30/04/2013 Newsnight


30/04/2013

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the headlines. Jeremy Paxman and a panel of guests examine whether the Syrian conflict will destabilise the wider region.


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Transcript


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What is to be done about Syria? Or maybe there's nothing to be done.

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This was the President of the World's most powerful country today.

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By game changer I mean that we would have to re-think the range of

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options that are available to us. And this was the scene in Damascus.

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How has the Middle East got to this?

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I will look at what the options for intervention are, and how the old

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borders of the Middle East are straining under the pressures

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caused by this conflict. I will be joined by a former vice

:00:46.:00:50.

Chief of Staff in the US army, a recent member of the Free Syrian

:00:50.:00:54.

Army, and a man who ran part of Iraq.

:00:54.:01:00.

Also, why does sport make gay players feel obliged to hide their

:01:00.:01:03.

sexuality. And what happens when the newest

:01:03.:01:09.

menace to three-party politics hits the Derbyshire dales. Don't let

:01:09.:01:15.

people say we are racist. You need to be counter acting that, we are

:01:15.:01:20.

not racist at all. Just because we want to control the immigration on

:01:20.:01:30.
:01:30.:01:31.

the borders and whatever. Obviously there are options on the shelf that

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we have not deployed was the way the American President put it today.

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It doesn't really count as a threat, but it is another sign that the

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United States is wrestling with how and when, as well as whether to

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step into the Civil War in Syria. He has, of course, already said

:01:47.:01:51.

that the use of chemical weapons would cross a red line and chemical

:01:51.:01:55.

weapons probably have been used. But what realistically could the

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United States, perhaps with her allies, do? Our diplomatic editor

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is here. Do you think the US is close Tory intervention tonight

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than previously? I think the President in that news conference

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sought in a way to step back from the red line in language certainly

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he kauked about carefully deliberating and examining the

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evidence, who fired the shell? And the train of evidence. As you said

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he also talked about military options having been worked up. If

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there is a clearly defined use of chemical weapons, they could be

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deployed, but he just couched it in different language. The use of

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chemical weapons would be a game changer. Not simply for the United

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States, but for the international community. The reason for that is

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that we have established international law and international

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norms that say when you use these kinds of weapons you have the

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potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most

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inhumane way possible. The proliferation risks are so

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significant that we don't want that genie out of the bottle. Is it

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really viable to get hold of the chemical weapons? They are in

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dozens of sites and people say the only real way to do it is go in on

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the ground. A lot of people in the military dismiss the air strike

:03:15.:03:17.

option. It is very difficult publicly for President Obama to

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talk about that kind of thing at the moment. 2% of Americans in a

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recent poll said they don't want America to get involved. But if

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there was a mass loss of life, the calculation would change. Then

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Special Forces types would go in and actually physically try to get

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hands on those weapons. Clearly it can't be done without going in

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there. Without someone getting their hands on it. That's clearly

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going to involve military operation, whoever does them. Tough, I would

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say, the intelligence clearly needs to be accurate. On top of that, the

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military occupations to secure them are going to be contentious, and

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they will be militarily difficult. Doable, but difficult. By difficult

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he means the possibility of clashes with all kinds people, opposition

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groups, Syrian army, other groups who might be in there. Very, very

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tough. It is an option almost no- one wants to use. Some suggest in

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the region, even if it was used it would be the likes of Jordan and

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Turkey who would actually have to do it. Where does that leave us?

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There are few options clearly remaining, but there are some, some

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of them have been walked around the park. We know about the possibility

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of sending more advanced weapons to the resistance, that kind of thing.

:04:41.:04:44.

Exclusion zones have been put forward by the French. They all

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have their complication though, according to Tony Cordesman.

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think at the moment weapons transfers and sophisticated weapons

:04:57.:05:01.

are still an option. To have any guarantee of security it means

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putting Special Forces or covert operatives on the ground with

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Syrian forces. Knowing all of the problems that could occur. If you

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want a decisive option you need enough air power to convince the

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Al-Assad regime that it cannot resist in terms of its air force

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and surface-to-air missiles. If it does resist to actually take out

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those defences which are far more serious than they were in Libya.

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What are the risks of the US getting caught up in some wider

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regional conflict then. We know Syria is a cockpit for all the

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regional powers now, feeding in weapons and advice and people too.

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For a long time are you mores about Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant

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Shia movement getting involved there. There are claims they might

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have up to 8,000 troops involved. Tonight the leader of Hezbollah

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made an address on his party's TV station, in which he did say some

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very forthright things. He upped the ante, he said Syria's

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Government should not be allowed to fall to the opposition groups and

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he implied that not only Hezbollah forces but maybe even Iranian

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forces might get involved to prevent that happening. Before we

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hear from other guests let's speak with General Keane, former Chief of

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Staff in the United States army, he joins us from Washington. What do

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you think is the most viable American option now? As you already

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pointed out there are a number of challenges here with options. I

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don't think it is realistic, given the limited use of chemical weapons

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that the United States would take the risk of trying to seize these

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stockpiles or chemical sites, so it would probably only be a realistic

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option in terms of human casualties on their hand. In front of us, and

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what the President will look for is something that is very limited.

