weekend. >> announcer: this is al jazeera. ♪ hello welcome to the news hour. i'm live in doha. these are some of the stories we're covering in detail over the next 60 minutes. hours after world powers reach a break through on syria. russian planes reported by kill 18 people in homs. south sudan's president reappointed his deputy. a rare protest by egyptian doctors who accuse the police of
abusive behavior. also this hour. farmers fight with police in athens, furious about being forced to pay taxes. >> kenyan athletics in a race against time. they face expulsion from the olympics, if it doesn't prove that it is tackling doping. ♪ it's hoped that food, medicine, and shelter will be delivered a week from now to syrians who are desperate for aid after an agreement between word powers. the deal was reached after marathon talks in germany, but there won't be a complete ceasefire or end to russian bombing. russian air strikes reportedly killed 18 people in homs.
we have correspondent covering all signeds of this story. first let's go to zana hoda. zana, tell us first how this agreement is being received. will the forces on the ground agree to a cessation of hostilities? >> reporter: well many syrians will welcome any agreement that will relieve the suffering on the ground. there is a humanitarian crisis, and it's not just the people who were recently displaced. half a million people live in besieged areas, and a lot of them have been starving to death, dying from illnesses, because of the lack of food and medicine. have the powers on the ground approved? well, not yet. what we understand from the opposition, they said that a
meeting will be held in the next few days. we spoke to a member of the hnc and he told us this the armed groups -- the different commanders -- because there are many arm groups operating on the ground, and they said they have to wait until they all come together and reach a consensus, but like i mentioned for the people on the ground any progress on the humanitarian front will be welcomed. but people do not trust the government. people have told us that we have seen ceasefire agreements in the past and nothing has changed, and really on the ground, the war rages on. rebel fighters understand the need to hold ground on this front line. if they are defeated, the syrian government and its allies will be one step closer to the rebel-held east of aleppo city. after losing much territory in this northern province, they are
trying to prevent it from being besieged. >> we are still on the front lines. we will liberate every inch of territory they have capture. we won't surrender. we are here. >> reporter: within a week the bombardment is supposed to stop, but the agreement is being received with scepticism on the ground. >> translator: i don't think the international community represented by the u.s. and russia is serious about a ceasefire for now. they are postponing the peace talks to give the regime more time to take more ground. it means the rebels won't be able to regain this territory as a ceasefire is in place. >> reporter: on the countryside the aerial bombardment is only intensifying and the casualties are rising. the u.n. is warning that the
120,000 people inside risk hunger and disease. remembers of the opposition inside and outside syria have told us that they have little faith in the syrian government and itself backer, russia. they say that the munich deal will only give them time to make further gains on the ground, and force the armed groups to surrender. but a pause in the fighting and the delivery of much-needed aid cannot come fast enough for the people. the battle for aleppo, has according to the united nations left more than 50,000 people homeless, adding to the millions who have been displaced over the years. >> translator: what have the people done to deserve this? they are not sparing anyone? not the children, not the elderly, not the women. this is enough. >> reporter: the conflict has laid waste to much of aleppo and the rest of syria. in this deeply divided country,
claims of victory will have little meaning for anyone without a wider peace. >> zana in the last few minutes we heard from bashar al-assad in an interview, and he is quoted as saying that he will retake the whole country, and says that this could take a long time. what do you make of this? >> reporter: well, it's a very different rhetoric, because just a few months ago, the syrian president, really for the first time, admitted and acknowledged that his army is facing manpower problems. he also acknowledged at the time that the government and the armed forces will be concentrating on securing and protecting what he called the core areas, and we do know what the core areas are for the government, that's damascus, which is the seat of political
power. it is the coastal areas, the strong hold of the alawite community, it's homs and that's where most of the fighting has been taking place. but now he is saying we want to take back the whole country. we know how difficult this is going to be. how is he going to hold territory? but clearly the syrian president feeling strengthened emboldened by the support he is receiving from russia. ever since russia intervened in the conflict, the balance of power has clearly shifted in favor of the government, and it's not just the military support. it is also the political support he is getting. and there is a feeling that the west has always changed its position. it has shifted in one way or the other. we no longer hear the united states or western capitols say that assad has to leave immediately, even the u.n.
