18/01/2013 Newsnight


The stories behind the headlines with Emily Maitlis. Including news on the terrorist attack on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria, and what workers make of the case for Europe?

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These are the lucky ones, survivors of the kidnap and of an ambitious


military rescue in The Sahara. won't feel 100% happy until I'm in


the UK and see my family. Then I will be happy. But up to 30 are


still unaccounted for, a third of them Britons. Today, as kit


napeders demanded their ranson, the Prime Minister laid bare the


gravity of the threat. We face large and extension terrorist


threat from a group of extremists, based in different parts of the


world who want to damage our interests and way of life. We will


discuss this and how we are prepared to meet it. Europe is


trying to tie us up with regulation and the competitive edge we had


will be gone. It is 40 years since we had a say on Europe, is it time


for the politicians to stop talking and the rest of the country to


start. Good evening, the news from Algeria


is bad tonight, but not, it seems, as bad as the British Government


had first believed. The original number of Britons unaccounted for


stood at 30 last night t now looks to be closer to ten. After a


terrorist take that plunged many of the world's capital's into crisis


mode, dozens of foreign nationals still missing or being held at the


Saharan gas plant. Today the Algerian Government defended its


unilateral military operation, as the true scale of the attempted


rescue mission became clear. It claimed 650 hostages had been freed,


the vast majority of whom were Algerian. Tonight, as the Prime


Minister talked of the growing threat in ungoverned places, we ask


how much of this region is in trouble.


Three days into the crisis at the sprawling gas plant, deep in


Algerian desert, it is still hard to piece together the sequence of


events. It is not clear if the hostage takers, Katibat


Moulathamine were in the main plant or the residential complex. On the


first day of the siege they demanded safe passage out with the


hostages, the Algerians said no. A hostage were Belfast, who later


escaped, phoned journalists, possibly under duress, to say the


Algerian army had already opened fire on the complex. The situation


is really deteriorating, we have contacted all the respective


embassies from different nationalties, to have the military


withdrew, the message doesn't seem to be getting through to the


military, because just up until recently until ten minutes ago they


were firing into the camp. It was yesterday the Algerian Government


told Downing Street it had to act immediately. It is not clear what


triggered the subsequent assault, either the Algerian army first


stormed the residential complex, or the fighting started when the


kidnappeders tried to move their hostages, in five jeeps. Their


prisoners were bound, gagged, and had explosives round their necks.


Certainly those vehicles were attacked by helicopter gunships, it


is thought three were destroyed, one blew itself up. Some passengers


escaped from the fifth. The remaining militants, and some


hostages are now said to be holed up in the main gas treatment plant.


With the crisis still unresolved, the Prime Minister made clear today


his frustration at the way the Algerian operation began. During


the course of Thursday morning, the Algerian forces mounted an


operation. Mr Speaker, we were not informed of this in advance, I was


told by the Algerian Prime Minister while it was taking place. He said


that the terrorists had tried to flee, that they judged there to be


an immediate threat to the lives of the hostages, and had felt obliged


to respond. When I spoke to the Algerian Prime Minister, later last


night, he told me that this first operation was complete, but this is


a large and complex site, and they are still pursuing terrorists, and


possibly some of the hostages in other areas of the site. Algeria's


a country where oil and gas facilities have been largely safe


until now, for the global hydrocarbon industry, this has been


a big shock. It did looks a if Algeria was modernising, becoming


more stable, some what more secular, and not a place where


fundamentalism was going to take hold. The companies have been able


to work there very successfully. They will now be surprised that


this sort of incident can occur there. They will be looking very


carefully, and they will be reassessing the balance of risk and


reward. The industry does not like to put staff at risk, and very


rarely does. This suggests there is a new situation in the region.


of course, Islamist militants in North Africa don't just threaten


western interests and personnel in the region, they pose a terrorist


risk to Europe itself. The terrible events of this week have woken us


up to a danger long growing, but long underestimated in North Africa.


