Ali Soufan

  • Aired:  02/13/12
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Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan examines Iran's possible use of non-state entities for making power plays in the Middle East. (6:53)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, FORMER F.B.I.

SPECIAL AGENT.

HIS BOOK IS CALLED "THE BLACK

BANNERS: THE INSIDE STORY OF

9/11 AND THE WAR AGAINST AL

QAEDA."

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

ALI SOUFAN.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

NICE TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> Jon: THE BOOK IS CALLED "THE

BLACK BANNER."

NOW WE'RE GOING TO TALK A LITTLE

BIT... I WANT TO TALK TO YOU

MORE ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING

TODAY.

TEN YEARS AGO THE IDEA WAS THE

NEW THREAT IS STATE...

NONSTATE-SPONSORED TERRORISM.

IT APPEARS NOW WE'RE ENTERING A

PHASE WHEN IRAN AND SYRIA AND

ISRAEL ARE ABOUT TO... I DON'T

KNOW WHAT THE TECHNICAL TERM IS

IN COUNTERTERRORISM.

THROW DOWN.

(LAUGHTER)

ARE YOU GETTING THE SENSE AS

SOMEONE WHO IS VERY

KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT WHAT'S

HAPPENING ON THE GROUND IN THESE

PLACES?

>> IT SEEMS LIKE IT.

IT SEEMS THAT IRAN IS NOW USING

NON-STATE ACTORS TO, AGAIN,

THROW OUT THE POWER IN THE

MIDDLE EAST AND IN THE REGION.

JUST TODAY, FOR EXAMPLE, THERE

WAS AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON

TWO ISRAELI DIPLOMATS, ONE IN

GEORGIA AND ONE IN INDIA.

AND THAT COMES ON THE

ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION

OF THE TERRORIST LEADER FROM

HAZARD.

>> Jon: BUT ALSO...

>> HEZBOLLAH.

>> Jon: IRANIAN SCIENTISTS HAVE

BEEN TARGETED AS WELL.

IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYBODY IS

JOCKEYING IN THIS PROXY WAR.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

AND THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO

BELIEVE THAT POSSIBLY THE

ISRAELIS ARE BEHIND THE ATTACK

ON THE SCIENTISTS BUT THE

SITUATION IS WAY MORE

COMPLICATED THAN THAT.

THERE'S A LOT OF DIFFERENT

ISSUES HAPPENING INSIDE IRAN.

IRAN IS NOT A MONOLITHIC

SOCIETY.

YES IT'S KNOWN TO BE A PERSIAN

CHAUVINISTIC SOCIETY.

>> Jon: HE SAID THAT, I DIDN'T

THEY!

HE SAID THAT!

I WAS JUST SITTING HERE.

(LAUGHTER)

>> ABOUT 61% OF THE IRANIANS ARE

PERSIANS.

BUT THERE'S UP TO SOME NUMBERS

PUT THEM AT 40% THAT ARE TURKIC

PEOPLE.

AND HISTORICALLY THE PERSIANS

AND THE TURKS DON'T LIKE EACH

OTHER.

ALSO YOU HAVE THE ARAB MINORITY

AND ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE

STARTING TO OPPOSE THE PERSIAN

DOMINATION OF IRAN.ñr

>> THE AS JANUARYIAN, THE

TURKISH PEOPLE IS INTERESTING

BECAUSE WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT IRAN

AND SAUDI ARABIA ARE THE TWO BIG

PLAYERS.

WHAT'S TURKEY'S ROLE IN ALL OF

THIS AND IS IRAN NERVOUS ABOUT

YOU ARE THE ECONOMY?

I WOULD THINK THAT THE

AZERBAIJANIAN POPULATION WOULD

HAVE SYMPATHY TOWARD TURKEY.

>> WE SEE AN INCREASED ROLE IN

THE MIDDLE EAST.

WE SEE IN THE SYRIA, WE SEE IN

THE CENTRAL ASIA AND THAT'S

WHAT'S SCARING IRAN BECAUSE IRAN

IS SURROUNDED WITH MANY

DIFFERENT ETHNICITIES.

MOST OF THEM ARE TURKIC AND ANY

RISE IN ETHNIC NATIONALISM IN

CENTRAL ASIA IS GOING TO BE

CONSIDERED AS A SIGNIFICANT BLOW

TO IRANIAN INFLUENCE IN THE

REGION.

FOR EXAMPLE AZERBAIJAN IS MOSTLY

SHI'A.

SHI'A MUSLIM.

IRAN IS 90% SEE YA.

IRAN CLAIMS THAT THEY ARE THE

PROTECTORS OF SHI'A AROUND THE

WORLD.

THERE IS A WAR THAT TOOK PLACE

IN THE '90s BETWEEN AZERBAIJAN,

SHI'A MUSLIM COUNTRY, NEIGHBOR

OF IRAN AND BETWEEN ARMENIA, AN

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN COUNTRY OVER

A REGION.

DURING THAT WAR IRAN SUPPORTED

ARMENIA AGAINST SHIITE

AZERBAIJAN.