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Certainly I believe from the outset and it is still a viable option is

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to arm the moderate weapons who have been vetted by the Central

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Intelligence Agency. Yes there is risk because the radicals have

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grown in influence and in power. But nonetheless, that is still a

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viable option and the idea of not doing it, I think, is a far greater

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risk. We could assist in the training of some of the moderate

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rebel forces on the ground in Syria. We are doing this in Jordan, as we

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speak on a limited basis with the CIA and some military forces. We

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could increase that capability, probably using the CIA mostly to

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assist them. Then I think in response to the red line there is a

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limited option that the President could select if he so chooses. That

:08:00.:08:10.
:08:10.:08:12.

is to strike some of Assad's airfields with civils and stealth

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bombers -- cruise mifpls and stealth bombers, it would not be an

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effort to systematically wipe out their air power T would be a

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limited military option in response to the limited chemical attack. I'm

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assuming the warning would be, if you continue with the use of

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chemicals then these attacks would be increased as well. Wouldn't

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there be a serious danger of starting a war with Iran or

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someone? The Iranians are in Syria, there is about 1,000 of them in

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terms of trainers and advisers. Hezbollah is already there. It is a

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complicated situation. I don't believe that's going to start a war

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with the Iranians, but make no mistake about it, I think when the

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United States and its allies look at the conflict in Syria, we must

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consider the regional implications and we certainly have to consider

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how important Syria is and Assad is to Iran in terms of their desire

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for regional hegemony. And this coalition that they are putting

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with themselves, Syria and Lebanon is something that is very important

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to them geopolitically. Why is it any business of ours? I think,

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first of all, the region matters. We want stability in that region.

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The Syrian people as part of the Arab Spring have stood up and want

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to change their Government because of the political, economic and

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social injustice and repression that is taking place there. I think

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right from the beginning we could have done much to help them. Never

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having considered putting boots on the ground. I'm not suggesting that.

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But I think if we had provided a kind of aid that they needed, which

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is to deal with Assad's air power and with his armour formations in

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terms of the kinds of weapons they needed, this stalemate we are in

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right now would not be the case. I think the rebels would have had the

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momentum they certainly need. I do believe it is in the interests of

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the region that Assad goes. It is going to take more than rhetoric to

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do that. He will have to be forced to do that and we will realise

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there is a stalemate there, primarily because of his air power.

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Thank you very much indeed General. With me now is Rory Stewart, a

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former diplomat and deputy governor in Iraq, just after the country was

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invaded, he's a Conservative MP. Paulo Dybala is a Iranian film

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maker. And a former member of the Free Syrian Army. What would the

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consequence of the action talked about by the general? My instinct

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is the general is looking for something to do but it is not clear

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what it would achieve. It is not clear whether it would hasten the

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fall of the Assad regime. Do these people want weapons? What kind of

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weapons and what difference would it make? Let's find out do you want

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weapons? We are ready to ask for weapons. I go with the opinion of

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General Keane now, which he described properly the situation.

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Yes the FSA need weapons, they need arms. I wouldn't go for the option

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that NATO come to Siria. But I would recommend that there would be

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a steering committee on high levels between the NATO maybe and the FSA

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commanders on high levels. So the co-ordination should be on the

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level of commander. But the weapons have to be in the hands of the

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rebels themselves. I would like to explain more about this because any

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foreign intervention...Can I ask you a question that will occur to

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everyone you are asking to support you, why is it any business of

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ours? I'm sorry? Why is it our business, it is your business isn't

:12:25.:12:35.
:12:35.:12:35.

it? Yes, but the lack of weapons in Syria is stopping the rebels from

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ing the Syrian forces. Do we really need to achieve democracy in Syria,

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we Syrians, by getting harms from the west and fighting each other,

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fighting other Syrian fellows on the ground of Syria, and bringing

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western invasion to Syria to get democracy and freedom? Is this what

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really we want? This is not what the Arab and the Syrian revolution

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started. The revolution started as peaceful demonstrations asking for

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reform. And then we asked for Assad to leave, and now you are asking

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arms, to arm rebels and to move Syria into a playground of fights

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between Shia and Sunni, between the Free Syrian Army and the regime and

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the Jihadis, and you are not thinking of the long-term results.

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We can destroy Syria, is this what we want to achieve? Is this the

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Syria we aim to have? Let her answer that. You accept the dangers

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don't you? Sorry. You accept the risks of what you are asking to

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happen? I need the time to explain if you may allow me. We did not

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choose to use the weapons. The Assad forces and supporters were

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the ones who chose this, you can say sectarian war. They made it

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like this, they showed it like this. The rebels were carrying papers and

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voicing only using their voices, but Assad was killing them for

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seven or eight months they were forced to do that. I'm sorry, I

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have to continue. Yus briefly -- just briefly, now come on? Now we

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have two options, either arming the real moderate democratic people who

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are calling for real freedom, which are the moderate people, not

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anybody else. So far unfortunately their revolution has been

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controlled by other then moderate Muslim people. The other option is

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that political option where we have the moderate people in power, give

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them funds, give them power for them to be united together, to work

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together. Now they are controlled by extra -- emtreemist Muslims who

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don't care for having real -- extremist Muslims who don't have

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any real care for democracy. What would be the consequences, you

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supported intervention in places like Kosovo, Bosnia and Libya?

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Absolutely. I think the consequences here of arming are

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going to be not very helpful. There are already an enormous number of

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weapons, there is a lot of weapons coming in from Qatar and Saudi

:15:16.:15:20.

