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JOHN HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon. The
Northern Alliance is still on the advance in Afghanistan, it seems they
are about to take Konduz if they haven't already. How much responsibility
do the United States and Britain have for what now happens to the Afghan
people. I'll be talking to Robin Cook about that. We'll also be looking
at what happens after Afghanistan in the war against terrorism. And must
we sacrifice some of our civil liberties to fight the terrorists, I'll
be asking that of Charles Kennedy. That's after the news read by George
HUMPHRYS: So as we heard there in the
news it seems the town of Konduz. The Taliban's last northern stronghold
is about to fall to the Northern Alliance. It's true we have been saying
that for a while now, but given the forces ranged against them and all
the desertions from their ranks, they really can't hold out much longer.
But that's not the end of it, not by a long way. They still hold much
of the southern half of the country including their traditional stronghold
Kandahar. Could that be a long fight and while all that's going on, what
about the search for bin Laden and all those British troops who have been
on standby for more than a week now. Let's get some analysis of it all
from Air Marshal Sir Tim Garden. Air Marshal.
SIR TIM GARDEN: After the drama of the
great breakout by the Northern Alliance, the last seven days have been
more a time of consolidation, negotiation and localised fighting. The
Taliban's northern stronghold of Konduz has been under siege all week.
Northern Alliance forces which are shown here in yellow have surrounded
it on all sides, and the Americans have been continuing air strikes to
cover the defences. An ultimatum to those in the city started negotiations
in the middle of the week. The sticking point for a surrender was whether
the foreign fighters in the town could have safe passage out of the country
and into Pakistan.
Disputes between Northern
Alliance forces General Dostum's Uzbek forces pressing from the West,
and the Tajik forces of the Northern Alliance pressing from the East have
increased the confusion. There's no doubt that Konduz will fall, in fact
very soon, it may even have fallen this morning. The hope is now whether
a massacre will be prevented. The front line today leaves the Taliban with
about three or four provinces in the south and with their forces concentrated,
we've shown those in green, in Kandahar.
US bombing has continued,
but the weather has been a bit of a problem on occasions for laser guided
attacks, which in one case were directed by US troops on horseback. A case
of the cavalry coming to the rescue. Nor is the rest of the country entirely
safe from Taliban forces. Fierce fighting continued in some areas north
of the front line, including Maidan Shahr, where we had Northern Alliance
forces, elements of Taliban forces, and local warlords getting mixed up
Another danger area is
the road from Kabul to Jalalabad, where four journalists were murdered
this week, allegedly by Taliban fighters, when their convoy was stopped
around here. There are also worries that the Hazara forces (from the central
part of the country) and now on the outskirts of Kabul are looking for
a bit of the capital to call their own.
There are now secure airfields
at Mazar up in the north, where the French are expected to establish a
presence perhaps followed by the Jordanians and they'll set up a hospital,
and there's the airfield north of Kabul at Bagram, where the one hundred
British special forces are securing the airfield. After a week of rather
mixed signals, it now looks as though the six thousand or so British troops
on standby back in the UK are unlikely to be deployed in the next few days.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: Air Marshal, given that
there aren't any coalition forces on the ground. What's to stop Konduz
ending in a massacre?
GARDEN: Well I think there are
various factors now. One is that they want Kandahar to fall, and of course
if they kill all the foreign fighters then that will encourage the foreign
fighters in Kandahar to try and stay till a last ditch effort. The other
thing is that there's this conference just outside Bonn in Germany on Tuesday
and the Northern Alliance are going to want to look respectable at that,
so I think that's another encouragement for them to treat the foreign fighters
as prisoners of war.
HUMPHRYS: Why does there seem to
be (perhaps we are wrong about this) but so little progress in sorting
out the Taliban down in Kandahar?
GARDEN: I think it's a very different
situation down there, broadly a Pashtun area, they don't seem to have a
Southern Alliance like the Northern Alliance, and what's happening is that
little local areas are getting so irritated by all the bombing they're
overthrowing their local Taliban, but they're now concentrated in an area
where there isn't the force on the ground to take them, and that's going
to be the important part.
HUMPHRYS: So what are the priorities
now for Britain and the United States?
GARDEN: Humanitarian aid I think
is the first one, which has been flowing in really rather well, and in
the past month the target of fifty-thousand metric tons was achieved for
the first time, despite reports of problems caused by theft and banditry.
The first aircraft with
some aid aboard landed at Bagram airfield on Thursday. But the Americans
have a different priority. The hunt for Osama bin Laden and the leadership
of Al-Qaeda has become even more intense. The search is concentrated in
two areas, around Kandahar and Jalalabad. Global Hawk, the US high tech
surveillance drone, is in action over the likely areas.
Two-hundred thousand leaflets
were dropped offering a twenty-five million dollar reward for Bin Laden's
capture. US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld said `It was like snowflakes in
a Chicago winter'. But there seems to be little expectation that Bin Laden
can be taken alive. A Pentagon general when asked about the difficulties
of searching likely places said: "Our specialized approach to caves and
tunnels is to drop five-hundred pound bombs on the entrance"; and a Saudi
newspaper has reported that Bin Laden has ordered his aides to kill him
if he risks falling into US hands.
But to guard against the
risk of escape, the US Navy is now authorised to stop and search ships
off the Pakistan coast. Surveillance to prevent Bin Laden escaping by helicopter
is continuous. Yet there are still worries that Bin Laden might manage
to make it across the border into Pakistan, and hide among supporters there.
HUMPHRYS: What do you think the
chances are that they'll get him, kill him or capture him or whatever?
GARDEN: Well I think now the chances
are reasonably high that they'll kill him, but the trouble is will they
know that they've killed him, because if he is sealed in a tunnel we won't
find him, if he's hit by air attacks he may not be found. But the real
question is does he want everybody to know that he's been killed and in
that case we may well know.
HUMPHRYS: But of course I suppose
we hope that somebody will give him up, somebody will go for that twenty-five
million dollar ransom.
GARDEN: Well, that's certainly
the hope, although there are indications from the United States that they
would be probably more pleased if he was killed.
HUMPHRYS: Rumsfeld said that in
effect didn't he. He wanted to see him dead.
