14/06/2013 Newsnight


14/06/2013

Should the west arm Syria? Who are the foreign fighters in the Syrian civil war? And happy memories - why do we feel so strongly about school assemblies? Presented by Gavin Esler.


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Tonight America stakes a big leap into the Syrian war. But is it too

:00:15.:00:19.

late to influence what is a regional and sectarian conflict,

:00:19.:00:26.

touching all across the Middle East. And with almost 100,000 believed

:00:26.:00:31.

dead is offering guns to the rebels really part of the solution.

:00:32.:00:36.

With arms pouring in from Russia, Iran and the gulf states, it won't

:00:36.:00:42.

win the war, but it does give America a bigger stake. The Assad

:00:42.:00:49.

regime steps up the propaganda war, showing off the foreign fighters

:00:49.:00:54.

and jihadis they say are part of the rebellion. Europe is having a

:00:54.:01:01.

war on their borders with the same kind of Madrassahs that the Salafis

:01:01.:01:07.

and others have on your border. best days of our life, what do you

:01:07.:01:16.

make of the school assemblies we all loved to hate.

:01:16.:01:20.

Good evening, when the poet William Butler Yeats wrote the best like

:01:20.:01:24.

all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity, it

:01:24.:01:28.

was his native Ireland that Yeats had in mind. Today's political and

:01:28.:01:33.

sectarian struggle in Syria might just as well fit the bill. The

:01:33.:01:36.

Obama administration remains divided on how far to go to aid

:01:36.:01:41.

Syrian rebels. Guns will be sent but not of the type or number the

:01:41.:01:44.

rebels want. Meanwhile Hezbollah, Iran and others and the jihadis

:01:44.:01:48.

fighting with the rebels are indeed full of passionate intensity. With

:01:48.:01:54.

Obama's red line on the use of chemical weapons now apparently

:01:54.:01:58.

crossed and the shift towards arming the rebel now being taken,

:01:58.:02:02.

supported by Britain and France, what on earth are we getting into

:02:03.:02:06.

here. We begin tonight with our diplomatic editor. Why are the

:02:06.:02:10.

Americans doing it now? I could almost say do you want the spin

:02:10.:02:14.

doctor's answer, the diplomat's answer or the hard-nosed realist

:02:14.:02:17.

answer. The spin doctor's answer is the President was never going to

:02:18.:02:21.

undertake such a thing lightly. During the past few weeks the White

:02:21.:02:24.

House and other agencies have been reviewing the evidence of chemical

:02:24.:02:28.

weapons use and they have come to this view as a result of which they

:02:28.:02:30.

believe policy response is essential. The diplomat's response

:02:30.:02:35.

is coming as he is to the G8 summit in Northern Ireland on Monday, he

:02:35.:02:39.

wants to try to kick this diplomacy into a different gear, to energise

:02:39.:02:44.

it. People have been meandering about this issue of will there or

:02:44.:02:47.

will there not be this Geneva 2 peace conference, trying to bring

:02:47.:02:51.

people to the table. He wants to give the Americans more of a lever,

:02:51.:02:55.

if you like in that discussion. And energise that discussion. The hard-

:02:55.:02:58.

nosed realist, and I must say some of the people I have been talking

:02:58.:03:01.

to this week inside the system seemed to tend to this view, is

:03:01.:03:06.

that America has seen things developing in a most unwelcome way

:03:06.:03:11.

in the region in the past week or two. Yes there have been reports of

:03:11.:03:16.

use of chemicals in warfare, also the victory of the Assad forces

:03:16.:03:24.

backed by the Hezbollah forces in the town of Qusair, lead them to

:03:24.:03:29.

believe that Iran and Hezbollah could make big gains and want to

:03:29.:03:35.

bring this to conclusion on terms that America cannot sit idlely by

:03:35.:03:39.

when there is the potential for such a big win. That is what lies

:03:39.:03:47.

behind today's announcement. As an intensifying conflict that

:03:48.:03:52.

has already claimed 93,000 lives. Now, while saying it is still

:03:52.:03:55.

saying it is working for a peace conference, America will send guns

:03:55.:04:03.

to the opposition. What we have been able to do is develop

:04:03.:04:11.

relationships, find individuals, like the General of the S NC, that

:04:11.:04:14.

we can target the assistance towards, it allows you to get

:04:14.:04:21.

assistance into the hands of those who need it, but also protections

:04:21.:04:25.

against those who you don't want to receive the material. The White

:04:25.:04:29.

