Have you created a personal profile? Login or create a profile so that you can create alerts and save clips, playlists, and searches.
[The Middle East: Glorious Past, Uncertain Future]
ALON BEN-MEIR: I'm so delighted, I'mhonored to share this panel.We have with us four extremely distinguished gentlemen whoknow more about the rise of Islamic extremismor I should say violent extremism whichhas been raging, and will continue
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: to rage throughout the Middle East, perhaps for years,and I hope much less than that.But exactly what we are going to see a great deal more of beforewe get to the point that this horrible riseof violence subsides.So I want to introduce my panel briefly.
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: Robert Worth, sitting on my right.Robert Worth has reported from Baghdad for The New York Timesfrom 2003 until 2006, and was the paper's Beirut bureauchief from 2007 until 2011.His book, to be published in 2016, by Farrar, Straus, and--
ROBERT WORTH: Giroux.Giroux, OK.--will cover all the countries where uprisingsbroke out in 2011, and will be principallynarrative in nature.It is rooted in the reporting he did in 2011 and 2012.But it is focused mainly on the [INAUDIBLE]
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: revolutionary descent into civil conflictin most of the countries where the uprisings took place.Radwan Ziadech on the other side.Radwan, I've had the pleasure of meeting you a couple of timesbefore.He is the head of the Syrian Commission for TransitionalJustice, which was established in November 14, 2013
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: by the Syrian interim government.the commission was tasked to workon the transnational justice file,including investigating crimes, consideringmeans of prosecution, and buildinga national reconservation program.He is the co-founder and executive directorof the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: in Washington, DC, and the managingeditor now of the Transitional Justice and the Arab WorldProject.And a special, we have a special guest with us.Everyone is special, but this gentleman on my left,flew all the way from London.And he's with us, Siwar al-Assad Siwar al-Assad
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: is the vice president and father of the United NationsDemocratic Alliance.He completed his education in Switzerland and France,where he gained a Bachelor degree in law from SorbonneUniversity, Paris.Following the completion of his studies, [INAUDIBLE]and he continues to be involved in a number
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: of international media companies.And on top of all of that, he is a celebrated novelist.Now, I have to apologize.I don't know remember the novel he just completed, Which Is--
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: A Couer Perdu in French.
ALON BEN-MEIR: A Couer Perdu in French.Can you interpret that to English a little bit?
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: With a Lost Heart.
ALON BEN-MEIR: Lost Heart.So he's a novelist and I understandhe's received great acclaim for this first novel, I take it.And so congratulations to you forthis incredible achievement.And a wonderful surprise guest, Suleiman Fortia.
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: How are you?Suleiman is from Libya.And he's obviously, his Arabic is better than mine by farand is a member of the Libyan National Transitional Council,representing the City of Misrata.Fortia received his undergraduate degree from
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: the University of Tripoli, and a doctor of engineeringand agriculture from a British University .He has taught at King Faisal University for eight years.He has participated in delegations to Franceduring talks where the antique Agabi forces asked
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: for weapons shipments.He also negotiated in person for aid effortto help the [INAUDIBLE] during the siege of [INAUDIBLE].Again, thank you all for taking the time to be here.And I'd like to begin by asking the simple question with so
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: much implications though.And people talk about the root causes.Obviously there is not a single root cause.There are many root causes behind the riseof violent extremism, which has swept and continuesto sweep the Middle East as we speak here.Hundreds of thousands of [INAUDIBLE]
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: have died, specifically in Syria.Millions, millions, have become refugees throughout the region.And now we are seeing the horrifying phenomenaof the rise of ISIS.So I would like to have this discussion brieflyfrom each of you to think in termsof what is behind all of this?
ALON BEN-MEIR [continued]: And then take it, what can be done?But I'd like to focus in particularabout the plight, the tragedy, that has engulfed Syriaand what is there can be done to bring this tragic situationto some kind of an end.And of course the sooner the better.So I would begin with our other guest, Siwar al-Assad.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: Thank you.Thank you for having me here.The roots of-- I should stand up.The roots of fanaticism in Islam, where do I start?We have to go back far in history.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: Maybe we should start in the 13th century,when a scholar called Ibn Taymiyyah issued fatwas.He was a philosopher, very interesting one, very heard.He had many followers and he died in prison in Damascus.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: After he died, he was nominated [INAUDIBLE] Islam.[INAUDIBLE] Islam like the big honor.So this man is very heard.And he issued fatwas, the most famous oneis to persecute minorities and Sunni Muslims who
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: have different beliefs.The problem is, until today, this fatwas have not beenin a way cancelled.No one revoked the fatwas.And what we're seeing today is the so-called ISIS,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: it's an ideology, because these people have many names.These terrorists, at the end of the day,they are only terrorists.They are nothing else.They give themselves so many names,we can't keep up with the name.In Africa they have names.In everywhere, they have different names.At the end of the day, they are terrorists.They share the same ideology.It's called-- there is no English word for it.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: It is called [ARABIC].I think the best way to translateit is an affectionist.When you are not like me, for me, it's OK if I kill you.It's not a problem.if I kill you, I get credits.I can go to heaven faster.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: So the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, spread everywhere,reached Syria.People have less timid demands because peoplewanted democracy.We all want to live in democracy.We understand the demand of the Syrian peoples.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: I am one of them.I want democracy in my country.I want freedom.I want peace and I want justice.Now what happened?When they started the peaceful demonstrationsin the beginning, I know may disagree with me,but in reality we had many press reports and witnesses telling
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: us that since the very first days police forces and armystaff were shot at and killed.I'm not trying to justify anything.I'm not trying to justify the repression of the government.Because they committed many mistakes.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: They committed many mistakes as well since the beginning.What I'm trying to say is that fanaticismplayed a significant role since the very beginningof this crisis.Because fanatics joined the battle.They jumped on the opportunity and they said, maybe
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: this is our time.And maybe they were right.Because in a way, they achieved what they wanted.So they had hijacked the revolution.They transformed a revolution into war.And those who wanted peaceful change,and those who wanted real change, genuine people,they had to step back, go back home, or maybe put into exile
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: and watch the war.One of the problems as well that we need to addressis the name of ISIS itself.I said it earlier, I know.But we are giving them what they want.They want to be called State, Islamic State.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: The word State is very, very annoyingbecause we're giving them what they want.It's their dream.They want to build a state caliphate.And they achieved in a way, their dream.They have their state.Children in Syria, and I'm sure in many other Muslim countries,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: although Syria is a secular country.I know that children, including girls,are being told that if they don't pray every day, when theydie, they will pray on the marble,on the burning marble of hell.So, they grow up since they are children,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: they grow up with this fear.And they start wanting to pray because they're scared.And when they want to pray, they go to mosques.And often, they make connections with people who are extremists,and this is how it happens.Now, [INAUDIBLE] Now, the problem is real.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: We have the so-called ISIS on the ground.ISIS I think, in my opinion, are not only terrorists,but fanatics.They are people who are joined as well, by ex-Iraqi,Sadam Hussein, armies and staff, very well trained people, very
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: organized.They have joined this battle and they havecreated an army of monsters.And these people [INAUDIBLE] as Sadam Husseinfighters, they have surfed the wave, the Islamic wave.So, they also took advantage of this Islamic sunami
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: that we are facing in Syria and Iraq.