Arabia. We pursue military options because they seem easier. But the

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solution has to be political. We know what it looks like. We have to

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get rid of Bashar al-Assad, and make sure the more moderate

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elements come in and there is some kind of settlement and sort out the

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region. All of this stuff is much easier said than done. It is

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diplomacy and politics. Shipping out weapons is unlikely, I think.

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We are way beyond the point where political negotiation can achieve

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anything? The Syrian people are not part of the political solution.

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There are all countries, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States,

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Turkey, all countries, there are millions of countries fight in

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Syria, sibia, Egypt, where -- Libya, Egypt, where are the Syrian people

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who started the revolution. There is a sectarian Civil War going on

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in your country? This sectarian Civil War has been started because

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of the extremists, the Jihadists, Salafi extremists on the ground we

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live in Syria, Shia, Sunnis, Alawites, hand in hand, we never

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had sectarian division. It started with this war, with this Jihadis on

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the ground in Syria. I think this is something that I imagine both

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Syrian contents would agree with, this is driven predominantly by

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neighbours and outsiders. It is not that Syria is some cockpit of

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ancient hatreds of sectarian groups. It is driven by the actions of

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neighbouring countries. And indeed the function of people like Russia

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and China and our own inability to deal with it. There has to be a

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regional and political solution. Blaming the Syrian people and Shia

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and Sunni conflict is not the way forward. Thwaiba Kanafani what do

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you imagine is going to be the mechanism by which this conflict is

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resolved, is there any alternative to a military solution? Yes.

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Political solution where you need to really, again I will repeat, in

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power the moderate Muslims. We did not take a chance to present

:17:20.:17:25.

ourselves in Syria. A moment ago you were asking for weapons to be

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supplied, when you talk about empowering moderates, what on earth

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do you mean? In all aspects, you can empower them to have

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positioning in legitimacy, give them some support.Y actually why do

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we need, although that is Arab Spring started from the heart of

:17:45.:17:49.

the Arab people n Egypt, and Libya and Syria, why do we need the west

:17:49.:17:54.

in order to empower us to influence us in order to change our countries.

:17:54.:17:57.

Why don't we have our own initiatives, why don't we sit

:17:57.:18:00.

together, in spite of our differences as Syrians in order to

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change the situation? Because President Assad has an air force,

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artillery and a great deal more guns. The rebels have forces and

:18:08.:18:14.

arms from Qatar and from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. No. They have nothing

:18:14.:18:21.

like as many, and you know that perfectly well. There are suicide

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bombs in Damascus and Syria, happened by the rebels, we know

:18:25.:18:29.

there are weapons in the hand in the weapons, we know Al-Qaeda is

:18:29.:18:36.

using weapons inside Syria. Very few weapons. I want to explore the

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broader context, the collapse of a beautiful country and the collapse

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into tyranny and Civil War are post-world war II Ice Age. Before

:18:51.:18:54.

this there were other great powers t would help to understand now if

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we understand then. We have the Syrian conflict affecting the whole

:19:01.:19:05.

map of the Middle East. Syria's strive is sending ripples

:19:05.:19:10.

across the region, a major refugee crisis has seen big flows of the

:19:10.:19:17.

displaced, 448,000 to Jordan, a similar number of people heading to

:19:17.:19:23.

Lebanon. 316,000 Syrians have gone to Turkey, and 137,000 to Iraq.

:19:23.:19:28.

These figures are just the registered refugees. Some suggest

:19:28.:19:30.

the real figure taking in those staying with relatives and friends

:19:30.:19:35.

is double that, and there are more than a million thought to be

:19:35.:19:40.

displaced within Syria itself. How many of them will ever go home? The

:19:40.:19:47.

Balkan wars of the 1990s suggest many may not. Syria's multiethnic

:19:47.:19:51.

society may already have been doomed. I think very difficult. And

:19:51.:19:58.

we may have already passed that point. To what extent if we had

:19:58.:20:02.

collectively pleaded differently. I know this is taking an outsider's

:20:02.:20:07.

view in terms of finding a solution which might have retained power for

:20:07.:20:14.

the Alawites but under a different leader. If that had been possible

:20:14.:20:19.

then perhaps the delicate balances could have been maintained.

:20:19.:20:23.

modern settlement of the Middle East owes much to the Ottoman

:20:23.:20:28.

Empire, they presided over different religions, providing an

:20:28.:20:36.

overarching power and serving as a convenient process for blame. Some

:20:36.:20:41.

of the ottoman boundaries confirm closely to the states that then

:20:41.:20:46.

emerged. Their prove minces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra formed the

:20:46.:20:51.

basis of modern Iraq. In Syria something similar happened too.

:20:51.:20:54.

When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the drawing of boundaries led

:20:55.:21:00.

Britain and France to draw up their mandate territories according to

:21:00.:21:05.

the Sykes Picot agreement, they reached that in secret in 1916.

:21:05.:21:10.

Iraq, Jordan and Palestine were created under British influence,

:21:10.:21:14.

Lebanon and Syria under the French. That also cleared the way, after

:21:14.:21:19.

the First World War for Egyptian independent and Saudi Arabia too

:21:19.:21:24.

emerged at that time. The post ottoman dispensation survived well

:21:24.:21:29.

in most of the Middle East for decades. But ultimately

:21:29.:21:32.

nationalistic secular regimes, despite their repression of

:21:32.:21:42.

religious groups failed. variations here Are the size of the

:21:42.:21:47.