>> Jon: WHY?

>> BECAUSE, AGAIN 40,% OF THE

IRANIAN POPULATION ARE ARAB AND

IN CASE OF AZERBAIJAN WINNING A

WAR AND AZERBAIJAN IS A TURKIC

COUNTRY AND THEY HAVE A STRONG

RELATIONSHIP WITH TURKEY THEY

FEEL THEY'RE GOING TO BE

SURROUNDED.

>> Jon: HOW DID THIS WAR GET

SNUCK BY US?

I DON'T REMEMBER THIS WAR.

DO THEY NOT TELL US ABOUT WARS

UNLESS WE'RE DOING THE BOMBING?

DO WE NOT HEAR ABOUT THESE OTHER

WARS?

>> I THINK THIS REGION WAS.

>> Jon: WELL, IT IS VERY

DIFFICULT TO SAY.

WHEN YOU SAID THAT I WAS ABOUT

TO SAY GOD GUESS THERE YOU BUT I

DIDN'T.

I HELD BACK.

THE SITUATION IN SYRIA NOW IS

WHAT'S PERPLEXING ME.

IF THE U.N. CAN'T FORMULATE A

RESOLUTION TO CONDEMN WHAT'S

HAPPENING IN SYRIA, IS... THEN

THEY ARE BASICALLY... IT'S LIKE

NOT FORMULATE AGO RESOLUTION

THAT CAPE UPTON IS KIND OF HOT.

(LAUGHTER)

IT'S OBVIOUS.

HOW DID CHINA AND... HOW DID

THAT...

>> RUSSIA.

>> Jon: HOW DID CHINA AND RUSSIA

BLOCK THAT?

AND WHY?

>> WELL RUSSIA HAS HISTORICAL

RELATIONSHIP WITH SYRIA.

NOT JUST WITH BASHAR ASSAD BUT

ALSO HIS FATHER HAFEZ.

AND CHINA HAS BEEN RUSSIA'S TOOL

LET'S CALL IT, IN THE MIDDLE

EAST.

BUT THE INTERESTING PART IS THE

ROLE OF CHINA AND WHY CHINA DID

THE VETO AND RUSSIA IS ALREADY

DOING IT.

CHINA NEVER DID VETOES BEFORE

EXCEPT IF IT'S CONNECTED TO

THEIR OWN BACKYARD, LIKE NORTH

KOREA, FOR EXAMPLE.çó

SO I THINK CHINA WAS SENDING A

STRONG MESSAGE THAT THE

SITUATION IN SYRIA IS PART OF

THEIR OWN NATIONAL INTEREST.

AND THE REASON IT'S PART OF

THEIR OWN NATIONAL INTEREST IS,

AGAIN, ROLE T ROLE OF TURKEY.

REMEMBER, TURKEY IS A NATO

COUNTRY AND RUSSIA IS

SURROUNDED.

RUSSIA IS ALREADY ANXIOUS ABOUT

THE EXPANSION OF NATO IN EASTERN

EUROPE.

SO NOW WE SEE TURKEY'S INFLUENCE

IN THE REGION COMING IN THE

POSSIBILITY OF ETHNIC

NATIONALISM PROBABLY COMING IN

COUNTRIES LIKE AZERBAIJAN,

COUNTRIES LIKE UZBEKISTAN.

>> Jon: I CAN SEE RUSSIA BUT

CHINA AS WELL?

>> CHINA HAS A LOT OF UIGHUR

POPULATIONS.

THE MUSLIM POPULATION IN CHINA

THAT'S OPPOSING AND THEY WANT

THEIR OWN... THEIR OWN

INDEPENDENCE.

THOSE PEOPLE ARE ALSO TURKIC

PEOPLE.

AND YOU'RE DEALING WITH AN

AREA....

>> Jon: TURKEY!

(LAUGHTER)

SO THAT'S WHAT THIS IS ALL

ABOUT?

IT'S THE NEW POWER STRUGGLE?

>> EXACTLY.

AND RUSSIA IS... SORRY, TURKEY

IS A NATO COUNTRY SO RUSSIA AND

CHINA AND THERE'S A LOT OF

RESOURCES IN CENTRAL ASIA AND IF

PROBLEMS START HAPPENING AMONG

TURKIC ETHNIC PEOPLE IN THE

REGION IT MIGHT, AFFECT THE

INFLUENCE OF CHINA.

>> Jon: THANK YOU FOR THE

EXPLANATION.

IT'S INCREDIBLY COMPLEX AND

SOMETHING WE DON'T HEAR THAT

MUCH IN THE STATES BECAUSE ON

OUR MAGAZINES WE'RE CONCERNED

WITH IF PETS ARE GOOD COMPANIONS

THAT KIND OF THING.

(LAUGHTER)

"THE BLACK BANNER" IS ON THE

BOOKSHELVES NOW.

WILL YOU COME BACK AND KEEP THE

DIALOGUE GOING?

WE'D APPRECIATE IT.

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