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tv   Hudson Institute Violent Extremism Conference - Panel Discussions  CSPAN  November 10, 2017 3:59pm-5:15pm EST

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frustrated by the dysfunction and the gridlock and so he's part of a solution's caucus. 22 democrats, 22 republicans trying to find solutions. i'm afraid what's happened in washington is not going to change from the top down. it's going to change from the bottom up, when we elect a new generation of leaders who want to govern this country and not just fight each other. >> well, you were just terrifically on. thank you so much. [ applause ]
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if i could have everyone's attention at this time and ask everybody to take their seats. if we might, i'm congressman ed royce, i chair the foreign affairs committee. [ applause ] and we have with us here mr. force, mike mccall, many of you know is chairman of the homeland security committee. [ applause ] congressman brad sherman from los angeles. congressman hank johnson, as well. what i thought i might do here is let me say a few words of introduction if i could on behalf of mr. stewart force because i wanted to share with him how much we admire his work, the work he has done, the work his wife has done to try to
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ensure that no other family has to endure the pain that their family has endured. their son, taylor force was great american patriot. he was a west point graduate who served his country with honor in iraq and served in afghanistan. and i remember our meeting last spring with senator corker. my democrat counter part elliot engel and i have put together a bipartisan version of the act which we will be marking up in a few weeks and i want to thank him again for taking the time to address us here today. ladies and gentlemen, mr. stewart force. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. thank you chairman royce and to
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the hudson institute. as you will notice very quickly, i'm not an expert in any of the subject matter today. i'm here as an unofficial representative of a group that no one ever wants to be a part of, families of victims of terror. we lost taylor in a palestinian terror attack in israel about a year and a half ago. we immediately became members of that horrific club. he was a west point grad and two combat tours in iraq and afghanistan and brought his troops home safely from both tours. completed army commitment, went back to school and was a grad school and was on spring trip to israel when the attack occurred.
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purpose of this conference, i believe, is to get a better understanding of the big picture, how terrorism in all its forms and facets comes together. in my experience i have always been concerned with a small corner of the big picture, just taking care of smaller items and not worrying about understanding how everything works. over the past year and a half we have had to try to understand the world at large and exactly how this terrorism puzzle is put together. big picture is pretty hard to comprehend but with your work, your expertise i think we can make some inroads in the funding of terror. the goal of everybody working on the big picture and the little
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picture which is the taylor force act i think needs to come together and provide effective work to get both of these things accomplished. the taylor force act if you are not aware is legislation that holds back foreign aid to the palestinian authority until they can certify to the secretary of state that our foreign aid is not being diverted to reward terrorist activities in israel by the palestinians. there are rewards to the terrorists or if they die to martyrs families of up to $2,300 per month which is quite a but more than average palestinian earns. the severity of the crime, the severity of the act determines how much the reward is. the fact that our tax dollars are being diverted to support
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terrorism is unacceptable. tailor force act would stop off the funds and that is what my wife and i have been involved in supporting for the last year and a half. i think the goal of both those working on the big picture and those working on the small parts of the big picture should be to disband the club of the families of terrorist victims through lack of membership. i thank you for listening to my short remarks and i appreciate you being here and your work. thank you. [ applause ] thank you very much, mr. force. for many of us i don't know if we remember this but today is also the 34th anniversary of the marine bar racks bombing where hezbollah murdered 241 u.s. service members.