Sunni, Shia communities are so different, the economies are so

:21:47.:21:51.

different. What they all do have in common, unfortunately, is the

:21:51.:21:56.

failure of secular movements and secular ideaologies. There is no

:21:56.:22:01.

clear reason that anyone would trust a secular or semi-secular

:22:01.:22:11.
:22:11.:22:12.

Government in all of the worst cases. Iran is the powerhouse of

:22:12.:22:16.

Shi'ite theology, but Arab Shia form important communities from

:22:16.:22:22.

southern Iraq to Bahrain, eastern Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

:22:22.:22:24.

Historically they had difficult relationships with ruling elites.

:22:24.:22:30.

In Iraq though they have become the rulers following the American

:22:30.:22:34.

invasion. There it is now the Sunni minority that considers itself

:22:34.:22:39.

oppressed and the protests around the city of Ramadi are, some fear,

:22:39.:22:44.

now growing into a new insurgency against the Baghdad Government. In

:22:44.:22:48.

Syria it is the Sunni who are poised to take power after decades

:22:48.:22:54.

in which a religious minority, the Alawites, have wielded it. Here, as

:22:54.:23:00.

in Iraq, the reversal of the old order is a bloody process, with

:23:00.:23:05.

regional implications only now becoming clear. Still with us is

:23:05.:23:09.

the former diplomat and Conservative MP Rory Stewart, and

:23:09.:23:14.

the Syrian film maker, Halla Diyab, also joining me is a Syrian

:23:14.:23:19.

academic, who co-founded the group Building the Syrian State. What do

:23:19.:23:23.

you think realistically are the chances of Syria remain intact

:23:23.:23:28.

after all this? It is declining all the day. The positions are getting

:23:28.:23:32.

increase league polarised with the international element and inside

:23:32.:23:37.

Syria. The conflict that started political is devolving into an

:23:37.:23:40.

armed confrontation and Civil War. Out of Civil War you usually get

:23:40.:23:45.

divisions. The quicker we head for a political pollution the less

:23:45.:23:48.

chance that Syria will be divided. There have been Civil Wars in that

:23:48.:23:54.

part of the world, and one thinks of Lebanon it is substantially

:23:54.:23:59.

still intact as a single entity. What do you think, will it stay in

:23:59.:24:03.

one piece? Lebanon solved it through an enormous amount of

:24:03.:24:07.

decentralisation. Secondly, although the borders are artificial

:24:07.:24:11.

as was pointed out, they were invented after the Second World War,

:24:11.:24:17.

a lot of time has passed since then, people feel a sense of nationalism,

:24:17.:24:20.

with the exception of the Kurds people are not pushing for a

:24:20.:24:22.

separate country, they are still fighting for control of Syria

:24:22.:24:27.

itself. Will the country remain intact? I think that Syria has the

:24:27.:24:31.

potential to be a model for a future Arab democracy. Because if

:24:31.:24:37.

you look to Syria in comparison to Saudi Arabia or Libya or Egypt, the

:24:37.:24:40.

Syrian people are very civic moderate Muslims, and moderate

:24:40.:24:45.

people in general who lived actually in different sects like

:24:45.:24:49.

Alawite, Shia and Sunnis, in harmony before the crisis. One does

:24:49.:24:54.

wonder why they are killing each other? This kind of sectarian war

:24:54.:24:59.

has been used by political agenda, by the forces which are fighting on

:24:59.:25:05.

the ground in order to divide people. So ...All That happened is

:25:05.:25:11.

it bubbled up once the secular state under a dictator fell apart?

:25:11.:25:15.

It is not only that, it also happens in Iraq, for example, which

:25:15.:25:19.

is the majority are Shia and it is controlled by a minority which is

:25:19.:25:25.

Sunni, and in Syria we have the majority Sunni controlled by a

:25:25.:25:30.

minority which is Alawite. important thing is there are

:25:30.:25:36.

important fault lines. It takes neighbours in conflict to exploit

:25:36.:25:40.

them. In other words they are there, but Lebanon was peaceful for 800

:25:40.:25:50.

years before people stirred things up. The fact that people are

:25:50.:25:53.

different sects doesn't matter until people stir up the cauldron.

:25:53.:25:57.

That is why we need a new social contract in Siria. We have a rich

:25:57.:26:02.

society, with faut lines very deep in history, with issues that

:26:02.:26:07.

haven't been resolved properly, and some feel others are a threat to

:26:07.:26:11.

their existence, and rights. We never had a chance to establish

:26:11.:26:14.

through dialogue a proper relationship with the other

:26:14.:26:20.

components because we went from colonisation straight into

:26:20.:26:23.

dictatorship. We are living under a strong regime, this is why we live

:26:24.:26:29.

together in peace. The power of the regime is diminishing and there is

:26:29.:26:33.

a political conflict exploited by regional and international actors

:26:33.:26:38.

turning this into a proxy war. So we have an armed confrontation that

:26:38.:26:42.

will certainly exacerbate these fault lines. How many people have

:26:42.:26:47.

fled the country as refugees? Millions. It is about 3.5 million

:26:47.:26:50.

the estimate. There is a very good chance many of those will never go

:26:50.:26:53.

home? I think they will go home. They will never feel home but in

:26:53.:26:57.

the country where they came from. I want to go back to Lebanon, we have

:26:57.:27:01.

to learn from the way the war stopped in Lebanon. Because I think

:27:01.:27:05.

it is still a Civil War in waiting. Because they stopped the war but

:27:05.:27:10.

they did not resolve the problem. They froze it. So the same warlords,

:27:10.:27:14.

the same division and the same system. We missed a very important

:27:15.:27:19.

point, it is the Islamic movement risinging post September 11th and

:27:19.:27:23.

after that the war on terror, after the appearance of all these Islamic

:27:23.:27:29.

leaders like Nasrella or Amir in Lebanon, they become the

:27:29.:27:33.

alternative to political and social leaders the communities. People in

:27:33.:27:36.

the Middle East in Syria and Egypt and Libya are now driven by their

:27:36.:27:41.

identities as Muslims. And that really creates this sectarian war

:27:41.:27:45.

in Syria between you as Alawite and you as Shia. People are fighting

:27:46.:27:51.

not within their Syrian identity any more, they see themselves as

:27:51.:27:56.