ALON BEN-MEIR: Thank you so much.Robert.
ROBERT WORTH: I'll sit down if that's all right.I want to give a slightly different answer.We can-- I'm sure we'll continue to talkabout it going backwards 60 years or 200 years more.Let me just focus a little bit on the more recent aspectsof this.In my view, what really happened in 2011,
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: and what has happened since is a shatteringof the authority of the state in the whole Arab region.Obviously that happened in Libya/ I'm not just talkingabout countries where the president was killed or broughtdown.But even in countries where the regime somehow survived,his credibility among large parts of the population
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: was gone.So for instance in Syria, you know Bashar al-Assad stillcontrols part of the country, but his credibilityis gone from large, large parts of that population.And the states that survive continueto fight a kind of rear guard action,becoming ever more brutal in orderto maintain what authority they have.And what has happened is that in many parts of the Arab world,
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: you've seen the emergence of groups, militias or insurgentmovements, that cannibalize what remains of the state.And those groups have become, for many people, evenpeople who are not extremists of any particular ideology,they've become a kind of attractive model,
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: because these groups don't have to necessarily carefor an entire population.They often have a very charismatic leader.They have a mission that's easierto carry out in the short term.And it's easy for them to take a certain amount of territoryand inspire their followers without payingthe kind of price that a government might
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: pay in terms of responsibility.The group that's become a model for a lot of these,the oldest that predates all of this, and that's Hezbollah.And the Hoothis, model themselvesvery explicitly on Hezbollah, the Hoothis in Yemen.I've spend a lot of time in Yemenso I have watched that happen.But that's not the only group.Of course, you have hundreds of militias in Libya.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: They don't model themselves on Hezbollah, but each of themclaims a certain measure of authority.And then in Syria, you also have a de facto Kurdish enclavethat's separate.In Iraq, obviously, you have effectivelya whole separate country, Kurdistan.There may end up being more of these.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: There may be a separate state in southern Iraq.And there are already many Shiite militias in Iraqthat operate independently.So in other words, militias are becomingthe kind of social and political formthat is dominant in large parts of the region.And I think this is the danger.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: You know the state is supposed to have a monopoly on violence,but now we have hundreds of entitiesall over the region that are claimingtheir own monopoly on violence.And who are much less constrainedthan a traditional state would be.So they're at war with each other.ISIS obviously, doesn't draw any of its inspirationfrom Hezbollah, but they have a similar structure.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: And I think it's going to be verydifficult in an atmosphere and a climatewhere no one trusts the old Arab order anymore.No one trusts the traditional rulers.All you have in many areas, is these kind of insurgents.And no one seems to have the kind of legitimacy
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: to reassert a state.This has not happened, of course, in the monarchies,but we're not talking about monarchies.It is kind of a paradox that theyhave remained more peaceful.And obviously that's partly because some of themhave an awful lot of oil money work to pay off their people.But I think that's not all of it.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: I was told a long time ago by a Yemini politician and analystwho I respected a lot, he said, you know,the trouble with this region is that so many of its leadersdon't feel that they themselves are legitimate.They have often been empowered by revolutionsthat took place 40 or 50 years ago or 60 years ago.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: And they've replaced in some cases, formsof political organization that were aroundfor hundreds of years.In Yemen for instance, you have the [INAUDIBLE],which however badly it may have reigned over Yemen,
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: it was ancient and had a certain kind of traditional imprimatur.And then suddenly you have a series ofjumped up military commanders taking power.What my friend was trying to tell me was,these guys look around and see nextto them, the other contenders for power.And they say, why shouldn't he be in charge?I have no special reason, no special claim.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: And so, they tend to behave in a very paranoid way.It's that generation of rulers whohas sort of ground the region into the dust.And the order they stood for has been overthrown,but there's no new order yet being born.We're still left with the ruins of the old.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: That's a more political take on all this.I'll have more to say a little later.
ALON BEN-MEIR: OK.Again, basically trying to answer the same question.Let me start by thanking ProfessorAlan for the invitation here.
RADWAN ZIADECH: Basically, the simple answer,because we have failed transition.If we compare the Arab Spring into other transitions happenedin other regions in the world, wehave Eastern Europe in the '90s.We have before in the '70s of course, Spain, Portugal,and Greece.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: We actually moved from authoritarian or militaryregime into democratic institutions.At same time we have Eastern Europewhere actually the EU played a very important roleto include Poland, Czechoslovakia,Romania, and all of this into democratic transition.At the same time we have Latin America,
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: started in Brazil, Argentina.But in the Arab region actually, the demands for freedom,it came late.Since actually the last, the Color Revolutionstarted in Georgia, in the Arab region,it started late in 2011.And thus it was a huge, a huge actually, atmosphere
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: or circumstances in the region we don't have before.We see millions of people in the street,actually they're inspiration to have a new system.This is why this slogan that the people, theywant to change the regime, because they need,want a new system to go, economic system, social,and political system.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: That transition has to be managedto move into new political order,like what happened actually in Eastern Europe as I mentionedor in other regions.The whole Middle East region lackof institutions, the whole Middle East regionactually lack of regional institutions,
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: the Arab League is very weak and autocratic.And this is why what's happened that you have let'ssay the old institutions, let's say, the Gaddafi or the Assad,there are many old regimes that played crucial role actually,
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: to make this transition much, much worse.Because they have the same slogan, other [INAUDIBLE]or actually will be nothing else.And this is what-- the slogan that the Assad militias,they wrote it in every town and in every actuallyward in Syria.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: And Assad, [INAUDIBLE] from Assad, either accept Assad,otherwise, we'll burn Syria.And this is slogan has been implemented every day.Because you've been seen now, 2/3 of the countrydisplaced, 2/3 of the country, 4 million,we have refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: And you have, at the same time, more than 200,000been killed for the war crimes, crimes against humanitycommitted.And you will hear Assad himself, last week in the BBC,said that nothing happened in the country.He is very calm, talked just about tourism.We should kill them and kill more and more.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: This is actually so exactly the difficult termsof the transition in the region, when we actuallyfaced a very, very brutal dictator who never caredabout actually that transition, how they can help actuallytheir own country.Because if you go to Spain or Portugal,
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: the military government at that time,helped by actually making that transition itself being smooth,and especially Spain, the best example of that.The failed transition [INAUDIBLE]and create [INAUDIBLE] has been usedby different groups who have their own agenda, like ISIS
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: or other terrorist groups.And I think we will expect more, other,if there is no collective help by the regionor by the international communityto allow that transition.Because it's clear that there is no way for Syria to go backit's having control by the Assad family or the Assad dynasty.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: That's gone.Assad has to understand that the Syrian people,it's reserved to have a new life,to have a new, better life.I found in my hometown area, which is seven kilometers southof Damascus, the population of my hometown,it's almost a quarter of a million.Do you how much left in the city now?
