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tv   BBC World News America  PBS  January 3, 2020 2:30pm-3:00pm PST

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>> this is bbc rld news america. reporting from washington, i'm laura trevelyan. an audacious attack in baghdad reverberates around the. wor top commander is killed by a u.s. air strike. general soleimani was planning imminent attacks against u.s. diplomats, says the white house, as the president claims this action saved lives. >> we took action t last nighto stop a war. we did not take action to start a war. >> plus, safe from the flames, australia' navy rcues a thousand people who had been trapped by thent cry's deadly bushfires. ♪[music] >> for those watching on pbs and ound the globe, welcome to world news america. iran h vowed severe revenge on
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the united states after the killing of military commander qasem soleimani, blown up outsid baghdad airport, onhe orders of president trump. u.s. officials say the general had been plotting to kill americans in the region. iranian leaders have called the killing an act of international terrorism. the pentagon isending on extra three and a half thousand troops to the mdle east in response. here's jeremy bowen. >> this was the moment tt the u.s. assassinated qasem soleimani and pushed the middle east into a new year, a new decade of uncertainty and more danger. the pictures came from a tv station controlled by iran. the attack, from a missile fired from a drone, hit his motorcade as he was being drin out of baghdad airport. the u.s. and iran were already fighng a war in the shadows, neither side wants uncontrold escalation. but the cnces of miscalculation and a lurch into
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a bigger war have increased. qasem soleimani was no ordinary. for a generation, he was probably america's most capable elemy. his deathers a blow to the heart of the iranian regime. >> for many years, soleimani built up iran's power outside its borders and made it and himself a major playe in iraq, syria and lebanon. he was a talisman for iraan hard liners. who have been rocked to their core. they'll want to get even. perhaps more than that. la sunday, american air strikes killed 25 members of kataib hezbollah, an iraqi militia. after an acan contractor was killed in a militia attack, the militia men marched on the u.s. embassy in baghdad and attacked
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its perimeter. the militias he created wereat violpart of the jihadiists of islamic state but they're also one way iran projects power abroad. the huge american compound was a fortress and it wasn't breached. but the attacks threaten the trump administration. the americans arehi rng reinforcements to the middle east. 3,750 so far. u.s. civilians told by their government to get out as soon as they can. but president trump wanted to press homn an ameri adntage. >> his reign of terrors over. soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the middle east for the l years. what the united states did yesterday should have been done long ago. we tookction last night to war.a we did not take action to start
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a war. reporter: in baghdad, iraqi kis celebrating the killing. demonstrats have been demanding an end to iranianin influenc iraq. in tehran, ayatollah khamenei, iran's supreme leader, visited soleimani's widow. he said severe revenge awaits the criminals. iranian hardliners are devastated. the spokesperson for soleimani's republican guard was highly emotional in a tv interview. so were regime supporters on the streets. qasem soleimani was their hero, at a time when they see themselves surrounded by enemies. iran was already under severe pressure from u.s.ns sanct president trump might be gambling thate so weakened iran that it will rage but not
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hurt the u.s. badly that assumption could be dangous and wrong. jeremy bowen, bbc news. theell, as we heard, president has been laying out the rational for the operation that killed general soleimani, saying the action has made the region safer. at the same time, the state department has urged americans to leav leave iraq immediately. a shortime ago i spoke to the states department spoke person. >> can you tell us what it was about the nature of the attacks on u.s. diplomats that solmani was planning that made it necessary for the u.s. to kill him now? >> we're counting at the state department at least 11 attacks on american bases that have been sponsored by iran in just the past two months. so we have all of this flurry of activities going on. then the president, secretary president'sthe national security team received some intelligence that suggesteh these attacks were imminent and would be harming americans in the region.
