tv Cross Talk RT February 6, 2013 2:28pm-3:00pm EST
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hello and welcome to cross talk where all things considered i'm peter lavelle syria a country going from bad to worse with israel's air strike against syria and more expected it would appear there are forces in the region and in washington that now see military intervention as a means to and syria's civil war given past military interventions in the region is there any reason to believe that this time it will be any different. to cross-talk the syrian crisis i'm joined by joshua landis to norman he's an associate professor and director of the center for middle east studies at the university of oklahoma in washington we have rafi shakti she is an english spokesperson for the local coordinating committees in syria and the director of the foundation to restore equality in education in syria and in jerusalem we crossed he is a former director general of the israeli ministry of foreign affairs and an international relations lecturer at tel aviv university all right folks cross talk rules in
effect that means you can jump in anytime you want let's go to joshua in norman joshua what do you make of the israeli air strike against syria and the possibility of more coming very soon well i think it's you know israel is moaning along and as we say they're taking advantage of this time of weakness and syrian infighting to get rid of large weapons systems perhaps centers of research for both nuclear and chemical weapons they can reset the clock and move syria backwards this is this is been done in two thousand and seven with the bombing of the nuclear site up near dera zoar and of periodic bombings of both hamas and hizbullah alone and then in jerusalem how do you read it. to agree which asha. i basically agree but their work pushes syria backward is the civil war inside the not the society what israel is doing so the problem is between the rebels and assad
and we are just adding a little bit to it but i agree that it's taking advantage of the situation but there are fears in israel of any type of chemical or biological use of weapon against as well so in a way it's also to relax some fears in israel i want to i can say with you do you see israel getting more and more involved in this conflict or will just go in as it were as it when it wants i don't i don't think so it will be very foolish will freeze well to make such attacks i have beat because after all strategically what's happening inside syria is helping israel syria it was and still is an enemy of fees web. and was a serious threat to israel and at the moment it almost doesn't exist
nobody's asking israel to withdraw from the golan heights so in a way. this tragedy is quite a confortable situation for is we're right people are in a march and how do you take a strike ok i mean in people in syria are being killed ok i mean that's one result . absolutely people in syria are being killed and that is exactly the problem certainly israel is taking advantage of a weaker syria now but the bottom line is that striking weapons that may have been destined for hezbollah which could immediately turn around and use them against syrians so whether israel continues these foreigners into syria or not is almost irrelevant to the people of syria because they're being attacked by their own government ok josh if i go back to it or is everyone forgetting the syrians now it looks like it's jockeying for position in the region it's everything's
a proxy now joshua well things are proxy but as you've said you know the outside regime as you scuds against its own people and i think that many syrians are standing up applauding israel's actions to take out these and these advanced weapons systems so it's a win win for israel and perhaps it's a win for the syrian people we have to wait and see but but you are absolutely right the proxy situation is as advanced because the stalemate inside syria more and more countries are jumping in and we've seen the situation in germany with the big meeting between heads of major powers syria was at the front of those discussions and what to do about it could touch frankenstein with you could you just name the red lines for each character involved here in your opinion. well the united states has said chemical weapons is
a red line and in israel to mean they stand together on this it's unclear america is having a big internal debate over whether they can and should try to save syria do more and send in more arms and who to choose on the opposite side because the problem is that many of the best militias in syria not only of the islamic front but also other fronts that have cropped up that are more pro-american or at least stand in between that are not salafist completely but almost all of them agree that once they want to once they liberate damascus they would like to liberate jerusalem and so forth and this complicates the situation for the united states tremendously we've seen the washington institute this this week. one of the most important. think tanks in washington d.c. saying that america needs to prescribe suggests that america needs to put more militias on the terrorist list in syria so this leaves america rather confused
fighting a two front war one against assad one against the growing islamist and salafist presence in syria and if i go to you in washington i guess that's really a point you who do you know who had good guys go ahead jump in please do. yeah i would like to jump in and i think the way joshua is characterizing it is that once damascus is liberated the forces will move on to jerusalem and that is patently untrue from the majority of syrians look we have a country whose infrastructure has been entirely devastated by the assad regime we have three million internally displaced people and some sixteen million people who are restoring to death our primary goal is not to storm jerusalem our primary goal is to overthrow the assad regime and restore normalcy and the bloodshed in syria along what is israel's red lines because they want to determine the winner in this
conflict because it will event eventually end. the redlines of israel is first of all and iranian control of syria or iranians next two days really border on the other and. israel would like to see al qaida on this border i think it's very clear in israel at this stage that assad is very dependent on iran but it's very unclear who the rebels really are who is in control who will be in control if if the rebels win what is the component. this is the reason. if i think it would be clear to israel that we are better off with the rebels than we with our son maybe we would wish for the rebels to take over but so
