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tv   Dateline London  BBC News  April 18, 2021 2:30am-3:01am BST

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this is bbc news — the headlines. queen elizabeth has led mourners at the funeral of her husband, the duke of edinburgh. prince philip has been laid to rest after a funeral service at windsor castle reflecting his lifetime of service and dedication to the queen. in attendance with their children, including the prince of wales. prince philip's coffin travel to the service on a specially adapted land rover he helped design. members of the armed forces took part in a military and musical tribute before a nationwide silence was observed. the ceremony was in line with prince philip's wishes with no tributes paid. walking together after the service, the two brothers, princes william and harry, who have been at odds in recent months. prince philip died last week at the age of 99, he was the longest serving consort, having been married to queen
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elizabeth for more than 70 years. now on bbc news, dateline london with shaun ley. hello, i'm shaun ley. welcome to the programme that brings together bbc specialists with foreign correspondents who file their stories to audiences back home from the dateline london. this week america draws its troops down and out of afghanistan. russia builds them up, but would it go into ukraine? and the changing of havana's revolutionary guard this weekend after six decades in charge. with me is the american henry chu of the los angeles times, italian writer and film—maker annalisa piras, whojoins us from italy, and here in the studio at a safe social distance, the bbc�*s chief international
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correspondent lyse doucet. good to have you, lyse, and good to have both of you with us on dateline. now, it was the 9/11 attacks on the united states in 2001 which led to the invasion of afghanistan. presidentjoe biden announced this week that september the 11th 2021 will mark the end of its military presence there. 20 years ago vladimir putin, already running the kremlin, was one of the first to tell america's then—president, "we'll back you all the way." today, though, the capitals of what were the late 20th century's superpowers are in conflict once again over territory moscow once called its own. lyse, how did allies against extremism become in conflict again right in the heart of europe? well, there are areas where russia and the united states are working together, will continue to have to work together for common cause. you mentioned about islamic extremism. going back to the september 11 attacks. climate change. they are trying to get the iran nuclear deal back on track. they are also working
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together on afghanistan. but i have to say, sometimes, speaking to russian diplomats, speaking to russian diplomats — what is the british expression? barely concealed glee, that they see the united states tragically could face the same fate as russian troops did when they left afghanistan 30 years ago, in 1989. in fact, i was in kabul at that time and a few years later president najibullah�*s government collapsed and sadly that led to infighting among the mujahideen groups, brutal civil war which paved the way to the taliban. and a nasty end for mr najibullah. and a nasty end, you know, hung from a post in kabul and tortured to death. the prospect, the spectre of possible civil war, is on everyone�*s mind, although everyone hopes it can be avoided. when president biden announced this week that it was time to come to an end, he said you can'tjust keep doing the same thing over and over again. he said there has been
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four us presidents — two democrats, two republicans — it has to end, we have to close the book, this chapter. but he was at pains to say that america was leaving the war but not afghanistan, in the sense that the united states would use all of its diplomatic weight and political, economic, humanitarian, but quite frankly the biggest leverage the united states has in afghanistan, particularly against the taliban, is the troops, and there is worry about what will happen once the last of the troops leave before september the 11th. henry, it raises the question, inevitably, for all those who serve there, for the families of those who died there, for those who still bear the injuries, has the blood spilt — much of it, i should say, afghan blood, many, many thousands of civilians — i think it's 8,000 just last year lost their lives — and the treasure spent, to use the words that soldiers talk about — blood and treasure — has it been worth it? well, that's going to be on many soldiers' minds and the families of those who were lost, who fell
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in battle, because they can look back now at least 20 years, and say, what has actually been achieved in terms of the goals that the us set out for itself? which were very ambitious. it wasn'tjust going in and rooting out terrorism and overthrowing the taliban, which they did, but it was also the starry—eyed dreams of nation—building, of creating a democratic society there and a steady ally that we would have in central asia and leaving it in much better shape than we thought we would leave it, and in the end depart. unfortunately, those haven't come to pass and this is tough for americans because afghanistan, for many people, was the so—called good war. you know, we had the disastrous invasion of iraq, which many people were against, whereas with afghanistan there seemed to be much more common cause and solidarity behind that war when it was launched 20 years ago. and yet that has come to naught as well, you know, there is that old phrase about afghanistan being the graveyard of empires.