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we, of course, actually saw leaders of kataib hezbollah. weaw the irg a others come out and say this as well. threatening openly attacks. you have the public announcements from the irgc, om iran, from taib hezbollah. you have the attacks that already happened, plus the intelligence. so really, it's -- when we make decisions in the u.s government, it's n based on one thing. it's based on a wide array of sourows. and that's the president came to this decision. he ultimately determined that the risk of keeping soleimani alive was gater than the risk of taking him out. so we took him >> u.setary of state is saying that he wants to de-escalate tensions with iran. butt is t really credible when you've just taken out one of their key how are you going to do that? >> we actually think this action in fact d doesescalate. and the reason why we think that is because takingut him gave us the ability, at least in the short term, to stop the immediate attacks. listen, we know there's many
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other risks involved here. we understand what the iranian regime has but they have been threatening this for a long time. they've not just been threate ing it. theyen acting on it. so president trump has been very patient. we've shown a lot of restraint actually in the state department and in this administration, after numerous and numerousat prove actions. we kept warning and warning and warning. and finally,ith the killing of an american and injuring our service members, the blu was called. >> thanks so much for being with us senator tom uda is a democratic from new mexico who sits on the foreign relations committee. he spoke with me a little earlier. >> thank you so much for joining us, senator. should the president have sought the approvalf congress before killing general soleimani? >> i think he should have sought it, number one, because congress has voted and i sponsored an amendment in the senate that
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passed by a majority that said if you're going to go to war with iran, then you need to come to congress. and it's also in the constitution. that's a very specific provision in the constution that says the congress has the authority to declare war, not the president. and i think what the preside has done here, killing this major general, tha is a part of the defense establishment in iran, is the same thing as if they had attacked us and sassinated our secretary of defense on a foreign trip some place. this is getting us into aery bad road and putting us on a very bad path. >> nonetheless, the president says that he ordered this killing in order to stop a war, not to start one. what's your reaction to that?
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>> well, i'm very i think we've received bad intelligence in some of the her situations we've gotten into. i definitely feel, with this administration, they have not been very forth right with us on a number of intelligence briefings and things they've told us. so ik forward, in the next couple of days, to get back to washington and t hear from the administration specifically about the imminent threat that they're talki about. i'm not so sure, from everything i've heard right now, that there wa that kind of threat. >> and what is youry biggest wobout the potential aftermath of this, as iran promises severe revenge? >> i think he'reded toward some terrible consequences in the future. we don't knowoi what they're to be. i just pray for all of our people around the world and our embassies, our tourists that are
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around. we were not prepared for this. we didn't warn the pre and his team, as far as i know, didn't reach outr to embassies and say this is going to happen. you need to be prepared.e' so on some very shaky footing, very perilous situation right now. and i just -- i don't want to see things happen like that. but i'm very worried that they may. >> senator tom udall, thank you so much for joininghas. >> you. always a pleasure. you take care. >> so that's the view from here in the u.s. what about from iran? the country's foreign minister has condemned the killing of soleimani. speaking to a tv channel, he said his country will respond to the attack. [speaking foreign language] >> iran has the right to retaliate in whatever way it r it feelsnd whene like it is the right time. we will not be blackmailed by the americans. we will act whenever and however
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our leadership wants. >> well, for more on the iranian perspective, i spoke earlier with a member of the endowment for international peace. >> how much of a blow is general leimani's death to iran's leadership? >> it is really an enormou blow, because general soleimani has bn the architect of iran' regional policies over the last two decades. he played an incredibly important role in shaping iran's regional policies. he essentially created this foreign legion to project anian power throughout the middle east, in places like iraq, lebanon, syria and yeman. there was such a call to percent -- cult personality arernd him tha are no clear successors to him. so i think for that reason, he's not someone who is really easily replaceable for tehran. >> soleimani did warn the u.s. when he was alive we're near you in ways you can't evenag
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e. what could the revenge for his death look like? >> there's that old expression that revenge is a dish best served cold. i think that iran isot likely to react by launching attacks directly on the united states. it's more likely to be more of what iran has been doing over the last decades, which is proxy attacks againstts u.s. inter and u.s. allies, not only in the middle east but throughout the world. we've seen iran try to go after u.s. diplomats in asia, europe, lati america. i would expect iran to take more dual nationals, iranian americans hostage within iran. i think we've ueashed a very unpredictable response which could play out over the course of many, many monthde >> pre trump does say that he's not seeking regime change in iran by doing this. but do iranians believe that?>> he iranian regime, of