The question now, how can the west most effectively engage with the


region, economically, diplomatically, militarily, to make


it safer for its own people and for or is it better for Africans to


deal with African problems. The region is a patchwork of states,


with varying attitudes to the west, and varying degrees of stability.


In Algeria, where this tragedy has unfolded, the military retains huge


political power. Its rulers have kept out of the Arab Spring, and


they have only recently mended relations with France, after a long


chill. After years of fighting in Islamist insurgency in the 190s,


they have shown this week they are still -- 1990s, they have shown


this week they are still prepared to act ruthlessly without talking


to the west. Libya, freed with the aid of British and French air


strike, should be the west's most reliable partner in north Africa,


it has failed to rein in Islamist militias, it can't stem the flow of


militants or arms across its desert. Mali, now gulfed in the conflict


that apparently triggered the hostage-taking, was once a


promising democracy, but a military coup last year provoked chaos,


America can't help, because it says the new regime is illegal. Nigeria


should be coming to the rescue, it is spearheading the African force


meant to bring peace to Mali, its troops are, in reality, badly


trained, they are leaving behind another Islamist insurgency in


Nigeria theself. But many think military solutions alone won't work.


And that it is poverty and bad Government that are fuelling the


growth in Islamist militancy. You have to understand what are the


security risks we are facing now in The Sahara region of Africa.


Furthermore, you have to understand that problem has to do with


sovereignty. Which is the main issue. Poverty in the sense that


people are facing a lot of frustration. There is a lot of food


crises, the leadership aren't doing their job. Because of that


frustration, people are allowing themselves to be involved in all


sorts of things, including what today is termed "terrorism ".


Meanwhile, with the hostage crisis still unresolved, Algerian TV


showed tonight freed prisoners returning home. The gendarmes kept


us safe and away from the bad guys. REPORTER: How do you feel? I never


felt any danger, to be honest. they had criticism of the rescue


operation, it wasn't broadcast. But in the days ahead, the rest of the


world will be analysing exactly what went wrong. We will speak to


our diplomatic editor, Mark Urban, who is here now. How much clearer


are we now about the people behind this and what they are really


trying to achieve? Even yesterday, some people were still putting this


in the same category of some of the previous kidnappings, only three or


six individuals, much smaller in scale, and, of course, the all


goreian Government had denounced this group -- the Algerian


Government had denounced this group as cigarette smuggling bed bow wins,


what is -- Bedouins. What is clearer after the reports emerged


what happened, is this was conceived as a spectacular, perhaps,


deliberately to put them on the international Jihadist map. You


look at the scale of the target they selected. More than 700


workers there, even when you win know out the Algerian, and 130


foreigners, they went in there with 35 people, on a site covering many


miles. How could they really hope to have controlled all those people,


or got them away from there to some safer place. Perhaps it was always


conceived that it might turn into a last stand, a suicide mission.


longer planning than intervention in Mali would suggest? Quite


possibly. With these broader aims. The demands made for the release of


a woman in Pakistan, and the Egyptian cleric held for the past


20 years in America over the original attempt to bomb the World


Trade Center, if you like, Jihadist icons, not people narrowly related


to the Sahara or the other people, look to go the wider Jihadist


movement. Also reports from the freed hostages, that these people


who went in there, around 35 gunmen were not just Algerian, they came


from several different countries, one of them was described of


speaking French of a standard of someone who had grown newspaper


France. Evidence too of a wider Jihadist involvement in what they


tried to do. What do you make of the diplomacy involved in this.


Yesterday all the reports coming out suggested that David Cameron


was pretty angry at the way this had been conducted unilaterally,


today something much more empathetic to the Algerian


Government, and much more gentle, in terms it of the criticism.


