18/01/2013 Newsnight


18/01/2013

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

:00:15.:00:21.

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

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

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

:00:31.:00:36.

napeders demanded their ranson, the Prime Minister laid bare the

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gravity of the threat. We face large and extension terrorist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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start. Good evening, the news from Algeria

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

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had first believed. The original number of Britons unaccounted for

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

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

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

:01:41.:01:44.

Saharan gas plant. Today the Algerian Government defended its

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unilateral military operation, as the true scale of the attempted

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

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

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

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how much of this region is in trouble.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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is really deteriorating, we have contacted all the respective

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embassies from different nationalties, to have the military

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

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

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

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

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triggered the subsequent assault, either the Algerian army first

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stormed the residential complex, or the fighting started when the

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

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

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Certainly those vehicles were attacked by helicopter gunships, it

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

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escaped from the fifth. The remaining militants, and some

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

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

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his frustration at the way the Algerian operation began. During

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the course of Thursday morning, the Algerian forces mounted an

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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a country where oil and gas facilities have been largely safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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region, economically, diplomatically, militarily, to make

:05:34.:05:44.
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it safer for its own people and for or is it better for Africans to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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this week they are still prepared to act ruthlessly without talking

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

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

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

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

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that apparently triggered the hostage-taking, was once a

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

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

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

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

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trained, they are leaving behind another Islamist insurgency in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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frustration, people are allowing themselves to be involved in all

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

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Meanwhile, with the hostage crisis still unresolved, Algerian TV

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showed tonight freed prisoners returning home. The gendarmes kept

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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goreian Government had denounced this group -- the Algerian

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

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

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

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deliberately to put them on the international Jihadist map. You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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longer planning than intervention in Mali would suggest? Quite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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from several different countries, one of them was described of

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speaking French of a standard of someone who had grown newspaper

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

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

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Yesterday all the reports coming out suggested that David Cameron

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

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today something much more empathetic to the Algerian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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foreign exchange revenue comes through this industry. They could

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

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

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has suddenly raised the whole thing several notches up, the

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

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

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

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

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

:12:25.:12:29.

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

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

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

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

:12:44.:12:50.

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

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

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

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to symbolically chime in with the global Jihadist ideology, the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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its own particular characteristics, and it is very difficult to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Forces, do not have the kind of specialist training and

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

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

:15:09.:15:17.

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

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

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whether a Special Forces approach would work in this environment.

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What do you think, could you imagine the Algerian military

:15:28.:15:34.

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

:15:34.:15:38.

think Algeria definitically historically has jealousy guarded

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

:15:42.:15:45.

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

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

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

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

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reviewed, if indeed foreign personnel are going to remain in

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

:16:07.:16:10.

sovereignty will have to be conceded and whether that will take

:16:10.:16:13.

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

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

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

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are already talking about evacuating their staff to safety

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

:16:29.:16:32.

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

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

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

:16:40.:16:44.

Algerian Government has been. Not only in creating and maintaining

:16:44.:16:48.

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

:16:48.:16:54.

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

:16:55.:16:58.

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

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

:17:02.:17:07.

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

:17:07.:17:13.

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

:17:13.:17:16.

is particularly a concern for any future investment that Algeria

:17:16.:17:19.

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

:17:19.:17:23.

investment, unconventional fuels. This is just another reason why

:17:23.:17:26.

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

:17:26.:17:29.

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

:17:29.:17:33.

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

:17:33.:17:40.

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

:17:40.:17:42.

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

:17:42.:17:48.

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

:17:48.:17:53.

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

:17:53.:17:57.

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

:17:57.:18:02.

sudden this massive influx of former Gaddafi mercenaries, plus

:18:02.:18:08.

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

:18:08.:18:13.

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

:18:13.:18:18.

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

:18:19.:18:23.

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

:18:23.:18:26.

money from ranson payments from various western Governments, and

:18:26.:18:30.

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

:18:30.:18:34.

from various forms of smuggling, continued Rannellssome payments,

:18:34.:18:42.

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

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

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underbelly of Europe, the place that will become the breeding

:18:48.:18:52.

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

:18:52.:18:57.

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

:18:57.:19:01.

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

:19:01.:19:05.

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

:19:05.:19:10.

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

:19:10.:19:16.

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

:19:16.:19:19.

this growing Jihadi global consciousness among previously

:19:19.:19:23.

localised and ineffectual groups. They are all sort of coming

:19:23.:19:26.

together. That intellectual and ideolgical space has been matched

:19:26.:19:33.

