tv Dateline London BBC News February 25, 2018 2:30am-3:01am GMT
the truce would allow for aid and medical evacuations. parents who fear their daughters have been abducted by boko haram jihadists in nigeria have released a list of more than 100 names. up to now, it hadn't been clear how many girls were missing following the attack on a boarding school. president muhammadu buhari has called it a national disaster. there have been clashes in italy during rallies and protests a week before the general election, with immigration at the top of the agenda. in milan, police with batons beat back anti—fascist demonstrators who tried to break through their lines. in rome, the prime ministerjoined an anti—fascist rally. now on bbc news, dateline london. hello and a very warm welcome to dateline london.
i'm carrie gracie. this week, we look at the continuing carnage in syria and discuss the latest twists in the brexit debate. my guests this week: the conservative political commentator alex deane, marc roche of le point, the american writer and broadcaster jeffrey kofman, and the columnist for the gulf—based newspaper the national, and arab weekly, rashmee roshann lall. thank you. welcome to you all for coming in. barrel bombs, air strikes and shelling by syrian government forces have killed nearly 500 people this week, many of them children. eastern ghouta, the besieged area on the edge of the syrian capital damascus, has been described as "hell on earth". the un has called for a ceasefire. rashmee, you've been following this nightmare — do you see an end to the suffering of people in syria? i think the response to that question should certainly not to be
along the lines of what the united nations children's fund issued. its institutional heart was so heavy that it could not describe the suffering of the people of eastern ghouta, and it simply issued a blank statement, saying the truth is beyond language, there is nothing further to say. you describe it then, what is it, is there an end in sight? i would say, one has two recognise words can have the quality of deeds. so let's look at the facts, let's use words to do that. the facts on the ground are that syrian‘s president, bashar al—assad, as long as he checks in with moscow, he can pretty much do whatever he wants in the country. as long as he has robust foreign support. the facts on the ground are there has been a stand—off with the un with much of the world trying desperately to get this very small concession
which is a humanitarian halt to the siege and starve and strike strategy that assad is using. they can't do it because the russians are stopping it. the facts on the ground are that the syrian regime is there, it's not going away, and one finds it's very hard to understand the rational basis of what some trumped administration —— of what some trump administration officials describe as a return of the syrian state, not return of the syrian regime, kind of approach. they are not going anywhere, it can end if we recognise the facts on the ground. you are a north american, jeffrey. what's your view on the trump administration recognising facts on the ground? listen, we saw a year ago in april '17, when the sarin gas was used, that was the red line in the sand, and to trump's credit he actually responded. the air strikes destroyed 20% of the syrian air force. so
so what assad has done, there is a red line, assad, i can do chlorine, these huge bombs, all sorts of carnage. but if i don't do chemical warfare per se, i can get away with it. that is what has happened. this will not be solved with american leadership. america is in the midst of a nervous breakdown. it is too internal looking right now to care about this. so, i despair because i don't see how this will work. russia is playing chess, the rest of the world is playing checkers. of course, we can hope and in some way, there must be a solution, i struggle to see where it is. marc, france, long experienced in the middle east, the french pushing hard for that un security council resolution. is there a game of chess that can be turned into checkers or vice versa? the problem is that in the security council, russia, who has a veto and is a prominent member, who knows very well the un
because of the court, is making the situation impossible. so, the only hope with america being a bit out of the game is france. and britain. they have one armament they can use against the assad regime. it's russia. it's hardening the sanctions. and if you think that there are lots of putin's friends who have property in britain, property in france and on the cote d'azur, here at the chelsea football club, the owner is close, so they could seize all this. but of course britain and france love russian money so they would be any help. so i am, at least on a moral issue, france and britain, they are showing the way. it's no accident all of us have mentioned russia and the involvement in the assad regime. long gone are the days
when president obama mocked mitt romney for calling russia the threat of the future. now we blame russia for everything from hacking the internet to the beast from the east with a that we are currently seeing in the uk. —— weather system. here i think criticism of russia is very well founded. as well as russia's formal forces on the ground in syria, which are significant, we see the operation of companies like wagner pmc, private military companies, mercenaries, to you or me, that are on the ground embedded in assad's forces, fighting against the kurdish anti—assad forces. indeed, why this matters so much, fighting against the americans directly, so we are seeing russians albeit not in russian uniform but it seems with the blessing of the kremlin in operation up to 2,500 of them, fighting alongside assad's forces directly against americans. it's an incredibly dangerous situation, so it's notjust about what happens in syria to solve it, also the potential risk of americans and russians facing directly.
