation in aleppo and so on.
any feedback from meetings between erdogan and putin on initiative? would you share your thoughts on how turkey sees things. >> thanks paul. before i go into your specific question, let me give you a little bit of sentiment inside turkey, government and also the way things have progressed in the last couple of years. many turks including folks in government view diplomatic initiatives with certain sense. there's a significant sense of disappointment of not being heard properly. often it's the comparison with the the iraq situation when prior to the invasion of iraq, many american decision makers would come in all advice against the iraq invasion. it was not listened to then we
know. there's the comparison -- in syria there's a repeat of not being able to be understood properly, that the turkish views are not taken into conversation adequately. turkey looks on a very sort of -- i would say less nuisance or fundamental way. the basic argument is with assad that there will be no -- at least without a properly thought through security architecture of a new -- some sort of order whatever it would resemble. it would be a waste of time and resources for anything to go as we saw with the isis issue. the issue here of course played out in a very different way especially after the killing of these two journalists. u.s. public opinion going behind more u.s. action.
the way it is seen in turkey which has a 900 kilometers border, 1.5 million refugees, now a burden that's come up close to $4 billion. increasingly a political issue where hundreds of thousands of syrian refugees are now sleeping in parks of major cities including acura, istanbul. it's become an internal issue. no fly zone and buffer idea is not only geared toward facilitating regime change but also really to stop further refugees coming to turkish territory and also possibly sending some back into syria. all of us have short memories, but i remember the days i was in
parliament then when this all started. the meetings then turkish decision makers had gave the impression and idea the united states would be in for a serious regime change idea in some sort of fashion whatever it was. we all know how things transpired and how u.s. position changed for a variety of reason. and now the focus on isis without having full regard of what this place, in my view, iraq and syria, extremely as everyday passes, it's more difficult to put together as normal political units as we have come to think of them. i personally think it's impossible. i listened to the iraq panel earlier and i was encouraged by the optimism that this thing
called iraq would be considered one political unit together. yes there are complaints on many issues seen on the kurdish issue et cetera. until three months ago, i used to live in acura. when you live in acura, these entities look much more loose and less real, lacking credibility. therefore the need for serious thinking about what kind of order or security architecture there could be a devise. i agree with what robert said. he's probably a talented and capable diplomat. i was here in a meeting with him here. i frankly admire the energy and optimism that he carries, but i don't think it will mean a lot on the ground. when it comes to aleppo t freeze
would only be interested in a way if it would prevent the fall of aleppo to government and regime forces which would mean the prevention of even more refugees coming to turkey. now the kobani issue, et cetera. i'm an outspoken critic of the erdogan policies domestically. i understand there's a lot of negative perceptions developing for good reasons given the issues on press freedom. given just yesterday again the limitations on media et cetera. i think there is a problem with this perception developing having an extremely negative impact on what turkey says on foreign policy and especially on
syria. i think these two things are separate tracks. i increasingly feel here in this city especially that the fundamentals -- the obama administration obviously came into power with the promise of putting -- bringing the united states out of afghanistan and iraq. i think it's a huge hiss storic tragedy that the timing of these it would have political objectives coincided with the tragedy we experience everyday. our first speaker, i think the emotion we felt is real. we live maybe here thousands of kilometers away. it's not going to go away whether president obama continues with the policy is, leave whoever will be his successor. the united states as its status of super power remains despite of what people discuss.
