tv Syrian Conflict CSPAN April 3, 2018 1:40am-3:22am EDT
>> to watch all of the president -- prize-winning documentaries, visit studentcam.org. >> next, a panel looks at the role of russia, iran, turkey, and israel in the syrian conflict. we will hear from authors and former diplomats at this event. hosted by the wilson center. >> good afternoon and welcome. the deputy director of kennan institute and on behalf of jane harman, our ceo and
director, i would like to welcome everyone to today's event on syria and outside powers. what they want and can they have it? livingson center is the memorial to her 28th president and we tried ourselves in serving as a bridge between the world of academia and policy. we are able to work across countries and across programs within the wilson center and provide analysis for multiple perspectives and today's event is a great example of how we can facilitate such a dialogue and i'm so pleased that we are cosponsoring the days event with the middle east program. panels a very talented so i want to proceed to the program as soon as possible. toill turn the program over aaron david miller who is vice president for new initiatives, it established fellow and director of the middle east program. for two decades. he served as -- in the department of state as an
analyst, negotiator, and advisor on middle eastern issues to republican and democratic secretaries of state. , thes written five books most recent being the end of greatness, why america cannot have and does not want another great president. and his articles have appeared in the washington post, the new york times, the los angeles times, he is a regular contributor on cnn and is a many other news outlets. thank everyone for coming. and let me welcome you to the center for scholars. only hd memorial to our president and the only one buried in washington so far. analysta terrific today, cosponsored with canon which is the next ordinary preeminent institution dealing with russia. the center in washington and across the nation.
panel, weterrific will need their expertise and their wisdom to unpack the subject, complicated subject that confronts us today. before you introduce them, i want to make a few observations and effort to frame the discussion. --arly as we watch the war the syrian civil war unfold over of the last seven years the stage has been set for some time for an expanding role by x -- by outsiders. this is the conventional wisdom and sometimes the conventional wisdom has the virtue of being true. in this case, several developments including a shrinking isis caliphate, the evisceration of not the defeat of organized and threatening syrian opposition and the consolidation of the assad regime has more or less cleared the underbrush and set the stage for what was involved external powers, five of them, arguably.
to play a more expanding role. three of those powers i would consider central, russia, turkey and iran. and they compete and cooperate in effort to follow and further their own interests. a fourth power, israel, seems focused more on what it doesn't want to have happen rather than how it sees an idealized outcome. in the fifth, i will make a few observations on the american role when we conclude. is pursuing a policy fraught with contradictions, it seems to me. and confusions. the array of external actors seems to be a kind of coalition of the unwilling, the cynical, the disinterested, the distracted, and the divided. determined above all to ensure that their interest take
precedence over the idealized conception of the free, independent, pluralistic and confessional he balanced syria. and it may well be that if this represents the will of the international community, and i suspect through seven years of syrian civil war, these of the -- these are the powers, not the others that have shaped presumptively what syria is now and what it may become. it's no wonder that the syrian civil war is endured for this long. whether these external powers can achieve their interests getting into syria is a lot easier than getting out, remains to be seen. and that's why we have such a distinguished index regard panel -- and extraordinary panel here today. let me introduce them briefly. associate professor of department of history and archaeology at uab.
he served from 2005 2000 eight as assistant professor of department of history at the american university in cairo and he had scholarships at the university. his most recent book i believe is alexander serafin the birth of the russian modern. 2015. >> 2016. mr. miller: good to know. robin wright got a dusting was -- is a distinguished fellow at the wilson center, with broad expertise. she's a longtime writer for the new yorker and a former diplomatic correspondent for the washington post, reported for more than 140 countries and has a deep and authoritative expertise, particularly on iran. she is also author of the widely acclaimed book. we have something in common. we are both graduates -- i was there for eight years and she was born in ann arbor, university of michigan.
ms. wright: go blue. mr. miller: june in tonight for the national championship game. it's great to have you here. kauffman fellow and at the washington is to come has had a long career in government, the state department, served as senior advisor to the broader middle east and the secretary of state policy planning staff and holds a phd in political science and studies from harvard, has taught there and that gw. he is fluent in arabic, french, and hebrew as well as proficient in several other regional languages, which is more than an entry into this region as someone once remarked, the middle east is a get a university from which one never
graduates. he is an example and even the poster child for that and perhaps for a few of us as well. and last but not least is in the austin homes, associate press are of sociology -- professor of sociology. her book social unrest and american military bases in turkey, since 45 was published by cambridge university press and she is researching the kurds and just returned not too long ago from the region. i will be a ruthless moderator in the sense that we have for presenters and each will speak no more than eight minutes. i may have an annoying question or two to ask them.
and then we will your questions. paul, let me begin with you. and russian interests and objectives in syria and can they achieve them? >> if i can start with a non-humanitarian russian pun russian interests are a moving target. russia clearly stated goal for public consumption was we want to destroy isis. and we want to make sure that the regime of bashar al-assad is stabilized and free from the threat of isis. russia began to bomb other targets in syria, the free syrian army and others who are not necessarily islamic. and this continued and continues today, moving through various permutations of what russia may or may not want in syria. there's been a great deal of speculative article can narrow it down to a few things. russia has been terrorized sense 2011 by the events of the arab spring and many of the public events with large protests, the
liberalization objectives of these crowds in the arab world share a lot in common with the opposition within russia. they are organized through social media and they have as , their goal to destabilize the different regimes in their countries. this is very frightening to post-soviet states, including belarus and some of the ones in central asia. it's quite similar to what's happening in russia and even almost time a crackdown on public expression to the events of arab spring and find him into the present day and one by one, every time russia tried to do something to prevent the collapse of one of these arab regimes, whether it was yemen or libya, they found themselves defeated, strategically checked. ignored by the united nations and the west and they found this to be quite humiliating like they didn't matter and middle eastern politics and they are also using very real assets.
russia had agreements with libya and yemen and long-standing from the days of the cold war with syria. in the cases which in the rain -- the regimes fell, russia lost those assets. they lost the penetration of oil development facilities and opportunities for economic investment and try to repair their relationship to restore those positions is a bigger has been very important to putin. they want to check their base rights and the great naval base, and also now their airbases elsewhere in syria and the regard that as a very important goal, something they are very much willing to stand up to the west against. and in the obama administration, they have a very weak opponent, in 2013, obama drew his famous infamous redlined saying he would intervene in syria if assad used chemical weapons. the russian deadmarsh was to try to getting disarmament agreement in which assad would surrender his weapons to international
authorities are not use them in the americans would not intervene. united states did not intervene and assad used chemicals and nothing happened. until the russians themselves intervened militarily on his behalf. emboldened by the lack of any western response at that time. since 2015, the russians have been attacking the different sources of opposition to assad, including unitarian asset in the bombings of hospital and relief convoys. supply of arms to the regime that have been used in really terrible ways and what putin wants his was in -- is regime stabilization and whatever process ends this. in the last few weeks, if there is to be a lasting peace solution in syria, russia is also interested economically in being a part of that recovery effort.