Alawite, as Shia, as Salafi and this is all the result of the

:27:56.:28:01.

rising of the Islamic movement. wouldn't be surprised if you looked

:28:01.:28:08.

at the arbitary drawings on maps by sites by many people to find ethnic

:28:08.:28:12.

identities were stronger than national identities. You were

:28:12.:28:16.

saying you thought the national identities were very well

:28:16.:28:20.

established? Over 90 years a lot becomes established, but the Kurds

:28:20.:28:25.

are still looking for separation, but most people don't want to break

:28:26.:28:29.

national borders. Although one thing we need to be careful with is

:28:29.:28:33.

not to fall into the same trap ourselves as seeing everything in

:28:33.:28:38.

terms of Sunni and Shia conflict and seeing Syria as part of Iran.

:28:38.:28:43.

What do we define by nationalism. I spent my high school in Syria that

:28:43.:28:50.

we were fed and learned that the ethics in Syria to be a citizen is

:28:50.:28:55.

to worship one leader and one nation. There is no citizenship

:28:55.:28:59.

within the state as we have in England. You have no right to

:28:59.:29:02.

criticise the state or elect your President, you have no right to

:29:02.:29:07.

build and to be part of the state. That is what creates a gap between

:29:07.:29:11.

Syrian people and their national identity. They find an alternative

:29:11.:29:14.

identity which is the Islamic identity with the sectarian

:29:14.:29:17.

identity which leads now, now it is an explosion in Syria.

:29:17.:29:23.

Do you think that sectarianism is superseding the idea of Arab

:29:23.:29:27.

nationalism? No. The Islamic identity, I mean, I'm so sorry?

:29:27.:29:30.

don't have a problem with the Islamic identity or any other

:29:30.:29:35.

identity if it doesn't try to impose itself through violent means

:29:35.:29:40.

and by dictating the rights of the others. I think any ideology should

:29:40.:29:46.

have the right to be in the society in a peaceful way. The biggest

:29:46.:29:51.

problem is it became a violent way of imposinging its ideology. The

:29:51.:29:55.

regime with all that is happening now, we are discussing the Shia,

:29:55.:29:58.

Alawite and Sunni issue, the heart of the conflict is a political one.

:29:58.:30:02.

This regime is a dictatorship. That is the problem with the regime, it

:30:02.:30:08.

is not because Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite, he is a dictator.

:30:08.:30:13.

a secular dictator? He is an Alawite with full power. We want a

:30:13.:30:17.

new institution where the President doesn't -- constitution where the

:30:17.:30:21.

President doesn't have full power. The people are facing one of the

:30:21.:30:25.

cruellest regimes ever existing. Regional actors are exploiting this,

:30:26.:30:29.

war ends with a military victory or political decision. Military

:30:30.:30:33.

victory is not imminent or a solution. We want international and

:30:33.:30:37.

local and regional actors to head very quickly to a political

:30:37.:30:41.

solution before this turns into a Civil War that burns the entire

:30:41.:30:44.

region. We do have three big advantages here that we don't have

:30:44.:30:47.

in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, by we I mean Britain and the United

:30:47.:30:51.

States, we are not on the ground, first low, that is really important.

:30:51.:30:55.

Secondly we have countries like Russia that we should be focusing

:30:55.:30:58.

on, and we know what the solution looks like. The solution looks like

:30:58.:31:02.

getting rid of Bashar al-Assad, but keeping some of the elements of the

:31:02.:31:07.

old Government and combining it with the moderate of the opposition.

:31:07.:31:11.

I disagree. My problem is not Bashar al-Assad, if he stands down

:31:11.:31:15.

and hands it to the another person the problem isn't solved. The new

:31:15.:31:18.

one will have full power. The position of the President is the

:31:18.:31:24.

problem, with the constitution, the powers, any new person is a

:31:24.:31:28.

dictator, he can do what he wants. The President has full security,

:31:29.:31:31.

monetary everything power. That is the heart of the problem. We should

:31:31.:31:35.

see it from a political point of view, not Bashar al-Assad's point

:31:35.:31:39.

of view, an Alawite point of view. Absolutely, equally we don't want

:31:39.:31:44.

to exclude anyone. The great advantage unlike Afghanistan and

:31:44.:31:48.

Iraq is the British Government isn't committed in the same way. We

:31:48.:31:51.

can allow compromise between former elements of the Government and the

:31:51.:31:54.

opposition and bring the two together. Time is short? We have to

:31:54.:31:59.

get players, not former members of the regime, the actors with blood

:31:59.:32:02.

or water on their hands they have to come to the table and roach

:32:02.:32:06.

agreement. The power is not in the actors' hands but the regime and

:32:06.:32:10.

the rebels. So the people who should sit and debate are both

:32:10.:32:13.

sides of the conflict. Thank you very much indeed.