it remains a country to show leadership for a political/military solution in syria and iraq. as much as u.s. politics would like to evade that responsibility, or as much as -- for its own reasons it does not want to be part of it. we will continue to see the tragedy unfolding. the belief that the sides will exhaust each other to death and that some how the -- yes there are arguments that the oil price will now put pressure on the russians and iranians. the stakes are so fundamental and critical as you described for iranians and also from the russian perspective. it's all about global governance, russia coming back as a super power. you have to understand if you're putin and see what the europeans
are doing on ukraine and crimea, including my government. we hosted putin royally when we have thousands of crimeans in our country. you see really the shortcomings of the tools the global governance order at the moment offers. many in turkey, especially pro government sources feel we are in one way a test case for that where the global governance mechanisms now failing will eventually lead to something new. i don't know what it will look like or whether that is credible at all. let me summarize it and stop with the observation that the turkish position is really focussing on the fundamentals rather than a new russian
diplomatic outreach. i agree with how many of these syrian opposition figures have a difficult flying to moscow who they know have been a critical country in vetoing syria resolution at the united states security council, providing military technical assistance to assad, et cetera. whether people like it or not, the turkish position argues that assad has lost his legitimacy to be president of that country. that he has to be removed. the ideal they would of course be through international legitimacy of a security council resolution, we know that's not going to happen. we have examples as in bosnia and other places where the coalition of the willing idea et cetera worked. i know this will not fly well in congress or many other places at moment, but especially not the
administration. i'm afraid we will continue to see the bleeding of this country. we will probably continue to see more refugees flowing into neighboring countries like jordan, turkey and others until we see change in this city. that's not going to happen before two years. >> thank you. let me turn over to the audience. i started the extreme left. he needs a microphone. >> thank you paul and all. in fact i have a question exactly on the last point made about this city. i go back to robert. if you take the initiatives that we are now on the table, iraq was not. last meeting with putin, he was cleared geneva is over. there's nothing called geneva anymore. maybe moscow won. opposition put condition it
could go to moscow if reference is made to geneva one. the question was alluded yesterday. he refused to answer the question about geneva when the man who you called media asked him about the geneva reference. he said i leave that a side for the moment which means in fact geneva does not exist as a frame work. at the same time, this is temperatuthe only hook u.s. has to the crisis. if geneva is cancelled by all parties, where is washington in all that? >> thank you. take note of questions. i'll take two more, and we'll come to the panel. yes, sir? right here. >> i'm with the american kurdish
information experts. concerning the distrust, energy in iraq and syria and distrust between the arabs and kurds in both country, i was wondering if i could invite you to think outside the box and reflect on observation of first chancellor of germany. europe marked once observed it will never have peace until it resorts out nationalities. today he may have added after lines. why force people to live together when they distress one other? >> thank you the. lady in the front then we'll have another round. >> i would like just to fill in with quick some information because there is a lot of so many information here. the national coalition two weeks ago he made it clear i don't care what they say in public. i care what they say behind
closed doors. they say affirmly to them the idea of assad out of power is out of question right now at least for the upcoming two years. they put it that place. talking about russian initiative is seriously ridiculous. they want just to come back now because of what's going on in ukraine because of the u.s. sanction. they want to play a role, any role. i don't think i know him very well. he was invited to russia. opposition, coalition in many other cities, have been to russia. the doors are open to all opposition in moscow. also to go back to ceasefire or freeze of anything you may call it, it's really stuck me that he just stayed in the same interview that he understands or at least relegitimatized. i don't think there would be
anything of fire in aleppo. i will talk about it. who negotiated was a freedom fighter. it wasn't the syrian assad forces. it was the iranians. two people from the embassies and people delegation coming from teheran. iranians are the main player in these negotiations. just the idea to talk about assad is irreplaceable. this is stuck as a syrian. talking 20 million syrian and 20 million outside syria. there is nobody within the syrian regime or outside the syrian regime or opposition, whoever the moderates, anybody. that he is replaceable. what if he passed out by heart attack tomorrow. syria would collapse? excuse me. thank you. >> thank you. we start from left coming this
way. choose any elements of the questions. quick responses. robert? >> well -- i mean -- i don't think anyone is irreplaceable. the hard part is figure out the process. [ inaudible ] >> volume. whoever controls the volume? [ inaudible ] >> great. thanks. so very briefly, let me answer the question where is washington? it's a lovely city on the mid atlantic coast. it's priority is very clearly the islamic state. deputy assistant secretary of
state bret mckirk reconfirmed that in a congressional hear ago. the administration has given up addressing the bitter conflict between the syrian and assad government. they've just given it up. if the freeze is successful despite the problems you mentioned, i think they'll welcome that in the absence of any other positions to take on the matter. united states is the largest donor of assistance to syrian refugees that are now over 3 million outside the country. we are the largest donor also for programs administered by the united nations and red cross inside syria. it's not that america's detached from it. i sense that the administration
is not willing to take the hard steps ken alluded to in terms of putting more pressure on the regime and on the iranians. i have no sense that in the american capital maybe you're seeing things i'm not on tvs. i sense the administration attention is focused on islamic state not putting pressure on the regime. >> thank you. any quick comments? >> the question is if washington is focused -- and we know now, focused on isis. what is america thinking on day after. let's assume theoretically we focus on fight on isis. the day after question is still out there. i think that's where the turkish positions legitimacy is still there. even if you assume the priority would be isis, you have to think what is day after.