you see a large emphasis now on russian firms that want to rebuild the destroyed and damaged areas of syria and to do as much as they can to get those contracts. i'm not naming names, but a lot of lebanese contractors are already getting involved in this and making sure that they have some piece of that as well. but that's clearly one of the kremlin's current goals. can they actually pull this off? it seems to face significant limitations. the russian state media if you follow that and its apologists in other countries including countries in the middle east really emphasize the strength of russian power and they argue that russia was quite decisive in this conflict, that it would bring an end to isis and the reality is quite different. much of the damage given to isis was done by the american forces and their kurdish and iraqi surrogates. supported very much by american arms. the russian intervention was airborne and its ground operations have been quite limited.
russia has been very reluctant to place boots on the ground at least official boots on the ground and most of its operations in syrian territory are limited to paramilitary organizations must like triple canopy were blackwater if you are familiar with american and iraqi, except the russian ones have actual combat roles in from the best reports we have come of the strange name of wagner after the famous composer that happens to be a favorite of one of the russian nationalist who organizes this, someone with close kremlin ties. these are recycled veterans from the of alteration of crimea in eastern ukraine, people with a nationalist bent how to describe them as mercenaries. send them to syria in the thousands and not at all of knowledge by the government operating with tremendous plausible deniability and dramatic case of this where they attacked a place protected by american forces and lost dozens of not hundreds of casualties. the kremlin in the lead up to the recent presidential election russia denied any involvement and acknowledge them as formal
there were no pictures of body bags bring bought back to russia there was scandal in the russian international media -- in the international media but not in the russian press. russia wants to have maximum possible effect in syria with a minimum possible liability. in terms of losses that they have to explain to the public, and also the potential for confrontation with the west. i think we see the limitation of russian power quite clearly in assad's regime is more stable than it was five years ago but not at all and controlling and -- in control of most of the country, facing significant opposition that has not been destroyed and probably won't be destroyed. they settled on did factor those -- on de facto spheres of influence, the dividing line he was talking about before is the euphrates and the americans have the iraqi side of the russians are supposed to be on the other
side, but there are disputes in contention about where that begins and ends. and recently on the diplomatic front, the russians have been talking about having autonomous zones of control within syria where local militias or the kurds will have autonomous power in regions of syria that the government can't control. that's problematic for a number of reasons. the russians to officially favor the territorial integrity of syria but at the same time, whether assad will agree to allow powers to parcel out his country into spheres of influence will be sending very different. this could also run afoul of russia's new rapprochement with turkey which opposes any kind of autonomy with kurdish groups when they identify with the pkk, which is a marxist organization dedicated to the destruction of the turkish state. this could come get russian involvement they are in the future. i really don't think russia has achieved its stated goals very isis was eradicated by somebody else, resolving the question in the regime's favor will have been elusive and the future
accordance that you see in the diplomacy don't suggest any sustainability for unilateral russian solutions. or a solution that has significant russian role in it. ms. wright: i was in russia six weeks ago looking at just this question, syria and the russian and iranian alliance and i thought it might be very useful to put this in perspective, not just in terms of politics and the moments, but in terms of geography and history. i have a number of maps. one is to illustrate the interesting alliance between moscow and tehran, which in the past has been tactical militarily, practical economically and cold and calculating when it came to diplomacy.
but one of the interesting things that has happened because of syria and also because of u.s. policy recently is that this has developed into a strategic partnership and they are very unlikely allies, given a long history of animosity between russia and the old soviet union and iran. both during the shah and under the islamic republic, given the fact the cold war actually started in the tensions between the two countries. but now it has evolved into something bigger than i think we ought to take into account when we look at what happens to syria and the risk of percussions across the region. the basic question of what is it that iran wants? again, we in the west have talked a lot about iran and the so-called shiite present, which is the term that was first used by king abdulla in an interview he did with me in 2004.
in the immediate aftermath, his office called and said you can't use that term and i said it's too late, those of the rules of engagement are on the record. you can't say after the fact, but who knew it was going to take off like this? what useful understand is why there is real concern is i will show you later over the shiite crescent stretching from tehran to baghdad to damascus to beirut that the arabians look at it from a very different perspective. and that is that what they call the sunni circle. as a minority religion, minority ethnically, that they feel surrounded by sunnis, by other ethnicities, and as the iranians also tell me all the way up to the foreign minister and the national security adviser, iran feels strategically lonely. again, this is not to say they are, but this is their perspectives on the region.
and to the reason -- you know, one of the things that is always fascinating to me is why iran became shiite. this is the one thing to really understand. it has nothing to do with religious dogma. iran was a sunni country until -- for the first millennium. it did not become a shiite country until the 16th century and it was because of a political decision. they were afraid of the expanding ottoman empire. they politically decided that to keep the sunnis in the ottoman empire from spreading their tentacles into persia, that they would convert the country to shi'ism. the way they did that was to turn to the shiite clerics in lebanon, which is an alliance that survives to this day as a core part of their identity and their survival and it was a shiite cleric who help them set up the seminaries, to make the
conversion which took more than a century. it kind of explains why there is this ferocious loyalty to the shiites of lebanon. so, syria, from iran's perspective, is in many ways a a tool, an instrument to protect the shiites of lebanon. it is an intermediary, geographically, and it is a tool, politically. there is very little invested in bashar assad. there is a lot invested in syria as a property of the iranians. and that is why they will invest so much. one of the things they do show -- share with russia is that syria is the only arab ally -- long-standing arab ally that they really have.
russia's diversified. since the end of the cold war, the end of the soviet union. iran has not for a lot of obvious reasons. this was all reinforced, of course, by the presence of isis. and isis on iran's border came within five miles. -- 25 miles. this, again, accentuated the same phenomenon the ottoman empire. you have the encroaching sunni caliphate threatening their security. and of course, isis also went into the calamine mountain of lebanon, whether it was across syria and iraq come on the iranian border, or threatening the shiites in lebanon, there was a sense that this was a strategic threat, and it exacerbated and justified iran's intervention in syria. in the same way, they look at the taliban in afghanistan as a threat. they see isis on the other.
