tv Dateline London BBC News April 17, 2017 3:30am-4:01am BST
has narrowly won sunday's referendum on his plans to substantially increase the powers of the presidency. with more than 99% of the votes counted, the "yes" campaign won just over 51% of the votes. a senior member of the trump administration has said the united states, its allies, and china, are working together to develop options for dealing with north korea. the us national security adviser, hr mcmaster, said beijing had joined an international consensus that the situation could not continue. the number of people thought to have died in saturday's bomb attack in syria has risen to 126, including 68 children, that's according to local activists. they were among bus loads of civilians being brought out of two pro—government towns that have been under siege. and now on bbc news, it's time for dateline london. hello, and welcome to dateline.
this week, we learnt three things from president trump — that he is prepared to wield a global stick, to be precise, the "mother of all sticks", that nato isn't obsolete, and that the united states needs to condemn china a little less and hug it a little more, not least to help deal with a little problem called north korea. and after this weekend's massive show of military might by pyongyang and that regime's bellicose posturing, how should we interpret president trump's words, "the problem will be taken care of"? with me to help dissect donald trump's thinking and, later, to talk about another president, mr erdogan of turkey, are abdel bari atwan, who writes on arab affairs, henry chu, who's international editor of variety magazine, the political commentator yasmin alibhai—brown, and the russian broadcaster alexander nekrassov.
welcome to you all. what an extraordinary weekend. henry, what is the normal trump doctrine of foreign policy? i don't think any of us knows if there is any coherent policy going on, it cannot be expressed in 140 characters. that is how this man governs. he will say in a news conference that russia—us relations are at an all—time low, then tweets that there will be everlasting peace. he told us health care would be replaced by something great. we cannot divine anything from the policy of the last week or so. i think his own attention span is actually fairly limited. he flip—flops, although he would call it a reversal. he is also going to be tied in terms of improving relations with russia by the domestic political scene in the us. we have people in our legislature, in congress and senate, who are on both sides of the aisle, quite implacably opposed to russia, or feel it is a destabilising force. there are also his own woes of being investigated, people in his administration being too closely tied to russia
before and during the election campaign. he has to tread carefully. as we have seen, it is impossible to actually figure out what an articulated policy from him is because he does not speak that way. what are they saying in moscow after rex tillerson‘s visit, after all these other events, weapons, syria, concerns about north korea? what are they saying about trump? how do they perceive him? first of all, i think trump is sounding erratic. he inherited a mess from obama. let's put it this way, obama did not deal with syria. he did not deal with north korea. he has forgotten about that. he was more preoccupied with sending drones. in russia, the understanding is that trump is under huge pressure in america from all over the place. for his comments about russia during the election campaign.
there is a bit of sympathy for him, almost? sympathy on the one hand, on the other hand, he did make some anti—russian statements. i think the russians realise that it is not going to be a friendship. love and kisses, and so on. he is tough to deal with because he is unpredictable. that is true. but tillerson's talks went better than people thought. president putin saw him, there was some debate over the weekend over whether he would. yasmin, do you have an idea in your mind of what trump was trying to achieve? no.
what is so confusing is that with the syrian bomb, so many of us, millions, billions, felt this carbuncle of syria over seven years. growing and growing on the face of the earth. in a way, you woke up to this and felt the boil had been lanced. we felt this temporary relief. but henry is right, he is a maverick. at the moment it seems he is playing some kind of computer game, getting a real thrill out of the big bangs and flashes. on the other hand, i think putin, in my view, is one of the most calculating and problematic leaders we have today. particularly... and he's been around a long time, 17 years. he is smarter than trump in some ways. part of me also worries, and i apologise if this sounds mad, but this investigation into the trump election and the relationship between russia and trump's campaign team, is being seriously investigated. i am wondering whether there is this
plot within a plot within a plot to make us think now that there won't be any hugs and kisses. i'm very confused about where we are going. trump is a maverick and that to me is the biggest danger of all. the syria conundrum is at the heart of this debate. unlike president obama, trump dropped a bomb and retaliated. in terms of his approach to syria, will we now see something of a sustained engagement? will that do anything to make the peace talks in geneva go anywhere? i believe these tomahawk missile strikes killed completely the peace process in syria. i cannot see this peace process being reignited after these tomahawk missiles. secondly, i believe that coordination between russia and the us is coming back after the foreign secretary went to moscow.