you adequately defeated militarily. the idea isis is out has propagated is difficult defeat and take a long time. let's assume you regain territory under isis control. you have taken back mosul and other places. what would be the day after? i think that's the lack of the american thinking that -- i think the strategy here on isis i think is very much conditioned by the fact that the obama administration values the nuclear negotiations with iran way more to the mass it feels is incapable of influencing in a way alone or simply doesn't have the answers. i don't blame. no one has the answers. even if you assume isis is priority, let's say you have the turks on board. iranians are already on board et cetera. what would the day after look like in that's absent in the
conversation. >> i completely -- i completely agree the administration is disinclined to get involved. the thing is our syria strategy is dependent on local partners, local allies who all have a very different priority than we do. we depend on -- congress just passed money for a train program for vetted syrian rebels. rebels can simply say, okay, if you just want us to fight isis and not assad, we're not going to cooperate. or okay, we'll take your weapon withes. maybe with the idea to fight isis. the turks have basically said
unless you change the priority, we're though the cooperating. they host rebels for the train. they can simply say all right, we're not going after assad. the training stops. we're depending on these partner s. my idea is they're going to prevail on this town or going to shift eventually. we are in operation. we are in air operation over syria. not like we're not out of the issue. u.s. jets are flying over syria. things can happen. accidents can happen. i think eventually it's going to go in that direction of putting pressure on assad. >> thank you ken. >> yes.
there's a bitterness among the syria that there is nothing, no sign of helping syrian people with their tragedy from the united states and other until there is the threat of isis. also, regarding the replacement of leadership, i like to take this opportunity to speak about two friends of mine. these are great leaders that are very moderate. there would be a great replacement of assad. where are they now? do you know? they're in syrian prison. we don't know if they're alive or not. so, to last and though the least regarding iranian.
there's not only iranian in full control of -- there's a check point with pictures. the city has been taken by iranians. when i hear about how the iranian are so loyal to partners i get little bit jealous. i really get jealous. i'm sorry. i have to speak on behalf of city of people. they're jealous. we hear about schools. we get all these meetings and talk about the democracy. for us to their freedom there is no partners with them. they've been left alone. we have problems for the syrians. whatever we need to do, there's four things. we need to think about the humanitarians, tragedy of the
people. we need to find solution for refugee to go back home. they talk about safe place. they need to go and beg their bread and live in peace. this is at least a u.s. or western community should think about their so called partners of people who cause freedoms. >> thank you very much. i have to ask my colleague do we have time? do we not have time? i assume we do have time. sir? you need a microphone for broadcast. >> thank you very much analysts for your analysis and research. i wonder. i have a comment and question. comment is i wonder the if your
analysis, researchers and others all over the world is heard decision made. here or over the world. it's valuable information especially lady that talk about syria. it touched me a lot. the second thing i want to say syria as somebody mentioned, what they need, what we need a leader with knowledge and patience and charisma to lead these people -- we don't have a leader. the change has to be within. america won't change, turkey won't change. russia won't change. they all have interest. i believe any of big powers if
they want to do it, they can do it. they can stop war in three days. there's interests going on here. i don't want to go further. this is my comment. thank you very much. >> i've been told we have two minutes. gentleman in the back. thank you. i want to follow up on ken's remarks about reminding everybody that u.s. planes are in the air over syria and are active and slight deviation something might happen. off record discussions happened a few weeks ago about the fact hah that members of the pentagon are in talks with the turks about the possibility of what are called air exclusion zones or no fly zones. josh rogan published that in
bloomberg. how would this change given they are in discussions knowing the white house is a bit worried how the iranians might react to such announcement particularly in iraq where u.s. military advisors are on the ground. we might have an embassy that might be vulnerable to militias and how it changes calculus with turkey. u.s. and white house need sos bad in combatting isis. >> thank you. >> we have two minutes so final comments in response. >> about involvement of u.s. and syria -- few months ago opposition bombed same place i
was. there was scivilians there. next morning bombing same area of american coalition at night. people in the ground they didn't get it. they thought there is some kind of cooperation between the syrian regime and the u.s. we need also treat this as a priority. people are dying. they don't understand what's happening. u.s. has to live can -- if you live your principles and leadership. first of all we have to put the syrian people as priority with all this conflict. for me, now and last, we need whatever we're doing -- we have to put them as priority. that's a tragedy that's happening. the world is silence. nobody saying anything about the death of the syrian people. >> thank you. >> ken, few words?
