tv Munich Security Conference Conflict in Syria Panel CSPAN February 28, 2017 6:25pm-8:01pm EST
carl and i are going to talk about it but it's really a good place, if you want to be a humor writ writer, it's an excellent place to go. >> dave barry has published over 30 books including dave barry slept here, dave barry's greatest hits, and the recently released best state ever, a florida man defends his homeland. watch in depth live sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book tv on c-span 2. next, a discussion on what can be done to help war-torn syria in the future and how the u.s. and russian militaries have played a role in the conflict leading up to now. brett mcgurke is the special envoy to the global coalition to counter isis and was among the panelists at the security conference held recently in munich. it's an hour and a half.
>> i see that we have left the most difficult for last. you might remember that there was quite a bit of optimism in this room last year when we all met because on the eve of the munich security conference, the u.s. and russia had reached a deal on the cessation of hostilities in syria. i remember that i was quite skeptical but a lot of people convinced me that that deal was going to work. sadly, it didn't. in fact, the war escalated and we saw some of the most horrific episodes with the humanitarian catastrophe that unfolded in eastern aleppo. so what now? the syrian regime is in control of four of the major cities in
syria. does it still need a political solution. can the military solution that we have seen lead to peace in syria. our first speaker in the sess n session, i have described your job as one of the most impossible in the world and i still believe that. please join me to give us an overview of where we are now. >> thank you. thank you very much for that. also, thank you for setting the message on munich. we are in munich and i think we should start from there. you're right, one year ago we were here. we were together and there was a great moment of concern at the beginning because i had just a
few days before blocked, changed, stopped, some syrian talks because there was major escalation on the military side and that was producing a feeling of lack of sign of hope. but like it often is in history, that produced also in every crisis, there is an opportunity, a wave of shock and the shock produced here in munich, the intention by that time john kerry and sergey lavrov to have a special meeting on the fringes of munich and we had the beginning of the issg, the beginning of the humanitarian task force, the beginning of the cessation of hostilities task force, we had a contact group of 22 countries and had even an operation of sanctions in u.n. and geneva to control a
cease-fire. the cease-fire did hold. it was a miracle. well, it did hold, we had 75%, 65% of reduction of violence but it didn't hold more than three months. during that period we had even a boom in a way of humanitarian access. so why did it not hold longer? why did it break down? because that is what can lead us to where we are today. many reasons. the first was the so-called non-constructive ambiguity. everyone is saying al nusra is a terrorist organization, the terrorist organization according to the u.n., is not everybody fighting the government is a terrorist organization. it is other than daesh according to the u.n. therefore they should be exclude from the cease-fire. of course, they became the main
spoiler. secondly -- others spoiling it by saying there are al nusra everywhere, therefore we have the need, the authority and responsibility to bomb there. second, from the government side, there was not total genuine interest in negotiations at the time because they still felt that it was a military option coming up and a military option should have been given a top priority. and there was a hope by the opposition that they, too, could turn the whole atmosphere into a better military position so that they could negotiate from a better position. well, then we had another reason. we didn't have a true leverage from the other side on the government. the u.s. had decided it was just
after the agreement as you know in other areas to actually get heavily involved and john kerry was extremely active on the political side, but not the real capacity of delivering, for instance, al nusra which became and is the ambiguity on which many of the spoiling elements have been playing on in order to break down a cease-fire. so there was another attempt on the cease-fire. we may have forgotten it because it lasted very little. it was in september when -- 2016 when in fact there was a long serious meeting until midnight, i was there between john kerry and sergey lavrov and they came up with a new attempt for a cease-fire. that one collapsed very quickly. how? with the incident or whatever we want to call it, the attack, whatever we want to call it, on
the humanitarian convoy nearby. that produced a wave of militarization. we go back to aleppo. aleppo is the first place i was focusing on because to everyone, to me, it was symbolic and it became the battle of aleppo. terrible. atrocious. we know about it. we made public appeals, we asked for this not to end up with the new type of -- but then something happened. we are getting closer to the period where we are today. there was a game changer. russian federation and turkey started talking. and talking business. both had interests. russian position, my opinion, had a clear interest in not getting to christmas with a totally destroyed aleppo,
basically only because 800, 900 people al nusra were in the city of 115,000 people. turkey had clearly no interest obviously in seeing 110,000 refugees coming and the state being destroyed. real politics but we live in real politic and should be helping real politic when it moves in the right direction. that's when we did actually at the u.n., too. there were non-secret meetings in ankara and those meetings produced discussions between groups and russia military which develop -- the worst part of the battle of aleppo which would have led to the total destruction of the city plus 110,000, 115,000 between refugees and dead people. and the fallout to that was what we are seeing with our eyes. we are getting closer to the real moment today.