:32:13.:32:17.

The first major player in one of the big American sports to come out

:32:17.:32:21.

as a gay man has been rather overwhelmed by the support he has

:32:21.:32:25.

had since doing so. He picked up the phone to find for example that

:32:25.:32:29.

President Obama was calling to wish him well. In a strange way it tells

:32:29.:32:33.

us more about the state of sport than anything else, that someone

:32:33.:32:36.

doing what so many others have done without getting calls from the

:32:36.:32:44.

President should get this sort of reception.

:32:44.:32:48.

If you were a footballer and had 30,000 people looking for any

:32:48.:32:51.

excuse to berate you from the terraces, would you come out as

:32:51.:32:56.

gay? That is the question that sportsmen and women who happened to

:32:56.:32:59.

be attracted to the same-sex have had to wrestle with. It wasn't

:32:59.:33:05.

always like this. In ancient Greece sporting performance and machismo

:33:05.:33:10.

were accompanied with perfectly acceptable homoerotic undertones,

:33:10.:33:15.

athletes even competed in the nude. Today there are only a handful of

:33:15.:33:19.

top British sports players openly gay. Gareth Thomas, the former

:33:19.:33:23.

Welsh rugby player is perhaps the best known of them to come out

:33:23.:33:28.

while playing. There are no league footballers among them. The last

:33:28.:33:35.

well known footballer to come out in the UK was Justin Fashenu, who

:33:35.:33:40.

took his own life after bog public. With attitudes on the terraces far

:33:40.:33:44.

from reconstructed, it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

:33:44.:33:51.

With us now is Justin Fashinu's knees, who presented the

:33:51.:33:57.

documentary Britain's Gay Footballers, and John Amaechi, the

:33:57.:34:01.

former NBA basketball star who came out after he retired. In the case

:34:01.:34:06.

of your own uncle, who took his own life, what conclusion do you come

:34:06.:34:12.

to from that experience? Well, I just think that it was a tough time

:34:12.:34:18.

when he was playing football. That maybe you know fans and the FA and

:34:18.:34:22.

other sporting people weren't as supportive as someone would be now.

:34:22.:34:27.

I think Justin went through a lot, not just homophobia, he also went

:34:28.:34:33.

through racism, I think at the time he did not have a good time at all.

:34:33.:34:39.

John Amaechi, this reticence about declaring your sexuality, how

:34:39.:34:43.

widespread is it? It is incredibly widespread, we know this because

:34:43.:34:48.

the list of "out" athletes or former athletes is 27 people in

:34:48.:34:51.

American sport. When you think of the number of people participating

:34:51.:34:55.

over the last X number of decades it is a remarkably tiny percentage.

:34:55.:34:59.

It is worth pointing out that when people talk about this, especially

:34:59.:35:02.

with American sports, there is a different backdrop there. Here we

:35:02.:35:08.

are on the cusp of marriage equity. Where as in America there are still

:35:08.:35:11.

29 states you can be fired for being gay. There are 50 states

:35:11.:35:14.

where you have no guarantee of being able to rent a house, for

:35:14.:35:18.

example, if the person who is renting it out doesn't want to rent

:35:18.:35:21.

to gay people. There is a very different backdrop in America at

:35:21.:35:26.

the moment, which makes what Jason has done even more brave, I think.

:35:26.:35:30.

You council counsels him, or encouraged him at the very least,

:35:30.:35:34.

isn't the experience of the reaction to this, that actually it

:35:34.:35:39.

is really no big deal in the world at large, but there is something

:35:39.:35:44.

specific about the sporting world? Yes, sport is particularly culpable.

:35:44.:35:49.

The reality is that Jason Collins now sits on the crest of a wave of

:35:49.:35:51.

public opinion that is most certainly moving in the direction

:35:51.:35:56.

of equity and fairness and getting on with playing ball. But

:35:56.:36:01.

unfortunately those people who run the sport are essentially still

:36:01.:36:05.

dinosaurs. They are Neanderthals. What do you think about this, there

:36:05.:36:09.

is something different about sport. It is no big deal if a businessman,

:36:09.:36:13.

a politician, someone at the BBC or wherever comes out, it is no big

:36:13.:36:17.

deal at all. No-one thinks anything of it. But some how in sport it is

:36:17.:36:21.

different? Well yeah, I could add that specially in football, I feel

:36:21.:36:27.

that it is particularly hard. I mean rugby, speaking to Gareth

:36:27.:36:32.

Thomas, it seems to be more warming, the effect of him coming out seems

:36:32.:36:35.

not to be that big. If someone in football came out I do think it

:36:35.:36:39.

would have a different impact. is the problem in football? To be

:36:39.:36:45.

honest I think it is the machoism, we are more interested in the

:36:45.:36:47.

footballer's life, who the footballer goes out with, how he

:36:47.:36:51.

wears his hair. It has become not the sport any more, it is more out

:36:51.:36:54.

of the sportk and we are concerned with his private life. Who cares

:36:54.:36:58.

about the private life, at the end of the day he plays a sport. Why

:36:58.:37:03.

would we care? John Amaechi what do you think it tells us about soccer?

:37:03.:37:07.