far it's not clear here you know joshua again it looks like the syrian people are completely forgotten in this discussion because it's all the other players involved disorder ran. well i think you're right and this is why the leader of the opposition. statement this past week that he would he would talk to the assad regime i think gave a ray of hope to many syrians who feel like they're being they're being they're just pawns underfoot as these two giants clash and that they have been forgotten about they they feel like they're in this struggle which can't end until one side completely destroys the other so one could step forward and said let's have dialogue let's try to find a way out of this i think many syrians who are just wondering whether they should stay in their homes they don't have electricity what their future is going to be
saw a ray of hope. to go back to washington in dialogue we haven't heard that word for a while. yes that's absolutely correct so far many in the opposition have outright rejected any dialogue with us not specifically what is your position then that's what you want to dish and seem i would it is issued on this for you know from a personal standpoint i have no position i will do whatever the the syrian people want they are the ones who are being under constant attack now i think dialogue with some regime officials who don't have blood on their hands is possible and could signal a good step forward towards resolving this but let me be very clear i think the majority of syrians will tell you that assad has to step down there can be no negotiation that sees him staying in power ok if we go back to jerusalem what kind
of party like he had just been in. yeah i would like to add personal observation here as you know the maturity of the israelis. very willing to keep the golan heights for ever if assad stays on top of syria even if it's in the garden of a coalition with the rebels i can almost for sure say us will never ever get the golan heights from the any israeli government because you have here a wonderful excuse saying why should we give the golan heights to a war criminal the truth first go to trials in the dark so i'm not saying that this necessarily is the picture but this will be the excuse of the israeli government that i think it will be very easy to sell disposition internationally josh
when you come out on that ok because not only are the golan heights very important but the country is no longer part and likely to head. it's very unlikely that syria is ever going to get the golan heights back no matter who rules it you know. syria's only getting weaker israel is getting stronger the palestinians haven't had much luck in getting the land back and i doubt the syrians will either but the real question here seems to me this question of dialogue and assad's future because that has become an intractable bargaining point and that the problem i understand the desire to get rid of assad he has tortured many syrians and then he's on this new opposite we're going to go to ensure break we're going to go to a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on syrian state of the art.
ok i have to go back to jerusalem alone it's interesting to me that a lot of people don't like assad around the world and particularly in the region but is replacing him with what i mean then there is no agreement on what should replace him it seems to me anyway. because the saudis are not interested in democracy obviously the feeling the feeling here is that they're very. is very unhealthy and if a chaotic situation in syria invites troubles in in a way in a way for israel they exist of syria in one piece under one government maybe all three qualification of rebels looks. better then splitting to different parts or a total chaotic situation in which target is aisha's can be involved and so on
so i think i think. if if i could give an israeli position although it's look an official position i think is well most of these wellies would like to see us disappear and we would like to see a correlation of the rebels taking care of the country and maybe even talks with israel on the future in the future and i really don't agree that the story of the golan night is over because it's not a matter of balance of power between israel and syria with if it would be balance of power we would never give the west bank to the world is still demanding for me as well to go back to the one nine hundred sixty seven border which means the world still sees the golan heights is syrian territory how can i go to washington now it
seems to me that's almost kind of an idyllic outcome you know because it seems to me the place is falling apart there's actually a partition going on in syria is that an exaggeration. i completely disagree with i completely disagree with that look part of the ethos of this revolution is a united syria for all freedom dignity and democracy for all syrians so i think the idea of partition is really something that is part of the regime propaganda it's part of the same narrative that tries to sow sectarian violence it's part of the same narrative that creates an international crisis with the ongoing support of russia hezbollah iran refugees in neighboring countries skirmishes along borders rockets being fired into turkey a proffer so i think really this is just falling into the regime's trap joshua well the trouble with this is and it's like getting rid of assad assad has treated his
own alawite community in the same way that he's treated syria he has not allowed for any dissent the expectation that somehow the alawite so going to rise up throw out their leader all of his family the heads of the should be their heads of the military and and and then carry out a dialogue with a thousand different militias beggars the imagination because they cannot do it so in order to destroy and kill him. the opposition militias are going to have to march into latin and the alawite mountains hunt him down and kill him by that time most alawite will have fled the alawite territory they'll probably go to lebanon which is less than an hour away there are two point five million alawite so they will flee into lebanon because they'll be frightened that they'll be overrun and who knows what will happen to them in the same way that palestinians fled in front of the the jews in forty eight or that the christians fled out of anatolia one