i think mr. assad if there were no fly zone set up, i think he would not be too happy. you know, i think if you look from his positi. two years ago the u.s. wasn't doing anything. then there was a program of missiles. now there's the program training rebels. now there's u.s. combat air operations over syria. then if you put it on a graph, you know, despite what the official policy might be, you're seeing a graph of steadily increasing american involvement in syria. the united states has said assad must go. that's the standing statement on u.s. policy. i think assad would be -- and iran would be rattled by that
option you discussed. >> thank you ken. >> i think no fly zone would back up what the united states says officially that it wants to assad to go. i think a no fly zone if it would obviously be attacked by regime forces. it would escalate and would probably make the united states or a coalition of countries stake involvement much deeper in syria which would inevitably lead to change in damascus. the no fly zone very practical benefit such as protection for
refugees. syrian refugees to go back to syria et cetera. the real political meaning behind that is that status quo is unacceptable. this would be first step to new status quo. >> thank you. please join me thanking our panel. [ applause ] >> the restructure initiative is expected to save the army $12 billion. under the plan the national guard would transfer fleet of 192 a patchy attack helicopters to a active force. 111 black hawk utility helicopters. we'll get update at 1:00 p.m. eastern live on cspan 2. also today, energy secretary earnest moniz talks about the policy and report by the international energy agency looking at how energy in the u.s. is released. he's at the bipartisan policy
center live at 2:00 eastern on cspan. former u.s. ambassador to china john huntsman on the future of chinese relations. the events hosted by the strategic and international studies begins live at 5:30 p.m. on cspan. author and town hall.com editor on what she perceives as the hip -- hip okay ra say. >> the convention they were showing the contribute video to him because he had passed away. and portraying him as a women's rights champion when he left a young woman to drowned in his car. if he had not gone back for nine hours and tried to save his own behind, she would have probably
survived. you can't do an entire video at a convention claiming to be preaching and fighting about the war on women and glorify someone like that while not including that part of his life in a video about his women's rights record. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on cspan q&a. we're airing one program from each year starting december 22 on cspan. next, a house transportation subcommittee looks at the state of integration of unmanned aircraft systems known as drones. we'll hear about safety and technological issues and potential for u.s. to lose start up businesses to foreign countries. this is a little more than two hour hours. good morning. committee will come to order. i'd like to ask unanimous consent that members not on the committee in addition to members
not on the subcommittee be permitted to sit with the subcommittee at today's hearing. there's a great deal of interest and offer testimony and ask questions. without objection, so ordered. i'd like to thank you for being here. united states has been the global leader in aviation. we're all proud of that. american leadership in aerospace manufacturing, air transportation, flight safety and technological is tremendous. the aviation industry contributes billions to our economy, supports millions of jobs throughout our country, and is a source of pride for all americans. unmanned aerial systems or uas have been increasingly in the news. they're not truly new. it's been almost 100 years since the u.s. military began developing the first uas. like other technologies, uas offers exciting opportunities
and daunting challenges. the previous faa reauthorization law pertained revisions directing the faa to take steps toward safely integrating uas into our nation's air space by september 2015. among other things we directed faa to create test sites and regulations. the results so far appear to be mixed. i look forward to hearing from witnesses today on the faa efforts. there are many issues surrounding uas we need to consider. first and foremost has always been safety. our nation's safety record is the result of decades of hard work by thousands and also hard lessons learned. safety is the corner stone of u.s. aviation industry and without it the uas industry cannot succeed, period. thus, i am very concerned when i read in the washington post that the faa is receiving about 25 reports each month from pilots
