a day of mourning's begun in lebanon after violence erupted in the capital, beirut, leaving six people dead. gunmen targeted a protest organised by shia group hezbollah. the us, un and the international community have echoed the lebanese prime minister's calls for calm. former us president bill clinton has been admitted to a hospital in california for what's being described as a non—covid—related infection. a spokesman for the 75—year—old says he is "on the mend," "in good spirits" and "responding well to antibiotics." kenyan police have arrested the husband of record—breaking runner agnes tirop, who was stabbed to death in a killing that has shocked her home country and the world of athletics. tirop was a double world championships medallist and olympian. now on bbc news,
it's time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. the taliban again rule afghanistan, but they haven't yet persuaded the outside world to give diplomatic recognition. the country remains politically and economically isolated, ill equipped to cope with an urgent humanitarian crisis. meanwhile, afghan diplomats linked to the old regime remain marooned in a twilight zone of powerlessness. one of them is my guest today, adela raz, still officially ambassador to the united states. is recognising the reality of taliban rule now the only option?
ambassador adela raz in washington, dc, welcome to hardtalk. how weird is it being the representative in washington of a government which no longer exists? erm, it's quite difficult. it is challenging, but not powerless. i think this is... this is where i wanted to come and somehow correct you, stephen, because i think, in defence of my colleagues, other afghan diplomats and ambassadors who are across the world without authority, i would say yes, for sure, but without power, i think that's a little difficult because our power comes from the people of afghanistan and as long as we are representing the tricolour flag, which is behind me, i think that's our power
and strength and that comes where our people will always be under this flag. but that flag behind you is no longer recognised by the people who run your country and the truth is that you are shunned by them, they've actually replaced you, although the replacement, of course, isn't yet being recognised by the united states government, but also the united states government no longer is interested in you. they ignore you too, so powerless is surely the word. well, they recognise the flag still. they have not recognised the white flag. it is the official flag of afghanistan and, as i said, the power comes from this flag. it's not really dedicated to one or two individuals, how they define our power, it's our people. why, when the taliban asked to speak to you — i believe they wanted to organise a zoom call with senior diplomats in post around the world — why did you refuse?
i think it wasn't only me, a large number of us. we had this decision, we will not participate in the meeting because we knew — we knew that we cannot represent them. but whenever they get the recognition and they send an ambassador, i think there is no denial the post is theirs. you mean, you will get out of the embassy when the taliban representative arrives, is that what you're saying? sure. for sure. if their representative arrives and the host country recognises them, then that's the legitimate right of afghanistan. and, as i said, i'm representing the interests of people of afghanistan as far as i can and when it arrives with another official recognition, it's their place and then i would not be able to represent their interests. that's my personal choice
and my personal decision. are you in any way persuaded by the words that come from seniorfigures in the taliban in kabul? the gentleman who has now been appointed to the un ambassador post, which is, of course, the post you used to have in new york representing afghanistan, suhail shaheen, he says that the taliban is, over time, all about inclusivity. he says, "we're not going to be instructed by the west "who we should put in our government, "but over time, we are seeking a an inclusive government "for the country" — ie, we're different from the way we were 25 years ago. are you persuaded? in practical terms right now, not at all, and i think i'm not persuaded, you are not persuaded, no afghan is persuaded and no international community because look at the current cabinet. do we see a single woman in that cabinet? no. do we see a professional bureaucrat? we do not see. do we see ethnic minorities as part of the cabinet? we don't see that. so i think inclusivity is definitely a far outreaching
term that's not defined to the current cabinet and appointments they have made. but they have a chance. they have a window of opportunity if they would like to pursue a recognition in the long run, international recognition. if they would like to pursue the desire and the wishes of the people of afghanistan, they have to represent the reality and the reality in afghanistan is much different than it was 25 years ago when they came to power, because today it's a new afghanistan. it's a new generation. women make the strongest voice. the younger generation, the educated one, those who have been educated abroad, they make the strongest voice. we have a very vibrant civil society. we have a very dominant and strong media, and we're already seeing the signs, the space for them to work is limited. women are not allowed to go to work, girls are not allowed to be educated. so if they continue
what they so far have done, i think it's going to be extremely hard for them to govern afghanistan. we will talk more about what's happening on the ground in afghanistan, but ijust want to make this a little bit personal because it seems to me that whatever the taliban were to say, maybe even to do right now, you personally, given your own family's history and background, you would have a massive issue with giving them any credibility at all, wouldn't you ? i mean, foryou, this is very personal. it is. look, stephen, i've said this before. i lived in afghanistan until 200a. i was there during the civil war. i was there during the taliban regime and i was a young girl. i remember the afternoon when they came to afghanistan and the next morning when i heard from the radio that i cannot go to school and keep in mind fora young girl, for a young afghan girl coming from a pashtun family,
which the only hope to the outside world is your education, because this is the key to your success. this is the key to your future. this is your key to brightness. and suddenly, one morning you wake up, it's taken from you. and that's hard. and i remember as a young girl, i would wake up at midnight and do prayers because i just wanted to wake up to a miracle that reality has changed for me and it didn't change. it took five years and five years i stayed at home and then later on, my father passed away and my mum was a widow and i really, really hear the voice of those widows right now in afghanistan as the breadwinners because my mum was one of them and she wasn't allowed to work, i wasn't allowed to work. so we have to find ways on how to survive and how to serve our own family. and i had three young brothers and for my mum,