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: It's only 2,000.It's 2,000.My mother lives in Turkey, my brother in Jordan,and my sister in Iran.This is the case of every single family in Syria now.And we still continue that, don't understand the realitythat Assad to understand that that transition has to start
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: and has, that the Syrian people, like the Arabian people[INAUDIBLE] and others.And this is why actually more responsibilityon the US leadership.The US leadership--
ALON BEN-MEIR: Pardon, before you go to solutions,I'd like get Suleiman.
SULEIMAN FORTIA: Thank you very much indeed, Dr. Ben-Meir.Thank you to my colleagues here.I don't think I can add much, but Libya maybeis a different case.Although we lived under a dictatorfor to 42 years, and he's just exactly the sameas Sadam, 45 years or Assad.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: And they're seen as coming from the same nest.I don't know.We were lucky with those bunch, you know?We are not lucky with [INAUDIBLE] and footballor somebody.But we are famous with Gaddafi.Gaddafi, who spent most of this country wealth,spending it on terrorism [INAUDIBLE].
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: You will not find a hospital in Libya now.You will not find a school.You will not find a-- you know a place-- [INAUDIBLE]I don't know how many of you visited Libya or seenthe Libyan on the TV.42 years of wealth nearly $100 billion of wealth every year
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: of the oil.There's nothing exists to the ground.Where all this gone?This is gone for feeding the terrorists all over,feeding their interests and, and, and.Now, we get rid of those.I think we have to diagnose the problem.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: If Ebola disease appear in one country,the whole international communitygoes there and try to fight it and try to stop it.So this disease has actually been on for sometime.Why that the national community and not stop it?Why the international community did notstand together against it?We must not want to live with the international community,
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: just like going on one plane.What [INAUDIBLE] nationality would you want the plane?Jewish, Catholic, name it.And we all go on the same plane.We're all trying to make the plane go to the end,from A to Z, safe.So exactly, exactly.That's what we want for our future, for our children,
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: for our countries.We would share the wealth of our countrywith the international community.We can not live alone in the Libyawithout the help of the international community.Without the help of Western America.So now we are fighting exactly the same terrorists.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: Now we say, terrorists in Libya.Yes.Terrorists?You deal with the low borders.Now they become soft and soft havento those who are wanting the [INAUDIBLE].They want to live together.They want to have some of the cakes, some oil, some--
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: we have low border with Algeria, with Chad, with Egypt,and now it's become very, very problems [INAUDIBLE]This is all problems which we Libyans don't want.But how can we work on it without the helpof the international community?
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: Without the studies, without people with really very goodvision to go and investigate and see and diagnose,and then we sit together and see how we can do it.You cannot bombard them day and night, killing children,killing people, and then when you get the anger of the peopleon the ground.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: Where is this [INAUDIBLE] coming from?
ALON BEN-MUIR: Suleiman, we want to discusssolutions [INAUDIBLE].I want to focus you know, still on root causes.Four things were mentioned.Some of these dictators feel that they have legitimate rightto rule under any and all circumstances.
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: Radwan mentioned transition, which is exactlytransition to dictatorship, from authoritarian formof government to democracy did not [INAUDIBLE]and he is comparing it to at least someof East European countries and some European countries.Assad suggested that there is a vacuum that
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: was created in the wake of the Arab Spring,a vacuum was created and that gave the opportunityto Islamists, to extremists, to come in, to fill the vacuum.And there is a question that Robertraised, a question of the leaders themselvesas matter of fact, do not feel that theyare legitimate leaders, but they still hold on to the power.
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: This is all absolutely relevant and correct,what you just suggested.But I'd like to take it a little further than that.Some of this has existed.And it's been aggravated.But what was this is about in terms of,what's going on beyond that in terms of what-- we know
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: the Arab Spring, the eruption of Arab Springhas a reason behind it.What was those reasons?What is behind the rise of extremism in terms of rootcauses that goes beyond that?Robert.
ROBERT WORTH: Well, I would say in responseto-- I mean, I agree with what you said,Radwan, about the failed transitions.We all addressed that in some sense.But I guess my question would be,why did the transition fail?And after all, those comparisons you made,those were all places where a transitiontook place and did not require a massive international effort.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: It more or less happened indigenously.And it's a very difficult question to answer.I think part of the answer for me is that the state and nationstates as we understand it in the West,have very shallow roots in the Middle East.And you know this is a part of the world, most of whichwas part of an Islamic empire for hundreds of years.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: National identity in the European senseexisted, again, very, very shallow roots.It was a little firmer in Egypt.But even there, I think many peopleconsider themselves Muslims firstrather than Egyptians, right up until the 20th century.And I think, so when you had all these dictatorships that
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: were so brutal, that became so corrupt.And I think we also have to mentionoil had this stultifying power.It was extreme conservatism and the spread of a Wahabireligious epic around the region because of Saudi Arabia's oilmoney.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: So all these things became increasingly toxic,and when they blew up, people didn't have a solid foundationto go back to.I mean they didn't have hundreds of years of democracyand so forth, and a sense of foreign national identitythe way they did, I think, in Spain,the way they did in parts of Eastern Europe.And so the region was almost immediately socially
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: and religiously fragmented.And that fragmentation, I think, goes a long wayto explain why there was no successful transition.
