defense ministers of seven countries in the coalition against isil meet to discuss new ways of stepping up the night. that is the u.s. secretary of state meets his russian counterpart to try to work out differences over the syrian peace talks. ♪ hello there, i'm felicity barr and this is al jazeera live from london, also coming up, the pakistani taliban condemns a university attack where 20 people were killed and dozens wounded. he is the master at the art of the deal. he is -- >> and sarah palin, darling of
the u.s. right throws her support behind donald trump. ♪ defense ministers from seven members of the coalition against isil are meeting in paris. that meeting is being jointly hosted by france and the u.s., the con tries contributing most to the fight. recently the coalition's current military strategy is not producing fast results. ash carter outlined part of the coalition's strategy. >> we are as the minister indicated enabling local, motivated forces wherever isil has spread as the only practical strategic approach not only to defeating isil but also sustaining its defeat
thereafter. and jacky rowland has more from paris. >> reporter: this battle against isil is proving more difficult, more protracted than they had necessarily suspected at the beginning, and of course, we're just talking here about isil in iraq and in syria. we have to remember as well that they are growing in strength in libya, a whole completely different operation, and also carrying out individual targeted attacks in places as far afield as burkina faso and here in paris as well. this is not a conventional enemy or war, so a recognition that people fighting them have to think out of the box, if you would like, in the way to move forward with this strategy to try to weaken isil and their ultimate goal, obviously to defeat it. that paris conference is
taking place as u.s. secretary of state john kerry meets the russian foreign minister sergei lavrov in zurich. both scheduled talks were expected to focus on the setup of a transitional government. they are due to take place in geneva on january 25th, but there are doubts on whether or not they will go ahead. >> translator: we discussed a number of measures which have to be taken in order to provide for a ceasefire. obviously, apart from isil and al-nusra, they remain our enemies, they cannot be subject to a ceasefire, and we will continue to fight them. >> paul brennan is in zurich for us right now. paul, why is there so much doubt about whether this round of talks will go ahead in geneva on the 25th?
>> because they don't know who is going to represent the opposition at those talks. there is a dispute between the russian-syrian side, and the u.s. and opposition sides. in riyadh last month, a group formed around the opposition side, put named delegates forward who were going to be representing the opposition side at the talks in geneva, and then at the 11th hour, russia and syria objected to some of the names on that list, saying that they belonged to groups that the russians and syrians regard as terrorists groups, and that there wasn't enough representation from so-called internal representation groups, they are people who would be fighters on the ground, regarded as puppets of assad. they are simply there for cosmetic purposes. so there is a deep divide between the two sides as to who
is representative of opposition sentiment. given that, the invitations about -- the invitations to come to geneva have not been able to be sent out, because we don't know who yet will be able to attend. so when sergei lavrov finished the talks he basically said we hope the talks will take place, but we don't know the date, but we hope they can take place before the end of january. and john kerry left without any comment at all. >> thanks, paul. ♪ the day after a shipment of aid arrived in the besieged syrian town of madaya, al jazeera has been hearing from the people living there. they say they are grateful, but above all want the siege to be lifted. >> translator: first of all i have to say thank god for what
we have received. but let's face it, it is very little. what the u.n. brought us may last 15 day, burr if the siege continues we will relive the same misery. we need help. >> translator: the u.n. help was good, but it's never enough. people were dying of hunger, starving. any help that is coming can't feed the children after what they have been through. we are cooking but we are still hungry because we are worried about what will happen next. there's not enough milk. we thanked the world for everything, but all we want them to do is lift the siege and open the roads, so we don't have to be stuck here. >> translator: the hardship is still here. it didn't go anywhere. there is no wood, no heating oil, nothing. what can i tell you? the situation is still miserable. we hope they open the roads and lift the siege. the sooner the better. isil fighters have destroyed
the oldest christian church in iraq. s satellite photos show it reduced to rubble. isil fighters have already destroyed historic buildings they consider contrary to their interpretation of islam. iraq's prime minister has vowed to go after those fuelling sectarian divisions in his country. government-backed shiite fighters have attacked sunni owned businesses and mosques in the town. civilians are getting caught up in the cross fire and are having to flee. >> reporter: the streets here look calm for now, but the mood remains tense. while many school children are back in classrooms, and bakeries are selling bread once more. the remanents of last week's sectarian violence are easy to spot. from the wreckage of a cafe,
attacked by isil because it was frequented by shiite militia men, to the burned out remains of a sunni market. >> translator: the sunnis are often accused of siding with isil and harboring terrorism. >> reporter: this sunni family are so scared, they have asked us to blur their faces and not to reveal their names. the last thing they wanted to do was to leave. >> translator: we were ordered to go. we were forcefully displaced by the militias. now i have my entire family living in one room that i can barely afford. >> reporter: for the time being they have moved here, and have no idea when or if they will be able to go back. >> translator: many houses owned by sunnis were fire bombed in the last few months. members of our community were killed too. now we have got nothing but the mercy of god.
