tv Dateline London BBC News February 4, 2018 2:30am-3:01am GMT
this is bbc news, the headlines: a syrian rebel group says it shot down a russian fighterjet near the city of idlib. tahrir al—sham said the plane had been hit by a shoulder—launched anti—aircraft missile. moscow says the pilot ejected but was killed by rebels on the ground. italy's prime minister has urged the country to reject hatred and violence after six african immigrants were injured in a drive by shooting. the suspected attacker, a former candidate for the far—right northern league party, has been arrested. the local mayor has described the attacks as racist. the hollywood actress uma thurman has claimed that she was sexually assaulted by the film producer harvey weinstein in london in the 1990s. two other women have contacted british police to say they were also attacked by him. mr weinstein denies all the allegations of non—consensual sex. now on bbc news, dateline london.
welcome to dateline london. this week, we're discussing theresa may in china, trying to increase trade before brexit, whilst trading blows with the european union, and even some of her own colleagues. donald trump delivered his first state of the union address at the end of his first year as us president. he vowed to end the era of "economic surrender in trade" — who does he mean? and is it a bad business for the middle east if military leadership is on the rise again? with me are bronwen maddox, british political commentator, abdel bari atwan, who writes on arab affairs, italian writer and film—maker anna—lisa piras, and stephanie bakerfrom bloomberg markets. in china, they were calling her "auntie may", but back here in the uk,
she's more an "aunt sally", the target in a long—vanished game at whom players threw things in an attempt to knock it down. her absence from westminster was marked by yet another round of rumours suggesting time is running out for her premiership. there was a toy that used to be advertised with the tag line, "weebles wobble but they don't fall down." theresa may doesn't either. why not? she was there for a reason, she is one of a few figures, possibly the only one in the cabinet at this point that can bridge both sides of brexit. until it serves either side to get rid of her, she is there. but she wasn't there this week, she was in china for three days, and it was kind of muted. we had been wondering whether she would use this as a chance to make a big, "new britain on the world stage" kind of speech, and talk about britain after brexit, doing deals with countries like china and things like that, and she didn't quite do that.
she came away with 9 billion of deals and she did give one speech on business but she didn't come out against human rights or china's behaviour in hong kong, she didn't sign up on the other hand for the belt & road initiative. she gave them a bit of what they wanted and not other things and somehow it wasn't the great ringing vision of britain after brexit. a bit of a missed opportunity? if she wants to reassert her leadership with some kind of big vision of what is going to happen to britain in the world after brexit, this was the perfect occasion, so why did she not do it? i think she feels very uncertain herself about her future. as does probably the
rest of the country. the big question is why she has not fallen yet. i think the answer is because there is no one else on the horizon that seems to offer a stronger leadership. that is quite telling that she is the strongest of the options yet the consequence of how the cabinet is so divided is that she is almost a prisoner of them. definitely she is not strong enough actually to be a prominent leader of this country but what is the alternative, what is the morning after, suppose they succeeded to remove her? i think britain needs stability
in this time in particular. going to china, i think it was a very realistic move. you have to prepare for after brexit. i know many people criticised her because she did not talk about human rights. you cannot actually go and look for deals with the second strongest economy in the world and then lecture them about human rights or interfere in their internal affairs. i think she was a pragmatist. i think she is trying. maybe people say she is a dead body or something like that, but i think the alternative would be completely obscure. interesting point about the choice of going to china. we heard a former minister under david cameron, her predecessor, say it was good that she was going to china because too many ministers were saying we will have deals with new zealand and countries like that. china is enormous.
it was a modestly successful trip. she was seen to be out there... i think the issue overshadowing the trip was this debate about, is britain in a customs union or not, or does it have a bespoke customs union? the international trade secretary said it wouldn't work to have the uk in a customs union with the eu because it would restrict britain's ability to negotiate trade deals with countries like china. this is the nagging question that faces theresa may, that she has refused to be clear on, what is the sort of end state and what does britain look like post— brexit? it continues to dog her everywhere she goes.
