11/03/2017 Dateline London


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11/03/2017

Foreign correspondents currently posted to London look at events in the UK through outsiders' eyes, and at how the issues of the week are being tackled around the world.


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Hello and welcome to Dateline London.

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How much, if anything, should Britain pay to leave

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How bad is the military situation facing the group calling

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And is Wikileaks a good or a bad thing?

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My guests today are Greg Katz of Associated Press.

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Abdel Bari Atwan who is a writer and commentator on Arab affairs.

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When Britain leaves the EU, we should be faced with a stiff

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it is like leaving a golf club - we stop paying when we stop playing.

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And how much is the Chancellor of the Exchequer trying

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to save money to pay for what he knows will be

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What should we pay? What is the tariff for leaving? Does anybody

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have any idea? No, since we think she will do the triggering on

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Tuesday, and therefore the big discussions, it seems likely, there

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are things that have to be done before that. The Ides of March our

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report us. Then the discussions happen about in principle about

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these things. It was interesting listening to some of the Europeans

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this week because it suddenly occurred to the media in Britain it

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was time we found out what those people on the other side of the

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consulate thought -- continent Thorton believed. They exist in

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terms of the Council and the commission and in terms of the

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parliament and in terms of 27 other nations, all of whom have to ratify

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what deal is done. This question of how much Britain should pay as part

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of the divorce is only one thing they have too discussed and it is in

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with all the others and it seems obvious that we have incurred some

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degree of liability and responsibility for whatever the

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separation costs will be and ongoing costs of the EU. You do not just

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walk away at this point will stop how much that ends up being, you

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guess. Thank you. I am talking about 60 billion. The Foreign Secretary

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Boris Johnson said we should not give them anything. You cannot have

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a free divorce. If you decide to divorce you have to pay the price,

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it is as simple as that. It will be painful in the beginning but after

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that you have to realise you are exporting 50% of your exports to

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Europe. It has to be a soft landing, it has to be flexibility from the

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British side to keep good relations with the ex-wife, for examples.

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There should be pavement. At the same time there should be soft exit

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without problems because it is in the interests of Britain to keep

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good relations with the EU. They are angry and upset and we should

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understand that. I am not sure about the divorce metaphor, it is like

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breaking up a business. We have been part of what Jeremy Clarkson has

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called the biggest budget in the world, a huge budget. We made

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promises to participate in projects ahead and we cannot just say, we

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said we will do this but we are not going to now. We can say that. It

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would not be right. As David said, the European Parliament 's have to

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vote on the final deal and the commission and I agree, there has

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been an atmosphere in the British press of fog in the channel,

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continent cut off. We are not in charge. The other point underlined

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what David said, you do not know how much of this is boxes squaring up

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before a match, a lot of talk, and eventually it will get down to

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boring detail about who owes what is what. It will get down to a long

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discussion with difficult detail that civil servants will have to sit

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there and crack out. The reality as far as the 60 billion, we will not

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know the real figure. If she triggers Article 50 on Tuesday it

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will be a year and 364 days and 23.5 hours before we know the figure and

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we will have to have to years of the press pointing fingers about it but

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it will be a hard negotiation. It will be an important part of it.

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While we look at Crystal balls. With various degrees of incompetence! Do

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you think there is a chance Theresa May will go for an early election?

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Some people look at the state of the Labour Party and the question of

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whether she has a mandate. We love this one. Turn once, it is a good

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question, because if I were her, I would. This year? I would stop I am

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the new Prime Minister, I do not have my own mandate and I am likely

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to get a bigger majority than the awkward majority I have at the

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moment made up of people who did not want to come out of the EU whereas

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if I get a 100 seat majority over Jeremy Corbyn's pathetic and

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hopeless Labour Party, I am away and swimming and can pretty much dictate

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the terms. Two things would stop you, the first is complexities of

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triggering the election, trigger being the word. The word of the

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year. The difficulty because we have a fixed term parliament, but it can

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be achieved. Then the question of the uncertainties. Is it just

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possible that somewhere out there lies a new Ukip leader who can get

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50% of the vote? The Lib Dems, a pro-European... None of these things

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are likely. Jeremy Corbyn. Tony Blair. David Miliband comes back.