>> reporter: the town has a population made up of both sunnis and shiites. since isil was pushed out in 2015, shiite militias have essentially been in charge of security there. anger from the sunnis has been rising. when iraq's prime minister visited on tuesday, he vowed to restore security for all residents. so to many sunni lawmakers those promises ring hollow, and they are openly accusing the government of not doing more to protect sunni citizens. >> translator: there have been many violations in several towns and villages. we see the retaller to attacks. >> reporter: iraq's security forces and government are stretched very thin.
the threat of rising sectarian violence only makes an already volatile situation that much more dire. mohammed jamjoom, al jazeera. at least 20 people have been killed in an attack on a university in pakistan's northwest. a splinter group of the pack tanny taliban claimed responsibility. but the head of the group has strongly condemned the attack. >> reporter: security forces now patrol the field alongside the university. gunmen had earlier taken advantage of thick winter fog to scale the walls, storm buildings, and open fire on students and teachers. >> translator: we heard firing from the back of the campus. we thought maybe some people were fighting. then the gunfire increased. we said stay in the rooms, don't go out. then the security forces came. >> reporter: classes at the university had begun for the day. 3,000 students study here, and there were hundreds of others at
the university too. 600 special guests were there to mark the death of the man who the university is named after, he was the founder of the liberal anti-taliban political party. universities in this province, the same region where fighters attacked a school in december 2014, killing 134 children. that attack was linked to the pakistan taliban. reaction spurred officials to crack down on the taliban and other fighters, hundreds of suspects were killed or arrested. and this latest attack security forces combed the campus for hours, looking for gunmen. they say they are now confident they have killed them all, and an investigation is underway, leaving families and thousands of students to mourn the dead. and al jazeera's kamal hyder has been inside the university
campus, and sent this update. >> reporter: the attack happened at the time where there was dense fog over the area, the attacker using the rear wall of the university compound from where they were able to enter. the attackers also came into the guest house of the university, where one of the employees was present. ironically, you can see his picture lying on the sofa, he was killed right next to this particular spot. after that the attackers were able to get into the boy's hostile, but it was because of that fighting heard by other students, that they immediately barricaded themselves in, locking all of the doors. now the security forces responded with a swift action by coming into the compound. they were of course followed by the elite commander units of the pakistani military. there would have been heavier
casualties today had there been a slow response from the security forces. however, there will be question marks as to whether intelligence should have been better informed and security forces more prepared. pakistan is facing a huge challenge because its adversity is now taking on soft targets and the university is one of them. all of the universities and educational institutions have now once again been closed until the security threat is over, and this is happening just a year after the deadly attack on army public school, which left over 140 students dead. all right. still to come on the program, why china has detained a swedish rights activist. plus the search for a president, a palestinian reality show like no other. ♪ the only way to get better is to challenge yourself,
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>> let's take a closer look. hello again, and a reminder of the top stories on al jazeera, ash carter has called for meeting of all 26 countries involved in the fight against isil. meanwhile the u.s. secretary of state john kerry and the russian foreign minister sergei lavrov say there are no plans to move the date of next week's talk over the fight in syria. and a splinter group of the pakistani taliban has claimed responsible for an attack on an university which killed at least 20 people. police in turkey and germany say they have broken up a