ALON BEN-MUIR: Let me go back to what I started with,and that is there is now this phenomenon of ISIS existsand obviously this came about from somewhere.I would suggest that the war, the Iraq war possiblybegan in the conflict between the Sunniand the Shia is a factor in here.
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: Certainly, the Arab Spring, the revolutionsin Libya and certainly Egypt and now in Syria.But what is the common denominator?Now we see ISIS, we see young men coming from all over,tens of thousands are joining the ranks of ISIS.
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: Why are they joining the ranks of ISIS.What is it?What are the motivations behind it?Because with the-- as I see it, the frustration, the pain,the emptiness that young men, Arab maybe,feel over so many decades, now that I'vebeen exposed to the rest of the world
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: through with this revolution, the communication revolution,what they are seeing now, what elseis taking place elsewhere, so they'll want some of the same.Now, how that, in a way, impacted on the situationin Syria, what it is that did nothappen that aggravated the situation to where it is today,
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: Assad?
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: What did not happen?Well, or also what did happen, with regards to the transition,the transition failed precisely because we wanted everythingtoo quickly and immediately.And like anything in the world, wecan't ask for things to be done immediately.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: It's impossible.We should have asked for a peaceful and gradualtransition.And maybe we would have been-- wewould have seen some results five years later.But instead, we had this obsession of ridof President Assad and as long as he's there,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: there is no solution.And the problem is that now we're five years later,and we have seen, we have understoodthat he is still there and he has no intention to step down.Whether it's good or not is not my business.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: the problem is that there's people suffering.We have to be pragmatic.We have to focus and try to end the suffering of the people.This is why the transition failed.Now, with regard to fanaticism in the region,I don't think the problem is Assad or Gaddafi or all
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: these rules or all these people.I think it's much deeper than this,and it's a mistake to understand that these rulers have createdfanaticism in the region.It has existed a long time ago, a century.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: 100 years ago, Syrians have been through massacres.The Turks committed massacres in Syria in the name of Islam.They killed so many hundreds of thousands of minority peoplein Syria and in Iraq.And Gaddafi and Assad and the president of Yemen
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: was not there at the time.So it's got nothing to do with these people.I think we have to address the real problems.The real problem is the ideology and the educationand the culture.
ALON BEN-MUIR: Thank you, Siwar.
SULEIMAN FORTIA: Thank you very much.I think areas, some areas, which is you find a very, very clearwhere you see these extremists.And in North Africa like in Libya,you don't really see much because maybe there'sno [INAUDIBLE] Sunni and Shia.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: This is what makes it worse actually in an area like Iraqor like that area that North Syria has had there and beenaffected like this.Where you see divisions of a religion,you find that it is worse.It is worse when I was in Ireland,was North of Ireland and South of Ireland,they've been in war for a long time, until recently.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: Now in Libya I don't see much on caseslike it's been that religion is the case.Maybe because 100% of the Libyans are Sunnisand they actually have not been cause much in the Westproblems [INAUDIBLE].
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: But this will be coming now to Libyaand we are [INAUDIBLE] about thisto be taken [INAUDIBLE] Why?What causes?I do hear a lot of Libyans when thereare jealousies because they say Gaddafi is actuallystealing their wealth and taken somewhere else.
SULEIMAN FORTIA [continued]: Resident of [INAUDIBLE] one day.He's just Gaddafi's hand, you know.Why?Is it because he's expecting it?No, because he's actually wanting the oil of Libya.And this is actually what is making actuallythe people's anger.But they don't go far as extremists.They don't go far as using their religion to be a terrorist.
ALON BEN-MUIR: Can you just focus on one thing or two?Let me start to ask this question.To what extent from your perspective,the West, led by the United States,if they have contributed to the unsettlement,to this situation that exists in the wake of the Arab Spring.
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: Because you're talking about, and actually, Iagree with you 100%, is that we, the Arabsaw too much, too quickly.And that it was impossible.To what extent, the United States in particular,contributed to that by pushing democratic form of government,when in fact, the society there, be it the Egyptian,
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: be it the Libyan, be it the Syrian,are not ready to embrace that kind of system,that kind of political system.And what should have been the alternative and perhaps,[INAUDIBLE], you'd like to address that afterwards.
SULEIMAN FORTIA: Yeah but when you say quickly,Gaddafi in power since 1969.And I said dynasty in power since 1970.What you [INAUDIBLE]
ALON BEN-MUIR: No, I'm not sayingit should have been quickly.I'm saying, what do you think the mistakes were committedby the United States in trying to push quicklyfor your constitution and electionin order to have that quick transition.Not that I'm an advocate.I have not, as a matter of fact.
RADWAN ZIADECH: Yes.It's what really the type of revolutions wehave in the region different than other regions.Because actually [INAUDIBLE] rooted [INAUDIBLE] They also,which affected that transition the failed institutions.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: Nobody talked about actually the failed institution in Libyaor in Iraq or in Syria.Those actually-- this is why we call itin political science, as you know,exactly as hegemonic authoritarian.Different than in Tunisia, where you have soft authoritarian.They have [INAUDIBLE] of education.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: And some economic role.Actually that's helped the transitionto be much, much easier.That's different than in Syria or in Libya.Only in Yemen where you have actually,you don't have institutions.I mean, the army is ethnically in Syria [INAUDIBLE] sectarian.We build it on one sectarian group.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: And then the same the security forces.And that cannot continue forever.It has to be fixed in the system.This is why all that started as a peaceful revolution,asking to fix the system.It has to be fixed.It should be actually, an Assad or Gaddafiif he responds by having like what's
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: happened in Eastern Europe must also culminate actually theyhave what's called a National Congress, whichallowed actually, the old and the new regime then allthe opposition to be in the new systemthrough negotiations about the transition in different steps.That's never happened.That's actually Gaddafi or Assad decided to go further in that,
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: to actually launch a war against the people.That's continued.This is now, we don't convince Syria anymorewith this, the new reward.We convince Syria now with the Bosnia.with the Bosnia and Herzegovina or sometimeswith Rwanda with the genocide and other types of war crimesand granted, it's many committed every day
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: it by the Assad forces and ISIS forces,which makes Syria as actually the tragedy of our time.This is why [INAUDIBLE] is the responsibility of the US.Because the US has a huge responsibility politically.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: After the US entered [INAUDIBLE] in Libya--let me say it in different way.That the Obama administration came into powerafter what happened in Iraq.And actually in every mind in every American citizen,Iraq is a mistake.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: This is why no any president wantsto make the same mistakes.This is why, when the US goes into Libya,and they did very successful intervention through the UNat that time.But they left a vacuum there.They should be actually some of UN, some of actuallyof the NATO to help build the security, to build
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: the stability.There is not like in Libya, like in Syria, thereis no political culture.We don't have actually political parties.We have only one newspaper with three different editions.We don't have [INAUDIBLE] We don't have any institutions.We don't have organization.Lack of political culture.This is why [INAUDIBLE] actually the US with the EU
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: help in a way.As I said, the only regional institutions we haveis the Arab League.And the Arab League is very autocratic and old.It's established before the UN but [INAUDIBLE]but actually they don't have any democratic principles.The only stable countries in the region are the Gulf.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: This is the Gulf control, control the Arab League.And they [INAUDIBLE] They are undemocratic.And they don't declare being democratic.I'm saying there is a regional vacuum.And this is actually help that transitionto fail and help actually those thatwere [INAUDIBLE] a chance for them to-- it's not luck.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: We've seen that.We've seen that before in Africa.We've seen that before in Latin America.But it has to be controlled in an [INAUDIBLE].