it goes back to the whole idea . this has been further compounded by the tension between sarong and saudi arabia. -- in some ways, it's about who is the closer ally with united states. until 1979, the iranian revolution, iran and israel were the two pivotal pillars of u.s. foreign-policy. after 1979, saudi arabia and egypt to the place of iran facilitated by egypt's walking away from the soviet union , making peace with israel, and saudi arabia because of its strategic importance with a hike in the price of oil. in many ways, saudi arabia feels ity threatened in the aftermath of the iran nuclear deal. iran is a bigger consumer base , more strategic property, a bigger military, would be a more
attractive ally. what we see play out, whether it's over syria, that this tension between the two major powers in the gulf is really over influence. now, back to the question of all -- of what iran wants. is no question that this is a very important ally for both countries. at the end of the day, the -- iranians have advocated a four point peace plan. they call for an immediate cease-fire. secondly, a plan to be put in place. third, a constitution to be written that would have as its anchor protection for minorities. and that's a really interesting perspective. fifth, u.n. supervised elections. the goal overall is to keep syria as one country.
the territorial integrity of syria is critical. -- pivotal. it wants, like many in the west, wants to keep syria and iraq as constituted for the last century. this is really pivotal in understanding its goals. now, at the same time, it is true that iran is building a land bridge. and wants that kind of connection, in the same way that russia does. they want access to the mediterranean. they want influence across the region. for the iranians, is also that protection and the access to has hezbollah, to the lebanese shiites. that's the biggest single factor. iran's role has grown.
the higher the price they pay, the greater the pressure to have something to show for it. and particularly because the price that the islamic republic is paying is growing, i make a habit -- i cover wars and have all my life and i make a point of going to the cemetery's to count the number of dead and i have done that in both tehran and at the hezbollah cemeteries in lebanon. you know, there are over eight generals who died within the first couple of years of iran's deployment. they provided the ground forces in a way the russians have provided the airpower. they have been pivotal. at a certain point, the cost became so high for the revolutionary guards, they brought in the conventional army and more importantly, a lot of militias formed from pakistanis and afghan refugees in iran. in lebanon, at least 2000 and
some say now close to 3000 hezbollah have died. over 10,000 have been injured. that's large for a population that small. given the protests in iran, it's very important for the regime to be able to say, we have secured our place in the region. now, i don't think at the end of the day they are wedded to assad, they will take anyone, but it gets back to the question of do you want to see a sunni power in control, one that could be threatening to iran's interest, that might side with saudi arabia or the gulf and so iran looks at its investment as one that has long-term strategic value. it's worth the investment. and i think it will stay around for a very long time. >> thanks, very cover hence it.
>> can we keep that map? that would be helpful. it's fine. thank you very much of the introduction and the invitation to speak here. turkish policy toward syria is also a moving target. if we look at just the period of cangan, since 2002, we divide kk p policy into three phases. first, the zero problems with your neighbors phase, seems a century ago but that was actually between 2002 and 2011 under that foreign minister. this was when turkey was really trying to diversify its
relationship, not just rely too much on the united states and the west or the eu, but to build better and closer ties to other countries in the region, including to syria. actually, he along with his syrian counterpart had secured a trade agreement and even a visa free travel between turkey and syria during this time. this changed quite dramatically when the arab revolutions began in 2011 early 2010 in tunisia. there was an expectation that not just in turkey, but i think also here in the united states and elsewhere in the middle east that bashar al-assad would fall as quickly as egypt and tunisia. that obviously did not happen. and secondly, there was a next -- an expectation, or i think erdogan hoped that perhaps turkey could serve as a model for other countries in the arab world, there were people talking about the turkish model for the
arab world. so the idea that countries like egypt, tunisia, syria, would eventually engage in some kind of democratization or modernization, liberalization as had happened in turkey. then, suddenly, erdogan's vis syria just changed and they began advocating regime change. this also coincided with the last period of regime change, there was also a very crucial interlude within this overall period where there was a , cease-fire between the pkk and the turkish military. it began in 2012 under erdogan's leadership. he initiated a cease-fire with
the pkk, and the cease-fire held from 2013 until 2015. historically, the pkk has had an interesting relationship with syria. it was founded in the late 1970's and the leader of the pkk actually escaped into syria even before the 1980 military coup. the 1980 military coup in turkey happened after the 1961 coup in the 1970 coup, but the 1982 had coup two -- had the biggest impact on turkish society in terms of really crushing were attempting to crush all forms of leftist would also right-wing activism, but particularly targeting leftist groups and the pkk. the pkk survives, partly because he was able to live within syria until 1998. you had it aired iran -- erdogan
it had living in syria from the late 1970's when he left turkey and when he was expelled and came under pressure. and he was expelled and since then he has been held an excellent security prison in turkey. during this regime changed -- change within syria, this time when erdogan was talking about the necessity for assad to be removed from their was a cease-fire with the pkk from 2013 to 2014. that's important to remember. then, in 2016, things changed again when he resigned and the turkish military begin intervention in syria. that was the euphrates shield intervention that began in august 2016. and lasted until march 2017. during this -- we don't have the map anymore. but the euphrates shield intervention was essentially --
and this is what erdogan wants now. to prevent the creation of a contiguous swath of territory in northern syria along the turkish border that is autonomous of the regime in damascus and that is where you have a predominantly kurdish population living. now, the forces of the assad regime withdrew from northern syria in july 2012 and since then, this predominantly kurdish population has established local governance model in the north in kobani in the middle and in the east and the west. i haven't to be in kobani and -- i happened to be in kobani and 2015 which is when i began my research on the ypg in the j, the kurdish militias and the people's protection units or women
protection units. it had been reported about quite a bit in the media. and which have now become part of the syrian democratic forces, the sdf which are cooperating with united states in a fight against the islamic state and have been our best allies and our most reliable partner on the ground. they are probably the reason why we could liberate raqqa as soon as we did and other parts of syria. so the turkish military intervened in the euphrates shield 2016 in order to prevent kobani and an of frame. he wanted to prevents the creation of a continuous zone in the north of syria and is the -- but it is the turkish military cooperating with a range of syrian arab militias on the ground, sometimes referred to as the free syrian army, but there is actually a whole range of groups that are quite islamist leaning in their ideology, which turkey has been cooperating with. in these operations.