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But Scotland. If you go to the country and the Scots go to the

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country at the same time and they as a result get a significant mandate

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for the Westminster Parliament for the SNP, and over -- an overwhelming

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one. They are strong, being pro-European. You are Scottish.

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There is a Scottish problem but all sorts of other problems. Theresa May

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said we do not need more instability. We have to make sure

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the ship is going in the right direction. Up to now she is handling

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things wisely and not taking a very strong stance against Europe, she is

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trying to negotiate. I agree with David, she should go for it. She

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should have a mandate, because it is a huge responsibility and I believe

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the time is right to do this. Gordon Brown did it at a certain stage

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after Tony Blair. She needs that. She needs a strong mandate from the

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British people. Why not another referendum, with Brexit, for

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example? Why not another Scottish referendum? That is the nub, whether

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there is a British people or whether Scotland is going a different way

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from England, Northern Ireland is going a different way. To keep them

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in, you should give them a good example. A referendum. On Brexit?

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Why not? And your Prime Minister... A strong mandate for the Prime

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Minister. I don't think I can bear it! A referendum a year. If there

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were an election, and this is the issue, is it about we have a Tory

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party who will win without any opposition or will it be an election

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on Brexit, in which maybe by some miracle the Lib Dems and the part of

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Labour for remaining in the EU get-together. The other problem it

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might solve is the House of Lords question and how much parliament

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should be consulted about this, if Theresa May had a thumping majority,

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she could say, the British people have spoken again, I am the right

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person to negotiate, Parliament can decide what it likes, but my party

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runs parliament. She adds to her majority if she calls an election.

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She may do it but it does not solve anything in Scotland and may make it

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worse. The idea that Labour and the Lib Dems come together as a saviour

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act. We like to dream! I do not see anyone sitting in the party about to

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leap to the fore, in either party. I think she would end up with a bigger

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majority. In Syria and Iraq, the territory

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held by Islamic State What difference will it make

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if they are driven our What difference will it make

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if they are driven out of towns and cities,

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and how will that affect the chances of terrorist

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attacks in the Middle East, They are under great difficulty and

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pressure. In Mosul, Raqqa, and the catastrophe might get worse. We do

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not know about the humanitarian catastrophe because there is a

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blackout on what is happening in Mosul. There are 150,000 Iraqi

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forces attacking Mosul, they liberated the eastern part and they

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are facing difficulties with the western part because there are

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narrow alleyways, the old city. It seems that Islamic State have

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managed to dig a lot of tunnels and they are fighting. There are

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difficulties and a lot of casualties. We do not know about the

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people, do they have food, electricity, water? But definitely

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the Islamic State is losing a lot of ground there and there are reports

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that may be the leader of Islamic State managed to run away to another

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part of Iraq. And that he is hiding. We don't know. The Americans say he

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left Mosul. If you know that, why did you not kill him, for example,

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if you have information about him and he is still alive and he managed

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to run away. Who is going to liberate? And what will happen after

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day liberate Mosul and Raqqa? Who will be the sovereign ruler. Raqqa

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is part of Syria. There is a huge problem between the Russians and

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Americans and between Turks and the Russians, when it comes to Syria.

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The Americans would like the Kurds, the Syrian Democratic army, to do

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the job because they trust them. But Turkey doesn't. They say we are

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Sunni, they are Sunni, and we should do the job. Where is the United

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States in this? We have seen Marines are part of this. Several hundred

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marines. I do not think the mission has been clearly explained, it was

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done quietly and I do not think the media has had a chance to ask

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questions of the Trump administration on their role and it

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is not clear to what degree they will cooperate. The American

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position is in flux and not clear at this point. They wanted boots on the

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ground and I expected more attention to be paid to that in the States.

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Presumably, at least in the short-term, given the humanitarian

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problems everybody expects outside Mosul. We might expect more migrants

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as well. The refugee crisis is still with us and we'll get worse. In the

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long run, what is there to hold this loose and difficult situation

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together? What is there for people in the Arab world to look to for

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hope? Islamic State has a plan B, but, there are opponents, enemies,

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they do not have a plan B. To retreat to the desert? OK, they will

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go underground. They start causing a lot of terrorism attacks in the

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Middle East, and outside, because they will be relieved from running

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big cities like Mosul and Raqqa but what is the plan B for the coalition

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's? There are 60, 70 countries fighting Islamic State. -- 16, 17.