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and given this solemn occasion i think we need to thank all of you for providing the opportunity to share thoughts on the topics before us today, those topics are iran and qatar, muslim brotherhood and the general regional instability and what we can do to shape policy and that's the important work here of the hudson institute, shaping policy, helping us shape that policy in order to counter the challenges that we have before us. so i would like to turn to my good friend chairman mike mccall, chairman of the homeland security committee. he has to leave soon because he has five bills on the floor of the house. the last time i checked we are going into session at 2:00 and the first bills up were homeland security. so i suspect he probably needs
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to speak and get down there to the floor to make sure he presents them. but, mr. chairman, mike mccall. [ applause ] >> thank you, ed. i want to thank stewart for being here. i was proud to co sponsor legislation bearing his son's name. as many of you know he was killed in israel by a palestinian terrorist. our thoughts and prayers are with you, sir. >> thank you. >> i also want to thank the hudson institute. they helped me write my book, failures of imagination and put together some creative energy in the room. i want to take you back historically. what is past is prologue and at the archives and look back at the year 1979. that year transformed the middle east and changed the world. in that year radical islamist ideology rippled around the globe and the revolution in iran
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brought the iotola to power. that same year a dark veil of sunni extremism fell over vaud and other arab nations and also that year the soviets invaded afghanistan and the group under the leadership of osama bin laden became a force to be reckoned with as if time had gone backwards. today 38 years later and 16 years after 9/11 the threat landscape remains. the sunni extremists continue the rein of terror and russians have returned to the region to control ports in syria and prop up the dictator, bashar al assad. last week we saw a crushing blow to isis in raqqa, syria and before that mosal. after watching the caliphate mastasticize over the previous administration and after
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constant briefings on operations and threats to the homeland we can finally see a defeat of isis in the region. before we celebrate or claim victory i believe it is important to caution the radical islamist terror is still alive and well. anone needs to do is look at the northern africa and the recent events in niger. all one needs to do is look at iran and its growing presence in the middle east. all one needs to do is look at how hateful ideology mastered global band of internet. recently travelled israel with chairman royce. there we had a candid discussion with prime minister netanyahu about the greatest threat to his country, the shi'a crescent from iran. iran is filling the vacuum in iraq and syria and through hezbollah building rocket
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manufacturing plants in lebanon. through hamas digging tunnels and aiming rockets. against the iran dome. in yemen it is backing the rebels. the prime minister also briefed us on the relationship and opportunity that has arisen between israel and saudi arabia, once proclaimed enemies now these two nations have a unique alliance. the enemy of my enemy is iran. this threat exists not only against what iran references as little satan but also what it calls the great satan, the united states. the threat of a nuclear iran is real and must be stopped. in congress under ed royce's leadership we pass sanctions on iran's ballistic missile program as well as hezbollah and the president announced we will also sanction the iran's revolutionary guard corps, a bill that i passed in two prior congresses to designate them as
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a foreign terrorist organization because that's what they are. finally, we must deal with the issue of terror financing. qatar stands as a leader when it comes to funding hamas. isis extremists in syria, they found al qaeda and the taliban. qatar has a unique and disturbing relationship with iran. i believe it is time to hold them accountable. if qatar is to remain an ally it must renounce its terror affiliations. thank you. [ applause ] muslim brotherhood continues on the march to threaten the region and al qaeda grew out of the brotherhood. president morsi and arab spring liberated them. president el-sisi is trying to restrain them and we must support him. the muslim brotherhood
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proclaimed that used hitler to reek holocaust upon jews as divine punishment and praised them for putting jews in the place. winning the struggle is personal to me. my father was in world war ii and participated in d-day air campaign and bombed the nazis. i visited to see first-hand the terror. and symptomatic extermination that the nazis perpetrated on the jews. what my father and ed royce's father and their generation were fighting against was pure evil. it is no surprise that the radical islamists were then allies of the nazis. as a once famous jewish man said in jewish history there are no consequences. we must always remember and never forget. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, chairman mccaul.
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congressman brad sherman is with us who has done important work of terrorism subcommittee of foreign affairs. this has been part of his focus. he is with us here today. good friend and colleague. i would like to welcome congressman brad sherman. [ applause ] >> hello, i'm brad sherman from california's best named city, sherman oaks. for 21 years i have sat with chairman royce on the foreign affairs committee. he was there back in 1997 when i put forward the proposition that iran was the number one threat to american national security. as to qatar trying to perform an effort of political gymnastics that would have disabled nadia.
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look at the splits. he seeks to have one foot with the brotherhood and the extremist. he seeks to put another foot with the united states, the moderate sunni and the gulf cooperation council. and while these legs are separated beyond human capacity, he is trying to do it all while kissing ayotola. that is a disabling act of political gymnastics. he may believe that we are obligated to protect his regime because he hosts an american political base. the castro brothers never reached the same conclusion. it is time for him to pick a side, stop supporting hamas. as to iran we need the maximum sanctions, the maximum enforcements and the maximum international support.