ALON BEN-MUIR: Let me stop you there.[INAUDIBLE] Robert's take on what you saidand to the original question I asked.
ROBERT WORTH: OK.If it's OK, I'm going to briefly address something else,and I'll get to your question.
ALON BEN-MUIR: Go ahead then.Go ahead.
ROBERT WORTH: There's one thing I think reallyhasn't been touched on, which is Iran.You mentioned that the most stable countries in the regionare in the Gulf.And I think one of the causes of what'sgoing on with the extreme violencenow, especially with ISIS, is related to Iran.There's a crisis of leadership and a crisis of identityin the Sunni Arab world.All these countries, I mean even Egypt, this
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: is very much kind of thermidor, overreactiveregime which smacks of deep, deep lack of confidence.In all the other countries, there'sa sense of just chaos, an inabilityto rise up to the challenge.And young Arabs are intensely aware that, since 1979, thiswas a huge event for the Shiites in Iranto kind of empower themselves as Shiites.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: And it was terrifying to, especially to Saudi Arabia,but also to other countries in the region,to Iraq and so forth.And there was a sense in which that event and what happenedafter it, with the sort of increasing Islamisationduring '80s of the Iranian regime,caused a [INAUDIBLE] reaction in the Sunni countries.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: And what you're seeing now in some wayis partly an echo of that sectarianism.In terms of your question about the US,I understand, Radwan, what you're saying aboutthat there was a vacuum.There was a need.That the Arab countries did not have the institutionsand they did have the regional institutions.However, I think it's probably asking too much.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: You know, you would run into a lot of people in 2011in the Arab world who would say, look,this is a great opportunity for the West.We need a Marshall Plan.We need people to step in and help build things.I agree that would have been wonderful.But I just don't think that's possible.I mean, you know, this was a timeof intense economic and financial crisis in the US.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: There had been and experience, not just of war in Iraq,but the sort of sense that the effort to helpbuild institutions and built politics in Iraq,flawed as it was, had created a sense, we're not good at that.And I think Americans are just deeplyreluctant institutionally, to takeon those kinds of challenges.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: The British have more history of that kind of thing.They're willing to be colonialists,and there's even some residual interestin developing deeper relationshipslike that among the British diplomatic corps.Americans, that makes them nervous.They're republic.They were born in rebellion against an empire,and they don't want to get too involved.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: And I should say, there are some good reasons for that.I mean I knew Chris Stevens who was killed in Libya in 2012.And he was very concerned with not leavingtoo heavy a footprint in Libya.He knew that it was important to help Libyans set uptheir own country as much as we could.But at the same time he was worriedthat it was like too far.If there was too much of a visible American presence,
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: it would spark an angry reaction.Maybe he didn't set the right balance there, I don't know,but there are legitimate reasons for notwanting to get too involved.
ALON BEN-MUIR: You know, recentlythere was very recently a conferencethat I was invited by the president, a White Houseconference, that actually focused on violent extremism.And the gist of the dinner, some of what they have concludedis that the need was not merely just fighting with ISIS
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: and degrading them and eventually destroying them,but to be able to reach that is that they haveto stop the flow of volunteers that area joining ISIS from allover.And that the focus should be on socioeconomic development,community participation, and so on and so forth.I'd like to address that for a moment,because from my perspective, this
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: is probably one of the most direct causesbehind the rise of extremism.The young men, young men in particular,you know defiant, despondent, despairing, no opportunity,no job, no hope.They want to belong someplace.They want to have an identity.And when they cannot get it in their places of birth,
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: of residence, well, they are looking for something.They want something more glorious.And so, this is one of the attractionsthat ISIS has to offer them.And you glorify death instead of living.This is the kind of thing-- Now, these are the phenomenathat we are faced with today.And there is no easy answer, because those of us
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: who write and see the deliberation in the WhiteHouse, this is all true that these steps need to be taken.But they didn't talk really about the kind of resources.I'm talking about financial resourcesthat in the billions of dollars thatare necessary to begin this type of socioeconomic development.
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: And so what we are witnessing today,things have gone way too far.And they have on top of everything else,they have the Shiite [INAUDIBLE] where also Syriais being used as a battleground for them as well.So I'd like again to turn back to you,and tell me whether or not, A, you
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: agree with my brief analysis as to what'sbehind, what is feeding into the extremism as such.And after that, I'd like to engage the panelto see what it is that we can do realistically speaking, notjust having private dreams about solutions,but realistically speaking.What can be done to stem this [INAUDIBLE]
ALON BEN-MUIR [continued]: and eventually hopefully bring it to some kind of conclusion.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: Solution.