Because we're going to be in this for a long time, possibly? Some


people are still unaccounted for, there are still believed to be some


hostages in the gas plant, it is an on going situation, not time to


have public recriminations. And I think, perhaps, a more sober


appreciation of what kind of group that the Algerians actually had to


deal with. Britain was critical, the Japanese were critical. But


some other countries have been quite robust in defence of what the


Algerians have done. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State,


defending them today, and say let's remember who the terrorists are in


this situation. The French Interior Minister, also, defending robust


action, and urging people not to criticise the Algerians for what


they have done. So, they have had quite a bit of support too in this.


And too early to talk about the sort of lessons learned, but it has


woken everyone up to this region, hasn't it? It has, because if they


are going to go for this sort of spectacular, there are other FA


sill dotted around the Sahara, from Algeria to Libya. Major facilities,


if they are going to take on this kind of target, 98% of Algeria's


foreign exchange revenue comes through this industry. They could


have a major economic impact, many of the multinationals like BP will


have to question the way they operate in the countries. And it


has suddenly raised the whole thing several notches up, the


international security list of concerns. Thank you very much. To


discuss the attack and its implications we're joined by Nigel


Inkster, a deputy head of MI6, the energy analyst, Rachel Ziemba, and


also by Dr Alia Brahimi, who is an expert on North Africa and the


Middle East, from the London School of Economics. Welcome to you all.


Thank you for coming in. I think one thing that we have all been


shocked about, was that revelation of the scale. We thought we were


talking about 30, 40, 50, and suddenly you get these numbers of


Algerian hostages, you know, up to 570 freed, it puts the whole


military operation in some kind of context? Yeah, I think that what


the scale indicates is this has been in the works for quite some


time. This is something they have pulled out of their pocket in order


to symbolically chime in with the global Jihadist ideology, the


French have just entered into Mali. This wasn't hatched as a direct


response to the French intervention. But they saw on the wider regional


landscape and the world stage, this was the right time to try to


execute such an audacious, and as you indicated, absolutely extensive


operation. Does that make it clearer in your mind, you probably


have sense, from an MI6 perspective, of how an operation like this, to


rescue, would be put together. Does that tell us more about why the


Algerians went in as they did? think, each of these situations has


its own particular characteristics, and it is very difficult to


generalise what we are looking at here, I think, has already been


said. It is a very large area which gives the hostage-taker as lot of


leeway to move around. And I think any attempt to deal with a group


like this, given the circumstances, is going to be very challenges. In


an ideal world, you would want to constrict these people within clear


boundaries, you would want to be able to set up some intelligence,


collection, capabilities to monitor these people, have some sense of


where they are, where the hostages are, where the areas of risk are.


In a situation such as we are talking about, it is pretty obvious


this is going to be very difficult to do at all, much less within a


very compressed time scale. I guess naturally we are concentrating and


our thoughts are with the British nationals, and we're talking about


the foreign nationals, but, from the Algerian perspective, this has


been successful, hasn't it, most of them, the vast majority got out?


Thus far, yes. Obviously the Algerian security forces, Armed


Forces, do not have the kind of specialist training and


capabilities that the United States, the UK, France and one or two other


European nations have. One has to ask ones self how easy it would be


for, let's say, the -- one's self, how easy it would be for the


British forces the SAS, to do better in this situation, or


whether a Special Forces approach would work in this environment.


What do you think, could you imagine the Algerian military


working side-by-side with Special Forces from other countries?


think Algeria definitically historically has jealousy guarded


its sovereignty. It also feels it has the necessary expertise to deal


with these people, that it has been confronting for many years now, on


its own terrain. So I think it probably was quite convinced that


it was worth actually trying to go it alone in the first instance. I


think going forward, that whole relationship is going to have to be


reviewed, if indeed foreign personnel are going to remain in


Algeria, working in the oil and gas sector, and some of that


sovereignty will have to be conceded and whether that will take


the form of private security companies, I don't know. But this


threat is definitely on the rise. The response has to match it.


