TRANSCRIPT

How will the administration approach the crisis in Syria?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," April 5, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel. And I think we'll be successful. I hope to be successful.

KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: It was an early engagement by the president and his team to the Israelis and Palestinians to be able to see what he can do to bring them together. It is the core conflict for a lot of us in the region. The president understands the nuances and the challenges. I think he has the courage and the dedication to be able to do this.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: Comments from President Trump and Jordan's King Abdullah in the Rose Garden today about the interest and aptitude of the man who authored "The Art of the Deal" tackling what many regard as the toughest, most elusive deal in the history of human negotiations, namely, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In his exclusive interview with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Bret Baier raised this very subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Do you think the long aspired to goal of some kind of deal can actually happen?

ABDEL FATTEH EL-SISI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT: There is a very good opportunity to resolve this issue, even given the conditions we are living at the current times. We are prepared, as Arab countries, that there will be forces in the Palestinian areas to maintain the safety and security of the Israelis and the Palestinian citizens. And I can imagine that a European country or even the United States wouldn't hesitate to be present with forces to achieve that.

And for us in Egypt, we are doing a lot of efforts with the second and third generation in holding a lot of conversations with the Palestinians to spread that idea, to accept the other, and to live with the other in peace and security. There is a true opportunity for peace. If the administration of President Trump succeeds to solving, it will change the face of the entire region.

BAIER: Do you believe President Trump can do that big of a thing?

EL-SISI: I fully trust the capabilities of President Trump, and I have full conviction he can do things to exert efforts that very few people can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: Let's bring in our panel: Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post; Mercedes Schlapp, columnist for The Washington Times, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, good souls, all. Bret's interview with the Egyptian president covered so much important ground on so many topics. But one atmospheric thing that kind of leaps out at me is the extraordinary degree of confidence that both the Egyptian president and the Jordanian king expressed in President Trump, saying that he can do things no one else can do and so forth.

And then there was what we just heard from the Egyptian president speaking to Bret Baier, saying that essentially that the United States and Egypt should be willing to put boots on the ground in order to secure some kind of Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: What was so interesting about el-Sisi's answer on that, he was essentially saying the Arab states after 70 years are ready for a deal. They really are tired of the Palestinians. He won't say this, but this is the truth. And of course the big threat is not Israel to the Sunni Arabs. It is Iran. They are prepared to make peace tomorrow. But they are hostage to the Palestinians.

Did you hear what Sisi said? He said we are talking with the Palestinians, the second and third generation, meaning here we are 60, 70 years later after the initiation of the conflict trying to convince the Palestinians that they need to live in peace with the other. That's the core of the conflict. The Arab states are ready to go. The Palestinians are not. They have not accepted the idea of dividing the land. In the absence of that, they cannot make peace.

I don't think Trump can pull a rabbit out of a hat. It's all up to the persuasive powers of the Arab states to somehow bring the Palestinians aboard. I think, and I'm sure Sisi thinks the Palestinians aren't ready. There is no evidence that they are. And if the Palestinians aren't, this will go nowhere.

ROSEN: And presumably when President el-Sisi tells us that he is talking to the Palestinians, what he means is he is talking to Fatah and Abu Mazen in the West Bank and not Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip.

Also in the Rose Garden today, President Trump said his attitude towards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has changed, quote, "very much." Mr. Trump wasn't explicit but he seemed to indicate that contrary to recent signals from his own spokesman, this White House is now no longer inclined to tolerate Assad remaining in power in Syria, fueling the president's comments on yesterday's chemical attack in northwest Syria which killed at least 70 people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines, beyond a redline, many, many lines. I now have responsibility and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly. I will tell you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: So Chuck Lane, the president employing the redline terminology that was so infamously ill-advised for his predecessor Barack Obama. Did we see a major policy shift today?

We saw a shift from the signals that his own administration have been sending only a few days earlier in which senior officials have been signaling they might accept the perpetuation of the Assad regime that had always been U.S. policy that Assad had to go in some way, at least since 2011, the beginning of the Syrian civil war and when President Obama first started saying Assad must go.

ROSEN: So there is a concern, I would think, that in some way that was interpreted in Damascus as some kind of signal that they could get away with horrible attacks like these. Now of course the president saying no, no, no. If you thought that, you thought wrong.

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Look, he's going to have to go through a real rethink about a lot of things right now because this Sarin gas, if that's what it was that they used, was in violation of an agreement that they brokered with the help of Russia. And this implicates Russia, and his whole plan that somehow we can work with Russia against terrorism, this episode exposes that when you get into bed with Russia, you are getting into bed with Assad. And that means you're getting into bed with somebody who does chemical weapons.

ROSEN: In this very nexus was present in comments in New York today by our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who spoke out on the chemical attack and then directed some very pointed words at the country, and that as Chuck is implying has long protected Bashar al-Assad at the U.N. Security Council, namely, Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims to have, we need to see them use it. How many more children have to die before Russia cares? When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: Mercedes, this isn't the first time we have seen Ambassador Haley speak in very pointed terms about Russia up there at Turtle Bay at the U.N. Security Council. Does it portend some split between her and the president she serves on Russia?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I don't believe so. I think you see these changing events, what we've seen in Syria. And the president is rethinking his policy towards Syria. So this is a president who doesn't necessarily want to be involved in any military action in Syria but understands that there's actions that need to be taken, and one of the things they need to do would be possibly tightening sanctions in Russia, shaming European allies to say we need to have more sanctions on Russia that would impact the Syrian government as well.

This is a time I think for President Trump is recognizing that this is becoming a greater challenge. Obviously I think Nikki Haley plays a little more of the bad cop role in pointing out Russia's atrocities, but it is very clear that these children's blood is on the hands of both Assad and Putin. And these regimes are working together, and the United States will need to find a way not only in the international community that is not just being critical and calling out, condemning these actions, but really figuring out a way to bring Assad down.

And I think Senator Marco Rubio was very clear in the news conference today, being very critical of the Trump administration and basically saying what Tillerson said, that Assad would be acceptable to now saying should there be a shift in this policy?

ROSEN: Very quickly, let's hear what King Abdullah of Jordan said about President Trump and Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: This is another testament to the failure of the international diplomacy to find solutions to this crisis which I believe under your leadership, we will be able to unravel this very complicated situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: So a lot of these Arab Gulf leaders seem to express great confidence in President Trump and what he can accomplish in that region.

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