about uas flying too close to the aircraft. sometimes even near major airports. protecting privacy is equally important as we further integrate and deploy uas whether by individual hobbyists or commercial applications. i know the faa and aviation industry are taking the issue seriously. congress will continue to be actively engaged. we can all agree uas represents a tremendous economic opportunity. the faa estimates that 89 to 90 billion will be invested globally over the next ten years. major companies have begun investing in uas technology in a major way. there are many valuable applications in real estate, agriculture, medical transport, infrastructure maintenance with many more on the horizon. it's not hard to imagine uas
making existing industries more efficient and giving rise to entirely new ones. all of this could mean new jobs and vast economic opportunities for american people if we do this right. it concerns me when i read in the wall street journal about major u.s. companies taking their uas research and development activities to foreign countries such as canada and australia because faa regulations are too burdensome and too slow. it also concerns me that the road builders in germany and farmers in france today are enjoying economic benefits from uas because safety regulators have found ways to permit flights. i cannot help but wonder if germans and canadians do these things today, why can't we also? are they smarter than us? i don't think so. are they better than us?
i don't think so. we really need these questions answered. i hope to get a better understanding of this issue during today's hearing. as i said earlier, safety is paramount. challenges are difficult. if there is a but if there is a country that is up to the challenge of safe uas integration, it is certainly the united states of america. we have the very best engineers, the most creative minds and to knowledgeable regulators to ensure american leadership in aviation in the decades ahead. i know this because many of our best and brightest minds in aviation work at the faa's technical center flagship, which is in my district. the faa tech center is a one-stop shop for the best and brightest to research, develop, demonstrate and validate new aviation technologies and data sources. it's had a role in many advances many flight safety including air traffic control, which is key to safe uas integration. it's a place where new ideas are
developed and old ones are improved. work on uas is underway already and i fully expect their contributions will continue and they will be invaluable. i'm interested in hearing today where we are in terms of the uas industry and what lies ahead, what progress the government has or hasn't made, and what industry an faa need and how we in congress can help as we consider the next faa reauthorization bill. and i've talked with mr. larson and members of the committee, and we're really looking at this very closely because as we prepare the next faa authorization bill, we're going to be looking for some substantial improvements and advancements in this particular area and we'll be looking at specific language, if necessary, if we don't see these advances in a timely way. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses on these topics and thank them for joining us today. before i recognize my colleague
mr. larson for his comments, i'd like to ask unanimous consent that all legislators have five legislative days to revise and extend remarks and include material for the hearing. without objection, so ordered. i'd like to recognize mr. lawson for his opening remarks. >> thank you for calling today's hearing on unmanned systems, integration oversight and competitiveness. i appreciate you holding this hearing at my request, and safety is and must be the number one priority. certainly is mine and yours as well. we have looked at unmanned aircraft systems, or uas, twice earlier this year but the report of collisions between uas and manned aircraft operations are a stark reminder we need to ensure these are safe. both of those in the air and on the ground. the uas industry has great potential to drive economic
growth and create jobs including in washington state where i'm from which is an epicenter of aviation r&d. there is no doubt there are near-term challenges. the faa says it receives 25 reports each month from pilots who have seen unmanned aircraft or model aircraft operating near their aircraft including some near collisions. but we rise to challenges, we do not shrink from them. i want you to consider these headlines with cautionary tales. planes crash in air, man killed, that's from the wyoming state tribune. two killed in crash in air. crash in air kills two when machines collide in practice flight. the oregonian. the headlines are from 1917, 1917 and 1920. i found more than 80 stories of this kind alone written before 1921. it could have caused the public to give in on developing things that fly, that they used to call machines. now we call airplanes. but we didn't.