GARDEN: Probably an unwise thing
to say, but nevertheless many of the people in the Alliance would quite
like to see him, just like Milosevic brought to trial at some form of international
HUMPHRYS: Air Marshal, many thanks.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: The search to find a
new government for Afghanistan moves from the battlefields of that country
to a meeting room in Germany this week. Representatives of many of the
different factions have accepted an invitation from the United Nations
to get together to try to form the sort of broad-based government that
the coalition is hoping will take over. It's going to be quite a task.
And there's a long way to go yet anyway before Afghanistan is ready for
a new government. As we've just seen, the Taliban are still holding on
in some parts of the country. There are worries about how victorious Northern
Alliance troops in places like Konduz will treat the non-Afghan Taliban,
as we've been hearing, many of them from Pakistan of course. Pakistan has
said, since the coalition has made it possible for the Northern Alliance
to seize power, we have responsibility for their actions. Earlier this
morning I spoke to Robin Cook, the Leader of the House and a member of
the War Cabinet. I asked him if he agreed with that?
ROBIN COOK MP: Well we certainly do have
a responsibility to share with the Northern Alliance what our views are
and how they should conduct themselves and I think John, if we look back
over the past two weeks, the conduct of the Northern Alliance in the towns
that have fallen has been actually much better than many people would have
predicted or would have expected and I hope we can keep that up. And one
point to bear in mind in relation to the current siege at Konduz is that
of course next week we do start the diplomatic talks in Bonn and I very
much hope that the knowledge that those talks are going to take place and
the fact that every different ethnic group involved in the Northern Alliance
wants to get an outcome that is of advantage, of help to them to make sure
they're represented, they would not want at this stage to do anything that
would jeopardise their place at that talks or the respect at the table.
HUMPHRYS: But if they did want
to do something, particularly about the non-Afghan Taliban in Konduz. There
are real worries being expressed as you know about how they might deal
with them, there really isn't very much we could do about it is there?
COOK: Well we certainly have to
be realistic John about the extent to which we have a practical capacity
to influence the military position. We do not have any significant number
of military forces in the area, for instance. But having said that John,
so far the closing stages of the siege have gone well, we've heard the
reports of the Taliban fighters leaving Konduz, indeed even actually being
welcomed by the fighters surrounding Konduz. In relation to the al-Qaeda
troops who may well be in Konduz, we would expect them to be arrested,
we would want them to be arrested in order that we ourselves can put questions
to them, after all these are people who will have important information
for us that we want to hear and we will expect them to be treated in the
way that a prisoner of war would be normally.
HUMPHRYS: Moving south from Konduz
down to Kandahar, there are reports in one or two of the papers this morning,
seemingly authoritative who knows, who says we and the United States are
going to put troops into Kandahar to help with the battle of Kandahar when
it, if, when it begins to be a real battle. Anything in that, do you think?
COOK: Well John you said authoritative,
in fact in one Sunday newspaper, and I'm not sure quite how authoritative
I would take that, if you look back over the past month, there's been no
situation in which we have put British troops into the ground civil war
and I don't myself imagine that's going to change.
HUMPHRYS: There is one thing that's
absolutely certain isn't there and that is that we are not putting troops
on the ground as part of a stabilisation force to help with the humanitarian
effort. Do we still and there seems to be a certain uncertainty about this,
do we still have troops on standby for that, or do we not?
COOK: Oh we do still have troops
on standby. We put them on standby some days ago and the reason for that
of course John was in the wake of the collapse of the Taliban and the dramatic
developments on the ground, we did prepare to make sure that we could be
ready if there was worst case scenario. Fortunately as I said earlier,
the situation has been better than anybody could have hoped for, there
has not been the need for those troops on the ground. We'll continue obviously
to keep the situation under review, but frankly I think we should welcome
the fact that their presence has not been needed in Afghanistan. This is
not a reverse, this is actually an advance.
HUMPHRYS: Well it does depend who
you listen to, doesn't it? I mean if you listen to Oxfam, what they were
saying yesterday, let me quote to you, you probably heard it anyway "large
areas of the country, riven by factionalism, war, looting, banditry and
fear, more and more violence, is preventing food getting through".
COOK: Well there are problems and
indeed nobody is pretending that Afghanistan has now achieved a position
of stability of law and order, indeed, that is why we are urgently trying
to get all the leaders and their representatives together next week in
order that we can establish an interim government to provide central law
and order. But on the humanitarian side to which the British government,
Tony Blair in particular, attached great importance right since the start,
the humanitarian aid is getting through, I mean twice in the recent days
we have got more than two thousand tons through and indeed at the end of
last week, the World Food Programme had exceeded the target that was necessary
over a monthly period. One of the perhaps curious features of Afghanistan
is that since September the eleventh more humanitarian food has got in
that in the two months preceding September the eleventh. Now we want to
make sure we continue that. We attach great priority to the humanitarian
process and that of course will be made much easier if we can make progress
on the diplomatic political front next week in Bonn.
HUMPHRYS: The food may have got
in, it hasn't necessarily been distributed to the people who need it most
and the sorts of problems that Oxfam talked about and that you acknowledge
suggest that that is precisely why some sort of stabilisation force is
COOK: Well John as I said, we do
recognise that there are indeed very real problems on the ground and indeed
and Afghanistan it has always been difficult to travel through the length
and breadth of the country. But the food is now getting in in sufficient
quantity. What we now need is to work to create a central authority which
will help us to make sure that it gets through to the people in need. There
is now enough food in the region and there is a substantial stockpile of
food within Afghanistan. We need the co-operation of people in Afghanistan
to make sure we can get it into the outer areas where some of the problems
HUMPHRYS: Your Cabinet colleague,
Clare Short, made it perfectly clear last week, what she thought. She said
the United States is not taking the humanitarian role seriously enough.
COOK: I think we should all remind
ourselves that eighty per cent of the food that we are delivering in Afghanistan
is provided by the United States and that's quite a substantial contribution
in the case of Afghanistan. At the time Clare was speaking we were then
not able to get the food convoys through and that was very frustrating
for Clare and for all of us, since then there has been some improvement
indeed convoys are getting through from Peshawar to Kabul, into Jalalabad
and we need to make sure that we continue with that progress. But the situation
is improving and indeed the food going in now is actually greater than
it's been even before the war began.