House says it is dispatching weapons because President Assad's

:04:29.:04:34.

regime has used chemical weapons, including sarin nerve gas. The UK

:04:34.:04:38.

and France agree, but Russia, which has been arming the Syrian

:04:38.:04:44.

Government for decades finds the evidence flimsy. TRANSLATION:

:04:44.:04:48.

reference is made by our partners on the alleged chemical weapon

:04:48.:04:51.

usage by Syrian forces were not supported by the necessary

:04:51.:04:58.

convincing facts. But what difference will this make? The

:04:58.:05:03.

Syrian opposition has called the US move largely meaningless. Little

:05:03.:05:08.

wonder. In places they already have anti-aircraft missiles like this.

:05:08.:05:15.

That are able to take on regime air power. More widespread still are

:05:15.:05:19.

modern anti-tank missiles, all believed part of a multibillion

:05:19.:05:25.

dollar Saudi and Qatary programme of supply. Even the stock seized

:05:25.:05:30.

from Syrian army bases, like this ammunition storehouse, dwarf what

:05:30.:05:34.

the Americans may be planning to send. But it does mark a more

:05:34.:05:39.

interventionist position. Some of the other options being studied at

:05:39.:05:49.
:05:49.:05:51.

the Pentagon include attacks on key regime bases. But in order to avoid

:05:51.:05:57.

destroying the defence systems it could be done with warships in the

:05:57.:06:00.

Mediterranean or using other countries' airspace. Another

:06:00.:06:04.

concept put forward by the French is for a no-fly zone. Once again it

:06:04.:06:09.

would be a big task to do it across the whole of Syria, but if a safe

:06:09.:06:15.

haven from declared in the rebel held northern areas, a no-fly zone

:06:15.:06:20.

above them could be enforced, with fewer air strikes, along with

:06:20.:06:24.

fighter patrols and patriot anti- aircraft missiles already deployed

:06:24.:06:28.

in Turkey. None of these options particularly appeals to the White

:06:28.:06:33.

House. But major regime advances perhaps towards Aleppo, or large

:06:33.:06:38.

scale chemical weapons use might trigger them. Can the Americans

:06:38.:06:44.

exert strong influence short of such action? Probably not. Regional

:06:44.:06:48.

actors and sectarian acts are increasingly powerful. These

:06:48.:06:52.

fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement caused outrage

:06:52.:06:58.

among many Sunnis by an act apparently of symbolic triumphism.

:06:58.:07:03.

They unfold on the minuter receipt of a Sunni mosque a banner harking

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back to the 1400-year-old schism between the sects. In Cairo

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yesterday an assembly of Sunni religious scholars urged men across

:07:14.:07:18.

the Arab world to go to Syria to fight against a Government they

:07:18.:07:28.
:07:28.:07:32.

regard as infidel. To sustain this religious battle, the leader of

:07:32.:07:37.

Hezbollah insisted the armed units will continue their fight in Syria.

:07:37.:07:42.

TRANSLATION: We are more determined to confront this plot and develop

:07:42.:07:46.

this confrontation. We will be where we need to be and what we

:07:46.:07:49.

started we will take the responsibility of continuing it. We

:07:49.:07:59.

do not need to explain more. Assad regime's recent success on

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the battlefield with Hezbollah and Iranian help has given the US a

:08:02.:08:06.

power political reason to get more involved. Whatever the evidence on

:08:06.:08:14.

chemical weapons use. Since 2004 Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other

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countries have considered themselves in a proxy battle with

:08:18.:08:26.

Iran for influence in the Middle East. So, I really do believe that

:08:26.:08:29.

the United States and other interested powers should weigh in

:08:29.:08:37.

on the side of people who don't want to see a Hezbollah, Iran

:08:37.:08:44.

Nexsus in the Middle East. It is all centered on Syria right now.

:08:44.:08:50.

is these actors, Hezbollah, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar leading

:08:50.:08:55.

among them that are now feeding advanced weapons, cash and people

:08:55.:08:59.

into the Syrian caldron on a grand scale. It is questionable how far

:08:59.:09:05.

the new American supplies might alter this dynamic.