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one way to justify additional sanctions is to renounce the nuclear deal. doing that would cause europe not to support our additional sanctions and many in the world would even say iran was in free to reopen its nuclear program without inspections or restrictions. fortunately, the world is blessed with an almost beyond possible use natural resource and that is our supply of evil coming from tehran. we can impose the maximum sanctions without even mentioning the iran deal and we will have european support as we point to almost 500,000 dead syrian civilians, a direct responsibility of tehran as we
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point to terrorism around the world, as we point to how they treat to their own people and the execution of the lgbtq community. there is no shortage of reason to impose sanctions on iran. if we do enough they will come begging to us to have negotiations on all the pending issues including the inadequacies of the nuclear deal. thank you. [ applause ] another member of congress who has been very active on these issues is congressman hank johnson. a good friend and i would like to welcome him at this time. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good afternoon to the visitors here today. thank you for having us. i want to extend my condolences to you, mr. force, on the loss
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of your dear son. i would say that before we can reach peace in the middle east we are going to have to resolve the dispute involving the palestinian state homeland before we can have peace in the middle east it's my opinion that we are going to need to solve the israeli palestinian conflict and it will have to result in a two-state solution, one state for the palestinians and another for israel. and i think once that is done it is going to go a long way towards diffusing a lot of the radicalism that is in existence in the middle east. that issue, of course, is not the only issue and it is not the greatest issue or the greatest
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threat to america, but before i begin my talk let me say how much i appreciate the hudson institute, an organization committed to dialogue and understanding. i commend the hudson institute for its dedication to american leadership and global engagement for a secure, free and prosperous future through the disciplines of defense, economics, health care, technology, culture and international relations as well as the rule of law. and i think before we can begin to talk about peace in the middle east or the suppression of violent extremism that is really threatening to the whole world we have to look at the issue of islam. islam is not a religion of
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hatred and violence, but it has been used by forces that cloak themselves in islam and then proclaim to represent islam, distorting its teachings. i think we must respect islam, the world's second largest religion, one of the three abrahamic religions. i think we must respect that religion and we must respect those who want to be peaceful inherents to that religion. but we do have a group and they are based -- they are saudi arabia based which is the state religion of saudi arabia which is the greatest exporter of
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ideas of violent extremism on the face of the earth, in my humble opinion. away hobbism -- and until we can address the issue of saudi arabia's support and its spread of violent jihadist -- violent jihadist philosophy then we will continue to kind of mire ourselves further into the mud. and i hope that we can wean ourselves from our dependence on oil which seems to be the driving force of our policy towards saudi arabia so that we can deal with this issue to a greater degree than we do now. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, if i can sort of sum up here on a few thoughts.
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the first is that israel is contending with a deep seeded hatred nurtured by leaders of plo, and nurtured over many years because i have seen these textbooks. this has occurred in the mosques, schools, newspapers, on the television. this has to stop. as one witness told our committee incitement is the term we usually use. that's not what we mean. what we mean is teaching generations of young people to hate jews by demonizing and dehumanizing them. that is the point. that is what we seek to address here. that is what the taylor force act seeks to do. the other aspect of this is that people are being lured to terrorism by more than just words. they are being lured there by
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this concept of pay to slay, by this inducement and financial reward that says the longer the sentence, the more people that are murdered, the greater the stipend that goes to you when you get out, goes to your family in the meantime or goes to your family if you have martyred yourself in undertaking this act of murder. so we want to make sure that we do this right and that we send a clear message to the palestinian authority that payments for act of terrorism are unacceptable. now, on iran, the u.s. has got to respond to the full range of threats from iran not just their nuclear program because we see in syria and in iraq, we see it right up along western syria now with the irgc. they are taking advantage of
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this fight against isis and they are moving in and brutalizing syrians but seized so much territory. meanwhile hezbollah which is iran's terror proxy, is amassing fighters and troops along israel's border in the north and the border in the east. iran continues to acquire destabilizing conventional weapons but also intercontinental ballistic missile. the administration is taking a realistic approach on iran recognizing the full range of these threats. this is what we have been messaging in a bipartisan way on our committee. this is what brad sherman and i and mike mccaul is other members have been talking about as we push these policies. congress and the administration must work together to confront these threats while insuring iran never develops a nuclear capability. [ applause ]
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and i will add another point here because that approach was evident just over a week ago when the administration implemented a provision that congress passed in july as mike mccaul shared, designating the powerful revolutionary guards. under the terrorism sanctions that he had abdicated. this has to represent the beginning of a cooperative effort to turn up the pressure on iran and this week the house is going to do its part by bringing up my legislation on the house floor that we passed out at committee targeting iran's ballistic missile program and targeting hezbollah. the regime's leading terrorist proxy. on qatar it has a disturbing history of facilitating radicalization and of broken promises to reform its behavior. in 2014 saudi arabia, the uae with drew their ambassadors from qatar because they said qatar was interfering with internal
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affairs promoting extremism. through algentleman deera and supporting the muslim brotherhood through the region. after that dispute qatar reportedly promised to address these issues, promised not to harbor persons with harmful agendas towards other gulf states and promised not to support any other organization fighting legitimate governments in yemen and in egypt. qatar has failed to live up to its words which is why saudi arabia, uae, egypt cut ties with qatar this past june. shamefully until may of this year qatar was hosting senior hamas. after several other members including mr. sherman introduced legislation increasing sanctions against those that provide support to hamas, qatar expelled those seniors.
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but given the history of false reform and broken promises, i am concerned that this is a tactical move, not a strategic shift away from supporting hamas. must take serious measures to fundamentally alter policies. no more bait and switch and no more back sliding. we need real commitments from qatar to end its attitude and actions towards violent extremists. and on our hamas bill, continuing impediment to peace and security for the middle east is hamas. this deadly terrorist organization continues to work towards israel's destruction. hamas uses other human beings as shields by hiding their terror tunnels under schools. i have seen them myself so has chairman mccaul and other members of our committee here and we saw them as recently as our last trip to israel in august.