resolution does not call on assad leaving power, and that's why people in the opposition are worried that the u.s. has shifted its stance, and in the past, we heard talk about creating an -- a transitional government with full executive powers, but since vienna, we're also hearing a different terminology, and that is a national unity government which means power sharing, which means the government is going to be a partner in one way or another. >> zana hoda thank you very much. let's cross over to dominic kane who is in munich where a security conference is scheduled. tell us what is on the agenda in munich today. >> reporter: foley, as you say the conference is now well underway, delegates have been hearing from the king of jordan, speaking about the need to find a resolution to the syrian
crisis. and a little while earlier we heard from the defense ministers of germany and france who spoke about the need their countries have to act in a concerted manner. but before that, the secretary general of nato spoke to reporters and while he welcomed the agreement that has been arrived at last night, he did say the intervention of russia had not until now been helpful. >> we will welcome a more constructive role of russia in the fight against isil. so far, russia has mainly targeted opposition groups and not isil. and the intense air strikes of russian planes against the different opposition groups
in -- in syria has actually undermined the efforts to reach a negotiated peaceful solution. >> reporter: and foley, one other important meeting as you have alluded to already is the meeting happening in geneva, the humanitarian task force charged with trying to get aid into the civilians in syria. we know the man who has been deputied to lead the task force is looking for a way forward. and certainly that is something he says again, echoing the sentiments of others, needs to have a serious progress brought upon by all parties here, russia included. >> dominic kane in munich.
let's get the latest from rosiland jordan from washington. what is the reaction to the agreement in munich, and how might washington react now to bashar al-assad saying he wants to retake the whole cou count -- country and that this might take a long time. >> as far as the obama administration is concerned, bashar al-assad retaining control, staying in power as the president of syria is a non-starter. the u.s. has long said that assad's legitimacy has vanished in large part because of the ongoing shelling of civilian targets, the ongoing brutality, the u.s. does not believe that at the end of the day when the civil war is finally over that assad will still be in power. do they want him to leave immediately? that had been the case, now they are at least willing to
entertain the idea that he would be still the head of the government during a political transition process. we're not there yet. as for the deal itself, to try to get the ceasefire started in the next seven days, well, it's not immediate, which is what any obama administration had wanted, but it's not the three week's period that the russians had been asking for at the beginning of march, because in the u.s.'s is view, that would simply allow the russian military to continue to shell targets and shell enclaves on behalf of the assad government, thereby may maybe -- making the hold that much stronger. so there now seems to be movement on trying to eventually solve the syrian war. >> thank you very much, ros. let's take a closer look at the humanitarian crisis in syria. it's highlighting the dire
situation in several towns. one just outside of damascus has been surrounded by government troops since december. 35,000 civilians have endured intense telling there. in madaya at least 26 people have died from malnutrition this year. and hundreds need immediate evacuation. about 200,000 people are living under an isil siege in this to in. and despite recent deliveries, the situation remains grim for 20,000 people there. they are under siege by armed groups including the al-nusra front. a middle east regional director at the refugee county, he says they are ready to deploy aid as soon as possible. >> the imperative is that access
is provided unhinerred and safety. and the entire community is ready to continue to scale up its support to the people of syria. we have seen ongoing reports of -- of starvation, of terrible bombardments, et cetera, et cetera. so of course priorities [ inaudible ] needs to be done, but this is what the humanitarian community is tailored to do, and we are ready, all in a point effort to do so. the deal has to be effectuated. we have to see the fighting stop. we have to see how it's going to be implemented. the good news we hear, and the good thing we have seen, but action needs to be taken. so that has to be enforced, and we are following this very closely. we are having our hopes high. but we also are having our
concerns that it is indeed extremely important that everyone applies to this in a coherent manner. >> stay with us. here is what is coming up. the leader of the catholic church heads to cuba for a meeting a thousand years in the making. plus we meet orphans caught up in the fighting in eastern ukraine. and in sports sepp blatter's former right hand man given a 12-year ban from football. raul will have the details. ♪ but first three people are dead and 30 others injured in an attack on a united nations base in northern mali. a u.n. spokesperson says shells hit the camp. residents reported exchanges of gunfire outside of the city. no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. staying in africa, in south sudan's president has
