tv BBC World News America PBS December 12, 2011 2:30pm-3:00pm PST
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america. >> this is "bbc world news" america. honoring the fallen. the fighting in iraq is over. the troops are coming home. and president obama and prime minister maliki stand side by side. >> a war is ending. a new day is upon us. and let us never forget those who gave us this chance. >> syria holds local lexis -- elections, but in a country racked by violence, many are choosing to boycott instead. >> taking scotland by storm. after arriving from china, it was time for the panda pair of sweetie and sunshine to meet the press. >> welcome to our viewers on p.b.s. in america and around the globe.
the troops are coming home, but america is not abandoning the middle east. that was president obama's message today as he stood beside prime minister maliki to mark the end of america's military commitment in iraq. after nine long years, on december 31st, the last american troops stationed there will come home. can america be influential there without having boots on the ground? here is our coverage. >> prime minister maliki asked to come to arlington national cemetery, where many of those thousands of americans who died fight negligence iraq are buried. he and president obama honored the dead. and for mr. obama today, a warning to iraq's powerful, overbearing neighbor, iran. >> we are partnering for regional security. just as iraq has pledged not to
interfere in other nations, other nations must not interfere with iraq. iraq's sovereignty must be respected. >> he said america shot an equal relationship with iraq. the prime minister acknowledged american concern over iraq. we will not allow others to interfere, he said. president obama has kept a promise on iraq. america's military involvement is at an ent. the troops are nearly all home. about 6,000 remain there, and they will be leaving soon. a massive u.s. embassy remains behind in baghdad, and we should expect engagement that we won't necessarily hear about. and there will be aid and training programs galore. otherwise, america is leaving behind this fragile democracy while terrorism still lurks. a week ago a bombing killed and
injured scores of pill grips here. with the u.n. and iraqi forces copy? much rides on whatever professionalism and tabblingtal ability given them by the americans. as it begins a new chapter, it remains the object of strategic competition between the united states and iran. america wants a democratic, oil-rich gulf ally, and iran wants a friend to move its leadership in the middle east. >> does it fracture its will or does it top meddling. how does america see in its future? what does iran have in mind? a new future starts now. adam brooks, "bbc news," washington. >> for more, i am joined by the
former u.s. ambassador to baghdad. thank you for joining me. i want to start with the idea of the beginning of a new power game there. it is going to be hard for the u.s. to influence that without boots on the ground? >> well, the u.s. will have to learn to play a different game with different means. with the departure, the relative role of regional powers will increase. we could have a kind of rivalry as a dominant external game for iraq, and the u.s. would have to build on what has been achieved in this new setting, relying on training, on joint exercises, maybe with the joint security commission, with diplomatic and plig means and intelligence rather than huge military means to play its
role. but iraq will be testeded, and iraqi application, whether the political leaders can rise to the occasion and cooperate, those would be important determinants of where iraq goes. >> iraq will be testeded, but so, too, will american interests in the region. it is clear that what america wants from iraq is not what iran wants from iraq. you have this balance of power between america and iran which is shifting with the end of u.s. forces in iraq. >> there is a u.s.-iran dimension, no doubt, and there is a difference of attitude, although the u.s. and iran both wanted saddam out. but beyond that, beyond the establishment of a temperaturic iraq in which the shiah majority was empowered, there are significant differences between iraq and iran.
we would like to maintain military presence beyond the end of this year, and the iranians are opposed. they used their influence cleverly to preclude such a presence. but now we can adapt by using intelligence as a means and some of the other military relationships with iraq. turkey willles be very important. that is the other key player. >> when you were the ambassador to baghdad, and you envisioned the day that american forces would be leaving the country, are they leaving the country better off or worse off than you had imagined back then? >> well, i think it is better off than the dark days of 2006 -2007 when the country was threatened to fragment along sectarian lines.
i didn't think, frankly, that we would be completely out militarily by the end of this year. but this is a new chapter. we need to adapt, and aadaptation means we need to rely on our relationships, but also the military supply relationship and much more. >> thank you very much for coming in. >> great to be with you. >> how can you have an election in the midst of a bloody crkdown? in syria, opposition activists have decided you can't. they have boycotted the election. the u.n. says 5,000 people have been killed in these protests which show no sign of ending. from turkey, here is the story. >> syria is a country divided.