HUMPHRYS: But the point she was
making and this only a few days ago, was that we need troops on the ground
to get that food distributed to the people who need it most and the Americans
are stopping those troops being deployed.
COOK: I don't think that's quite
accurate John and indeed I don't think that's what Clare said. Indeed there
are American troops in Afghanistan, indeed there are American troops alongside
our troops at Bagram airport and they're there precisely to make sure that
we can secure the airport for movement for humanitarian purposes, or indeed
for the political and diplomatic purposes that we see going on next week
HUMPHRYS: Yes but they are focused
purely on the military effort aren't they and they are not there as part
of a stabilisation force and the whole point of us putting all of those
six thousand troops on standby, that Geoff Hoon told us about on this programme
last week, was precisely that they'd become some sort of stabilisation
force to help with the humanitarian effort and so on.
COOK: Yes but I think we should
all be relieved, pleased, that in fact the situation in Afghanistan has
not been the chaos, the anarchy, the bloodshed that was predicted by many
and that the Northern Alliance, partly because of the way in which we have
maintained close advice and close pressure on them, have actually behaved
much better than was expected there. Now John, in the fullness of time,
out of what may happen in Bonn, out of the discussions in New York, there
may well be a UN force deployed in Afghanistan. Maybe the British and US
and other forces may play a part in the support for that UN force, but
at the present time, nobody is proposing that there should be a mass British
presence on the ground and indeed at the present time there is nobody saying
that it is necessary even on the humanitarian front where the food is now
getting through in large quantities.
HUMPHRYS: So why are they still,
all of those British troops, six thousand of them, still on standby?
COOK: John I think it's very important
that we should make sure we have our contingencies there in case the situation
should deteriorate and we will review the situation on a day by day cases
decide whether or not that notice to move should be reduced, should be
increased, what the position should be in keeping them on standby. Our
troops are very flexible, they can increase and they can reduce the notice
to move quite well, it's part of their normal drill. I think it's important
that we should be ready if they are needed, but equally I think the British
people would be puzzled if they were sent in if they were not needed.
HUMPHRYS: So at the moment it's
looking pretty unlikely that they will go in, at least for the foreseeable
future. I mean you seem to be suggesting that nothing will happen until
after the meeting in Germany and then after the discussions that follow
that and so on.
COOK: I don't think we should expect
the meeting in Germany is going to be the last word in the future of Afghanistan.
It's a first step in order to try and make sure that we do have an interim
government, we do have some form of central authority with whom we can
deal with in Afghanistan. And you know, if ten days ago we'd been having
this interview, you know none of us would have dared predict that we would
actually be successful in getting all the different factions, all the different
ethnic groups to come together to discuss how they work together to create
that interim government. I think, yes, it would be unlikely except in
the development of some real drama that any of us would want to move in
the interim while these talks continue. I mean we will have to see what
comes out of them.
HUMPHRYS: The old thing about taking
the horse to water, not necessarily being able to make it drink. It's one
thing to have the Northern Alliance there, it's another thing, because
they seem to regard themselves as a de facto government anyway, it's another
thing to get them agree..to agree to the sort of broad based government
that we insist is absolutely necessary. And it's more difficult to put
the sort of pressure on them that might be needed if we don't have any
forces on the ground isn't it.
COOK: Well, John, it's certainly
the case that there's a big hill still to be climbed and nobody should
under-estimate the difficulty that there will be in getting a break through
in the course of the talks in Bonn and I think the likely outcome is that
there will be, or we hope to achieve an interim government and the agreement
on the steps towards how we then go ahead to provide for a more permanent
government within Afghanistan. I think the objectives in Bonn necessarily
will be interim objectives. Yes, it's not going to be easy and some of
these diplomatic and political tasks never are easy but let's not lose
sight of how far we've come. You know, I'm told when you're climbing the
Himalayas you should look back and look at how far you've come, run forward
at how far you've got to go. And it is quite remarkable that we've been
able to put together this broad conference of the different factions within
Afghanistan. That's not happened for a decade.
HUMPHRYS: No, but the difficulty
now is that if the Northern Alliance see themselves, as they do, as the
effective government of the country, we are almost, or the other parties
let's put it like this, are almost in a position of supplicants and the
Northern Alliance in the position of being able to say, well we may have
you in, we may have you in, we may have you in, we may not have you in
and you in and you in. That isn't how it was meant to be is it?
COOK: Well, I can well understand
that there are going to be people in Bonn, who are going to say, well thank
you very much we are not having back the Taliban hardliners who run down
Afghanistan over the past five years and caused so much oppression and
hardship in Afghanistan. But we would expect them and I think there's a
very real reason to expect that they would wish to do this, to have involved
in any interim government representatives of the Pashtuns within Afghanistan.
They afterall are forty per cent of the population of Afghanistan and nobody,
including the Northern Alliance, can hope to have a stable government in
Kabul that does not include representatives of that forty per cent, some
of whom of course over the past two months have been very supportive of
the international coalition and of our efforts to bring about the fall
of Taliban and to bring to justice al-Qaeda and Bin Laden.
HUMPHRYS: But when push comes to
shove, if they are obdurate, if the Northern Alliance prove to be obdurate
and certainly their record, if you are talking about looking back in the
Himalayas, look back at their history and that tells you they are likely
to be very difficult indeed, if they are obdurate, there's not a lot we
can do to pressure them in truth is there.
COOK: John, as I say, I'm not saying
it's going to be easy. I'm certainly not complacent about the very great
difficulties that face us in front. I think that it would be wrong though
John, to suggest that in any way we can use military pressure on the ground
in order to force them to enter into the kind of agreements that are needed.
What we are offering and this I think may be much more effective in getting
a solution, what we are offering, is we are offering a partnership with
the international community to rebuild Afghanistan, to provide a future
for it, for its young people, for its women who have been so oppressed
for so long and indeed for the political leadership who will benefit from
that kind of partnership and reconstruction. But if they want that partnership,
if they want that reconstruction, then they've got to deliver a government
in Kabul that can speak for all the people of Afghanistan, not just some
of its ethnic communities.
HUMPHRYS: The problem is from
our perspective is that it is we who have helped put them in that position
isn't it. That's our responsibility?