the euphrates shield operation , 2016, 2017, prevented the connection of these cantons in the north of syria and then the so-called all the branch -- ranch operation began in january 2018, on january 20 of this year. erdogan originally agreed to cooperation, u.s. cooperation with the syrian democratic forces as long as it was tactical. do not harm the ypg directly and as long as his sdf was created, which include arabs, of course, kurds and arabs within it. however, after president trump began arming the ypg directly for the liberation of raqqa, erdogan saw this is a redline that was crossed. and again, these were two of his sort of conditions that the u.s. not arm the ypg directly and that the kurds don't control this continuous swath of
continuous territory. now, what has happened in this recent intervention, i personally find it quite shocking. twosited northern syria weeks ago. when this operation was happening. i witnessed myself how families were trying to get their family members out as it was slowly being encircled by hostile forces. smugglers were charging about $1000 per person to get people out. i met a young turkish businessman who was running at nine family members out, $9,000 is an astronomical sum of money. they felt abandoned and isolated, especially given the fact that we have relied on the
kurds for fighting the islamic state. claims this isn about targeting the ypg, there are much more serious consequences. the civilian population is also --ng pot -- targeted areas targeted. not just the ypg and the civilian population is predominantly kurdish, but it's also is the knees and christians and if you recall in 2014, in iraq, st. john was actually on the map the rominger showed us, the disease also suffered a genocidal assault by islamic state in 2014. now they are essentially going through the same thing again because of this recent turkish intervention. they have been displaced again. in afrin. and so the civilian population has suffered, there are 150,000, possibly 200,000 people who have fled, just from afrin, but not
only are the civilians being targeted, but this local model of self governance they created is also under assault. i visited a number of the local government groups and ngos that exist in the east. i did not go to afrin. it was not possible by was -- when i was there. i just want to say, there's a lot we could talk about the local governments model, referred to as the western kurdistan revolution. if we look at all four parts of istan, -- whatkurd we see and we have been talking about in the western media unfortunately does not get a of -- a lot of very substantive coverage. but we see these images of the young kurdish women toting kalashnikovs, but who are they really and what are they really doing?
in fact, they have passed a number of important laws in this autonomous region of syria in the north that, for example, has outlawed polygamy and underage marriage, they have set the legal age of marriage at 18 . although the critics of this would say this is all pkk propaganda, actually, if you look at the laws and what they have actually done, setting a legal age of marriage at 18 , this is the same thing that you find in the turkish civil code, the legal age of marriage in turkey is also said at 18 years old. i think you can get the consent of a judge to marry at, but if -- at 17, but my point is if you look at the laws and what they have done in terms of women's rights, there is a similarity is between these laws they pass in the local governance models and what the local government is trying to implement and turkey's own civil code regarding women's rights.
but all of this is at risk because of this so-called olive branch operation in afrin. i believe it's a problem for our cooperation with the sdf. basically, this turkish war threatens the civilian population, their own local government, as well as the anti-isis coalition. this is what i think erdogan wants to achieve, frankly. he's not just targeting the ypg, he's actually targeting afrin as a whole, trying to prevent the connection to the other parts of kurdish syria. i don't know if there's going to be an open-ended turkish military presence in the north, the aleppo government, i don't know. i think that will depend a little bit on what happens in damascus and tehran is not to happy about the idea of a permanent turkish military presence in syria. erdogan is threatening to march toward where there are american
troops and sdf troops. your on the ground insights are really faceting. -- fascinating. david. what does israel want? >> thank you. it's an honor and a pleasure to be here. on this very difficult subject. i would say that i will talk -- i was asked to talk about what israel wants with the conflict with syria and some people would say the question answers itself, because what israel wants is out of the conflict with syria. in other words to stay out of , the conflict with syria as much as possible. there's a lot of truth in that, i think, and that if you had to summarize israel's interest and policy in the last seven years or so since the syrian uprising began exactly seven years ago, that would be a pretty fair bumper sticker summary. but i have two qualifications.
one is that this is changing, even as we speak. until now, compared to russia or iran or turkey, israel's involvement in syria has been relatively limited. but there's a very good chance that it is going to get bigger. as the next few months and years proceed. and secondly, even looking act -- looking back at israel's policy over the last seven years, israel has intervened in small ways, but important ways. in the syrian conflict, in order to secure what it sees as its basic interests. so what are these basic interests? how has israel intervened until now and how is it likely to intervene in my view, probably more in the future? the basic interest is israel sees them are as follows and number one is one that is often forgotten, but should not be
forgotten and that is keep the goal on heights. israel has occupied that piece of syrian territory sense -- since the six-day war in 1967. almost lost it and then regained it in the october war of 1973 and then formally annexed that territory in 1980. there is no sign that israel has any intention of ever giving it up. on the contrary, there's every sign that this is now considered a crucial buffer zone for israel's security. this is not an issue of religious claims or settlers, for the most part, this is an issue of security as the israelis see it. and it's very much an issue. this is not just history, because today, right now, israel's control, or secure
control over that part of originally syrian sovereign territory called the golan heights is in jeopardy by the presence of iranian and hezbollah and regime and other forces right on the cease-fire line between the golan heights under israeli control and the rest of syria under everybody else's control. that's number one. number two, related to keep the golan heights is reduce the presence and the threat of hostile forces in syrian territory, especially close to israel, especially ones that could pose a significant threat to israeli security as the israelis see it. those forces are the ones i just mentioned. iran, hezbollah, regime forces, plus a number of various jihadi militias that have sometimes on and off ventured close to israeli controlled territory.
in the golan heights or on other border areas. number three, particularly when it comes to the security threats, opposed if necessary by force, and this is where we are coming to israel's direct intervention in the syrian conflict. oppose the transfer of advanced weapons to those hostile groups on syrian territory near israel's borders or the creation of weapons factories that could produce advanced weapons like missiles or antiaircraft weapons. especially guided missiles or antiaircraft weapons. oppose any infiltration across the border or any border skirmishes, whether accidental or deliberate, by anyone, from syrian territory into israeli controlled territory.