this is a discussion which is ongoing between turkey and russian federation about a cease-fire. the cease-fire is holding more than previous ones and in my modest opinion has, if we all look at it carefully and support it, more chances to actually succeed than others. why? because both countries have assets on the ground so they can actually exercise leverage which is a crucial point and there is a mechanism being established which is needed. cease-fires need mechanism, monitoring and support and deterrent. that's why we are supporting astana and the meetings. of course, based on the assumption that they are surgical, laser beamed on a very important issue, establishing,
stabilizing, reinforcing the cessation of hostilities plus confidence building measures which means, for instance, humanitarian access which by the way is not taking place at the moment, which is very sad. since this is not stopped by wind or snow but stopped by war, when the war stops in theory we should have humanitarian access. this is not yet taking place. but i know and we push for that to be one of the consequences, collateral benefits rather than collateral damage, of the cessation of hostilities discussed. the other element is that we have seen armed groups being present and actually not called terrorists but being treated as interlocutors and sitting and discussing with the other side and discussing it with
guaranteors of the cease-fire which is turkey, russian federation and i would say also iran, although less obviously that. now, let me say where we are now, then. what we have seen is not perfect. al nusra is still there as a spoiling element. the temptation by the government to want to accelerate as it's happening while we are talking facts on the ground in order to be in better position on what is still a possible military option, and hesitation by the opposition to negotiate when they believe they are not in an ideal military position, is still a potential spoiling element. but what has been happening has been inducing us to say it's time to try again some interceding talks.
keeping the focus only on the cessation of hostilities and geneva and therefore all of you, the u.n., the international community, involved in trying to see whether there is any space at this stage for a political discussion. in my modest opinion, we would see what will happen. that space begins to be there and we will test it. we have been sending invitations according to 2254 and on the substance, we are actually focused on 2254 again which is composed of three elements. all three are important. the issue about governance, which needs to be credible, inclusive, basically a new form of governance. secondly, constitution but written by the syrians, not by foreigners or by yourselves. and the constitution which is new, not the old one. otherwise why do negotiation. and elections under u.n.
supervision and including refugees. are we going to see all these three pillars of 2254 moving forward in geneva? i can't tell you. frankly, i like the secretary general don't make myself deluded about it. what i do know that we have to push for the momentum. because even a cease-fire with two strong guarantors cannot hold too long if there is not a political horizon. that leads me to the big question mark. forgive me but i have to raise it because i know it is in each one's mind. where is the u.s. in all this? well, i can't tell you because i don't know. but what i can tell you is that i understand that they do have in mind some clear priorities and they are three. one is fighting daesh. second, how to limit the influence of some major regional
players, you know. and three, how to actually not damage one of their major allies in the region. now, how you square that circle in order to make sure that in fact, these three elements are properly taken into account is something that i understand they are debating in washington. our contribution which is a modest contribution but based i would say on intellectual honesty, i want to hope that the u.n. role and experience is that you are right, u.s., in focusing on daesh. daesh and al nusra are terrorists and they are the enemies of everyone. here in munich, in the streets in belgium, in paris, in ottawa, in sydney, in istanbul. you're right.
that's what the people are asking us and we are, my wife is asking me, my children are. at the same time, you are also right in wanting to find proper allies with assets on the ground like the russian federation and others who have the same priority. but are you interested in fighting or defeating daesh? if you are interested in defeating daesh, let's learn from what david petraeus who was here this morning, we were together in a difficult environment in iraq and then in afghanistan and we learned some lessons. one lesson was that if you are not finding a political solution that includes those who feel excluded, it may not be called daesh anymore like it used to be called al qaeda in iraq. it may not be mr. zarqawi.
it is someone else. bottom line, if you want to defeat daesh, we need even if it looks complicated, even if it looks remote, a political inclusive credible solution in syria. that's the challenge that we are going to face in the next few weeks. thank you. >> thank you very much for a very comprehensive scene setter. i see that you are very cautious which is probably right. i have just before i call the panel, i have one question. you mentioned governance. you mentioned constitution. you did not mention political transition. is the geneva process still based on a political transition? >> the answer is 2254 specifies very clearly that word and that
concept. >> thank you. good. okay. thank you. >> 2254 is my bible, my koran. i have nothing else to which i can refer to. now, how to get there, that's where politics, diplomacy and real politic -- >> can you just say political transition? >> yes. i can say political transition. through an inclusive credible -- >> person. >> -- governance. >> okay. i think constantine, you are going to explain this to us. let me call our panel. constantine is chairman of the committee on foreign affairs in the russian parliament. welcome. brett mcgurke is the special presidential envoy to the global coalition to counter isis. he's from the state department. great to have you.
and the president of the syrian national coalition. and ken roth, executive director of human rights watch. i'm going to ask each of you to begin by making your five-minute statement and please do try to stick to the five minutes and then we can get the discussion going. constantine? >> well, as the only russian here, i'm supposed to present the russian position on syria. there is one general perception on that, that russia is in syria in order to support mr. assad and to let him stay in power. and this is definitely completely wrong perception. i believe there are two major reasons why russia is involved in syria. the first one is iraq and the
second one is [ inaudible ]. we have the experience, we believe that both experiences are absolutely negative in many or almost all aspects but it does have negative practical consequences for our national security because daesh and other terrorist organizations after iraq, after libya have become stronger. they possess territories and possibilities of other countries, syria included, and we get more and more people from russia joining these terrorist groups, according to our intelligence, it's something like 5,000 people at least who have trained, have gone through military actions and who are eager to come back to my country
and to continue. we are not protected at all because we do not have borders with these states. so this is an issue for our national security interest. secondly, yes, i may confess that my former country, the soviet union, did have a special relationship with syria, during the previous times, and the soviet leaders had friendly relations with former syrian leaders but this is not the case any longer. mr. bashar al assad after coming into power has made so many moves towards the west, so to
say, without further good relations with russia so the relations between russia and syria are now quite neutral. we do not have any specific interest in this country in comparison with our interests in other countries in the region, but we do respect the sovereignty of syria. we are the only country which participates in military actions in syria legally, on a legal basis because we have a formal request from the legal syrian government. and definitely most important in our view, we believe that we need the capacities of the syrian army, armed forces, in order to not just to fight, but to defeat daesh.
