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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 28, 2018 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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our top story: greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high last year. a new un report says efforts to tackle climate change are way off track. it warns that global temperatures will rise to dangerous levels unless countries radically revise their targets for cutting greenhouse gases. indonesian authorities are set to release the preliminary findings into why a boeing 737 max jet plummeted into the java sea killing all 189 people on board last month. the world chess championship will be settled in london later today. two chess grandmasters, magnus carlsen of norway and the american fabiano caruana, have spent november locked in stalemate, with the world title up for grabs. a series of tie—breaking games must now be played to decide the contest. that's all. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, hardtalk‘s stephen sackur speaks to saudi dissident abdullah alaoudh. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur.
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president trump says he doesn't know whether saudi crown prince mohammed bin salman ordered the murder of journalist jamal khashoggi and frankly, he doesn't seem to care. safe to assume then that he also doesn't care about the hundreds of clerics, intellectuals and dissident activists locked up by mbs‘s security forces. my guest today is abdullah alaoudh, a saudi exile whose father is facing charges that carry a death sentence. can anyone — or anything — challenge saudi authoritarianism? abdullah alaoudh, welcome to hardtalk and thank
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you forjoining me from chicago. thank you so much for hosting me. let start on your reflections on a pretty remarkable and pretty grim two months for those people like you, who knew jamal khashoggi, the saudi writer and journalist. let me ask you, were you — are you — still shocked and surprised by what happened to him? yes, i am absolutely shocked. the atrocity of killing the veteran journalist and saudi figure, jamal khashoggi, was really saddening. and horrible in every way. you have things in common with him, because in a sense, both of you went into exile in the united states
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because you felt you could no longer live inside your homeland in the kingdom of saudi arabia, and i know you spoke to him on several occasions, you're both highly political and had views about the need for reform inside saudi arabia. do you believe that he was in any way complacent about the degree to which his security was threatened by the saudi authorities? he spoke several times about the threats that he received. he was told at one time that he should go back to saudi arabia. but put your mind back to pre—october 2nd, would you have been willing to walk into a saudi diplomatic building, or would you have been too fearful to do it? i would hesitate, but if i was, and i had connections thatjamal had and all of the relationship and all the hopes, i might have fallen for it. so it is very natural for someone like jamal and his relationship
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and how he was received once by the saudi ambassador here in dc and how he was treated and how once an official called and offered him a job and he was given hopes at different points, it is very possible that i would fall for it, yeah. right now, much of the focus is on the degree to which it will be possible to trace a line of responsibility for this murder directly to the de facto ruler of the kingdom, that is crown prince mohammed bin salman. the new york times had pretty reliable lea ks, suggesting that the cia believes that the line of authority goes direct to crown prince mohammed bin salman. president trump himself says hey, maybe we don't know, maybe he did, maybe he didn't,
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maybe we will never find out. what do you think? well, i think, saying that we may never find out is just a way to avoid the issue, trying to hold someone responsible for this heinous crime. it's trying to avoid facing the nation and telling them who did it and why and when and where? so, it is a way of avoiding the question of who did it and in what capacity the order came from. that is one point. the other point about the issue is that if we are thinking who did it, well, see the fingerprints.
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who sowed a death penalty to my fatherfor similar views of that held by jamal khashoggi? who arrested several feminists because they are peaceful activists and threatened them with the death penalty or life sentence in prison? who put a foreign minister under house arrest in saudi arabia? who invaded, who actually launched strikes against yemen and blockaded qatar? you are asking a lot of pertinent questions, what is your answer? my answer is, whoever did all of these things was the mastermind behind all of these atrocities, is actually the person or the individual behind the killing of jamal khashoggi. so who? i mean, we'll let the viewers decide and we'll let the... well, obviously you are not wanting to answer directly and your answers are directing us all towards mohammed bin salman, i get that, you are in a very sensitive session and that is in a way, what i need to discuss with you. the saudi foreign minister in a bbc interviewjust a short time ago said
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the custodian of the two holy mosques, king salman and the crown prince mbs, are a red line. they represent every saudi citizen and every saudi citizen represents them and we will not tolerate any discussion of anything that is disparaging towards the monarch or our crown prince. have you, in a way being intimidated by those words? yes, of course. i will tell you what the red line is, the red line is killing a journalist. the red line is launching strikes against civilians. the red line is seeking the death penalty against peaceful activists. the red line is giving life sentences for feminists and human rights defenders in saudi arabia. these are the true red line's that should start with the people and their human rights and basic liberties of that they should enjoy in saudi arabia.