and suppose the use or transfer -- oppose the use or transfer of unconventional weapons, particularly chemical weapons, to anyone who might threaten israel's security. from syria. and finally, and this is where i think we get to the question of where we are going to go from here -- oppose the creation by iran and hezbollah over time of a whole new front against israel, similar to the one that iran and hezbollah have created over time in lebanon. that means many thousands of missiles, underground bunkers and tunnels, command-and-control centers, all targeted at israel. in the event that iran or sidellah the side -- the
cide to use those facilities against israel, whether in retaliation for israeli strike against iran or for some of the region -- some other reason. i want to tell to quick anecdotes that i think illustrate some aspects of what i just said. it so happens that i was in israel in the very moment that obama decided not to enforce by force the chemical weapons redline that he had announced in september of 2013. and it so happened that at that very moment, i was deep in conversation with a rather senior israeli security official with responsibility for this issue among others, and to my amazement, when i asked him what he thought about obama's decision not to use force, not to enforce the chemical weapons redline, but to turn it over to
the russians and the assad regime in exchange for promises to rid of serious chemical weapons, this is really senior -- israeli senior official said to me you know, this might turn out better. for us. if obama manages to get the syrian regime to divest itself of most of its most dangerous chemical weapons without firing a shot, then he is some kind of genius. this was very much against the conventional wisdom that israel wanted the united states to intervene by force in syria or to topple the assad regime or to get rid of even just that regime's chemical weapons in order to protect the israelis. quite the contrary. israeli policy all during this period has been to look after 's -- and only after it's
-- narrow immediate border security interests and not to get involved unnecessarily in their view, against the regime, against anyone else acting in syria, whether it was turkey or russia, or the kurds and basically, to stay out as much as possible, even to the point of supporting and american policy, at least privately supporting american policy, a very, very limited involvement in the syrian conflict. and here's another example from my personal experience, it -- a little bit more recently. this was about two years after that in the late 2015, early 2016 time. -- 2016 period. shortly after the russians had intervened in a more serious way in support of the assad regime. at that moment, it israel, which
had quietly been establishing informal unofficial contacts with the syrian opposition as a way of hedging its bets, just in case assad did fall without the -- was at the point of inviting for the first time a significant delegation, this is not been publicly reported until now, a significant delegation of syrian opposition figures to israel for the first time for a private conference. and there were some people in israel who considered this this an important achievement, at least, potentially. as again, a way of hedging their bets because nobody really knew and nobody still knows what is going to end up in syria. and at that moment, the event -- and then israeli ministry of defense personally intervened and said cancel the conference.
disinvited delegation. we, israel, do not want to be involved with the syrian opposition in any way, shape, or form, just at the moment when russia is intervening forcibly in order to support the assad regime. that is basically israel's policy, limited intervention only to protect its immediate interests and avoiding getting tangled up in the broader syrian conflict, whether it is against anybody or for anybody on the larger arena. and the way that they have done this is with airstrikes. there have been over 100 in just the last two years, this is publicly acknowledged by the israeli government and for the first time today, publicly knowledged by the syrian government on its official website, the syrian arab news agency. by engaging in very intensive
continual consultations with all of the major parties involved in syria, except for iran and the regime and hezbollah, in other words, with the kurds, with the opposition, with united states, with russia, and with turkey. quietly. but effectively. including reaching agreements to de- conflict certain areas right on israel's border in the southwest corner of syria, israel, the golan heights, and jordan. and engaging in small-scale that -- but increasingly, i would say substantial humanitarian assistance to syrian civilians just across the border. in order to try and keep the population friendly and less disposed to swing over to the side of the regime, of iran, of
jihadi's, or the of anybody else that might directly threaten israel. but all of these precautions and initiatives, limited as they have been are eroding right now. and that is why as i said at the start, i think there is every possibility that is really -- israeli intervention in syria might grow in the coming months and years. let me just list a few of the ways in which these interests are eroding right now. first of all, israeli airstrikes have not prevented iran or hezbollah from increasing their presence in syria. they have taken out some convoys, some factories, some specific weapons, even some iranian generals. but iran and hezbollah continue to pour money and weapons and people into increasingly sensitive areas right near
israel in syrian territory. and there is no sign, according to the best israeli and american expert assessments that limited airstrikes of the kind we have seen up until now are going to score more than tactical successes against those potential enemies. strategically, iran and hezbollah in syria as the israelis see it pose an increasing threat, not one that can be successfully managed as in the future, as it has been in the past. secondly, the united states as the israelis see a is not inclined to intervene itself in order to prevent this expanding hezbollah and iranian encroachment in syria, which the israelis see as potentially
posing not just a nuisance, but a serious future threat to israel. maybe even if the iranians actually succeed in turning syria into another lebanon, and existential threat. the united states as the israelis see it is not likely to intervene and therefore, as very senior israeli officials told us at the washington institute exactly a week ago, israel sees itself as on its own when it comes to protecting it's narrow interest, even it's narrow interests in the future of syria. and therefore, and i will wrap up with this rather -- i want to -- i don't want to say alarmist, but troubling conclusion. therefore, i do expect in the future and we will probably see more israeli military intervention in the syrian theater. mr. miller: david, thank you.
it's a good transition to allow me to make a few observations about u.s. policy. originally, i had given some thought as to whether or not we needed to address this in a full-blown manner. with some hesitation, reservation, i decided not to. maybe that was the right call and maybe it wasn't. but i want to pick up on your point, because the way david framed his early policy, i would describe it as risk-averse, narrowly defined in focus, not interested in make involvement. i would argue the view that is precisely the way united states now through two administrations has conceptualized and framed its approach to syria. we are year in to a very idiosyncratic administration and we are now going to win this personnel
changes that arguably could change that frame of reference, that risk aversion, john bolton, mike pompeo, an event perhaps walking away from or further delegitimizing or degrading of the jcp 08 might expect -- might in fact expand the potential for american kinetic action. if you asked me to take a look at both the obama administration's policies and this administration policies, i would have to say that the point of departure is an extraordinary degree, despite all the bluster and rhetoric, risk aversion. in a galaxy far, far away, you could have imagined and rhetorically, both administrations have used this sort of language. we are going to find a way to check iranian influence. we are going to find a way to either work with or make it clear to the russians what exactly we need from them. we are going to use our own military power in the face of
mass killing. this administration delivers on its own self-declared redline in april of last year, even though it has allowed scores of instances of the use of chemical weapons, largely chlorine, against civilian populations. as recently as the last two weeks. the assumptions on which the previous administration based its policy -- syria is not a vital strategic interest of the united states, it is not worth this investment of american lives, and credibility. second, the shadow of iraq was -- ways very heavy and very long. be an inflection point not just what it was for obama, and really for mr. trump, it may well prove to be a point for the success of
administrations against the investments in trillion dollar social science experiments with united states seeks to deploy a massive military force, spend trillions of dollars in an effort to reconstruct societies where they do not have the wherewithal or the will and arguably the skill to do so. humanitarian intervention, which the obama administration wrestled with, and was accused by its critics of abdication. in the face of mass killing. this administration, even though it has responded with a single strike against the syrian airfield which was a departure -- point of departure for the aircraft that dropped that sarin gas, this administration has shied away from the moral, ethical dimensions, even rhetorically. the reality is, american intervention in the face of mass killing has been the exception.