rex tillerson? yes. i believe there are secret agreements. they told us they were disagreeing, but in fact, some of this is theatre. putin received rex tillerson. they reignited their coordination, military coordination and cooperation between the two superpowers in syria. should that be cause for optimism? at this point only the tiniest steps are being taken and can be considered improvements. we do not want deterioration, and even at the height of the cold war we had summits between presidents and ways to try to ameliorate
the relationship. i think this is a good thing, you do want engagement, you don't want a freeze on relations. but i don't hold out any great optimism that these two powers are actually coming together or even really making deals. if they do come together it reminds me of the first world war, where they carved up a whole continent, remember, between them. if they think they can carve up the world between them, it's not good news for the world. to ignite a war between the two superpowers, what are we achieving here? i believe coordination is the best way. they managed to reach some sort of understanding. that is why president putin accepted the idea of meeting tillerson and i believe what we have seen is completely different, what they agreed upon. the tomahawk missiles did not solve any problems but created more. it did not actually topple bashar al—assad in syria.
it didn't change much. i'm surprised some people are saying the american policy towards syria has changed. it has not. it is exactly the same. trump and his administration do not want to be involved in syria, they are happy to see putin deal with isis in syria. in addition to syria and afghanistan, we had the attack this week, us special forces also had issues in yemen in the early days of his presidency. trump is also attempting a bit of what used to be called gunboat diplomacy. the problem of pyongyang has, the president admitted, forced him to re—evaluate his attitude to china.
a currency manipulating, us—job destroying rival is now a much needed ally. he's not the only one courting beijing, though. on friday, the russian foreign ministry let it be known that sergei lavrov, the boss there, had been on the telephone with wang yi, his chinese opposite number, to discuss the same thing. in terms of the north korea problem, do you think both moscow and washington are overoptimistic about the amount of influence that china can bring to bear on north korea? first of all, i think the international community, whatever it is now, should hang its head in shame over north korea. nothing was done. the world was clinging to these resolutions of the security council, which don't work, just like they don't work in the israeli—palestinian conflict. sticking to them as if this was like a bible. no, it's not. i think trump, in a sense,
is stirring up this pot. suddenly china is waking up. thinking, we need to do something. russia, which has had to have some really active policy, is waking up as well. in a sense it is dangerous, what they are doing, but it has woken up the world to the problem. something needs to be done. it isn't. i think one of the most terrible things that has happened is the way the un has been sidelined, and actually the reason it does not work well is because members of the security council, the big thugs of the security council, refused to do the moral thing and they have refused it over israel and refused it over syria. the point is this, i am really worried that we are talking here in terms of the big powers now. 0k, china, the ones who have the weaponry. superpowers. actually, what happens then
to the muslim countries and the guerrilla warfare that is actually now global guerrilla warfare? have they not learned anything from vietnam, that big bombs and big politics do not destroy a determined guerrilla army? i am really surprised by trump and these problems, he is a warmonger. his popularity is going down in his own country. he is changing his mind every day. he is not consistent at all. he has no strategy, nothing, but to throw bombs. he throws missiles, syria, the failed state, the mother of all bombs in afghanistan. those people who cannot respond. we do not know how many civilians we have killed. do we think that north korea could respond ? that's the problem.
i wish north korea would respond. no! we have had enough of this warmongering, to be honest. why trump is going there and threatening this and that, throwing bombs at muslim people, innocent people, killing them simply because he wants to show he is strong enough... we don't want this warmongering. we want peace and obama was absolutely correct in his policy. when it comes to north korea, let's not pretend they are not warmongering as well. they are not an innocent party. do they have the capacity to deliver on the threat? in america, donald trump does. north korea is building up its arsenal and it is certainly capable of hitting american allies, particularly seoul and japan. it is cause for concern. this maverick quality of donald trump, his unpredictable nature is reaping good results because it keeps the world on its toes.