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these are the real red line, if anybody crosses the red line, they should be held accountable. i am so mindful of your situation, you're talking me from the united states, currenlty in chicago, but every hour of everyday i know that you are thinking the fate of your father, salman alaoudh, who is there in a saudi prison, facing charges of terrorism, involvement in extremism, which could lead to the imposition of the death penalty. how do you couch your words about what is happening in saudi arabia, given the reality that is yours and your families? wel,, just saying that somebody is a red line is saying that whatever this person did, or whatever crime he may be accused of, it is just beyond the question and we should not hold anybody accountable, but just because we announce him as a red line. if i said somebody is a red line, meaning that whatever it he did,
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he would not be held accountable. have you or close members of your family spoken to him recently? they have. the health condition of him fluctuated because of a lot of mistreatment and he was deprived from sleep for a lot of time. and he was deprived from even basic medical care. he was handcuffed, chains were put on his feet, he was blindfolded for a lot of the times. interrogations continued for more than 2a hours, which is more than any law, even international law — allows. and the charges were just bogus and you know, he was transferred to a sham trial on 37 charges, including mocking the government achievements, not praying enough for the ruler, you know, receiving messages of inside rebellion against the government and things of that sort. people watching and listening around
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the world will not be familiar with your father's case. he is extremely well—known in saudi arabia as a cleric, an intellectual. he's had brushed with authorities before, spent years in prison in the 19905 because he was deemed to be dangerous and an associate of the muslim brotherhood. at one time he was seen to be a man that was admired by osama bin laden, and yet, in recent years he has been a propagator of reform, a more progressive scholar, but also it seems that he voiced some scepticism about saudi arabia's international policies, including the effort to isolate qatar in recent times.
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there are various different reasons why your father may be locked up and facing those charges and possibly facing the death penalty. why do you think the authorities have gone after your father in the last year? well, one thing is that he has the popularity that even the state does not have. to give you one indication — my father, for example, on twitter has 14 million followers — double then what the king of saudi arabia has. so, popularity and legitimacy also in the eye of the people is a thing that the state went after him for. if you ask me what legitimacy means — he came from a religious background, he combined two elements —the religious backgrounds and the islamic teaching. at the same time he embraced the democratic, he proposed progressive views and promoted that. so for the state, for authoritarian
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leaders in saudi arabia, someone who has all these elements will pose a threat, meaning to pull the rug under any authoritative leadership and will try to present as he presented in 2011, a petition that was so popular that 18,000 saudi citizens signed at that time. that petition is just one page and it was titled towards the state of rights and institutions. in that petition, he called for civil society institutions, for liberties in saudi arabia, for protection of the minorities, for empowering women and he, most importantly, called for an election of the consultative
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council, which is like a pa rliament—like council which is nowjust appointed by the king. the key point which you, his son as well as your father have been very strong on in recent times, is that you see saudi arabia needing to shift to a much more constitutional monarchy sort—of system and you personally have in recent months been very powerful in a criticism as to what you see as a trend towards authoritarianism and absolutism on behalf of mohammed bin salman. in fact, you say that he shows signs of wanting to be a more absolute monarch than any of his predecessors from the house of saud, and yet i am aware that mbs is the guy in his early 30s, his mission is to modernise and transform the country. well, i'll tell you what, you know,
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when he called for diversifying the saudi economy, he was right, but he took it from prominent economists like essam al—zamel, jamiel fairsi and burjis al—burjis, who are languished now in prison because of their economic views. when he called for social reforms and allowing women to drive, he took that from, you know, women like loujain al—hathloul, aziza al—yousef and others who also now are put in prison because of their views. when he promoted and adopted the idea of moderate islam, he took it from my father's
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and his friends and he put them injail. he's just using these reforms in a very superficial way, partially to just pr and do some pr campaigns for the west and to convince them and also to just exploit their ignorance of the local saudi society and diversity within that society. all right, i understand your point. and, of course, it's personal and of course you're mindful all the time of what fate your father is going through, but there is a point here which some analysts of saudi arabia take very seriously, that the only way to deliver transformational change in saudi arabia, given the system they have, is for somebody to seize all the levers of power and force