our program for syria is to unite as many armed forces in syria as possible both from representing the ruling authorities, representing their position, in order to fight together against daesh, nusra and others. we made so many attempts to have good cooperation on that with the united states of america. i was present in several meetings with mr. lavrov and mr. kerry personally. i could see how much they both invested in trying to reach a workable agreement but each time, they had succeeded a little bit later, we started to receive different signals from washington that commitments and obligations aprproved by the secretary of state did not get enough support from other branches in washington like pentagon or cia, i do not know
american hierarchy and we could see there are different approaches to the cooperation with russia and syria, to the syrian issue in general in the united states of america. this is how we did not succeed in having better cooperation with our american partners in this case, we have no doubt we could have been good partners. this is how we started to develop cooperation with turkey and with iran which was not mentioned here but we have trilateral cooperation now. and it does work well enough. but i want to stress immediately that astana is not meant to replace geneva talks. definitely not. we are in favor of united nations involvement in the syrian development and this is the clear russian position on that. i see that i have no time left.
thank you. >> several points that i would like to pick up on, but let's move to brett. what lies in store for syria from the trump administration? >> so i said in the beginning i'm afraid i might be a fairly boring panelist because i don't want to get ahead of a process or any decisions in washington and obviously, we are re-looking at everything which is a very healthy process from top to bottom. but i will just to kind of define how we are seeing things, follow up on stefan's excellent presentation and also address some of the things you just said. really three interests, u.s. interests. we will be very selfish about protecting and advancing our interests as i think any nation would, but they are interests that i think many of our partners also share. interest number one, it is we have to defeat daesh. and there's a real reason for that. it is a significant threat to all of us, again, as stefan said, we are here in munich
where there have been attacks, but right now, daesh, isis, is sitting in raqqah and why is raqqah so important? why do we keep talking about important? it is their they do it by using vi yans in shields. this is jihadi january, really a computer hacker would sit in an apartment building with hurricanes of people trying to inspire ta attacks around the world. we are not going to target an apartment building with civilians to get one person or plotter. as long as they are raqqah, they want to pull off an osama bin laden attack. they're trying. i will also say we have been
fighting isis for a couple of years. working with local actor, enabling them to make sure the territory they retack can hold. b about 500 square kilometers. every single inch of ground that has been retaken, isis has not retaken any of that ground. it's a contrast to some efforts against isis and syria. one major operation against isis, really, the only one, was the operation in el myra and isis came back and took it. and the operations we've been enabling, they have not retaken any speck. so i think we just do things dich differently. the strategy is different in quite significant ways. the second interest is dees
deescalating the violence in the civil war, the underlying civil war. and this gets to all the excellent work that stephan is doing. my turkish counterparts here over the course of these few days and we fully support their successful decisioiscussions wi russians to deescalate the violen violence. i was here in munich and one of the reasons the process did not succeed is frankly, we were guarantor and russia was. it turns out when the u.s. is a guarantor, we don't have people on the ground. we became a bit of a pong ball to control the situation. it's about the mechanics of the cease fire. the geneva process through u.n. resolution 2254 is the locust of
the political process and leading ultimately to a political transition. i think we have to keep those parallel tracks while they are enforcing. we woept have a political horizon which makes this difficult. it is a very serious problem. they report to the school al-qaeda that we know. we have to do this in a very smart way. there are significant, actually, a critical mass of opposition groups hostile to the assad regime, but that are fighting al-qaeda and al news ra. we think there's a smarter way to go after al-qaeda in syria in a surgical way in which we can mobilize the local population the actually fight them. some of the tactic, not some,
the tactics that had been used by the regime puts them all together in one single mass and makes the problem worse. the tactics used on the ground, either determine whether or not the effort will succeed. some of the the tactics on the ground drives them into the arms of al nusra. >> thank you very much. i would like to come back to the potential areas of coop ralgs with russia, but let's turn to, this is quite a dift time for the opposition.
are you hopeful that the processes that es ta na and geneva can lead to what you've been looking for, a political transition? >> thanks, since i'm a only syrian on this panel, i hope you'll be generous with me. in terms of time. ladies and gentlemen, let me remind you that almost six years ago, the syrian revolution starting and is still going. the fact it's still going is in itself a miracle. so that's proved that they do still happen and in the middle east as well. we are all familiar with the situation in syria. the level and sheer scale of
suffering is virtually unparalleled in the 21st century. from chemical weapons, to sieges and targeted starvation, to the systemic detention and torture of civilians on an industrial scale. the status quo must change f. we are to address these grave security threats. this conflict poses a grave threat to the regional and global security. this is not a slow one. that is a practice kl reality. he's part of the problem and not the solution.
