tv Cross Talk RT September 20, 2013 3:29am-4:01am EDT
cruel nationals because i support russians doctrine ban them take a look at the child exchange and you might just start to see my point but that's just my opinion. hello and welcome to crossfire we're considered on peter lavelle syria the diplomatic front versus the battlefield as diplomats grapple with the complexities of dismantling syria's chemical weapons all sides in the conflict continue to
escalate the carnage on the ground are the western powers truly interested in negotiations with the assad regime or are they biding their time well arming rebels and searching for a new opportunity to bring about regime change in damascus. to cross-talk the war in syria i'm joined by elizabeth ferrous in washington she is a senior fellow at the brookings institution in new york we have eric draitser he is founder of stop them dot org and in moscow we cross to erich krauss he's an independent asset manager right gentlemen and lady rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want and i very much encourage it if i go to you eric in new york first. about a week ago there was a lot of this pheno optimism diplomacy the russians and the americans are talking to each other and then in the last day or so obama signed. an executive order to arm the rebels. in syria so where are we at right now is doing is it only about
chemical weapons and then regime change that's still in the cards that's still part of the obama agenda and what in the nato allies to overthrow the government in syria well certainly we've seen that regime change has been on the table really since the beginning we have seen countless attempts to justify regime change using various pretexts and of course the chemical weapons and the red line has been just the latest in a series of such pretexts of course we've seen that aggression against syria in whatever form that it's taken has been done under the cover of humanitarianism and this is the the latest example of aggression from western powers against a sovereign country in the form of humanitarianism but i think that what you're pointing to this transition that we've seen just in the last few days is really quite startling because on the one hand we saw rejoicing i think rightly so at the fact that a war had possibly been averted but yet within a few days we see this u.n.
report released which has as the russians have rightly said is unbelievably biased i mean we've seen countless pieces of evidence provided by various sides in this conflict have either been totally ignored or omitted from the report so as to present a so-called balanced report from the u.n. inspectors of course in the form of balance what they really mean is not implicating those forces which have been implicated according to various investigations and i would just point out as well that the investigation that was conducted by the u.n. inspectors is really a farce something conducted in the span of just a few days under the chaperoning of so-called rebel opposition fighters and proving once again that any u.n. inspector team will have to be truly objective and truly unbiased to present any kind of an unbiased report instead what we've seen is a political document design. to couch the intentions of the western pennsylvania
are going to go to elizabeth in washington if i could sum up what eric just said there is the smoking gun the obama administration has their smoking gun agree or disagree. why does want to go back to something else that eric said and that is humanitarianism being used to cover political objectives which we've seen certainly the case and many other conflicts but here in syria nobody is talking about actions that will help the millions of people who've been affected by this terrible war the two million refugees that for five million internally displaced six or eight million and who need humanitarian assistance you know the discussions about chemical weapons or u.s. strike or aid to the rebels or negotiations none of that really addresses the urgent need to stop this terrible war because of the effect it's having on people truly humanitarian policy would put that front and center and not get distracted if you will by somebody who came out of this with it is washington addressing those
issues in your mind. i mean i think what washington the western governments the international system is doing generally is providing financial support to help refugees and you know some some assistance inside syria as well but that but they're really talking about humanitarian well eric you want to jump in there you want to. go ahead and let moscow jump in so you could lose a bit put a figure on the question i mean there must be something wrong with my moral compass but i don't fully understand why it is more immoral to poison people with gas than to blow them to pieces with with with ordinance or two to shred them with machine guns the point is that more than one hundred thousand have died you know in combat related fashion and probably quite a few more due to the dislocation of war and this seems to serve the. interests of
those countries which would like to see syria neutralized as a political force in the middle east and that is really the problem right now so. amazingly it's going to arm the same people or at least the same political forces which they armed in afghanistan and the consequences of which we have seen over the following years had me they these fighters have moved to other places and they are hard line islamist so it's look seems like an extremely dangerous thing to be doing eric in new york extremely dangerous thing to do and i mean i am full evidence who these people are ample evidence from legitimate sources but jay obama exactly james said over how or about half of the rebels are of some kind of radical persuasion that would be very anti western anti just about everybody there but still the obama administration is agreed to by them i mean. this is a you have to have
