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tv   Quadriga - Battle for Idlib Endgame in Syria  Deutsche Welle  September 13, 2018 11:30pm-12:01am CEST

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moonshining johnny each week you can discover utah nice and locate. the tell you story on the ground. from b. to. his work and the goddess fortuna. the munch and the. children's song twenty two. after seven years of fighting that have left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced the devastating conflict in syria appears to be moving toward a decisive battle russian and syrian warplanes have been bombarding the outskirts of islam in northwestern syria the last remaining rebel stronghold over three
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million people are trapped in the city this week the united nations warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe with thousands of casualties and the risk of mass flight by those who can't get out of germany and other western countries are considering retaliatory action should syria's military resort to poison gas during an offensive is its lib the so-called endgame in syria and what happens after the end those are the questions we want to address in quadriga and these are our guests my sume melanie is of syrian origin and she works on de w's arabic show she believes the battle for it live could be the endgame for rebels in syria but its legacy could start a new hard time for both turkey and europe. and we're very glad to have our own post there on the program once again he's a commentator for the daily newspaper to vote and he says. werman should join the
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allied military coalition to prevent a massacre by the syrians russians and iranians in it better late than never and finally it's also a pleasure to have michele little back with us once again he's a middle eastern expert and author of several books about the region he says assad will stay in power but the next conflicts within syria are already looming so let me start out by asking all of you to talk a little bit about the current situation in syria and in particular in it live and my soon to you first of all what are you hearing from family friends acquaintances in syria both about what they're expecting to happen and about the situation is live in particular well first of all i come from a place in syria which hasn't witnessed the war actually because i come from the attack yeah and the talking i was saved during the last seven years. but you know i can tell you that most of people in syria are tired from the war so they. the
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syrian regime or maybe the war managed to let them reach a point where they only think about their own survival so that they are really sad about what is going to happen in but they don't think much about about it because they are so consumed about their daily struggle to survive under a very bad economic situation even in the safe places of syria and maybe because they say they see no way out of this situation they are living in michel that is let me ask you about a potential way out the air attacks have actually let up in the last couple of days and this follows appeals by everybody from the u.n. secretary general to turkish president to one for russia and syria not to press ahead with an offensive is it possible that those appeals has been heard could a full out assault still be avoided. it's very difficult to say in theory yes the
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russians have made it clear that they want to eliminate all of these jihadi fighters in the region of it look so there's a strong likelihood that they were go for military action but at the same time they're of course also worried that their image is getting tarrant and they would try probably to pursue a salami tactics of imus say so so go step by step and then see what's going to happen the conflict in syria is very complex because we do not only have a civil war that has been going on over the past years we also have a proxy wall that is taking place there in syria and that makes it so difficult for this war turned and very much afraid that the suffering of the syrians will not come to an end in the burn your future i want to talk about that proxy situation a little bit more shortly but. ellen posner we heard from my soon how weary people in syria are of this conflict certainly that is true for those who are witnessing it from the far we've seen bloodshed and western in action for seven
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years now why should it live be any different why does the battle for ad lib matter and why should the west care at this point well actually we haven't seen western inaction we destroyed isis in syria which the russians and the syrian government who claimed to be doing fighting terrorists didn't what they did was besieged different cities then let the east the jihadi fighters go to live now they've created a situation where there eighty thousand fighters among them ten thousand radical jihadists in a killing box right and and they want to just eliminate them all and that and that and i think that's. because that's the that is the endgame the creation of this killing box that's why we need to to do something we need to stop it you say yes and your statement your opening statement said we need to intervene the west needs
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to intervene to prevent casualties but in fact the western and interventions that you've talked about were aimed at i yes or at most at retaliation after chemical weapons attacks and we haven't really intervened to prevent casualties yet you're right and while we prevented i think genocide of the u.c.d. population for instance that was very definitely one of the things that the americans british french and their iraqi allies prevented for and they could i was sorry prevented. to say we've done nothing would be really under playing. what the west has achieved the the unfortunate thing is that we have done nothing to stop assad and i agree with you in the end. we're going to see russia stablished as a major power and we in spite of everything we've done is buy into the fact that we're the only people who've ever done anything it's real terrorists in the west