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hamas is responsible for the murder of more than 400 israelis and of 25 americans. represented mass legislation further isolates hamas. it's very simple. anyone who funds or provides support to hamas should face u.s. sanctions. hamas is a foreign terrorist group and specially designed specifically by the united states as a global terrorist threat. so i mention one last issue i wanted to bring up and that was the muslim brotherhood. we need to push back against extremist ideaologies like this one. it is a movement staunchly hostile to secularism. it is steeped in anti-semitism. in many cases, they exploit democratic institutions to further their sectarian aims have knowing intention to share
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power. they are by no means a benign movement and bust me effectively countered by employing moderate voices including through more effective broadcasting. we must go after its leaders, those that meet the criteria for individual terrorism sanctions. so i would just now like to thank all of you, thank you for giving the opportunity to me and my colleagues and especially mr. force to be with you to address you today and good work on your development on implementing policy. thank you so much. [ applause ]
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good afternoon again. we have a very distinguished panel to hopefully inform you and entertain you, hopefully, too. at the end i would like to introduce ray who i would say is leading scholar in the u.s. i don't want to get in trouble, on iran, a leading scholar in the u.s. on iran and has many other distinguished attributes. that is one of them. then comes bill wexler who was formerly assistant deputy of defense for special operations and combatting terrorism. it sounds like a terrifying title. then comes my friend who served as united states ambassador to the u.n. and to iraq and afghanistan all with distinction.
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then comes general wald who was former deputy of the u.s. european command. then comes ambassador alberto fernandez, a career foreign service officer whom i heard fantastic things about who apparently ran a brilliant program out of the state department to counter al qaeda's propaganda. am i right? anyway, hopefully. then comes the director of the hudson institute's center on islam democracy. he is a great authority on the topic today. so we decide -- we are going to start off today, our fascinating
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hopefully discussion, on since 9/11, of course, the u.s. said we have two big enemies in the middle east, one being terrorism and one being iran. so i'm going to ask the panel to comment each and hopefully briefly and interesting, please, on how you see it. >> brief and interesting. i will get the brief part right hopefully. iran and terrorism are sort of co-joined because terrorism is a sort of strategic doctrine of the iranian state, the use of violence. and it's actually remarkably effective. through various terrorist organizations that iran has trained over the years to act as
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proxy. there was a time when terrorism was considered weapon of the weak. because right now the iranian case is that if the united states accuses us of terrorism we will respond with terrorism against american forces in iraq and elsewhere. that argument has been persuasive to a lot of people who essentially do not want who essentially do not want to confront iran for the fear of iranian terrorism. as a doctrine of statecraft terrorism has been remarkably effective tool for the islamic republic. >> and you can say a little bit, the iranians are backing the houthis in yemen. >> they are involved in yemen and iraq. certainly iraq. they are involved throughout the region. it is sort of imperialism on the cheap. on the one hand it is a very grand imperial project. on the other hand by relying on
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proxys it is also cheaply executed. because at the end of the day, the islamic republic doesn't have the treasury to sustain its own national armies. iran does suffer from its own version of the vietnam syndrome. since the iran/iraq war from 1982 after math is casualty adverse and has no problems but kind of likes to maintain measure of distance. >> they have no problem with members of hezbollah dying in syria. >> none whatsoever. >> that is why they have members of hezbollah which is shiite. >> one of the most effective terrorist/militia groups in the middle east history. >> so? >> as a result of all of that, iran is getting closer every month to achieving its grander
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strategic objects across the region. not only to have control over lebanon, but increasing control over iraq and over syria. to project power elsewhere and to disrupt other -- disrupt sunni governments throughout the region. at the same time, the other size of terrorism, besides the iran sponsored terrorism is of course the jihadist terrorism, most notably the islamic state and al qaeda which are on their heels right now. as secretary panetta . correctly said earlier today, they are not going away any way, shape or form. and the way that we have to continue to combat them is both through military means and also through looking after the long-standing political challenges that aggravate sunni interests in iraq and elsewhere, but then also through what this panel is talking about, the terrorism, the finances and the
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ideology that still in too many places contribute to the growth of these jihadist groups. >> so if you say that isis is not going away, do you see that the sunnis are not incorporated into life in iraq, there will be a new isis jr. group or do you see them spreading into africa or where do you see isis going? >> isis and sun of isis, whatever its name should be, will expand because of the ideological religious component of the view of a caliphate and also local dynamics. the local dynamics as you said in terms of iraq are about the sunnis feeling excluded from the future of their country. similar local dynamics work in other places where those types of organizations have achieved a lot of interest. the real challenge for the united states it perhaps goes
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without saying but i'll say it, those jihadist groups are unlike any other terrorist groups in that once they have a place that gives them sanctuary and they can act with impunity they will do external attacks. we've seen it again and again. we saw it in sudan. we saw it in afghanistan. we saw it in yemen. we saw it in syria. every one of those instances there were both in the united states government, people in the intelligence community that would say this group is only interested in local issues. they're not -- we see no evidence of them planning external attacks. then we were always surprised they went to external attacks. we need to understand that is the nature of these kinds of groups to do this. >> right now, do you see any of these groups having a place to operate from? >> they're a local pockets where they do have sanctions. in all these countries, in syria, in iraq and libya and in
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yemen, al qaeda and the arab peninsula, still one of those dangerous terrorist groups that we have. >> okay. sal. >> well -- >> the two greatest threats being iran and -- >> sure. on terrorism, i think one of the issues that we do not pay enough attention to is not only that there are groups that iran supports, terrorist groups directly, such as hezbollah or hamas or some of these militias that now exist in iraq, including one that is led by the one responsible for the attack on our embassy in kuwait many years ago. but that iran's policies create circumstances that leap at times to sunni extremism and terror.