a lot more faith than what we're seeing right now coming out of western capitals. and i would also just point out that whatever numbers people throw out there regarding the composition of the opposition in syria is somewhat irrelevant because whether the so-called free syrian army and the secular opposition as it's referred to in the united states regardless of what their numbers are they are not the effective fighting force on the ground any military strategist any political observer who has been following the situation in syria closely can tell you without you know without any doubt at all that it is the nusra front it is the islamic state in syria it is these various other jihadi organizations which are really carrying the water on the ground it is it is those jihadi organizations which have allowed whatever victories that the free syrian army has claimed to be their own and i don't think that anybody is ignorant of this fact whether we're talking about moscow or whether we're talking about washington but i also want to. to return to
something a little bit said earlier she mentioned that humanitarianism should be front and center in this conflict while of course i don't disagree i think that that would put her at all odds with some of the people at her own organization over there at the brookings because we have course remember the very very important brookings document saving syria assessing options for regime change which was released over a year ago and in that document which was put together by some of the the leading you know policy wonks in the the us political establishment in that document they lay out very clearly that the that the case for war in syria that the conflict in syria is about regime change and that it is about strategic interests a strategic interest of washington the strategic interests of israel the strategic interests of the saudis and the qatari as though perhaps it's more of subtextual than overt all of that is included in there so we shouldn't be sort of white washing this entire conflict as if it's about one thing or the other we know it's
about regime change we know this is for geo political reasons that we can go into later i'm sure but i don't think that we should distort what's happening a lizard or i'm not going to ask you to speak for that report but would you react to what eric had to say. i mean first of all there's a collection of end dependent scholars we all have different views and there's no effort to have a common position and certainly i have a long arguments with some of my colleagues about some of the foreign policy implications and actions that are being taken by the u.s. government that you and and other actors you know many people who work on political and strategic issues tend to assume that the humanitarian side is easy let me tell you it isn't easy it isn't easy providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees who come into a country and concerns about the political spillover a little bit a little bit and we have all due respect with all due respect i mean do you think that america's allies in the region saudi arabia qatar israel are interested in the humanitarian and. well it all. some of it i think there is an interest i mean you
see that in terms of the assistance that's being given by gulf states including saudis directly to some of them some kind of i think there is a humanitarian interest and i also think that you know governments everywhere you see a man a terry a means to further foreign policy objectives that's kind of a global i mean if i go back to american milieu i think the assistance is bullets in a military hardware that's the assistance i tend to think of coming from those regional actors. of course it is look i mean we have recently published reports which have sort of verified this is fissions of many observers around the world regarding the role of the saudis on the ground in syria the reports regarding prince bandar bin sultan and his connection of course as we know for many years to the political establishment not only in saudi arabia but also in the united states having earned him the wonderful moniker bandar bush so we see
that the saudis as well as the qataris who are really in charge of a lot of the financing a lot of the funneling of weapons via turkey via lebannon these are not you know disinterested parties and these are not parties who are interested in humanitarianism they're interested in furthering their own regional hegemon in their own aspirations not only in the region but to become economic powers remember that qatar is the number one gas exporter in the region israel intends to become one of the major gas exporters with their recent discoveries off the off the eastern mediterranean coast syria iran iraq pipeline has become a major threat for these powers and so their interests are strategic in geopolitical not humanitarian i think that again i mean i hate to come back to the same point but i think that's a distortion i think that's finding a pretext after the fact elizabeth you would like to react to that in the. moscow about russia's angle in part of the program go ahead elizabeth. yeah i mean i think
motivations are always makes them in kuwait gave a three hundred million dollars grant to the united nations to be used for humanitarian assistance was that politically motivated us government has contributed a billion dollars for humanitarian aid not counting this non-lethal aid that's not particularly humanitarian in terms of support for the rebels yeah i think there's always a humanitarian component even if indeed i agree with american new york that there's often a political motivation as well and i like to see much more assistance going to i don't know i just i don't tend to think warring parties have a lot of charity article go to you in moscow after returning from our break after we return from our week we'll continue our discussion on syrian state. let me see. the same.