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course, has always been convinced that the u.s. is after regime change in tehran. but i think president trump has been very critical of past u.s. efforts to bring about democracy ande regime cha in the middle east. it's also clear trump thinks that war -- another war in the middle east woulde inimical to his own chances of re-election in 2020. so i think that iran's supreme leader has toe carefulow he responds, if he responds excessively, risks provoking a massive u.s. response. if he responds too little, he risks losing face. i think ayatollah khamenei do everything in his power in 2020 to try to make donald trump a one-term president. >> well, this is obviously a dramatic development for a gicomplicated . here to break it all down is kenneth pollock, a former c.i.a. intelligence analyst. thanks for being withs. >> pleasure, laura. >> so you wrote that general soleimani was like a combination
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of lady gaga, james bond and romo all rolled into one. how significant is the moment of his death? >> very significant. he was hugely important for iranians. he was ext pmelyular within iran. he was a critical element of the iranian leadership. arguably perhaps the second most powerful m in iran. addition, all across the middle east, this was thef mastermind iran's regional strategy, who had wonnt css victories for iran over the last 20 years. when you look at it, just objectively, iran had a pretty weak hand in the middle east, tespecially compared united states. it was qasem soleimani who played that hand bolliantly that he repeatedly won victories, won hands that iran had no business winning. >> and yetous u.s. presidents, when given the opportunity to kill him, passed on it because they were fearful
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of what it would unleash. what could the consequences be time? >> this is the problem. we don't know. but you're absolutely right. inistrations certainly thought about, may have had opportunities, as they hecharacterized it, passed on those opportunities because they didn't know how iran wld respond. and it's dangerous business for states to start killing off other's highest level leaders. we probably wouldn'e it if the iranians kild off someone like a mike pompeo. i's more or less equivalent to qasem soleimanin their system. in addition, the iranians have lots of ways to hurt us. they don't match our economic or conventional military power but their terrorist capability, their unconventionalre war capabilities are very formidable. and we know they've been growing their cybercapabilities. we just don't know how they'll respond but we have to expect that they will respond, they'll respond at a time and place of their own choosing, which means they will try to respond in a way and in an area that is advantageous for them and will
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be most hurtful to the united states. >> the iraqis are saying this atta was violation of their sovereignty. there are now calls by lawmakers to kick.s. troops out. have we basically seeded iraq to iran? >> i think we're going to find out. we mayind out as soon as tomorrow. the iraqi p sliament is to start debating whether or not to evict the american troops to they may well choose to do so. all that said, i think in the short term, we do need togn ree that this was a very significantca tac victory for the united states. soleimani was unique. there is no other iranian wh his experience, with his intelligence, his insight, his contacts. the fear that he bred throughout iraq, syria, lebon, elsewhere. removing him is a big blo to iran. the iraqis may not be as ready to ejict us with him -- evict ui him gone. the fact that we've now killed
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soleimani may give them pause. they may fear we might kill somebody else as well. >> thanks for being with us. you're watching bbc world news america. still to come on tonight's program, fleeing the fires in australia. we look at t struggles of those on the ground and the officials trying to contain the disaster. ♪[music] >> several high temperature records have broken in the u.k., between 2010nd 2019, making the last decade the second hottest in 100 years. british weather experts say last year alone, fouror new r were set, including the highest winter and summer temperatures ever recorded in the united kingdom. here's our analyst. >> the u.k.'s hottest day on record came in cambridge last july. the heat there felt punhing, like the tropics, 38.7 degrees
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celsius. transports struggled to cope with fires b train lines. it was one o eight temperature becords set in the past decade, a record n of record temperatures. take the scottish highlands. it looksikely to have set a u.k. maximum record for december. by contrast, there was just one low temperature record, the in marchm the east, last year. >> our climate changes naturally. we see fluctuations from year to year, mon to mon sometimes. but because of climate chang you've got that extra level of warming. so when you see the heat wave events coming, the extraevel of warming means we get more intense heat waves, mor extreme temperatures within those heat waves. so it just adds that extra layer, leading to great impacts from the weather that we would normally see. reporter: 2019 was wetter thaner ave, the office says. they say rising temratures are likely to bring more extreme