sophisticated human smuggling ring. officers say syrian refugees were sent across the mediterranean in freight ships into europe, 35 people were oar rested during early morning raids. they said the traffickers would be directly responsible for the deaths of any refugees. >> translator: those who cram more than 1,700 people into the holding space of a run-down cargo else have that is ready for the strap heap and then set the autopilots for the it tailian coast a line and get themselves to safety, those people risk or accept in case of an accident the death of those people on board. and the dutch prime minister has called for more action against people smugglers. he also had harsh words for the migrants and refugees who arrive in europe. >> we want to do two things kill this business model of the boat
smugglers, these cynical people who earn money through which many people die on the seas, and secondly, we have to kill the idea that the refugee himself or herself decides to which country to go in the european union. it should be the european union telling somebody, you go to lithe wania, or germany or the netherlands. and four syrians living at a camp should be brought to live with relatives. they faced intolerable conditions. the case could set a precedent allowing other refugees waiting at the camp to come to britain. the u.k. government had insisted the group had to seek asylum in france. the 46th world economic forum is underway in switzerland. around 1500 business leaders and 40 prime ministers and heads of state are taking part in the
networking meeting. but the summit is being overshadowed by the falling price of oil and china reporting its lowest economic growth rate in is century. >> reporter: there is snow, plenty of it, but also more bad news on the economic markets, the news that oil had fallen to below $28 a barrel. news that chinese markets were down 15% over the entire year so far, leaving people with a lot to talk about here. the oecd is one group we heard a comment from, its chairman who said the situation is worse than it was in 2007. our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturn is all used up. that's a pretty scary thought to
think that things could be worse than it was before the crash of 2007, and we're seemingly powerless to do anything against. >> the only question is, we continue to rely on the central marker -- bankers. they have done out of ammunition. it's a time for the finance ministers, trade financiers, innovation ministers, it's a time to go structural. it's a time to go green. it's a time to go institutional. it's a time to go social. it's a time to do all of the structural measures that we did not take in the last four or -- >> reporter: all long-term things, though, aren't they? which is good. but we have also got to brace ourselves for a short-term crash
then? if we had to say these were long-term issues in 2007, 2008, perhaps we would now be in better shape. >> reporter: so not the most positive news, remember, though, it is a networking event, not something that will come up with a communique at the end, but certainly the focus has moved away from the stated goal of talking about what it calls the fourth industrial revolution, and on to more pressing concerns in the global economy. the falling oil prices dragged the russian currency to a record low against the dollar. russia's economy and government revenues are suffering because of the country's dependance on oil which has plunged to 12-year lows. a suicide bomber has killed at least seven people in afghanistan. police say a mini bus carrying employees of an afghan tv
channel was targeted. so far no one has claimed responsibility. tunisian riot police have fired tear gas of up to a thousand protesters who are demanding jobs. a night curfew has been imposed after a jobless man committed suicide two days ago. the arab spring started when a struggling market seller also took his life. the european union has voiced its concern after chinese police detained a swedish activist. he has been accused of running an unlicensed human rights group in china. >> reporter: he is a swedish national. he is also cofounder of an organization known as the chinese urgent working action
group. he emerged about ten days of he disappeared that he was being held on suspicion of endangering national security. he appeared on tv apparently confessing. he said that he admitted that he had violated chinese law through his activities. he said that he new he had caused harm to the chinese government, and hurt the feelings of the chinese people and apologized sincerely for what he had done. his group, according to a statement, they promote the rule of law in china, by providing legal aid to chinese people who allege that their human rights have been violated, and help train chinese lawyers, but according to state media, it says his detention is part of a police operation to smash an