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through change in a frankly authoritarian way, and i'm going to quote to you professor bernard haykel, who works at princeton and is a professor of middle east studies. now, admittedly, he wrote this long before the murder of khashoggi, but he wrote of the mbs reform programme, he said, "the fact is, mbs is trying to deal with a harsh truth about saudi. the kingdom is politically and economically unsustainable, it's headed towards disaster. his message is one of authoritarian nationalism mixed with populism," and in haykel‘s view that is the only way to displace the traditional islamic hyper—conservatism. do you not buy that in any way? no, i don't, because that's what bashar al—assad said when he came to power, he said he is modernising society, he's modernising syria, and he said at that time that he is, you know, faced with a lot of challenges and he had to take
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all the powers into his hands. that's what saddam hussein did, and that's how he, you know, established an alliance with a lot of powerful countries around the world at that time. it needed a few decades to realise who saddam hussein was at that time. when he committed a lot of atrocities, they tolerated some of his atrocities until it became really, really obvious and, you know, they were not able to understand at that time. that's how they realised what saddam hussein came to be saddam hussein as we know him now. for us... you think there's a direct, immediate parallel between mohammed bin salman, who, frankly, just a couple of years ago was the darling of the strategic western powers, you think there's
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a direct parallel between him and saddam hussein and bashar al—assad, or maybe even hafez al—assad before him ? of course i do. i mean, mbsjust used the same pr campaigns that were used. he tried to convince the west of his reformist agenda, but at the same time he grabbed hold powers. he even cracked down on his relatives and other royals that he deemed rivals to him. he cracked down the hardest on those who really have the real agenda and were able to establish a relationship with the people and the west. so, abdullah, if you feel so strongly about all of that, what was your reaction, just a short time ago, when donald trump came out and said, look, saudi arabia, whatever happened to khashoggi in terms of who ordered the killing
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and how it worked out, whatever happened, saudi arabia is going to remain our us steadfast partner. he said it's all about america first. i'm not going to destroy the economy of our country by being foolish with saudi arabia. he talks about the $100 billion worth of arms deals that are in the pipeline. he talks about all the potential for american business to tap into the modernisation agenda inside saudi arabia. donald trump is convinced that it's in america's interest to stick with mbs. i think it's not in the american interest to put all the eggs in one basket, which is one powerful individual, while at the same time this powerful individual is, you know, putting all the region's stability into risk. and also, it's not in the national interest to, you know, just ignore the vast majority of the royal family,
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even in saudi arabia. and it's not in the national interest to just allow somebody to destabilise saudi arabia and the region and to, you know, risk all these good relationships between the united states and saudi arabia byjust, you know, establishing a relationship to one individual instead of building a long—term individual... with the saudi institutions, saudi royalfamily, with the saudi system itself. you talk of risk, but what of the risk on the flipside of that? what of the risk of seeing mbs undermined, seeing power in saudi arabia slip away from the ruling family and, in so doing, see a rainy and interests in the region —— in so doing, see iranian interests in the region strengthened — whether it be in lebanon, whether it be in yemen, whether it be in the gulf itself?
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that seems to be the perspective donald trump and his associates in the white house have, frankly they need saudi arabia as a regional partner and they see mbs as a powerful representative of the anti—iranian interest. there's a consensus within the saudi institutions, and the saudi royal family and the saudi people that iran could not... could pose a threat in the region and should be held accountable for any crimes committed, and to be stopped from interfering in syria or elsewhere. but, at the same time, it's not wise and it's not in the national interest... it's not a strategic interest to build a relationship with one guy who tried to present himself as the one who could solve all these issues. in reality, he's creating more issues and not solving
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the iranian issue. yeah, with that in mind then, are you proposing, as you sit in chicago as a saudi exile, are you proposing the united states government should impose much tougher sanctions on saudi? they've done targeted sanctions on 27 individuals, do you want them to go much further? do you want to see an end to arms sales to saudi arabia? what i want to see is building a long—term relationship with the saudi people, with the saudi institutions, and that's much more important and more... i mean easier than any other measure. it's building relationships with the saudi people, with the saudi royal institutions, with the majority of the royal... with the saudi royal family. if people thought, well, you are against the state, it's not true.
