welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: president trump is pulling us troops out of syria. he says islamic state is defeated. defense chiefs and senior republicans say not so fast. if you're tired of fighting radical islam, i understand it. they're not tired of fighting you. the european commission publishes a series of measures to avoid major disruption if britain leaves the eu without a deal. cu ba's baseball players are told they can now play professionally in the us and canada. one of charles dickens', best—loved stories, a christmas carol, turns 175 years old. hello to you.
american officials are saying all 2,000 us troops in syria have begun pulling out. they say the withdrawal will be completed within a hundred days. president trump, revisiting one of his election campaign promises, declared on twitter: but his announcement seems to have taken the pentagon by surprise, contradicts recent assertions from the state department and has been widely criticised by american allies and members of congress from mr trump's own party. barbara plett usher reports from washington, dc. donald trump promised to withdraw american troops from syria during his presidential campaign, and he has been looking for a way to do that ever since. now he's declaring "mission accomplished." the white house said troops would start to come home. it's true the us and its allies have pretty much expelled
is from its so—called caliphate — the vast swathes of land it once controlled in iraq and syria. but even without territory, the militants remain a threat, and mr trump's sudden announcement has upended his administration's strategy to prevent them from making a comeback. just last week, his chief envoy said the military needed to stay and help stabilise war—torn areas of syria. i pressed him on that. but the point is the military commitment doesn't end with the end of the caliphate. that's absolutely right. and there's no timeline on it? no timelines. the president's top officials had little to say about this sudden about—face, no details about a timeline, but senators from his party were quick to criticise. the decision to withdraw american... an american presence in syria is a colossal, in my mind, mistake, a grave error, that's going to have significant repercussions in the years and months to come. isis is not defeated in syria and iraq.
i was there just a few months ago. they've been incredibly hurt, and our troops there are an insurance policy against the re—emergence of isis in syria and iraq. and that's not all. a us pullout could endanger its local kurdish allies. they've been leading the fight against the islamic state group, but turkey sees them as terrorists, and has threatened to attack them. a withdrawal would also strengthen russia and iran's influence in syria, when us policy is to weaken it. it seems the president made this decision without considered consultation with those who'd have to carry it out, so the pentagon and state department are scrambling to figure out how they can fit this into their syria strategy. it's not clear what actually is going to happen. what is clear is this is another example of president trump's disruptive and disorientating approach to policy. barbara plett usher, bbc news, washington. firas maksad is director of the think tank the arabia foundation,
and a specialist on american foreign policy in the middle east. thank you for your time. good to talk to use. the first thing that might occur to people, leaving aside for a moment the geopolitics, will withdrawing 2000 troops actually make much difference? yes, of course. the us has been leading the fight against isis bore a number of years in syria, operating as a coalition including the uk, france and other countries and so countries in the region and europe look to washington for leadership. more importantly, not mentioned as often as today, is the underlying objective aside from ices, confronting iranian and russian influence in the middle east and eastern mediterranean, that influence is mushrooming in recent yea rs influence is mushrooming in recent years as a result of the involvement in the war in syria, and shepherding a diplomatic process that would
bring the war in syria to an end. those are all objectives that have not been met and the president's abrupt decision today sort of upends that. it will make some people very happy. as you say, president putin, president assad, the iranian leadership and the remnants of the so—called islamic state. the irony is not lost on anyone. it seems christmas came early so to speak in moscow, tehran and ankara. however, us allies that have been lobbying hard now for a number of months to try to get iranian troops out of syria are left with this conundrum that it's actually the us thatis conundrum that it's actually the us that is leaving, not iran. this is a very difficult moment for us allies, it will probably have long lasting repercussions in terms of the trustworthiness of the us as an ally for those in the region. you wouldn't have to be too cynical perhaps to see it as a distraction tactic from mr trump's mounting legal and political problems at home. do you think that's unfair?
