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tv   Geneive Abdo Discusses The New Sectarianism  CSPAN  January 14, 2017 9:00am-10:03am EST

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slavery. and even though the british empire be promised people in africa k native africans and the indian population that was living there that as soon as they won the war things would change and be better for them, as we all know, that took much longer than anyone would have hoped. and so of course there is still an afrikaner presence, but, you know, obviously nelson mandela was a huge breaking point for that. and things have changed quite a bit. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> hello, everyone, thank you so much for coming. weaver going to have a discussion -- we're going to have a discussion, and then we're going to open it up to q&a
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after about 30 minutes. and as you probably know or may not know, this is being filmed by c-span. .. >> i think she has a very interesting and very truthful take on all sorts of issues in the region and what happens in washington and if you read any of her coverage about the iran nuclear deal, it was absolutely spot on, so we are honored to
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have her with us and so we will begin and they will start taping, i guess, so thank you for coming. >> thank you, everyone. good to be here and i have to say reading geneive abdo's a book over the week and being interjected with a terror attack in turkey, another tack in egypt , it's really brought it full circle. i think most off you have been in washington-- i really find sense of realism and such a real touch from the region that geneive brings into this a book. i think what i like about it is
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it paints a very good base picture of what's happening in the middle east. there is no nonsense no wishy-washy talk about the future of the liberal democracies in the region. you really get to what's happening in the region right now, a complex understanding of the dynamics, i mean, i'm shocked it's always missing in the conversation in washington. how many i have heard about-- in the last year in the debates in washington and it's a major parts of what's going on, i mean, it took geneive for years to research and drive this book.
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reading it i saw, you know i grew up in lebanon and she actually went there. she went to these places and that's where i think this book is different. it's also, you know, refreshing to be honest and candid over the realities in the region. we tried to censor here in dc. it tells you who's who, which cleric is sitting in baghdad or tripoli and spreading hateful rhetoric on twitter. this is a debate that we need to have in the region and i think to understand the full air of the spring middle east, this is a must read. congratulation on a phenomenal
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book. i will only take 30 minutes and then we will go to you for questions, but i will start, geneive, by asking you at which point watching the arab spring you said to yourself this is not eastern europe, this is actually not what we all believe in here in washington dc and in places like syria, for example, where it is an open inferno now. do you think if the regime had acted differently in the beginning or if the opposition did not get arms things could've been different and we would not be out of this secretary and a people we see today in syria? guest: well, i mean, i think you raise a broader itch you wish is important. of course the beginning everyone was optimistic
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and you use the diplomatic term that my book is honest, but a lot of people sam too cynical. every time i give a lecture about the middle east everyone says we will now kill ourselves because i'm generally pessimistic about the region, but i think it's more of a realism and so when the arab uprising started i think that, you know, there was far too much optimism about the outcome and given all of the different factions whether it was religious, political and it was obvious this would take generations to sort out. i think in the case of syria, like most uprisings and what's important is to talk about the similarities because if you look at syria, egypt, the uprising started with the same goal, which was to out dictators.
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it wasn't necessarily regime change, but the constitutional monarchy which was something different, but nonetheless it was to improve the form of government. they all began that way, but after a short bit of time all of the uprisings sort of deteriorated into conflicts about religion, complex about politics, conflicts among sunnis, extremists versus more moderate, but within the sunni tradition and i think the moment for me when i knew this was going to be something significant in different and violent was when i was in egypt right after the president had been elected and the-- he said our goal has nothing to do with changing the egyptian government, but our objective is to redefine how islam is practice. host: correct and that actually
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also comes out very vividly and strongly in the book, how different they are playing the game here. any given what's happening in egypt particularly, do you see that being the more dominant sort of quote unquote islamist force in the future? are we as arabs predestined to this cycle? guest: i think that in terms of this it depends on what country we are talking about because the south in egypt-- in egypt, yes, i mean obviously they for the most part in this is generally speaking i don't want to simplified too much, but they went from being sort of what we call a movement into being
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politicized because there was an opportunity. so, when the collapsed happened in mubarak was ousted from power they became more politically active. that was something that had not happened on that scale before. i think now i'm actually going to egypt tomorrow, so i can firmly answered this more effectively in a week, but in any case i think what happened after the arab uprising is that it's in power them in some cases. some were co-opted by the government and i think more or less that is still the case. >> do you see them ever going mainstream given how liberal the interpretation is? guest: no, i don't think so and i think there is enough openings within religious interpretation and there is a term now that always is used, the democratization of religion,
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which basically means there's a lot of competition for the religious message. there are extremists and they are part of this discussion and there is room-- there's an opening for different interpretations, so i don't see them retreating. if anything they will become more dominant. >> you also talk a lot about post- saddam iraq and iran's role and that resemblance we had towards iran and how the rise of isis has really changed this dynamic. you followed ron for long-- iran, are they sort of winning today? do the paradigms of iran and isis mutually benefit from each other?