i'm not saying i subscribe to that, but there is this line of thought. the problem is you have two mavericks now, kim jong—un and donald trump. when you have two in this explosive environment, i'm afraid of what can go wrong. and you've got putin, and remember, pakistan now has a nuclear weapon. india does too. we will be dead. israel as well! one of the things that really frightens me is because of this posturing and this maverick dropping bombs, because of russia in syria, and iran's role as well, we will get into a third world war without even knowing it. nuclear weapons prevent a war. you still believe they provide the stability? of course. i don't understand this call for getting rid of them. the un did nothing about
north korea for decades. in terms of what happens now... in any part of the world. let's not forget, that this north korean so—called military potential is a village. nobody is going to fight for kimjong—un in north korea. if they realise that the threat is real of an attack, they will run. how serious is the suggestion that china can rein in north korea? this is the other interesting point. moscow and washington seem to assume that, london suddenly thinks china has that degree of influence. does it? i think it has a certain amount of leverage. the historic ties between china and north korea are described in beijing as lips and teeth. its actual ability now, especially with kim jong—un who was a lot more unstable than his grandfather, has complicated things. you have donald trump being schooled by the chinese president, after ten minutes, realising it is notjust a matter of china
ordering north korea what to do. china does have power when it comes to oil, that is how north korea keeps its economy going. it is not without leverage but to think china can actually dictate to north korea is a mistake. i'm not a big fan of the way china is in terms of freedom and so on, but is it not good that china is coming across as the wise old man of this world? it is not going in for this histrionic politics, which will take us to the edge. we need wise men. we need people... and women! we need wise leaders. women and men, whoever. we don't need warmongering. we don't need that. but these wise men did not do anything with north korea
for decades. that is the problem. something has to be done. there is one problem nobody talks about, south korea. they are provoking north korea all the time. nobody talks about this at all. they have all these manoeuvres on the borders, propaganda targeted at north korea. south korea is a strange country, by the way. it's not this democracy. maybe that's one for another week. in ankara this weekend, another president is hoping voters will enhance his power. recep tayyip erdogan has called a referendum on whether he should become an executive president, abolishing the post of prime minister and, say his critics, removing existing checks on his power. perhaps surprisingly in a country where he's cowed the opposition, locked up many critics, including journalists, and has been turkey's dominant political figure for more than a decade, polls suggest the result will be close.
is there a danger he could actually be trumped, that he could lose this vote? it seems we will have more than one trump! to be honest. this man is actually trying to revive the ottoman empire legacy. he wants to be a new sultan. he deposed and he sacked everybody who was opposing him. 100,000,140,000 people sacked from theirjobs under the pretext of martial law. the military coup. 50,000 people arrested. extraordinary figures. 118,000 arrested. now he divided the country, the country is completely divided. he is surrounded by enemies.
all over, everybody around turkey is the enemy of turkey. iran, syria, greece. romania, bulgaria. even russia are not really at ease with him now because of... even the economy of this country, the erdogan legacy, he was elected simply because he presented himself as a moderate muslim. a democratic man. a very progressive development, a good economy. now if you look at the situation, he is not democratic, he is arresting journalists more than mozambique, for example, again the economy is going down. it has lost almost 50% of its value. i would like to speak. my turn to speak. let me finish. i believe, honestly, we do not know what will happen in this referendum. he is already sacking ministers. my turn! i think we have to go back and look at some of the things and try and understand.
one thing we always used to say in africa, leaders used democracy to get elected then clung on. now we see it happens everywhere. everywhere. the thing is, when turkey was a secular democracy, a muslim country with a secular constitution, it had all these very well—placed safety nets, freedoms, it's when that path went towards the islamification of turkey... i am a muslim, i do not want the islamification of secular countries like turkey. we are using religion to divide people. the so—called islamists are not islamists but muslim state believers. it's a terrible thing, taking away critics and journalists. if eu had accepted turkey into the eu club, i think ten years ago, when obama was asking them, we might be in a different place. does the prospect of a sultan in ankara worry washington? which is why we haven't seen such
a strong condemnation out of the trump administration or the obama administration to this point. turkey is a member of nato and has been a bulwark for the us. this regrettable... they have stayed out of the referendum, they have not made any intimations as to whether they think it is a good idea or bad idea. i think they will just let that one run as it will. what i am afraid of and what we are seeing in turkey is indeed somebody who is centralising all power
in himself, who sees enemies around every corner, and the things he was elected to do, to develop the economy, have gone sour. we have a president who is acting like an executive president already. let's not pretend he does not hold the power. russia did its best to have good relations with turkey. even after they shot down russian planes, even after that outrageous, i would say, murder of the russian ambassador, russia did not respond in a way i would have responded, to be honest with you. not yet. for the ambassador, they should have been punished. all the problems erdogan has are of his own making. his foreign policy is a disaster. such a pivotal position, just because of geography if nothing else. nato does nothing
to influence policy. does nothing, never said a word about the quashing of freedoms. the journalists. we are very critical of him. come on. they should have sanctioned them for this. what he is doing, the sanctions should have been used. i think he will get away with anything. for a russian to start talking about human rights abuses makes me laugh out loud. why not? the number of prisoners in russian prisons! don't compare the two. that might be an argument for another day. in terms of if he loses, what difference will that make? will that be the beginning of the end for erdogan? i think he will be more aggressive and he will try to come back after nine months as the constitution says. he could have another referendum,
exactly what happened when he lost the election, the majority of parliament, he called for another election and he managed to create a new alliance with nationalists. that's interesting. the secular side in terms of politics almost seems to have given up the ghost. the opposition is in disarray there. which makes it all the more incredible to me that in the polls, it shows this referendum is close. you would think with the intimidation going on against the no campaign, and the fact that journalists have been purged, the media are completely in the hand of this administration. you would think it would show overwhelming support for his being given these powers. but secularism is such a deep part of turkish life and history. people really grew up on it. to see their country becoming like iran is a terrible shock. this man will be there.