there's certainly a domestic angle that many view as feeding into this decision, but the key moment here seems to be a phone call that president trump had with president erdogan of turkey on friday. turkey has been wanting the us to end its support for kurdish forces in syria for quite some time now, it sees them as a terrorist group, and frankly president erdogan had done president trump evader in the lead up president trump evader in the lead up to the november election by releasing an evangelical christian pastor that is crucial to support in the current political base. it seems president trump wanted to return the favour. president erdogan faces election this spring and the kurdish issueis election this spring and the kurdish issue is very important to turkey. 0n the domestic issues, suggestions are mrtrump‘s 0n the domestic issues, suggestions are mr trump's core voters might not ca re are mr trump's core voters might not care that much about american foreign policy, but they would be happy to see american troops out of harm's way. yes, there's certainly that element
to it. president trump has long campaigned during his election is to get us forces out of the middle east, having us forces in that part of the world has never been a popular proposition in the united states. in many ways, yes, this has been a long way coming. president trump announced earlier in the year, in april, he wanted to withdraw us troops. the foreign policy establishment in washington pushed ha rd establishment in washington pushed hard against that, the pentagon, the state department, professionals at the national security council, but it seems trump never let go of that idea and was never comfortable staying in syria. firas maksad from the arabia foundation. thank you very much. my pleasure, mike. the us central bank, the federal reserve, has again raised interest rates, despite repeated appeals by president trump. they've gone up by 0.25%, that's to 2.25%.
shares sank on that announcement: the dow and s&p 500 closed about 1.5% lower, the nasdaq fell more than two per cent. with me is bbc reporter kim gittleson. you specialise in business and economics. why have they done this?m why have they done this? if markets are going to tag, why would you want to raise interest rates as the central bank? it goes back to the financial crisis, the fed lowered interest rates dramatically during the depths of the crisis in order to try to boost the us economy. that's meant interest rates in the us had been at historical lows bought some time. the fed now is trying to raise interest rates to what it said is a normal level, and that's what's going on this entire year. this is the fourth hike this year. they say they need to do this to combat inflation, the us economy is doing quite well right now, that means more money is being spent, so prices are starting to rise, and it means they'll have more arsenal if and
when there is another financial crisis so they can react accordingly. so part of a long—term correction. they said interesting things also about what they might do next, things also that might not be welcome for the president. if you're a fed watcher like me, and a few other nerds i know, the key thing about this meeting was whether the fed would raise interest rates, this has been telegraphed for some time, it is what central bankers think about 2019, what will happen? the chair, powell, said they were uncertain about what the future holds for the american economy. 0fficials holds for the american economy. officials in september said they might want to raise rates three times in 2019, now they think they might only raise rates twice. that suggests they think the us economy when the booming for that much longer and as a result, it can't ta ke longer and as a result, it can't take much more rate increases. and so many of president trump's re—election hopes are resting on the
state of the us economy? that's the interesting thing about the fed interference, president trump has attacked the third into the summer and the fall, he warned them earlier this week not to make a mistake. this has echoes of history, in the past under nixon, he had a fed chair called arthur burns and in his re—election campaign, nixon said don't you dare raise interest rates before i'm about to go out campaigning and burns didn't do that and asa campaigning and burns didn't do that and as a result the economy suffered. a lot of people say the us economy. kim, thank you, we'll be talking again. let's get some of the day's other news. brazil's chief prosecutor has filed corruption and money laundering charges against president michel temer. he is accused of receiving illegal payments from companies who've had their licences to operate in brazilian ports renewed for 70 years. mr temer will lose immunity from prosecution when he leaves office at the end of the year, but has said he will prove his innocence. congolese police have fired tear gas
to disperse stone—throwing opposition supporters in the capital, kinshasa, ahead of sunday's presidential election. the local governor had banned all campaign rallies in the city, citing security concerns. voters are choosing a successor to presidentjoseph kabila, who's been in powerfor 17 years. all flights in and out of london gatwick, britain's second—busiest airport, have been suspended after two drones were seen flying near the runway. the airport has apologised for any inconvenience but said safety was its foremost priority. the european commission has set out how it hopes to limit what officials call the most significant damage from a no—deal brexit. if the uk reaches no formal agreement on leaving the eu, european member states will still temporarily allow british airlines to operate flights into and out of the eu but not within it. hauliers will be able to carry freight into the eu by road for nine months without applying for permits.