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what is the future of the iraqi state? guest: will, i think, joyce, you have written about this as well, ron's role in the region and we are probably on the same page, but it's clear when i did go in the first chapter of the book, it's clear they have objectives and one is they want to distinguish themselves from persian shia, so they feel what is happened as iran has become more powerful and arab world is that people equate persian shia zen with arab shiism and that's important for the distinction and i think the other thing important to them is that they feel that the iraqi government has been co-opted by the iranians and they don't know what to do about it. host: are they correct? guest: it seems as though, i mean, co-opted is it too strong
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a word, but clearly if you have revolutionary guards in the country and all sorts of forces, iran president nor terribly, they have a religious influence in the country, which began not from arab uprising, but the us invasion. event, of course iran has a great role to play in iraq and i think for a lot of the arab shi'a that's not okay and on the sunni side some of the tribal leaders which were interviewed in the book basically told me that-- and i met them and they basically told me that they supported the takeover of mozilla because they thought given the choice between an iranian backed shia led governments that was marginalizing the sureties and isis they would rather cast their
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lot with isis annette was quite shocking to me, but that's what they told me. >> but then we see ourselves going through the same circle, i mean, before it was isis it was al qaeda in iraq. now, we are into falluja and occupied and liberated-- isis rechecked premier and again after it was liberated by russian forces in march. it seems just i don't know if it's just us or no one wants to see the missing piece here or address it. are we i mean are we going to go through the same cycle as long as this sectarian question, as long as these sectarian problems are not honestly dealt with? guest: proportionally, i think so because even if you dealt
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with say al qaeda is supposedly on the rise in certain countries now, but even if you dealt with the problem of extremism, i mean, in a military sense and i guess this is the other reason i wrote the book is in washington, think all of these issues are sort of addressed through there has to be some military solution, but in fact i think what we have learned over the last 20 years is that all of these islam's movements whether they are extremists or not, they are involving in ways we cannot control and certainly cannot be controlled or affected by military solution. because there's rivalry, i think, it's important to explain even though my book is about the shia's sunni struggle there's also a sunni sunni struggle and a shia shia struggle, so all this complexity and complex being played out
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on the ground are sort of an invitation for extremists because then they can capitalize on one group versus another and as i mentioned, even, i mean, why would sunni tribal leader support isis? well, isis was able at that moment in time to capitalize on the marginalization they were feeling from the iraqi government and so there was an opening. host: back to iran's role i remember in lebanon when they were just a small group in the early '80s, orchestrating terror attacks, but not really claiming them and here we are at this point where hezbollah now publicly says it's evolved in-- involved in syria and yemen and to a lesser extent in behrain
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and iraq. what does it say about the iranian policy in the region and has hezbollah model succeeded so they could replicate it in other places? guest: that's a really important to question because as part of this divide that is escalating between the shia and sunni with interesting is that if you look at the speeches he did not play the shia card and neither did iran. they were talking about the islamic awakening and that these were arab uprising to fight colonialism, imperialism, but as of 2014, when he made this big speech in july he
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basically said hezbollah is now-- that's-- i'm simplifying it, but that's my message, when he acknowledged they had boots on the ground in syria after there was overwhelming evidence of the case, but iran has done the same thing, basically. because of their military activity in arab countries that you mentioned, they can no longer talk about islam is in them or being a state that represents all muslims against the west and so this, i think, and this is what i talk about in the book , the reason that these speeches are important and the reasons these developments are important from leaders whether it's hezbollah is the way it's proceed on the ground because as you know, arab society is now in a state of anxiety. host: completely.
