tv BBC World News America PBS December 22, 2011 4:00pm-4:30pm PST
>> this is "bbc world news america," reported from washington. renewed fears of sectarian conflict in iraq as a wave of bombings strike baghdad. nearly 70 people are killed and 200 injured. >> my baby was sleeping in her bed. shards of glass a fell on her. other countries are stable, how come we don't have security? >> the pentagon issues its deepest regret over an air strike last month which killed 24 pakistani soldiers. will this to anything to ease public anger. for one olympic hopeful, tyranny in gaza is yet another hurdle to reaching london in 2012. -- training in gaza is yet another hurdle to reaching
london in 2012. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america. there is a new iraq that is determining its own destiny, those are the words of president obama as the mark the departure of u.s. forces from the country. the future does not look good parent of the dangerous political crisis has developed between the shi'a prime minister and sunni vice president. -- the future does not look good. a dangerous political crisis has developed between the shi'a prime minister and sunni vice- president. today, the violence returned with a bombing that killed nearly 70 people and injured 200. this is a stark reminder of the dark days of war and sectarian conflict. >> it was a reminder of the horrors of the past and a warning of what might loom ahead. at the height of rush hour, 14
blasts across baghdad. the targets were 2 meters, the anti-corruption agency, even a kindergarten. this is the imagery of and iraq to cast backwards. people in golf by violence once again. in this home, a sleepy family was blasted into wakefulness. -- people surrounded by violence once again. >> my baby was sleeping in her bed and shards of glass fell on her. why don't we have safety and stability? >> suspicion is falling on the sunni extremists of al qaeda in iraq. during the insurgency, the violence increased. militias from the shi'a majority and sunni minority attack civilians. today's attack targeted areas where the two groups live and work together, a clear attempt
to sow political instability and sectarian fear. it all comes as the power- sharing agreement designed to end sectarian strikes is the unraveling. there is the demand from the shi'a prime minister for the rest of the sunni vice president on charges of running a hit squad. he in turn accuses the shi'a leaders of wanting to monopolize power. today, there was this morning for the government from the former prime investor. >> we have warned long ago that terrorism continues to be acting in iraq against the iraqi people unless the political landscape is corrected and the political process is corrected and ibecomes an inclusive political process. >> the attacks come just four days since the last combat troops left iraq. there was an assertion from the
president that sounded like a hostage to fortune. >> all of this has led to this moment of success. iraq is not perfect place, it has challenges ahead. we are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self- reliant iraq. >> the attacks were described as an attempt to the rail progress by the white house which calls on the rocky politicians to come together. that would take a will for a compromise that has so far been absent. there is now a very real sense of foreboding. >> for more on today's wave of violence and what it means for the future, i spoke to a retired u.s. army general. is this about the sectarian divide or is this about the u.s. withdrawal? >> this is about the sectarian
divide. the u.s. withdrawal has been announced for some time so the preparation necessary for these attacks was probably sufficient to pull it off. they wanted to do it with the u.s. departure. it probably has to do with the rift that exists between shia and sunni. that is less important than how the iraqis respond. how does the government respond? are they resilient enough? are the security forces sufficiently good to figure out who did this? >> i would like to ask you, who is a likely culprit. there is no claim of responsibility. >> there is sufficient blame to go around. al qaeda remnants that remain in iraq are very aggressive. shi'a militants exist as well. most of these attacks were in shi'a neighborhoods and they involved suicide -- the tactics, procedures reflect what
al qaeda has done. >> the sectarian divide has been exacerbated by the warrant for the rest of the vice-president following comments by the prime minister. is your assessment that they were just waiting for the u.s. withdrawal before effectively going after him? >> the timing is too precise. can you imagine what is taking place in baghdad and move it to london or d.c.? we would be stunned that there would be a ward for a senior leader's arrest. -- a warrant for a senior leader's arrest. there is no one there to step in. that is the role of the ambassador. this is amazing to me. >> how serious is this? >> this is extremely serious that the vice president has a warrant out for his arrest. i don't know what the evidence is for that warrant but i find
it amazing that the iraqi government immediately on the heels of the u.s. departure is dealing with this level of crisis. 70 dead, 200 wounded, no american forces in any way to help even in terms of forensics. the u.s. does a magnificent job of walking the trail of finding the guilty parties. working the network and breaking into it. i don't know how the iraqis are in terms of doing that heavy lifting. >> looking at the regional dimensions, does anyone stand to benefit from this? concerns about iranian influence are the most in many people's minds. >> that is the one that will step in and be a winner in this conflict. they are rubbing their hands together in great believe that this is looking like it is tenuous, that it might fall apart. let's not be too quick to criticize. let's give the iraqis some space to see how well they handled this. >> it is america able to exert
any influence from afar? >> sure. america is over the horizon. we have been a part of the region forever. we have friends in the area. we have tremendous intelligence- collecting capabilities. we have a very large military presence as well. the short answer is yes, and multiple fonts. >> thank you very much. >> thank you and very christmas. >> when nato aircraft killed two dozen pakistani soldiers near the afghan border last month, what went wrong? according to the pentagon, it was a combination of a lack of trust and communication errors. pakistan says that the investigation is short on facts and it is clear that will take more than a report to placate the pakistani opinion and ease badly strained relations. >> it was an attack that shocked