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more news today once again flared up. these are the images cold world has been seeing from the streets of canada. trying to corporations rule the day. welcome back to crossfire all things considered i'm peter lavelle remind you we're discussing the war in syria. ok and i'd like to go to you here in moscow we were talking earlier before the
program about president putin's op ed in the new york times and the subsequent reaction to it i mean reading the letter there you were telling me earlier in the day he was speaking to a much broader community obviously the american political political elite and the american people but talking about really what's at the crux of it at least from russia's point of view that's international law. putin's point this has been that the only way that there should not be foreign intervention in civil wars that in fact there's something disingenious about talking about all of the wonderful humanitarian aid which has been supplied because they've been also arming the rebels had they not been arming the rebels this war would have petered out some time back and the humanitarian aid wouldn't be necessary now putin's point has simply been that if the international community is going to do anything the only way it can legally do so is through the united nations now there are problems with
the united nations there are dysfunctions but it is the only international law that we have and the question is if the americans or the british or the french can go in where they feel that their interests are threatened or under the pretext of humanitarian aid then what prevents the chinese from resulting some conflict in africa or the russians in latin america i mean where where do you draw the line. there is a sort of system of international law however imperfect or there is not. it seems to me that i mean if you like a lot of me or putin or not the op ed is very interesting even though it's been given a scathing reception by certain elements of the american political elite i mean ending this war through international law is a way out a way out for almost all parties not not one single party will get everything they want but it could stop the war if we go down this path that's why it started out with the chemical weapons which could start a precedent for more negotiations but it looks like the white house is not
interested in that correct me if i'm wrong. speak for the white house but i think that you're right that a negotiated political settlement based on international law and full respect for human rights is the way forward i don't think that we're going to see a military victory by the rebels or or the assad regime what we need is a negotiated political settlement and there we need to rush in the united states and members of the security i mean a little bit i said in my introduction do you think washington is interested and i know you don't speak for the white house but do you think washington is interested in sitting down and talking to a solid after all he has to go. i mean i think that there is definitely interest in pursuing negotiations and i hope that geneva two finally takes off and comes to pass and there are negotiations i'm not sure about the formula the negotiations would take you know who on the rebel side would be represented what about that bass majority of syrians who are neither pro assad or pro-rebel is but just want to an end to this terrible war how you how it would be structured i'm not sure about
definitely there's enter a center suing a political solution. and i don't get the impression that the white house and western capitals have no interest in the people on the ground whatsoever they have a geopolitical goal they say that he must go we have a lonely action we have to get rid of those pesky chemical weapons because we could be used against anyone and i think that's rationality ruled there but once you move this aside it's business as usual carnage as usual. yeah i would agree with that and i would also add that you know despite i think elizabeth's hopeful you know words and i think she's absolutely correct on the notion that a political settlement is the ideal solution here it's just it's not feasible because even if you look at the recent articles from reuters and mcclatchy and you know the a.p. and you get the quotes from the so-called leaders of this rebellion of the of the opposition particularly the leaders of the free syrian army they are unwilling to sit down at the table they've said it expressly not only are they unwilling to
negotiate with assad or any assad's representatives they're unwilling to meet with the russians in any kind of real round table discussions more to the point they're unwilling to even cease fire for u.n. weapons inspectors we saw an article i think of about three or four days ago or so where one of the leaders i think. said the dean one of the leaders of the free syrian army who says they don't guarantee the safety of the u.n. inspectors so you're talking about a negotiation when one side is completely unwilling to forget negotiate unwilling to even put down their arms for the possibility of a negotiated settlement while on the flip side of course the assad government has guaranteed the safety of the weapons inspectors in the regime controlled areas the assad government has unconditionally agreed to sitting down to talks and unconditionally being the key word there so this is very one sided and you know as
you mentioned earlier peter that the this is because the united states and their proxies in the region are not willing to go to a political settlement because they understand that a political solution to this crisis means that their ultimate agenda is going to be irrelevant that without removing assad from power they're not able to successfully break the alliance between iran syria and hezbollah they're not able to execute the agenda they're geo political. to benefit themselves israel saudi arabia qatar and so forth so again the political solution is a great idea the problem is that the partners for a political solution just aren't there in moscow or look like you want to jump in there because it seems interesting to me is that the rebels are fighting each other as well the right the rebels are killing each other go ahead disingenious here the best solution and it's really standpoint and therefore from a large part of the us policy establishment is that the war continues that the country sort of bleeds itself to death they don't want i would assume at least that