It tells us it is behind the times, behind the curve, and certainly

:37:07.:37:11.

behind the trends of history. The people who are running football

:37:11.:37:14.

right now, they are the most, football in Britain is one of the

:37:14.:37:20.

most powerful sporting entities, and right now they are like, I

:37:20.:37:27.

don't know, the Saatchi & Saatchi of sport, they are good at

:37:27.:37:30.

producing posters about equality but they are very bad at changing

:37:30.:37:34.

the culture of sport. That is not just homophobia but racism and

:37:34.:37:38.

sexism too. There has been tremendous progress in this country

:37:38.:37:43.

on the question of racism on the terraces and racism on the pitch

:37:43.:37:45.

hasn't there? There is something specific about sexuality in

:37:45.:37:49.

football? We can say there has been some progress, but the idea that

:37:49.:37:56.

right now we are in a situation where there are people, captains of

:37:56.:38:00.

English teams who have been going through all these supposed

:38:00.:38:04.

programmes to make sure that everybody understands fairness and

:38:04.:38:07.

equality, who are themselves accused of being racist, doesn't

:38:07.:38:12.

really speak to them getting a handle on this. There is anti-

:38:12.:38:18.

semitism, there is racism still, there is sexism still. That is he

:38:18.:38:24.

have dent. The idea that homophobia is rife still is just a foregone

:38:24.:38:27.

conclusion in that environment. People will say there is a class

:38:27.:38:32.

element to this? To be honest with you I don't really think it is

:38:32.:38:37.

about class. What is it then, what is specific to football? Honestly I

:38:37.:38:41.

have been trying to understand it myself. I really do not understand

:38:41.:38:47.

it. We all know it is great, it is a macho hard sport. My dad was in

:38:47.:38:50.

the Crazy Gang. It is hard sport. But then who cares about their

:38:50.:38:54.

private life. This is my question, why does it come back to their

:38:54.:39:00.

private life. This is my question. It is not their private lives. It

:39:00.:39:05.

is not the private life. You can't operate on this system where if you

:39:05.:39:09.

are straight and you hold hands with somebody it is no big deal or

:39:09.:39:13.

just a snapshot, but if you are gay and you hold hands with someone it

:39:13.:39:18.

is some radical activism or something worthy of bringing the

:39:18.:39:21.

house down. It still matters. As much as reasonable people believe

:39:21.:39:25.

it shouldn't, it still matters. As such the people in power in sport

:39:25.:39:30.

are the ones that have to take action.

:39:30.:39:34.

There are barely 30 hours to go before the lucky folk of England

:39:34.:39:38.

and Anglesey have the chance to do their democratic duety. Those who

:39:38.:39:43.

survived the tension get to choose councils or unitary authorities, or

:39:43.:39:47.

in a couple of places their mayors on Thursday. In past form there

:39:47.:39:52.

will be many of us who fail to exercise the right for which our

:39:52.:39:55.

ancestors died. But you give our political editor the choice between

:39:55.:40:05.
:40:05.:40:08.

any election and a box of chocolate truffles, she heads for Derbyshire.

:40:08.:40:13.

For me, as farmer, I'm found to the farm and the work, I have had

:40:13.:40:17.

nobody visiting and asking my opinion, or flyers through the

:40:17.:40:24.

letterbox. I'm very unaffair of what is going on. On Thursday local

:40:24.:40:29.

democracy comes to the fields and Dales of England and Wales. These

:40:29.:40:38.

are the county council elections, the Tory shires. The last time barn

:40:39.:40:43.

doors were knocked, 26 of them returned a Conservative majority.

:40:43.:40:48.

OutLuiz Eduardoly it is hard to see the paraphernalia of elections, but

:40:48.:40:54.

a serious -- out Luiz Eduardoly it is hard to see the paraphernalia

:40:54.:41:04.
:41:04.:41:08.

was elections but a serious fight is on. On the ground the Tories are

:41:08.:41:12.

talking about local issues, but in the East Midlands, there was

:41:12.:41:15.

pronounced swing to the Conservatives in the 2010 general

:41:15.:41:18.

election. Had it been repeated across the country, the Tories

:41:18.:41:22.

would have won a majority. Three years into Government that

:41:22.:41:27.

relationship is being tested. finding on the doorsteps that

:41:27.:41:33.

people are accepting the situation that the country is in and are

:41:33.:41:37.

accepting of the measures that the Government is currently taking.

:41:37.:41:44.

That's the coalition Government there is an understanding that the

:41:44.:41:49.

cuts are necessary. The Liberal Democrats are expected to do better

:41:49.:41:53.

than their current vote share, perhaps winning about 15% of the

:41:53.:41:57.

vote on Thursday. There may be some wins against Tories in the south

:41:57.:42:01.

west. But there may also be some heavy losses to Labour. When people

:42:01.:42:05.

see that they have �600 in their back pocket and we have lowered the

:42:05.:42:08.

threshold of income tax, those sorts of things played very well

:42:08.:42:11.

with families who have got money to stretch basically. They see the

:42:11.:42:21.
:42:21.:42:23.

difference that is going to make. This parliamentary constituency of

:42:23.:42:27.

Chesterfield used to be Lib Dem until a surprise defeat in the last

:42:27.:42:33.

general election turned it Labour. Holding the parliamentary eat,

:42:33.:42:39.

Labour now has high hopes for the - - seat, Labour now has high hopes

:42:39.:42:45.

for the County Council. The last time the councils were up for grab,

:42:45.:42:48.

it was 2009, Gordon Brown's leadership was in cry I s and

:42:48.:42:51.

across the country Labour suffered serious defeats N a place like

:42:51.:42:55.

