Fox News Channel
Saturday, December 18, 2004
President George W. Bush: We have made it very clear to the countries in the neighborhood; including the two you mentioned [Iran and Syria]. That we expect there to be help in establishing a society in which people are able to elect their leaders….
John Kasich: Well, welcome back to Heartland. I am John Kasich. The bloody insurgency continues to give US forces big problems in Iraq. Now there are reports that the attacks are being directed from neighboring Syria and Iran. So what can we do about it? With us FOX News Military Analyst, LT Colonel Bill Cowan and FOX Foreign Affairs Analyst Alireza Jafarzadeh. That wasn’t bad was it folks, to get that one right?”
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Sure, Thank you John. Happy holidays.
John Kasich: Colonel Cowan, I know you think that the Syrians are messing in here, we find very few foreign fighters in Iraq. So what leads you to believe that the Syrians are actually involved in doing this and that the insurgency just isn’t born of Iraqis? “
Bill Cowen: Well certainly Iraqis are doing most of it John. But the tacit support of the Syrians in allowing former key members of the Baathist regime including Saddam’s number two Al-Duri, all of the leadership people, military members, people we are looking for; The Syrians are allowing them to operate with impunity out of Syria; providing money, material, arms, sometimes foreign fighters and probably even just like at Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam, R&R areas, places where people can refurbish and relax a little bit before going back to battle.
John Kasich: All right, this guy Assad, Bashar Assad, educated actually in London he is ophthalmologist. Why don’t we pay him a visit? I don’t mean this… I mean just pay him a visit and say look “You keep this up and your not going to be in power” we don’t have to invade, you’re just not going to be in power, why don’t we deliver a stern warning and make it very clear.
Bill Cowen: Great, great question John, and I think most people who are watching the situation over there particularly with respect to Syria would ask the same question. The latest we hear is that the State Department is going to continue to put diplomatic pressure on Assad. But the real question is, whether we are going to put enough pressure on him to cause he and the people around him to do something substantial.
John Kasich: Well, the one thing you know about these people in the Middle East, one thing they want to be tomorrow is in power and we ought to make it clear to them and shut this down, this guy is a pip squeak. Now, Alireza, let’s talk about Iran. There [in Iraq] we have the Shiite who are the same religious bent as the people in Iran. Why would Iran want to mess with this election when the Shiite are going to win anyway. What would be their reason?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, the reason Iran has been involved extensively for the past year and a half is because they want to have their brand of Shiite, their brand of Islam, an Islam Republic modeled after Iran to be in power. That’s why they have been involved by sending arms, money, clerics, and agents.
John Kasich: I don’t think we found any arms from Iran, I think… what I’m concerned about, I want to know what the problem is. I don’t want to create something that doesn’t exist. When you say they sent arms or they want, I’m sure they want an extremist regime but Sistani, the Ayatollah there, he doesn’t believe in any kind of Islamic republic, you know so what are we worried about here?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, John what we’re worried about is that right now as we speak some ten thousand clerics are on a regular payroll by Iran and there are thousands of others who are being paid by Iran. The Defense Minister of Iraq as well as the Interior Minister and the President have talked in the past few weeks, saying that they have arrested a number of Iranian agents. They’ve found lots of documents that show how Iran has been trying to influence the situation there. They are calling Iran the enemy number one. They’re some 30 media outlets in Iraq that are running by the Iranian money. There are lots of mosques and religious centers that have been built by Iran, run by pro-Iran clerics, who were trained in Iran for twenty-five years and they’re involved in inciting violence and anti-Americanism.
John Kasich: Well, and then you got a guy like Hakim, who lived in Iran for twenty-five years, but of course he was escaping the reach of Saddam. Bill Cowan, as you know, I’m for these elections going forward. It looks like its going to happen. I’m going to make a prediction. The Shiite are going to vote, there will be more Sunni voting than we thought and the Kurds are going to vote. What is this government going to look like? When you look at what Alireza is saying with your view, what’s the government going to look like? Is it going to be a bunch of religious extremists or what are we going to see?
Bill Cowen: No, I think it will be a fairly moderate government and the Shiites will clearly be in charge John. The real question after the election, there will certainly be some Sunnis in the new government I think the real question is how many Sunnis there are that consider these elections to be legitimate? Who cares if the United Nations considers them to be legitimate? The question is, how many Sunnis consider them to be legitimate and how many people then in this new government are prepared to fight to bring the rest of the country under control.
John Kasich: That’s the bottom line can this new government set up an army to control the problem there? One last question Alireza, what are we going to do if we get a government in Iraq that hates Israel and hates the United States? Are we going to have to live with it?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: No, I don’t think any one can live with that. If you are talking about a sister Islamic republic modeled after Iran I think that’s a big problem especially because Iran is very close to getting the bomb so we need to do everything possible to see that situation doesn’t happen.
John Kasich: Well, I will tell you this. I think that it’s likely that we are going to have a government in Iraq that is going to lean towards Iran and lean against the US. I hope I’m wrong but I think that’s the way it’s moving. Thank you guys.