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tv   Quadriga - International Debate from Berlin  LINKTV  July 31, 2022 10:30pm-11:01pm PDT

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russia's war on ukraine was initially seen as a regional conflict. but it is having increasingly global repercussions, upending geopolitics and sparking tensions far beyond europe. both sides are forging new alliances with countries they only recently kept at arm's length russia turning to an iran still aspiring to be a nuclear power, joe biden swallowing his pride in a controversial visit to saudi arabia, which just three years ago he called a pariah. so onto the point we're asking new alliances in troubled times, is it anything goes for biden and putin? hello and welcome to. to the point
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it's a pleasure to greet our guests. susanna koba is foreign correspondent for the german news magazine der spiegel and it's a pleasure to welcome tyson barker. he's an expert on foreign and transatlantic relations and geopolitics at the german council on foreign relations, d. g. a. p. and erica herman covers business and economics for the berlin based daily the tats tyson barker. many commentators referred to biden's fist bump with saudi arabia's crown prince as nothing less than a cow tao, will it succeed in actually reviving the us saudi alliance and delivering the benefits biden's looking for the optics were terrible. the optics were, you know, reverberated
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through congress through washington through the united states. but the substance of the meeting with the gcc plus three were quite successful and i think that they show the embryonic beginnings of a new coming together between saudi arabia and the united states. and some areas where it's quite important for for the region. how do you measure success in that case? well, there are some there are some, you know baby steps deliverables. for example, the decision to have israeli overflight rights to saudi arabia. the flight from uh from israel to jetta is the first time uh flight and that is opening up a new kind of soft accession of saudi arabia to the abraham accords. this normalization accord that uh that the trump administration agreed to with several uh arab states to normalize relations with israel. that's one. another is uh china is trying to play an increasing role in the middle east through the sale of technology, particularly huawei's five g technology and the decision by saudi arabia to exceed to the open ran alliance. and
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finally the issue of this yemen weapons draw down the standstill in yemen starts to open up the possibility for closer security uh relationship between the united states and saudi arabia because that is a big sticking point for congress there's one element tyson didn't stress there susanna but many people say it's the element that this visit was all about namely oil. in the beginning of this war there was a lot of talk in the west about shared values and the need to fight for western values have geopolitics and resources now eclipsed values. i mean eclipse i values and the need to fight for western values have would say that that would go far beyond what what's what's happening and before that. i mean there have been 70 something years of very close relations between saudi arabia and and and and the u. s. and the west is very much about oil which was extremely much about more oil but also about regional influence. it was also
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about controlling iran. it was also about business. i mean saudi arabia is such a heavyweight in that region that you cannot ignore it. and i think there was a hope, i mean obviously in the in the biden administration maybe also obviously in the in the obama administration that you could refrain from that very difficult relationship because certainly saudi arabia is not only exporting oil, it's also exporting a very extreme version of islam which has had a lot of very bad repercussions and they were of the opinion that they could be more independent of that. and now it turns out and it actually turns out in particular with the ukraine war that you need you need a corporation a good cooperation with saudi arabia for many reasons, starting with if the if the nuclear agreement with
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iran is not is not be able to cannot be revived. which has a lot of a lot of consequences and it looks like right like that then about oil prices. yes there is not so much, there is not so much that saudi arabia can do now to to deliver more oil which has a lot of reasons but at the end of the day certainly i mean opec is sitting on presiding over over the whole system of oil deliveries. so it's a very important meeting i think and i want to come back to that point. but but rica, let's just take a look at the memorandum that was signed by iran and russia because on his own trip to the middle east, putin was also talking about oil and iran is now offering a welcome market will in fact this stronger relationship between russia, iran and
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turkey that was on show there at the summit in tehran. will that deliver the benefits that this very isolated russian president needs? well, you know, it was very interesting to see that in fact the roles are now reversed because now iran is the strong partner. it's no longer russia. and that is of course humiliating for russia and the same thing will happen with china is china again is much stronger than russia. so what you could see there is that russia is losing its status as a superpower because it exhausts itself in the ukraine, it is not going to win this war, it will be a poor state of afterwards. and that was on show in at this meeting. now looking at turkey, i think that for erdogan the u. s. in fact is more important than russia, the whole safety of turkey basis in the end on the support of the united states. but of