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Until earlier this year my guest was Barack Obama's White House

:09:11.:09:13.

Coordinator for Arms Control and weapons of mass destruction

:09:13.:09:17.

terrorism. And we have a Syrian writer and broadcaster. Given our

:09:17.:09:21.

experiences in Iraq, people will want to know just how compelling

:09:21.:09:24.

this evidence on chemical weapons being used by the regime really is.

:09:24.:09:31.

What is your assessment of that? Well, the American, British and

:09:31.:09:35.

French Intelligence Services have all reached the same conclusion. I

:09:35.:09:40.

think the most compelling evidence is based on physiological samples

:09:40.:09:47.

from rebel soldiers who have been exposed to sarin. This is blood and

:09:47.:09:52.

urine and hair samples and so forth. That is fairly conclusive. What is

:09:52.:09:55.

less conclusive, because the information haven't been made

:09:55.:09:59.

public is what information London, Washington and Paris has,

:09:59.:10:02.

indicating that chemical weapons were used under orders from the

:10:02.:10:07.

Syrian Government. They say that such information exists but for

:10:07.:10:11.

obvious reasons they haven't made it public. President Obama said

:10:11.:10:16.

very famously that would be a red line, and we also hear that perhaps

:10:16.:10:20.

150 people have died as a result of the use of chemical weapons. But

:10:20.:10:25.

you know with 93,000 dead, you might think that should have been a

:10:25.:10:30.

red line and perhaps what is happening as senator McCain is

:10:30.:10:34.

suggesting is too little too late? I think it is too early to tell if

:10:34.:10:39.

it is too little too late. Clearly an infusion of weapons earlier in

:10:39.:10:44.

the conflict would have had more of an impact. But as it was said at

:10:44.:10:51.

the top of the show as the Syrian Government has demonstrated that it

:10:51.:10:55.

is capable of launching effective military operations and as the

:10:55.:10:59.

opposition seems to be on the back foot, I'm sure there was some

:10:59.:11:03.

pressure on Washington to try to demonstrate that it is willing to,

:11:03.:11:13.

or trying to influence the outcome. On what has unfortunately become a

:11:13.:11:18.

proxy war with Russia, Iran and Hezbollah supporting on one side,

:11:18.:11:22.

and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US and Europe on the other side

:11:22.:11:26.

calling for Assad to leave. terms of the difficulty for the

:11:26.:11:29.

administration or anyone getting a grip on this. How much bearing did

:11:29.:11:31.

the thought that it could be Afghanistan again, we could give

:11:31.:11:36.

weapons to one side and they will end up using them against us or our

:11:36.:11:38.

allies. The questions of the jihadis getting their hands on the

:11:39.:11:42.

weapons, is that the reason they are not getting anti-aircraft

:11:42.:11:47.

weapons for example? Yes, I think that is the prime row reason. I

:11:47.:11:50.

think the administration is starting cautiously by providing

:11:50.:11:55.

small arms and anti-tank weapons. Which even if they do end up in the

:11:55.:12:03.

hands of the jihadis won't really pose much of a threat. And if we,

:12:03.:12:07.

if this trial work well. If people feel confident that the weapons are

:12:07.:12:11.

in the hands of forces that we have confidence in and they are being

:12:11.:12:17.

used properly then I think the pressure on, not only the US, but

:12:17.:12:22.

also the British and the French, to follow up with more sophisticated

:12:22.:12:25.

weapons that the rebels clearly need in order to fight the Syrian

:12:25.:12:29.

air force is going to become much greater. I see this as a cautious

:12:29.:12:32.

first step, but I don't think it will be the last step.

:12:32.:12:36.

I just wondered how you see this. Do you see it as in any sense a

:12:36.:12:40.

game-changer, politically it might be, but in terms of weapons perhaps

:12:40.:12:44.

not? Syrians have become so cynical from what they have heard in the

:12:44.:12:49.

past two years and three months. I have called them the loneliest

:12:49.:12:54.

people in the world, because this revolution, which started out as we

:12:54.:13:03.

all know peacefully. I was met with such harsh violence and besiegement

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and military aircraft attacks from cities that left half of Syria in

:13:09.:13:14.

rubble and five million people displaced, either externally or

:13:14.:13:19.

internally in great, great difficulty, catastrophic difficulty.

