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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 13, 2017 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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"140 and injured many others, in the west of the country. the epicentre of the earthquake was just across the border in iraq, close to the kurdish city of halabja. us president donald trump is attending the annual asean summit in the philippines. mr trump is due to hold talks with the country's controversial leader, rodrigo duterte. he has admitted personally killing people as part of a campaign to eradicate drugs that has left thousands dead. the prime minister of lebanon has said he will return home within days to formally submit his resignation. saad hariri announced he was quitting earlier this month. speaking publicly for the first time, he said his aim was to give his country a positive shock. now on bbc news, it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. there are no tanks on the streets of riyadh, but make no mistake, what has just happened in saudi arabia represents
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a revolution of sorts. king salman and his son, crown prince mohammed, have launched a purge of princes and ministers and potential rivals, which is part of a grand plan to entrench their power and transform the country. my guest is saudi journalist, commentator, and current political exile jamal khashoggi. is the saudi drama about raw power or real reform 7 jamal khashoggi in washington, welcome to hardtalk.
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thank you for having me. well, it's a pleasure. you have been calling for a long time now for reform in the kingdom of saudi arabia. we now see a man at the top who appears determined to deliver on reform. are you delighted with what you are seeing in the saudi capital? i might sound throughout with the show with conflicting messages. yes, i am for reform. but i'm also worried for one—man rule. we arabs have suffered a great deal with one—man rule. one—man rule is always problematic, always ends with disaster, whether germany, whether iraq, whether in saudi arabia. saudi arabia wasn't a democracy, but it used to be ruled by consensus, not between us, the people and the royal family, but within the royal family itself.
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and maybe that safeguarded saudi arabia in the past from adventurous policies. but today, it is ruled only by one man. not even within the family. he has no—one close to him, even within the family. he is the sole, uh, leader of saudi arabia. he owns the future of saudi arabia. it is up to him to drive us to prosperity and reform, or wars, we don't know. let me just be clear. when you talk about one man, are you talking about the mohammad bin salman, the crown prince and the heir—apparent, or are you talking about the actual king of saudi arabia, king salman? because let's face it, the monarch is king salman, but i suspect you are not talking about him. i am talking about crown prince mohammed. king salman has delegated all responsibility to his son. not officially, but in reality.
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all right. your point about the end of consensual decision—making within the royal family raises an important question. and surely, mohammed bin salman and his father are delivering a simple message — there are very many corrupt people in the royal family. they have now put under arrest 11 princes being detained in the comfort of the ritz—carlton. and the message is quite clear. these people have been responsible of milking the kingdom of billions and billions of dollars. yes. very much correct. corruption in saudi arabia is endemic. it has depleted saudi resources. it has corrupted even the mindset of the business environment. and it had to end. and we, saudi writers, have been saying that. so, he has to do that. but is he doing it the right way?
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it is selective so far. i can add to the list 10 others, royals and non—royals, who are corrupt. for every single person arrested, there has to be 10 others who should be with them. and then the council is corrupted itself. what is corruption? it is still being practised until today in saudi arabia. so, there is a need for transparency. there is need for a role for the media and open dialogue about it, of which there is none. you have to start somewhere. clearly, he started with a very dramatic move against, we believe, at least 500 people, and i hear there will be more arrested in the next few days. and the message from mohamed bin salman to these people seems to be quite simple — you have taken from the kingdom and its oil riches all of these hundreds of billions
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of dollars and we want to take the money back so the people of saudi arabia can enjoy the fruits of these riches. surely that is a message that resonates with all the people in the kingdom. i think we should give him the benefit of the doubt. but at the same time, should not we discuss that in saudi media, in a consultative body? those things are essential. yes, we need to crush radicalism and corruption, but it is being done by one direction by one—man rule. are you saying there is no space at all to discuss the nature of bin salman‘s initiatives, including the anti—corruption drive? i know that saudis are extremely wired to social media, one of the most pervasive
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twitter—using nations in the world. i have been looking at twitter. all sorts of young saudis have tweeted. here are a few i will quote. this man says "mbs represents the saudi dreams we have been waiting for." "thank god the country now has a vision and a prince to carry forward our ambitions." a female says: "a leader speaking for the benefit of the future. mbs is our man." this person says "we have an extraordinary crown prince, who is the saviour of our generation, working for a great leap towards the future!" there is the voice of young saudis! very much correct. and if i was to speak like them, i would also be in saudi arabia. but there are other voices, and they are not being heard. they are being told to be silent.