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i was in morocco last summer and just average people we talked to and they would be, you know, we don't like the king that much, but we don't want syria and i think the fact that the war in syria over the region and not just syria and mean you look as well and it is a step back for the efforts of the democratization and liberalization in the region, but, i mean, on iran specifically i think it is a fascinating experiment, that coming from lebanon, again that hezbollah would actually now is in occupying force, for example in syria. despite always hear in washington, no, it's not
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a quote unquote pure resistance force against isis and i don't know how we actually can get out on this now because this has become the new status quo and the arguments you hear repeatedly it dc on governance, you know, human rights, but how does this remotely resonate with what's going on on the ground in areas of conflict, i mean, do you see any hope for a push for better governance in the region anytime soon? guest: again, i think it depends on the country, i mean, i think in behrain, probably not because the mainstream shia movement, they have been completely isolated from the political process. in egypt, you know,
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there is a very repressive government that is now in power that is also not very inclusive politically. if you go down the list it doesn't seem very optimistic. in lebanon, i/o is think of lebanon in a different category and maybe you disagree because you have spent so much of your life there, but i sort of look at lebanon and a poster sectarian area in the sense that despite the fact that there are religious factions and all sorts of different political interest groups, somehow the lebanese i guess maybe-- maybe having thought 15 years of civil war there is a contract on lebanon where hezbollah is very important in the government, but people undecided basically this is-- you really can't do that much about it, let's not kill each other over it. host: and the syria fact. guest: and the syria affect
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that's really terrifying people because no one was to become another syria. host: how much the proxy war in the region, you know, college or beauty to where we are today, i mean, you look at libya, for example and there is a proxy war happening between the sunni sunni aspect you are talking about, sunni sunni proxy war within libya. you look at iraq as well and there is a proxy were there, so how do you address this, do the populations of, you know, libya or rock or eat-- iraq or even lebanon or syria or do they even have any willpower at this point to break out of this proxy war. the region has fumed and
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benefited for a while now. guest: i think it's difficult and i just want to mention that as we are talking about this we don't want to give the impression that all of arab society are sort of gold or engaged in these conflicts because most people actually field victimized by the complex and they feel helpless and that's why i think as i mentioned people feel a lot of anxiety, but what has happened to your point about proxy wars is that you have these estates whether it's turkey, saudi arabia, iran jockeying for power on a geopolitical level and that affects society and some factions reacted to it, some factions try to take advantage of the situation of the proxy work, but then others are completely innocent victims and that's probably the majority of arab society now is that they have to live in these conflicts whether they are driven by states, extremist groups and
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they feel very helpless that they can control the future. they can't even control whether they get a job or not. forget about their political future. host: and in a place like syria, actual activists that supported the uprising are either kidnapped. you have many are now in exile and the new dynamic we are approaching is-- in syria is between after-- or aleppo is increasingly becoming isis on the one hand and al qaeda, but do you see this dictating the new
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narratives in areas of conflict where the two extreme will take over if these conflicts are not addressed? guest: i think that is the case and if you look at the old days in egypt before the arab uprising started, you know, if you remember president mubarak used to say you have to support my government because i'm the only alternative to the muslim brotherhood, which he painted as an extremist group which is not an extremist group, so that was always the choice and i think that narrative continues. it just became more complicated because as you say there are more layers now. he said extremist will take over syria, so you have to support me against the uprising because the alternative is worse, so i think the
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basic narrative has not changed, unfortunately. we seen a pattern in the direction it's taken. the only difference now is that there are a lot of different players than there were before on both of these extremist side. host: i also enjoyed the chapter on behrain, how you went there, how you described it. two questions here. have saudi jeegc not intervened? what with the situation be like at the moment? how real is the iranian role in behrain and-- we don't care about behrain anymore, but what is at stake? guest: i think behrain, even though it's a minor sort of unstable state in the scheme of things, which is why, i guess
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during president obama's administration there wasn't that much focus on the situation, but i think if you look at the developments that have been there, they very much mirror the developments of other countries. for example, as you mentioned when the saudi's invaded-- okay, with the uprising began as it shia and sunni led uprising there were sunnis involved in the uprising because they wanted to create a constitutional monarchy in behrain, but when the saudi's invaded, three months, four months into the uprising, three or four months into the uprising, and allowed the government's to completely change the message in the narrative , so then it became sunni saudi arabia and the sunni led behrain government against the shia and that extended to iran as