ALON BEN-MUIR: Solution, or conclusion of sorts.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: The problem is that weexpect too much of the United States or the great powers.We can't ask from the United Statesto come bomb, destroy, and then build and restore democracyand do all this job for us, and we just sit and watch.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: We have to grow up and try to do things ourselves.And this is why come back to the gradual and peaceful change.And with regard to the 40 years that our friend mentioned,he said it himself, the demands came too late.They came In 2011.And is why I said, that we wanted everything too fast.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: The solution, it's very difficult because youare dealing with people who want to die,because they want what they call an [ARABIC] the afterlife.So if you kill them, they go to heaven.If they kill you, they go to heaven.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: It's very complicated to deal with this kind of people.And when the war in Iraq started,the army, the institution of the army in Iraqwas totally dismantled.So many people find themselves suddenly out of jobs.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: And these people who were out of jobsenjoyed so many privileges before.So, therefore, they were humiliated.And others said they saw the Islamic society coming,so they decided to join the battle.Now these people understand that ISIS are Sunni Muslims.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: Some may disagree as I heard, but the realityis that Syria, the Syrian Army today, 80% of the Syrian Armyis Sunni Muslim as well.And these people are fighting in many citiesof Syria, many villages, to try and protect
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: the cities and villages from attacksfrom rebels and Qaeda branches.So what we need to understand is that unfortunately Iknow that the United States is the greatestpower in the world.So it is in its interest to have a stable
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: and peaceful and democratic and transparentMiddle East, which we all want.But also, we all know and I'm sure the Americans knowas well, that there is a growing anti-American sentimentin the region.So therefore, the strike started in September, 2014 on ISIS.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: How can we explain that ISIS is strongertoday than in September?It has expanded its territory.It has now ambitions in neighboring countries,in Lebanon, in Libya, in Turkey, not really ambitions,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: because there is sort of an alliance with Turkey.But the answer is not the strikes,because first of all, they're not very efficient.They need troops on the ground.And I don't think the Marines are ready nowto go and engage in the battlefield or any other army.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: One of the solutions could be maybeto revive the Arab nationalism in the region.Arab nationalism could not an endmaybe but could slow this expansion of fanaticism,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: of Islamic fanaticism in the region, which would make surethat Iran is not involved because if Iran is involved,the conflict will turn into Sunni Shiite conflict.And we don't want this to happen.It would be a disaster.Syria is a secular state.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: Regardless of who is the president of Syria,it could be anyone really.But I'm talking about the Syrian Army in particular.As I said, 80% of the Syrian Army is Sunni.This army today is too busy fightingto keep the cities of Syria safe.But these people if they are in a way coordinating
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: with the international community,they could maybe try and stop the expansion of ISISin Iraq and in Syria.I'm talking about the Syrian Army.The international community could help,could help by stopping the resources of ISIS,could help me by telling Turkey, stop buying the oil of ISIS,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: could maybe help by monitoring money transfers and moneymovement and putting pressure on countries who secretly helpthese terrorist organizations.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Let's take it from there.I gather, deduce from what you'resuggesting that perhaps Assad couldbecome part of the solution.You can correct me if you think thoseare the wrong conclusions.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: [INAUDIBLE]
ALON BEN-BUIR: Yeah, OK.That is the fact that the United States nowis focusing on ISIS, which is also the enemy of Assad.So that is obviously helping Assad.And the United States government is no longertalking about removal of Assad.I already heard people from the White Housesuggesting, saying it openly, that Assad may very wellbe a part of the solution.
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: Robert, your take on it and I'll give it to Radwan.
ROBERT WORTH: I think Radwan wantsto address that right away.
RADWAN ZIADECH: Because let's say realistically,let's say the United States decidedto put their morals aside.That let's forget 200,000 lost their lives,that Assad committed crimes, even gassed his own people,let's forget all of that.If we decided actually to go shake in hand with Assad,
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: what Assad can offer us?No?Because Assad actually knows the headquarter of ISIS and nevertouch it.If you go to Google map, you will see [INAUDIBLE]and you'll see the ISIS flag and they never actuallyhave targeted for the ISIS.What Assad is interested to destroy
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: is [INAUDIBLE] and destroy Darayya,to have [INAUDIBLE] bombs on Darayya, my hometown,every day.We don't have any foreign fightersto go to-- [INAUDIBLE] destroyed all this city on airrather than to actually fight ISIS.Realistically, Assad is not interested in fighting ISIS.The second issue that I'm not sure what you
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: mentioned by the Syrian Army.Nothing left in the Syrian Army.It's all about militias.It's all about militias.And there are actually photos with the CNN,they have excellent report how actually Assaddeployed more Iranian militias in the fight in [INAUDIBLE].They give them Syrian nationalities and actually
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: Syrian IDs.All they actually the Iranian [INAUDIBLE]What's the tragedy in Syria right noware the peaceful demonstrations and a chance for Syriato restore its democracy.Syria is the oldest country in the Middle East.They had a constitution in 1952.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: And they had democracy after the colonial power, French left.And they gave the women the rightto vote, before actually Sweden and many European countries.We have very short democratic constitution.But now, we are actually, it's got a chancebecause you have too much mass people going into public.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: It's mobilizing to go actually to havea new order, a new system.That's gone, Now Assad actually managedto end Syria into civil war.I'm so sad to hear actually, to see it's in both sides.And my institution, [INAUDIBLE], wedo comment on the crimes in both sides.The terrorist groups, we have the ISIS and [INAUDIBLE]
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: and other groups, and the ongoing killingof the Assad government.How to get Syria out of the civil war?This is very difficult [INAUDIBLE].It's maybe too many that [INAUDIBLE] much easier.But to stop some war, it's much, much more difficultand complicated.It's not requre the US.I mean the US is [INAUDIBLE] it cannot do it by itself.
RADWAN ZIADECH [continued]: It has still be joint collective effortsby different regional and international effortsto put an end of that.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Obviously there are so many other players.Russia is involved.Iran is all over Syria as well as in Iraq.So, let me give it to you.Give me your take on it, your practical view.
ROBERT WORTH: I would say, I agree with you,I'm not sure what Assad can offer at this point,because it's so hard to imagine a huge, huge partof the country ever trusting him again.But I would also say that the difficulty in coming upwith any kind of resolution is that it's not
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: going to work unless the Iranians agree to it.The Iranians are so influential.They have Hezbollah, which is working in concert with them.And they have the ability to work undercover.I mean, they spent 10 years in Iraqblowing up American soldiers and working behind the linesand developing militias.They are very, very good at this.The Americans are not.And so, they have the ability to undermine or blow up anything
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: that we try to impose there.So I think the reality is that no solution isgoing to work unless the Iranians agree to it,unfortunately.So what does that mean?I think it means that there's going to be yearsbefore there is any solution.I think eventually maybe the Iranianswill agree to something that involvessomething other than Assad.And then, maybe the opposition in the rest of Syria
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: that's outside of Assad's control, maybe those peoplemight be persuaded to sign on to that.It's going to be very difficult to--
ALON BEN-BUIR: May I interject at this point?Do you feel that there is going to bean agreement on the nuclear program with the six powers?would that help in any way to allay the problems in Syriadirectly or indirectly?