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they have signed pledges at state security offices, saying they will stay silent. the list of saudis banned from travel is growing every day. are you notjust feeling a little personally sour, because you have run into problems with the regime because some of the comments you have made on twitter in the past few months and it has become clear you are persona non—grata in riyadh? and also your former boss, prince waleed, one of the richest men in saudi arabia, he is also in detention as well, and you have been ordered to be silent. i was sour when i was ordered to be silent. i am more worried than sour. i am worried for my country.
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i have made it in my life. i cannot retire in america happily and just write unimportant issues and go on with my life. i'm worried for my children and grandchildren. what is worrying me the most is one—man rule. we need reform, but one—man rule is bad, as i said earlier. it always goes wrong in any country, whether it is saudi arabia, or germany, or iraq... we will get to the nature of autocracy in just a moment, but just to focus on your former boss, prince waleed, someone we are familiar with, one of saudi arabia's richest and most prominent business people. he owns hotels around the world and has huge stakes in some of america's businesses. there he is in detention in the ritz—carlton in riyadh. are you saying there are no grounds to be holding him and that is a purely political act by mohammad bin salman?
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no, i am not saying that. there has to be an investigation. if there is corruption, perhaps the authorities know better than i. but as far as i know, he was not a threat to prince mohammed bin salman, and was in fact supportive of him. a few days before his arrest, he sent me a text message urging me to come back to saudi arabia. and i am quoting him. he said "enlightened minds like you should be with us, joining my brother, prince mohammed, in building the fourth state." that was him talking to me and asking me to return. he was very much supportive and was not challenging the crown prince. that is very interesting. you are suggesting to me that prince waleed, one of the key figures in all of this drama, had no idea, even 48 hours before being detained, he had no idea that this was coming.
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yes, exactly. he sent me this message and i am sure he sent to many other people because that his habit. he wanted prince mohammed bin salman to know that he is supporting him. have you spoken to him by text or any other form of communication since he was detained? no. i texted him but there was no reply. let's talk about the stability of the leadership now. you say it is all about one man, it's all about crown prince mohammed bin salman. he's moved against some of the most powerful princes in the house of saud, including the former head of the national guard, prince mutaib, and others. do you believe his grip now is absolutely unchallengeable? yes, i think so. i do not think the royals can even gather and create a front against him for a number of reasons.
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number one, they are so fragmented. number two, they lack a leader. they don't have that leader, a moral leader, who can stand for values and for saudi arabia, who is totally independent and respected by all of them. and lastly, because he is using the stick of corruption, and if not all, most of them, somehow, they are involved in some form of corruption or abuse of power. so, he has the upper hand on those issues. so, i think he has won for now, but his biggest threat is not the royals, clergy, but the economy. he has to succeed in the economic front. i will talk to you about that in just a second. but a thought about what we might learn from notjust saudi arabia but arab nations experiencing uprisings since the first arab spring in early 2011.
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surely the message of all of this is that street protests and toppling governments into a world of chaos has been very negative for the nations of the arab world. what mohamed bin salman seems to be saying is "i know we have to transform ourselves, we have to modernise, we have to change, and i will be that agent of change." yes. you call him in autocrat, comparing him to putin, hussein, and others, but surely the message of the last two years is that the best hope a nation, an arab nation, like saudi arabia has. someone who wants to use his power for genuine reform and change. not by choice, by fact, de facto. he is the best choice for saudi arabia.