:13:19.:13:22.

Syria feels that these promises that keep being made are never

:13:22.:13:26.

really fulfilled. We have heard these noises before from the White

:13:26.:13:32.

House about red lines. And even now your guest in the United States is

:13:32.:13:35.

saying that they will start cautiously if they are going to arm

:13:35.:13:39.

and they won't give anything like what is needed. Do you think that

:13:39.:13:44.

could be too late in the end, that the Assad regime will hold on?

:13:44.:13:49.

problem is that intervention has happened in Syria, and it has

:13:49.:13:54.

happened by Russia. We are at the mercy of Russian air force bombing

:13:54.:14:00.

us, we are also at the mercy of constant arming and financing by

:14:00.:14:06.

Iran, which calls Syria to, -- causes Syrians great shock and

:14:06.:14:11.

outrage and calls us a province of Iran. And Hezbollah's entry into

:14:11.:14:16.

Qusair and the way they have been used as snipers and as torturers is

:14:16.:14:20.

really very serious. But because of that, you talked about the great

:14:20.:14:25.

hopes that you had at the start, but where we are now obviously

:14:25.:14:33.

nobody wants to be in this has become a sectarian war including

:14:33.:14:37.

outside players, not just the ones you mentioned, but the Saudis,

:14:37.:14:40.

Qatar, we heard the Egyptian clerics talking about Sunni

:14:40.:14:44.

fighters should go. It has become the thing most people dreaded,

:14:44.:14:48.

which is the sectarian war. I still don't see it as a sectarian war. I

:14:48.:14:53.

see the major actors as sectarians, and one of the great myths that the

:14:54.:14:58.

world has held about Assad is that he was some how secular because he

:14:58.:15:03.

wore a tie and had lived in London and had an English wife. The point

:15:03.:15:10.

is that as a Syrian who has lived throughout Syria's modern history,

:15:10.:15:19.

including the pre Ba'ath period. I know there was no sectarian before

:15:19.:15:22.

Iran became a strategic partner of the Assad regime, both father and

:15:22.:15:28.

son. That has led to the fact we have heard of Hezbollah, and proxy

:15:28.:15:32.

of Iran saying that he will continue to fight a sectarian

:15:32.:15:36.

battle. Let me bring in you on that, that must give the White House

:15:36.:15:40.

great pause for thought. That it is, there are clearly these outside

:15:40.:15:44.

actors, but if it becomes Sunni versus Shia, then there is perhaps

:15:44.:15:48.

no solution, not only there, but the spillover for Jordan and for

:15:48.:15:53.

Lebanon in particularly, it could be horrendous. I think part of the

:15:53.:15:57.

motivation for being more directly engaged is to try to influence as

:15:57.:16:02.

much as one can those forces in the opposition that the US thinks are

:16:02.:16:08.

not secular, that are not extremist, that would be more tolerant of what

:16:08.:16:14.

in Syria is a real mixture of different groups. And that's part

:16:14.:16:17.

of the motivation. You are never gob to go able to completely

:16:17.:16:23.

control the outcomes in these kinds of situations. If the US did

:16:23.:16:28.

nothing that would create a feel for the Islamist forces. You know

:16:28.:16:31.

the players in Washington extremely well, do you think that the

:16:32.:16:35.

administration is really quite divided about this, because it is

:16:35.:16:38.

so difficult, between those who would like to do much more and

:16:38.:16:46.

those who would actually like to not have another messy foreign war?

:16:46.:16:50.

I think President Obama has been absolutely determined to avoid not

:16:50.:16:53.

getting drawn into another conflict. That explains why the US has been

:16:53.:16:56.

so reluctant to take even the first step. Now a combination of events

:16:56.:17:01.

have put him in a position where he feels that he has to at least do

:17:01.:17:05.

this first step. As I said earlier the risk of course is once you take

:17:05.:17:11.

the first step is becomes even more difficult to disengage. And the war

:17:11.:17:16.

promises to go on for a long time. My guess is that not only for the

:17:16.:17:20.

US but for US allies, Britain and France, this is going to be the

:17:20.:17:26.

beginning of what will end up being a much greater involvement. Not

:17:26.:17:29.

necessarily direct military action, even use of air force, but much

:17:29.:17:33.

greater involvement in terms of arming and training the opposition.