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well, we saw that happen to the soviet union and unfortunately the us is meeting the same fate there. so that's going to be on the minds of many americans but, at the same time, there is a big constituency of those who feel that enough is enough. you don't want to keep throwing good money after bad and it's time, finally, to withdraw. annalisa, we are told that there was a process of consultation with the other allies, many of them european countries, as part of the nato—led force, a part of the operation, and have been for the last two decades. general sir nick carter, the british most senior officer, was saying, well, this is not the outcome we would have wanted, which rather hints it was more fait accompli than a consultation. are europeans going to accept this? are they worried about, in particular, the kind of afghanistan that will emerge once they and the americans have gone? of course, everybody is worried
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because it is very easy - to anticipate what is going. to happen, and the chances of a return to violence and civil war are very, i very strong. but on the other end, . as we've just mentioned, this is not working. this is not producing. the results that it was hoped would arrive — the building of- democratic society. so you can't go on for ever. but there is a serious| concern about what is going to happen there. i've just spoken with a good friend of mine who spent 16j years building schools for girls there, and i he told me, you know, - the charity we are talking to, they are just saying, - we are arming ourselves. if the taliban come to get our girls out| of school, we will fight. so local charity workers are preparing to take that kind of defensive action because they are worried about what is left behind — presumably the capacity of the
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afghan forces to protect them. yes, absolutely. but, i mean, that gives. you the sense of a society on the brink of civil war. when charity workers - are founding schools for girls and say they are getting armed. so it's the return of total. civil war between militias, civil society, the taliban, so it's very scary. - lyse, how does it look from the afghan government's side? because you've been monitoring very closely, you've been at some peace negotiation meetings. are they worried that this will finally tip the balance back in favour of the taliban? well, i think after the initial shock, when president biden announced the dates, and since... a bit raw when you use september 11. i mean, we can see why they do it perhaps for an american�*s constituency, but so many afghans have died since september the 11th. but since then, you can see on social media, because social media, the propaganda war is a big part of the war on the ground,
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the afghan security forces, there is a huge afghan national army, and the police have been trained by the united states and other nato militaries. they are putting on a brave face, saying, we will defend the homeland, and i'm sure they will. even though we've heard so many stories about, you know, poorly paid police and soldiers, sometimes not paid at all, in the provinces, abandoning their post when the taliban approach. you know, i've seen some of these special forces, really highly trained and motivated, some 40,000 police and army. they will defend, they will fight to the last. they are not going, as in previous wars, to simply let the taliban walk in to power. which is why there is an effort now, and now it's solely being led by the united nations, rather than by the united states, to try to bring the taliban to accept that, listen, you cannot rule like you did in the �*90s. first of all, as harsh as you did, but your own. you need to have something inclusive. and i know from talking to the taliban in doha, in the gulf state of qatar, where negotiations have been
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on and on since september, they accept that but they also believe they've won, they've acted like they've won. and when you get reports from the field — our colleague secunder kermani went to visit the taliban area — they are not in the mood to compromise. they don't want democracy, however perfect it was in afghanistan. they want an islamic state. and, yes, they are very strict when it comes to social laws. notjust about girls and women, but aboutjournalists. journalism is one of the huge success stories in afghanistan. some say the taliban haven't changed, the taliban say they have changed. that is the big question, and it is nothing less than life and death. so i think there is still a chance this can work but there is also a chance it won't. let's talk about the other aspects i raised in the introduction, henry, and that this stand—off about ukraine we've seen perhaps reach its peak this week. we had troop movements involving the russians
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on the border they still have ukraine. joe biden responded by picking up the phone and saying, let's meet, let's talk. yes, there are sanctions and complaints about what russia has been doing, there has been a tit—for—tat expulsion of diplomats as the week comes to an end. but in the end, has america blinked first? because it looks like putin has mobilised his troops, rattled his sabre, and got a concession, a meeting, a big meeting with the president of the united states. well, he hasn't actually said yes yet, and i'm not entirely sure that he will. i think it will still depend on how things unfold over the next couple of months before he actually accepts biden's invitation. i mean, you can say that the west actually linked that the west actually blinked in many ways already back when crimea was annexed by russia already and russia's then incursion into eastern ukraine was already something that raised the hackles in the west. but the west did very little about except for imposing sanctions.