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and then iran takes advantage of it. it's an arsonist on the one hand but then offers itself as a firefighter to come against those forces. for example, encouraging sectarianism in iraq or backing extreme measures taking by bashar against the population create extreme circumstances and in those extreme circumstances, sunni extremist find a home and in iran comes as de facto member of the coalition, although it's not a du joury member and tries to defeat those forces. but it uses the defeat to extend its influence into those areas. for example, now you see in iraq in the sunni areas of iraq which have been devastated because of the isis actions and the actions taken against isis but now there are sunni militia.
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these popular mobilization forces. we assume they are all shiite. they're not. there are some that are now sunni militia working with iran to control those areas. so we are very good at going after the terrorists, which we should, such as isis or al qaeda. but we're not that good at what we do afterwards so this threat doesn't reemerge politically. how you organize the area in terms of politics, through economics, in terms of self-government, in terms of participation and power sharing. but iran has very cleverly uses counterterrorism to extend its control. at the moment because they have made great progress in the sunni
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iraq area and syria, the crisis between the kurds and iraq and the baghdad government has created an opportunity for them to bring kurdistan to heel. the general ahead of the kurds force has been the architect of the fight between the iraqis and the kurds, and the militia forces that they control have been heavily involved in the fight against the kurds. and in fact, last night there was a meeting between the kurdish peshmerga and the iraqi security forces. the iraqi delegation was three fourths made up of forces that iran controlled or iran itself. there was not iraqi military represented. but also the militia forces it
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were there that iran controls. there was an hezbollah from lebanon representative in the meeting. and also an iranian presumably from the kurds force. and iran has made great progress in influencing iraq generally, but there was a pocket where the kurds, particularly the kdf kurds who are more independent of iran, and they want to bring them to heel. and it's very important that in the aftermath of what the president has announced our new iran strategy, the iranians are pushing forward, not being restrained, not being deterred, but they are being more aggressive. it's very important that in my view that we look at these militia forces. some of them now have acquired american weapons and i don't
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know whether anybody from the pentagon or congress are still here. it's very important that we demand that those american equipments such as tanks are not allowed to be controlled or owned by the militia forces. they either need to be returned to the iraqi regular forces or we need to disable them. >> they're also with the peshmerga. >> they have some capable equipment and iraqi forces, the regular iraqi forces and some of the equipment that the militia has acquired from the iraqi forces either because of the abandonment of those weapons by the forces in the face of isis or by the current government. this is an important issue. we don't want another hezbollah in iraq, these militias, which that's what iran wants, to create an hezbollah they can do sharing when they run into
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difficulties, use these people as they have been doing with hezbollah in syria and you sending also iraqi militia syria and even bringing afghans, shiites and pakistani shiites to minimize their role in terms of the -- what ray was mentioning, vietnam, because it's expensive so how do you reduce the cost and get others to do your dirty work. that's what they have been doing. i think -- i agree with the notion that the terrorism and iran and part are separate from each other, but then they are part of the same problem. i believe that for the longer term while iran wants to dominate and throw us out of the middle east as it sees itself and the logical rising doesn't want balance and the u.s. is the
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balancer that focusing to make iran a normal state instead of an abnormal state i have to say, it's in part a state. it's stretches of a state. but the purposes of revolution that seeks to spread and be promoted and use that to dominate the region by defeating iran's effort. germany i think we would -- should we succeed in that, it & it wouldn't be easy, then we can also make progress to make iran a normal state and i believe that a serious containment strategy is needed. >> consider what you said do you feel the u.s. is playing an active enough role in iran? i'm sorry, in iraq? helping to contain iran? and helping to say to the prime minister of iraq, you know, don't coordinate with the
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iranian forces and don't fight with them? or how do you see the administration's actions? >> i think that we're a little unhappy with the kurds, with president because he didn't listen to us and make an alternative offer. i think we ought to think larger and more broadly than just being unhappy with this nonbinding referendum. it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that 93% of kurds want to have a country of their own. >> what's with the other 7%? >> what did they think? but i think because of that disappointment we have not been strong enough and engaged enough since these hostilities began. i think we need to make it very clear, loud and clear, that all use of force must stop.