reappointed bitter rival as vice president as part of a peace deal to end two years of civil war. the pair signed that agreement in ethiopia last august. the conflict erupted in late 2013 when the president accused his deputy of plotting a coup. let's bring in our correspondent who joins us live from juba. the big question is whether he will return to juba to take up his new role. >> reporter: that is a good question, and to help answer it, i'm joined by the spokesman for the president. we have heard that the doctor is going to come back to juba. he is actually going to be here this time? >> according to the president statement this morning, he has seven days to come to juba, so
they can expedite the process of forming the transitional government of national unity. >> reporter: is that a deadline you expect him to keep? because they said it would be two to three weeks from now. >> well, that's what he president has asked him to do. and it will be important to expedite the process. >> reporter: and in the interests of implementing this peace agreement, are you going to move the government army outside of juba, as the peace agreement says you must? >> we have already done that. we are still doing it, because the large, you know, contingency of army are in juba, and they are to be actually relocated to five miles away from juba. this is what we're working now to ensure. within the next few days we will finish. >> reporter: one of the major
obstacles to his return in the past has the president's attempt to triple the number of states in this country. >> even he himself knew that he, you know -- south sudan is one state. that's why he did before the government of south sudan. he did have 21 states, and he has already appointed governors on the other side. so if the problem is only seven states, then it is [ inaudible ] we will be able to negotiate when he comes to juba. he has to move to juba. and this is what the agreement says. >> reporter: and do you expect the fighting will stop around the country when the doctor comes back in we know there are war lords out there who aren't loyal to either party. what is going to happen to those? >> the best person to answer this is the doctor himself. because i don't speak for them. and as far as i know, the
government troops are now adhering to the ceasefire, and they won't be attacking anybody. so it is the vice president designate who has to answer that question. >> reporter: thank you very much. >> thank you very much. in egypt thousands of egyptian doctors are rallying in front of a union building in the heart of cairo. they are protesting against the release of nine police officers who they accuse of attacking their colleagues. a member of the doctor's union in cairo, and he says doctors are worried about their security. >> there is some violence coming from some of the security people in one or more hospitals, and this was exaggerated or not exaggerated on [ inaudible ] not
less not more. but [ inaudible ] subject of politics at this time, the doctors will be divided into a divisional [ inaudible ] egyptian population, and there is no -- there will be no progress. the doctors agree about, first, the right of the poor patients to have -- to have [ inaudible ]. the doctors will never make [ inaudible ] offering medical care for poor patients. this is policy, and this is because we are a part of these poor patients, and we will never -- we will never stop treating them. four white farmers accused of killing people are in court today. the men went to ask for wages, which was owed to them, and then they were murdered. but the farmers say they were
acting in self-defense. farmers are protesting against austerity measures in greece. the farmers hurled stones at the police. neave barker is in athens with more. >> reporter: i'm just outside of parliament some of the farmers that have gathered here have set up tents. they say they are going to be here for at least 48 hours. the atmosphere is somewhat festival like. a group of farmers tried to storm the ministry of agriculture. there riot police pushed them back. and of course many of these farmers have already taken part in up to two weeks of protests, blockading various highways across the country. now they want to bring their protests here to the capitol. they are out in force against a series of new measures that the government hopes to introduce,
but could see an increase in the amount of contributions that these farmers have to add to their pensions. that extra financial strain many say is pushing them towards poverty. now to ukraine, and an agreement signed one year ago was supposed to end fighting in eastern ukraine between government forces and pro-russian separatists. but as both sides accuse each other of breaking the agreement, orphans are among the civilians who are suffering. charles stratford reports. >> reporter: these children used to live in an orphanage, and now they live in a war zone. two with severe learning disabilities, they all now live with their adoptive parent in the so-called gray zone. despite repeated calls for a ceasefire, the fighting continues and especially at night. >> translator: nadia is also very afraid when there is