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well, so the government began this propaganda campaign on television, in the newspapers which are state owned that this was an iranian plot that the shia in behrain were part of tour through the government and where the saudi invasion came in and as you point out is that it helped the government advances narrative. host: it's almost this self fulfilling prophecies that we see in the region, but another aspect just as a journalist, it is hard when you start talking about twitter, the level of hate across the board, i mean, these people truly don't like extremist narrative that we see on twitter from opposing sides i mean just last week after aleppo
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he saw hezbollah rhetoric was extremely sectarian on twitter. there was this video of hezbollah journalists going with the flag and climbing up to the citadel of aleppo and essentially declaring victory. just yesterday after the bombing in egypt, you saw people celebrating the killing of christians and retreats in arabic that may be we don't get translated much here in washington, but you saw in the lake about the rule of the social media and fueling the sectarian war and what worries me is that we don't have the tools for the oversight to
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address it. i mean, how big is this problem and your direct engagement with clear that feels this hate speech. what did it teach you? guest: i think it's a huge problem and because of a lot of this is articulated in arabic it's difficult for people in the us to understand the magnitude and the reason i went to twitter is that i was trying-- everyone always asks, how do you know this anti- shia sentiment exists , you know, how can you prove it, so i thought twitter seems like a good way to try to figure out the anti- shia sentiment and as you saw, i mean, the tweets are so graphic, that they are going to grind the flesh of that's-- shia and the things they say are graphic, but would you say that is an important, i do gets hugely
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important because some of the people i talked to in this book have 40 million twitter followed her-- followers and even in terms of methodology and i'm about the last person to tech-- allies the technicality of social media, but i looked at it more from a substantive point of view and even if you can't scientifically evaluate the penetration of these messages, who is following them, how does that affect what happens on the ground and i attempted to do that, you can't really decide that someone is tweeting about the battle, how did that affect what happened on the ground mean it's difficult to know, but if someone has 14 million twitter followers you have to assume someone is absorbing this material and it is massive, i mean, if you have millions of followers and i think the other thing that is dangerous is that it's reinforced by different forms of media.
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host: not the mainstream media, but it does marginalize people like me, you know. we are speaking of fake news here. everyone is throwing a fit, i mean, we have had it in the arab world for a long time now and i don't know how you address that, i mean, when you tell these clerics, when you tell these extremists, when you read these tweets-- guest: as we were talking about this earlier today what i thought was interesting, i didn't really have access to the saudi's, so i just followed them on twitter, but i did have access to other countries, so i went to northern lebanon where they all are and i started reading back to them there tweets that they had tweeted in arabic and at least three said i
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did not tweet that someone else did. so, what's interesting and we can in another conversation get into sort of the power of the internet and social media, but because i think it encourages people to be more aggressive than they would be normally and to create more hostility, but we are trying-- they were trying to convince me that they did not tweet that and then finally it was one particular one who i said okay, so if you did not tweet this just answer a question. do you think the shia are real muslims and he said no, so if you sort of-- i think that the danger of twitter in addition to a lot of other dangers is that it gives people the license to be much more aggressive and if they had to confront to strangers like me or anyone else outside of their communities what they were really saying,
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they want to retract it, but once it's out there, you know. host: i am glad you are out of that meeting safe. one last question. we do have a new administration coming to town. what we heard, what we both heard from president elect trump so far on the middle east, do you think there is anything different here? what i have read, for example, his statements after meeting cc, there is no human rights or any form of oppression in egypt. and there is a laser focus on counterterrorism, it seems. there is an interest in pushing iran back in the region or at least that's what we understand from the few
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dominations he has made. is that steel-- still realistic today given as you say in this book here how much influence iran has had today and iraq, syria, lebanon and even in new places like yemen, so what do you expect from the trump administration and looking at the region, what do you see it looking like maybe in four years? guest: i think it's dangerous for anyone to try to predict anything about the trump administration, but having said that it does it seem that there will be some attempted to deal with iran in a different way from president obama, but i just don't know how effective that will be. i mean, i think that
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short of having a direct affect on the hard-liners in iran and the revolutionary guards, which is impossible and i think what people don't understand about iran is that there are many iranian states. there's the state of the foreign ministry and the presidency and the state of the hard-liners and so you are dealing with many different states and this is why the nuclear negotiations, which were with the presidency in the foreign ministry, that process does not have an affect on what iran does on the ground in all of the countries mentioned. there's no correction-- connection between these the two things necessarily accept the nuclear deal has provided iran with cash reserves, ability to sell its oil that's presumably could aid their military apparatus in these countries, but i think that if the