it was four young kids that she had to feed. so it really is personal, and a lot of times when i hear the politics of right and wrong, i always think about the people who are right now in afghanistan and what is going through them. and just to be clear, ambassador, as i am understanding that story, you then were educated in secret for a number of years as a young girl. and i'm just wondering whether you think that is going to be the reality for a lot of young girls in afghanistan today? i hope it's not. i really hope. all of us were counting days. it's day 21, day 22, day 23 that the girls are banned from school, but i really hope it doesn't go too far because it was hard for me, i had to... i was educated at home at the time and i had a home school later on as well that i was teaching young kids and it was hidden. and every time, for my school, i had to shift or change it five times because every time
when it was discovered, we had to shut it down and we were hiding our books and we were wrapping it in a piece of cloth the way we carry holy koran, because anybody who would ask us, we'd say, "we're going to study koran." we never said we're studying school subjects or at the time, it was the english language that i learned. so it's really hard for me to think right now in the 21st century, in year 2021, where there's booming technology, when afghanistan and people of afghanistan and women in afghanistan in the last 20 years had still exposure to the outside world to better education and suddenly, overnight, that right is taken from them. learning of your personal experience is important, and it obviously lends a great deal of weight to your suspicion of the taliban and their promises. on the other hand, i'm also very aware that your husband, abdul matin bek, he, like you, was a very successful and senior figure in the ashraf ghani government going back the last few years, and he actuallyjoined the negotiating team that was prepared
over the last 18 months to talk to the taliban and clearly believed that there was some worth in reaching out to the taliban and treating them seriously as potential political players in the future of afghanistan. so why are you now telling me that you absolutely rule out talking to them, working with them when your own husband was actually in a dialogue with them? look, erm... i did not say rule out to...to talk to them. but you wouldn't even take their zoom call. look, because in the current position, i am, as the ambassador, if i take the zoom call, i would be the ambassador of islamic emirate and that personally is difficult for me. i cannot do it because of the personal stories that i told you. but in terms of the bigger picture, to come to a reconciliation with them, this was a belief that my husband and i, we both still have. but it was a window
that arrived. we all hoped that they will agree to the new afghanistan. they will agree to deliver what the current young generation and the generation of those who had been educated in the last 20 years wish and desire to see the future of their country. and keep in mind, my husband's father was assassinated by taliban, but he still went ahead and he sat across a table to speak with them and, for me, even with that hardship, there was a time i arrived to the understanding we need to end this war. we need to speak with each other. we need to find a solution to long—term sustainability and prosperity. but we had certain conditions to put forward. and foremost, the most important one was education for girls, access for women to go to work, and also protection of minorities and human rights protection, and embracing today's afghanistan. and, unfortunately, what we see, they did not... they are not able to deliver what they have been saying in doha. there was still doubt, a big doubt, even then, but i think now in practice
we see more of it. we're hopeful, we're optimistic. i'm still trying not to close the window of hope, expecting that one day they will realise the realities of today. but let me... if i may, ambassador, let me just focus for a couple of minutes on the americans in all of this, because you are, and have been for the last month or two, the official, still, ambassador in washington for afghanistan. but of course the americans won't talk to you now because they see no interest in that. they actually are trying to focus on developing a strategy to work with the taliban. do you feel abandoned by the united states? look... the term that i'm hearing, and i think this is the new one — probably it will come to you, stephen, too — it's the engagement. so everybody said they would like to have the engagement
with the taliban, which i definitely supported, because there should be an engagement. well, it's more than engagement. there are official talks taking place in qatar, as you know, with senior us diplomats. the brits, they also sent their special afghan envoy into kabul actually, quite soon after kabul was taken. it's clear that the message, even from those who fought the war against the taliban, the message now is, "you know what? these are the people in charge. "we have to figure out how to deal with them, "and afghanistan, for all sorts of geostrategic regions, "is simply too important "for us to see it descend into total chaos." i'm so happy you said it much better than i could even say it, but that's true for the purpose of afghanistan being extremely important for the us and the rest of the world. i think that's one reality, and either if we acknowledge it now or not, but it will haunt us in the future. in terms of where we stand and in terms of our embassy�*s relationship and our diplomatic
representation, is that i think it's a very difficult scenario where the us administration — and i have to clearly say not the public, because the public and the friends of afghanistan and all those veterans who had fought in afghanistan, they are the strong allies of the people of afghanistan. i have been engaged with and i'm talking with them. we're working onjoint projects. and there is a lot of pain and there is a lot of good news that we both share together. but i think it's a very difficult catch—22 type of situation for the us. they cannot... and when i say us, that's the us administration there. and there's a difficult place that they cannot officially recognise the taliban, because there is a lot of political pressure by the public and it's going to be extremely hard, and as well as by the congress. and at the same time they are also in this position that they cannot cut ties with a taliban as well, for the reasons that you mentioned — it's a strategic geographical location.