shelling. she cries and screams at night. we try to keep the girls calm. we try not to show them that we are afraid. >> reporter: an agreement signed last year was supposed to end the fighting. this is the ukrainian army front line in another village closed to what was the acceptry advertise controlled city of donetsk. now the ukrainian army tell us that the separatists regularly tar get their positions here. they also tell us that the two towers there on the horizon are about two and a half kilometers away, and they say the
separatists use those powers as a look out. they have moved this grandma four times since the fighting started. but every house has been destroyed. >> translator: i'm not going anywhere. because i got married here. my children were born here. my grandchildren were born here. everyone is gone, and i don't want to leave. because if i do, how will they find me? >> translator: the conflict hasn't finished. i personally believe the ukrainian military are needed here in order to deter the enemy's on slot, we have to be here to protect and help the people who decided to stay and to bring an end to this conflict. >> reporter: at a nearby check point volunteers entertain the soldiers. these men are fiercely patriotic and anti-moscow. >> translator: people are strong in their unity when we are united, and together we will
defeat our enemy. >> reporter: among the destruction of war, people across this region have no interest in talk of victory, wishing only the fighting would end. charles stratford al jazeera, eastern ukraine. and we'll take a closer look at the violence in eastern ukraine later with a special program on "inside story." it will examine why the two sides keep violating the ceasefire agreement and whether there's any hope for peace. the world health organization says it is looking more and more likely that the zika virus is indeed linked to birth defects. an outbreak of the disease is affecting many countries in the americas, and could sprengd to other parts of the world. >> reporter: this is china's first zika patient. he was venezuela when he got
sick. infection with the virus is not usually life threatening for adults, but it is a concern to pregnant women. the latest out break of zika began in brazil nine months ago. health authorities are pushing to distribute more effective test kits and working on possible prevention. >> translator: there is great optimism that we could develop this vaccine in less time than originally foreseen. we believe within a year we could have the vaccine in its developed form. >> reporter: but it's likely to be 18 months before a vaccine can go to large-scale trials. 4,000 suspected cases linked to brain deformities in babies. in venezuela at least 70 people
have been hospitalized. there are also cases in the u.s. and people who have travelled south, and at least one suspected case from sexual contact. and in china at least two pregnant women have return from south america to australia. doctors have not yet seen any evidence of deformities in babies in these cases. >> translator: he told me that it shouldn't be dangerous at this stage. that if i was close to giving birth, i would be. >> reporter: it was first identified in uganda in 1947, and people are worried about what would happen if this outbreak spread to other parts of africa. >> potentially zika can come and infect areas where the mosquito is present. so this is a very large portion of the world. it's in india, in tropical
areas. >> reporter: the w.h.o. designated zika a public health emergency, and authorities have now stepped up their response to what is now a virus of international concern. all right. coming up, beef prices in indonesia are some of the highest in the world, we're looking at the government's efforts to bring down costs. in sports we explore the science behind one of the world's most daring sports, big wave surfing. do say with us. ♪
i knew something was really really wrong. >> all hell broke lose. >> people were saying that we were terrorists. >> how are you providing a cover for your brother to do this? >> we saw the evil side of the social media take off. welcome back. you are watching the news hour. russian air strikes have reportedly killed 18 people in syria, just hours before a u.n. task force meeting on humanitarian aid. world powers have pledged to end hostilities within one week. in egypt thousands of doctors are rallying in cairo, protesting against police officers who they accuse of
attacking their colleagues. and police in greece have fired on farmers holding anti-austerity protests in athens. the farmers are angry at the government's plans to bring in new austerity measures. now canada says it is on track to welcome 25,000 new refugees from syria by next month. 14,000 have already arrived from camps since the end of last year. from toronto, daniel lak reports. >> reporter: this pediatrician has been treating newly arrived migrants in this toronto for two years now, but her patient list these days is overwhelmingly r sir -- syrian. >> translator: we have had a great welcome from the canadian government and the red cross has helped us to much.