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trump administration does try to do something to try to minimize iran's influence in the region, that's a good thing. i just don't know if it's possible. host: aiming the dynamics of the conflicts, i mean, i don't know i ask myself this question, how are you going to counter iran when you're actually providing support for groups that are funded by iran, i mean, i don't know. is it me or does it seem-- guest: no, that's part of the complexities. i mean, obviously the united states has basically endorsed to shia led governments in iraq that are working closely with iran, so that is sort of one situation, but then into syria the united states is against assad government, which is supported by iran and that's why the nuclear negotiations were comp
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located process and to some people in the administration even said and i don't know if this is true, but that one of the reasons the united states never attacked syria at a crucial time was because the obama administration did not want to disrupt the negotiations on the nuclear deal. host: in 2013 with the red line. guest: correct to. guest: these forces make us policy in the region very compensated and very conflicted. host: you don't see the sectarian war yet-- work on the sectarian gaps healing itself, so on that not so optimistic notes we will turn it over to questions from the audience, so i think someone will bring the microphone. let's start over here and please identify
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yourself and i should have mentioned that this happened hours ago. the #is a new sectarianism on twitter if you are treating. >> thank you for the conversation and i look for to reading your book. my question is about the title of the book. you mentioned "the new sectarianism" because for me with politics and that shia sunni divide has been like a rising factor for the politics not only between the different countries within the region, but even with local communities, so what's new about sectarianism in the divide given that situation? guest: i think that what's new is-- well, first of all the point i mentioned earlier, which
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is that there are many more competing messengers and interpreters of how islam should be practiced, which has increased the violence, so in the '90s, for example, when i wrote a book about the love and brotherhood, if you wanted to know what was being set at the mosque you went to the mosque and stood out by the mosque to listen to the friday prayer and basically even though the sermons in the mosques were certainly not uniformed, there were certain trends within the religious community of the message that was being conveyed. there were more radical shakes that others and some self-appointed shakes, as you know mohammed because you are from egypt here a few go to neighborhoods in egypt, anyone is a shake and it's not just egypt. so, i call them
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freelance. so, that phenomenon early started in the 80s and 90s, but if you can magnify that like a thousand times, so that to me is what has changed that there are many messengers, many interpreters of how islam should be practiced and although this is a very controversial point, one could argue that isis is promoting a certain practice of the faith that 99% of muslims don't agree with, but the point is they do use those texts to refer to the current on to justify-- the quran to justify their reactions. most muslims overwhelming don't describe it as prescribed to this belief. there are many competing messengers and messages and i think that is what has changed and
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escalated the whole divide and created more violence and the other thing i think to keep in mind and they didn't mention this before, but in the old days if you want to look at egypt in the '90s for example, there was much more control of the religious message by states-- state-sponsored religious institutions and the egyptians at started losing control of the message in the 70s, but even in the '90s there was a lot more state control over what was said from the pulpit, what was said on the streets. that has evaporated. the state has a lot less control with the exception of country like morocco from what is being, i guess, projected to be islamic practice. host: and it does seem i mean having grown up in the lebanese civil war, for example, that
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every kind of limitation we had is off now and that's the new level of brutality whether its suicide bombings or what we saw at the cathedral yesterday. there is nothing almost anymore in that sense, so it's-- >> it's a free-for-all. i think that is what has changed. >> can i go here and then we'll go there. >> thank you. quick question. number one, some people say the iranian backed militia are just as cruel as isis. do you agree with that and if yes, is there evidence? number two, it seems so far the only arab country that actually seems to move towards
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democracy is tunisia where this all started. do you think it's sustainable? guest: i'm glad you raised the point about the shia militia. i write somewhat extensively in the book in the first chapter on the shia militia. i do think they are very very violent and high have watched a lot of videos of the for example, when they went into parts of iraq where they burn people, hanged people from lamp posts. i saw people being executed at gunpoint, sunnis. what's more important, getting back to sort of the question that mohammed raised is that some of these militias were created calling upon shia and sunni, not just shia, but if you read the arabic shia and sunni to rise up against
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isis and some of these militias were formed as a result of this, so this is a cleric issue religious decree trying to combat religious extremism, but once he encouraged people and called them to arms he could not control what happened later, so they no longer listen to him and now they are listening-- i'm simplifying it, but to some degree now their commanders are the iranian revolutionary guards, so i think that's a good example of not being able to control the message, that once you unleash something you don't know what the consequences will be an yes, they are very violent and i have every reason to believe the videos i have seen were legitimate, i mean, i checked. i checked with people. they were given to me by legitimate sources and they are on the internet about tunisia, i'm not an expert on tunisia or north africa, but i think what has happened there generally speaking