let me assure you, the moderate opposition is committed to fighting terrorism in syria more than any other side. daesh and nusra have been b tth primary obstacles for a brutalistic, tolerant democracy. it fights terrorism on multiple fronts. they have cleared from -- and western aleppo. thousands and thousands of free syrian army fighters have died fighting terrorism and continue to do so every day.
bewe cannot address extremism nor fight it along. there is no difference between the horror of beheadings and terror of bombs that are applied on the civilian population. sectarianism, injustice, depravity of the system that assad presides over the is why syria is the greatest humanitarian disaster of our time. it's why regional security is confront confronted by the real threat of extremists. here today are team guests, ministers and military officials. i think we all share an interest in bringing the conflict to an end, but to make it this a reality, we have to confront the fundamental dynamics, which have driven this bloody conflict from the start. first and foremost, al assad has
not and never has been interested in free and democratic syria based on the rule of law. this will not change. the assad regime holding to power depends on it being denied to ordinary syrians. it's only with -- international law and -- have been under siege. nowhere do we see this more than sir yachlt but i'm here simply to repeat what everybody already knows. as a president of the syrian national coalition, and head of geneva next week, my message is this. we will head to geneva fully
committed and prepared to negotiate a political solution u. which brings the conflict to an end and paves the way for a genuine inclusive transition. and eradication of extreme groups. the reality is simple. we cannot address the profound security threats facing regional and global while assad remains in power. it is up to the international community in particular our frie friends and allies to use all possibility means to end this conflict. to fight extremists free from the threat of air strikes and bombs.
in these times of uncertainty, we need to see clear policies to one of the greatest crisis of our time. not please frd the new administration. sooner than later. wii need a united states. those for the greatest humanitarian crisis since the second world war:. prepare the demonstrate there can be no compromise on universal freedoms and human rights. prepare to reassert real leadership. now, more than ever, syrians need to see a real glimmer of hope that the international move is more than just words. not only for their sake b and
those who sacrifice their lives for our shared values, but also for the sake of regional and global security. for the sake of the common values and beliefs we hold dear. thank you. >> one of the words that is rarely heard in the context of the syrian conflict is accountability. where is the accountable ility? why does no one ever talk about accountability? >> good question. with the prosecutor sitting right here. let me get to that in a moment. is this working? yesterday, the u.n. secretary general observed i think correctly, that you won't achieve peace until all parties realize they cannot gain their aspirations militarily. let me add a corollary to that, which is to say that the
realization that the military option won't work is not simply a product of an objective assessment of the ground. it's also a question of motivation. and there's nothing to motivate you to keep fighting like your opponent attacking your family and your neighbors. that's what we've seen in syria. we know the geneva conventions say you should do anything possible to spare those war, but in this case, the syrian government backed by iran, hezbollah, has pursued a strategy to deliberately target civilia civilians. on hospitals, schools, markets, neighborhoods, including with chemical weapons. the u.n. has confirmed three cases for the wr the syrian government has done that. my organization just put out a report earlier this past week in which we identified eight cases
of chemical weapons used as an integral part of the military effort to retake eastern alope poe. so not just some freelancing on the side. this is an odd kind of cease fire. because it's a cease fire where if you make an effort to feed the starving, you get shot. it should be a cease fire that includes a lifting of the sieges. it's also important to remember because it's so often forgotten, there are tens of thousands of people today in irregular detention under the syrian government's control or the control of its allies. so these are not the people who are held by the justice ministry and ordinary prisons, but these are tens of thousands of people held by security forces, by the
military, by militia, who face a business mall conditions. of torture, starvation and execution. we know thousands upon thousands have died or have been deliberately killeded. if we are going to make progress in the peace talk, i think frankly, b we have to move beyond the diplomatic conceit. that peace cob solved in a conference room. we have to pay attention to what is happening on the ground ch we have to address the atrocities that are giving so many syrians the motivation to keep fighting. that means doing everything we can to rain in the atrocities, not as a consequence of the peace talk, but as a prerequisite to their success. you asked about accountability, which is a critical aspect of this. there are several elements on the ground. one is, russia has vetoed along
with china, numerous efforts to refer syria to -- to the international criminal court. that would have been a ideal way to achieve account bability. because of that, the u.n. general assembly in an unprecedented move established a prosecutorial evidence so as try b bunales become available, it's ready to go. that needs active financial, political, diplomat k support and i encourage a brad range of governments to do that. another big test coming up is in t security council this next week, the so-called joint investigative mechanism established by the security kuhn sill to look into the use of chemical weapon found several cases. three by the syrian government. there have been many more. this has the u.n.'s official investigation colon colluding this happened. so, the question comes up, what next. the french have taken the lead
in draft iing a resolution that they're going to put on the table imposing sanctions for syria's use of those chemical weapons and russia is threatening to veto. basically, having helped dine a regime in which chemical weapons are prohibited, having made an effort to reenforce international law, when the proof of syrian use of those chemical weapons put on the table, russia's answer is yeah, whatever. we've got to be able to do better than that. so i hope sir, that you can go back to moscow and indicate that a veto is utterly inappropriate. that this is a basic step toward achieving some accountability need ed to end the atrocities that remain an impediment to pieeace today. thank you. >> thank you. why is russia threatening to veto this resolution?
