tv Thursday in Parliament BBC News July 21, 2017 2:30am-3:01am BST
millions of venezuelans stayed at home in the country's first twenty—four—hour general strike in over a decade. they're angry over government plans for a new constitution. in several cities police used teargas as they clashed with protestors. at least three protesters were killed in the violence. a earthquake with a magnitude of six—point—seven has struck under the sea between greece and turkey. latest reports say two people were killed on the greek island of kos. in the turkish resort of bodrum — a small tsunami flooded streets and coastal buildings with about ten centimetres of water. it has just it hasjust gone it has just gone half past two in the morning and now it is time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i am sarah montague. the four arab nations that cut ties with qatar because they accused it of funding and supporting terrorism have toned down their demands of the gulf state. they have replaced a list of 13 specific demands with six principles. they include combating extremism and terrorism, preventing financing and safe havens and
suspending all at that incite hatred 01’ suspending all at that incite hatred or violence. so will it resolve the crisis that has gripped the golf? my guess today is from one of those four countries. he is one of the uae's top diplomats. is his country guilty of hypocrisy and what do they hope to achieve by isolating qatar? omar saif ghobash, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. 13 demands replaced with six principles. what has changed? well, the 13 demands were actually presented in a confidential manner to the mediator, the emir of kuwait. they were never meant for publication. it was qataris who, i think, within an hour of receiving the list, publicised that.
and so, we really feel that that was kind of undermining the mediation efforts of the emir. the principles upon which those demands are based are what we have now come up with. and presenting that to the qataris and to the world in a public manner. is it a toning down of these demands? i don't think it it is a toning down, no, the principles are precisely the same. it may be a question of how they are then worked out in reality. so, there is no... i don't think there is dispute about the need globally to prevent the funding of extremism and terrorism. no, these were specific demands. what was so wrong about going public with them? were you embarrassed about them? no, we weren't embarrassed. one of the things that happens in the middle east is the desire to save face. in the desire to save face with the qataris, we engaged in a confidential manner in passing on the demands.
this is precisely the same reason why, in 2013 and 2014, the agreements that we had signed with qatar were also kept confidential and secret, on the request of the qatari government. in the spirit of continually trying to preserve the face of the qataris, we kept those demands secret. 0k, well, they have...those 13 demands were made public. you stand by them, do you? the principles are an explanation as to what the demands are based on. so those demands are still there. your charge against the qataris is that they were supporting and funding terrorism. what evidence do you have that they funded terrorism? i can't present you evidence here. but we have recordings, voice recordings. we have video evidence that we've managed to pick up in the field, whether that's in libya, in yemen. everybody knows, i think, for the last few years qatar has had a very close relationship
with jabhat al—nusra, which is referred to as al-qaeda affiliated. my assumption, and our assumption, is if you are affiliated with al-qaeda, you are al-qaeda. the recordings show what? can we have some detail what evidence you have? there will be voice recordings. of what, though? people giving instructions, known individuals in qatar giving instructions to known individuals in libya, yemen and syria on carrying out certain acts. for example, there is a specific example i would like to give you, which is on the yemen. we were in the process of engaging with al-qaeda, the qataris were alongside us. we had information, i don't have, but we as a government have information that our qatari allies informed al-qaeda of our precise location and what we were planning to do. then we received four suicide bombers at our door and we had a number of soldiers who were injured. they deliberately sabotaged
an attack and tried to kill your own uae soldiers? we have had soldiers dying as a result of qatari activities. why don't you make this evidence public? because this is a cultural issue where we really don't like to have this kind of public confrontation. there is always the desire to continue... it's a legal issue, isn't it? absolutely, yes. but so is all of the stuff that is going on, this conversation about the funding of terrorism, extremism and narratives. it could very well convert into a legal issue. you have made some very serious allegations there. you, surely, need to go public with the evidence for that. you know, what's funny as we have gone public with a whole set of issues. what we find is that the receptivity is not quite there. for us, too, in the middle east, to begin to speak about changing the narrative of extremist islam,
to being to cut the source of funding, to begin to pull back on those platforms that have been promoting all of this extremist thinking, when we in the middle east take that responsibility, we would expect the global community to come and stand by us. and it's extremely important for all of us. if you put information in the public domain that shows what you're saying happens, then large parts of the world, or the whole world will understand why you are saying what you are doing and there will be some response to it. our understanding is many governments in the west do understand, in operational terms, what the qataris have been doing. you won't make a public? i don't think this is the time to make a public, no. one of the concerns that some people have not least is when this row blew up in may there was a newspaper, a number of newspaper reports, not least in emirati newspapers, like albayan, which attributed comments to the emir of qatar, saying that he was speaking
favourably of iran, of hamas, of the muslim brotherhood and hezbollah. it was subsequently reported in the washington post that various us intelligence to show that those reports were a hack, were as a result of a hack orchestrated by your country, the uae. what do you say to that? well, our ambassador in washington has already come out with a statement saying that's not true. i think the government has come out and said the same thing. i think that, you know, what is actually truly important here is not whether there was or wasn't a hack, it is the situation. i don't think the emir of qatar would deny he has a strong relationship with... no, it absolutely matters! if the uae hacked qatar to suggest... so, the uae did not ask, orchestrate or plan or ask someone else to hack qatar?