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we are against the royal family, it's not true. we are against the saudi people, i am one of the saudi people and in many times have represented the saudi people in different ways. we are just against one, you know, individual who has all the... who, you know, behaves in a way that destabilised saudi arabia itself. it's in the best interests of saudi arabia, the region and the us to establish a long—term relationship again. i want to end by bringing it back to the personal, because your father faces those charges which could lead to his execution. i salute your preparedness to come on this show had a very difficult time, but what do you think is your best chance of saving your father's life right now? well, i always believe in pressure and i believe why... i mean, it's one of the reasons why the attorney general‘s death penalty against my father is to
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send a strong message against whoever speaks. so our message back is we will speak, we will still speak regardless. my father's message will always be there. it will not die. the message ofjamal khashoggi will always be there, we will always fight for freedom, liberties, basic human rights and democracy in saudi arabia. abdullah alaoudh, we have to end there but i thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you so much. hello there.
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we've replaced our cold, dry weather now with something a lot more unsettled — wet, windy and much milder conditions, which will be with us in fact for the next few days. now, through today this next area of low pressure means business. it's going to be quite a deep area of low, bringing gales and heavy rain. in fact, there could be some disruption to travel throughout today, so keep tuned to your bbc local radio for all the local updates there. now, we're starting the day off, though, on a pretty mild note. we've lost the overnight frost that we've seen for the last week or so. temperatures starting off around six to eight degrees. now, we're dragging this milder air from the azores on a south—westerly wind. might not feel so mild, though, because of the gales and the rain, but it really will be milder than what we have been used to. spells of pretty heavy rain through the morning moving northwards, follow followed by showery bursts of rain further south during the afternoon.
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and then an area of much heavier, persistent rain for scotland, where we could see some pretty high rainfall totals on the hills there. temperatures, double figures for all, as high as 1a or 15 across the south—east, but it's going to be very windy indeed. 60—65mph in exposure across western coasts, and then later in the day closer to 70mph perhaps for the north—east of scotland and the northern isles. and it's a brief window of fine weather during wednesday evening before the next bout of wet and windy weather starts to spread into the south of the country as we head into the early part of thursday. now, there could be a very windy spell of weather across parts of wales and the western half of england through thursday morning, as this next little area of low pressure moves north eastwards. and with it, again, a spell of pretty heavy rain, which will clear through. and by thursday afternoon we should see a little bit of brightness breaking out, just a few blustery showers, maybe heavy and thundery, across south—western areas. temperatures down a degree or so on wednesday's values, closer to nine to 13 degrees. as we end the week, low pressure still very much in charge. again, very windy, particularly across northern areas,
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as you can see, tightly packed isobars there. it's going to be i think a bright day on friday. most of the showers, blustery showers, will be across northern and western areas. and these will be increasingly wintry over the hills, as it will be a chillier day across the north. but very blustery, again, with the risk of gales, maybe into the north of england. blustery across the south, though not quite as windy as it will be further north. and you'll notice a little bit cooler, with temperatures of nine to ten or 11 celsius. as we head on in towards the weekend, we maintain an unsettled theme, quite blustery, strong south—westerly winds. again, fairly mild across england and wales. turning a bit cooler, though, for scotland and northern ireland. i'm sharanjit leyl in singapore. the headlines: the un warns the world is way off—track in the battle against global warming. we look at why the food choices we make are having a major impact. it comes down to the key and highly controversial question of what we all choose to eat.
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indonesian investigators prepare to deliver their first report into the lion air disaster, a month after the crash in which 189 people lost their lives. i'm babita sharma in london. also in the programme: how people with paralysis are learning to control devices with just their thoughts. i'll be speaking to one of the researchers behind new pioneering technology.
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