>> you know, sometimes, when discussions, our national parliament, it's rather difficult to explain to people why we would vote against draft law, like a new law prevent iin if we do not see the point in these, we'll vote against even though we are in favor of criminality, so this is the case with the resolutions which russia along with some of the countries. yes, we need to work together in a better manner in order to achieve good, sustain bable
decisions by the security council. the way we managed to do in case of resolution. as i was sbrais address ed part in this conflict, protecting quote unquote the syrian regime, i would like to underling that the best way to understand bter is to talk to all parts in the conflict. here, we discuss syria, a representative from damascus and i believe this is wrong. i believe it was wrong from the very beginning when 2011, the international community, the rest of the community i would
like to stress, has had to resign, there was no need to have any talks to him, with with him, and no sense in the political process. that provoked further tensions and civil war in the country. i believe that this is a fair approach for their favor, mr. assad should stay or go. but it's unaccept bable for any third country to take a position on them. this is what russia does not do. on the 29th of december, reached the decision i had the privilege of meeting personally mr. assad in damascus, the 29th of december. i would like to tell you two
pieces of our conversation. one was whether russia r supports or does not. he's rich and that was as follows. luke, if you and russia would ever go public and say you support assad, i will be the first one to oppose that because i will seize that as an intervention in syrian domestic affairs and i will not accept that. we asked him, a direct question, whether he has any idea of his future life after or determined
his destiny and his answer was quite interesting to me. look, i'm a normal guy, a human being, normal interested, i have family. i have sports, music, i have other things, i want to live a normal life. and i want that normal life for my family as well. but i cannot afford living my position as the president in an uninstitutional way because if i leave this position in an unconstitutional way, that will not leave me any chance to live a normal life any longer. and i could see in this position, they have an option of having the political dialogue in the syria, this is why i support the ruz aleutian, namely the government, their form of the institution and russian draft of
their constitution definitely was just an attempt to move the people to the process and yes, democratic elections under the region of the united nations. >> i think a lot of people have a problem seeing assad as a normal guy. >> sorry, but i believe this is just for the people of syria to take this position. whether they like or dislike al assad. the it's not our case to take a position on it i believe. >>. >> ken, do you want to come? >> where russia is interfeening, some -- i don't quite get the consistency here. if we're going to create conditions where you have peace talks to succeed.
they're on the front line. it's a fact of russia coming in in september of 2015, that we went on the side, suddenly, attacks happened at night because the russian airports and planes could use their night vision equipment. last week with russia itself having targeted in italy. so russia while saying hands off a is taking the lead the in killing civilians and this has got to stop. this is not a matter of respecting territorial integrity or sovereignty. russia should use its huge leverage to stop assad's atrocities. >> we'll come back, but i want
to ask stephan. to what extent was the geneva process insist on or depend on the success of assad and before serious talks took place. it's a catch 22. morally and professionally. let's be frank. more than once when we were trying to launch the link to geneva talk, we were fully aware of the fact that the people in syria were telling us, are we going to have another meeting,
the school of thought, a difficult one for more importantly, you know, my past. they were discussing while b-52s were bombing. in other words sh you have to talk about actually can stop the war. well, the realities now is sbed helping. chicken and egg again and you know why, because anyone and there are -- to accelerate the
fighting. sa sabotaging the talks by fight ing, but what's happening in as tan na indeed helping very much that's why and they've been discussing and can can only help the geneva. >> it's clear that daesh is a priority in syria. to what extent can we see cooperation between all the forces lined up against dae ssh
rather than a kind of rivalry. one thing we know is is that the trump obama administration wants to speed up and the fight against daesh. how can that be achieved in syria? >> well, tactically, there are a number of things we can do to speed up the military campaign, which we're look at and secretary mattis is developing a series of recommendations in that regard. but you hit on a key thing. so long as the underlying civil war is escalating, it makes the effort to deliver lasting defeat to isis. now, since the talks began with the russians in turkey, we have
seen an escalation of violence. it's in place now, but still, we see sir serious violations and one statistic that i was talking about this morning as we look, one of the things we put in place a year ago here in munich was the mu man tear yhumanitari. as we look at the numbers, a year before we reached that agreement, only about 488,000 syrians were reached with humanitarian aid. the very work the u.n. is is doing. since the agreement in munich, we've reached about the u.n., 1.29 million. so more than double. so that is a real success, however, now, the situation, even with the cease fire, even with the violence down, we have these besieged areas in which aid is not get ting in. as long as that's happening, it makes it difficult for us to contemplate, for example, coordinating with russia against isis. even if it's something that we
saw the potential for because -- >> could you see cooperation with russia if militias are also involve involved in the fight? >> if the civil war is escalating or if populations are besieged, it is difficult for us and highly unlikely to see very serious u.s. and russian b coordination. if we're in a situation in which it's dees kailating, some possibility is open. so wh secretary kerry did was where the u.s. u and russia would actually cooperate against terrorist target, meaning isis and nusra in which we would agree together on who those targets are.