earlier this month, we saw a confrontation between russian and american forces in which the western side claims 100 russians died, the kremlin admits several dozen did. much more of that. and i think we get dragged into a conflict in a way we saw for much of the 20th century, bad news. i think we must understand that for russia there is a lot at stake here. this is syria, strategically so important. the only russian mediterranean base is in syria, so russia want to keep their foothold geopolitically in this area. the us is focused elsewhere. presumably for the russians it stands to reason that they want to give their syrian allies time to finish off the rebels on the edge of damascus. carrie, there are a lots of arguments that say we should prevent the collapse of the syrian state. libya is not a shining template, nobody wants to go there.
and so, this is not about rewarding bad behaviour or giving carte blanche to callous leaders, it is about if we care about the suffering of the syrian people, we want it to stop. the trouble is, marc's point was the french and british responsibility applies. we were for assad and against assad and for assad again and now we are not sure. 0ur foreign policy seems to be that he should go but on balance we would rather the state did not collapse. a contradiction. indeed, indeed. the weak point is that the sanctions. the sanctions, they cannot put up with more sanctions. the economy is doing badly. surely rashnee's point is we need to let the syrian people out of this misery and do i understand correctly, you are basically saying at some point, the syrian government should be assisted in finishing this in as civil a way as possible? basically what we are understanding is there maybe a arrangement with mr assad, we may talk
about that at some point, he has mentioned it from time to time. maybe because the russians have him by the short and curlies, let the situation get to there. if people can help, help. if not, get the message, get real and get out. you bring up libya and i covered libya for abc news. i think you are right. the failed state solution is one we all fear now. and iraq very much is like that as well. what i worry about that is it's easier to let things bump along and let the people of syria suffer horrendously manages to find —— and let the people of syria suffer horrendously than it is to find a long—term solution. particularly in today's world where you can talk about this concept of empathy but i think that we as consumers of media in the west are so beaten down by the imagery, as i was preparing for this and reviewing some of the footage last night, it's really hard to watch. if you go to the bbc's website,
it's much easier to go to some list article on bus speed than to look at these children suffering. assad is a war criminal. he should not be allowed to do what he is doing. who is taking the leadership to say that? i mean, look, we are sitting in london, where is the outrage from westminster, where is borisjohnson on this? fatigue. the fatigue. jeffrey, more to the point, who can enforce that? the russians. the russians, yes. can i bring up iran? we talked about russia and syria and the dangers involved in that, you spoke about that, alex, but what about iran in syria? that is another question. that is in a way balanced because israel and iran balance each other, they are not really the main proponent, it's russia. without the russian air force, assad is dead.
so it is russia we should target. iran in a way has hezbollah, their side to the story. alex, what do you think about the question of borisjohnson. much distracted about events with brexit. is there a role to the uk in actually showing leadership here? i think there is a significant role for our country and this discussion, and we have a moral responsibility given our history and heritage in that region. but i do think we should not overstep our bounds. if we are going to act in this environment, if you break it, you own it. if we intervene significantly and if assad were to go as a result, two big ifs, who goes in his place? what is our responsibility for propping up that regime? sometimes the pragmatic answer is that this terrible person running his country is better rather than propping up a new regime for which we bear of the responsibility that cannot go well. war criminals sometimes have to be tolerated? yes.
and leaders sometimes had to stay in office. he is a war criminal, not a bad leader. he isa he is a war criminal. he is the president of the country though. just move on, what about the united nations? we had the french ambassador talking about this being a key credibility moments, notjust should it be the graveyard for many syrians but it also should notjust be the graveyard for the un security council. is it is now 11 times russia has blocked the resolutions on this? has vetoed them? there is a paralysis here, the russian agenda and the rest of the world's agenda are in conflict. the structure of the un is now paralysed and the credibility very much at stake. basically every major international issue like this has failed to be resolved because of the kinds of power imbalances. the veto. in the end, we form these so—called
coalitions of the willing and if something will happen here, that's where it would be. the un is doing a terrific job, a very good job, with the 5 million refugees. it's good for other things. 5 million refugees. we must move on but a yes, no answer. if there were listeners or viewers to this programme in eastern ghouta today, yes or no, is there any hope for them in the nearfuture to an end of the air strikes and the siege they are living under? no. rashnee. there is always hope. i refuse to say there isn't. alex. i don't see it but i want to believe it. there we have to move on because of course, one of the biggest questions is brexit. ambitious managed divergence. that is the expression the british prime minister theresa may and her senior ministers came up with at a summit this week to describe their vision of britain's future relationship with the european union.