pakistan, all the more because it was perpetrated by an allied. 24 pakistani soldiers were killed in an aerial bombardment at a border post by nato forces. for the first time washington now confesses that those forces made a series of mistakes. >> the loss of life, the lack of proper coordination between u.s. and pack the forces that contributed to those losses. we express our deepest regret. we further express sincere condolences to the pakistani people, to the government, and most importantly, to the families of the pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded. >> a 23-year-old was one of the soldiers that lost his life. his father says that nothing will make him for give the americans. >> if i have the means, he
says, i would set the whole of america on fire. when your son is killed, your only thought is to destroy the home of his killers. the attack caused the public perception of the u.s. to plunge to a new low. huge anti-american demonstrations were held and the government stop some of its cooperation in protest as well. the question now is whether or not that confession by the americans that they made a mistake in the killing of the soldiers is going to be enough to get this diplomatic relationship back on track because there are many in washington who feel it is near impossible to win the war in afghanistan unless pakistan is back on their side. crucially, the u.s. will be hoping that pakistan will open the supply routes for coalition troops. the two main arteries for fuel and military essentials into afghanistan was blocked after the attack. trucks were not allowed across
the border and the feeling is that pakistan will need further concessions before it lets them through. washington is still suggesting that they acted in self-defense when they attacked and that has angered people here. >> i think that they should apologize and say look, we made a mistake. when you commit a crime, you put them into prison. these are 24 people, aren't they human? aren't they someone's love one's? >> it has been a turbulent year for u.s.-pakistan relations. the trust on both sides are poor. some of that trust can never be rebuilt. >> now for a look at some of the stories making news. turkey has reacted furiously to a vote in the french parliament
making it a crime to deny that the killing of armenians by turkish troops almost a century ago was genocide. turkey has denied this was the case even though hundreds of thousands have died. turkey recalled its ambassador to paris and said that this would open grave and irreparable wounds on relation. if you are italian, you know the word for austerity. following a vote, you will have to work longer, pay more taxes, and get less services in return. the prime minister says that the measure is key to the plan to save italy. protests in china against plans to build a new power plant in a small town appear to have escalated. these pictures show demonstrators throwing bricks in a standoff with police yesterday. the protesters think an existing power plant has contributed to a rise of cases of cancer and pollution.
in syria, an advance team of observers from the arab league has arrived in the country amid reports of increasing violence. the full deployment is sent to oversee an arab league peace plan that calls for the withdrawal of troops from the street and the release of all prisoners. at the same time the violence continues and in the latest incident, four civilians have been killed in the central city of homs. what if any pressure can be brought to bear against the assad regime? that is where the questions i posed to the former u.s. ambassador to syria. what can the arab league monitors realistically do? >> we have to note that syria had refused the monitors. they wanted to put so many conditions on it that it would have been worthless. now we know when the arab league threatened to go to the security council, that is when the regime settled. they agreed to 150 monitors
coming in. no one who knows this regime believes that these monitors will be given any real freedom to go where they want when they want. the syrians will show them what they want them to see. this is a ploy to buy time on the part of the regime in my opinion. >> will the arab league along with that and if so, for how long? >> i don't think that the arab league will go along too much further mainly because the powerful countries, in particular saudi arabia, i think have concluded that assad -- it is worst to keep him then to have him go. they feel that if iran, who they really are assessed with, loses syria as an ally, that would be an important strategic development for the arabs in the region. >> we have seen statements from the west, from washington, london, paris, about events
taking place inside of syria. realistically, is there more that they can do? >> there is certainly more that they can do but the real question is how much do they want to do? right now, russia and to a lesser extent, china, are willing to go along the security council resolution that has teeth. russia has taken a step forward by introducing a so-called balanced resolution, blaming both the regime and the opposition. with barack obama just having withdrawn u.s. troops from iraq, it is hard to imagine that he would want to introduce military forces into syria. there is no u.n. cover at this time for it. the situation is evolving and i would not rule out further stations. the syrian economy is in very bad shape. secondly, we might eventually see some foreign intervention. >> what is your sense of how
serious the situation is? people are talking about the country on the brink of civil war. is that your judgment? >> that is certainly my judgment. many more defectors would leave the army but they are afraid that their families would be arrested and tortured if they leave now. also, there are many civilians picking up arms right now. in fact, one of the reasons they might have been willing to let the observers in is that they would like to show them that they eat are armed. they're not peaceful demonstrators. this is after they gunned them down for months. i think that civil war is likely. unfortunately, the regime will still hold the upper hand. >> thank you for being with us. >> my pleasure. >> you are watching "bbc world news america," still to come -- president and congress still toto and yet another 11th hour deal in washington.