today between those who voted and those who are still fighting. and then there were those who chose to protest. those opponents of president al-assad mocked the elections by holding one of their own. here they protested in a different way. here almost everything is shut. the likelihood of any voting taking place in neighborhoods like this is not high. these pictures are said to be from the contested city of happens -- hams. 10 people are reported to have been killed here in the past 24 hours. a local election has little relevance here. but in government strongholds like damascus, people did come out to videos. these are, says the government,
the first step in its own reform program. they said they will give more power to local administrations, but insists president al-assad is the only figure who can deliver both reform and stability. but with programs half the country racked by violence and no independent monitors, the value of this exercise, if any, is impossible to judge. the millions who have turned against president al-assad, to them reform is necessary. it has cost perhaps 5,000 lives, but they won't stop. once the voting is over, the struggle will continue. >> nine months of protests and now the u.n. says 5,000 have been killed in syria. thousands of russian radios have taken to the streets of moscow, apparently in support
of vladimir putin, who has faced calls to two. a spokesman for vladimir putin say the allegations about the elections eight days ago do not undermine the legitimacy of the vote. noriega has arrived home 22 years after being convicted by the us. he was extradited from france where he was imprisoned on money laundering charges. there is uproar in britain tonight after prime minister david cameron went before parliament to defend his refusal to sign on to an e.u. treaty last week. mr. cameron said he was acting on evening's -- england's best interests. but there are questions. here are the details. >> david cameron must be
counting down the days to the christmas break. his decision to veto an e.u. treaty last week have left him with a painful reminder of the tensions in the own coalition. in the house of commons there was talk of where is playing, talking about the absence of the deputy prime minister. his calls for the safeguards for the financial sector weren't heeded. >> i have to tell the house the choice was a treaty without proper safeguard or no treaty and the right answer was no treaty. >> nevertheless, the prime minister went on to argue that britain was still very much part of europe. >> i am clear it is possible to be a full, committed and influential member of the european union, but to stay out
of agreementses that don't pro toket us. >> they said the u.k. has been isolated. >> we will rue the day when this prime minister has left britain alone without alleys. it is bad for business, bad for jobs, bad for britain. >> the last time david cameron appeared in the house of commons, skeptics in his own party told him to show some bulldog spirit. since the summit they have been praising him for his stance, and there was more of that today. >> he has stood up for democracy. he has stood up for treaty and free markets. this is to be commended. >> but as the prime minister fielded questions from friend and foe alike, the fall-out from last week continued to cross the channel. there was still a shaking of heads at britain's decision to go it alone. >> i regret very much that the
united kingdom was not willing to join the new fiscal compact. i regretted it as much for the sake of europe and its crisis as for the sake of british citizens and their perspectives. >> the bigger question, of course, remains whether enough was really done in brussels to save the euro. if the answer to that is no, then the row may seem a bit of a side show. "bbc news," westminster. >> a feisty day in parliament in london there. the political net of pleasing your base is not just a british preoccupation. in the u.s. we have seen plenty of it in the republican race for the white house, and it can produces incendiary results. newt gingrich said this week the palestinian the are an invented people. it hasn't gone down well.
here is what he said when he was asked if he was a zionist. >> i believe the jewish people have a right to have a state. remember, there was no palestinian as a state. it was part of the ottoman empire. we have had an invented palestinian people, who are arabs and part of the arab community. they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons, we have sustained this war against israel now since the 1940's. i think it is tragic. >> he will discuss other things. we turn to the contributing editor of the foreign institute. what has been the reaction in the middle east for what mr. gingrich said? >> there has been quite a bit of tumult. people have been very upset,
especially the palestinians, who have had a long history of the allegation that they are an invented people. there have been books published by various zionists at various points in the past basically arguing the palestinians don't exist as a people. it has been a name applied to some people who lived in the area. it is a kind of sensitive allegation for a lot of palestinians to hear, and they have reacted with a great deal of anger, i think. >> and the arab league came out and said they criticized the comments. it seems to me that one of the problems with a statement like this and the response in the middle east, it plays into an arab suspicion this is what americans think of them? >> i think it is very damaging in that respect. even if you are aren't the president or a senator, a remark like this could cause a
lot of damage in american foreign policy. i found it striking that mitt romney weighed in and said essentially i agree with his characterization of palestinians as being all terrorists, but i don't agree with the part of the palestinians being an invented people. in another interview, gingrich returned to his remarks and pressed the issues harder. that is not helpful for american foreign policy. >> neither of these people are president or the elected leader of america. how much damage can statements like this do? >> i think it can do a lot of damage because it feeds into the perceptions. it confirms the image that a lot of arabs already have. >> can americans do to calm the waters? is there something that would
be appropriate at this juncture? >> well, i think it is appropriate to perhaps distance one self from the statement that they are an invented people. it really is a very incendiary allegation. it would do something to calm the water if the republican candidates were to distance themselves from that remark. problem is the republican candidates have been working hard to outdo each other in their support of israel. there is not a big voting block of palestinians in the united states. i don't see it does that much harm to a candidate when he or she rushes to show their support for israel. interesting to see how this plays out. >> thank you very much for coming. you are watching "bbc world news" america. still to come, flying high.
