tv Dateline London BBC News September 10, 2018 3:30am-4:01am BST
anti—immigration party, the sweden democrats, has gained nearly 18% of the vote. neither the ruling centre—left, nor the opposition centre—right coalition has won enough support to form a government alone but both are unwilling to work with the democrats. north korea has been marking the 70th anniversary of its foundation, with a series of big events. for the first time in five years it staged a mass games — a gymnastic display featuring thousands of entertainers. but the tone was more conciliatory than in previous years. russian and syrian jets are reported to have resumed intensive strikes in provinces of idlib and hama as government forces step up their assault on the rebels‘ last major stronghold. a russian—iranian—turkish summit on friday failed to agree a ceasefire. the united nations has warned of an "imminent catastrophe". now on bbc news, dateline london. hello, and a very warm
welcome to dateline london with me, tim wilcox. this week, we discuss the perilous situation for millions of civilians in idlib as government forces prepare to clear the last remaining rebel stronghold in syria's north western province. there are warnings of a blood bath after a summit between the presidents of russia, turkey and iran — where it was hoped a deal would be struck, ended in failure. and with the long, hot parliamentary summer recess finally over — where are we in britain's brexit saga? my guests this week — greg katz from the associated press, the french magazine editor agnes poirier, the british political commentator steve richards
and the writer on arab affairs abdel bari atwan. welcome to you all. lovely to see you after the summer break. we start in syria where for weeks the un has been warning of an impending humanitarian disaster as government and iranian forces, backed by russian air power, try to clear rebel fighters living among some three million civilians on the turkish border. last minute appeals for a truce in idlib to avoid a blood bath by turkey's president erdogan at a summit with presidents putin and rouhani were rejected. everyone was hoping a rabbit would people out of a hat in that summit and it hasn't happened. where do we go now? disaster. definitely a military option will be the dominant one. simply because putin and rouhani agreed they should storm the city and finish the al-qaeda affiliated organisation, al—nusra.
there are about 15,000 fighters who belong to al-qaeda there, and they gathered in idlib deliberately, so this is the final attack. president erdogan was very worried because he knows three million people of idlib could fall to the turkish border. the consequences of a strike thereand any more bloodshed are huge, just in terms of the refugees and everything else. in terms of the militant groups, the hds, president erdogan reluctantly designated them a terrorist organisation but he allowed many of them across the border at the start of the civil war, so is he paying the price for that? he is paying the price for that because he actually encourage them, and he was the last one who considered al-qaeda troops there or organisation
is a terrorist organisation, because he has no other options. president putin said clearly that we are going to fight until death because they will be massacred. he is scared that those people could infiltrate, go back to muslim or islamic republics in the russian union. this is what scared them. so i believe putin could go to the grozny option, which is destroy the whole city. you also have the military base, greg, not far away from idlib. essential for the russians. putin does not want any groups like this running close to that. there is no sign of the west. where is america and the un? that is what was remarkable about the summit yesterday, it symbolised the end of american
influence and diplomacy on this specific conflict at this time. the americans started stepping back under president 0bama and trump hasn't reversed course and if anything wants to rid himself of the problem. western europe and the us were absent yesterday, quite indicative of how strong president putin is at this point, and how he and rouhani are calling the shots. nobody is listening to the un envoy. nobody has really listened to the un on anything this week. not a stellar week. unless president assad was to use chemical weapons and infuriate trump personally, i don't think we will see the us getting involved. president trump has said that he would get involved if there was chemical weapons. that is what he does, twitter diplomacy.
it is striking because we talk about us being usually a big player in the region but for once, it started before, it started with president 0bama outsourcing. 2013, the conflict was outsourced to vladimir putin when he just let him deal with the inspection of the chemical weapons. president putin said he would disarm the regime of the chemical weapons and none of that was monitored in a way. and the russian forces have been in syria ever since, and now, you know, president erdogan has been the voice of this in the west. because of the high tension between president trump and president erdogan, it didn't happen. it is strange to see president erdogan as the voice of reason, saying we need a ceasefire. it isn't the voice of reason, it is the voice of worries because he could play a very heavy price for this. if two million fall to his country, how will he handle that?