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the negotiation must begin immediately. and how is it that the iranians are sitting at the table in the negotiations between iraq and the kurds and that where are we so to speak on this? >> so we're missing? >> i would think we need to be given, especially in light of the president's strategy, i would have thought we would be more active in pushing back rather than watching as iranians expand their influence into yet another zone that goes outside at least the part that -- i think they will like to bring them to a situation that they would look to iran rather than looking to the west or to the united states or to have
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relations with israel. those are i think the iranian objectives. it's quite clear and they've been very effective, very clever in pursuing that objective. one has to say. that but it is important also that we have a -- as secretary panetta said we haven't put the coalition together for an effective pushback strategy for really extending iranian entanglement in a protracted conflict so that they are disciplined over time by being overextended as we did with the soviets in various theaters. i think we need to relearn those lessons. >> so general, of course, you have so much experience. you've thought about the middle east a lot. i wonder how you see the issue of iran and of terrorism? >> yeah. >> and what you think about what's -- >> well, i think what the
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previous speakers mostly say i agree with. i would say that my sense is a couple big things. one is, i've said this before several years ago in your paper, we're in this probably for the rest of our life. people say generational. i'd say depends on how old you are, but we're going to be doing this. this is not like isis goes away, let's stop and take a breath and start over. this is beginning. two is i don't think the status quo in the middle east, this is wald speaking, will ever be the same again. i think -- >> because? >> i just don't think it fits. i look at countries like my favorite, the arab of emirates or saudi arabia or israel actually having a common interest, which is really hard to say publicly. it's not been very well received a lot of times. i think those common interests are starting to build and so i
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think the status quo in the middle east will never go back to the way it was. i go back to the disaster with the kurds. the kurds to me it's hard to argue with and again, that's going to be tough because we want him to be you know, everybody's kind of yeerning for going back to -- united iraq the way it used to be b b and everybody kind of makes nice and i have a tough time thinking it's going to happen. you have those who say you have to stick in your own lane. i get it. we have not articulated a common view of what the end state may be sometime. i think people have this tendency to want the melon
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colley of the way it used to be. it's by virtue of presence. i don't think so that's gong to happen again. i think this growing threat in africa. we worked on this back in 2001 when we started talking about it. people said you just kind of you know, a typical military guy. trying to throw kerosene on a fire. but it's happening. >> talking about al-qaeda and isis. >> exactly. the whole issue, it's connected. no doubt about it. and so long-term, we're going to have to i think look at what maybe the middle east likely could look like realistically. i think we need to box in assad. really. we need to box him in. box him in. he'll get rid of himself eventually. can't get things in there. there's way to do that. >> a small piece of land?
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>> let him sit there for a while. i think we need to counter the iranian sending arms to syria or terrorists. i think we need commit the united states to a long time in the middle east in a big way and work with our friends in the middle east and saudi arabia and jordan and others to say this and egypt for ha matter. this is what probably is a doable end state we're probably going to have to see the end in 20, 30 years from now. start we have to start now. >> ambassador. >> i think when we look at iran and terrorism, we make that phrase, we're starting off making a mistake. >> we were saying it should be -- >> no, what i'm saying is that
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we all too often focus on iran, the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism and fail to see the much broader ambitious and action that iran is doing on the ground. terrorism is one part of it. one of the challenges i think we face is that we are, we meaning especially the united states, are misaligned in this challenge. iran is tactically flexible, but has a strategic vision. think of it. iran works with sunni extremists, it works with al-qaeda. yet it fights sunni extremists and jihadists and other places. there's even an iranian supported militia made up of at least the leadership in iraq, of iraqi christians. so they have tremendous flexibility in the tools they use. terrorism is only one of them. war is another one. political issues on a political subversion is another one.
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so this iranian ground game, which is occurring, is one which we have traditionally been misaligned and not ready to challenge. so we talk b about things like intradictikting weapons stoppin terrorism. a small part of what they're doing. part of what they're doing is is guys, you know, threatening people. guys giving people bags of money. all kinds of ways they are advancing a political agenda in the region and we're too often seeing the challenge in a one dimensional way and thinking of nation states and obviously, a relationship with our friends in the region is as pair mouramoun only a small part of what the offense i have looks like. we're missing this hybrid war of
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political action of subversion, of bribery, of corruption. all of which is part of a much broader agenda. we need to get our own ground game in order if we seek to challenge them rather than picking them from afar. those are just small element. >> i don't think that's evaded the eyes of our allies in the region like saudi arabia, the united arab b egypt for example. they've been consistent in what they've been doing. we are starting from behind.