for up to two years, regulations covering uk financial servisis would be recognised in a limited number of areas as equivalent to the european union's. and the commission is urging states to take a generous approach to the rights of uk citizens in the eu as long as the uk does the same. 0ur berlin correspondent, jenny hill, reports on how a no—deal brexit might affect germarny. in the festive capitals of europe, goodwill is in short supply. this the season to prepare for the worst. germany's small businesses uncertain how to prepare for no—deal, when your british customers bring in 10,000 euros a month and expect delivery within two days of order. translation: we are not prepared. many businesses are not prepared. we have to do everything ourselves. we need information, to be actively briefed. instead, i feel the government is waiting and hoping for a soft brexit. britain's last—minute
diplomacy dash yielded warm words but no concessions. angela merkel remains optimistic that the brexit deal will succeed, but she is now also making plans in case it doesn't. i believe germany's woefully unprepared, the government still says that it believes in the deal being ratified in the house of commons. well, looking at the political situation in the house of commons, we see no majority in the tories, and with a prime minister who has to implement something that she probably doesn't even believe in. it's a little bit like theresa in wonderland, borisjohnson as the march hare. there's much at stake, not least for the german car industry, britain's its biggest export market. but when the man who represents the industry sits down with angela merkel, he doesn't lobby for a softer approach to britain. the first priority for us is that the remaining 27 member states stay together,
and that has to be the first priority, and not making concessions that invite others to go the same way as the uk is going. brexit has stirred many emotions in the heart of germany — sorrow, frustration, confusion, and what the germans really can't abide, uncertainty. perhaps that is why so many here now want britain to either get on with it and leave or even change its mind and stay. jenny hill, bbc news, berlin. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: we report on a sharp increase in violence in indian administered kashmir, where more than 500 people have been killed this year. after eight months on the run, saddam hussein has been tracked down
and captured by american forces. saddam hussein is finished because he killed our people, our women, our children. the signatures took only a few minutes, but they brought a formal end to 3.5 years of conflict, conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives. before an audience of world leaders, the presidents of bosnia, serbia and croatia put their names to the peace agreement. the romanian border was sealed and silent today. romania has cut itself off from the outside world in order to prevent the details of the presumed massacre in timisoara from leaking out. from sex at the white house to a trial for his political life, the lewinsky affair tonight guaranteed bill clinton his place in history as only the second president ever to be impeached. very good to have you
with us on bbc news. the latest headlines for you now: us forces are being withdrawn from syria, with president trump claiming the islamic state group had now been defeated there. the white house decsision has been criticised by many. the european commission has published a series of measures to avoid major disruption if britain leaves the eu without a deal. there has been a sharp increase in violence cuba and the united states have reached an agreement to allow cuban baseball players to play professionally in the us for the first time. cuba has traditionally produced some of the best players in the world but until now, they could onlyjoin major league baseball teams in the us and canada if they defected from the communist—run island. we can go live now to miami, and talk to james williams, president of engage cuba, a group working to end the travel and trade embargo on cuba. good to talk to you. this has been
going on for decades, hasn't it? good to talk to you. this has been going on for decades, hasn't mm really has been. this has been one of the single most contentious, but also unifying, issues between the people for decades. this has been something where cuba has engendered incredible passion both in cuba, it isa incredible passion both in cuba, it is a pastime there, and in the united states, and it has been fraught with tension is, back story, intrigue and so much tragedy for so long and so today is a really exciting and really positive step forward for the united states and forward for the united states and for cuba frankly. any surprise it has happened despite the deterioration in relations since president 0bama left office, or is money talking here, really?|j president 0bama left office, or is money talking here, really? i think it is more about the fact that things working with cuba take time. this is a process that has been going on for years. and it was
started and really accelerated under the 0bama administration. the negotiations took longer. i think it is symbolic that it is still happening, in spite of, you know, the change in relationships and the tensions between the countries, at the governmental level. i think we are also reminded to date by this sort of outpouring ofjoy and support both on the island and in the united states how much there is that unites us. there is no better example between these countries than baseball. and that reaction is a reminder i guess at a testament to actually the quite grim stories behind the situation up to now. cuban families being split apart, cuban families being split apart, cu ban players quite cuban families being split apart, cuban players quite often the victim of human traffickers. and this is what this really you know fundamentally achieves, is an end to this human trafficking problems. there are stories, i mean, many of which have been documented well. i mean, they are out all the movie. they are harrowing, they are frightening, they are tragic, you