they do not want the radical jihadist factions to be victorious they certainly don't want assad to be victorious it's beginning to look a little like a thirty years war the idea is that it's going to can with the outside intervention on one side or the other eventually there's not going to be anything left to fight over you're going to bomb and you're going to make you're going to make the rubble jump so i don't i don't see any particular desire on their part they want a stalemate or a continued war is probably what they want and one of the reasons there was a consideration of bombing because of the chemical weapons and we don't really know who used them but we know who certainly benefited from their use and that was not the assad regime the because the assad regime was basically being victorious on the ground and i think it is the in their interests to keep a stalemate and listen it's quite interesting i mean it looks like no one can
really win but no one's going to put themselves in the position of losing the other side of the coin meaning this thing will continue for a long time that's a paper on the rate and they're saying they're talking about a protracted war with protracted humanitarian consequences and just have responded about erik's i think one of the biggest problems is the total fragmentation on the opposition side we can't really talk about the opposition and there are over one hundred different groups with different. interests in different capacities you know who's going to sit down and negotiate anything right now is really difficult to understand american new york it seems to me we kind of hit upon this humanitarian crisis issue which i think is correct because it's all about people but that humanitarian crisis in itself becomes a terror threat i mean people displaced they have nothing to do you get paid off by a few people from saudi arabia particularly and this is you know it's called blowback on a major scale and over maybe a generation. yeah i would i would agree with that and i would also like you know
i'm going to let me take your sleep over there and just interest go ahead are we headed. oh i was i was just saying that there is a longstanding belief among many in the u.s. political and intelligence establishment that if they're not able to succeed in their old timid genda which in this case of course is regime change then their second option is chaos and managed chaos we've seen that in many places around the world lest we forget central africa in the congo in somalia and elsewhere the united states enjoys the the ability to create a chaotic situation and then manage that chaos through political means through arm twisting and so forth because chaos in syria the destruction of the state itself means a victory for the western powers because it removes assad it removes the main ally for tehran and it breaks that alliance with hizbollah so everybody benefits from
the destruction of syria as a nation itself and the chaos that would be created look all we need to do is look at libya to understand a precedent for the model that could be employed in syria so while we talk about political settlements and this is all well and good we need to really be aware of what the the real possible outcomes are here because if we see some kind of a provocation whether from the rebel side whether from the assad side this conflict is going to escalate and escalation is going to mean full blown regional war and this would be devastating for everybody hey elizabeth in washington you want to jump in please do you think it's a cheap shot to talk about refugees of being terrorists that we just haven't seen that except for a few isolated cases there were over two million iraqi refugees that didn't form terrorist cells then and neighboring countries i think we do agree in terms of the long term consequences on human beings that this conflict does drag on for years
and years not just in syria but also for their brain i have to say that we are you know. in the last forty eight hours of syria. and refugees in lebanon who were caught going over the border with heavy weapons to give to the new store front so you know i don't know that we can really sit here and say that you know that the refugee situation is not going to have a negative impact on the fighting on the ground a many are using refugee status as a cover to shuffle arms to shuffle fighters across the various borders almost out of time here you know when you go to. eric is russia's diplomatic initiative for the region spent. i think the russian russia has been very successful in what they set out to do which was basically put mr obama's chestnuts out of the fire for him he had painted himself into a situation where he couldn't go forward and he couldn't go back the vote in the house of commons was devastating to the to the hope of bombing because people no
longer believed what they read in the mass media this is mark a turning point people suddenly realize they've been lied to for so long and this this surprisingly was reflected in the political process so i have to jump in here sorry eric we have to jump in here with run out of time many thanks today to my guests in washington new york and here in moscow and thanks to our viewers for watching us here i can see you next time and remember crosstalk tools. well paul told me my language is all but i will only react to situations i haven't
read the reports so i'm likely to push the no i will leave them to the state department to comment on your latter point of the month so it's. a car is on the docket. no more weasel words. when you made a direct question be prepared for a change when you punch be ready for a battle for the office speech and little down the freedom to cost. war is probably the most complex and difficult to. lock up. in the phenomenon of friendly fire probably extends back to the invention
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to be in the mold of. the u.s. prevents venezuela's president from flying through its airspace and denies muses to a delegation being sent to the un stopping tensions between the two. a blame game surrounding the use of chemical weapons in syria hampers the russian american disarmament plan with fresh exchanges between moscow and washington over who's at fault. for the syrian opposition is numbers infested with extremists we look at the aftermath of the rebel siege of an ancient christian village where people were forced to flee their homes to protect their faith. a string of paid holidays sees britain's police come under criticism for their reliance on an arsenal of apparently non-lethal tasers to control suspects.