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that maybe did a little bit of damage, squeezed a little bit, but really didn't go that far. and now the sanctions that biden has imposed further these last couple of days, as well as the diplomats being expelled, are also fairly moderate steps. he is trying to squeeze a little bit russia's ability to raise money for its sovereign fund, but he's not going whole hog yet and i think what he's trying to do right now, though, is to at least send a more consistent signal than the previous administration because trump, when he was president, on the one hand, did expel diplomats over the skripal poisoning in concert with western allies, and yet on the other hand we know he would toady up to putin and flatter him and in some people's eyes, actually, his campaign worked with putin in nefarious ways. so i think biden is trying to say now, look, that is over, we want to have a constructive relationship. it doesn't mean we'll agree on everything and there will be antagonism going forward. and also biden realises that
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russia's cyber espionage and hacking abilities have really been difficult for the us. they have compromised some of our systems so, yeah, he's taking it slowly. lyse, one last thought. putin wasn't ever seriously going to send troops over the border into ukraine, was he? can he really afford, given the economic situation he's got at home, at war? situation he's got at home, a war? we just mentioned what happened in 2014, which was very secret, that the russians still deny that they went in and annexed crimea, went into eastern ukraine. they didn't hide this at all, it's there for everyone to see, which is why some people have said this is about sending signals rather than soldiers. and, yes, the russian media, as you were saying, see this as a big victory for russia's really tough posture, and in fact some of the russian media have described biden's foreign policy as bipolar disorder. 0n the one hand, you threaten to send two warships through the bosporus and then cancel it. you make threatening...
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you have nato military exercises, but when you have nato military exercises, but then you pick up the phone. yeah. i think what is really fascinating in this is that on domestic and foreign policy we are slowly beginning to understand who president biden is. and he's surprising people. 0n domestic policy, he surprising, and perhaps what he seems to be doing on russia, we have to wait and see. he wants to get some issues off the table. 0n afghanistan, as we have just been discussing, he believes that terrorism threat from afghanistan can be dealt with without having troops on the ground, without fighting against the taliban. he wants to find a way... they will never see eye to eye, but they have to try to dial down the tension because he's got china to worry about, he's got climate change to worry about. so let's just see, going forward, where he moves on this one. fascinating stuff, thank you very much. annalisa, i mentioned at the start of the programme that you're in tuscany. you're normally based in london, back home. how does italy's situation now
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on fighting the pandemic compare with a year ago? italy a year ago was a country that was worst affected in europe and things this year are still quite tough. they're tough but . they are improving. as you rightly say, the last year, italy was hardest - hit country in europe. now it's the seventh in the world. - it has been as dramatically hit as the uk, so it's not in that. unfortunate first place in the number- of deaths and so on. but things are improving. there has been a pick—up in the vaccination rate - and the great news is that, by the end of the month, l we will move from orange—red to yellow, which is the colourl code that says that - restrictions will be eased. restaurants will be open again to serve only alfresco but it's i going to be spring and lovely weather, so that is _ going to mean a lot, j also psychologically,
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that restaurants can reopen with tables outside. - schools have reopened. shops will reopen by. the end of the month. so the feeling is that, slowly but surely, we are getting i towards a new normal — but you are right, - the situation is still serious. the third wave, especially with the english variant i at the beginning, and now with all these other- variants, still posesl a big, big challenge. but vaccinations are catching up. and in france, of course, the situation is much worse. 6,000 people in intensive care this week. that's the worst figure since the same time last year and clearly the situation is not yet improving in france. henry, how does it look in the americas? i'm thinking in particular of the country you report from, the united states, for the la times, but also in brazil, the other big country that has
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had a pretty rough time. and where i was actually posted in rio de janeiro myself, as a correspondent, i wasjust in brazil last year right before all of this broke. starting with the us. you know, there is a fairly successful vaccine roll—out happening there and that has led to unfortunately some complacency, so although there had been a really promising drop in the number of infections across the us, we now see that either levelling off or even now going again and there are hotspots like the state of michigan, which is actually quite a bad way at the moment. and so we've talked about vaccine hesitancy, vaccine diplomacy, and now there is vaccine complacency. you know, the idea that suddenly we are protected and the reopenings can happen willy—nilly. so the us still has to be vigilant about it. now they are nothing, though, compared to brazil, which i think is a basket case at the moment under bolsonaro's policy of essentially denying that this is a problem, with a callousness that is almost breathtaking. i thinkjust last week, when somebody pointed out that more than 4,000 or 5,000 people
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were dying a day, he said there is no use crying over spilt milk. and that is a lot of milk, isn't it? i was looking at the figures. the first week of april, 11% of the infections worldwide were in brazil, and 26% of the deaths. it's quite frightening and unfortunately he still has a base of support that will go along with him. not in danger of being impeached, which is what happened to dilma rousseff, the former left—wing president. what is also being recognised now, though, is that this is notjust a national tragedy, this is now an international threat because you have a brazil variant of the virus that can potentially be more lethal, more transmissible, and without it being damped down in any decent way within brazil, it's going to spread around the world, and so i think brazil, unfortunately, doesn't seem to be going in a direction that any of us looking at it medically, orjust the pure data of who is going into hospital and how many people are dying, can say is an upward trajectory. and what about the us?