know,. there is both the trafficking aspect, there is extortion by gangs and thugs afterwards, as well as the impact of what happens to your family, friends and others in cuba who you left behind, and so this was, you know, something that really ends a serious problem, while at the same time keeping cuban families together and building a foundation for engagement moving forward that should benefit everybody. james williams of engage cuba, very interesting to talk to you. thank you very much. thank you, take a. —— take care. there has been a sharp increase in violence in indian—administered kashmir in recent weeks. in fact, 2018 has been the deadliest year in the disputed region in a decade. at least 500 people have been killed, including civilians, security forces and militants. the area has long seen conflict between indian forces and armed insurgents, but this year the cycle of violence has intensified with both sides becoming more active. the bbc‘s yogita limaye reports from indian—administered kashmir. gunfire
behind the fog, a bustling neighbourhood, now a battleground. these sounds have become all too common in the region. a policeman leads us to safety as a bullet flies over us. indian armed forces are fighting what are believed to be two, perhaps three, militants who are hiding in there. this gun exchange has just intensified, but the operation has been going on all through the night, for the past 12 hours. and it's these kind of operations that the armed forces have really ramped up this year. there have been more than 100 in 2018 alone. a few hours later, it ended. six homes destroyed, three militants killed. scores have been shot down this year. firdaus ahmed mir died in a similar gun in november. —— firdaus ahmed mir died in a similar gun battle in november. demanding freedom from indian rule, thousands came to his funeral,
as they do every time a militant dies. for his family, firdaus man is a martyr, a son they're proud of. translation: it was his mission to fight for the people of kashmir. there are a lot of atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters. he couldn't stand this. on the other side of this battle, more death, more grief. army man mukhtar ahmad malik was shot by militants when he was at home on leave. "kashmir is tired of this situation," his mother tells me. "it's better to bomb this place and finish it once and for all." there's been a sharp increase in targeted killings of security personnel in recent months. with the death toll mounting on both sides, i ask a senior policeman what they're achieving. we cannot sit and keep on watching
militants with weapons roaming in villages, attacking people, and gaining ground. no, we just cannot afford to watch that. we have to act. caught in the crossfire, civilians like firdousa sheikh, a pregnant woman who was killed just outside her home. she leaves behind a family in despair, a daughter who is too scared to go out of the house now. in village after village, there are stories like these. in this trail of destruction, no family left untouched. yogita limaye, bbc news, in indian kashmir. ona on a lighter note. one of charles dickens' best—loved stories, a christmas carol, is 175 years old today. the story of scrooge, the miser who is forced to become compassionate by ghosts, was written in condemnation of the child poverty that
dickens saw around him. the first edition published in december 1843 immediately sold out, and the tale has captivated people ever since. david sillito reports. # god rest you merry gentleman... "marley was dead. to begin with, there was no doubt whatever about that. the register of his burial had been signed by the clerk." a christmas carol. simon callow is at the moment performing it onstankse twice a day in this, its anniversary year. i'm holding this very gently because this is an original a christmas carol, published exactly 175 years ago and they all sold out within five days. and while it would be going too far to say dickens invented a victorian christmas, he certainly, for millions of us, defined what christmas should be. he certainly gave christmas a meaning which it hadn't had before. he says, "it's the only time in the long calendar of the year that i know of that men and women open their closed up hearts freely
and think of those below them as fellow passengers to the grave." a christmas carol, by charles dickens. who are you? what do you want? the story of scrooge and his night of ghostly encounters goes down through the generations. what do you want with me? much. there have over the years been 73 film and tv adaptations. and marking today's anniversary, a display at the london pall mall gallery. this lost portrait was rediscovered in south africa, much to the delight of charles dickens' great—great—great—granddaughter. this is what he looked like when he wrote a christmas carol. this is him at 31 years old. and the intensity of those eyes. when you think about the campaigning in this book, this is what dickens looked like when he was writing it. thejob now, raising the money to buy it for the dickens museum. time perhaps for a bit of the spirit of a christmas carol.