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are going to be marginalized before we picked up i see myself getting into position to address that but let me say let us just briefly take a closer look at the situation in libya itself before we pick up some of the issues that there has just raised we have a short report on the situation in the city and its region. the people of it live are facing an imminent military offensive and they're preparing for the worst anyone who can is getting out those who remain are seeking shelter in makeshift bunkers. an estimated three million civilians live here half of them displaced from elsewhere in syria also digging in here are about ten thousand mostly islamist rebels the bombs are meant for them many observers are afraid that poison gas may be used. you risk of course many deaths of civilian people of innocent people which would be. terrible
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a humanitarian catastrophe syria is in ruins hundreds of thousands are dead and millions on the run when the offensive starts as many as half a million more could flee will repeat aleppo spate. as we're just heard there the rebels make up a disproportionately small share of the population of this area at the moment why is the government so determined in its own words to liberate it lip we're talking about over three million civilians ten thousand rebels i mean was it difficult and other places in cities in syria like that. and homes and and many other places where the regime insisted. evacuating almost everyone who doesn't want to cooperate two of them. it's i think this ten thousand rebels and are very useful and very useful and very.
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convenient for the regime to wreak take the place of the region the province of idlib again because it's the last stronghold of the a position and anyone who is saying no to this regime. i don't think it's the number of the extremist islamist which is bad enough but it's the syrian regime and russia behind it who has the plan from the very visit beginning from the first hand of retaking every single piece of syria which they don't have the full control long because it is before the shelling began the syrian government said that it wants to avoid civilian casualties we heard the u.n. warning in that report of a potential bloodbath can and how can civilian casualties still be avoided well it's very difficult to say nobody knows what's going to happen and i think the
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civilians are going to pay a very high price that is without the question i mean we have seen that in other areas of conflict in syria as well the regime is very brutal in defending its power it makes no compromises whatsoever the arrow and the western conception in my view when it comes to all of the warring parties in syria is simply that they believe that there are good guys who are waging the war in a more humane way who are going and willing to establish a new syria which is not really in the making for the time being and this is different reasons we do not only have the situation in syria itself that we have to or to look at we also have to to note that syria is in the middle of a geostrategic whole struggle between different actors and it is very very important to understand this it is the western countries especially the united states but also the european union plus turkey and the gulf arab states that decided to top of the regime of bashar al assad when the revolt in syria started in
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two thousand and eleven not because he was a brutal dictator which of course he is but because they wanted to install a regime that is pro western rather than pro russian however both the russians the iranians and the chinese were not willing to have the west's succeed in syria and in the end they were more. unscrupulous smarter in understanding the set up of the syrian conflict and they managed to afford the regime to regain control of most of the country ok i want to pick up on that in the moment bringing it back to in the bit south what would you expect from the rebels themselves would you expect them to use the civilians essentially as hostages and shields the jihadi rebels totally they will do so they have been doing so in the past weeks already they do not care about civilian casualties they are no different in their mentality from those holding power in damascus and it was a strong arrow of western countries to support these people believing that they
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could bring about change in syria these jihadi fighters where they where do they come from i mean it's quite amazing to see that most of these jihadi fighters are close to al-qaeda nevertheless these parties have been supported in the past by the gulf arab states by turkey and also by the western countries who are turkey and the gulf arab states do whatever they please they were if i may say so useful idiots who know of course a problem for everybody because the turks turkey is not willing to accept these people as refugees if these ten thousand people left there would be no need for a struggle for it from the point of view of the regime but the turks of course on of willing to take these people and because it would mean creating a domestic problem for turkey itself and indeed imposing their turkey has now closed its border to to northern syria in other words to it limp what do you see as the potential implications of an all out offensive in libya in