the reason why she hasn't been clear is because she's balancing between brexiteers and soft brexit supporting remainers, within her cabinet and her own party. are there signs that perhaps some of the european countries are beginning to recognise the dilemma that she and the british government face? perhaps there is a desire that they're going to soften things a bit. is any of that going to happen when michel barnier arrives in london? i think he has been one of the main supporters of this kind of soft approach. countries are starting to realise that brexit will happen. yes, there was unity, everyone was saying no cherry picking, no cake eating, but now countries like italy should be the first to open the way to say, listen, this is going to happen so why don't we start being more
pragmatic and realistic? because the eu could lose by it as well as britain. yes, countries with a strong economic bond with the uk are starting to prepare the ground to say, what if we actually will be allowed to have our own bespoke deal with the uk? there are dangers in this because the moment when everyone starts having a bespoke deal with the uk is the moment the eu collapses, and the single market cannot allow that. but there is a real sense that there is more pragmatism, more favour for more bespoke deals. i think it is right that european countries are changing their view but i don't think that is the message michel barnier will turn up with. i think he will be more hardline. we will no doubt be
returning to this subject. the state of the union address brings the separation of powers on which us democracy is based to life in one place. senators, members of the house of representatives, and the justices of the supreme court gather to hear the president of the united states take the temperature of the nation and deliver his manifesto for the 12 months ahead. donald trump, who in so many other ways is redefining what presidential means, maintained the tradition and stuck to the script. that was tuesday. on friday, it was back to the bear pit of us politics, as president trump authorised release of information alleging the fbi had misled a judge whilst carrying out surveillance of his presidential election campaign. what is the state of the presidency right now? you havejust come back from the us. yes, we had the full view of american cable news. it reflects the deep divisions across the country and in washington which is now consumed with news of this memo that trump has authorised to be declassified, written by republicans on the house intelligence committee, accusing the fbi and thejustice department of misleading a federal judge in their application
to spy on carter page, a former trump campaign operative. the fbi director and justice department officials fought against the release of this memo, saying that the memo cherry—picked information and presented a skewed picture of how they went about getting permission to carry out surveillance on carter page. i think the issue here is you now have this unprecedented situation where the white house is basically at war with its own justice department and its hand—picked fbi director. trump picked christopher wray, the fbi director, he picked jeff sessions and rod rosenstein. and they all came in after the election so they can't be blamed. we haven't seen a split
like this since the nixon era, watergate, really. and so people are saying it is trying to undermine the fbi and the russian investigation, whether trump's campaign colluded with russia. the republicans are saying it shows that the fbi is politicised and cannot be trusted. it is remarkable that you have the republican party, the party of law and order, attacking the intelligence agencies and feeding into this conspiracy theory. the memo does show that the fbi cannot respond without revealing sources and methods. they can't say they didn't just rely on this dossier written by a former british spy, which had been paid for by the democratic party.
because they would reveal sources and methods. the fbi got intelligence from british and dutch intelligence agencies and that started the fbi investigation into russia. and as a result of another trump campaign operative, george papadopoulos. carter page had been under the fbi's watch for a number of years. i think it is disheartening. the democrats want to release their own memo in response. when i read this memo, i asked, "is that it?"
it is three—and—a—half pages. i later read that james comey thought the same thing. it is pretty thin stuff. the president could change the narrative. nothing about this is good for him. there is less in this particular memo than you might think. he needs to get the focus onto the economy, wages, jobs. it is interesting that at first he was quite presidential at the state of the union address. we had about 48 hours and then
all of this descends. this is the normality for the trump presidency, the constant fighting. will the republicans are broadly taking his side on this. so it is not going to split them away from him coming up to the elections, they are not going to try to distance themselves from this very unusual president. and so there is all that. there is nothing about trump and russia that is good for trump. it is midterm elections in the us. everything must be seen through the prism of the party battle. 15 years ago, as the drum beat of war beat louder ahead of the us—led invasion of iraq, the then us president and british prime minister hoped it would be a catalyst for change in the middle east, that their model of democracy was what ordinary people were hungering for. seven years ago came the arab spring, a wave of protests that dislodged some of the long—standing dictators, including those who seemed
to still be wearing uniforms under their civilian suits. are the military men stealthily returning to power, or did they never go away? the middle east is a huge mess nowadays. the people now are really starving. the problem is when the people seven years ago went into the streets they were looking for democracy, human rights, equality, fighting corruption. now the middle east is completely different. if you look at egypt, a major country in the middle east, now it is ruled by a dictator, a military dictator. until the closing hours of the election, one hour before that, he managed to find an opponent for the elections. making the point that for democracy elections are necessary but not sufficient in themselves.
he is looking for a scarecrow. the reaction among the people is very muted. you cannot see a very aggressive reaction. why? 40% of the people in the middle east are under the poverty line. less than $2 per day. people are looking for food. seven years ago we witnessed an arab spring for democracy. now we are actually on the edge of a hunger spring. people will revolt for food. the entire area, everything seems to be going really badly wrong. there are a number of interlocked and interconnected crises
which are going to degenerate in the years to come. that is why it is very very urgent in my view, and it is a subject of a film i have spent some time on for the past two years, to pay more attention to the global strategy of the eu, because what we need to do is stop looking country by country and try to have a strategy for the region. what has happened in tunisia has been interesting. there has been massive investment in civil society and especially in women. people spoke of tunisia as the one bright spot in the arab spring. there is not the same kind of strategy for the rest of the region. so we see the multiple collision of sectarian violence. tunisia was a successful example but what can
you do if your neighbour is libya, for example? a failed state and a lot of militias fighting each other. and when you have a million unemployed people, libya used to absorb 50% of them, now half of libyans are outside their country looking forjobs. the european union has proposed strategies but countries are competing with each other, having diverging economic interests and so you could perpetrate chaos like in libya. it is not like the region has been without european and american attention for years. it might not thank us for that attention. you have the economic unravelling you have described, with all the consequences of hunger and migration and all these things.