the president of the european council called it "pure illusion". on monday, the labour leader jeremy corbyn will set out his alternative. alex, where does ambitious managed divergence stand today? so our prime minister with the office comes a very nice country manor house, and she went with ten of her senior ministers, her brexit war cabinet, to discuss what happens next. there was some agreement amongst those people, not least in mutual recognition of goods amongst us and the eu. that matters because the conservative party has not been entirely united on questions about future relationships with the eu. you are right, the next step is what happens domestically in the uk between the government and the opposition. jeremy corbyn‘s position on this, perversely, given that he's not in government will be quite decisive for the mid—stage we are now looking at. he must decide, i'm amazed he has pulled off this trick of not really showing his hand, is he going
to come out in favour of us remaining in the customs union or a customs union, and if so, will he take the labour party with him to vote against the government? and the answer? i think he won't. putting your colours to the mast like that undermines him with many labour voters who voted to leave the european union, and makes a start position between him and the government with the government saying we are trying to implement the largest baby ever had in our country and you are seeking to stymie it. but putting aside principles, the practical political question is, could he defeat the government? that i don't know. if you stood up for the customs union, some conservative mps would vote with him. we will come back to that. i want to go back to that checkers moments, the kind of, some called it a fudge, others called it ambitious,
the prime minister playing a blinder. as someone not in the entrails of brexit everyday, do you feel you watch that episode and you now understood where the government stands on brexit? i am a politicaljunkie so i do understand it but for much of the world, if you compile the definitive brexit dictionary after all this is over much after march 2019, there will be these key phrases, manage divergences, the vassal state, cake and eat it philosophy. the three baskets approach. all of it goes on and on. basically, as one can understand it, clearly, the eu keeps expressing great surprise and the world dement at the british position. it's always been clear. its posture. the british want everything. they have said it over and over. which part of that event not understand ? whether it is unattainable or not. we have already heard the president of the european council is a pure
illusion, is there a route by which the uk can win all gain no pain? no, because you cannot cherry pick the single market or the custom union, you are in or you are out. the checkers compromise is purely for internal, because as far as the 27 are concerned, they will refuse it. it's a fudge? yes, a domestic fudge. you have on one side a very divided uk government, who is coming now with this cherry picking off, what they want. 0n the other side, which you forget, the 27 are all united. they all know what they to do, britain is isolated, britain has absolutely no cards. let's just checked... i just want a reality check. this is now more than a year
and a half into this discussion, we are approaching a year before the divorce, whatever you want to call it, that's the polite word. an open marriage! we are still talking about general terms and concepts. we have moved from brexit meaning brexit to these new terms that you rhyme off, yet we are not getting into specifics. it just shows that theresa may as you say has this impossible balancing act within her party. the country does not know where it's going. we should be concerned about the lack of leadership. there was an agreement in phase one. good. there will be an agreement on phase two, which will be bad for britain. it is moving on. the trade now is the most important thing. again, britain is isolated in trade, the illusions of grandeur
that they can get there on their own, it's a medium—sized country facing 27. this is a negotiation in which people are taking postures. the peculiar thing, i am not saying you were doing this, but the peculiar thing in our country, we look at what the government does and pick it apart, then we look at what the eu says, equally posturing on their side, and say here is the gospel handed down to us by these leaders of the eu. actually a lot of what's being said publicly is hot air in preparation for real hard negotiation, bad news for viewers who want to get this over and done with. it would be concluded until 01 next year. i wanted to point out the eu, the united position is likely to splinter and has already. why? it hasn't. 27... because the first post brexit budget of 2021 is starting to be discussed. we will see it in may, there are significant differences are merging and more will emerge over trying to plug that big hole,
10 billion euros. that is something the uk can take advantage of? indeed, one hopes they can, in the security cooperation field. the europeans must spend more on security. no one knows what it will look like, perhaps not even alex. the important thing is not the security, we all agreed. the brits need europe. the canada thing, this delusion that the uk will get canada plus plus, plus. the canada deal took seven years. alex is saying that's a posture. you know very well it does not include service, financial service. the canadian deal is not useless. more over, the average trade deal takes two or less and you must bear in mind the importance attached to a trade deal between us and the eu if there is to be one given we are each other‘s largest trading partners. this is not like forming a deal with another standard donation, it's not like forming a deal with another third nation,
the day we leave we will be europe's largest trading partner with who we operate a massive trading surplus. that point about splintering as fair, some countries will want things more than others and the closer you get to the finish line, the more... this is a particularly interesting week. monday, we have jeremy corbyn speaking. where alex began, it's critical we watch what happens monday. corbyn who has been defined as an ideologue has the potential to pitted to being a pragmatist on monday, and potentially we talk about chess and checkers, he could play a really interesting chess game. if he could force the government's hand there is a scenario that is not
outrageous that says he could force an election sometime this year. walk us through these steps, by peeling off rebels? by peeling off government rebels, by saying labour is now pro—customs union, or for a soft brexit. that would potentially bring it more to where the lib dems fit in. do you think corbyn will do that? i put my crystal ball away, i have been so wrong at this desk so many times. i think we should watch and see. then you have theresa may scheduled to speak friday to give her position, tusk has already said she is delusional. this is a critical week. what kind of partner pre—emptively slacks off the thing being said by the person they are supposed to be negotiating with? you want to cherry pick again. you two have been round that argument. i want to hear what you have to say about that dilemma. i hope he comes down to stay in the customs union and that this government, useless government,
very useless government, as far as negotiation is concerned. they will fall because at the end of the day the eu is faced with a government which is not knowing what it wants, it is divided, you need a strong... that is your hope for you think that will happen? i think that corbyn will go for the customs union. i think the labour leader will go for a customs union. i think it's all aboutjobs and the shadow foreign secretary saying, it's the right thing to think. not only does it put the debate in a new existential one for the challenge to the government in the house in a real way, then tory rebels must think, what do i do now, do i vote with the labour party in favour of a customs union, but i could bring down the government? they must decide whether they are a remainer before they are a tory. i think many will decide they are a tory before they are a remainer.