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terms of the kind of regional politics that michelle he does is talking about but also in terms of course of refugee flows. well. one short eighty thousand five more or less in italy of whom ten thousand other kind of jihadist you talked about but seventy thousand people who took up arms because the regime oppressed them and not because the west used them as as idiots as you say useful idiots against assad so i think we need to and these are the people we should be worried about these are people who took up arms after they had been oppressed who in other you know who we would call resistance fighters if it were in france or somewhere like that you know who in a noble tradition of fighting fascist regime and we owe them right but how to separate them now from the jihadist because it's been assad's policy to
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mix them all up together and it did honestly i don't know quite fact i don't know. but there has to be some way of separating those whom we owe to those whom we have been fighting in the rest of syria it's true that we've been using our qaida and so on against against assad we've been fighting the real terrorists all along we've fought them in iraq we fought them in the in the jersey redistribute fought them all the way to the to the of your arms of baghdad where they were the russians the syrians did nothing but how to do this concrete lee i really don't know but it has to be a concerted effort which is why i feel we can't stand aside we need to talk to the we need to talk the americans we need to talk to the british and french and develop a strategy that we'll talk in just a minute about what that might look like but just now focusing on turkey if you would and you predicted in your opening statement hard times for both turkey and
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the west and turkey has been warning very anxiously of a flow of refugees that would dwarf anything we've seen so far in the syrian war should the all out battle for it live. begin to think that's right world not only turkey also the un warned of seven hundred million refugees leaving the country of the attack really starts and it is starting up just seven hundred thousand sorry. yes and turkey is passing through the worst economical crisis since two thousand and two i think so it's really without the will of defending turkey or anyone it's not able to take in any refugee more interest there might be a chance to relocate some of these refugees to the north of syria our you fred shields the free syrian army which is supported by turkey. which is controlling. there there would be a chance to relook relook at these refugees to this place in syria but it's not
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a solution i think the west should stay in dialogue with turkey because of its own interest because. the tragedy the strategy the tragedy sorry the catastrophe is on the way i'm afraid we're not any we were not able to do anything to stop it but if we are thinking about our own interests here in europe we should talk about about it with turkey and see how we could do the less. worst scenario out of it so let's talk to the one who's coming up to germany in a couple of days and see what they want to less thing let things be not so bad as they are going to be meanwhile of course western countries are talking with one another about whether and how to intervene in syria if syria and russia should move ahead with an offensive the if is whether chemical weapons are used
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even germany which has been traditionally reluctant to commit forces out of area is now in talks with the u.s. and other allies about whether it would participate in military action in the event of the use of chemical weapons let's hear angela merkel on the subject. i think it's about simply to maintain that we can look the other way if chemical weapons are used somewhere in violation of an international convention cannot be our response either. all our responses will always be based on the german constitution and parliamentary obligations that's absolutely clear it cannot be the german position to simply say no no matter what happens in the world i had to say. michel who does what purpose would be served by joint western action in the case in case of a threat of the use of chemical weapons has it achieved results in the past and would german participation make sense no it wouldn't make sense but we need to understand the reasoning behind this discussion which is of course is theoretical
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discussion because so far the regime has not used chemical weapons i mean of course the regime is willing to do anything to defend its power we've seen that in the past and they might use it but on the other hand and used vote on april it was also claimed that the syrians that the regime had used chemical weapons and until this very day we have no proof whatsoever why is this discussion so important the basic issue of this in my view is that the west mainly the united states in this context is not willing to concede if i may say so defeat to the russian side let's be very frank when it comes to the survival of the regime of bashar assad regardless of what is going to happen and look in the next weeks of days the regime will stay in power and russia iran and china are the winners in this geopolitical monopoly if you wish against the west and neither political force in the united states nor in europe is really willing to concede defeat and therefore we need to find new solutions in order to weaken the russians and especially the iranians because
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that's the next straw and of violence that we are going to see we have already seen it although it's not very much comment and reported on and western media there is already a proxy war another one going on in syria between israel and iran and this. proxy war is going to heat up in the next weeks and we're going to see more problems of this nature let's first of all stay with the question of western intervention and you advocated it in your opening statement but do you really believe that past actions to retaliate for the use of chemical weapons have achieved anything no i don't believe it a toll what i advocated time and time again that was my idea was to was a no fly zone in northern syria which would allow civilians refugees but also fighters to civilians to be resettled in fighters to regroup. and this is what turkey demanded all the time complete out on was let down time and time again by his so-called allies by us so no i don't think. that it will really