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us, as i mentioned before, is actually on an upward path in general. they have to be careful not to become complacent that the vaccinations are going well, but my own state, california, has been cautiously reopening even though it had a bad patch over the christmas break and thereafter. with the vaccines picking up, the economy is picking up, and i think things are actually looking fairly well in the us overall. there is that move to get the governor out of office, isn't there, because of him being spotted having a meal with friends in a restaurant? it didn't send the right signal somehow. a very expensive restaurant. a very expensive restaurant! lyse, there is a danger, isn't there, because the us is still at the top when you are talking in absolute numbers. it's perhaps not fair to compare big countries with big populations and small countries with small populations without talking about the share or percentage of people who are ill. but india is the big country and its share of people who are ill is really high. sharp intake of breath.
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we're talking about a country of 1.4 billion people. the descriptions that are coming out of india now is a tsunami of cases. phenomenal increase of cases. 200,000 cases a day. over a period of ten days, millions more cases. the hospitals are full, the morgues are full. look, we heard about italy and the united states. what happened was after november we all relaxed, complacency. "0h, we've beat it." so the shops opened up, the markets opened up. and india went a step further. it had elections, boisterous packed rallies, it had festivals like holi and kumbh mela. it's still having kumbh mela, even though 1,700 people tested positive in testing that they did. india is now beginning to lock down a bit more and the scientists are beginning to say, well, why is this happening? the dangerous part of this is that there is a double mutation in the indian variant, and some cases are being
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spotted in britain. so, again, back to that mantra that we've heard time and again. no—one is safe until everyone is safe. there are some real alarm bells ringing in india. they are starting to take measures and probably will do it, and they of course are a country which is manufacturing vaccines. they've vaccinated about 100 million people, but they've got a long way to go. talk of vaccines takes us to cuba. it's almost 60 years since moscow and washington faced off over soviet missiles on the island. khrushchev and kennedy are long gone but there has been a castro in charge in havana since the revolution of 1959. until this weekend, that is. friday evening, local time in havana, we had this announcement at the five—yearly party conference, henry, that raul castro, the younger brother of fidel castro — i say younger brother, he's 90 now, so he was still his younger brother — but obviously fidel died five years ago. his younger brother is stepping aside. five years ago he said we are all too old, we need a new generation.
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finally at the new generation is going to take charge. is that going to change, do you think, the importance of cuba in your country, in a state like florida, where it still seems to matter in elections? yeah. it is hard to imagine not having the words castro and cuba in the same sentence. particularly for the us and in florida, as you say, where, for such a small island it wields an outsized influence in terms of its effects on our politics. i think that wooing that president trump did of the cuban—american community particularly really helped him win florida again in the presidential election in 2020. and because of that importance in terms of their electoral clout in what is one of the most important states for any presidential candidate to win, cuba will remain an important part of any candidate's and any president's calculation in what he does. now biden, when he was vice president to 0bama, was part of the the baby steps that the 0bama
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administration took to try to open up and be a bit more emollient towards cuba, and trump reversed all that. i don't think biden is going to rush back in to do exactly what happened before, when he was vice president to 0bama. he will still take it a little bit carefully but once raul castro is no longer actually in charge, it remains to be seen whether those who are still the leaders of the communist party, which is what it's called, will start doing the reforms that even they themselves several years ago said that they would do. they are only finally pulling the trigger on them so let's see how that works and if that affects how cuban—americans in florida feel about the regime. annalisa, there was a time when the european left, in the 1970s, saw cuba as a great romance, castro as a great hero. i've lost count the number of che guevara t—shirts i used to see when i was growing up in the �*70s and �*80s in the uk alone.