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

:19:33.:19:37.

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

:19:37.:19:41.

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

:19:41.:19:44.

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

:19:44.:19:47.

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

:19:47.:19:50.

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

:19:50.:19:55.

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

:19:55.:20:00.

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

:20:00.:20:04.

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

:20:04.:20:08.

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

:20:09.:20:13.

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

:20:13.:20:19.

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

:20:19.:20:23.

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

:20:23.:20:28.

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

:20:28.:20:33.

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

:20:33.:20:37.

situation where because of the economic situation within Europe,

:20:37.:20:43.

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

:20:43.:20:49.

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

:20:49.:20:54.

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

:20:54.:21:02.

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

:21:02.:21:06.

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

:21:07.:21:10.

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

:21:10.:21:14.

interests of these groups, to aggregate up their cause into

:21:14.:21:18.

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

:21:18.:21:25.

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

:21:25.:21:29.

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

:21:29.:21:32.

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

:21:32.:21:37.

of work needed to be done in capacity building for local

:21:37.:21:41.

regional forces, rather perhaps than direct military involvement by

:21:41.:21:45.

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

:21:45.:21:50.

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

:21:50.:21:53.

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

:21:53.:21:57.

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

:21:57.:22:01.

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

:22:01.:22:04.

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

:22:04.:22:07.

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

:22:07.:22:10.

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

:22:10.:22:14.

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

:22:14.:22:24.

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

:22:24.:22:28.

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

:22:28.:22:32.

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

:22:32.:22:37.

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

:22:37.:22:41.

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

:22:41.:22:46.

politicians get convulsed by periodic euro-spasams, the public

:22:46.:22:50.

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

:22:50.:22:54.

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

:22:54.:22:58.

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

:22:58.:23:02.

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

:23:02.:23:06.

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

:23:06.:23:10.

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

:23:10.:23:14.

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

:23:14.:23:19.

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

:23:20.:23:23.

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

:23:23.:23:27.

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

:23:27.:23:30.

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

:23:30.:23:34.

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

:23:34.:23:38.

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

:23:38.:23:41.

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

:23:41.:23:45.

and improve. That has led to patient safety improvements.

:23:45.:23:47.

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

:23:47.:23:52.

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

:23:52.:23:56.

with something just as important to maintain safety for patients and

:23:57.:24:00.

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

:24:00.:24:04.

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

:24:04.:24:07.

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

:24:08.:24:12.

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

:24:12.:24:17.

disaster. The problem with the European working time directive for

:24:17.:24:21.

surgical training is the rigid working hours we experience,

:24:21.:24:25.

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

:24:25.:24:29.

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

:24:29.:24:33.

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

:24:33.:24:37.

experience by following the patients through their pathway in

:24:37.:24:40.

surgery. Another group keen to see renegotiation of the European

:24:40.:24:45.

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

:24:45.:24:50.

with cheaper diesel bought abroad and undercut British firms. The

:24:50.:24:54.

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

:24:54.:25:01.

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

:25:01.:25:06.

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

:25:06.:25:11.

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

:25:11.:25:16.

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

:25:16.:25:19.

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

:25:19.:25:24.

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

:25:24.:25:29.

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

:25:29.:25:34.

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

:25:34.:25:38.

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

:25:38.:25:42.

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

:25:42.:25:46.

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

:25:46.:25:51.

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

:25:51.:25:55.

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

:25:55.:26:00.

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

:26:00.:26:03.

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

:26:03.:26:07.

running a small business, or relatively small business is that

:26:07.:26:10.

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

:26:10.:26:14.

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

:26:14.:26:18.

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

:26:18.:26:21.

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

:26:21.:26:25.

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

:26:25.:26:28.

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

:26:28.:26:31.

this was before the vote was announced, that he anticipated

:26:31.:26:35.

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

:26:35.:26:38.

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

:26:38.:26:43.

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

:26:43.:26:47.

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

:26:47.:26:56.

vote on. Review is here on BBC Two next.

:26:56.:27:03.

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

:27:03.:27:07.

typically gory Django Unchained, the Vikings have returned to

:27:07.:27:12.

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

:27:12.:27:15.

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

:27:15.:27:19.

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

:27:19.:27:24.

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

:27:24.:27:27.

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

:27:27.:27:31.

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

:27:31.:27:41.
:27:41.:27:41.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 70 seconds

:27:41.:28:51.

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

:28:51.:28:56.