not at all. categorically no? no. do you accept someone categorically did? i had heard that the russians had been involved. and i actually don't think that there was any hacking. so, you think that the emir of qatar did say those things. you don't accept their denials? no, i don't accept their denials, we don't accept their denials, but we all know that they have established links with hezbollah, with hamas, and with the iranians, their foreign minister met with the head of the al-quds brigade, you know, this is a guy who is famous for slaughtering sunnis in iraq and syria. what denial is there? you are, of course, ambassador in russia. have you asked the russians about this? no, i haven't. why not? it simply didn't come up. are you not curious to establish what information there is? on what precisely? on what exactly was said, and whether there was any hacking. the russians, if there was hacking, then, you know, it may have been non—government parties. this is not the kind of stuff that
people would admit or talk about openly, certainly not at my level. but you're the one who suggested it might have been the russians doing the hack. no, this is a newspaper report again from the united states. so i am just picking on what i had heard there. you believe it was the emir of qatar who was saying these things that were reported as inflaming, creating tensions and dividing the gulf? but it is a position we have see and witnessed for many years, so, yes, i do believe that it is entirely within his politics and his character to have said something like that. so the fact the us intelligence services are reported as saying that the uae was behind this hack...? it was a newspaper report quoting intelligence officials. we don't have anything official from the white house or the state department or anything else. for at least the time being we can put that to rest. what, you don't trust anybody, anything said about that, but you do absolutely believe that the emir of qatar
said those things? we believe that it is in keeping with his political positions and with his act of engagement in the region, yes. absolutely. ok, so, we come to the demands it had set out. now, you say, you are suggesting that they still remain, these, effectively, 13 demands? yes. one of them on the list of 13 demands was that qatar stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by saudi arabia, uae, egypt, bahrain, us and other countries. mh—hm. what gives you, saudi arabia, other countries have the right to decide, in qatar's terms, who is a terrorist? ah, ithink...it is very interesting. we are focused, especially in the list of demands we gave them, not on particular groups we have decided on. we have looked at what is internationally recognised as a terrorist. if you're looking at a un list,
european union list, or an american list, then, you know, we're fairly certain. and, also, if you are talking about funding al-qaeda, or the people who like to say al-qaeda affiliated groups, it is fairly clear they are terrorists. i am not talking about that. it is clear in the 13 list, the third point specifically mentioned well—known groups. but the fourth point was these individuals, groups or organisations. the reason i say this is that with the extra information that came with those demands, there were three qatar—based charities who the un itself says has, over the years, built a strong partnerships with these organisations based on shared humanitarian principles, which are strictly nonpolitical? mh—hm. they say that. do you accept that, actually, you have probably swept in people who shouldn't be on there? you know, it is quite possible. what is also possible is that the un doesn't have full information and perhaps we should take it up with them and pass
on all of the information that we have to clarify this issue. because the suspicion is that what you and saudi arabia and others are doing is labelling political opponents as terrorists because you don't like what they are saying and you want to silence them. no, i don't think that is the case. actually, if you look at gulf—arab social media, public media, there is actually a very vigorous debate that takes place around events every few days. you can see a kind of sudden surge of very kind of polarised debate between very liberal voices, and extremely conservative voices. so, you know, i don't think that's the issue. the issue here is when we're talking about very motivated extremist agendas. that is one of the problems that we are dealing with here. there is a charge of hypocrisy that could be levelled at the uae over this. the us department of state said in 2015, "the terrorist organisations exploited the uae
to send and receive financial support," and that sometimes your country was loath freezing assets because of political situations. i don't know what that is about but i do find it interesting that the term used was "exploiting the system." i understand exploiting the system taking place. i can also assure you over the last few years we have increased our monitoring through the central bank and through other financial mechanisms to increase the monitoring on exactly what's going on in ourfinancial system. because there was a problem. i mean, not least uae‘s support for the taliban. i don't think we ever supported the taliban. we recognised the taliban for a certain, for a clear reason. we were one of three who recognise the taliban — saudi arabia, pakistan, and the emirates. the reason we recognised the taliban was because we needed an administrative partner to deal with the large afghan population we have in the country working as workers. but we know that when us embassy cables were leaked in 2009 that taliban—related finance officials went to the uae to raise or move funds, and there was even a suggestion of arms, and procuring arms, which you may be now on top of, and the problem may have gone away,