part of the deal was as we began that cooperation, the syrian regime would stop all air strikes. that was a key component of the deal. no more bombs, no more air strikes from the syrian regime. while the u.s. and russia began cooperating and we didn't reach, we didn't get to test that. because the violence escalated so dramatically and we found it untenable. if you are to envision a scenario which you're able to work together, there might be possibilitieses, i think we talked about it and we've seen what it would look like. >> regarding this question. with the syrian opposition
between the u.s. and russia and all various forces, would you come in and, the campaign against daesh and raqqah. >> i think we favor the local option chlgt it's nose who have been displaced from their home, their families have been killed. it's those people who i think can be the element, who can only defeat daesh, but make sure they're not coming back. recently, we had this option in the safe zone area. where it is, the local grouped
managed to make huge -- against daesh and cleared them from northern aleppo. i think if we need to succeed in terms of countering and de, daesh, we need to resort to this local option. we have many, many people who are being victimized by daesh. at the end of the day, the defeat comes for all of us. let's not forget that unless you have an element of political solution, you will not be able
to defeat daesh. i think the previous administration has made a big mistake because they tried to confront al assad politically without a credible military threat. they tried top other hand to face daesh without a credible political component. i think unless we get these two together working in harmony, it's really difficult to imagine that a clear and successful strategy can be devised. we've seen spoilers on each side. what could have been a dees -- i did think russia did try to do some things to deescalate the
violence in a critical period. but there's a dynamic in which and i'd welcome constantine's views, that russia's b ability to actually deliver on the ground is a question mark in our eyes because we would see iran come in the back door and influence the back door and do things you wouldn't want to see happen. so this is another dynamic, we have to be able to deliver on the ground where it counts. to what extent does russian and iranian policy align? i know they did very well over the past year, but to the what extent going forward do they continue to align?
kind of surprised the discussion is so much on the syrian con fli fli flikt. in automatlmost five year, russ not at all present. what happened in five years, the civil war starts. the problem of of the gathering was not at all. he's still there. mr. assad is still there and he's in our view, still the legal president of the syrian america public, whether we like it or not and syria is a member
state of the united nations and all that stuff. >> the coalition did not manage to do anything about that. and the talks about mr. assad as a key problem and that he should go waway because he's at least two people in our panel, a lot poe says this idea. please give me some answer. to replace him and lead the army against daesh. i do oppose. some other, but they know -- we
will not see immediately any other national leader of the country taking. we will see it immediately. our position is just not about the face of the government of syria. it's for terrorism which we just aim to address in the first half and we believe i would like to repeat it, that in this case, in terms of combatting daesh, the government of syria -- to defeat daesh. we can perceive these decisions including the face of the
powers. now shortly to your question. on iran. we started our communications with turkey and iran joined later on. to convince iran to but we believe that for the position for different parts. as the course of this process and the most ready opposition of syria, being present at least in the -- the process of the government of syria, and i believe that this has become or
at least has a chance to become a success story due to the reason. we triy eiey eied to include al countries. in syria, daesh and nusra. >> thank you. i think ken and and us want to come in, then open it up to the audience. >> first of all, while isis is terrible. isis clearly you know, commits horrible atrocities in iraq and syria, represents a threat to europe, let's be clear that in syria, by the count of a local activist and the best count here is by the syrian network by human rights, 90% of the casualties are the product of the assad government and its alleyies, so, yes, let's fight daesh, but not do it using the forces of someone who's killing nine times as many civilians as
even the maximum count. there's a distinction between fighting daesh and defeating f. you look where did it come from, it came from the sectarian poll sis of remark over maliki. and syria under assad. so we need an inclusive political solution, wheone wher the population feels it has a real home in syria, so that's going to be absolutely essential. somebody who's going to be recognize recognized. final point, i honestly don't know what the real military plan is for taking back raqqah. i don't know who's building a bomb rocket. i don't know who the ground
forces are. the current seems to be the predominantly kurdish syrian defense forces and i'm not sure the kurds wants to go that far south. clearly, turkey doesn't want them to. we heard this morning from the turkish foreign minister that turkish forces would do that. i'll believe that when i see that. so, then what? to proceed with the syrian government as a ground forces really means proceeding with hezbollah and the shia michelle and to team up with russia and one, russia doesn't have more significant ground forces than russia does. and plus, there's the question is cleaning up in russia mean teaming up with with attacks on civilians. it's not a matter of does assad step back and stop bombing. is russia going to change its approach to fighting wars the way they're supposed -- so, i
don't see. >> i think we need to remind ourselves why they've managed to stay in power for six years. that was because -- with russia. the russia foreign minister said a few weeks ago, that they interfeened in 2015 because damascus was about the fall and 2012, as you know, about to collapse, iran entered military. moves from a strategy into a peacemaking strategy. our aim is to transition power from this regime into the syrian people. it's not up to me or any other countries to say i want this person in power or this person
should not be in power. it should be up to the syrian people. this is what we mean to transition this power to the syrian people and they'll make up their mind and everybody will accept it. >> i think the panel will take questions now, so if you have a question, raise your hand, but also -- the first question. >> thank you. from syria, i came from the ground of the revolution. and background of civil society. sadly, i'm, i cannot agree with you about the summarization, about our case.
and our issues. you say that our case is refugees, tourism, aid, constitution, election and cease fire. when was discussing about the serious fire agreement -- -- final ly, they forced civilians to displace to italy. what happened and what's going on in -- and iran damascus and in homes. this is the main question. which kind of cease fire will see in the future. is displacement under the international law?