COOK: Well, in a sense it is Taliban
more than anybody else's responsible for the present situation because
they refused to hand over Bin Laden, they refused themselves to do any
kind of deal with the Northern Alliance, they oppressed and carried out
extraordinary atrocities against all the other ethnic communities in Afghanistan,
they more than anybody else have to accept responsibility for where we
are and frankly if you mean by your question, we were responsible for getting
Taliban out of office and reduced their position which they hold only
a few pockets in Afghanistan, then yes you are right and frankly I think
that's been good for the people of Afghanistan and good for the rest of
the world if it now enables us to capture Bin Laden and those who plotted
the mass murder in New York.
HUMPHRYS: Robin Cook, many thanks.
I was talking to Mr Cook
a bit earlier this morning.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: Hamid Karzai is a Pashtun
and he was the Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan before the Taliban
took over. Washington has been pinning many of it hopes on him to rally
opposition to the Taliban around Kandahar. He won't be at the conference
in Germany because he has got too much to do at home . I spoke to him
on a satellite phone a few minutes ago and asked him how much of a fight
the Taliban will put up for Kandahar.
HAMID KARZAI: In truth in the provinces
surrounding Kandahar, the provincial administration centre, the provincial
capitals have fallen to popular revolt where the Taliban governors and
the other administrators have run away without putting up a fight or any
resistance and those provinces are peaceful and they are in the hands of
people. I hope the Taliban in Kandahar will do the same, I hope they will
run away and let these people take over.
HUMPHRYS: If they don't, if they
put up a real fight, do you want British and American forces to help.
KARZAI: If they continue to cause
bloodshed for our people, if they continue to shelter these terrorists
in Afghanistan and continue to give them an opportunity to fight the Afghans
and cause suffering to the Afghan people, we Afghans will be capable on
our own when we decide to challenge them and to neutralise them.
HUMPHRYS: But American bombing
- you'd want that?
KARZAI: I hope the bombing will
stop as soon as possible and we have peace returned to Afghanistan and
I hope that Mullah Omar would not cause any more trouble to the Afghan
people. The bombing has been there because he has been protecting the terrorists
and I hope he would not cause any more bombing of Afghanistan.
HUMPHRYS: Moving to the talks in
Germany, do you believe that the Northern Alliance is truly prepared to
accept a broad based government that might even include some members, former
members of the Taliban?
KARZAI: The United Front is an
Afghan organisation, it's an Afghan group, they are as much a part of Afghanistan
as the other people of Afghanistan are. I hope they would recognise and
I hope they will see the need that Afghanistan needs to take a new look
that the people of Afghanistan are to determine their future. I don't think
it's up to groups in Afghanistan, whether the United Front or this or that
or any other front to take power without the will of the Afghan people.
I would recommend very much to all our Afghan friends and brothers that
they allow a Loya Jirga, a representative process of the Afghan people
to determine the future of the country.
HUMPHRYS: And if that Loya Jirga
as you describe it, the representatives meeting, if it says we would like
to see some of the Taliban in the future government, would you accept that
KARZAI: I don't think the Loya
Jirga would say that, I'm sure about that but if the Loya Jirga makes a
decision one way or the other it's a decision of the people that has to
be respected but I very much doubt that the Loya Jirga would even consider
a thing like that.
HUMPHRYS: And just a final thought,
do you think that in the future Afghanistan it would be helpful to have
a British and American and perhaps other forces acting as a sort of stabilising
force to help control some of the key towns and cities in Afghanistan?
KARZAI: Yes the Afghans would very
much need the presence of a stabilising forces in Afghanistan, the help
of the international community, especially the United States and Europe
is extremely critical, I hope they would also be talking to our neighbours
to see that Afghanistan returns to stability. The Afghan people very much
want stability, they are people just like any other country, just like
any other people. They want life, they want to earn a decent living and
if that is helped by outside, by the international community it should
be a tremendously good thing for us.
HUMPHRYS: Mr Karazi, many thanks
for talking to us this morning.
KARZAI: Thank you.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: So what are we to
make of all that? Well Fred Halliday is the Professor of International
Relations at the London School of Economics. He's got a book coming out
this week as it happens on the implications of September the eleventh.
Professor, the chances
of success for that meeting in Germany - great, non-existent - what?
PROFESSOR FRED HALLIDAY: Well, I think the fact that it's
happening is a success on two levels, one is enough Afghan parties are
going to talk, nobody's trying to take victory for themselves, nobody thinks
they can create a strong central government and simply run Afghanistan
like the Communists did, or indeed the Taliban did.
HUMPHRYS: Not even the Northern
HALLIDAY: No. The Northern Alliance
know they can't rule the rest of the country and of course then we come
to the second point. The problem in Afghanistan in the last ten years
hasn't been the cold war which ended a decade ago, it's been the regional
states, particularly a proxy conflict between Pakistan on the one hand
backing the Taliban, Iran on the other hand backing the Northern Alliance.
Now Iran and Pakistan have done some sort of deal for the time being,
they've agreed to let this go forward and one of the purposes of the Bonn
conference, one of the purposes of the whole UN diplomatic effort is to
make sure that the regional states who've been messing Afghanistan up will
co-operate in the process and I think that's a good sign.
People will bargain -
that's politics, but the fact that so many people are willing to go there
and again if you compare it to Yugoslavia, no-one is trying to ethnically
cleanse anybody. Nobody is trying to secede, there's nobody saying we
want to leave Afghanistan. People talk about nation building in Afghanistan.
There is an Afghan nation, it's a very decentralised one but there is one.
So some of the omens are good.
HUMPHRYS: But I note you say in
that answer 'for the time being'.
HALLIDAY: Well, I don't think any
outside power, neither the Russians nor the Americans, nor any of the regional
powers, are going to start arming and stoking up a war in Afghanistan,
which has been going on for twenty years. Even before the Communists came
to power Pakistan was doing it in the seventies. And I think secondly
the people of Afghanistan are tired and even the leaders realise they've
got to do some kind of deal. So if you can find a mechanism to set up
a transitional government, put in some international money, then the chances
of stabilising it are reasonably great. Then all sorts of problems of
real life and politics like landmines, like rights for women, like the
drugs trade - those problems will be there, but you will have a reasonably
coherent government with a bit of international support and that would
be a step forward from twenty years of war.