but was a problem then. i would say the these problems never go away because you have to continually monitor and continually make sure. it's actually an effort to make sure you are on top of it. it is very clear that the emirates, dubai and abu dhabi are hubs that bring people from the region together. and it is absolutely possible that someone met someone else on our territory to discuss those kinds of issues. but i know through my own work and through the government's work that we are very, very focused on this. we are not interested in supporting... and saudi arabia? because, of course, saudi arabia sits alongside you, pointing the finger at qatar, and the response has been very widespread criticism. tom wilson, who is a fellow at the centre to the response to radicalisation at terrorism at the think tank the henryjackson society, said, "saudi arabia is undoubtedly at the top of the list of countries who've been of advancing extremism." it is a very interesting distinction
i would like to make between qatar and saudi arabia. saudi arabia had a situation in 1979. with the revolution in iran and the desire to build a more cohesive shia understanding. because of that, american charitable organisations have set up schools and educated pupils. in 2017, under the current leadership of saudi arabia, is that still the case? there are so many ways in which the saudis have clipped the wings of the clerical class to make sure that they understand that there is a limit to how much influence and decision—making the clerics can have. i would say there is a very big difference. the clerical class is becoming self—conscious about the messages... the new york times, last year,
you can tell me this is out of date. the kingdoms spent untold millions promoting the radicalform of sunni ideology that claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and fan the flames of islamic state. well, they have their particular narrative of islam. it is a question to pose. i ask that question in the book i have written. as far as saudi arabia, you are pointing the finger at qatar. are you saying that saudi arabia is not guilty of those things? i will not say that they are a flourishing liberal democracy, but nowhere in our part of the world do we have that kind of perfect narrative, peaceful, optimistic narrative. we all have the problem. where we are different to qatar, the rest of the state of the gulf, egypt are taking strong steps to change that narrative. in saudi arabia, that is actually happening.
the problems that we find with qatar, they still believe it is the narrative that will ultimately win on a populist basis across the arab world. you made the point, and you make it in your book, the importance of almost a western approach to free speech. here, one of the demands is to close down aljazeera. the fact that it doesn't appear in the principles, are you accepting that aljazeera should stay open? there are a couple of things we need to be clear about. we need to differentiate between aljazeera english and arabic. talking about arabic. that is a venomous platform. it is about poison. are you insisting it be closed down? we say it effectively should be closed down as an editorial that says, hate the west,
hate the shia, hate the outsider, the christian, thejew. it is an extraordinary territorialist form of free speech, it was as if china ordered britain to close down the bbc. i don't think there is a narrative between the two. this is a request to stop poisoning people with an extremist narrative. the henryjackson... is it notjust a free flow of ideas? one of the things about aljazeera is that they are incredibly effective. somebody said to me recently, there are whole channels have the same narrative. the problem is that aljazeera is so effective and appealing that it pulls people in. essentially, they are an extremely effective... it should still close? it should change to the extent that it cannot be recognised
as aljazeera today, yes, the aljazeera arabic. aljazeera english is in this because it acts as a figleaf, because those journalists who do not understand the arabic language, they are doing a greatjob and say, this has to be freedom of speech. what you are fighting for is freedom of hate speech. that is the way we see it. it is incredibly provocative, emotionally charged editorials. whether it is the economist or aljazeera, many people make the point that the difficulty in the region is that there is not enough of a free flow of ideas. and here you have something that is very unusual and you want to shut it down. first of all, i don't think it is true. we want to shut down the editorial that says, hate is the way forward. frustration, anger, destruction is the way forward. that is what aljazeera arabic does. you mention in your book, letters to a young muslim...