if corbyn does that, the other domestic thing to think about is he crushes the liberal democrats, which is a long—term labour party aim and with which i don't entirely lack sympathy. he crushes them because? they have been the pro—european party but if labour is pro—european and laugh and has the potential of getting into government, they hoover up lots of those lib dem votes. the lib dems have been fishing for a long time in the politics of the left—wing, so if labour is both and pro—eu... they must watch what happens on monday. they do not have an opportunity, they are not in the equation. i think that corbyn can really change the course of this debate. the question is whether he has the stomach to do it. you ask what is the lib dem
possibilities, i think constructive dispersal. laughter lam coming up with more terms! more vocab. it does not matter what happens to the lib dems. it matters that europe is going forward. there is the budget but also this emmanuel macron idea and phenomenon. for me, british policy, there is no leader, there is no macron, while europe has this macron who wants to create several state europe. if you are right and things are so unlikely to work out in a dialogue with the eu, which may be the case, then all the more do we need to look to our relationships with the rest of the world and build
trade deals with them. like it or not, we are leaving the eu. we must accept that reality. with no strings?! we must close, i'm sorry to all of you. thank you for coming in. hello there. if you were in the sunshine outside the wind yesterday, it didn't feel too bad. but it will get colder — not necessarily today. in fact, it will be pretty much the same as yesterday. we have a stronger wind in the south. but the wind is getting stronger and the air is getting colder
as we pull this cold air in from eastern europe into next week. so, yes, a cold start for our sunday morning, —5, —6 in the countryside, so maybe a little bit of hoarfrost around, some frost on the cars, even a little low cloud to clear, but that should clear quickly. the main changes through the day are a little more cloud for eastern parts of england and eastern scotland, so maybe a bit grey and cold here, even the odd snow flurry, but in contrast, we may see more sunshine than yesterday for western scotland, northern ireland and the far south of cornwall. but there will be a stronger breeze here, so more of a wind chill. it won't be a warm day anyway, as you can see, and especially so for the eastern side of england and scotland. the wind is stronger for england and wales at the moment but it does pick up in the week further north. and then it gets interesting through the coming night. look at this — the risk of snow showers. and they will be snow showers because look how cold the air is again through the coming night. so as they come into the cold air, they will fall as snow. so it is likely we will see the first of our snow showers.
several centimetres in a few places during the course of monday. again, the details will be quite difficult in the coming few days, but perhaps eastern scotland, eastern counties of england, the midlands as well at risk on monday, as well as southern coastal counties of england, possibly the east of northern ireland as well. so those are the the areas most at risk of a few centimetres of snow. it certainly will not be a warm day. we lose the sunshine, so it will feel even colder because the wind is strengthening, especially for england and wales on monday. so yes, a notch colder, if you like, that is the way it will feel. and then, the risk of disruption rises through monday night into tuesday with a more widespread area of snow coming in. again, the details are quite elusive as to where this snow is going to fall but there will be several centimetres, even at lower levels, such is the chilliness of the air with plenty of snow showers packing in behind as well. so i think tuesday, wednesday look like we will see significant disruptions of snow. temperatures falling away as well. we're losing the sunshine, the air is getting colder, the winds are getting stronger so the wind chill becomes pretty
severe from midweek onwards. as well as that snow — the snow will be blowing around, so you can see how deep and cold that air is. so for the middle of next week onwards, the wind chill becomes quite severe, we could have disruptive snow, of course, before then. bitter winds. yes, there will be sunshine, still best in the west, but the warnings are there are on our website. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is nkem ifejika. our top stories: after days of wrangling, the un security council passes a resolution calling for a 30 day ceasefire across syria. a list of 105 names of missing nigerian girls is released by their parents, following their suspected abduction by boko haram jihadists. thousands march in rival demonstrations, just days before italy votes in a general election. speak
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