they still have to work with them on the fight on isil—k. they still have to do the work with counterterrorism. and, frankly speaking, i am just going to be wondering, "how would they do all that together?" but i have not given up in my colleagues, have not given up all hope of where we stand. and it's also very personal for us, for my team and myself, that we step down and close the door of our embassy, and i think it's not only my story, it's the story of so many ambassadors of afghanistan across the world. but is it... right. but, ambassador, isn't there one feeling in america which you missed out? and that is a feeling of frustration, actually of real anger, with how ashraf ghani and his closest associates at the top of power in afghanistan led the country over the years before he was toppled by the taliban.
what we saw was systemic corruption, from the very top downwards. the us catalogued it time and again in reports which suggested up to 40% of all the military and aid assistance that went into your country was creamed off. you were part of that system. so was your husband. do you now feel a sense of shame and guilt about that? erm. .. i do feel guilty. i have to be very honest. i do feel guilty, in the bigger picture, because it really is hard... ..how our hard work — and when i say "our hard work", it's not only me and my husband, it's all those afghans who genuinely came forward to help the country. look, stephen, i was here in the us and washington in 2013, and for a young girl to be able to be educated in the us and then later get a job in washington, and have a quite comfortable life, in every sense... i dropped everything because at the time it was president obama's decision that he was thinking to withdraw the troops in 2014. and i realised i was here and asking people not
to leave afghanistan. and i said, "it's very hypocritical of me "if i'm asking them not to leave and i'm here." and the second one was also that i was so critical of the government at the time, and that was president karzai's government, and i said, "if i'm so critical, "i cannot criticise if i don't "participate to fix "and bring the changes." right. so you went you went back and you served positions... so i went. ..as a communications chief for ashraf ghani. right. and then of course he took you under his wing and he appointed you to be un ambassador. and now you're sitting there still as official us ambassador. you received great support from ashraf ghani. but of course we've read the reports about how corruption undermined the system from within, which is one reason why it collapsed so quickly and completely when the taliban military made their moves. can you, hand on heart, say to me that over the last couple of years you haven't been aware...
let me answer that. ..ofjust how corrupt the system was? let me answer that. i think two parts — a corruption of the system and, second, president ghani supporting me or taking me under his wing, as the way you said. look, i worked with president karzai, and that was not president ghani, so my first job with the government was with president karzai at the time. and then i was in the administration when president ghani came to office, and his colleague sent me a message and said, "he wants you to stay in the office." and so if i say, with great confidence, a lot of it — and it was not only for me, and i think for most of the younger generation who worked with him — we did believe in him at the initial stage, because i remember my first year when i worked with him in his office, i thought, "this is the end of our misery "and we have a leader who has a vision, who is optimistic "and he knows so well." and there were times i really thought i shouldn't even
go to home, and stay in the office, work until midnight, wake up early morning and do the work again. but it took quite a few years to start to realise that, "there are challenges," and i think corruption was much bigger, much... it was not only specifically to one administration, and you said it really well. i think it was a combination of so many factors. but, and in our part, and i think as my contribution, it was, "ok, i can leave this place and "somebody else can come and it could be corrupt. "at least i am not corrupt. "i am trying to do my part to... whatever it is, "to pay my contribution to this nation as far as i can." and i think that was the genuine... the genuine thinking of every afghan, because our thinking was, "let's correct him as far as we can, because "if we leave this mess would be even bigger." in the part that...