HUMPHRYS: But that's making the
assumption is it that the Northern Alliance will agree to give up some
power. I mean I was talking to the Foreign Secretary there and I put it
to him then as you'll have heard, that it is........
HALLIDAY: .......he's not the Foreign
HUMPHRYS: ....former Foreign Secretary.
Good Heavens alive, I'm a wee bit out of date there, aren't I. Leader
of the House and a member of the War Cabinet..
HALLIDAY: ..fine man but not the
HUMPHRYS: ...fine man but not the
Foreign Secretary. Making the point that they see themselves as - the
Northern Alliance now see themselves as the government of Afghanistan.
So they've got to give way?
HALLIDAY: They've got to give way.
But look, let's face it, they got what they did because the Americans
and the Brits came in on their side and they know that very well. Secondly
if they're going to get international money from this trust fund, we're
talking five - ten billion US dollars is being offered, they're going to
have to compromise. Thirdly, they know what I don't think they knew before
and the Taliban didn't realise which is that you can't run Afghanistan
representing only half of the country, so they've got to work with people
from the Pashtun area like Hamid Karzai who you had on and even perhaps
some people who were associated with the Taliban, provided these people
don't want to lock up women, provided they don't want to export terrorism,
provided they don't want to run the country on their own. So I think there
is a basis for a compromise there. But the other problem is that the
Northern Alliance are not agreed among themselves. You see General Dostum
is trying to claim the capture of Konduz for himself, so he's got his own
Uzbek agenda there. So there are problems within the Northern Alliance
which may create further difficulties.
HUMPHRYS: And if the Northern Alliance
does split, if they start to fight each other, then what - how does that
get sorted out?
HALLIDAY: I don't think they'll
start to fight each other in a major way. I'd be surprised. There' a
lot of guns there, but people are in a bargaining mood, they're in a political
mood if you like. And then the people who control them, the Americans,
the Iranians and others are pushing them towards a compromise, so I'd be
optimistic there. There may be the odd clash, but they won't hang on to
every ministry in Kabul and at the end of the day you decentralise in Afghanistan.
This is a country with no great population problems, which has got a large
amount of water and cultivatable land. If you let the people get back to
agriculture and let them get back to trading, the government will look
HUMPHRYS: And might we see some
element of the Taliban in that government?
HALLIDAY: We will see Pashtuns
who were associated with the Taliban, but they're not going to be Taliban.
A bit like reformed Communists in Eastern Europe. They're not going to
export terrorism to Central Asia, they're not going to give harbour to
Bin Laden, they're not going to try and impose this very rigid and un-Afghan
version of Islam on the women of Afghanistan, they're not going to do that.
HUMPHRYS: You sound reasonably
HALLIDAY: I know you're not an
HUMPHRYS: No, no!
HALLIDAY: I think there's reason
to be ..
HUMPHRYS: I just ask questions.
That's all. But you are reasonably optimistic?
HALLIDAY: Yes, and I think the
regional states above all are willing to go along with it for the time
HUMPHRYS: Professor Halliday, many
HUMPHRYS: Well, we may be in the
final stages of getting rid of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and seeing a new
government in power in Afghanistan, Professor Halliday is pretty optimistic
as we hear. Then what? It won't be the end of the so-called war on terrorism
... not even the beginning of the end if we are to take at face value what
the American administration says about it. The Vice President himself,
Dick Cheney, has said the tentacles of Bin Laden's terrorist network have
spread to forty or fifty other countries. It's no secret that other senior
figures in Washington regard Iraq as enemy number one and want to use this
to bring down Saddam Hussein. Iain Watson looks at the wider war on terrorism
and what form it might take now.
IAIN WATSON: This is living history,
a cold war bunker deep within rural England, closed down in less pessimistic
times. But now the cobwebs are being swept from many of the world's secret
command and control centres as phase two of the war against terror advances.
But beneath the surface, the question of how many countries to target and
by what means, is causing friction
RICHARD PERLE: Without a wider assault
on terrorism, terrorism will continue, it's as simple as that. So the answer
is we cannot stop with al-Qaeda or Bin Laden alone, or we will be repeating
the mistake of Desert Storm where we ended that war before Saddam was effectively
MICHAEL ANCRAM MP: It has to obviously leave open
the door to military action. Not just military action where there is incontrovertible
evidence of international terror, then all options should be available
to deal with it.
JOHN BATTLE MP: I think any escalation
of the military action in Iraq would be disastrous at the present time,
we should discourage it, frankly
WATSON: Tactical divisions in the
US Administration had been hidden behind the mantra "one step at a time,
Afghanistan first". But as phase two in the war against terror draws closer,
tensions are beginning to show. The administration are currently discussing
how many more countries ought to be targeted. But if they favour armed
intervention more than arm-twisting, they could risk a serious schism with
the Arab world, as well as putting new strains on the transatlantic coalition
America said that the
forty or fifty countries which harbour terrorists could now be facing financial,
diplomatic or even military action. Near to the top of the target list
would appear to be Iraq; United Nations' weapons inspectors were thrown
out three years ago and Saddam Hussein has been less than sympathetic about
the recent terrorist attacks on the United States.
PERLE: It is difficult to imagine
an effective war against terrorism that leaves Saddam Hussein and Iraq's
terror network and his support for global terror intact.
JUDITH KIPPER: I think it's going to be
less possible to tolerate a militarily contained Iraq that has weapons
of mass destruction in the current security climate that exists globally
and there may very well be a re-evaluation to do something about it.
WATSON: Divisions are being revealed
amongst strategists in Washington. The US Deputy Defence Secretary is reportedly
keen to stress the military option; while the Secretary of State apparently
prefers the primacy of diplomacy and wouldn't wish to act without clear
evidence. But CIA sources have been quoted in articles alleging a link
between Bin Laden and Iraq. However, both the British government and the
Tory opposition, appear wary about extending the war.
ANCRAM: I haven't seen incontrovertible
evidence but then you know we hear about intelligence reports, but I think
it's important that we make it clear that you only take action where there
is incontrovertible evidence.