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that is what they are saying, they wish him luck. he has to succeed. that is what will decide the future of saudi arabia and also his future. it is for him to succeed. the people of saudi arabia are very much believing in mohammad bin salman today. he hardly has any serious opposition, we'll say. so, he has all of the floor for himself for the next few years to implement his plan. 0k, and now to the detail of the plan. you refer to the vision of 2020, sorry, 2030. it has various elements to it. starting with the economy, he says he wants to develop a purely post—oil saudi arabian economy, investing in technology and building a new city in the north—west, some calling it a robot city, such will be the reliance on new technology. he wants a massive
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infrastructure spend. are you suggesting to me that this is all fantasy, he cannot deliver on this? no, he can probably build the cities but will the cities succeed? we have built two cities in saudi arabia which have not succeeded. king abdullah financial city and king abdullah industrial city. i have been to one of them. i have seen the grand ambition. the city was pretty empty when i was there. but it is all about the ability of saudi arabia to transform itself from a fairly sort of crude oil economy to something that is fit for purpose in the 21st century as a global leading economy and surely that ambition has to be
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saudi arabia's future? i see two to faults in the vision and i wish i could express those in a local saudi newspaper, and we need to do that in saudi arabia. number one, it is a styled darwin approach. that will not work for a country as big as saudi arabia. it would work for a small country, a city—state like dubai, doha or abu dhabi but not saudi arabia. also, it is not based onjobs. saudi arabians are addicted to foreign labour. we need to resolve the culture of jobs and saudis will go back to work. there are 4 million saudis who are not in jobs today, not 2 million as the government suggests. the actual number is 4 million. every year, 250,000 young saudis go to the job market.
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that is his biggest task and he should spend more time on this problem rather than building a new city in saudi arabia. but you said the young people appear to be overwhelmingly with him and one reason is notjust because he talks about this new economic proposition but he also talks the language of fundamental social change, not least for women in saudi arabia. he has decreed that all women will be able to drive legally come the summer of 2018. he is giving them places on the consultative shura council. they are going to be free to attend sports events. this is very important stuff, isn't it? he is signalling that saudi arabia's culture, its social life, it is fundamentally changing. very much, and i campaigned for it and many other
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writers campaigned for it. it was an issue that we were pushing for almost every single day. but now we have put that behind us and we are moving forward and he is enjoying all the support from the young people. he needs to look at the unemployment issue. he has to providejobs for millions of saudis. i don't think that can be done from this top—down approach by building new cities but rather, starting from scratch and bringing back the culture of work to the saudi society. the culture of work among saudis is dead because of our addiction to foreign labour over the last a0 years. almost every single job is done by a foreigner and we need to be free from that. what about the religious element to all of this?
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in a keynote speech just last month, mohammed bin salman pledged, and i'm using his words, to return saudi arabia to moderate islam. there is a very complicated relationship between the rulers of the kingdom and the leading clerics and religious authorities in saudi arabia. can he deliver on this shift of the religious tenor and tone of the kingdom? yes, he can. because in the court of history, young people are becoming more and more moderate. number two, he only needs to unplug government support for radicalism. radicalism was tolerated by the government. radicalism in saudi arabia that was put into the saudi curriculum, the saudi education system, the saudi mosques, it was allowed and tolerated by the government. it the government pulled the plug,
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those clergies dependent on the government, they will go back home and seek their own safety. the reason why so many people, not least in the white house behind you, care about what is happening in saudi arabia is because of the strategically important role the kingdom plays in the region. mohammed bin salman has, if you like, been the director of saudi arabia's military assault on the houthi rebels in yemen and seems to be choreographing a very co—ordinated move, for example encouraging former prime minister hariri to resign in lebanon, getting tough with iran, sending signals to qatar, that qatar's radicalism will not be tolerated any more. is all these different ways in which saudi arabia is flexing its muscle,
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will be intensified in the coming months and years? it has to succeed. before it could intensify, what about its chance of success? that worries us. as a citizen, i want to stop iranian expansionism, sectarian expansionism but i don't want war with the iranians, it will damage both countries. i would like to see saudi arabians more inspired for change, such as the arab spring. it is not a conspiracy as many saudi people suggest. young people in a egypt, in syria, they want better regimes, they want a say in their government. unfortunately, i see my country countering such aspirations. that could drive iran and isis and radicalism away from the region by placing those factors of change
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which are still happening in yemen, in syria. in yemen, saudi arabia can play a role in bringing all yemenis together to find a power—sharing formula and that will end the war. but that is not happening. i wonder if you believe whether mohammed bin salman is seriously contemplating warwith iran? i hope not. we have to wonder what kind of exchange is having with the american administration and the americans giving promises they cannot fulfil. are the americans behind this drum of war that has been sounded by us, the saudis? it's not clear yet. i don't think the americans will fight on our behalf but who is going to do the fighting? i hope not saudi arabia.