had we given up then, we would haven't the safe and efficient airline system that we have today. so while our near collision headlines reflect undeniable challenges that must be addressed, we have to keep moving forward to ensure progress and competitiveness. let's be clear integration of uas must never come at the expense of safety. to guide this effort, the last authorization set forth requirements to safely integrate uas into international air space. we heard concerns they are not moving quickly enough. the department of transportation and inspector general reported in june that faa completed work for the milestones, but that agency was behind schedule in remaining milestones. the bill required the faa to publish a rule on small uas by august 14th of this year. we expect that rule soon. the bill also required faa to establish six test ranges. however, while the test ranges are up and running, we continue
to hear from stakeholders they are not being utilized as much as they can be. given the magnitude of the implications of incorporating this technology into our sophisticated and crowded air space, we have to give credit where credit is due. and the faa is proceeding with caution and is making some progress. for example, section 333 of the act gave the faa the authority to authorize certain operations on an interim basis on small uas in advance of the rule. using this authority and granted several exemptions including some this morning. we must assure it allows operations to operate safely. we also heard concerns from other countries with more flexible environments to test and operate uas. so while we must hold safety paramount, we do not want to fall needlessly behind. privacy is another major concern and must be addressed. i share the public's concern about aerial surveillance from operators and work to ensure
these concerns are addressed through proper channels. we have seen faa make progress on capabilities with bipartisan support of the subcommittee and the leadership of the chairman. our work on next gen shows the necessity of faa's collaboration with stake holders, especially pilots and air traffic controllers, who will be directly affected by new technologies. our goal should be to keep safe integration on track so that we're not here in 2024 talking about a plan to integrate uas into the air space. finally, mr. chairman, i would like to ask unanimous consent to enter written remarks from miter into the record. they're engaged in research and development for the faa. >> without objection, so ordered. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i look forward to hearing from our panelists about why we're here today, what we can do to keep the integration of uas on track,
and to ensure safety. thank you. >> very pleased to welcome the chairman of the full committee and thank him for his tremendous interest and involvement in this issue and the faa authorization bill. mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm going to start by saying welcome to our panelists here today. i'm interested in hearing your testimony and your views on this issue. but i share the views on safety. safety is simply paramount. that has to be first and foremost. we in congress are very interested in uas. in the last bill we directed the faa to safely integrate that by september 2015. but the uas industry cannot develop unless it's proven safe, and based on the opening statements by the chairman and the ranking member, republicans and democrats are united in our views about the priority and importance of safety. we also understand that uas are an exciting technology with the
potential to transform parts of our economy. i'm intrigued by how uas might improve our modes of transportation. for example, uas might be used for certain kind of bridge inspections without closing lanes, for traffic stopping or requiring workers to have to climb up to high places to do inspections. the uas can survey 180 acres of land in less than an hour during construction projects. uas can safely get more bang out of the taxpayer buck. with that in mind, it's our responsibility to look at this technology. i know there are some challenges to get this right. i'm confident that the american inventors, engineers, and entrepreneurs are up to the challenge to make sure the united states maintains its lead in aviation technology. as we work towards safe integration, we can't let a few irresponsible individuals jeopardize the safety of the many and set back a potentially
promising technology. i'm glad you're here today and thank you for holding this hearing, and i yield back. >> thank you, mr. shuster. want to thank our distinguished panel of witnesses today. our first panel will include the associate administrator for aviation safety for the federal aviation administration. essentially all things uas. mr. matthew hampton, assistant inspector general for aviation audits for the u.s. department of transportation office of inspector general. dr. gerald dillingham, director of civil aviation issues for the u.s. government accountability office. captain lee moak, who is president of airline pilots association. mr. jesse kallman. head of business development and regulatory affairs for airware. dr. nicholas roy and, miss gillan, you are recognized. we welcome your remarks. >> thank you, chairman, for the
opportunity to appear before the subcommittee to discuss unmanned aircraft systems. in the faa modernization and reform act, congressman day-to-dayed the safe and efficient integration of the uas into the national air space system. the administrator in announcing his initiative identified integration of uas and commercial space operations as one of his top priorities and we are working hard to meet those mandates. in the act, congress mandated that the secretary of transportation consult with government partners and industry stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan for uas inteation. both documents have been published. the documents set out a phased approach that must be carried out thoughtfully to ensure safety is not compromised. consistent with congressional direction, we announced six uas sites