secondly, when we have speak about humane tear y mu humanita because we have besieged areas. more than four years, our civilians lived urge siege by assad forces and iranian and hezbollah supporting him in this besiege. putting people under siege, forbidding them from their life, forbidding them from their right in life to as a human in their country. the it's under international law. to see any kind of accountab accountability in the future. all use these, about 13,000 residents who are killed and tortured. i was one of the -- in syria.
i spent six months of my life in jail. why? just because i'm from the -- nonviolence movement against our government. because we need to back our rights. we need to feel like our citizens under this government in our country, we need our freedom, we need our dignity, we need to leave it under democracy, but sadly, when you are talking about the transition, you mentioned only two, but didn't mention to one aids. you're ignoring the real process of political transition, which was maybe in the future give
some space of peace, justice, because we have more than half our people outside of syria, that's because any reason, just because of assad's force. >> thank you for that powerful intervention. you want to take that on? >> yeah. first of all, i can't imagine that lefl level of frustration and anger. for being quite moderate in one reaction. i can put myself in her place. i'm not going to say anything about that. now, i'm not, i've been 46 year, 47 almost now. in with the u.n. conflict areas. and iraq afghanistan, somalia,
in other words, what is awful is the method that is being used and is unacceptable. proof is that we have been complaining and we will continue to complain. in geneva, where ever we can. that when you have a cease fire, the next thing is not to then prolong a cease fire or replicate it or substitute it with actually hanger or -- because that's another way of actually make ingmaking. we discussed it with the russia b and turkish couldn't parts that in ostanin, once the mechanism is established, once this incident which are taking place and which are linked to
encroach more on the territory, i think there are three, there are five here. and therefore, move a little bit on what is is military solution. we will start seeing general gin access. they were talking to me about it, because the people want to see that. first thing, no more bombing. it's becoming much better. the second thing is food and medicines. i know you agree gsh. >> it's not just about us agreeing. we believe do more than any county country new, syria in terms of humanitarian yad and whaid and when aleppo was liberated sh we discovered so
many humanitarian packages u.n. marks on it. which were in the hand of the terrorists in alope poe. i don't know they managed to come swoo possession of these and now, according to my information, when aleppo is free, we don't toe zee any other countries starting their programs there, the discussions about people in the highest while the campaign was -- believe me, russia does more than any other country in that sense. >> i see two hands. let's take both questions then go back to the panel. >> i'm the head of amnesty
international. thank you for referring to our report. listening to this, you can see the person on the street is totally confused and frustrated with the m ises and institutions and our leader wrs supposed to be delivering basic security. if the richest country's most important leaders are totally unclear in cha wha the proposal is moving forward, so i would totally agree with the russian speaker that the western powers have historically used human rights selectively, depending on their own con venus. they're doing that even now in saudi arabia. the u.s. and saudi arabia is completely different in terms of principles used than in syria, we know that. that's not if point for human rights watch. we will call out u.s. double standards as much we call russian double standards out.
so what happens to the people of syria, so my question is really is you're going to geneva, how is the stalk really supposed to succeed to sadly their the syrians lead iing the process, some asking the question. we have the process going ahead. the new trump u administration is getting friendlier with the administration, but they don't want the -- b so i don't what the proposal is moving forward and here, we have new dynamics and waiting to see what trump was waiting to see what's going ahead. the americans have done that for a long time.
>> why we are still talking about syria six years on. >> i said at the end of my short presentation, that a big question mark is where is the u.s. and we are, ware of the fact that we are going through a very thorough revision taking place and should be ending by herbally march. the so-called potential in inclus of a new type of development between russia and the u.s. on the syrian flight.
plus fighting daesh depends on knowing where the u.s. is. i can't guess it. i can only tell you what i said. i know that they have three priorities. these three priorities need to be squared into a circle and to produce hopefully something stable for syria. beyond that, you're guess and our guess. >> i don't sleep that well when you're thinking all the time, what can we do more about syria b and saying to myself, what is different from my experience in iraq and syria, in afghanistan. they were there avery complicat that time. very complex. they were the syria of today although nothing is comparable to syria today.
they were very complicated. one thing i'm miss iing at the moment, working on a clear u.s. strategy. and what the mediator should be and every type of agenda in order to make one forward which is peace or stability and certainly stopping the conflict. >> how long do we have to wait before there's a strategy? >> i don't think there should been an expectation. there's this that sometimes the americans can see the dark side of the moon and come in and solve the most complicated situation imagine bable. there's not some tool in the toolkit. we have to look a little bit harder and suddenly, the
situation is going to be dramatically improved. especially after five years of this horrific civil war. simply because of the dees koala torre cycle we've seen, but we'd have to reenforce this. if you just go clockwise around syria, there's the southwest corner, which has been fairly quiet. there's regime there and opposition there i think. we want to make sure that stays quiet. there's the regime core area, where -- opposition areas are besieged and i think we have to make sure that aid is getting in there. there's a problem in the provin province, a serious problem, i think that's a distinct problem we can work on together. there's the ewe fray tees shield zone that opened up possibilities for aid in that zone and there's of course the fight against daesh. so there's five, it's a
multidimensional problem and i don't think the u.s. will come in with a one size fits all solution because there isn't one, however, we are looking at various measures, but i think we're going to come within three weeks and find a solution. i think the track having russia, turkey and iran is very important because in many parts of syria, where the civil war is is raging, those are the main influencers on the ground. it's not, it's not us in those areas. >> ken, very quickly, because i want to talk another question. >> i'm being asked to conclude the session. >> god help the syrian people if we're waiting for donald trump to provide the solution. i think it is incumbent on all of us to step forward you know, while the u.s. is in disarray.