ROBERT WORTH: I kind of doubt it.I think there are different files.And I think there has been a lot of hopethat [INAUDIBLE] would be empowered by such an agreementand would then be able to proceedto sort of shape the way that Iran deals with Syria.But I don't think that's true.
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: I think Qasem Soleimani is in charge of what happenswith Iran's policy in Syria.And he is much more powerful than [INAUDIBLE] and Rouhaniare.Let me just add one [INAUDIBLE] if I could.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Please.
ROBERT WORTH: In thinking about allof this terrorism and all of this violence, whichis the main theme here today, I thinkit's important to say there's a big temptation for Americansto look at all this happening and say, you know,this is about Islam.This is in some way fundamentally about Islamand that there's something inevitable about this kind
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: of violence coming from Islam.It's as if you know, this was something inside Islam itselfthat's only now being brought out.I think that's wrong and I think it's very dangerous.I think we've seen in several places, peoplecoming out and saying, there was a column in The New York Times.There was a cover article in The Atlantic Monthly
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: that sort of hinted at this view.And I think it's important to recognize that nothingis inevitable in Islam as long as only what its adherents sayit is.And that everything that has happenedover the past few decades has shapedthe way that these movements and of the way
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: that these countries developed.I think the danger of talking like thatand suggesting that it's all coming directlysomehow from the seventh century to us,is that it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.The more you talk that way, the more people in the regionmight themselves be persuaded by itand say, well OK, if we have to take sides,
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: I guess I'll choose Islam.That would be a terrible thing.
ALON BEN-BUIR: If I may, Suleiman,a few more words from you and then I'dlike to take some questions from the audience.If you want to add something.
SULEIMANI FORTIA: Yes.I don't think the United States can [INAUDIBLE] itselfor can persuade itself.You mentioned [INAUDIBLE] work together [INAUDIBLE].Unfortunately, we lost a man.So the leaders [INAUDIBLE] that is,he worked very hard to have allegiance to the revolutionactually.He was a very good man.And he always said that the United States,they don't want to feel that again,
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: the revolution and the problems inside.But now the United Nations can help.Now the United Nations working very hard on the Libyan case.And now [INAUDIBLE] he's trying hard for nearly three monthsto get [INAUDIBLE] going on with so many obstacles.
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: But if they succeed in the Libyan case,I think the United Nations will win and will havea very good credit on that.I mean, a constitution [INAUDIBLE] should stop now.This is one of the things which the United Nations can'tactually push for that and get things done.The economic problem, which is peoplenow can see, with the wells and with the oil, country,
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: and most of the people, they don'thave even $100 wage a month.This is a problem which has deceded now.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Would you like to add somethingbefore we take a few questions?
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: With regards to-- Ithink we have to focus on the fact that there is an ideologyand it's not the rulers who is important, it's the ideology.We have to fight against an ideology.And it's an ideology that does not know any border.For them, the world is theirs.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: The fanatics think that the United States is theirs,the United Kingdom is theirs, everything is theirs.Therefore, this did not start in 2011.This started hundreds of years ago.And they also have something called [INAUDIBLE].[INAUDIBLE] is when you give an image of yourself,
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: a fake image of yourself.So when you lie to people by telling themthat you are different.So when you are a fanatic, but youshow people that you drink and go out and do thingsthat Muslim wouldn't do, and then all of a sudden,you do what you have to do, a terrorist act.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: Like we saw it in United States in2009, an army officer who killed 13 peopleand injured 10 others here in the United States.He was a psychiatrist here and so many other.Who would have thought that a man like him could do this?
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: And there is so many people everywherein the world who are like this.So it's an ideology that we need to fight.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Thank you very much.We'll take a few questions, but pleasedo limit it to any question, the shorter, the better.I'd like to entertain a few questions before we conclude.Back there, please.Speak louder, because we don't have mics back there.
AUDIENCE: OK.My name is Robert.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Could you stand up, please?Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Thank you all for taking the time to talk to us.I'll try to make it really short.
ALON BEN-BUIR: No commentary, just question.
AUDIENCE: There's no commentary.But the setup is, there's been a lot of discussion around whatare the root causes of the present situation.And I don't know if I stepped out and I might have missed it,but I didn't really hear much talkabout the Cold War and proxy wars thatwere taking place and US interventionsand Western interventions around this space that destroyed
AUDIENCE [continued]: their political institution capabilityfor a lot of these peoples.And so, where do these-- we talk about a lackof cultural or political culture,we talk about it as if it were self-evident.But wouldn't you say [INAUDIBLE] wouldn'tyou say that interventions, like most famously in Iran
AUDIENCE [continued]: or with socialism in Egypt or those types of-- that thosealso are really important things to discuss as far as howwe got to this present moment.[INAUDIBLE]What you think just conceptually with how the Cold War frameda lot of these issues, but also more specifically,
AUDIENCE [continued]: as it relates to Saudi Arabia and Israeland why the United States has strategic allianceswith those particular countries in orderto operate as a counterbalance likewith the Muslim Brotherhood and whatever.What do you think about how those things are relatedto this kind of dominant ideological and political[INAUDIBLE]
ALON BEN-BUIR: Why don't you take this challenge?
ROBERT WORTH: First of all, thanks for this question.I agree with you.I mean, I think you have to, in consideringhow things have developed in the regionas it relates to the Cold War.And I compare that with imperialism.I mean, you know, it was only in the 50sthat Tunisia emerged from imperialism.France had a horrific war in Algeria in which
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: a million Algerians died.And as we all know, imperialism [INAUDIBLE] you knowwreaked havoc in terms of how all these various countries sawthemselves, changed the borders in all kinds of strange waysand messed up the economies of these countries.So I think that's part of it, absolutely.I think it's good but it's one-- I
ROBERT WORTH [continued]: wouldn't say that's the dominant reason for what'shappening today.But I absolutely agree with you that all those things.And you mentioned that Mossadegh in Iraq and thatcontributed to the Iranian revolutionin '79, which again, I think is a hugely important eventin thinking about what's happening todayin the Sunni Arab world.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Thank you.Take another question.Yes, please.Please limit it to a question if you can.