he already has 3.5 million. when he export them to europe? president trump said we spent $70 billion in syria. spent it were? to those people, not building hospitals and schools or actually to train them to and then. it isn'tjust his problem, all these millions of problems in turkey, it is a european problem and it has been for three orfour years and we have seen the consequences, steve. president erdogan has a strong card internationally — if this happens, what will happen? i can't contain this. the answer will be incoherent because the european union have also struggled with this issue. i know we will come on to brexit later but i willjust say now that the whole issue of asylum seeking and immigration, which are entirely different issues, became completed in that
brexit debate. there were posters, if remember, of syrian refugees coming into the uk and the european union, nothing to do with free movement within the european union. and this issue of asylum seeking is distinct and has fuelled the right across large parts of the european union and yet as you say if turkey can't take another three million, what happens? and to what extent can europe have a coordinated response, which was merkel's hope when this crisis came up a few years ago. there was no response because when others tried to cooperate, there was a rise of the right, they were terrified and backed away. i remember angela merkel coming to ankara to meet with president erdogan,
they had a lot of money and an agreement to deal with the refugee crisis on its territory. so i don't know where we are at on that level but, you know, there is a lack of coordination. there was this huge refugee crisis during the summer a few years ago and there was an attempt to deal with it and there are 28 different members. and they failed to pull back from that deal. there have been several deals were president erdogan said he couldn't deal with it any longer. if 800,000 go across the border if there is bloodshed, it becomes an international problem and you were saying yesterday it was striking it was carved up by these three powers, all of them facing us sanctions. this is modern warfare at its worst. it is a slow motion disaster unfolding. all of us know it's about to happen and people feel powerless to stop it. you have turkey trying to seal the border which
presumably will not work. none of these solutions will work but probably russia and iran and president assad will reach their objectives. the war started, putin started bombing the rebel area three days ago. and the same thing, the syrian army is massed around idlib. it could happen any time. the problem which we are facing, what will happen to the civilians? i believe president assad is about to issue a pardon to everybody there saying, ok, the syrians should come back but what are they going to do with the foreign fighters? they have no other option. they will fight to the death. exactly. because they know if they surrender they will be executed, they will be liquidated completely. so this is the problem. what will happen to those people? as i said we could see anger in a mosel scenario, we could see them surrendering and executed.
we don't know yet. putin decided to go ahead with the military option and i think nobody can surrender. there does seem to be a deal between the states and rouhani and putin, which is they won't allow iranian forces close to the border and just as an adjunct to that, where are we in terms of that particular crisis implications of what is happening in syria and elsewhere? and any peace deal there, given the history we had of the us embassy being moved tojerusalem and whatever? what is happening on that? because i know we were discussing this before. to go away from syria, in gaza now there are talks between hamas and israel, and the egyptian president sisi
is brokering a deal between the two sides. they are looking at a long—term ceasefire to improve the lives of two million people besieged in gaza. we know there are some problems and president abbas of the palestinian authority is out of the picture. europe is playing a major role in helping this because they are scared that if gaza reached the point of explosion, it could create a lot of problems for the israelis, egyptians and everybody in that part of the world. this is another thing taking place. it is interesting but the saudi issue is over, in other words. there is what they call a grand deal which is actually the united states trying to apply to them the recent crisis. it started with moving the embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem...
just on that point, greg, if that is true, how big a deal is that for the states and fortrump? he is desperate for any diplomatic triumph and i don't see any indication this is around the corner. jared kushner is intimately involved with negotiations but trump needs the success and if he can pull anything out of this, it will boost him. i am not surprised if president trump has been interfering by military means, saying, enough is enough and trying to divert this from the crisis inside the united states and go to syria. we don't know yet because there is honestly a threat. many people in the middle east are saying we could have a confrontation between russia and the united states in syria. i hope it doesn't happen. well, we will see how this develops over the next week or so, or days, in terms of what is happening in idlib. let's turn to the other big issue, certainly in the uk and around europe.