Derbyshire, where Labour had held the council for 28 years, the

:42:55.:42:58.

Tories capitalised on Gordon Brown's unpopularity and the

:42:58.:43:05.

council went Tory for the first time. Now, four years on with a new

:43:05.:43:09.

Labour leader, Ed Miliband, Labour must reclaim Derbyshire if it is to

:43:09.:43:17.

show it has healed the wounds of the Brown-era. Tom Watson has

:43:17.:43:20.

certainly put rubber to the road, but Labour is, unsurprisingly,

:43:20.:43:26.

playing down the chances of big wins. Politicians always engage in

:43:26.:43:29.

expectation management, all I can say is having got 13% of the

:43:29.:43:34.

national vote in 2009 we will make progress. If we can win a couple of

:43:34.:43:37.

hundred seats then that would be great. If we could win 250 that

:43:37.:43:43.

would be excellent for us. Who knows in these elections.

:43:43.:43:46.

Independent experts say Labour should win between 300 and 350

:43:46.:43:51.

seats on Thursday. Seats in the south like Dartford and Harlow. If

:43:51.:43:56.

they can't do this the suspicion will harden that Ed Miliband's One

:43:56.:44:00.

Nation Labour Party is actually no such thing. Newsnight also

:44:00.:44:04.

understands that it is far from certain Labour will regain some of

:44:04.:44:10.

the big northern County Councils. Don't let people say that we are

:44:10.:44:15.

racist. You need to be counter acting that. We are not racist at

:44:15.:44:19.

all. Just because we want to control the immigration on the

:44:19.:44:23.

borders and whatever. UKIP are fielding candidates in 73% of

:44:23.:44:28.

council seats this time round. That's compared to the 25% that

:44:28.:44:32.

they fielded in 2009. Who says we shouldn't take a County Council of

:44:32.:44:35.

a big place like this. Maybe not this year, I wouldn't disagree with

:44:35.:44:39.

you. But we will get candidates in and they will start to make a

:44:39.:44:46.

Conservative four years ago. The idea you can make inroads on that

:44:46.:44:53.

is mad, isn't it? No, not at all. People are supporting us in ever

:44:53.:44:56.

greater numbers. But UKIP haven't persuaded Robert. I am considering

:44:56.:44:59.

at the moment voting Conservative. Not just because it is the existing

:44:59.:45:04.

council, but I do know them. They have relatives who are farming I

:45:04.:45:07.

know they are sympathetic to the rural and farming vote, which is

:45:07.:45:12.

very important to me. Obviously as a full-time farmer my biggest

:45:12.:45:18.

issues are ago cull ly -- agriculturally related. These

:45:18.:45:21.

elections in mostly rural England won't indicate very much about the

:45:21.:45:26.

next general election, but they may dictate the run-up to it. Whichever

:45:26.:45:31.

party has a bad Thursday will probably also have a bad summer as

:45:31.:45:36.

unhappy MPs demand that their party sharpens up.

:45:36.:45:43.

But there is one racing certainty, UKIP will do OK, a jolly place to

:45:43.:45:48.

be this Friday will probably be Nigel Farage's local.

:45:48.:45:52.

There is a link to the full list of all the glorious candidates

:45:52.:45:56.

standing in Derbyshire on the Newsnight website. Tomorrow

:45:56.:46:01.

morning's front pages now, the Telegraph leads with the news that

:46:01.:46:04.

some gold people will be fitted with GPS tags so the police don't

:46:04.:46:14.
:46:14.:46:14.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 41 seconds

:46:14.:46:56.

spend too much time looking for That's enough excitement for one

:46:56.:47:01.

day. There is a tide in the affairs of men and women which taken at the

:47:01.:47:11.
:47:11.:47:35.

Good evening, over the next couple of days southern areas holding on

:47:35.:47:38.

to the best of the dry and bright weather. Further north always a bit

:47:38.:47:41.

more cloud with some rain. We have got this weak weather front moving

:47:41.:47:44.

south on Wednesday. Thickening the cloud across northern eing and

:47:44.:47:50.

Wales for the afternoon. A bit -- England and Wales for the afternoon.

:47:50.:47:54.

Still the potential for some showers in the north and west.

:47:54.:48:00.

Mainland Scotland with the sunshine for the central lowlands lifting

:48:00.:48:04.

temperatures to 11 degrees. Overcast for northern England with

:48:04.:48:08.

the odd spot of rain. East Anglia and the south-east corner, like the

:48:08.:48:14.

last couple of days, after a chilly start temperatures recovering to

:48:14.:48:18.

15-16. The sunshine along the south coast, it could be hazy for south-

:48:18.:48:21.

west England later in the day. More cloud in Wales. With the greatest

:48:21.:48:25.

risk of seeing rain across North Wales. More cloud in Cardiff, I

:48:25.:48:29.

think the day should stay dry with temperatures of 14. By the time we

:48:29.:48:33.

get to Thursday in the north we are keeping more cloud, perhaps some

:48:33.:48:37.

rain arriving again in Inverness later on in the day. Further south,

:48:37.:48:43.

always some sunshine at times, we have top temperatures 14-15 degrees.

:48:43.:48:46.

Jeremy Paxman and a panel of special guests examine whether the conflict in Syria will destabilise the wider region.


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