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we had an administration that talked about sharing the middle east and e quill ib rum in the middle east which would mean a percentage gained. >> how do you feel about the trump administration's policies? >> they've said the right thing. the focus is the right focus. the question is that ground game. the question is that type of granularity and detail on the ground you need to do the challenge. not just by passing some laws or talking about money coming in. that's just a small part of it. >> can you really have a ground game if half the state department is empty, for example? >> that's a very good question. that is part of your ground game. the work of development. the work of relationship, the
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intelligence community. all of that has to be part of our response to what they're doing. >> first of all, i think he's right, but i would not trifl yalize forces or other things. there's a whole bunch of big parts. so that they're not just going to go away to their own. any way. you didn't say that, but -- >> that's very much true and needed to be said ch i want ones flexibility of the iranian referred to by ray. by alberto and so forth. and will. at one level, it looks machiavellian. a complete unscrupulousness.
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that's a lot of it. also i think it's worth noting that there's a kind of way which for example, use of sunnis or the athe tempt to have alliances sunnis. goes back deep to the alliances of the regime and perspective of -- of the muslim brotherhood in particular. they laid out of an option, the foundation of a new islamic state that would be redemptive of muslim history. of translating works from air bik into persian. and particularly, the works of -- who came to be the leading intellectual figure. his translator was the supreme
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leader. so there's a kind of, from the iranian point of view, doesn't have to be only macavelian or cynical. there is a way in which at least certain parts of the sunni radical movement and the shiite radical movement can see themselves as working together for the greater good. and since one of the places where that and that's remarkable thing. one of the place as where that obvious has come to meet and join in this little country, qatar, which is the most of the muslim brotherhood. has played a warm, maintained warm relations with iran. >> with qatar. >> yeah. this more friendly relationship of shiite radicalism has a home
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in some respects. that's not important for dynamics of the reeng. the last thing i want to say about our policies and so forth. i think we said earlier by secretary pa nnetta, that trustn one's word matters a lot. when you've lost it, hard to get it back with words. we've had quite a lot of words and little action. the most cent thing was in the same direction. the president announced the new policy in which the iog was the most notable object and about 80 hours later -- our allies. so i think maybe that was all that could be done, but for the future, the only way in which the region is going to have some
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confidence in us is if we do something hard, clear and tough. >> you agree with that ambassador? >> yeah, we need to learn to play the long game with as well as the you know, four-year cycle. >> but do you agree with hillel that we should have stopped them? >> i think we need ed to know clearly and you have to remember that the pmu's were moving north even before the president's announcement. anyone with any following of events on iraq could' something was going to happen. at the at least, we needed to be in a position to say these are our red lines, our parameters and it's not clear we did that. or if we did, doesn't seem to have been fulfilled.
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>> i think very important that with any big declaration, the there is an action plan. >> by president trump, you mean. >> yes. by that we have an action plan strategy and timelines, that's the rest of the bureaucracy is staff and resourced and people are held account bable for producing results. actually implementing and developing a detailed strategy and implementing it is where more attention needs to be. >> so politely speaking, it hasn't been done. >> i think as we see in the case of iraq and certainly, one can
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point to shortcomings. >> and you agree? >> yeah, i do. >> if we wind up with a result of 93%. >> let's turn to syria now. raqqa fell last week, which was a fantastic development. the trump administration's policy, from what i can see, is to leave president assad in power. how do you feel about that? do you think it's a good policy? >> i don't think there is an option at this particular point. because in a sort of a civil war condition in a broken condition that syria is, the dirty little secret is that the only way syr syria, others can comment more, can be stabilized is for an outside force to come in and impose a peace like happened in
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lebanon when syrian forces went in and imposed peace and that's the way you can impose it kind of a demarcation model. an absence of that, we don't see evidence of that. i think syria will remain this lemess that we see it today. >> what do you think? >> i think unfortunately, the window of opportunity to have dealt with assad and closed long ago. and the scenarios that we're looking at now in the absent external actor coming in in a way that i think the highly unlikely. are either the regime supported by iran and russia slowly continuing to progress across the country or quickly doing so? unfortunately, i think that's where we are. then amongst the questions for u.s. interests are the aftermath, iran is going to have more placement and access in the
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south to be able to cause problems for allies of ours like jordan and israel. so how do we confront them and deny that ability over the long run to take advantage of that placement. >> that's a very good point. >> i think that's important strategically. if we're serious about containing iran, is to make sure that iran doesn't have ambiguous land access from iran across iraq, across syria. our syria strategy should be informed by that objective, which means we should as secretary panetta said, we need to maintain the presence in syria and we need to develop a strategy for increasing the costs for iran on the ground.