Rachel Ziemba what will that mean now? Will the multinationals, who


are already talking about evacuating their staff to safety


want to carry on working in these places? Sure, I think they are


already re-thinking, to go back to your previous point on the


Algerians looking fairly well out of it t I think on a broader


context this is a major hit too, what the overall policy of the


Algerian Government has been. Not only in creating and maintaining


the security state, but also in putting all of this security effort


into the energy sector. The bulk of it. That was what this message was


about? It was possibly not about the people first, it was about the


site itself, do you think? I think also just the message of that.


think to get to the broader point, obviously already the foreign


companies are re-thinking what they are -- what their role will be. It


is particularly a concern for any future investment that Algeria


might want to attract. They are very much trying to get more


investment, unconventional fuels. This is just another reason why


foreign companies might give Algeria a wide berth, go to places


that are easier to operate in on a business environment and security


basis. Of course, we have to raise the question, what if there are


more takes like this, will this affect supplies. Are these the


unintended consequences of the end of the Colonel Gaddafi rule, is


this what we didn't know about? I think this is one of the unintended


consequences. This whole situation has been brewing for a long time.


It has just maintained itself below the radar screen, but all of a


sudden this massive influx of former Gaddafi mercenaries, plus


their weapons. Plus the money? of course, money. Which is what?


Saudi money now? The money from these groups comes from a lot of


different sources. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreg around 2008/09 was


in a very powerless state, then they managed to cash in a lot of


money from ranson payments from various western Governments, and


they were in business again. Since then they have been raising money


from various forms of smuggling, continued Rannellssome payments,


some degree of outside fansing -- ranson payments, some degree of


outside financing. They are quite wealthy. This is the soft


underbelly of Europe, the place that will become the breeding


ground for militants that we haven't really paid attention to.


Is that how you see it? As Nigel said, events have really


accelerated, it has all happened very quickly. If it isn't already


seen that way, it will come to be seen that way. What you have is not


just the fact that the downfall of Gaddafi has had this collateral


damage in Mali, but you have these militant groups forming alliances,


this growing Jihadi global consciousness among previously


localised and ineffectual groups. They are all sort of coming


together. That intellectual and ideolgical space has been matched


with a ter Toryal space suddenly in northern mal-- territorial space


suddenly in northern Mali. There are training camps there, I don't


think the French are exaggerating the threat when they say we have to


re-think this. It is a very dangerous position. Where does it


leave the French position or any western position, if the French


have boots on the ground, could this be their Iraq, somewhere they


are going to be for a long time? would be hesitant to compare it to


any specific other example. I think the issue here is whether it is


French, and we are starting to have other NATO members have, if not


boots on the glound, but support operations, they -- ground, but


support operations, they could get dragged in, the Canadians, the


British to some extent. The big issue this is not going to be an


easy fight or solved militarily, there will be economic elements to


this. This is a point where, speaking especially about for


example Algeria and Libya, this is a dynamic where Europe is in a


situation where because of the economic situation within Europe,


there is even less capacity both militarily, but also from an


economic basis. It is much closer, a three-hour flight. Did you hear


anything in what David Cameron said today that suggested this is now


our focus for military intervention, or at least security? His reference


to an existential threat was very interesting. I think it was


slightly worrying, in the sense that it is obviously in the


interests of these groups, to aggregate up their cause into


something that is greater than the sum of the parts. I think we need


to be wary about playing this game any more than we need to. Having


said that, I think the honest answer is, yes, we probably are


going to need to be more involved, I think there is going to be a lot


of work needed to be done in capacity building for local


regional forces, rather perhaps than direct military involvement by


countries like the UK, but there is a lot that can be done that needs


to be done to bring local African capabilities up to where they need


to be to begin to deal with this threat. This will take a lot of


time. Thank you very much indeed. Thank you very much for coming in.