he wants a mandate to do everything he wants. if he does not have this mandate, he is going to impose his will on his own people. i believe turkey will be more divided, and the economy will suffer more. is the solution, therefore, since you say it will be a worse situation if he were to lose, is it better that he wins it? i can't see how that would be a great outcome. it wouldn't change. the man is another sultan, he wants to behave like that. we will know the result by the beginning of the week. that's it for dateline london for this week. we're back next week at the same time. you can, of course, comment on the programme on twitter @bbcshaunley. goodbye. good morning.
the forecast is one that benefits those on break. not much rain around, but some dry and quite sunny weather to enjoy at times. turning warmer, after a chilly start overnight. will still stay frosty, especially in the south, and quite cold out there at the moment. as we start the day, we have high pressure to the west of us, low pressure to the east, the northerly pressure bringing cold air notjust to us but to a good part of northern and eastern europe as well.
now, most will start dry and bright across the northern half of the uk. so let's start the forecast for easter monday here. there may be one or two showers across parts of scotland, but a brighter day to begin with across northern england, and indeed northern ireland. northern ireland should stay dry throughout. but showers and rain, sleet to lower levels. sleet and snow in eastern scotland will drift away southwards through the day, followed by much, much sunnier conditions. whereas further south we start off with the cloud, and maybe the odd spot of light rain and drizzle for parts of wales, the midlands, into the south, in particular. there will be very few showers through the day. most will avoid them. if they do come your way, they will be fairly fleeting. and notice how the clouds break up, more sunshine developing through the afternoon. so again, just about across—the—board, more of you will see the sunshine on easter monday than you did through sunday. these are the temperatures to finish through the afternoon. in the sunshine, should feel reasonably pleasant. we finish the day with lots of showers in northern england, and they will drift down the eastern areas to take us through the night and into tuesday. as they ease off, the skies clear, the wind falls that little bit lighter, temperatures will plummet.
for those of you in the northern half of uk, it will be the coldest night of the week. away from the towns and cities, temperatures —5 to —7 in some parts of scotland, most just about avoiding frost across the south. probably a bit too much breeze into tuesday, could bring the odd shower, and we could see the odd spot of rain in the hebrides a bit later. but for the commuters, a cold start to tuesday, but for those on holiday it is looking like a good day. most places dry, with lots of sunshine. a bit of a fresh spring day, but that sun is strong enough to make it still feel reasonably pleasant. then, as we go through wednesday, a high establishes itself across the southern half of the uk. we will see westerly winds pushing into the south of scotland. that will bring the cloud, the odd spot of rain, that will push into parts of northern ireland, as well, keeping the temperatures up here on wednesday morning. but further south, this will be a colder start to the week. one or two of you could
get down to —6 or —7. couldn't rule out the odd shower to the south and east, but most places will be dry and fairly sunny. goodbye for now. hello. my name is tom donkin. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. here's our top stories: turkey's president, erdogan, narrowly wins the referendum which will vastly increase his powers. he says constitutional changes will now go ahead. translation: today, a decision made by the turkish public is an historic decision. it is not an ordinary day. piling pressure on pyongyang. a senior us official says president trump will involve china in finding options to deal with north korea, but stopped short of military action. and the death toll rises to 126 after saturday's bomb attack in syria. and paying tribute to the little tramp. why hundreds of charlie chaplins got together in switzerland.