thousand nine hundred fourteen to nineteen twenty two and this is happened many times in the middle east and and it will lead to a bigger disaster so the notion that we have to have a complete and utter victory over this military is going to lead to a destroyed syria and it may well may not lead to the parties that would be one way to keep syria together because then the opposition would indeed rule over everything of course they'd have to deal with the kurds in the same way that they deal with the alawite so i presume ok i'd like to go back to our guest in washington would you like to react to what joshua just said because you guys are opposite completely opposite. oh joshua and i disagree pretty vehemently on on this issue in particular look syria is one country and there are always are part and parcel of the syrian cultural mosaic while there may be some tensions especially with the prevalence of other ways within the should be ha let me just remind your viewers this should be how are among those who gang raped women and
immobilized them while they insert rats and mice in their vaginas those are the should be how we're talking about but i'll always are part and parcel of the revolution there are hundreds if not thousands of other ways languishing in jails because they have spoken out against the assad regime so let's not look at the other ways as a community that is for sure going to be. abused in the post aside phase i think joshua's crystal ball needs to be polished just a little bit he's not taking into account the secular movement in syria he's not taking into account the civil disobedience the nonviolent movement in syria that is reaching out across all communities and putting out workshops on transitional justice you know but then to spread it we also hear a lot of. talk we also hear a lot about sunni jihadists being supported by saudi arabia and the gulf countries we hear about them as we do do please. of course we do though we hear about the
types of groups that thrive on exactly the kind of chaos assad has created how did these people get across borders that were assad controlled from the very beginning so we do know that there are these groups we also know that they are in the minority we know that syrians at large reject the notion of an islam ics they may be very devout across all religions in syria but nobody wants to impose a particular ideology on the rest of the population and a lot of anger to you in jerusalem it seems to me where all these interventions you never get what you would expect ok so go ahead. i would like to. international community involvement and i think the international community must be moved for post or they'll position to us personally is is. a leader that committed.
war crimes in a magnitude that cannot enable him to stay and this is not being done recently turkey is the spearhead the dog position to assad until three four months ago is kind of moving backward a little bit egypt is known exist because of what's going on inside egypt the europeans are busy with other things it looks like the international community is stepping aside i think if there would be. a focus on assad personally maybe dragging the russians to this position no you russia will be dragged ok the international community is actually going back to russia's side here joshua jump in. well you know obviously this is
a strategy to put pressure on russia and to get russia to somehow it's a waste of time to waste of time outside and i said we had such a has made it very clear russia has made it very clear that they're not going to do that that assad's not going to go the russians played footsie with. a prominent alawite who comes from who is an opposition guy he went to both china and russia and i think they were grooming him to see if there was some possibility for new leadership he was arrested when he returned to syria we haven't heard from him since. you know assad is not going to allow the russians or the chinese or anybody else to decide who gets to rule syria this is the problem and in order to you know in order to end this either you have to have a dialogue and it's going to have to be a dialogue that that goes on as military pressure rises because clearly at
this point with the balance of power sort of. at least stalemate had neither outside believes he's too weak he believes he's strong enough to win and the opposition believes that they're going to win and they are going to get more help from the outside and so forth so both sides are intractable at this point but to have that dialogue going on i think is extremely important even as both sides jockey for greater power and to change the balance of power again we hear the word dialogue i'd like to go back to washington what kind of dialogue is feasible ok because it looks like the international community is getting tired of trying to find a replacement for assad ok that's looks clear. i don't know that that's true i believe that the friends of syria are trying to support the syrian opposition coalition. you know the opposition coalition has been declared the sole legitimate representative of the syrian people and as
a syrian myself i can say that was a hottie represents me whereas assad stop representing me from the very first bullet that was fired at peaceful protesters so i don't think that the international community is getting tired nor do we really care if the international community is getting tired the syrian people are tired the syrian people have been devastated and we have a humanitarian calamity on our hands so i don't think it's a matter of the international community being tired in terms of dialogue i think it's a positive step that was a hottie has reached out in russia i think it's extremely telling that russia is meeting with him and engaging in dialogue there it shows a tacit recognition of the opposition coalition it shows that there's a step forward i think russia knows very well that the syrian people do not want assad will not keep assad and his regime is done it's simply
a matter of time ok would leave the whole idea of dialogue is bad and quite many i am i'm sorry we've run out of time here many thanks today to my guests and watch the norman and in jerusalem and thanks to our viewers for watching us here at r.t. so you next time and remember crosstalk. we speak your language. news programs and documentaries in spanish matters to you breaking news a little tonnage of angles kid stories. spanish
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