:17:33.:17:40.

Briefly, I know you want to come in there? All I want to say is this,

:17:40.:17:45.

that Obama for obvious reasons wanted to be isolationist on the

:17:45.:17:50.

Middle East, coming after Bush, but he was so isolationist when it came

:17:50.:17:54.

to Syria that he allowed a conflict that could have been stopped from

:17:54.:18:01.

the very beginning to escalate to such an extent that now, without

:18:01.:18:05.

prop armying and without proper anti-aircraft missiles, which no-

:18:05.:18:11.

one has been promised, nothing will happen.

:18:11.:18:16.

Now, one of the arguments the Assad regime has been using to prevent

:18:16.:18:21.

foreign aid to the rebels is simple, fear, if you give guns they may be

:18:21.:18:24.

used against you one day, just as they were in Afghanistan. To

:18:24.:18:28.

bolster the argument, the Government in Damascus has been

:18:28.:18:33.

making a great deal of propaganda over the called foreign fighters

:18:33.:18:43.
:18:43.:18:44.

and jihadis they captured during the fighting. Traditional song at

:18:44.:18:50.

the grand mosque in Damascus. And the magnificent place of prayer.

:18:50.:18:54.

Today it is the setting for a ceremony. Muslim and Christian

:18:54.:19:03.

leaders sit together here. With Syrian mothers who have lost their

:19:03.:19:13.

sons in war. And still grieve. But this isn't a private moment, the

:19:13.:19:18.

cameras have also been invited. And other mothers from Tunisia as well

:19:18.:19:23.

as fathers. Their sons are also involved in Syria's war. But they

:19:23.:19:27.

have been fighting for the other side. Many have been captured and

:19:27.:19:35.

put in prison. Parents have come to Syria to find their sons. And to

:19:35.:19:45.
:19:45.:19:46.

say a very public story. TRANSLATION: Please forgive me, I

:19:46.:19:56.
:19:56.:19:59.

didn't know my son was coming here, our sons were brainwashed. Mothers

:19:59.:20:04.

are brought together from countries on opposing sides, it is carefully

:20:04.:20:08.

choreographed for the cameras. But there is no denying the grief is

:20:08.:20:18.
:20:18.:20:22.

genuine. TRANSLATION: They arrested our sons at the border. They didn't

:20:22.:20:30.

do anything. I know my son, he wouldn't kill anyone. Her son Sami

:20:30.:20:35.

is one of thousands of foreign fighters who have joined battle

:20:35.:20:38.

with Syria's rebels in their fight against President Assad's forces.

:20:38.:20:45.

Hundreds have come here from Tunisia. The mother's cause was

:20:45.:20:51.

taken up by civil society activists at home. In this five-star hotel in

:20:51.:20:57.

Damascus they argue over details of a joint declaration. Tunisian

:20:57.:21:01.

lawyers want due process for the prisoners. But the Syrians in this

:21:01.:21:06.

room see a much bigger opportunity. They want to get all foreign

:21:06.:21:13.

fighters off the battlefield. This man is a Syrian businessman with

:21:13.:21:16.

close ties to President Assad's family and has made this his

:21:16.:21:19.

mission. His burning ambition is to bring delegations from around the

:21:19.:21:24.

world to his door. His secret weapon, he knows this is also

:21:24.:21:30.

Europe's growing worry. Europe today is having a new Pakistan on

:21:30.:21:38.

your border, with the same type of Madrassahs that are being made by

:21:38.:21:44.

the Salafi and Wahab by, it is on your border and a real crisis and

:21:44.:21:49.

problem, it is the transit in Turkey and the incubation of the

:21:49.:21:54.

Muslim Brotherhoods in Turkey for all those fighters in Europe and

:21:54.:22:02.

they will be coming back to Europe. This war is causing anxiety in

:22:02.:22:07.

Europe. This week a group of European Parliament members arrived

:22:07.:22:10.

in Damascus. Only hours after a double suicide bombing in the heart

:22:10.:22:14.

of the capital. Politicians mainly from far right parties came to

:22:14.:22:17.

inspect the damage. They were invited here by the Syrian

:22:17.:22:21.