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course, you know what erdogan tries to do is to somehow yeah be an independent power between russia and the course, you know what erdogan tries to do is to united states to get some leverage points there. and of course he wanted to have an agreement on north syria because he wants to invade there. but that is something course he wanted to have an agreement on north syria that iran and russia won't agree to. and i want to pick up on exactly that point in just a moment. but first let's take a closer look at biden and putin's middle eastern speed dating in search of new and distinctly unholy alliances. those two fists would herald a new era between the us and saudi arabia. relations between the two countries have long been at an all time low ever since saudi arabia had saudi journalist and dissident jamal khashoggi murdered. now the turnaround clearly that the united low ever since saudi arabia had saudi journalist and dissident states is going to remain an active engaged partner in
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the middle east rather than concrete results, that us president was only given a vague promise by saudi arabia to increase oil production in the future, significantly more harmonious at least outwardly was the tripartite meeting of russia, iran and turkey. and its main focus was syria, where all three countries are engaged in war. also discussed on the sidelines possible. iranian drone delivery to russia and how to handle sanctions for president. putin meeting was, above all, a message to us president biden and the west. russia is also engaged in this region. putin who has the upper hand in the middle east. tyson. what would you say to that question? in the face of the us chaotic departure from afghanistan? in the face of what is often perceived
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as us indifference in the face of the fighting in syria. does anybody really believe biden's promises to remain as he says, an engaged partner? well, i think that, you know, these relationships are very deep. the relationship the united states has with israel with egypt, with saudi arabia with the gulf states has clearly predated biden and is something that has many, many tenants within the us political system including in congress. there are different sensitive points also the private sector. um, so i think that this is something that is a cautious um, nearing a cautious intsification of engagement and it is a situation that is driven by events that's obvious. you know, the united states also for its domestic constituencies needs to be showing that it's doing something to alleviate oil and gas prices also in the united states. so optically, that is part of the reason why he went to saudi arabia's to say to the american people. look, i'm doing this for for this is
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a part of foreign policy for thehe middle class, i'm trying to deliver at home, but it's going to take time for those kind of policies to yield dividends. susannah how do you see it, would you say as as tyson does that there are reasons to believe that the u. s. still has a strong relationship with countries in the middle east? or could this perceived kowtow to saudi arabia actually heard it, particularly in the eyes of strategic rivals and adversaries. it's definitely so that saudi arabia has arabia actually heard it, particularly in the eyes of strategic a close has close ties with with with the u s. still there very much dependent on weapons deliveries and their contracts long running contracts. i mean there is no way that saudi arabia could say we we don't want to have anything to do with us any longer or vice versa. so it's more about strategic demonstrate a demonstration
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of a strategic move the u. s. is making here they want to show to iran to russia. um we are still in we are still having a leverage here um the it was also a sign that the times when uh saudi arabia was isolated because of the murder of john g. that this this chapter is closed now so um so but this has a price and the price is um showing showing that that this close cooperation is still in place and it's a deal. i mean they also get quite quite a leeway now to work is still in place and it's a deal. i mean on their issues with iran at the same time, saudi arabia is interested and america is interested to keep the ceasefire in yemen and and all this is it's a
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package. it's a big package. and what what tyson just just mentioned about the abraham accords that um the cooperation with israel which is a new alliance which is bill has which is going to be built up. i mean is a shift which they demonstrate a if it's a package are the benefits going to outweigh the costs in terms of loss of loss of that appearance of values and morally guided foreign policy that biden had sworn to put in place. well, as tyson said, i think the main point was that i wanted to bring down the oil prices and that might work. but the problem is that the prices for crude oil are not the main problem because the prices for crude oil are not higher than they were, let's say in 2011. the problem is that you have a shortage of refining capacity and so the oil is not that expensive. the crude oil is