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We have seen bloodcurdling reports there could be 800, 900 fighters who

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wish to come back to this country. By thing we have a good handle on

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who those people are likely to be. I am not saying I am not worried about

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it, but I think the point is that he takes Raqqa? You can see the Iraqi

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government will end up in control of Mosul and the question is whether

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the Iraqi government can behave in such a way it can deal with the

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Sunni population, majority population, and come to an

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agreement, which is a big question that involves the Kurds. Raqqa is

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more of a problem. You can take it, but he keeps it? There you go back

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to the fact you are in the middle of the Syrian civil war. I tend to

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believe from what I have heard that Isis, whose unique selling

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proposition is the caliphate, will be weakened and although it has a

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great deal of propaganda capacity which is mobile, it can take it with

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it, and on the whole there are other groups. You should look at the

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Al-Qaeda affiliate 's bands successor organisations. Who hold

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territory. It's of territory, and they have capacity and they have not

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at the moment as IS will, the reputation of being defeated. They

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are extant in Syria. As you raise the question of people coming back.

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Terrorist events in the west. I tend to think that will carry on as it

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did before. I do not think it will be significantly worse as a result

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of the end. Most of the big questions about Isis are in the

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region. You have written about the digital caliphate, the idea and

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means of communication will continue. It is much cheaper for

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them to go underground. It is less problematic. They do not need to run

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a bigger state or cities like Mosul and Raqqa. If you say you want to

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have a caliphate and we have declared it and here we are and you

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are not there any more, it is... You cannot invite people any more. The

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problem is look at Al-Qaeda now. Why we are busy with Islamic State. Now

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Al-Qaeda is gaining strength in different parts of the Middle East

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and now they are very strong in Yemen, in parts of Africa. They

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start to gather strength and recruit people. The same thing, Islamic

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State will do. They have branches. In Sinai, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan.

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I just came back from India. They are worried about terrorist attacks

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by Islamic State, especially among the Muslim community. We are seeing

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this terrible famine. How that will play together I do not know. I

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wonder whether Al-Qaeda will be almost like a successor

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organisation, like a more sensible Islamist force.

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Donald Trump claimed - based on no evidence, apparently -

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that predecessor Barack Obama wanted to wiretap him.

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The language seems quaint, given that we learned this week -

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courtesy of Wikileaks - that the CIA can not only

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bug your phone, but your TV and, for all I know, your toaster

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Is Wikileaks doing a public service, or is it a danger

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How do you think Wikileaks is seen by the Trump administration? They go

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back and forth. Trump I think was happy when Wikileaks was releasing

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e-mails from the Democratic national committee and was kind of thrilled

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all those embarrassing e-mails were coming out. Now he is in the White

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House he is annoyed the CIA's secret weapons, online weapons, revealed

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online, so now he wants them to please be quiet and can play a

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different game. Basically, this release is embarrassing to the CIA

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and has a lot of practical overtones. Nobody is surprised they

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are trying to get into your phones and TVs. Releasing thousands of

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pages of no high and detailed coding is not something... And nobody

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knows. Where it came from. That is my problem with Wikileaks. I need to

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know where it comes from. It can sometimes be illegal to publish

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material that has been stolen as long as you did not steal it. That

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does not satisfy my own ethical concerns. That is the point. Edward

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Snowden, somebody an insider, discontented, saying people in

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America need to know this. If that is the case here. Perhaps one takes

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a moral judgment, if it came from Russian intelligence you might take

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another judgment. If our friend Julian Assange, if his goal was to

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damage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, which he has implied,

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that is meddling into domestic politics. I am not crazy about the

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idea of him trying to shape elections. Wikileaks, good or bad?