we've seen one senior official after another here in the united states tread water without releasing anything. little liechtenstein lead the effort to get a prosecutorial mechanism. this is urgent. prosecutorial mechanism. this is urgent. as our syrian colleague noted, what happened in eastern aleppo, could be replicated in other areas. this strategy of starve and bomb the people into submission is the strategy of assad. and they're going to pursue this, if this ceasefire unless you're trying to feed somebody, breaks down. so i think that there is some real urgency for the besieged people, and frankly for the prisoners, and those are the people who are dying every single day, and we tend to forget about them, because we can't see them. but there's some real urgency here. >> let me just take those two questions and then we'll give one last word to one of our panelists and conclude it. go ahead, please, briefly. >> thank you.
aren't we watching still the dissolution of the ottoman empire in a way that what we see now is partly result of the -- >> ooh, this is a very, very intellectual question at the end of the session. >> it's simply a question on that. and maybe we have to go a step back and think about that these independent provinces in the ottoman empire could exist under hecka mon and maybe this could be a way, and if not, there's a possibility to keep the nation state. when i negotiated with saddam hussein in personal the release of a few hundred hostages, i found out that these countries, obviously could only live and kept together under dictators and that is exactly happened since they were -- >> thank you. very important question. go ahead.
>> thank you. thank you. if you want to answer. [ all speak at once ] thank you. constantine, i think you're getting the last word. >> well, couple of comments. one is the russian military operation, i believe, has been the most transparent military operation in the military history of the world because each day we reported in all possible details vehicles, armaments, goals, everything. when they report appears 80% of wrong targets and everything without no evidence, you have to place it somewhere. you have to bring evidence to that. we've never been confronted with any evidence out of all these mess of information. what concerns me most of all is
that, look, now, when we do our utmost in order to place together the government and the most radical opposition, and we start to succeed, immediately, one after the other, there are three or four reports with most terrible information, in my mind, radicalizing spirits and just sending signal to this radical opposition, don't go there, don't start any consultations with this terrible government, because you've seen the reports how terrible it is. for me, it's not just a coincidence. for me, this is a political action in order to, to, to, to make it more difficult for people with different opinions to sit together and talk together. but our foreign policy towards syria is only about giving a
possibility to people with different opinions, to start talking to each other and to determine the fate of syria by themselves. syrian kurds included. >> i'm afraid i'm being asked to wrap this up. i know you want to say literally five words. >> there is an opportunity, we have a glimmer of hope in the next process in geneva. let's work together to make sure that it works, let's have the best political will there in the world in order to make sure that we have a genuine political transition, thank you. >> a good note to end this discussion on. thank you all, this has been a very interesting panel, and hopefully there will be much better news to discuss next year. >> hopefully, yes. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. [ applause ]
watch c-span as president donald trump delivers his first address to a joint session of congress. >> this congress is going to be the busiest congress we've had in decades. >> and following the speech, the democratic response given by former kentucky governor steve ba bash ear and your response live tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org and listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war. >> but grant is going to put his faith in sherman to break out of this trap. remember, they're still inside the city. the confederates are still on the high ground, but grant's determined now, we're going to break out of this and i'm going to use sherman to do it. >> then lincoln scholar harold
holeser on the many paintings, skult ptures and photographs of president lincoln on display in the u.s. capitol. >> the heroic image that presidents present in their lifetime and after, inspire, motivate, caution future leaders, in the days when -- before twitter and instantaneous photography, which i see going on over here, or c-span, these images which look rudimentary and primitive today had enormous power, impact, and influence. >> sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern, international spy museum historian vince hoten talks about the attempts by the u.s. government to overthrow or assassinate cuban leader fidel castro. >> he was head of the mob in havana during the 1950s, so he certainly had a dog in the fight. he was somebody who had been kicked out by castro, along with all the casinos and mob people. these are the guys you want to be in working with. they're the ones that really,
really want to get rid of castro. so the cia basically said, we got $150,000 on the line. whoever kills castro, the money is theirs. and at 8:00, on the presidency, ben stein, former speech writer for presidents richard nixon and gerald ford, reflects on nixon's time in the white house, his energy policies, and initiatives in israel and southeast asia. >> richard nixon is accused of being anti-semite, leapt to israel's defense in a way no other american president had. >> for a complete schedule, go to c-span.org. sunday night on q & a, "wall street journal" investigative reporter brody mullens talks about his front-page story, about the career and downfall of evan morris, a former lobbyist for roche, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. >> i'd heard rumors about this guy's lifestyle for a while.
so i sort of wanted to wait and see if anything else became public about this guy. and about a year later, i started looking into his life and into his campaign donations, into his spending, into what made him one of washington's top drug company lobbyists. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q & a. tonight on c-span3, a discussion about peace talks between israelis and palestinians. veterans affairs secretary david shulkin speaks at a conference hosted by the american legion. the supreme court hears oral argument in the case of hernandez versus mesa, a lawsuit stemming from the killing of a mexican boy by a u.s. border guard. and a discussion about the u.s./mexico relationship from the center for strategic and international studies.
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