as tiny tim observed, "god bless us every one." david sillito, bbc news. just finally. the artist, banksy, has confirmed that a new graffiti piece that has appeared in south wales is his. the work on the side of a garage in port talbot has predictably attracted a lot of interest since its appearance. banksy is known for his anonymous street art pieces, which appear unannounced in public places. when you look around the corner, what looks like is falling is most likely ash from an industrial chimney. port talbot was a very industrial area. parts of it dramatically changed. banksy known for his street art pieces to appear unannounced in public places. that's it for now. thank you very much for watching.
hello there. well, as you've probably already heard, the run—up to christmas is set to be a fairly mild one, with ouraircoming in off the atlantic. now, it's not going to be completely settled, though. there will be quite a bit of cloud and also some rain or showers at times. but a little bit of sunshine, too. now, for thursday, we've still got low pressure in charge of the weather. it'll be anchored to the north—west of the uk. and we'll have a fair old breeze blowing in from the west, and that will continue to feed in showers, most of them across southern and western areas early on thursday, the odd heavy one, with many central and eastern parts seeing the longer dry spells to begin thursday. so we'll have a split in temperatures. where you get the showers, a bit more cloud. southern and western areas, then, temperatures around five to seven degrees. something a bit cooler, though, further north. around scotland, maybe a touch of frost in some of the glens, and maybe a little mist and fog, too. but, for thursday morning, it's going to be a largely dry and a bright one across many northern and eastern areas. showers, though, will get
going across the west, and they may merge together to produce some longer spells of rain, some of them could be quite heavy. and, again, it's going to be fairly blustery, particularly near southern and western coasts. mild in the south, 10—11 degrees. further north, these are pretty typical temperatures, in fact, for this time of year. now, as we head through thursday night, it stays quite breezy, quite showery. for a time, the showers ease down, and then we start to see some wetter and windier weather arriving across the south—west. that's because this next frontal system will move into the southern half of the country during thursday night into friday morning. so it could be quite wet for some. but what it will do is import even milder air across the southern half of the country, as you can see, the yellow and orange colours there. so, although it's going to be a really drab start to friday, a lot of surface spray, standing water on the roads, that rain should eventually clear eastwards. although its northern extent may linger on across parts of northern ireland, northern england, maybe southern scotland. so a bit of a grey day here. to the north of here, again, quite cool with a little bit of sunshine. and sunshine will move in across england and wales. and very mild, 11—14 degrees.
now, into the weekend, it looks like saturday will be the driest day with that ridge of high pressure. and then these weather fronts move in on for sunday. so i think it is a bit of a tale of two halves. there will be one or two showers across northern and eastern areas to begin saturday. otherwise, with that ridge of high pressure building in, it should turn a little bit drier. the winds a bit lighter, too, still coming in from the west, and we should see a good deal of sunshine around, particularly further south and east where you are. ten to 12 degrees, very mild again in the south. around nine or ten in the north. sunday looks wetter and windier across the board. and, as we head on into monday, it looks like it could turn a little bit cooler in the north. this is bbc news, the headlines: us officials say that all 2,000 american troops in syria have begun pulling out of the country. president trump's announcement has been heavily criticised at home and abroad. britain, a major ally of the us, questioned mr trump's assertion that islamic state militants in syria had been defeated. the us central bank, the federal reserve,
has again raised interest rates, despite repeated appeals by donald trump not to do so. they've gone up by 0.25% taking them to 2.5%. shares sank after the announcement. the european commission has published a series of contingency measures designed to limit any damage caused by a no—deal brexit. the measures include temporarily allowing british airlines to operate flights into and out of the eu but not within in it. now on bbc news, wednesday in parliament.