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Wikileaks used to provide a useful service and I remember the release

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of the Guantanamo operation annual and lists of membership of the

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American far right groups. The toxic dump on the Ivory Coast. Something

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else has happened since, and Julian Assange is locked up in the embassy

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and has taken complete control of the organisation and got rid of

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people he used to trust. He is paranoid, like kids sitting in their

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mother's basements, posting. I don't think he has an agenda, political

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agenda in the way you suggest, I think his agenda is his own

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aggrandise mint. He can be used by almost anybody and we do not know

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who is using him. Wikileaks is doing a good job. We must expose these

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intelligence services, the CIA, why not? They are plotting here,

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plotting their, let us expose them and let them be aware there are

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people vetting their operations and knowing what they are doing. I had a

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look at Wikileaks because I was mentioned several times when it

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comes to the bodies it was a great job, doing a great job against

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brutal dictatorships in that part of the world and how they function, how

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they pay dirty money, financing walls, in our part of the world,

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dealing with superpowers like the US. It is nice to know what is

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behind. I think Wikileaks is doing a great job. It is selected releases.

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We hear about Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Give us the truth about

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Russia. Chinese... One of the difficulties, one of the mysteries,

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why are there no Russian and Chinese whistle-blowers? I cannot imagine!

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You can expect a face white in an airport, that is why, or somebody

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will saunter across Waterloo Bridge with a knob roller and stick it in

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your foot! The problems for whistle-blowers, one of the great

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benefits of these open societies is our whistle-blowers, they don't

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generally face being offed by the state any more. Journalists want to

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know everything but as citizens we don't necessarily want everything to

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be no. There are a lot of things our spooks are doing that I want them to

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do. Let's say the proposition was, could you Bagh a jihadis televisions

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so when they are having a conversation about who to bomb you

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could pick it up, I am in favour. I would be in general not in favour of

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that being known so the jihadis could stop it happening, so we would

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share that. Insofar as that is what is being explored, I am antsy about

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other people discovering it will stop we are conflicted. The big

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question in a democratic society is what oversight you have about what

:22:43.:22:46.

spooks are doing so you can be relatively sure they are doing the

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things he would approve of. A lot of this I want them to do. I want them

:22:52.:22:55.

to stop people blowing up our schools and so on. This would be

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news to us but not to Russian or Chinese intelligence that you can

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get a Samsung television and bucket. As citizens we might not know this.

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-- bug it. Look at the American election and what happened. There

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are good cyber attackers out there. Allegedly, yes. They are welcome to

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sue in the British courts. Wikileaks, good or bad? Is it for

:23:33.:23:38.

you the question of provenance, where does it come from? Who is

:23:39.:23:45.

doing it for whose benefit? Discrimination. I don't regard to

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data dumping as whistle-blowing. It is not whistle-blowing.

:23:53.:23:54.

Whistle-blowing is you think something is wrong and you bring

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attention to that thing. Taking every bit of data and dumping it in

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the open without care about what it is or where it comes from... And

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failing to redact personal information. They are now doing

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that. Not all of the time. They are spying on us. We do not have any

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privacy. They always spied on us. My parents were spied on with

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telephones tapped because they were communists. The question is whether

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there is a proper degree of oversight. There are enemies of

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society within society you might want this stunting. Democracy has

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become the establishment of, and Twilight Son wants to dismantle the

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establishment. The Julian Assange's -- wants to dismantle it.

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Dismantling democratic institutions becomes a part of that. How as

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journalist should we treat this? Previous leaks, journalists have

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redacted it themselves and information has become available to

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British newspapers and they say they will not publish that because it

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puts lives at risk. That seems to have changed. Wikileaks has been

:25:19.:25:21.

good at manipulating the media and the first response in most cases is

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let's publish everything and the documents may be not fit for the

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public to see because it contains names of agents or personal

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information about people who have not done anything wrong. I am more

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sceptical about what they release them my colleagues and... You do not

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think it is as important as they suggest? Julian is very good at

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making what he is to do sounding very important. I would like to know

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if the Swedish are going to charge him with any sexual offences, and I

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would like to know whether the US does or does not have an indictment

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against him. These things are important for understanding who he

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is where he stands. I would like to know why Nigel Farage went to see

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him. I think he wanted an interview, nothing more. We see.

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That's it for Dateline London this week.

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You can comment on the programme on Twitter @gavinesler

:26:22.:26:24.

We're back next week at the same time.

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