WATSON: And some in the Arab world
say they're even more sceptical about the recent accusations against Saddam
DR SAMI GLAIEL: I remember so many declarations
saying there is no evidence against Iraq and it was an incentive to convince
all countries of the region to join the coalition and to calm the Arab
countries and Muslim countries in order to join the coalition. And we are
surprised now once the coalition assured their success and victory, started
talking about other countries, about Iraq, about Syria, about I don't know
WATSON: But even if the evidence
were amassed against Iraq, mounting a military attack could cost the US
the support of relatively moderate Arab states who back the anti Bin Laden
GHADA KARMI: Now, for the coalition, it's
very difficult for Arab countries and Islamic countries who already are
hesitant and uncertain about supporting an enterprise which has made fellow
Muslims suffer to this degree. Remember there are nearly five million refugees
in Afghanistan and more people have been killed than we know about. However,
they held together at least this far. It is inconceivable to me, that if
an Arab country were directly targeted by the United States, that any support
would be forthcoming from the Arab world.
BATTLE: If we simply start going
in the direction of the military I think there will be not be support across
the world or indeed in our own communities. So I think shifting the focus
now, I would discourage that immensely and those that say well should we
look at Iraq now and go there, I would hope the answer is no, unless we
were looking at a political, diplomatic and humanitarian as well.
WATSON: The warning from some Arab
states is more stark: a mutual defence pact could be activated.
GLAIEL: I am not a military man.
I am not the one who makes the highest policy in my country, but I know
we are in pact in defensive pact with Iraq, with all Arab countries.
WATSON: The American Administration
may, in the end, decide that discretion is the better part of valour when
it comes to military action against Iraq. But if they are serious about
a war on terrorism and not just against Bin Laden, they can't be seen to
be doing nothing in response to a country which the US itself says stockpiles
and manufactures biological weapons. But some of the alternatives to military
action could be impractical while others such as a better targeted sanctions
regime may still alienate even relatively moderate Arab states.
Saddam Hussein's regime
has survived despite the imposition of sanctions which have hit the civilian
population; but policy makers in the US now think that so-called 'smart
sanctions' aimed at undermining Saddam's ability to produce weapons, could
be successful as Russia and France are more likely to assist.
KIPPER: If Russia talks, the Iraqi
regime has to listen and if they understand that they really are completely
alone and that Russia and the United States are united it will be very
very difficult for them to feel that sanctions will erode, that the Russians
and the French will back them, that somehow they can slip out from under
the sanctions. So I think that it is really the solidarity of the US Russian
position, that will be the biggest influence on the Iraqi regime.
WATSON: But some Arab states wont
be pacified even by purely military sanctions
GLAIEL: We said it very clearly,
enough is enough. Iraqi people suffered enough and sanctions did not work
and will not work. And there is no need any more for any sanctions. Simply,
co-operation and understanding would lead to solve that problem.
WATSON: One alternative to sanctions
envisages a 'Northern Alliance' solution to the problem, keeping Allied
troop involvement minimal by giving more support to the Iraqi national
congress; but a previous attempt after the Gulf war failed to unseat Saddam,
and some Middle East experts believe that taking on Iraq's relatively strong
armed forces could prove just too much for an exiled opposition.
KIPPER: I don't see that they
are going to be capable of doing the kinds of military things that would
be necessary because they're outside the country and the Northern Alliance
in Afghanistan was not outside the country, they were inside the country,
and I think it is, it is much more problematic in Iraq.
WATSON: What worries some isn't
so much action against Saddam, it's who might be next - Iran, Iraq, Syria,
Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and Sudan are, according to America, all 'rogue'
states which sponsor terrorism and could all potentially be in the firing
KARMI: Well there is we understand
a list held by the US administration which includes a number of countries
most of which strikingly are Arab. And most of which I must say are very
poor and that will go down very badly because there is a feeling that you've
got a big American bully who picks on small guys. Now if the Americans
are unwise enough to start doing this then they will I think find themselves
sucked in to a never ending conflict which will be with us for decades
WATSON: So how many fronts could
be opened in this second phase of the campaign against terrorism? Countries
such as Iran and Syria aren't exactly embarrassed by their support for
pro-Palestinian groups, widely condemned as terrorists such as Hamas and
Hizbollah - so could these nations themselves become legitimate targets?
Or in the war against terror, will pragmatism triumph over principle?
KIPPER: I think behind the scenes
that Iran is a more active partner in the anti-terror coalition that meets
the eye, at least in public. The picture is not clear and as American officials
have said, we're going to get help in this global campaign from even those
who are still part of the problem and I would certainly put Syria in that
GLAIEL: One day you are rogue state,
you are terrorist and one day you are very good and you are main player
in the region and they need your support and your help, and this really,
we don't care very much about those names given to us and to others.
WATSON: The West is likely to reward
those rogue states which recant. But some countries - including the Yemen
and Somalia- might not have the capacity to take on any terrorists connected
to al-Qaeda who might be operating there. While both government and opposition
here emphasize economic action, some in the US say a key role should be
given to covert forces in this type of campaign.
KIPPER: I think Americans and the
rest of the world have now discovered that US special forces in terms of
intelligence and getting things done on the ground and helping local people
to accomplish strategic goals is a very efficient and quite useful form
of combat that has less publicity, less collateral damage than a bombing
campaign or the normal conventional warfare.
ANCRAM: The effective way in which
you deal with terrorism is by making sure that the terrorist no longer
has the ability to thrive in the international community, you cut off their
bolt holes, you cut off those sources of supply. I think it's very dangerous
to allow ourselves to get in to the mind-set where we say there is, there
is evidence that a country is supporting terrorism, therefore we, there
is only one form of action that can be taken against it. This is a long-term
campaign against international terrorism which will occur in different
ways in different parts of the world.
WATSON: Phase two of the global
war on terror will manifest itself in many forms; but there are those who
argue that being tough on the causes of terrorism is the surest way to
shut out support for the terrorists themselves.
BATTLE: We've got to address where
globalisation and the global economy is not delivering opportunities and
people are still locked out from that, where there are still countries
where people are dire poverty and conflict, we've to address those pressure
points and urgently. And that means perhaps Palestine and Israel of course,
that's in the focus, I'd say in Kashmir as well in that conflict between
Pakistan and India.