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help but i do agree with mr lew does that. we and you saw this with mark over the what are seldom seen are like this all the time we don't want to concede total defeat and i think that's a perfectly natural and correct reaction it's too late really but it's better late than never is it though i mean isn't that just purely symbolic then meissen mail them and isn't there a level of hypocrisy here that we talk about intervening if there are chemical weapons we are already the u.s. backed fighters in syria are right now pursuing their own and game against i.a.s. so we get into the action against i yes we get into the action with chemical weapons are involved but we don't do anything when barrel bombs fall when conventional weapons kill thousands and thousands of civilians so with symbolic western action here make it to your hypocrisy as you say it's a pure hypocrisy and i mean
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a shot of assad and his lies killed much more people using bombs then the two or three times which we suspected him having or having used chemical weapons i think it's the point is more about claiming more power. for germany and our set up also left on the line germany defense minister said that in april this year we are now trying to attain a permanent seat in the security council and the u.n. and. this puts us and front us new jobs on the international level and which means we might be able to join any military action in syria she said it like very frankly at the beginning of this year it's more about our interests and germany and in europe and i've often claiming michel that is do you think that the german government would even be able to persuade its junior coalition partner the social democrats and the german people to go along polls this week showed seventy four
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percent of germans oppose any german involvement in this conflict absolutely that's a very important number that you quote there it's. seventy four seventy five percent that means most germans are against it and they seem to have the right instinct because a military intervention in syria would be dangerous we have seen this in april when there was supposed comical attack that was linked to the regime of bashar al assad maybe he was in charge maybe he was not responsible we simply do not know we haven't had any evidence to this very day but nevertheless the americans started to bomb syria in retaliation for this and it was very very dangerous especially due to the tweeting tweeted messages of donald trump when he when he challenge the russians saying our our weapons will come smart and they will destroy what we want to destroy the russians made it very clear there's a red line and if you cross this red line it's going to become dangerous so there is a potential that this conflict in syria which is bad enough. will lead to an escalation
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between the united states and russia because the russians will it here to this regime the reason this is a very important point that you mention the no fly zone that is of course a good argument but the russians would never have accepted this neither the chinese and you know. well why because they accept that this in the case of libya and the result of this was that gadhafi was toppled so from that moment moment on when the russians and chinese were the rock the policies are not when they're understood how the west plays it's going there's not one inch of conceding anything to the west and the syrians pay the price of that the time you're up wasn't threatened by a new refugee wave we are talking about a new era now a new this time and gun is obviously threatening and he is going to do what he threatened we asked in our title whether it's live could be end game and we also asked and what happens afterward so i'd like to make it brief cut and go to that question we have very little time remaining on the clock own posner the u.n.
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envoy for the middle east for syria is now trying a last ditch effort at peace talks what leverage does the west have what if anything could it still do the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. is playing the money card could that make a difference no. the only the only money that counts the only current that counts in syria as in most of the middle east is power and military power at that that's the only thing that counts as we've seen in syria and so we have to get engaged it's a very dangerous game i agree but we you know if you're a big power like germany if you're the west if so much is at stake you have to take the risk and i think the first thing we need to do is to state clearly that we will react to any chemical attacks and then we take the game from there but i think we should if we if we if we simply draw as michael said to be surrounded by and do
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nothing in the end will have the refugees will have. the three powers you mentioned in charge of syria and the next thing will be lebanon they'll be retaking lebanon to the syrians have never wanted to give up they were already got. i mean they're basically off in power there anyway so no it won't end there because that's the point you want and that my son you made a similar point in your opening statement that the end game essentially would be the beginning of something new optimists say the end game could assure in a phase of rebuilding allowing refugees finally to return to syria do you think that really is in the all that far away from rebuilding anything in syria the conflict is still going on and it's just shifting to another place and so well. thanks to all of you for being with us today and thanks to all of you for turning and sincere.
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