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is positive, but when we look at the success stories you have to place them in the context of the region, so one of the reasons that tunisia i think has been more successful in terms of the role of the islamic movement and egypt is that they compromised with the government, so they knew when to participate-- purchased in politics owing not to. it was not on all are nothing proposition. that was not the case in egypt. of the government decided, i think, incorrectly that they were going to oust a democratically elected government, which was the muslim brotherhood and create a military dictatorship, so i don't think that gives us hope for a success story in egypt compared to tunisia when there was more of a democratic process. host: because of the transition that happened, but how much did
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the education program that the tunisian government invested in the country also help in this? guest: well, the education system as far as i know has always been much more, i guess, shall we say less polarizing than the egyptian educational system in terms of history, in terms of how islam is sort of taught in the trait-- pro trade, so you are talking about a completely different context and i think that's why the alchemist different and in addition a lot of other reasons, but it's really not a tunisian expert or practice giving you my general impressions. host: and yet we do see the highest number of jihadists or used it to be the highest number flowing to syria were coming from tuning, but that is-- there
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were good signs of the element of radicalization that was also happening underground there does exist funded by the outside through schools, through other aspects. you do talk about in this book, but not the level i think produced syria or-- >> thank you. i'm i guess health communicator. i've a question about east african literal and let's skip the area from safe to booty to the kenyan border and go from kenya all the way down to the tanzanian coast and such.
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i know the area fairly well and i know that-- when i was there there were sunnis, she is and this was in the 70s. they were all living in peace, but the ethnic origins of these people, there were several there were sunnis and shi'a from yemen and others and it was very mixed. it's an area of considerable friction on the east african coast and i wonder if you have any ideas about what's going to happen there. thanks. guest: no, i cannot speak to that because i don't to research the part of the world, but i will say that if you are interested in these issues in other parts of the world, africa had the shia view this sunnis and vice versa, the pew forum has been excellent pulling on these issues and the geographic sort of-- of the geographic span
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of their polling is huge and they did pull in parts of africa and what they found, which i found to be pot-- fascinating is that they do the polling over time and they ask the same questions obviously because you consistency, but they found as the saudi's developed more of a presence in parts of africa, before the saudi's had any real presence in africa when they pulled sunnis and asked him what are your views of the shi'a they did not know what a shi'a was, but as the saudi's became more influential in some african countries when they pulled later they got a much more negative response from the sunnis towards the shia, so again this speaks to sort of the perceptions on the ground of state driven sectarian kind of discourse, but
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anyway i thought that was interesting, but i'm sorry i cannot speak about africa because i don't to research that part of the world. host: for the first time last year the secretary general of hezbollah in his speech talked about a jury at. he was-- talked about nigeria and he messaged condolences, so it would be interesting to watch what you talked about anymore local hezbollah effort or whatever you want to call it in the continent. >> thank you. thank you for the wonderful conversation. i am from yemen. you mentioned the new sectarianism and like
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the shi'a sunni conflict that erupted just recently, so what make that this new sectarianism more aggressive cracks who is using who? politicians being used by sectarianism or clerics or vice versa? who is using who? second question, with the conflict in yemen, how is that link is a sectarianism conflict? guest: well, think again yemen is a perfect example-- an opportunity. in the beginning as you know better than me they were not necessarily backed by iran, but as
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time went on and as the war developed and deteriorated, there was an opportunity for iran to become involved and there was opportunity for them to capitalize on iran's willingness to become involved and so-- and i think that sort of goes back to what we are talking about. i mean, i think that in this town of particular people have a tendency to view iran as this aggressor state, that is going to watch a nuclear war, that's going to invade this country for that country and if you look at the history of modern iran, their strategy is much more complicated. they are not an aggressor state, necessarily. they are a state that on opportunity. the same as two in iraq if you look at the beginning. the same is true and behrain. iran was not involved in the uprising that first occurred in 2011 and
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what has happened since then and us reports have confirmed this is that some of the more radical youth groups that developed as a result of the behrain government are now accepting directly or indirectly aid from iraq or hezbollah and some are now located in lebanon, so to answer your question i think that a lot of these conflicts, the way they have ended up today is not the way they began and i think gammon is a perfect example of that. host: since we are short on time -- okay. so, we are going to take two questions at a time. the gentleman here and then russia. >> came from pakistan.