the organization that runs this clinic is helping us with the kids's allowances and paperwork. >> reporter: getting them vaccinated is crucial for starting english classes in the city's schools. so is making sure everyone has the right clothing for winter. coats, boots, and toys were donated after an appeal on facebook by a couple with a personal stake in the crisis. >> my husband is the big reason we got involved with the initiative. he is syrian. only been here five years. very early on in the war, he lost his uncle and his 15-year-old cousin in a car bomb. >> reporter: canada's new prime minister just continue trudeau was there in person last we're. to welcome the fir first -- arrivals. more than 14,000 have arrived now. in toronto hundreds wait for
resettlement in hotels best described as modest. it has been a long journey to this suburban hotel. but for hundreds of families this events a new start. here too the public is stepping up. canada allows private sponsorship of refugees, community groups raising money to help families. this meeting is looking for volunteers to help newly arrive refugees and there's plenty of interest doing even more, going to families stuck in hotels, offering to set them up with accommodation. >> we have to raise the money to sponsor a family for a year. we're all set to do that. we have all beening a proved by the organization we're working with. so we're all set to go. let's go. >> reporter: young syrian refugees fitting right in,
sliding down a snowy hill in a video that went viral this month. so far they seem to be adjusting to each other rather well. russia says it is prepared to send help to iraq's government to help in the fight against isil. >> translator: in response to iraq's requests of more military aid, we will respond with the exchange of information. our surveillance forces and the troops deployed in syria, as required by the syrian government are capable of providing adequate information to us. while the iraqi ministry of defense and the country's kurdish regional agreement have agreed to deploy more solders in the north, but certains are mounting that iraqi forces may be stretched too thin elsewhere. >> reporter: for months now iraqi security forces have been
sending troops and heavy equipment to the military base just outside of the city of mosul. it's iraq's second largest city and has been held by isil since june of 2013. in the skies, air strikes have intensified. all of this suggests that a push by the iraqi military to retake the city could get underway soon. but one analyst believes the iraqis are still under prepared. >> translator: the iraqi forces until now do not have the military capacity to retake the city. because isil has divided the city into three fronts. each front has at least 3,000 forces, while the iraqi kurdish peshmerga forces so far don't exceed 5,000. >> reporter: they face a number of other challenges. fallujah still remains in isil hands as do a number of small
towns on the countryside, and that allows isil to mount attacks. why then does the strategy seem to focus on mosul and not fallujah? >> reporter: the move for mosul seems to be a publicity stunt. without securing anbar first, then you open up the possibility that isil can return to anbar. >> reporter: isil is without a doubt prepared for any assault on their territories. here we see close up what they can do. they use household items to make explosives and hide them in empty buildings. reports suggest that mosul is no different. these tunnels allow them to move freely around the city, and fight iraqi security forces house to house. it's clear that isil is a formidable fighting force. whether it's mosul or fallujah
that comes next, there is concern that iraq's fighting forces have been stretched thin. the iraqis say they want more international community assistance. venezuela supreme court has overruled the opposition-controlled congress and granted brood decree powers to the president. last month the congress refused to allow maduro to declare a state of emergency. the leader of the catholic church has left italy bound for cuba, where he'll hold the first meeting of its kind in almost a thousand years. hope francis will sit down with the head of the russian orthodox church. they are expected to address the rifts between the western and eastern branches of
christianity, and the persecution of christians in the middle east. after cuba brought the heads to mexico, to talk about the drug violence. >> reporter: the faithful pray for salvation, not just the spiritual kind, but to see mexico saved from the violence consuming so much of the country. pope francis wants to help them to chive that. >> translator: fight every day against corruption, against war, against division, against organized crime, against human smuggling. >> reporter: for tens of millions of people here there is excitement. for mexico's political leaders, though, there is discomfort, and pope francis is expected to point out some of their
failings. >> translator: the term fear doesn't exist for the government. there's a great expectation that the pontiff's words will have an effect on mexico society and all three levels of government. >> reporter: the pope comes to mexico, which is in some parts is in crisis. the case of the 43 students who went missing, now thought to be dead, to the plight of many meks meks r -- mexicans who simply disappear. the pope's very itinerary is seen as provocative. he'll travel to a southern state, hold a mass in one of the most violent cities in mexico. >> translator: the pope picked these places where the level of conflict shows the shortcomings of mexican society, and the debt
mexican politicians owe itself people. >> reporter: this father is being regarded as being too vocal critic of the government to meet the pope. but he is excited. >> translator: francis is going to shed light on issues the government keeps in the dark. >> reporter: it's unlikely his visit will prompt rapid change, however, it may provide some solace for those who's faith has been so severely tested. adam raney, al jazeera, mexico city. there have been demonstrations in haiti's capitol as an interim president is chosen. the former lead left office on sunday without a successor after a mishandled election, a second round of voting was canceled due to protest. he is staying in office until parliament chooses someone to step in. the death toll from the 6.4
magnitude earthquake that hit taiwan has risen to 94. the president attended a memorial service for the victims. most of the victims lived in an apartment complex that collapsed. 30 people are still missing. now indonesians pay some of the highest prices in the world for beef. it's largely down to a lack of supply. farms are small, and it's expensive to move cattle between the thousands of islands. >> reporter: bulling boarding a ferry for a week-long boat ride to jakarta. they have already traveled for days from remote areas. they have had to make 13 stops along the way, and at least one their price went up, and their health down. the government now tries to speed up the process by introducing a subsidized ferry.