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the ground force is mostly iran or iranian-backed elements. that ground force has great vulnerabilities. we can increase the cost of maintaining or expanding. >> the hezbollah force? >> hezbollah force or controlling more of the areas of syria. to block the access that i mentioned on the one hand, but two, although immediately a settlement is not in the cards, but over time as costs goes up, a lot of syrians were not happy with keeping bashar there. both the iranian and russians and some syrians may be calibrate.
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we need to exploit that asemitri in relative burden. >> you also believe we should leave troops in iraq, too? >> i believe very strongly that we need to maintain military presence. i think president obama made a mistake to get our forces out. if we get our forces out, either iran will even become more dominant and entrenched. when i was in raug, we killed the head of al-qaeda in iraq. but when we left, the vacuum created as secretary panetta said, al maliki became more sectarian independent of our pressure and presence and oppressed the sunnis and with
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the -- you got isis. i believe it's possible you get a new version of extremism and terrorism emerging should we abandon iraq again fand we don't play it right in syria. >> i'd say keep assad in syria. keep the iranian out. tell assad you're going to have to live there the way it is and you're not going to have a good life because there's hardly anything in. number two is you drop another barrel bomb out of an airplane. it's the last time we're going to have an air force. you're done. we should have never let that happen in the first place. we should have taken his total air force out. could have done it. it would have been very easy. assad, congratulations. it's kind of a comfortable prison you're going to be in the rest of your life. iranian, stay out. you're not going to be part of that. russia, if you start flying bombing missions dwens our troops, that's the end of it. period.
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i think we need to say this is way it's going to be. if we need to do this for years, fine. >> iranian, you're saying -- >> keep them out. i'd keep them from supplying. i'd keep them from taking -- cha exactly. every time they do it, i'd go after them. the isiraeli do it exactly righ. when is the last time somebody went after them for -- never. i'd do it. >> i thought the red line was they don't want to transfer weapons from syria to lebanon. >> yeah, part of it. they don't want them in syria either. what's the difference? lebanon, syria, wont want them in there, period. i don't want to be threaten. eerither the mediterranean, fro iraq, turkey. >> maybe we should nominate you. >> yeah. >> i won't serve. we need to do something.
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so you're not happen by the policy, i take it. >> listen b, i'm not trying to criticize, first of all, i wouldn't criticize mattis for anything. i think it's difficult for someone like him to articulate what i just said. i don't think we've said anything like that. we'll know it when we see it and i hate to say it, but isis, they've done a good job on isis. but you know, isis is just a manifestation of a broader as we know, isis just happens to be b one of the farm teams for the pros. >> i think our audience put you in first. >> ambassador? >> one of the challenges we
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face, is we're dealing with the legacy issue of deeply immor mall rall, cal policy regarding syria. they brought b about a nuclear agreement floating on a sea of syrian blood. we have a difficult challenge in the hand that we've been dilt now. talked about the land bridge to the medicine terror yan yan. that is going to be decide d in the next few days as somebody drives towards abu kamala on the syria ir can border and if it's the syrian army, then they will have a land bridge. we have a problem -- >> explain. >> we have a challenge and a problem. the iranian who are our proxies in the region?
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powerful, important and teeply problematic. the white pg, et cetera. which yes, which is militarily significant and militarily important and has all kinds of political and ethnic maethnic marks there. so the question is, our relationship with the sayyrian we need to put up or shut up. if they are deeply unclean because they hold up pictures of the terrorist topple, then fine. we're going to act a certain way. but if not, we need to find way to use them as proxies. we need to make them less kurdish, more accepting of arabs, less like the pkk. more of a useful tool to us. especially if we want in a very immediate way, block iranian ambitiouses in the next few weeks and months. >> absolutely. >> wow.
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>> wow. i will just endorse what was just said because i understand our time is is up. the only is up, the only thing i want to say is this. with regard to syria, i think general wall has the right perspective on it. what i fear is that we're going to be between two other alternatives. one is a kind of slow management of the situation. assad will control thing, k but neerd will we. there will be nothing revolved, which will create the conditi s conditions. i hope you're thinking about what happen ifs the iranian launch some kind of initiative against jordan, against israel and so forth. where are we going to be then? >> to protect them. >> okay, well i hope you found
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this interest iing. i'd like to thank all of our panelists. we could go on a lot longer. i'm getting signs from the front row that we're supposed to stop, to thank you, audience. thank you, panel. so next up, we have catherine he are rage interviewing senator tom cotton. catherine is the award winning


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