Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Q+A: Panel Response to Robert Fisk Interview



In response to ROBERT FISK interview

On the panel today, Dr Claire Robinson, Bernard Hickey and Keith Locke. So, Syria - it is a festering boil in the Middle East. It is a dismal-looking place when you see the pictures and so forth. Why don’t we care more, Keith?

KEITH LOCKE - Former Green Party MP
Well, I think it is, as Robert Fisk pointed out, quite a confusing situation. It doesn’t fit the model of Egypt, for example, where you had the people as a whole, really, against the Mubarak regime.

PAUL In the famous square.

KEITH And here, as he pointed out, you’ve got both the regime and the opposition both with a substantial measure of public support, and you’ve got on Assad’s side the Alawites and, to an extent, the Christians and some of the other minorities - Kurdish, etc - worried about the predominance of Sunni extremists and the opposition, and so there isn’t really a military solution. And one of the tragedies, really, is the big, peaceful demonstrations that occurred in the early phases of the uprising - that seems to have been overtaken by a military fight in which the people are pushed to one side.

PAUL Well, that’s right. A military civil war. That is right. But both Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta have said the difficulty we’ve got is there’s no particular one group, like Libya, who has put their hands up and said, ‘We are the credible opposition.’

BERNARD HICKEY - interest.co.nz
And also Syria has much tougher support from Russia and also in the United Nations from China, but more importantly from Iran.

PAUL And there’s a great bogey, there’s an elephant in the room called Iran. They sent two warships to that Syrian port a couple of weeks back.

BERNARD And everyone’s sort of forgetting around the edges of this is a huge effort to try and stop Iran from building a bomb and the risk that Israel will attack Iran at some stage, which I think is complicating some of the-

PAUL While the West gets involved in Syria. That’s right. Claire.

CLAIRE ROBINSON - Political Analyst
Well, the other thing is that Assad, he’s not like a Gaddafi. He’s not as mad or crazy as some of those leaders that have been overthrown. He is surrounded by an establishment, a very wealthy establishment of people in Syria who are working together to make sure that this works. They’re not going to turn on him in a hurry like they’ve turned on the other leaders. It’s very difficult.

PAUL That’s right. The Assad family and indeed the political establishment in Syria control the military, control the money, control everything, don’t they?

BERNARD And there is a history of using the military in force against their own population.

PAUL 10,000 people dead in what was the name of the place?


PAUL Hama. And Uncle Rifaat Assad, old Hafez Assad’s brother, now lives in Mayfair.

CLAIRE Yes, that’s right.

KEITH I think a key complicating problem here that Robert Fisk talked to was that the international agendas are playing out. The Shiite alliance of Iran, the Assad regime, Hezbollah sort of against the Sunni alliance, particularly in the Gulf states, and the Gulf states are really pushing for a military solution. Arming the opposition.

PAUL He said Qatar’s running it.

KEITH Yeah, and just a couple of days ago some key leaders of the Syrian National Council left because they saw there was a dominance of the Muslim brotherhood. And then the internal opposition that is based in Damascus, the underground internal opposition, is at odds with the external opposition, and the external opposition seems to be pushing the military struggle, which doesn’t seem to be the way to go. Which is why I think we should support what Kofi Annan is doing in trying to get a negotiated solution, work as much as possible with Russia.

PAUL Well, heaven knows Bashar has got to stop killing his people. Robert Fisk has told him to. (ALL CHUCKLE) We’ll leave that one there. Thank you very much.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Closing Schools And Such: Interim Redcliffs Decision Announced

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out." More>>


Jane Kelsey: High Court Can’t Make Groser Provide TPPA Information Faster

‘This week we went back to court to challenge Trade Minister Groser’s stalling tactics over the release of information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, following a High Court order that he reconsider the Official Information Act request I made last January’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, first applicant in the case. More>>

Werewolf 58: No Climate For Change

The last time the global community tried to take collective action on climate change the world’s leaders finally came to agree that every not-too-onerous effort should be made to hold global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial average. At Paris, all 150 participant countries nations will have put forward their pledges... On the information available, New Zealand's is the second weakest contribution of any nation in the developed world. More>>


Lambton Quay Shutdown: Object Was Made To Look Like Bomb

Police cordoned off part of Lambton Quay Wednesday afternoon, saying that a suspicious package had been found. Buildings were evacuated and buses were detoured. The army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was brought to the Quay. More>>


Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Disobeying The Law: Police Censorship Of Crime Research “An Outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says. More>>


Q+A Transcript: Groser ‘Not Expecting’ Failure At UN Climate Talks

‘I will be very surprised if we don’t get an agreement. I think it’s a completely different situation to Copenhagen for a number of reasons. We’ve got a much more realistic negotiating proposal on the table. Secondly, I think the science has strengthened...’ More>>


Greenpeace Protest:

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news