Ask people what they want out of Europe, holidays aside, and many


will offer you a fairly visceral view. The polls on British


membership of the EU have changed little over 40 years, the country


roughly splits in half. Tonight we step away from the politicians and


ask those who work in health, haulage, small businesses, how the


EU rules have changed their lives. 40 years ago this month, we joined


what was then called the Common Market. That, of course, has


evolved into the EU. It now does far more in our lives than the


trading group we signed up to. Each of us has a different story to tell


about Europe, but one thing to note from polling evidence, even if the


politicians get convulsed by periodic euro-spasams, the public


is pretty constant. We have been tracking whether people want to


leave Europe or stay in it in the EU, since 1977, what is interesting


is that the figures in our latest survey, just at the end of last


year, had 48% want to go leave, 44% wanting to stay in. Those figures


are very, very close, one or two percentage points away from how


people felt in 1977. If you didn't do any polls between that period


you would say nothing much had changed. But one thing that has


changed, for some people, Europe has made a huge impact on their


lives. For junior doctors, for example, the European Working Time


Directive has limited their hours, they can only work 48 a week, that


includes on-call time. They are understandably keen to keep this


protection. I think bringing down doctors' hours has been beneficial,


I think people who are tired make mistake, doctors who are tired make


mistakes with patients, that is something we have managed to avoid


and improve. That has led to patient safety improvements.


Ripping up the European Working Time Directive would be a mistake,


in your view? I think if we removed EWTD we would have to replace it


with something just as important to maintain safety for patients and


for doctors. Clearly junior doctors think Europe has been great, but


has had been great for the rest of us, for patients, who receive NHS


care, for the tax-payers who have to pay for it. There is another


view, here at the Royal College of Surgeons, they think it has been a


disaster. The problem with the European working time directive for


surgical training is the rigid working hours we experience,


patients kb can't be followed through in the same way as


previously. They are handed over between teams, we think it is a


problem for patient safety. We are not getting the same levels of


experience by following the patients through their pathway in


surgery. Another group keen to see renegotiation of the European


regulations is the haulage industry. Foreign lorries fill up their tangs


with cheaper diesel bought abroad and undercut British firms. The


Government is bringing in a new charge on such lorries, �10 day,


because of the EU rules the charge has to go on to British lorries too.


It is said they won't lose out because they pay lower excise duty


to balance it out. More complexity, the hauliers say �10 is too little


to make things fair. They have enough fuel to last all week, and


because the rules are relaxed about what they can and can't do inside


the UK. They can pick up a load in Manchester take it to Birmingham,


pick up one from Birmingham and take it to Cardiff and take it out


of the country. They can now work in the UK at far cheaper rates than


the UK haulier because they have bought the fuel abroad at 25p a


litre less, that is decimating the industry. And whilst there are


plenty of businesses who say that Europe has been great for them,


with access to half a billion consumers across the continent, for


some smaller concerns that trade exclusively in the UK, well, you


sometimes get a different story. For me it is an absolute nightmare,


when you get more and more legislation. The great thing about


running a small business, or relatively small business is that


ability to be able to think on your feet and move fast what Europe is


doing is trying to tie us up with more legislation, the likes of


which will slow us down, and that competitive edge we once had is


finished. For me, we don't need another layer of middle management,


we have one, we have our politician, we don't need another layer of


management, I'm sorry. A little before that the speaker had said,


this was before the vote was announced, that he anticipated


there would be a good deal of noise and celebration. We entered the


Common Market because of a vote in parliament, we stayed in because of


a referendum two years later. In about two years time we may have


another referendum. But this time, we will have far more experience to


vote on. Review is here on BBC Two next.


Tonight we're soaked in blood after watching Quentin Tarantino's


typically gory Django Unchained, the Vikings have returned to


Scotland, this time bringing treasure, it turns out they weren't


quite as bloodthirsty as you might have thought. Prime Minister Prime


Minister is back on the screens, ready to tackle the coalition. We


have tales of teenage trauma on the screen and the page. Join me


Natalie Haynes, Denise Mina, and John Sergeant in just a minute.


Before we go I will take you through the front pages of


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 70 seconds


That's all from us this evening, we wish you fun in the snow, if that