but... sorry to interrupt, but are you angry with... let me come back. are you angry with ashraf ghani today? because you've said, i think, in the recent past... iam. ..that your husband saw him having secret meetings and wondered what was going on in those last few weeks in kabul. so maybe... maybe you feel that he was planning his own escape, or what? iam angry. all of us, we're angry because there was a time we arrived, and i think it was about a year and a half ago, at least for me personally, that i realised "we have no choice but to "really come to a compromise with taliban "on the peace side." and i think... and for me, even personally, it was a time that i talked to my husband and i said, "i want to resign "because i'm having a really grey image, and i don't know "if my having a really grey image, and i don't know if my
contribution is really serving the bigger picture or it's really arriving that i'm becoming part of the destruction." and i consulted a lot of very close friends, and everybody who came to me and said, "look, even if you "leave, that space will be vacant and another loyalist "will, with the strong ties, will arrive. "and whatever small contribution you are "making at the un, it will be diminished." and i really tried to strategically focus the bigger picture, so i can give you an example. for instance, we had a general assembly resolution on afghanistan, and i have never revealed this in public and i'm going to share with you, is that there was... we had... the language there was "the republic", and i even realised that the word — protection of "republic" later on became protection of continuation of president ghani's government. and for me, i realised that that continuation would not bring us to a sustainability because taliban wants the change in the leadership and they are not willing for him to continue in power. so we knew that this... right. ..needs to be changed. so i changed the language
within the resolution and i put, "the protection of representative democracy." so you're telling me you saw the writing on the wall for the system, as it was under ashraf ghani, long before the regime finally toppled? but you say you're concerned about the big picture. so what's the big picture now? what should people who believe in democracy, in women's rights, in civil society, what should they do in afghanistan today? indeed, what are you going to do, because you're not going to be sitting in that embassy very much longer, and then you have a choice — do you go back to afghanistan and believe that you will have the space to join the fight for freedom, women's rights and civil society? or do you give up and stay away from your country as long as the taliban are in power? i could not give up, stephen, despite how much criticism i have right now,
as there was before, and how painful this whole process has been. the betrayal that you hear, and i always talk about it from our own leadership, the corruption that you spoke of, and i think it was so systematic and it was so big that it was beyond the control of anyone to even fix it. but i think it was small steps that all of us were taking to really contain what we saw, the real change that was happening and that was the society, the people. and i can never give up my fight, and my fight... "but can you go home?", is the question. ..as a woman. when you leave the embassy, can you go home? in the nearfuture, no. that's for sure, because, for very, very strong reason and for my work at the un as well, and even before and for my work of my husband, it is risky for both of us to go as of now. but our home is home. and look, stephen, when i arrived here, i even did not bring... i brought most of my formal clothes, so my home is there
and i am hoping if it is not next year, the year later, and if it's not that year, i don't know, but i want to go back. adela raz, we thank you very much for joining us on hardtalk. thank you. thank you, stephen. hello. a chilly start to friday across the north of the uk. we've had a cold front gradually working its way southwards through thursday. that's been bringing some outbreaks of rain. and as its name implies, behind it, we've got colder air, so likely to see a touch of frost through parts of northeast scotland and northeast england to start the day on friday.
further south, still holding onto this milder air through parts of south wales and into southern england. and it's here we've still got that frontal zone through friday morning, so cloudier, maybe the odd patch of rain. most of that will have fizzled out. through the afternoon, the cloud should thin and break here. and for all of us, we should see some good spells of sunshine during friday. just more cloud pushing into northern and western scotland through the afternoon. temperatures lower here, just nine or 10 celsius the top temperature. certainly a fresher feel compared to friday. 13 to 15 celsius further south, perhaps 16 across southwest england. but it's a fine end to the day for most, late spells of sunshine before cloud piles in across the north and west of scotland overnight, also into northern ireland and western parts of england and wales too. further east is where we'll have the clearer skies and once again a cold night, particularly for northeast scotland and northeast england, where we could see a few pockets of air frost. but this brief autumnal chill doesn't last for long. as we head into the weekend, we've got further frontal systems approaching from the west.
and with those, we'll see a return of the milder air across much of england, wales and northern ireland on saturday and eventually back up into scotland on sunday. so let's take a closer look at saturday, which overall will be a cloudier day compared to friday. most will be dry, the odd patch of rain, but some rain will arrive into northern ireland as we head into the late afternoon. temperatures starting to recover on saturday, but still a fairly cool feel across the far northeast of england and into scotland. and on sunday, this frontal system will slide its way across and begin to weaken — look what's happening out into the west. but on sunday, we're likely to see some showers, maybe some longer spells of rain. but come the afternoon, looks like the rain will begin to ease and we should see a few spells of sunshine developing. temperatures back up into the mid, if not high teens and starting to feel a little bit less chilly across scotland as well. but as we move into next week, it will be mild, yes, but we're also likely to see some frequent showers or
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