not the norm. from the not see holocaust, to cambodia, to darfur, to congo, to myanmar, the united states has not led the international community in interceding in any of these. applying an unrealistic and unreasonable standard, that they -- the expectation that they would intercede when none of their predecessors did. i think simply this reinforces the notion that we are not going to get involved. finally, let me conclude with this observation. as david mentioned, with respect to the israelis, who have to find their interests very narrowly, we too have defined ours narrowly as well. the very the reason we were involved with syria in a way had
nothing to do with the assad regime. it had to do what perceived to be the potential threat of a transnational terrorist group te andng a quasi-calipha using the most brutal of methods posing a threat to the constant -- the continental united states. which is arguably still the reason we are there. whether this will change as david pointed out with respect to the israelis, it may well expand. whether it will change with respect to our role, is another matter. it is unclear. bureaucratically it strikes me as there is a high probability that in fact there will be arguments made for the mind of the president that would argue
for a more kinetic policy. mattis, thers, jim fact that there are very few good military options, even if we choose to apply force in syria, with respect to an outcome is unclear. let me conclude. we have plenty of time for discussion among our panelists and plenty of time for questions from the audience. but let me pose a question to each of you i was thinking. paul, i know this is impossible to answer. >> i will try my best. >> when putin thinks of assad, the process --nk thought process is when he thinks about replacing him, and ensuring he and others continue
after some encumbrance -- how does he conceptualize maintaining russian objectives? with respect to a regime. >> there is nobody credible who could replace assad. his regime and his father's regime was based on wiping out anyone who opposed such a challenge who could serve as a replacement. i'm reminded of mubarak's regime in egypt. there is no vice president waiting in the wings, and went -- no one can take over. he probably accepts them as the best of any possible option. there is nothing else credible to put in his place, let's leave him here there. even hip he is not perfect -- if he is not perfect -- and no one
would claim that he is perfect. this is something we need to deal with and support. >> the russians must understand they are part of a minority regime. and their own role in killing thousands of syrians with their own airstrikes, they made have prejudged their role for a long time to come. or, am i not correct? >> i think you are absolutely right. ,ecause of the situation despite being under enormous threat in his own country, he can object to russian policy when he wants to and does. he can tell the russians what not to do. he can probably resist the russian ideas of creating an autonomous zones within syrian territory. something that is very much against his interest. there is no replacements of the russians have to deal with that.
the russians themselves have painted themselves into a corner. not just supporting assad personally, but also by defending their presence in syria. the only russian pace outside of the former soviet union is their major intervention for -- for intervening in the first place. keeping the going is something that has wake them down keeping that position going is something that has weighed them down. it has driven them to a massive military intervention that is opposed just about everywhere and the world and widely and the region, even if it to create this illusion of strength. i think they are stuck with this. there is no way out of supporting bashar al-assad without losing their christian -- prestige. >> thank you. if we walk away from the jcpoa, how is that going to influence future iranian behavior in syria?
jcpoa was always designed to be the first step in a broader strategy to include eventual engagement with iran in a multilateral forum to deal with regional issues of common concern, syria being at the top of the list. there had been tentative discussions on the sideline about talking, and the americans organized the seven party talks -- party talks that included the 17 iranians. everyone thought that was a track that could then develop. needless to say, if the u.s. walks away, it not only unravels the potential for any progress on that front. it also allows iran to counter u.s. interests, and particularly because the u.s. has taken a stance on the side of the saudis so visibly. most important pillar outside of israel. you could see the real danger that we are back in the 1980's when i was in beirut and there
was this tension between a young , zealous revolutionary regime and the united states. i also wanted to address the issue that you asked paul. we all look at the future of syria in terms of who is at the chief, what military gains. at the end of the day, the real determinant that has surprised everyone, there has been no single opposition figure who has emerged as an alternative. we don't even have a type of person in syria. as a result, that has helped him enormously. both the iranian foreign minister and top russian officials have said to me, when i said you really want to invest think paul, and i will agree, neither country likes assad. he is not his father, this is a
guy who is an ophthalmologist, he is not a deep thinker, he was initially swayed by his father's advisers. he is just trying to survive. both the russians and iranians say what is your alternative? what have you come up with? this is a factor we do not invest enough time in. the opposition has been divided, even in terms of who should have the power, they cannot come up with a common agenda. the rule of thumb on the ground is if a dictator can hold 30% of a population, he has enough to staff his police, his civil service, his military, that is all he needs to survive. he has done that because there is not a lot of attraction. the kurds are the only people who have provided, whether it is military force or leadership. as a result, they are a separate entity and always have been. they are not an alternative.
>> one more for you. iranian syria play in internal politics? during recent protests, i can never really understand this notion that the regime is squandering our resources, does that resonate, does it matter if it does resonate? >> it resonates enormously. with a caveat. the protests in late december and january, you saw invest in me not gaza, and lebanon. it was about economic issues, it -- and the fact that these basic core economic problems that nudged the regime into a nuclear deal play out now. and of course, will be impacted further if the nuclear deal implodes or even roads, --erode
s. if there is not the kind of investment for the emerging population. that will be tremendously important. at the same time, persian nationalism is very strong. even among the young generation that was born after the revolution and does not feel that commitment to the system. there is real pride and a sense of, whether they are a shiite minority, the indo-european they want to make sure that iran is protected. they will not have to fight another war like they did with the sunni regime of saddam hussein. the iranians like to point out they have not invaded anyone 200 years. it is that defense mentality, that minority mentality that defines what they want. they would like to see a
friendly regime in syria. do they think it is worth the price? i think a lot of people are unhappy. we need to understand all of the factors that way into national sentiment right now, not just the obvious one. to what degree do we, the united states or the trump administration, factor in what appeared to be erdogan's new risk readiness to actually deploy troops? are we the driving force that triggered this? kurdish gains? talks of kurdish independence? what was it do you think? >> that is a good question. i think, if we look at the more immediate causes for this intervention in january, some people would point to tillerson
's speech at stanford where he was talking about providing security to that region. thought, now the united states are not just in a tactical relationship, we are defeating the islamic state, we are going to provide security to this kurdish region, this autonomous region, by some estimates, 25% of syria now. which extends far beyond into the kurdish region to the north. it goes all down the eastern side. you know, i actually think, this may sound crazy. but we have to remember the four different parts of kurdistan, where there are kurdish minorities. the country where erdogan and
turkey have the best relationship was the kurdish government of iraq, that was the part that was closest to becoming an independent state. and yet that is where turkey has the best relations. they were built on economic ties. they were built on turkish banks, turkish investment, working in bk r.g.. -- the krg. in the future turkey could come to accept the fact there are kurds also in syria, that is their homeland, and they have some autonomy from damascus. this would be a peaceful resolution to this problem is erdogan accepts this. there is the kurdish region in syria, they have autonomy from damascus. they are not threatening turkey. he leaves them in peace. some people speculate this is about the elections and his
-- to adopt a presidential system in turkey. at the beginning of his rule, everyone relied on the kurds, he was granting them linguistic rights for decades. in 2013 there was protests, in 80 different cities in turkey against -- they were largely seen as protests against erdogan. the kurds did not take part in that. can you imagine if the kurds had also called for those protests , what may have happened? but they did not. this was during the cease-fire. basically what happened in 2015 was the parliamentary election when, for the first time, the legal political party got 13% of the vote, that was the first time they got more than 10% of
the vote for the first time. i think erdogan felt threatened by that. this is one of the reasons why the cease-fire fell apart. i mean, if you look at these three different countries, turkey, syria, and iraq. when they got 13% of the vote , this triggered the change from the cease-fire to this more aggressive approach. the kurds in turkey who have been imprisoned, when they had good relations with the krg and the referendum when they tried to declare independence, there was a switch in the turkish attitude, now also in syria with the syrian kurds. so i think the u.s. is partly, and this is what we have been trying to do is way our
relationship carefully with turkey. i think, what is going to happen with the new secretary of state, i don't know. we do have to weigh this dynamic carefully. >> from erdogan's perspective, is it possible to manage a relationship with turkey and be energetically supporting the syrian kurds? i suppose the question is why are we supporting the syrian kurds beyond their utility and their instrumental value in confronting isis? i'm asking you, i can't answer the question either, what is the point beyond preventing isis's return?