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even though i would like iran out of our region, war with iran is very bad. final question — you warned me that i might find some of your positions confusing or conflicted and i have. throughout the course of this conversation, you have suggested that many of the things mohammed bin salman is trying to do is the right thing for saudi arabia but you have also in this interview compared him to autocrats including putin, saddam hussein and others. you ultimately believe he represents saudi arabia's best chance and will you at some point go home to try to be part of the change and reform of your kingdom? i have no option but to wish he leads saudi arabia because i will not vote him out — we don't have elections in saudi arabia. he won the throne, really.
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even within the family. there is no serious competition or threat to him, even within the family. i wish i could go home but the environment is not welcoming to me or any other saudi writers, economists who are independent. all the people around him are yes—men and he wants that. he thinks he can do it alone. he thinks he is that, he thinks he's the leader the country has been waiting for so i willjust settle for my role to be here in washington and hopefully provide a loyal opposition. jamal khashoggi, we thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you very much. hello there.
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well, for most of us, sunday was a pretty glorious day. plenty of sunshine, but it was cold. windy as well, particularly down the east coast. plenty of showers here too. some of these will continue through the course of the night, again some of them on the heavy side, but become more confined to the north sea coast of england and elsewhere, turning much drier, and a much colder night to come than the previous night. a widespread frost developing in some rural places. you can see the blue colours there. but something a little less cold pushing into the north—west of the uk by the end of the night, as a weather system pushes in here, bringing increasing cloud
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and outbreaks of rain. so we start monday morning, then, on a cold and frosty note. lots of sunshine, though. you can sill see the blue hue there, so some places around freezing or below at around 8 o'clock in the morning. we'll continue to still see scattered showers and blustery conditions across eastern coast areas, particularly from lincolnshire down in towards east anglia. the odd heavier one too. for much of northern ireland, for much of northern england and scotland, also a cold start. but we'll see increasing wind and cloud across western scotland, with outbreaks of rain pushing into the western isles initally. and this weather system will continue to move eastwards through the course of the day, bringing some rain and hill snow. we could even see some snow down to lower levels, across central and eastern parts of scotland for a time, before it all turns back to rain as the milder air moves in. for northern ireland, it will be turning cloudier, with outbreaks of rain. elsewhere, a fine day but the sunshine gradually turning hazier, and it's going to be another cold one. and then, through monday night, this weather system continues to advance eastwards, bringing stronger winds, outbreaks of rain to much of the country, but also milder air.
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we'll lose the cold air as that weather system moves in. you can see we're all into the yellow and orange colours. most of the country, i say, because the far north of scotland continues to wax and wane in that cooler air stream. so, for tuesday, it's a cloudier day. there will be outbreaks of rain, particularly across western hills, a bit of mist and murk. look at those double—figure values for most — 10—12 degrees. wednesday and thursday, also rather cloudy. probably the best of the sunshine across northern parts of the uk. thursday actually looking like probably being the mildest day across the whole of the uk. so it's quite a mixture this week. we're starting off on a cold and frosty start, with some sunshine. it turns milder and cloudy for a time, with outbreaks of rain, and then signs of it turning colder by the end of the week. this is the briefing. i'm sally bundock. our top stories: iranian media say an earthquake has killed more than 140 people in the west of the country. all smiles for donald trump at the asean summit
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in the philippines but outside, protesters clash with police. new fears for the health of a british woman held in iran as the uk government faces more criticism over its handling of her case. brexit summit at downing street — the uk prime minister meets european business leaders to hear their views on how to make a smooth separation from the eu. also in business, japan's softbank is to buy a stake in uber. we'll be live to our team in singapore for the latest.
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