Friday, March 13, 2015

Erin Burnett OutFront Interview with Douglas Macgregor

STARR: Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the U.S. has the obligation in his words to protect those Syrian rebels. It sends back into Syria to fight. But who's going to do it?

President Obama has ruled out U.S. troops on the ground in combat. That leaves air power and it's going to be a real question whether U.S. pilots will take on any increased role over Syria -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, very big question. Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon, thank you.

And OUTFRONT tonight, we have Buck Sexton. He's the national security editor for He's a former CIA Iraq analyst as well.

And we have retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, as senior military fellow at National Defense University.

So, to you first Buck. We saw Barbara's piece. Iranian-backed militias gaining ground against ISIS in Iraq. You have Senator Bob Corker, he's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opening this hearing today, warning that the U.S. is making Iraq a better place for Iran.

BUCK SEXTON, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That's absolutely true. I mean, Iran is rushing into what is essentially a vacuum here, because of the fight against ISIS, there's been a major destabilization inside of Iraq. And the government of Baghdad is looking for allies. And, of course, the government of Baghdad is generally considered to be a Shia government by the Sunnis and the rest of the country.

And so, right now, the Shia government out of Baghdad is looking for Shia allies in Iran and they're getting them. And you're seeing Iran deployed, actually doing a lot of the fighting and having these militias do the fighting for them, whether they train or giving them arms or combination thereof.

And this is going to exacerbate the sectarian tensions that the administration has been saying for a long time. Well, we're hoping that they can overcome this with good services and good government. That's not happening at all. Right now, you have an Iranian Shia army on the march, whether it's actually Iranians or just individuals that are sponsored by Iran. And this creates major problems in a Sunni Arab majorities of this country.

KEILAR: Sure. But the government very married with Iran in its interest here.

Colonel Macgregor, how do you stop Iran here? If you're not open to, say, U.S. boots on the ground, how else do you stop Iran from expanding its hold?

COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, SENIOR MILITARY FELOW, NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY: Well, historically, Iran has been stopped repeatedly by the Turks and their Sunni Arab supporters. And I suspect that we are at the beginning of a long Sunni-Shia war and eventually, we'll see something like that happen again.

But, right now, we're universally hated and despised in the Arabian Peninsula by all of the Sunni Arabs for having installed Iran in power in Baghdad. Baghdad and southern Iraq are considered with great justification to be the satellite of Iran. So, what Iran is now doing, it's headed towards Mosul, which historically was part of Persia sometime ago. And that's a very dangerous thing, because there are 1.8 million people in Mosul and they are overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs.

We really don't want to be part of that fight. When we were in Fallujah, 75 percent of the population fled. There were 300,000 people in Fallujah. What happens when we have a million Sunni Arab refugees fleeing for Mosul?

This is a catastrophe that I think we would be better off staying out of it.

KEILAR: So, if you stay out of it, Buck, then, what's -- is there a solution? Does the U.S. just throw its hands up in the air?

SEXTON: Quite honestly, under this administration, we have been largely staying out of it. That's one of the decisions people are critical of this administration for taking. And that's why we had some of the problems we've seen in Iraq because ISIS was able to take Mosul, and essentially a blitzkrieg operation. Iran is rushing in as well.


KEILAR: -- the administration should have stemmed this before.

SEXTON: Well, yes. I think that the destabilization of Iraq that came from the withdrawal of all U.S. troops is -- we're now seeing the end result, or not the end result, but a sort of midpoint result of what happens then. I agree with the Colonel --

KEILAR: Short of some major occupation of U.S. troops, do you think that the U.S. would have been able to stem this?

SEXTON: I think it would have been in a better position to stop what's happening right now than where we are. I think that much is probably true. What to do now, though, the colonel is right this is just playing

out day by day, a sectarian civil war. That's what's happening here. We've actually seen this before in Iraq. And it was very difficult for U.S. troops, 150,000 plus of them to get that to stop.

We're heading right back there right now with Iraq. But the Shia option, essentially allowing Iranian-backed Shia militias to retake parts of this country currently held by ISIS is not going to happen.

He points out Mosul. He's actually correct. The Sunni Arab majority city over a million people there, in those areas the sectarian tensions would make recruits for the Islamic State, fighting -- people who aren't fighting for them are saying the militias are coming for me. These are groups that have not just killed U.S. soldiers, by the way, but have engaged in sectarian reprisals, bloody human rights violations against Iraqi civilians They haven't forgotten that. That's still happening in bits and pieces here and there. It will probably accelerate the more ground they take.

KEILAR: Sure. Colonel Macgregor, you respond to that. But also, what do you think the U.S. can do to stop ISIS here? And what is the end game look like do you think?

MACGREGOR: Well, first of all, ISIS is another of these Islamist organizations that given time will implode. The reason is very simple. This Islamist lifestyle, which involves the rigid application of Koranic law is an impossible way to live.

ISIS is already losing ground and support because the Sunni Arabs that live around it don't support it. If we become involved, we will actually mobilize Sunni Arabs against us. We'll probably rescue ISIS from defeat, at least in the short run.

In the long run, I don't think we should involve ourselves in war that has nothing to do with us.

KEILAR: All right. There we have it. The word from Colonel Macgregor, thank you so much.

Buck Sexton, thanks for being with us as well.

OUTFRONT next, new images of the Tsarnaev brothers' final night on the run accused of killing a police officer as SWAT teams closed on them. We are live in Boston.

And we have breaking news: Secret Service agents reportedly crashed their car into White House barriers. Were men assigned to protect the president driving drunk?

No comments:

Post a Comment