inillegal organization. and it said this group gathers, distorts and fabricates information that would hurt china, and have accused the group of stirring up disputes and provoking confrontations with the government. al jazeera spoke to the swedish prime minister and this is what he told us. >> of course we are working through our channels -- all of the channels that we have, and one important message is that at least sweden need to have contact with our citizens also in china. >> reporter: now the conservative politician, sarah palin has officially backed donald trump as the republican nominee for president. the former alaska governor is the highest profile person to endorse the candidate. >> we are ready for a change. we are ready and our troops deserve the best. a new commander in chief whose track record of success has
proven he is the master at the art of the deal. he is one who would know to negotiate. only one candidate's record of success proves he is the master of the art of the deal. he is beholden to no one, but we the people. how refreshing. he is perfectly positioned to let you make america great again. explosions at a fireworks factory have devastated a village in china. at least three were killed and dozens injured. further explosions caused shock waves which damaged homes in the province. in a little under 30 years the world's oceans could contain more plastic than fish. in that is the warning from the world economic forum. after interviewing hundreds of experts, the report concluded use of plastic had increased 20 times in the past half a century and is expected to increase as
the global population grows. plastics use is expected to double again in the next two decades. most plastic is used once and then thrown away, about 30% escapes collection systems. the equivalent of a dump truck of plastic ends up in the ocean every minute. the ceo of the plastic pollution coalition says it's time governments took action. >> any government that is alarmed by this new report and this information can take major steps to choice alternative materials right now and cut down on the amount of single use and disposable packages that they are allowing to be produced within their country, and implement extended producer responsibility so that companies that package their products in these kinds of disposable
materials are required to take them back. a tv show is giving palestinians the chance to choose a new president, at least in theory. auditions are being held for contestants who think they can do a better job than the current president. our correspondent reports from bethlehem. >> reporter: it has all of the ingredients of a successful series, dramatic music, nervous contestants, a tough panel of judges, and a major prize, but the program, the president, isn't like other competitions. the winner isn't awarded a record contract or cash, the top prize is the palestinian presidency. at least hypothetically. these auditions are for the second series of the president. contestants are given only a few minutes to impress judges with their ideas on how to solve major issues such as unmroim,
political infighting, and the conflict with israel. >> translator: i'm focusing on projects that will allow for palestinians to remain in this land, carry on, and find the future that meets the minimum of their ambition. >> translator: my priority would be to make an all-inclusive national program. to allow for further political participation and belonging as a culture. >> reporter: tv critics say the success of the program has much to do with the real life unhappiness with the real president. two thirds of palestinians want their 80-year-old leader to resign. this man conducted the poll. he says the refusal of abbas to call elections that ends six years ago has hurt him less than
what little he has accomplished during his 11 years in power. >> his legacy will be that he showed to take small steps and to be very, very slow in implement ling them. >> reporter: the president's unpopularity is not lost on most contestants, all here say they would be a better leader. it's now up to the public to decide who will go on to win. although hundreds of reality show competitors believe they could do a better job than president abus, he of course remains the palestinian leader, and with no elections in site, he will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that the vast majority of palestinians want him to resign. school children in south africa will soon be speaking mandarin.
the government's piloting the project in at least 30 schools, but critics say priorities should be textbooks and providing proper facilities. you'll find much more on many of the stories we're covering on our website, as ever, click on to aljazeera.com, aljazeera.com. ♪ the senate is getting ready to vote on whether to let syrian refugees enter the u.s. another brutal day for investors across the globe as business leaders meet in switzerland for the world economic forum. >> we will not stop working for the people of flint until every single person has clean water every single day no matter what. >> reporter: michigan's governor trying to make amends after that disastrous hdl