-- still toe to toe, and yet another 11th hour deal in washington. president medvedev gave a speech and called for sweeping political reforms. >> this was dmitry medvedev's final state of the nation address and he used the grand setting to play the great reformer. president medvedev called for comprehensive reform of the russian political system. there would be direct elections for regional governors, at the moment they are all appointed by the kremlin. it would become easier for political parties to get registered. prime minister vladimir putin had hinton political change last week and this is why. anti-government protests have been a wake-up call to those in power.
there are widespread reports of a voter rigging and corruption. another large-scale protest is scheduled for saturday. the authorities are feeling the pressure, which explains the promises of limited reform. today, dmitry medvedev also issued this warning to the protesters. >> the people have the right to express their opinions and all lawful ways and the ride is guaranteed but an attempt to manipulate the citizens of russia or to incite social differences are not acceptable. we will not let extremists and drag the society into their game. we will not accept any interference from the outside into our internal affairs. >> the kremlin will be hoping that the holiday season approaching, and the government sentiment would die down. the presidential elections of less than three months away and opposition activists say they are determined to keep up the
protests. >> you can for get peace and good will toward all men. discord and despair have been common in congress. there is a payroll tax cut that is set to expire at the end of the year. up until now, republicans in the house refused to agree on a plan proposed by the president and their own colleagues in the senate. a couple of hours ago, an agreement was reached. >> house republicans are in the process now of a green to the senate and democratic demands and passing a two month extension of the tax cut. the one minded a concession -- the one minor concession they extracted was a conference
committee to resolve the difference between the senate bill and the house bill. that will focus the debate on how to pay for this tax cut for the entire 12 months of the calendar year, not just two months. the white house and senate democrats have won. republicans say they get to fight another day. >> you could not really script it. this is an astonishing situation, an astonishing deadlock, and the last minute outcome. this does not really increase your respect of capitol hill. >> that's right. there is nothing about this process that elevates american legislative politics at all. all americans will think is that this was the deal you could have cut two or three days ago, why hold this as necessary drama? why this dysfunction? this congress is rated not only
at nine or 10% approval, nearly half the country believes this is the worst congress of their lifetime. these kinds of episodes only reinforces that perception. >> how does that play out? both sides will try to capitalize on it. who wins? >> in the short time, the democrats and republicans -- democrats and the president have one. next year what the debate will focus on is how to pay for this. how did they want to pay for it, offsetting spending cuts. it was missed last week. the white house and the democrats gave up on the billionaire surtax. giving up on that, of the debate will shift on this. republicans believe it is much better trained for them to be on. the democrats won this first one. -- republicans believe it is much better to reign for them to
be on. >> you believe that will be the center of the debate. >> this is only a too much extension. the senate and the house will have to get together and do their work rapidly to figure out a way to pay for this. this will be part and parcel of the republican nomination fight for the presidency, the caucus, and the primaries. >> now to a marathon of a different kind. training for the olympics is never an easy task but imagine doing it in gaza. the tiny palestinian territory has been under blockade ever since hamas has come to power. trading facilities are on the loss -- are about the last thing on a long list of parties. now a runner is trying to qualify for the olympics in london next year. we have been following his
progress. "the loneliness of a long- distance runner. nader el masri is the longest -- is the fastest runner in gaza, but he has no one to train with. he tells me he has a coach but there is no one at his level to run with. he has to do most of his training by himself. he has only been able to run one marathon in gaza this year. the strip's first ever marathon. it is exactly 26 miles long, so the runners covered it top to bottom. as far as tyranny facilities go in gaza, this is about as good as it gets. -- as far as training facilities go in gaza. this is what he will have to run on if he goes to london. all he has here is sand.
now, he is packing up and getting out of gaza for a few weeks. this is not easy in the moss- covered territory which remains under blockade. for most palestinians, the only way out is south through egypt and that is where he is heading. to cairo. in terms of inspiration, it does not get much better than this. he is not here to see the sights. he is in cairo for a weeklong training camp and at last the chance to run on a decent track. >> this feels so good. i can see my split time for every 400, 51, and a thousand meters. that means i know exactly what i'm doing and what i can
achieve. >> the next stop is qatar and the arab games. he needs to think big. he has now been told he will not hit a wild card place in the olympics so he is trying to get the qualifying time. that means knocking are around 40 seconds off of his personal best. he will need to be inspired if he is to make it to london. >> true grit. we wish him the best of luck. that brings today's show to a close. for all of us here at world news america, thank you for watching. see you back here tomorrow.
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