BBC On The Record - Broadcast: 25.11.01

==================================================================================== NB. THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT; BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES, OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY ==================================================================================== ON THE RECORD THE WAR REPORT RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE DATE: 25.11.01 ==================================================================================== 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 Alagiah. NEWS 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 together. 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 court. 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 needed? 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 may remain. 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 in Germany. 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 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 yourself? 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 Alliance. 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 Secretary. 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 Foreign Secretary.. 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 after itself. 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 optimistic. HALLIDAY: I know you're not an optimist, but.... 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 being. HUMPHRYS: Professor Halliday, many thanks. 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 removed. 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 against terror. 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 Hussein's regime. 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 what. 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 alliance 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 line. 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 to come. 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 category. 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 there. 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 the government. 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 hatred... 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 individual citizen. 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... KENNEDY: ...sure... 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... KENNEDY: Quite: HUMPHRYS: ...knowledge that is behind it? 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. KENNEDY: ...yes... 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: 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 position. 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, yes... 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: 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:'s a very offensive phrase that the Home Secretary used incidentally. HUMPHRYS: ...well he did... KENNEDY: ...any thinking reflective person... 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 offensive. 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 irresponsible? 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 thanks. KENNEDY: Thank you. HUMPHRYS: And that's it for this week. Until the same time next week, don't forget about our web site, good afternoon. 28 FoLdEd
NB. This transcript was typed from a transcription unit recording and not copied from an original script. Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.