traders are forced to accept a lower price, but so far they have refused to do so. >> translator: if jakarta wants to reduce the price of beef, that's impossible. even [ inaudible ] 1,000 bulls every week, the price can go down. it's like throwing salt into the sea. >> reporter: low supply has turned indonesian beef into a luxury item. to keep up with remand, indonesia imports hundreds of thousands of cars every year from australia. the government now hopes that cattle ferries can transfer more bulls to jakarta, so imports can be reduced. these cows have become a symbol of national pride, with indonesia trying to be less dependant on australian imports. but often cheap transplant for
cows won't be enough to achieve this. as long as this man has been a cattle farmer, he says he has never received any governments a a -- assistance. >> translator: if the government would care about the cattle farmers, i'm sure we would be able to compete with australian beef. but we can't do this on our own. >> reporter: the governor says the can't help individual farmers, but he's trying to increase production by assisting breeders. >> reporter: our beef is a lot tastier than australia beef because it is all natural. >> reporter: he hopes to increase production to 1 million cow cows. still ahead, hollywood
nadim baba has our report from germany's capitol. >> reporter: she's many people's choice for the world's best actress, but merl streep is here to watch movies not to star in them. the opening night was actually a showcase for a film that isn't being judged. ♪ >> reporter: hail caesar, the hatest from the coen brothers. it's a feel-good feature, set in the golden age of hollywood, and it's all-star cast includes george clooney. >> you listen to me buster. >> i loved it. i loved the era. i can only romance it, because i wasn't around then. i talked to my dad about it. and that was fun to talk about a different hollywood that i didn't know. and it's working with my favorite guys the coens. >> reporter: over the course of the festival there are hundreds of screenings and over 330,000
tickets have been sold to the general public. there really is something for everyone here. >> reporter: apart from the celebrities, something grabbing people's attention is how many films here deal with the plight of refugees in europe. a documentary based on the italian island of lampedusa is part of the competition. it looks at how the local population and the african migrants coexist without really meeting. >> it has a real focus on the political issues, and that's very special and something that makes it -- makes this festival unique. >> reporter: well, 18 films from the around the world are in the running for the top prize. but it is the variety on offer here that really sets this festival apart. nadim baba, al jazeera, berlin.
time for sports now. >> foley thank you very much. the executive who served as sepp blatters right hand man at fifa has been banned for 12 years from football. he was secretary general of fifa from 2007 until he was sus pecked -- suspended and later sacked. they say he abused travel expenses, attempted to destroy incriminating evidence against himself. and blatter and michelle platini will appeal their 8-year bans next week. and the sport was rocked by allegations of match fixing last month when it was accused that several players have repeatedly been red flagged. the tennis integrity unit came
under particular criticism for its perceived inaction. it say it will investigate thoroughly but won't report back for 12 months. kenya have been told they have 12 months to prove they are tackling their doping issue, or face being banned from the olympics. for now kenya has been placed on a watch list. the country, which excels at distance running has been given two months to bring in new legislation and funding. if not it will be declared non-compliant, and the international olympic committee would need to make a decision on whether kenya is allowed to compete in rio. all right. we interrupt our sports news there to take you live toe the security conference in munich.