so after a long, hot summer of skirmishes and political in—fighting outside westminster, parliamentarians can return to open warfare on the green and red benches back inside the palace of westminster. time is running out in terms of any deal. theresa may is still clinging to her so—called chequers proposal — and even cut short her alpine summer holiday to pitch it directly to emmanuel macron. steve, bring us up to date. you've been quiet on idlib and syria! is chequers dead? i know a bit more about this one than i do about idlib. it is the most extremely situation of british politics in that we are in september now and we are meant to be out of the european union by march, and nobody, from theresa may onwards knows what form this is going to take. it is extraordinary. as you say, she clings to her set
of proposals from chequers like a battered shield, claiming at least i've got a set of proposals. and that is true, there aren't many others around. and yet already, since everyone came back from the summer break, the former brexit secretary david davis has said quite openly and logically he will vote against it if it comes to the house of commons. boris johnson, the former foreign secretary aching to be the leader and therefore prime minister will vote against it, and they will carry with them quite a lot of conservative mps in a hung parliament. nobody likes it. michel barnier has described the chequers proposal as insane, illegal and unfortunate? some others have been more moderate in their response. this is a multilayered drama and part of the unknown is quite how the negotiation with the european union will go. but what is absolutely clear is it
will be a negotiation. however much some leaders might work to move towards her, she will have to move to some extent towards them. so when she brings back a deal, if she brings back a deal, it won't be quite this. it'll be watered down from this, which is already an acceptable to some conservative mps. the issue then will become when parliament in the uk votes on it, i think she will say, look, it's this or no deal. i still can't see how she will win this vote. it is an extraordinary situation. it is the commons and lords, then it has to go to
the other 27 eu members. yes, the european parliament and other parliaments. time is running out. apart from anything else. a lot of things are unclear at the moment. what is very clear is that the clock is ticking, to use that cliche. and i don't quite see how this is all done... i tried to avoid it in my intro! it is a cliche but there are a lot of them around. she took off her alpine walking boots, swapped them for flip—flops with leopard—print or whatever to go to emmanuel macron and he gave her short shrift. i mean, is anyone going to bend and help theresa may out of this? well, there is a slight change of mood and it's been taken place in the last few weeks, i think. i'm going to give the european view here. it's very tempting on one hand and it has been very tempting in the last two years just to let britain drift to oblivion, because... apart from the consequences for europe. of course.
it is a shambles and it is an historical mistake, probably. but now what is happening in europe, and emmanuel macron is now going towards the elections next spring and that will be between progressives and populists and nationalists. and we need britain onside. we can't let britain drift away. and i perceived some slight change of mood that, you know, it might be tempting to let britain drift away but it is not practical and we need britain and we need a deal. we need to help britain and save face and just this week, barnier was trying to be very practical about this. you know, the irish question. the irish stew, to add another cliche.
let's go into details. just explain that. a frictionless trade agreement. if you don't want a hard border between northern ireland and the republic of ireland, you need perhaps the irish sea. of course, it's not acceptable but it actually would mean probably less controls because the flood of goods between the uk and northern ireland is actually quite minimal. so you could have ports outside of ireland, you could have on—board checks with technology. 0r visiting customs officials europe. that is what barnier has been using on this week, trying to be very practical. so that we can perhaps get to a deal because a no deal would be bad for everyone, not only for britain. i'm told that theresa may
have decided a no deal would be calamitous. that is not the view of some in her party but that is her view. however, the irish question is... i mean, you give a practical example of a solution but as ever with britain and anything to do with europe, the politics are so complicated. i don't think that the unionists, with whom she has a formal relationship with at the moment to keep her in place, in effect, in that hung parliament, would accept anything which suggests that northern ireland is in a different place to the rest of the united kingdom. and so immediately it becomes problematic in terms of the internal politics of this government and this parliament. and so the irish question as yet is not answered. and i think the more hardline brexiteers are saying the technology will be there soon. speaking of the hardline brexit supporters, a lot of them would say wto is perfectly 0k. it won't be the end of the world.
it will be bumpy. what about the canada plus option? canada plus plus! to me, none of these pieces fit. you can look at a zillion options but none of them make sense. i don't see that resolving the irish question, i don't see how you are going to make this work in the timetable that now seems insane. so when we talk amongst ourselves and we say if they will fudge it and push it back a year, even doing that is not easy. they have put themselves in this tremendous fix by invoking article 50 without a clear plan so anything you come up with, canada model, norway model, technological solution to the border which we have tried to look at the technology involved and it isn't clear. none of these things really work and certainly not by march 2019. this must be getting close, if not surpassing arab politics. where do you see this one go now? having seen paralysis on so many other global international problems, how are we going to fix this with just a few months left? honestly, i think you think
the whole world is talking brexit, solutions. honestly, there are much bigger problems in the world. sorry. i believe now, you know, europe, the european union is busy with other things. there is economic war with the united states now. they have problems with refugees. you know, they are trying to find a way out of these problems so brexit is the last thing they are thinking about. this is one thing. second thing...