what does erdogan think we will do? >> i think there is actually a difference between what you shadow of iraq rock looms large over policy toward syria. this is not nationbuilding. this is government building. the kurds have already done this. in afrin, which is now dissolved because it is occupied by turkey. politically, this is already happening. it is not calling for the fall of bashar al-assad. they just want their local government. a federal system. in terms of the military dimension, raqqa has been
liberated. other places have been liberated. there are still islamic state militants in syria. officials in the state department have warned warned they are regrouping partly because of what is happening in afrin. some of these groups have been taking part in this turkish and there afrin -- are many different groups, i will not generalize. some of them are threatening to behead kurds. they think because they promote secularism and they embrace other ethnicities and religions, they see them as infidels. they are threatening to behead them. i mean, do we want the head choppers to come back? i don't think so. who else are we going to work with? who else do we want to stabilize the region? 25% of syria, it's something. if that part of syria would
remain peaceful and stabilize, that would be a good and for the united states, for israel, for turkey, that would be a good thing. you, and atwo for q&a from the audience. number one, to the best of your ability to make sense of this, what do the israelis want from us in syria? >> that is easy. ideally they would like the united states to do more to cut , ands land bridge to syria reduce the extent of iranian influence in syria.
that means ideally, again, they know that this may not happen, and probably will not happen, to take direct american military action as needed. not just to protect our forces and our friends and eastern but toas we did twice, stay there and to establish a kind of border corridor across southern syria that would keep i ran out. because they know this is not practical or at least not a sure thing, and a minimum what they want from us is to support israel. or not to oppose. campaign ofrael's limited military strength against iranian and hezbollah targets. >> let's try a q&a from the audience.
please try to identify yourself. down here in front. >> i want to ask about russia and isis. -- the connection between russia and isis. so i exactly has their targeting been so disproportionate relative to the opposition groups, given that they have identified russia as a same enemy that the united states is. russia is closer geographically, they have a much larger population than the united states does. it seems like a core national interest for them. why aren't they? is it because of capability? do they have the forces to spare to attack isis on the same level that other groups have? given how important that is in their patriotic narrative, they always talk about how much they are doing to fight isis. >> keep track of that one.
way in the back? >> how have the russians reacted to the peace process that the iranians have been pushing for syria? what is the agenda going to be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow when putin, erdogan, and they are going to meet in turkey? >> what was the first half of the question? i could not hear you. how have hadaid , -- have the russians reacted to the iranian peace in syria? it has really been discussed probably several times. >> let's take one more.
i fear we are running short on time. the third question, right here. yes. >> thank you. i am from north of syria. i am the representative of the syrian democratic council to the united states. i am just asking here about the has of turkey, that complicated more and more the thean issue, especially recent innovating and occupying up syrian territory. now they are beheading of the syrians north of the border. what do you think? is it in the interest of the
united states to have that? in this craze -- case they are increasing the issue of russia. what is the solution do you think? especially after mr. donald the point he declared deploying the-- u.s. army at syria -- army from russia? what do you think? >> let's do those three. >> russia certainly did impact a lot of isis targets, they also attacked the syrian army. all of the other opponents of assad, or at least all of the major ones. i think because russia does not like isis, it is an existential threat to russia. there are isis aligned people that are creating problems for the russians. i think in syria in particular their overarching case is they , want to protect the regime. attacking anyone who would that regime militarily,
especially agents of other governments, agents who are receiving support for the united states. that is something they definitely want to do. they have focused on that. they had the patriarch, out and talk about this in religious terms. nevertheless, if you look at the combat operations and you can find that all over the place when the intervention began. a large number of the attacks were on non-isis targets. the reason is quite clear, they from --protect aside assad from any kind of attack. any kind of armed opposition. they extended that nation very broadly and very quickly. they were going after non-isis people. >> how did the russians react? the first part of the plan will form the basis for any kind of peace deal. if it is for humanitarian aid, constitutional government, a you election.n
it is because it is anathema to those who don't like the role in the region. i think the russians have supported the idea. they talked often as one, even though there are some real differences that are likely to come out in the future. the difference between turkey, iraq, and russia. one of the interesting dynamics of the syrian tragedy is that none of the alliances have been either holdingin together, but the troika has been far more effective. there peace process has taken over the u.n. process. they are still odd fellows. turkey being the most odd fellow out of this relationship, there are needless to say disagreements about what they are doing now in the north. i would love to be a fly on the wall for the time being,
because everyone else is even more divided, it is the one thing -- they are more effective in achieving their goals if it is the u.s. and their allies or anyone else in the region. >> briefly, i guess the question is, is turkey planned a helpful role now -- playing a helpful role now? >> in my opinion, the answer to that is no. i find it shocking. there are american troops and erdogan is threatening to intervene. he has been saying this for two months now. maybe it is just a threat then he will not do it. if the american troops would leave, i don't know. it is kind of shocking that a nato ally uses this kind of language with the united states. i think there are divisions between maybe the state department department of , defense, white house, this is possibly why there has not been a better response to this.