we get a thing of what it takes to keep up the fight. >> david cameron has been meeting the king of bahrain and encouraged him to bring in reforms. after their meeting, the king told the bbc he was looking to britain to help him reform things. >> he is seeking britain's help and advice on implementing reforms. david cameron has urged him to move swiftly. he says it saves time for real change. >> what we are looking for is to move from dictatorship to democracy, to move from a prime minister empowered for 40 years to a prime minister to be elected. that is what we are looking for
and what we are willing -- meeting with the prime minister of england, to discuss that issue with the king. >> in bahrain, the protests and clashes with police in villages continue. many protestors want an end to the sunni monarchy do not. one says he can live with the constitutional monarchy, and he is really to dialogue with the king. >> the king, seen here receiving a damning report on human rights abuses told the bbc he plans to invite in all the political parties, including those from the opposition, but most remain skeptical. bahrain's government was hoping they would draw a line after the uprising. this gulf state is now deeply divided between the sheer
opposition and those who support their government. franc gardner, "bbc news." >> it was hoard enough getting thousands of troops -- hard enough getting thousands of troops and equipment into afghanistan. it may be harder getting them out of the country. it is harder because of the pakistani blockade, which may not be lifted for weeks. there is a base in kyrgyzstan, but it may disappear when the lease expires. here is the report. >> an angle of the u.s. war effort that outsiders don't often see. logistics high in the sky. this is how the u.s. fuels the fight literally, by pumping fuel into fighter jets and
bombers. >> this is pretty incredible. these fighter jets come you will really close, as close as six feet. >> at any given moment, day or night, there is always a refueling plane above afghanistan. once done, we head back across the mountains to central asia. this region is the back stage of america's war effort in afghanistan. it doesn't make the headlines, but it is crucial to the fight. not only fuel. virtually every coalition soldier comes through this air base on their way to or out of afghanistan. >> this provides a location where proximity matters. is allows the international efforts in afghanistan to be
sourced much quicker than it could from other locations around the world. >> but now kyrgyzstan's new leader says he will shut down the base when the lease runs out in 2014. this could seriously complicate logistics of president obama's planned withdrawal. with pakistan increaseingly unreliable. the americans have been courting other central asian leaders. >> it ends on a very high note. >> this was hillary clinton on a recent trip to uzbekistan. this president used to be regarded as a pariah ya in washington, but they have lifted a ban against them. >> why the u.s. is doing it because they are pretty scared.
2014 is quickly approaches. they not only need to get a lot of material into afghanistan, but they need to get a lot of troops and equipment out. they clearly don't feel they have all the routes they need. >> president obama's priority is to he said the war and get these soldiers home. but deals made along the way could have a lasting impact on this troubled region. "bbc news". >> now to a recent arrival in scotland causing quite a stir. last week, the first giant pandas to lift in britain for nearly two decades came in from china. today they were supposed to be showing off for the cameras, but as lorna reports, they are taking a rather different approach. >> he is one-half to what is hoped will become a famous panda pairing.
he was eating and occasionally walking around his new home. sweetie is a little more camera shy, apparently taking a nap, are set to be box office bears. >> he was eating the bamboo. she is a bit quieter, but she has settled in nicely. >> the pandas can see each other through a small opening. they have been calling out and tushing pauses. but they are solitary creatures and will only come into close contact tomato. the female will only be in season a couple of days a year. their life is sleeping and eating. he has been eating 30 kilos of the bamboo a day. >> and it is costly. 70,000 bounds a year for food,
600,000 pounds a year for the loan of the pandas. >> they were a lot smaller than i expected, but it is nice to see them up and about. >> they are big and cuddly looking, but you know that under all that, he could rip you apart. >> though these rare giant pandas, every need is being pandered to to keep them happy. it is hoped if all goes well, panda cubs will follow next year. >> sweetie and sunshine just wanting to be left alone. that bring's today's program to a close. from all of us here, thank you for watching. see you back here tomorrow.