AUDIENCE: Sure.Jessica [INAUDIBLE] from the Institute of World Politics.Siwar, you mentioned that [INAUDIBLE].You compared it several times to an armywith funding and organization and things like that.And a friend of mine who actually justgot back from Syria last year made an interesting quotewhere he said that the rule of law increases with extremism.So in areas that is under ISIS control,
AUDIENCE [continued]: you see less petty crime.You see less actual corruption and things like that,just because there's so much extremism and the punishmentsare so harsh.So how does I guess the US or any Western or internationalcoalition, how do they take groups like the FSA.Where there's not that organization,where there's a lot more corruption, where
AUDIENCE [continued]: you can bribe your way across check points and thingslike that?How do you take those groups thatare so small and so scattered and form them togetherinto a cohesive unit like IS or evento take [INAUDIBLE] that's doing itin Western Syria under the Al Qaeda banner.How do you take the more secular groups
AUDIENCE [continued]: and roll them into that cohesive pieceto fight or to gangdom in Syria?
SIWAR AL-ASSAD: Thank you.[INAUDIBLE] is under the terror list of the United States.So it's out of the question.Now with regard to the FSA, Mr. RobertFord, the previous ambassador, US ambassador to Syriawas one of the people who backed and encouraged all
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: the parties to front and support the FSA in the past.Recently, he declared himself, hesaid that these people are not trustworthybecause they flirt with Al Qaeda groups such as [INAUDIBLE].Now I've heard I mean, we know from press reports
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: that the United States is training Syriansto go and fight against ISIS.It's a very good thing. [INAUDIBLE] is very good.But the effect will be negative because, as I said previously,it's very difficult for Syrians to know
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: who is a fanatic as Syrian.So how can an American know that?It's very difficult. So these people, theywill, most of them, defect and join ISISwith their weapons and their training.And this will strengthen ISIS even more.
SIWAR AL-ASSAD [continued]: So I don't think that the Americans haveany allies in the rebel forces.Because if it was the case, they would have found these people.They have five years.they would have found them.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Thank you.We'll take one or two other questions.Go ahead.Please, again limit yourself to a question, if you can.
AUDIENCE: In regards to the recent conference.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Louder.
AUDIENCE: In regards to the recent conferenceyou spoke about at the White Housewith the extremist violence, you mentionedone of the main things is to develop jobs and fixtheir economic situation.But how does that explain Islamic and terroristswho were educated, who were wealthy,
AUDIENCE [continued]: why did they turn to extremism?Is it their ideology, as you mentioned?Is it their hatred of the West?Why do we also have terrorists who are from the upper crust?
ALON BEN-BUIR: Anyone want to take that?[INAUDIBLE]
SULEIMANI FORTIA: We have to distinguishbetween the vast majority who fighting ISIS, whichbasically Iraqi and different regions and those actuallythey bid for their fight to fight with ISISalong with the others who come from the West,from Europe or from other countries, who actually
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: basically motivated for a dream, a personal dreamto do it there.And this is why now what we see that-- and thisis really important that ISIS itselfhas no authority within the Sunni Islam or whatever.This is why you see statements from [INAUDIBLE] against it,
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: from statements from [INAUDIBLE] who's been accused actuallyagainst ISIS.There's his statements last week with 74 scholarsvery authoritative scholars within the Sunni Islam.This is what-- ISIS has no authorityor any credibility with them.It's not even to build any actually good argument
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: to justify.Let's-- yesterday the debate that ISIS decided actuallyto destroy a Mosel library.Everyone knows actually Islam, or knows the Arab regionthat the Islamic history is all this talk about the Burburswho invaded Iraq and actually [INAUDIBLE] all the [INAUDIBLE]
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: there.And teared actually and [INAUDIBLE]for seven days for the colors of that books [INAUDIBLE]And this is why the ISIS, they doing exactlyagainst the Islamist traditions in Iraq.And this is why it's very easy to be actually executed.
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: Now there is a political process hasto go through Iraq. [INAUDIBLE] has to go through Syria.And this is why.But I don't think that it's linked with Islam anyway.Still there is that some individual casescan be mobilized because they have a very active propaganda
SULEIMANI FORTIA [continued]: through social media, through different groups,but still less number than actually we've seen.And now we've seen people actually startdefecting from ISIS itself.This is what no one expected that it is winning group.But at the same time, can make a lot outof [INAUDIBLE] in the region and around the world.
ALON BEN-BUIR: Thank you so much.I think our time is up.I just want to mention something else.As you know, we have not [INAUDIBLE] greater discussion.You know, I suppose we led the Syrians [INAUDIBLE] ISISand the Iraqis and everybody else in the region.Could they have recent agreement within themselves
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: by themselves.And I think one thing we ought to mentionis there are players outside the region whohave a vested interest going back decades.Just think in those terms.Russia has a block three UN resolutionto try to resolve this problem in Syria.The United States has a unique interest in the Middle East.
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: Iran has a different kind of interest.There are many players outside the regionwho have-- Saudi Arabia is another one, et cetera.And that is due to this fact that they do nothave a common interest in adding to the complexityand to the violence that will continue.
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: And that is I think, one of the biggest problem we are facing.Again, we mentioned despondency, poverty, lack of opportunity,the sense of belonging, et cetera.All of this is very important.And that is what, in my view is making the conflicts socomplicated, so difficult. And the likelihood of a solution,
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: I now know to trust within this panel,but I hope we have shed some light, at least a little bit,to try to tell just how difficult this might beand how many years might still take before we can seea brighter or better day for this horrifying tragedy[INAUDIBLE].I want to thank the staff here who
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: have worked very hard to put this together,my assistant there.Grace, thank you so much.[INAUDIBLE] Daniel, who is not here.And specifically I want to mention to youPresident [INAUDIBLE] He has been a magnificent fellow.I don't know where he is right now.But he's been able to put these things together.
ALON BEN-BUIR [continued]: He was an extraordinary cause, and Iwant to thank him as well.And thank you so much for being here and in particular,I want to thank you, Suleiman, Thank you, Radwan.Thank you, Robert.[INAUDIBLE]
ALON BEN-BUIR: We are really out of time.And because we are already 15 minuteactually beyond the time.So thank you so much again.Quietly you can ask me anything you want.Thanks again.
Islamic Extremism: Causes Behind the Rise of Islamic Extremism and How to Address It
View Segments Segment :
A panel at the Middle East Dialogue 2015 conference discusses the root causes of Islamic extremism. Focusing primarily on Syria and the fight against the Islamic state group, the speakers highlight economic conditions, a too-long transition after the Arab Spring, and ideology.
A panel at the Middle East Dialogue 2015 conference discusses the root causes of Islamic extremism. Focusing primarily on Syria and the fight against the Islamic state group, the speakers highlight economic conditions, a too-long transition after the Arab Spring, and ideology.