PERLE: If the foreign ministers
of the world, all of whom are reluctant to engage militarily certainly
prevail, then we will end the war on terrorism without a decisive victory,
and I think that would be a terrible tragedy and the attacks on New York
and Washington will turn out to be just the beginning.
WATSON: The US-led coalition has
made swift progress in difficult conditions in Afghanistan; but success
can encourage ambition; any escalation of the war on terror, involving
other nations, will have to be negotiated carefully if the Coalition is
to remain in the ascendant, and avoid imploding.
HUMPHRYS: Iain Watson reporting
JOHN HUMPHRYS: The government is rushing
through parliament David Blunkett's Bill to give it much greater powers
to deal with terrorism at home. Its critics (and there are plenty of them)
say it will destroy some of our most important civil liberties. But Mr
Blunkett says the most important liberty of all is to live free of the
threat of being murdered by a terrorist. Well, the Liberal Democrats are
appalled by the measures proposed. Their leader is Charles Kennedy and
he's with me now and I must start by wishing you a happy birthday because
it's your birthday today!
CHARLES KENNEDY MP: Well we don't want to dwell
on it, I think forty-two is not something to write home about!
HUMPHRYS: Forty-two! Lucky man.
Now then, the Bill. Let me quote you something you'll of heard of course
"there is a plethora of Draconian measures that are eroding our civil liberties
without justification" and that's one of your MPs, Norman Baker. Surely
the justification is that we do not want to be bombed by terrorists and
that justifies what is now being proposed.
KENNEDY: Well the right to life
and the right to the civil liberties that you and I enjoy as we speak,
broadcasting our views, our opinions, asking questions and so on, that
is fundamental and of course that must be defended. But you know you've
got to bear in mind in all of this that the terrorist, the kind of person
that commits the willful acts that took place in the United States a couple
of months ago, they're not interested in our civil rights. They're not
interested in free speech. I mean their idea of free speech is telling
innocent civilians on a jumbo jet on an internal in the United States,
you can go to the back of the plane with your mobile phone and phone up
people, your loved ones and say "I'm going to be dead in ten minutes' time".
So we have to get the balance right, that if we allow ourselves to get
into a situation where in fact we are suppressing our own individual rights
in the wake of these dreadful atrocities, actually the terrorist begins
to win, and that's the balance that I don't think is properly judged by
HUMPHRYS: But the greatest threat
of all is the threat to our life and if the government judges that, or
lives, if the government judges that the way to deal with these terrorists
who threaten our lives is to bring in this sort of legislation, then who
are you to say, who are we to say they shouldn't be doing that?
KENNEDY: Well there's a number
of things you have to bear in mind here. First of all, too often in history
and it's much easier to look at the history book than it is to gaze into
the crystal ball, rushed legislation has tended to remain on the Statute
Book and it's not been very good legislation. That's the first thing. The
second thing that you've got to bear in mind is that when the government
are proceeding as I think they should, and I think that we agree with quite
a lot they're doing, there is a sense that the Home Office has dusted down
from the shelves, one or two items that really don't belong in this legislation
at all and think, this is an opportunity to push something through that
we would otherwise have done. The religious aspects for example being a
good case in point. Now...
HUMPHRYS: ...incitement to religious
KENNEDY: ...that is something that
I think both Houses of Parliament have got to be very very careful about
in weighing in the balance.
HUMPHRYS: But what the polls seem
to tell us is that two thirds of the people are happy with this legislation
because they take the view that they are far more concerned about their
right to live than the right to these particular civil liberties that may
or may not be eroded.
KENNEDY: Yes and I think that most
people are troubled, quite properly so, by what's been developing internationally
over the last couple of months, to say the least and that they are right
to look to the government, to the state to protect them. But the job of
legislators, both in the Commons and the Lords is to make sure that it
is a judicious approach that you take to these matters and that you don't
allow yourself to get too far down a track which maybe suits the interests
of the state but longer term doesn't in fact serve the interests of the
HUMPHRYS: We'll look at how the
individual citizen might say my interest is going to be served by this
legislation. Take the question of people with 'proven' and I have to put
the word in quotes because it hasn't been proven in a court of law obvious
but enough to satisfy our intelligence people and all the rest of it...
HUMPHRYS: ...and people who don't
deny it anyway that they have had terrorist links, links with this appalling
al-Qaeda network, roaming the streets of this land at liberty. Now if what
this legislation means is that those people can be picked up and locked
up and may be deported or whatever, then that has to be the right thing
to do at this time, doesn't it?
KENNEDY: Well I think that, I mean,
I've discussed this with the Prime Minister and there is no doubt that
there are people as we speak, in our country who have got more than proven
terrorist links, no doubt about that whatsoever and that the law of the
land does not serve us well in that first of all, they should be picked
up, to use that phrase. Secondly, if possible, put before a court of law,
thirdly, there should be access for them to be deported to a country...
HUMPHRYS: ...might not be able
to deport them...
KENNEDY: ...well there is...
HUMPHRYS: ...because there might
not be a country that can accept them because they wouldn't...
KENNEDY: ...indeed. I mean there
is a real practical and philosophical problem here, but we should be going
down those routes before we actually find ourselves in the position that
certain people who may or may not have links with disreputable organisations
internationally are finding themselves falling foul of the law.
HUMPHRYS: Look I'm sure everybody
would agree that in the ideal world you arrest them, you put them on trial,
they are convicted and they are locked up. Fine, absolutely fine. But it
may well be that the evidence that would convict them cannot be presented
to an open court of law because of the kind of intelligence and expert...
HUMPHRYS: ...knowledge that is
KENNEDY: Very true and in that
respect you probably have to have some kind of judicial procedure which
allows such evidence to be presented but in private, or in camera, which
is always a rather confusing phrase...
HUMPHRYS: ...but either way not
for public consumption.
HUMPHRYS: ...but even then, you're
nibbling in to our civil liberties?
KENNEDY: Well I think you have
to get the balance right and I think the whole issue here is that you begin
with the starting point, which is the interests of the individual citizen
and you then move to what is the legitimate protection of that citizen
in terms of state power. And I do feel that David Blunkett is going rather
too far, too fast, in terms of what is now being presented before Parliament.