and you have a lot of sectarian conflict, one group against another, which demonstrates how hard it is to stop the winner taking it all. the economy needs stability. if you have at least five failed states in the middle east, a war in yemen, libya, syria, how can you have proper economic growth and find jobs for people? this is the dilemma. and so they need to promote peace before economy or anything else. you need the infrastructure for the economy to be established. if you compare egypt and tunisia, you can compare the western response to both countries. tunisia has embraced democracy and elections more forcefully. it struggled much more economically. it has been supported by the imf. but the conditions imposed by the imf on the loans have resulted in austerity, which has resulted in widespread protests and violence.
the western response is different in egypt. i don't think obama was effective in his strategy but trump is perhaps making it worse, abandoning us policy towards promoting human rights. sisi has used the war on terror for as excuse for his crackdown. and you have western leaders either saying nothing in the face of this, or president trump calling him a fantastic guy. what about other countries like lebanon and iraq, which are democracies and arguably have a stronger democracy? we have two crucial elections, one in iraq and one in lebanon. the backbone of this thing is sectarianism. these societies are divided.
civil society is actually deteriorating. a positive note about tunisia, as i am the only man at this panel, i would like to say that the women in tunisia actually played a major role to keep civil society. i met the president of tunisia and he told me that he is here because of women. he got a rough ride a few days ago because of the levels of poverty you were talking about. you were plugged into the foreign policy thinking in the early part of the century, with blair and bush. they were convinced that, if people were given the western model
of democracy, they would jump at it. is it possible there are parts of the world where people feel more confident in strong leaders, however unattractive they become? it depends what state they are in. if their country is in turmoil, a failed state, no food, maybe they might say that. i haven't come across many places in the world where people wouldn't want democracy if it was going to lead to a better life. you take iraq. this seems to be the mistake that tony blair and george bush made. with a lot of the american foreign policy behind them, they thought that bringing democracy in iraq would be fine, it would look something like american democracy, and what he got was a winner takes all. you got the shia majority, who had been suppressed under saddam hussein, suddenly finding they are in the majority, running the government,
and they then clamped down on the sunni minority. what about the model in lebanon where you say, sectarianism is here and it is real, but they force power—sharing with all elements represented? if you can, it is great. but it is so hard to get stable power—sharing. look at northern ireland, which doesn't at the moment have a government. if you cannot, you have to say the thrust of the policy in the last few decades is to separate people who can't stand each other. that would be rewriting the map. sectarianism is the most dangerous concept in our part of the world. it is how islamic state, isis emerged, because of sectarian iraq. we have to give stronger roles to the women.
tunisian success can apply to other places. in libya there has been a very positive outcome in investing in local administrations in civil society. you are right in saying that we shouldn't find that idea of redrawing borders. you should remember that those borders were drawn very artificially at the end of the second world war. and some of the other countries in the middle east at the end of the first world war. local administrations, civil society, these are things that need to be invested in much, much more.
it is hard from what you were saying that now, whatever lessons that could have taken from the neo—con era in washington, they have to roll up their sleeves. trump hasn't even appointed a permanent undersecretary of state for human rights. there is just an acting woman in place there now. his message has been consistently that his main concern is security and not democracy or human rights. what message does that send and how does it encourage leaders to act? you can say it is not like he is giving blanket permission in egypt for a crackdown, but those messages do count. they realise that, if there is no application for the actions they take, they feel a licence to go ahead. the problem is that american
policy is a huge shambles. trump's speech, he said, "we will destabilise iran. we are going to keep our forces in that part of the world, we are going to stick to moving our embassy in tel aviv to jerusalem." he is upsetting most of the people. how can you have a stable middle east while the biggest and strongest power has no human policy? thank you all very much and thank you for being with us. that's all we have time for this week. please do join us again next week, same time, same place. exceed what the weather is to in the
second half of the weekend and is looking a bit more cheerful, however it will still be on the cold side. this is what it like, most of the rain on saturday as kind of fizzled out, not completely. clear spells are developing and there is a touch of boston 12 areas that most major towns and cities, two or three degrees above zero. there is sunday itself. the north—easterly wind freshening. east anglia, lincolnshire. through the course of the day, we will see clouds building and that wind will drag in some showers. the best of the weather will be across western areas. this
is how close it will be. some snow showers potentially sunday night into monday across some south—eastern areas of the uk. stay tuned. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is duncan golestani. our top stories: syrian rebels say they used a shoulder—launched missile to shoot down a russian fighter plane. the pilot ejected but was killed in a ground fight. six african immigrants are injured in a drive—by shooting in italy. officials say the attack was motivated by racial hatred. more assault allegations against harvey weinstein. uma thurman's the latest hollywood star to say she was attacked. and disappointment for devoted fans as illness forces lady gaga to cancel the last ten dates of her world tour.