you lost your father as a result of a terrorist attack as a young man. these letters are at least inspired by the idea of what you want to communicate to your young sons. which is what? which is that in the modern world, in 2017, 2016 when i wrote the book, it is very important that any desire to be true to your religion, your faith, your principles, you should not lose sight of the fact that the world is full of manipulators, people who are ready to use your good faith for destructive purposes. do your religion and the taxes in documents, the exclamatory books, ask yourself whether this is really appropriate for the 21st century. i would say that ultimately, you have got to remember that you or an individual, with your dignity and self—respect, you are the most precious thing. you have to hold onto yourself. who are those who are
manipulating your religion? well, let's. .. i don't want to talk about qatar again. there are states using the large number of young arab males for their purposes. jihadis are expendable. use them and move on. they are like bullets. that is a major crisis. clerics who don't have a full understanding of what century they are living in and who insist on holding people back, the narrative that the cleric knows and has access to... you blame some imams for the poisonous version of islam that can be spread around the world? yes, i think so.
i also think that the world has changed over the last 20 years in such a way that, what may be appropriate for a village in a small town, homogenous, cut off from the rest of the world, that is no longer appropriate. when we look at muslim charitable organisations, when we start funding and teaching our version of islam in western societies in asia, we have to be a bit more sensitive to what it is we are exporting. are we exporting our basic principles? are we consolidating basic principles of islam? or are we exporting a homogenous society that didn't have access to the outside world? where is the change coming from? it begins with an awareness of what is going on. we look at reports like the henry jackson society and wonder, maybe there is a point. maybe what was aggressive language used in a village in the middle east
is not appropriate to be used in london or birmingham or manchester. it is extremely important that we are self—conscious about this. that is down to individual, moderate muslims speaking up? yes, and also up to people like me who have a voice within government to make suggestions and proposals, to lobby for diversity. how did your sons respond? my younger son responded extremely well, my older son, for whom it was written, who is now 16, he read a couple of chapters and decided he had a long life to live and would take his time reading it. he is exactly the target age, isn't he? yes, he is. i will say that i am not particularly worried about him being radicalised. to an extent, i was trying to make a statement to myself and my society.
not necessarily my son, but your son, your daughter, they may need the support that i tried to provide in the book. it is a framework that links the texts and the very sort of abstract legal texts that we have to our humanity. those to need to be linked. if you see a disconnect between the texts that we talk about and our humanity, then we are in trouble. omar saif ghobash, thank you very much for coming on hardtalk. thank you very much. hello, once again.
a number of schools have just started their long summer break but i'm afraid right on cue we have low pressure bringing disturbed weather rather than the big area of high—pressure settling things down nicely, encouraging you to get away to the seaside or out into the fresh air. what does that low pressure mean? first up it means a wet and windy start across the western side of the british isles. further east it's not a cold start, but a dry and fine one, with sunshine for the east of england and the north of scotland. but right from the word go in the south—west of england the winds will be really quite noticeable. gusts inland could push towards 30—110 mph and there will be showers, if not longer spells of rain. drier further east, right up to the eastern side of the pennines. not wall—to—wall sunshine, but a good deal drier. northern ireland, an atrocious start if you're out on the roads. an awful lot of surface water and spray around and a fair breeze as well. the north of scotland, having had such a wet end
to thursday, well, a glorious start to the new day on friday. all the while that area of low pressure churns away very slowly, just sitting over the southern parts of the republic of ireland, and that weather front is really struggling to make meaningful eastward progress. so that's good news for the eastern side of england, but it will turn and stay very wet indeed for a good part of northern ireland well into the afternoon down through wales, the western side of england and into the south—west. that will be a really tough day at the office for both golfers and spectators alike for the second day of the open. a lot of cloud around and i think the early showers will turn into longer spells of rain. the breeze nagging all the while. because of the low pressure, heavy showers around. breezy for a time. for some there will be drier interludes as well. not a write—off by any means at all. here we are on saturday. breezy in the circulation of that low and that's where we have the bulk of the showers. maybe a rumble of thunder too. a scattering of showers developing
in the afternoon further north in england and wales, up into the borders of scotland and northern ireland. the further east you are the drier it will be and in the north of scotland make the most of saturday because here is sunday. an onshore wind and this is rain rather than showers. the showers are there to be had further south across many parts. not everybody gets to see them, but the odd one thrown in there will be heavy. so a lot of cloud at lords and the chance of a shower. unbroken play throughout the day, i think that's very unlikely indeed. enjoy your weekend. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. our top stories: thank you. after nine years injail, us football star oj simpson is granted early release from his 33 year prison sentence for armed robbery.
a powerful earthquake kills at least two people on the greek island of kos. we hear from two people on the greek island of kos. we hearfrom the two people on the greek island of kos. we hear from the list with there. the political crisis in venezuela continues. three people are killed during street protests in support of a nation—wide strike. # i become so numb...# chester bennington. the lead singer of us rock group linkin park dies in an apparent suicide.