HUMPHRYS: A Select Committee of
MPs have looked at this and have decided for themselves that he's not going
to far, they're happy with it. Happy - I mean, who's happy with it? Nobody's
delighted that we have to do it, but they believe it's justified.
KENNEDY: Well I think that there
are strong elements of justification involved of course but I do think
that some of the aspects of this legislation are pushing the boat out just
too much where civil liberties are concerned. Now I hope and I don't know
yet as we speak, but I hope that over the course of the next twenty-four
hours, the Home Secretary will perhaps retreat in some aspects of this
and if that's the case, good and well. But if he doesn't I have to say
that the Liberal Democrats will certainly vote against the Third Reading
of this Bill in the House of Commons...
HUMPHRYS: ...you would do that?
KENNEDY: Yes, yes we will do that
tomorrow night if necessary. I don't want that to be the position but
the way things are looking at the moment, I fear it is going to be the
HUMPHRYS: But people will then
see that you're voting against such things as obviously detention without
trial which is a crucial part of the Bill and one that I.. that you've
made quite clear is unacceptable to you. If there is no other way of dealing
with those people than holding them without trial and there isn't, at least
that's what the Home Secretary tells us, that's what the police say, that's
what everybody seems to say, then the alternative is to leave them out
there on the streets where they are a threat to us?
KENNEDY: Yes but again what does
experience breed in terms of this?
HUMPHRYS: Have we've been quite
here before, have we had this experience before?
KENNEDY: Yes we have. We've had
everything from the Diplock courts in Northern Ireland...
HUMPHRYS: ...that's Northern Ireland,
KENNEDY: Well, you say that's Northern
Ireland if somehow that's a different thing. Those are citizens of the
United Kingdom, just like us.
HUMPHRYS: Indeed they are.
KENNEDY: And what did we learn
from that. I think we learned that it is not good to make martyrdom of
certain individuals if you can deal with it in a more properly processed
legal way, which recognises the individual rights of the citizen.
HUMPHRYS: So the upshot of that
is that you would be happy. Happy is not maybe the perfect word, but nonetheless
you would be prepared to see these people who are threats to us, to our
lives, roaming the streets in effect.
KENNEDY: No, I'm not in favour
of these people roaming the streets. Of course I'm not.
HUMPHRYS: ...so what's the alternative?
KENNEDY: Well, you know, the alternative
here as often in life can only be worse and the alternative is that you
and me and anyone watching this programme suffers a subjugation of individual
civil rights which are central to our country.
HUMPHRYS: And they might say "rather
that than lose my life"
KENNEDY: Well they might say that,
but I think...
HUMPHRYS: ...they very surely would.
You would. Come on, you would?
KENNEDY: Yes I certainly would,
but the, as an individual I would. But I think the point is, that you can
take effective action against people without the majority of law abiding,
peace-keeping individual people in this country actually having to suffer
a diminution of their individual civil rights. Now that is very important
and if Parliament is there for anything, it is there to defend, to promote
and to maintain those very principles.
HUMPHRYS: Nobody would argue that
it's very important, the question is where your priority lies, and at a
time like this when we're seeing an international terrorist organisation
capable of doing the kind of things it did in the United States threatening
this country, then you have to decide on your priorities, and isn't it
the case that what you're doing is you're saying .....and a lot of people
say this is typical Liberal wishy-washiness, we don't want...
KENNEDY: ...it's a very offensive
phrase that the Home Secretary used incidentally.
HUMPHRYS: ...well he did...
KENNEDY: ...any thinking reflective
HUMPHRYS: ...I'm sure that he is...
KENNEDY: ...should in fact...
HUMPHRYS: ...he talked about airy...
KENNEDY: ...should in fact have
a liberal sentiment when it comes to individual rights unto the rule of
law. Any sensible person has that. And for the Home Secretary of the day
to dismiss it as Liberal wishy-washiness I think is really arrogant and
HUMPHRYS: I think he went a bit
beyond that as well. I'm trying to find what he said...
KENNEDY: ...he probably did...
HUMPHRYS: ...airy-fairy libertarians
- it's only airy-fairy libertarians who want to stop this happening.
KENNEDY: ...airy-fairy libertarians?
Lord Donaldson, former Master of the Rolls, one of the most senior judicial
figures in the land, he's actually writing letters to The Times saying
that this constitutes something of a constitutional crisis. These are not
airy-fairy Liberals, come on?
HUMPHRYS: You've also accused the
government of tagging other things on to this Bill. You mentioned that
in your first answer, some criminal measure for instance. The problem here
is that terrorists often use criminal measures in order to get the funds
that they need. They rob banks or whatever it is they happen to be doing
and you can't always distinguish between the two, we found that in Northern
Ireland certainly, so again, isn't that an unfair criticism?
KENNEDY: No I don't think it's
unfair, I think that inevitably and you see this with private members legislation
in the House of Commons quite frequently, any government department and
the Home Office is probably one of the most active departments in legislative
terms, has always got stuff gathering dust on the walls that they would
like to do and maybe they'll find an acquiescent back-bencher that will
use his private members moment to bring it forward, maybe they might find
a piece of legislation like this, which is rushed legislation, emergency
legislation, to tag it on to. That is not, I don't think, a sufficient
or a compelling reason for bringing in some of the measures that are involved
in this particular set of Bills that both the Chancellor and the Home Secretary
are now promoting.
HUMPHRYS: Simon Hughes, your Home
Affairs spokesman, says that you'll try to delay the Bill in the Lords.
Isn't that actually being, at a time of emergency like this, given that
you accept that we face a sort of state of emergency, isn't that actually
KENNEDY: No, it's not. It's actually
highly responsible, in a Parliamentary sense because Parliament should
be there, and the House of Lords in fact in particular as the second guess
in Parliamentary terms should be there to make the Executive of the day
think twice. And the government do not have a majority in the House of
Lords and I think that when you look at what will happen in the next couple
of weeks when it goes before the House of Lords you will find that a combination
of Liberal Democrats, I hope the Conservatives, we're working with them
on this too and the cross-benchers will make them think again and that's
no bad thing.
HUMPHRYS: Charles Kennedy, many
KENNEDY: Thank you.
HUMPHRYS: And that's it for this
week. Until the same time next week, don't forget about our web site,