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now, is it looked at rather differently, or are they still heroes, or is there a sense that the revolutionaries became the dictators, like daniel 0rtega in nicaragua and so fidel castro in cuba, that the romance is dead? well, i guess that in reality, i yes, it's dead, but you cannot take away your youth's best memories _ i mean, the sounds and - the t—shirts with che guevara or the songs about fidel castro _ i mean, they will always belong to that period i of idealism and utopia, so i think— they will not change. but i bet that you will find it. hard to find anyone who thinks that cuba today is a model of a good government. - so i think that's long gone. lyse... not the songs and t—shirts! no, they will still be sold and they will still be sung, certainly on those long balmy nights in havana — maybe the old boys and girls will still be meeting even if they are no longer in power. i'd like to ask you a question, shaun, about cuba and your romantic attachment. too young.
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i'm too young, you see. iamjust... like annalisa, i'm a child of the �*60s but i wasn't a student of the �*60s. ijust wondered, though, on a serious point, i mentioned vaccine, lyse. this was always castro's great ambition, that pharma was going to be, and it never happened. i mean, was cuba ever really built for the kind of identity it wanted once, you know, the soviet subsidies stopped, the venezuelan subsidies became much more unreliable? the independent cuba and still the terrible human rights record. well, you know, we were talking about health issues. cuba still is praised for its health system. but in others it is falling short, and most of all falling short its own people. in fact, talk about the cuban model, which was modelled on the soviet, is now more soviet than the soviet union, which is of course no more. and obviously you started by talking about the changing of the guard, the face of cuba, but castro is dead, long live castro. the reforms of the economy has been very, very cautious. they've opened up social media, which means that there's more freedom of expression. from what we understand is that these very important meetings this weekend, they will be discussing
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about how to open up without losing control. and just on that point, it's worth quoting something that the economist mentioned in a recent article. this is from a state newspaper headline. dealing with the covid crisis, it said, "capitalism results in superfluous health care and socialism delivers it in just the right dose." so some things don't change — castro or no castro. that's it for dateline london. my thanks to lyse doucet, annalisa piras, and henry chu. thank you for watching. we are back next weekend. goodbye. hello there. there's some more spring sunshine on the way for many of us on sunday, but the weather is changing. in scotland and northern ireland, we've got this band
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of cloud here coming in from the atlantic. that will bring some patchy rain into northern ireland and western scotland. it will keep the temperatures up, mind you. elsewhere, with little or no cloud, then those temperatures will fall close to freezing and there'll be some patchy frost, but it will warm up in the sunshine. but we've got much more cloud across scotland and northern ireland. most of the rain in the morning tending to peter out a bit more in the afternoon, eastern scotland staying dry and bright. sunshine across england and wales although we'll see some fair weather cloud bubbling up across wales and western england. further east in the sunshine, temperatures are likely to be a little bit higher than they were on saturday, but it may be a shade cooler than saturday where we've got the cloud in scotland and northern ireland. but at least in the northwest, the pollen levels are not going to be quite as high with that rain around. we're in the peak of the tree pollen season, of course. this rain hasjust been hanging around, though, in the northwest for a few days in actualfact, lowering pressure out to the west of the uk, but the rains not really making much progress at all. indeed, many places still dry on monday. could be quite a cloudy, misty start for eastern
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parts of england before the cloud breaks up. we'll see some sunshine for a while, but again, some patchy cloud will develop here and there, leading to some sunny spells. the rain just hangs around towards the northwest of scotland, not far away from western parts of northern ireland. bit warmer in scotland, those temperatures continuing to rise in england and wales — 16 or 17 degrees here. now, this rain is going to try to push into the uk during tuesday and into wednesday, but high pressure is going to be building across it, so there won't be very much rain at all. we've got some patchy rain heading southwards across scotland, northern ireland, maybe into the northwest of england, but it really is just dying out all the time. could be one or two showers further south, but it's on the whole a dry day. still quite warm across parts of england and wales, turning a bit cooler in scotland and northern ireland. and once that rain just tends to fade away as high pressure builds in, we start to draw in cooler air from the north as we head towards wednesday. we start the week, though, with something a little bit
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warmer for many parts of the country, and then by the middle part of the week, it does get cooler from the north. but it's been a very dry month and the dry theme is set to continue.
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who welcome to bbc news — i'm reged ahmad — our top stories. queen elizabeth's husband — the duke of edinburgh — has been laid to rest in st george's chapel in windsor. the queen sat alone in the chapel — mourning the loss of a much—loved husband. a small congregation attended the funeral, closing a remarkable chapter of modern royal history. our other main news this hour.
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president biden has condemned the treatment of the russian


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