we have to. i know you have to. you need a charismatic leader. you need parties not fighting each other, the leadership. it is a very critical time for britain and despite that we are talking about borders, soft border, hard border. you need a referendum again. you need a referendum. reverse brexit to go to another referendum. a 10% chance. this is the only way it happens, and it might. there could be parliamentary paralysis in the uk parliament and while you are right, there are many other huge issues globally, this would be big in the uk. if she can't get her deal through, to reason they, and there is no majority for a no deal, there is paralysis. prime ministers are always against referendums until it could possibly save them or the crisis that the whole place is in. david cameron was opposed to them and held endless numbers to his cost and,
arguably, the countries. harold wilson held the first one on europe, was opposed to referendums and then discovered he liked them. it is just possible that if there is a crisis, paralysis, no party is leadable on it, that the main party leaders decide that we should take this back and let the people tell us what to do. i put it at 10% but it is not impossible and it might be a way through. trump said post brexit we will have our own deal... this was before the trade war with china and everything else. where are we on that front, in terms of the sounds coming out on twitter at 5am? he has other concerns at the moment, obsessed with finding out who wrote the new york times article about him. he is doubling down on the trade wars and he thinks he's got great job numbers and wages are going up in the uk. the economic report yesterday was a major boost in the midterms. a lot of that has been front loaded perhaps before the real trade war proper starts with the 200 billion
on chinese goods, so people seem to be doing a lot of trade and business before the possible impact on the us economy. absolutely. in terms of the optics coming into the midterms, it was a good day. and just thinking about emmanuel macron and barnier and everyone else, do they feel sorry for theresa may and think she is the least worst option? that's the thing, and barry is completely right when he says you need perhaps not a charismatic leader but perhaps a strong leader. a divorce leader? a newly divorced leader. this is a reference to borisjohnson. there are many problems with him becoming prime minister, including this — that the context in which any british prime minister is operating is part of the problem.
a hung parliament, the european union with the set of rules that is attached to it. it doesn't change if they change prime minister. last few seconds. a fudge? something will happen, because it always does. something will happen but the thing is open. i think perhaps it will be rejected by the british parliament, perhaps it will be considered not good enough, but i have the feeling that they will come up with a deal. look, i'm sorry, we have to leave it there are. great to see you all back refreshed and ready to go for another parliamentary term with everything we have been discussing and see what will happen with the situation in syria. that is all we have time for this week. do join us again next week same time same place. but for now, thanks for watching and goodbye. hello again. after a mixed weekend
of whether we start the new working week ina of whether we start the new working week in a similar vein. we will see some outbreaks of rain at times, fairly breezy conditions over the next few days. the warmest weather a lwa ys next few days. the warmest weather always to be found to the south. monday dawns with some sunshine to many but showers across western scotla nd many but showers across western scotland as we go through the day, cloud will thicken up across northern ireland with rain here at lunchtime and spreading into western scotla nd lunchtime and spreading into western scotland with some patchy rain per england and wales. not quite as warm on sunday but still highs of 21 degrees and is to go through monday night, this went on blustery weather pushing up through northern ireland scotla nd pushing up through northern ireland scotland and northern england, pakistan into parts of wales and
england, the odd heavy burst of rain to the south—east. quite warm and humid night, a bit cooler and freshen up to the north—west. it's going to be a warm day in the south of tuesday, maybe twitty five degrees but all this turning cooler with some rain by wednesday. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is ben bland. our top stories — in sweden's general election, the far right party gains almost 18% of the vote. north korea is celebrating its 70th anniversary. mass games follow a huge military parade. as the bombs fall on idlib province, the un warns of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe in syria. and heading for the great pacific garbage patch. a giant clean—up operation sets sail. election results in sweden are showing the far right