Government. For Europeans, like this Belgian senator, foreign

:22:21.:22:26.

fighters at the top of their agenda too. These are the potential

:22:26.:22:30.

terrorists of the future. If they come back to our country they will

:22:30.:22:35.

be the qaed militants and they will fight their -- Al-Qaeda militant,

:22:35.:22:40.

and they will fight their jihad on our European soil. It is a very,

:22:40.:22:43.

very big threat for all European countries, not only for Belgium.

:22:43.:22:48.

What chance of resolving this as we speak, it looks like there will be

:22:48.:22:54.

more arms coming into Syria, more fighter, not less? It was a very

:22:54.:23:00.

stupid decision to lift the ban on weapon deliveries to Syria. The

:23:00.:23:06.

weapons we will deliver to Syria to the called Free Syrian Army, but

:23:06.:23:10.

also to Al-Qaeda and so on, will be used within a few months, within a

:23:10.:23:15.

few years, on European soil. So I think it was a very niave and

:23:15.:23:23.

stupid decision. Syria's war is regarded as a Jihad or holy war by

:23:23.:23:30.

Islamist groups worldwide. It is not just places long regarded as

:23:30.:23:35.

breeding grounds for militancy. Even Swedish is being spoken on

:23:35.:23:42.

Syria's battlefield. "pack your bags and come to Syria", this

:23:42.:23:51.

fighter says. Many Europeans are, including some British nationals.

:23:51.:23:54.

Growing concern over the potential security threat posed by large

:23:54.:23:58.

numbers of European jihadis was raised in meetings last week among

:23:58.:24:02.

European home affairs ministers. There may be common interests, but

:24:03.:24:10.

it is quite another matter to make common cause. This businessman has

:24:10.:24:15.

taken his message to Syria's state TV. So far his plan has brought

:24:15.:24:19.

mothers here to Damascus, civil No Such Thing As Society activists,

:24:19.:24:25.

even from a country with -- civil society activists, even from a

:24:25.:24:27.

country with no diplomatic interests here. There is a growing

:24:27.:24:33.

war of words. So will this kind of initiative ever work? Will the

:24:34.:24:43.

other side even listen? All sides talk about the need to end a bloody

:24:43.:24:48.

war, now in its third year. But on one side the west is now focusing

:24:48.:24:54.

on arming what it calls a "moderate" opposition. On the other,

:24:54.:25:03.

fighters from Lebanon, Iran and Iraq are blacking Damascus. --

:25:03.:25:08.

backing Damascus. The west is still dealing with the reprecussions of

:25:08.:25:11.

arming Islamist fighters in Afghanistan a decade ago. This time

:25:11.:25:19.

it has been drawn into a vor text far harder to control.

:25:19.:25:24.

We all suffer them or in my case try to skip them where possible.

:25:24.:25:29.

School assembly is one of the strange rituals of British life.

:25:29.:25:34.

When a columnist asked on social media of people's memories from

:25:34.:25:38.

school assemblies, he was overwhelmed with replies. What was

:25:38.:25:48.
:25:48.:26:00.

the magic something that made it so Remember school assembly? I think

:26:00.:26:04.

this headmaster has been hitting the staff room coffee. Funny that

:26:04.:26:08.

you should all be so tired. When you wake up you will remember that

:26:08.:26:14.

you saw a film about ants. Not even Ofsted expects teachers to be this

:26:14.:26:18.

mesmerising. But what do you do if you don't have this kind of sway

:26:18.:26:28.
:26:28.:26:36.

How did all this get going? There has been a Twitter storm, or

:26:36.:26:40.

at least gust, ever since journalist Rhodri Marsden

:26:40.:26:45.

reminisceed on-line about how his school day once began. I was

:26:45.:26:50.

listening to Thought for the Day on Radio 4, I had a memory of a school

:26:50.:26:54.

assembly I was in, where the headteacher recited a story he had

:26:54.:26:59.

clearly heard on Thought for the Day an hour early. It was a serious

:26:59.:27:03.

observation but I made it on Twitter. I suddenly was replied to

:27:03.:27:13.
:27:13.:27:18.

with all the fantastic stories of Getting the kids' attention just

:27:18.:27:23.

isn't a problem when movie star Will Smith is in the house, or hall.

:27:23.:27:27.

Earlier this year he dropped in on this school in south London. What

:27:27.:27:31.