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not that expensive, but these and gas lines are very very expensive now and this will not change because there are no no refining capacities left. so, you know, in a way the problem for biden could be that now everyone in the united states is hoping that the gas prices will go down and then all these car drivers will somehow realize that's for some reason it's still very expensive to go to the petrol station. so that might be a problem. those very high gasoline prices and i've just come from the us i cannot remember at any time in my life paying these kind of prices at the pump, they are of course imperiling the chances not only of joe biden but also of his party in the upcoming midterm elections and possibly in the presidential election in 20 24. do you really expect that voters will see this trip to the middle east as having a
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significant effect. that wasn't my impression listening to us media well, the first point is the gas prices have been starting to come down slightly but consistently in the united states. the second thing is that inflation is not only the number one policy issue in washington and also for the biden administration, but also the number one foreign policy issue for washington. and the, the narrative, the way that biden has the administration has tried to frame it is in terms of this war, that russia's war on ukraine biden has the administration has tried to frame it is has created all sorts of supply bottlenecks that are driving up prices in all sorts of areas, fuel, gas, energy food, etcetera, commodities, um and anything that he can be up prices in all sorts of areas, fuel, gas, energy doing that will substantively opted optically look like it's working against. that will be helpful. but i don't know if it'll change the outcome of the midterms. susanna, let's come back to the summit in iran uh putin erdogan and iranian president raises were doing their best to present a united front, but weren't there very real divisions, especially on
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syria? absolutely. i mean, actually you have a lot of very contradicted interests, but on the other hand, they have also a couple of common things like for instance, they they they see a chance to um to change the also a couple of common things like for instance, they regional order or even the global order in the world and that's something which is unifying them. you have also um i mean everybody has a has a different interest now, iran and russia were on one side in in in syria and turkey was on the other side. turkey is supporting ukraine with delivery of drones which have been extremely successful and very deadly. on the other hand, erdogan is supporting ukraine with delivery of drones which have been wants to make himself indispensable when it comes to mediate between ukraine and russia. so very, very clever move, i have to say. um so what what what is unifying
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them at the moment is stronger than what is what is uh dividing them, what is dividing them. and so um and so i think i think right now it's a it's a demonstration of everybody is doing its best to look as powerful as possible. and you said dividing them uh rica nonetheless, uh this uh meeting in tehran definitely sent a very clear message to the world. could we in some sense say that its western sanctions themselves that are enabling a new form of geopolitics. uh not only in terms of this russian iranian turkish nexus, but that are enabling a new form of geopolitics. uh not of course also russia china which will have blowback for the west. well, of course we somehow returning to an era that we thought was over forever because now we
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have again this block system. on the one hand, we have the west, the western democratic states and on the other hand, we have china and russia who are forming an alliance and are somehow the biggest dictatorships they are on earth. and now the interesting thing is that this conflict of systems s is being framed as a conflict between democracies and dictatorships and these dictatorships are framed as offering security and stability, which in fact they don't offer because that's what russia shows when attacking the ukraine that it is a very unstable country. but anyway, what i really found interesting about this whole meeting is that it is really a change that now it's iran offering drones to russia because, you know, russia was always economically a very poor country, but it was a military superpower. and now iran, which is somehow not a very important country offers
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deadly weapons to a military superpower. and that really shows how weak russia has become that is now dependent on countries like iran, you know, don't we don't know right now whether this deal will come through. but nonetheless, talking about it is already a deadly blow for russia and putin travels to iran and smiles all the time. i mean that is really just crazyzy. let's also take a look at the state of the russian economy. the west has in fact heaped sanctions on russia yet as energy prices soar and supplies of gas dwindle many here in europe fear that these measures are hurting the west more than putin from burgers to porsches the list of products that can no longer be sold in russia is long president. the sanctions russia. as a result, the russian gdp
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is expected to fall by 10% in 2022, inflation is currently at 17 and industrial production has fallen by 8% but many of the sanctions are also affecting germany and other western countries. food and energy prices are skyrocketing. many consumers are already complaining about the high prices. some economic experts say that the world economy might be in danger the russian president has managed to find new buyers for experts say that the world economy might be in danger many of his raw materials faster than expected, including in india and china and expensive western products such as luxury cars are easily imported through other countries like turkmenistan or kazakhstan with its sanctions, will the west harm itself more than russia in the end? and let me put that