where saudi arabia's foreign minister is speaking. let's listen in. >> it is a region that is increasingly connected to the world. it is a region that has a lot of wealth, a lot of entrepreneurship. it sits at the cross roads of civilization between asia, africa, and europe, so it's a region that should have the attributes for greatness. it is a region that historically has been connected to the world in many every day, from the old civilizations to the civilizations of egypt and bab loania, up until the recent age. it faces will challenges, challenges of extremism, of terrorism, challenges to find its own identity. it has gone through tremendous upheavals over the last few
years, beginning with tunis, and then moving to other places. i believe that the rise of sectarianism, and the rise of religious extremism, and the rise of terrorism, are all challenges that we all have to deal with. we can't deal with them alone. but i do believe, and i remain convinced and hopeful that in dealing with those challenges, our region will come out of it in a much better place than it was going into it. so i don't want to belabor this point. i want to talk a little bit about saudi arabia. saudi arabia is a nation of 30 million people, including non-citizens. saudi arabia is a nation with a very young population, with tremendous resources, where our minerals, oil, of course, saudi arabia is a nation that has tremendous financial resources,
that has first class infrastructure, that has stable government, and geographic location. it has many friends in the world. saudi arabia is a nation that has a history of pragmatism, and proportion and balance in internal and external policies, and it has a country that if it has one constant, that constant is change. we were a tribal nation. we became a modern nation. within one generation we were able to transform our country in ways that few countries were able to do. life expectancy rates doubled to over 70. infant mortality rates developed to the level of european countries in one generation, and the education went from 95%
illiteracy, to 100% literacy in one generation. i don't belief that there are many countries in the world that were able to do this. women's education, which was non-existent in 1916, today 55% of college students in my country are woman. it's unheard of. and yet the image of saudi arabia is one of an insular country, a country that lives in a different age, because women don't drive. this issue is an issue that is a cultural issue that our society will deal with on its own terms and own ways, but if we look at the overall picture, we are a country that is dynamic and move k forward. a country that evolves in every area. i mentioned the social and economic changes that have happened in my country. politically, we're evolving.
our government is institutionalized. we developed government institutions. we developed legislative branch. 20% of the council are women. we developed human rights organizations, and civil society organizati organizations, and this is just the beginning. there is nothing that will prevent us from doing more in terms of our ideology. we are a country that has no ambitions beyond its borders. we have enough land, people, resources. we are a country that is focused on its internal development and improving the lot of its people. we are a country that is seeking security, peace and stability in our area, and by extension the world. that's who we are. and that's what our policies aspire to. and we have dealt with the challenges in our region this year in ways that the world
maybe is not used to, but that's because frankly there was a vacuum, and if nobody is willing to do something, then the kingdom of saudi arabia and itself allies had to step in and do something. we acted in yemen to prevent the legitimate government from collapsing, and from being taken, and from the country being taken over by a radical militia, allied with iran and hezbollah, which was in possession of heavy weapons, ballistic missiles and an air force. we did so in response to the request of a legitimate government. we have no intention of seizing one inch of the territory. we have no intention of trying to dominate yemen. we want to preserve yemen. remove the threat to us and to our neighbors, and help yemen get back on its feet. in syria, we are working to bring about change, political change, if possible, to what is
happening in syria in order to remove a man who is responsible for the murder of 300,000 people, the displacement of 12 million, and the destruction of a nation. a man who is the single-most effective magnet for extremists and terrorisms in the region. that's our objective. and we will achieve it. we're trying to work with other countries in the region, whether it's egypt, whether it's iraq, whether it's sudan, whether it's countries in the motherland, to try to help them deal their economic issues, as well as deal with extremism and terrorism. and we will succeed. again, i have no doubt. we don't have an ideology that we're wedded to. we have pragmatism that we adhere to and pursue our policies by. so i think when we look at the
region today, the two areas that stand out the most in reading the newspapers is daesh and yemen, and i want to say a little bit about daesh. daesh is a terrorist organization composed of psycho paths who have no religion, and no morals. they attract other psychopaths, and they're -- and it's a cult, and it will be defeated, but in order to defeat daesh, we have to deal with what i call the two elephants in the room. one of those elephants is bashar al-assad. we cannot defeat daesh in syria unless we bring about change in bashar al-assad. he is the man who helped create it. by releasing radicals from his
jails. but allowing daesh to operate without attacking them. by even trading with them. he is the man that allowed them to become what they are, and unless and until there is a change in syria, daesh will not be defeated in syria, period. we have an international coalition of which my country was a founding member that has been bombing daesh in syria for 15 months, and it's still around. so when assad goes, the fertile environment in which daesh operates in syria will be removed and we can deal with them. the second elephant in the room, is the implementing the reforms that were agreed to in iraq in 2014 that would bring the sunni community into the fold, that would create an equitable system to sunni, kurd, shiite,
caledonians or iraqis. that also will -- will pull the routh -- out from under daesh in iraq, and allow the country and its allies to defeat it. everything else we do is putting scotch tape on an open wound. >> we are bringing you live coverage of the security conference in germany. there you see the saudi foreign minister addressing one of the problems he sees for his region. he calls it daesh. a bunch of psychopaths, he says, who will be defeated. let's go back to the speech now. >> reporter: the humanitarian suffering that exists is a consequence of the houthis and saleh hijacking their people and starving them, anday