i have been studying u.s.-turkish relationships for my phd since the end of row or -- end ofworld war ii world war ii, is a serious crisis. the last thing i can remember is the 2003 intervention in iraq and that is winter he did not allow the united states to use military bases to invade iraq did we now have troops threatening to invade. it is a new level. >> in response to mr. trump withdrawing american forces. i think it is impossible to provide an answer. what is clear and one year plus is that mr. trump is determined not to become -- or to become un-obama. that would mean in my judgment, we would not withdraw our forces from syria. doing that we are going to be in
iraq for many years to come. afghanistan for many years to come. i suspect in syria as well. this president is not going to want the responsibility of a public relations disaster for a precipitous withdrawal from syria. even though it is not clear to me frankly what is the strategic purpose other than the narrowly focused mission of isis of maintaining 2000 american forces and nine fso's, and believing we could have a significant impact on shaping the future of the battlefield or this country's political future. we have time for a couple more, yes, down here. >> i hear that trump has not 2333.d executive order 1 i would like those of you who
are willing or daring to step outside of the box and tell me what would happen if assad was assassinated, how would the regional players react? [laughter] >> wow. >> well, that is a fascinating question. let's take one more and then we will think about how we answer that one. marina. >> listening to all of you, it seems like every country is -- the five countries involved in syria, nobody wants to divide syria, to tear syria apart. there are various plans how to proceed, you know that geneva plan, the arabians, so on and so what -- it iranians, so on.
at the same time, it seems to me with all of the countries that have really limited goals. they are also following policies that make it impossible for syria to be put back together. i would like some comments on that, because it seems to me that the more militias, the more groups, the more actors, the more weapons to different groups that all of the outsiders are putting in, the less possible it becomes for syria to stay together. in -- can i weigh in? first of all, if assad is assassinated, one of the bigger dangers for us is that he who is goingause to come to his rescue, who is
going to rebuild the country? i think there are a lot of good questions. i agree with you, everybody agrees on, every country, everybody, they want to hold syria together. the iraqi former ambassador said the only people who want to hold it together are the ones who don't live in iraq. i think that applies to syria to some degree. the danger after seven years of ethnic cleansing, displaced people, you have populations of the country that are outside of the country. more than half is displaced. there is that revenge element, for someone who lived in lebanon for five years during the civil war. there is finding a formula that will hold syria together with a strong central government is illusory and of course this is the strategic center of the middle east. whatever happens in syria will ripple across the entire region. we ought to take the question
more seriously. we are in real danger. it is not like we are going to have a revolution or an just -- or just an assassination. i think the greater danger is you cannot rebuild the country as it was. there is no alternative leadership. assad is not a good leader. they don't do very much to rebuild the country. then you look at the way of syria and a very different way. if you look at what happened in libya, in eight months you had a -- went from having a totalitarian government to having hundreds and hundreds of have 6s, and you only million people. we have over 1000 militia, a lot of them are just neighborhoods. i interviewed a local one. they couldn't get together to unify high command. they were all about the neighborhood and who had control. we could see this phenomenon across syria. that is why i wear rate, in
-- worry in addressing all these questions about syria right now. we are not looking at the biggest one. >> just one thought. given this presidents seemingly natural determination to applaud putin. there are reasons that are not clear to me and a driven by a logical foreign policy, i think the last thing he would want to do would be to remove what we would argue is a central feature of the russian enterprise. in syria. >> that is not my question. if he has a heart attack, what happens next? >> you can try that one. >> i will try to be brief. early on during the syrian uprising, after about one year of mass casualties inflicted by the regime against its own
people, i was put on the spot just like i am now with the same question. why doesn't somebody order a drone strike and take him out? i said i thought that would be great. i still think so. i don't think it would solve the problem. i think it would just be a kind of poetic justice. i think syria would still unfortunately be even more militarized and controlled by outside powers and some new despotic regime. the problem is not only him, he although hesonally, is responsible for genocide. on the question of somebody else raising the question about -- what was that other question? >> the future of syria. >> yes.
it was going to be marina's question. i think i disagree with the sentiment that syria is falling apart. i think the regime is taking control over more and more of the country, and that is the future trajectory of syria. supported by iran and russia and hezbollah. and hundreds of thousands of shiite militia fighters from outside of the country. -- as thingse will are going, they will take over of the country, except for probably some of the more peripheral areas in which the kurds will maintain de facto local autonomy and some corners , near the --y border. i think israel and jordan tacitly are supported by the united states may succeed in preventing the regime from
establishing full control. >> can i give it a try? >> sure. we will give the last word to you. dead willd drops probably have a post stalin situation, where all of the different parts of the government tried to arrange collective leadership, you will have a syrian version of the government. they will get together and try to create this. if that would be as effective as one person doing all of the decisions, i don't know. that is something that we may possibly find out. if he signs the executive order if something else should happen. i think syria is more stable in terms of their national government than any time in the past 6-7 years. again, whether it collapses as a national entity i think is very doubtful. one barometer i have of that is
beirut, in syria become stable, lebanon will become less stable. for the last tears -- 10 years we have not had militia clashes in syria. we have not had clashes since 2008. we have the different factionalized versions of lebanese politics. we are looking now at the first parliamentary election since 2009 after an illegal extension parliamentsnt mandate. that could be very dangerous. there is an unrest over all -- in civil society over all sorts of issues. the fact that lebanon domestically -- which could have greater instability. one of the ironies is when syria was a mess, all of the lebanese factions got together and talked about how they love peace and wanted everyone to live peacefully. it is a bit hard to believe.
there are connections to iran and if they are disrupted. he is sending thousands of his fighters to die. then of course he has a certain has a certain amount of reason to do that. i think it syria becomes more stable you will see lebanon move towards crisis. >> fascinating insight. please join me in thanking our panel. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> wednesday marks the 50th
anniversary of dr. martin luther king jr.'s assassination. we will talk about the life and legacy of dr. king later today. that is live from the national civil rights museum in memphis at 1 p.m. eastern right here on c-span. have remarks from ohio governor john kasich, who will be at new england college and henniker, new hampshire. that is also life here on c-span. ♪ + >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. morning, bethany alan a brahimi and discusses recent political developments and u.s.-china relations.
then we talk about the future of u.s.-china relations. be sure to watch washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern this morning. join the discussion. from surgeonrks general on public health partnerships and the opioid epidemic. he is followed by a panel discussion with health officials on social determinants of health. the american public health association hosted this to our event. -- 2 hour event.
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