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rain to the british aisles. overall, this decade was the secondarmest since 1910. last year was the 11th warmest year. and all the u.k.'s warmer years me this century. globally this year will either be second or third hottest on reonrd. as pollu from our societies continues to heat the planet. bbc news. ♪[music] >> the focus today has, of course, been on the middle east. but let's look now atther news making headlines. french police say they've shot dead a man w stabbed a number of people in a park in a suburb south of paris. one of those stabbed has die two others badly injured. the victims appear to have been randomly chosen. a cleanup operation has begun in
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indonesia. jakarta and the surrounding district have struggled to cope since the storm on new year's eve left large areas under water. at least 43 people arenown to housandsd and tens of have been left homeless by the the united methodist church here in the u. could soon split in two ovueer the if gay marriage, according to a plan announced today. the church, 18 mlion members worldwide, are divided over whether to allow same-sex unions and openly gay clergy. if approved, the new plan would create two separate branches of. method the australia navy hasescued around 1,000 people who had beep d by bushfires on the country's southeastern coast. rgns of thousands of oths have been to move to safety amid fears that the fires could get worse. eight people have died this week, re than 400 homes lost. our correspondent reports now from a location about 100 south of sydney. reporter: for the first time in
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days, nearly a thousand tourists and residents can breathe a little more easily, as they're finally moved to safety. to navy has stepped i rescue those who are stranded on the beach, when they were encircled by an uncontrollable fire on monday. a state of disaster has been declared in eastern victoria, ahead of tomorrow's extreme conditions. up to 100,000 a residents being told to evacuate. good if you can -- >> if you can leave, you must leave. that's the only safe thing for yoy, your fam and indeed for yours who may be called to assistance. we cannot guarantee your safety. reporter: in new south wales, the message is the same. fire authorities have said that saturday's blazes could be as bad as, if not worsehan those of new year's eve. in the coastal town, firefighters are racing to protec those who have decided stay. despite the warnings, jeff and
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pam ma decided they're not leaving their small town of inlet. >> we got the hoses lady. we decided if t ambulance come -- if the fires do hit hard, we've got a b hte. we're gonna jump in the boat and go out to sea. i'll just take the family and the dogs. reporter: jay martin is also staying put to defend his housen to help friends and neighbors. he tells me the anticipation of disaster is what worries him. >> waiting. that's the hardest part. just waiting. there's people doi a lot. i've justeen waiti. just hoping it all passes and we get a bit of rain on monday. reporter: a blaze has just hisrted on the bush in area, st beyond that tree line. firefighters are watching closelyer their concern is that with the wind picking up, this could travel very fast and get here.
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they've been contr area, making sure that properties here are protected. that's really the main aim. reporter: politically, this has been a rou ride forhe prime minister, who has been regularly criticized for how he has handled the bushfire crisis. it's not just the residents who have made their feelings clear. scott morrison said he undersod the anger but was focusing on the task at hd. >> concerns are obviously now, looking out over the next rt of 24-, 48-hour period. this is a ferocious fire that is still out there and the ciomatic cond are going to be very difficult to contain in the next 24 to 48 hours. that's why theio evacu messages are so incredibly important. reporter: at least a real sense of dread aboutl what w happen in these coming hours, at a time when many had planned family holidays. australians now wait for another firestorm to blaze through. bbc news, on the southern coast of new south wales.
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>> and before we go, let's recap our top story tonight. the killing of iran's general soleimani. presidentrump says the killing of qasem soleimani is meant to prevent a war, not start a war. mr. trump ordered the predawn tack that killed the iranian military commander. tehran hase vowed sever revenge for his death. u.s. officials have said three and a halfithousand addional troops will be sent to the middle et as a precaution. they have urged americans to leave iraq immediately for their own safety. you can find much more on top story at our website, plus to see what we're working on checke, do make sure to us out on twitter. i'm laura trevelyan. thank you for watching world news america. and do enjoyhe weekend. ♪[music] narrator: fund for this presentation is g .. made possible babbel, an online program designed by language specialists
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teaching spanish, french and more. narrator: funding was also provided by... . the freeman foundati by judy and peter blum-kovler foundation. pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewke you, thank you. narrator: be more, pbs. ♪
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>> last night, at my direction, the united states military sfully executed a flawle precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world. >> woodruff: a u.s. air strike kills one of iran's top military leaders, escalating tensions to a new level. as tehran vows to taliate, we consider what the strike for u.s. interests and allies in the middle east, and around the world i ans friday. mark shields and david brooks are here to analyze today's iran new the democratic presidential campaign, w


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