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question right to al rica coupled with a question that arose as i was reading a very interesting article in the magazine, published by the spiegel, the magazine that susanna writes for the historian nicholas mulder said there, that if you want to wage economic war, you must put your economy on a war footing. did the west fail to remember that lesson as it began applying sanctions? well, perhaps but you have to distinguish two things, those sanctions that we decided on not to export any high technology to russia or not to um, uh, to serve the airplanes is not hurting the west at all? because, you know russia was very unimportant when it came to exports the russian, the german exports to russia were only 2.5% of
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all the exports germany has. so that was really a minor point. but of course russia can hurt us by just not exporting oil or gas and that's what they are doing. so, but that is something you could never ever have prevented because once the west starts to support the ukraine with weapons, which i find that we should do that, then of course, it was obvious that the russia would retaliate rate by using its oil and its gas as a weapon by itself. so there was no possibility to somehow prevent russia to use its energy as a weapon. but of course that is something that europe didn't really um, provide for. but i think that's just because, you know, no one counted on having this war to the february 24, everyone's thought it's impossible that russia would attack the ukraine. and now, of course, uh, europe
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starts to adapt to this situation. but in the end you know, what we have to do is to save energy. it's obvious. so let's talk about saving energy in the face of a lot of speculation, susannah, that russia would now completely cut off gas through the north stream one gas pipeline to europe? in fact, it is now flowing again. is this just a roof on putin's part to keep europe nice and dependent on russian gas? or do you think that russia in the end needs europe at least as much as europe needs that russian gas certainly, i mean, we are still the biggest recipients of of of of gas, so certainly there is an independent certainly, i mean, we are still the biggest recipients of interdependency, but on the other hand, it's also kind of adds to the to the war. it adds a kind of psychological warfare as well, because, i mean, it's terrorizing everybody here, like you don't know, would he, would he open the pipe pipeline again or wouldn't he? and when does he stop? and and i mean, that's that's that's
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a level of of uh of of discussion on politically which is actually something everybody wants to avoid. and certainly it it shows that the dependency and we all know now that it was a big mistake to completely rely on russia. what also has to say that even in the in the in the harshest, most darkest moments during the cold war, i mean, there's it has never happened that that that that russia didn't deliver didn't deliver when when you had a contract with it. so actually it's it's it's a complete new situation. so whom do you want to blame? but the lesson learned is certainly you need a complete new mix, which you set up. so if if you have trouble with one with one contract partner. so you never fall into that situation again. and tyson? meanwhile, the eu commission is recommending to member states that they should begin to prepare for rationing gas. is
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that the beginning of that war footing for the european economy? that could help it out last a long cold winter with less russian gas. yeah, that's the appropriate response response. i mean this is an acute crisis that very few people predicted. there is a chronic crisis that people are already starting to predict for and build resilience and to build that kind of war footing economy. and that's china. so thinking about diversifying on semiconductor production, for example away from taiwan or some other areas, there is an attempt to create the kind of resilience you need to be able to survive when you're cut off from major major economies. but we have to say, i mean we should not be afraid of our own shadow. the the greater westst is 45% of the global economy, russia is under 2%. so the elephant can't be afraid of the mouse in this case. the question is always a question as it is an economics short term or a longer term many people or we can say that this conflict is likely to last quite a while. i want to
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come back to our title, we asked whether it's anything goes for putin and biden. will these new friendships that putin is cultivating. will they take enough of the sting out of western sanctions that he can uh keep on going uh indefinitely? no, the sanctions, the western sanctions are very forceful because they hit at two points that are vital for the russian economy. one is high technology and the other is the arab airplanes. and without the western technology, all the planes in russia must stay on the ground and that is for a huge country like russia deadly susannah tyson in one word, would you say that ground and that is for a huge country like russia the west has what it takes to stay the course also through its alliances, even through a long cold winter it will be a little bit cold in this winter maybe next winter? in particularly. but in the long run i'm quite positive russia has to lose this war. that
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is the commitment that the biden ainistratiohas de in ussels has made. and we have to stk to our commitment to ukraine. thank you very much to all of
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