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they are fighting everywhere in the muslim world. do you see any of compromising points for these two countries given that iran has been -- [inaudible] >> what makes them so insecure and keep getting the shia all over the muslim world? do you see any compromising point between these two nations that could help them to calm the muslim world? thanks. >> thank you. on the journalist that i spent a decade reporting in the middle east most recently in syria. i would like to speak to the point you mentioned about different characters on the stage
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at trying to interpret islam and sort of a competition to own the narrative on islam and i have seen that firsthand in syria and trout the region. there's also the power of money and arms, certainly in syria and that's coming from one interpretation of islam or at least to, saudi arabia and iran and those are really the sources of the proxy wars in syria and arguably the source of many complex rather region. what do you think the us should do about this? i mean, this is sort of reminiscent of the us aligning itself with al qaeda back in the cold war and having it come back to bite us in the behind or is it sort of know, let the two sides sort of fight each other out or attrition, who cares let's just be cynical as long as this
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does not spill over into the west. host: tough questions. guest: and terms of saudi and iran, the one common denominator is i don't think the united states can influence either country in terms of what it does in the region and when the arab uprisings began and the saudi's have just gone into behrain, at the time secretary of state hillary clinton was having small meetings with people who know something about the arab world in her office and i was in a meeting of maybe seven to 10 people and we asked her, what is the us going to do about saudi arabia. they just want into behrain and she said there's nothing we can do about the saudi's, next question. [laughter] guest: so, i think that is sort of the case again, i've never been in government. i have no idea what the
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united states should or should not do, but i think that what we have learned since the arab uprising began is that the united states role is limited and the leverage is limited. what leverage to the united states really overt iran in terms of preventing them from operating in syria, lebanon, just as you leverage. with the iranians did and this is somewhat of a controversial statement, but with that iranians did throughout that nuclear negotiations is that they were very strategic to make sure the negotiators were only about the nuclear issues and they never-- the negotiations they make their that was one of the conditions from the beginning that it would not be about syria or iraq. it was confined only to the nuclear issue and that was very smart on their part. now the recon eat people would say privately and i was in private meetings with them and the next conversation will be about syria, but i knew that would never happen because it's not
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in their interest. the way they tried to convince some americans that if there was going to be a nuclear deal, and all parties could agree on the conditions in the terms of the agreement that then there would be some sort of negotiating process in which they would offer concessions on syria, but of course as we have seen that has not happened. host: to the gentleman's question, do you see any opportunity between saudi and iran anytime soon? guest: i don't know. there would have to be interest by both sides and i don't see what those interests could be because they are both benefiting from the rivalry, so what benefit really is there an concessions? host: covering the syrian were from here we did hear the beginning from when us defense
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official that there is a silver lining, if al qaeda and behrain fighting in syria mean in 2013, would like to find the same official can ask the same question to see how sober that lining still is and we had one question over there. >> [inaudible] host: can you bring the microphone closer? >> yes. my question-- by talking about all of the issues and struggles between the parties and the influences of countries like iran, turkey to iraq, especially in iraq, in keeping the
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stability between the shi'a and sunnis in iraq for the years after the defeat of saddam hussein -- the kurds, yes ..
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will >> victims everywhere. and fighting for equal rights. with the rest of the population. when the about the was president, there was a lot more power for the current, and empowered by their administration it to have their own languages in the school. he appointed kurdish officials that had kurdish majority areas that was quite taboo. but i can't speak to what their deficiencies are, not qualified to do that. >> do you see the good they are for themselves?
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them avoiding getting sucked into the war? >> we have already seen that, when iran came to the rescue of the kurds when isis was at the doorstep, not alliance but putting a point on it. and opportunity, the iranians offer opportunities, >> thank you so much. enjoy the

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