I'm saying to you is this, the exams you are about to take are

:27:31.:27:35.

probably the most important exams you will ever take. But what is

:27:35.:27:43.

assembly like when he isn't around. Now, go quietly to your lessons.

:27:43.:27:53.
:27:53.:27:53.

Steven Smith, where are you? See me later! I do a few things, like I

:27:53.:28:00.

have done an assembly around a mobile phone. I always, once a year,

:28:00.:28:05.

recite Phenomenal Woman, by Maya Angelou that the pupils enjoy. I

:28:05.:28:09.

spend a lot of time thinking about it and preparing for it. I try to

:28:09.:28:12.

make it relevant. If something happened over the weekend in this

:28:12.:28:16.

community or in the world I would talk about it in assembly. Just

:28:16.:28:21.

between us is it a bit boring, is it interesting, what is it like?

:28:21.:28:23.

think it is really interesting because basically we are all

:28:24.:28:28.

together as a community. And it just really uplifts your morning,

:28:28.:28:32.

if you have a bad morning you can come in, the assembly will make you

:28:32.:28:35.

happy and not give up because you have had a bad morning. You can

:28:35.:28:40.

continue to go on and not struggle. Is that true, you get a lift?

:28:40.:28:44.

is a sense of community, everyone is together in the hall. We are all

:28:44.:28:54.
:28:54.:29:03.

One time I actually got up and sang during assembly individually.

:29:03.:29:08.

you invited to? Not entirely. So I got in trouble there too. But I was,

:29:08.:29:13.

for a while, I was quite whole hearted in assembly. Of course

:29:13.:29:18.

obviously it was a good opportunity to flick bits of paper, preferably

:29:18.:29:22.

when the teachers weren't looking. Or maybe slap the boy next to you

:29:22.:29:28.

with a ruler. You know, there were infinite possibilities. The

:29:28.:29:38.
:29:38.:29:38.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 75 seconds

:29:38.:30:54.

Those were the days! Any way, let's That's all for this week, Jeremy is

:30:54.:30:58.

here on Monday. We leave you with our very own sue Lloyd Roberts, who

:30:58.:31:04.

we learn this evening has been awarded an MBE for services to

:31:04.:31:09.

journalism. Here she is sneaking into Homs in Syria, undercover,

:31:09.:31:14.

right at the start of the conflict in 2008. The only journalist here

:31:14.:31:18.

to view the protest firsthand I noted another significant

:31:18.:31:24.

difference. Back in March, when they began, the protestors called

:31:24.:31:31.

for reform, then they called for the fall of the regime. Today as

:31:31.:31:36.

the name of each atrocity and massacre carried out by Assad's

:31:36.:31:41.

army and thugs is called out. The crowd respond by calling for the

:31:41.:31:51.
:31:51.:31:58.

There is uncertainty about the weekend weather. Especially when it

:31:58.:32:01.

comes to Sunday. It is breezy and windy across southern I can't

:32:01.:32:05.

remembers, there will be plenty of showers around. Around this area of

:32:05.:32:09.

low pressure as it tracks eastwards. The problem for Sunday is this area

:32:09.:32:13.

of low pressure and how far north it will take its rain. Now the

:32:14.:32:17.

detail for Saturday. From the word go, sunshine and showers, along the

:32:17.:32:21.

spread of rain in Scotland. Further showers moving across England and

:32:21.:32:25.

Wales in the afternoon. These could be in the form of-y Joan pour,

:32:25.:32:30.

merging to give longer spells of rain here too. It is windier the

:32:30.:32:33.

further south you come. Southern coastal counties could see fewer

:32:33.:32:38.

showers compared with elsewhere. It means more in the way of sunny

:32:38.:32:43.

spells. Windy, yes, in the south west, in fact gales possible around

:32:43.:32:47.

the exposed coasts in south-west England and Wales. Some sunshine

:32:47.:32:50.

inbetween the showers. A scattering of showers around in Northern

:32:50.:32:54.

Ireland too. They may merge to give longer spells of rain and 13

:32:55.:32:57.

degrees in Belfast at this stage of the afternoon. A wet afternoon

:32:57.:33:01.

through western parts of Scotland, especially to the north of Glasgow.

:33:01.:33:04.

A few showers around elsewhere. We will keep a few showers going into

:33:04.:33:09.

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