Nobel Literature laureate and Nigerian professor Wole Soyinka is one of the giants of African and world literature, and a passionate advocate and campaigner for human rights. His country recently held a general election which saw the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari re-elected as president. As Africa’s most populous country, does he believe Nigeria can lead the continent in the 21st century? Image: Wole Soyinka (Credit: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images)
Does Germany need to reboot its economic model? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur is in Berlin for an exclusive interview with Germany's Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. 30 years after unification, Germany is Europe's economic powerhouse - but could it be running out of gas? Growth is down, so are exports. Critics point to an economy dangerously reliant on the technologies of the past, rather than the future. Brexit tensions and economic nationalism in the US and China could be dampenin...more
How soon can Sudan become a democracy? HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Sudanese politician Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani, a former ally of deposed president Omer El Bashir - now a member of the opposition. Events have moved at breath taking speed in Sudan in the past few days. And a new military-led council is running the country. It says it will stay in place for two years. But the African Union is demanding it hand over to a transitional civilian administration in days and the protesters say t...more
Every so often a writer emerges with a voice so original, distinctive and strong that it is heard far beyond the confines of the book buying public. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Edouard Louis, who produced a raw, harrowing account of his own upbringing in a working class town in the north of France five years ago. Since then, he has written two more books drawn from his own experience of class, discrimination and violence in a fractured France. It’s tempting to see him as the voice of the...more
US-Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian was working for the Washington Post in Tehran when he was arrested in July 2014. He was accused of spying for the CIA, tried and convicted on vague charges. He was held for 544 days before a deal was done to release him in 2016. Three years after his release how is he coping with the effects of his imprisonment? Jason Rezaian is now banned from Iran for life but what does he think of the Trump administration's policy toward Iran now that it has labelled Iran’s...more
50 years on, what was the significance of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur is in Florida to speak to one of the crew members of the Apollo 11 mission. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most remarkable feats of exploration in the history of humankind, which landed men on the moon. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were setting foot on the moon’s surface, Michael Collins was piloting the command module which got them all home. Image: Michael Col...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to former US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who worked as a top ranking diplomat for three decades, serving five US presidents. The United States of America is still the most powerful nation on earth but the way it’s perceived by friends and rivals has changed radically in a generation. At the end of the Cold War American supremacy was unchallenged and Washington’s commitment to multilateral global engagement was unquestioned. Are we now in a very different era? I...more
Stephen Sackur talks to the Belgian MEP and member of the European Parliament's Brexit steering group, Philippe Lamberts. Will Britain get another extension to leave the EU?
Zeinab Badawi is in Hong Kong to speak to Bernard Chan who sits on the territory’s Executive Council. There have been complaints by pro-democracy activists that Beijing is increasing its control of the region and eroding its freedoms in contravention of the 1997 handover agreement between Britain and China. How much autonomy does Hong Kong really enjoy and what does the situation there tell us about the direction that China as a whole is moving?
Can literature help bridge America's racial divide? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Angie Thomas, a writer whose first novel, The Hate U Give, electrified America with its unflinching portrayal of a teenage black girl confronting police violence, inner city gang culture and a society rooted in discrimination. When it comes to issues of race and racism, the gap between America’s promise of equality and the reality of entrenched inequality seems depressingly wide. Can hope win out over fear an...more
Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that the President colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential election. Even though Mueller left open the question of obstruction of justice the President is claiming exoneration. George Papadopoulos was the first Trump campaign member to be convicted as a result of the Mueller probe. Are we any closer to the truth? (Photo: George Papadopoulos. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
MPs are currently trying to find a Brexit consensus in defiance of the wishes of Prime Minister May. How close to breaking point is Britain’s political system? Image: Kenneth Clarke (Credit: UK Parliament)
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is 70 years old this year, but despite its achievements and longevity, celebrations are muted. That’s because NATO's cohesion and long-term viability are being questioned as never before. Is the Secretary General simply papering over the organisation’s widening cracks? Image: Jens Stoltenberg (Credit: European Photopress Agency)
Is the World Bank braced for turbulence ahead? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the bank's interim President Kristalina Georgieva. For more than seven decades, the World Bank has been a pillar of international consensus forged in Washington – where ‘rich world’ money has been funnelled into poorer nations prepared to play by its rules. But maybe the consensus is breaking down. The World Bank is about to get a new Trump-nominated president who has been sharply critical of its past activities. ...more
Is UK policing fit for purpose? Stephen Sackur speaks to Michael Fuller, former chief constable of Kent police, and the only black Briton to have run one of the country’s regional forces. There has been an alarming rise in knife crime in the UK and this prompted a bout of soul searching about the causes and responses. Many of the questions focus on the police. Are they doing an effective job? How well do they handle the challenges of policing in disadvantaged and minority communities? (Photo: ...more
Is there a way out of Venezuela’s protracted agony? Stephen Sackur speaks to Juan Andres Mejia, Deputy of Venezuela’s Voluntad Popular party. For millions of Venezuelans every day is a struggle for survival. This is an oil rich country where the shops are empty, the power is out and healthcare is collapsing. And politics offers little hope of salvation. The Maduro Government is clinging to the trappings of power while the country’s other self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido leads mass protests ...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, a prize-winning Israeli novelist who brings a trained psychologist’s eye to compelling stories set in her home country. Hers is a world of moral ambiguity where truth, memory, right and wrong aren't necessarily what they seem. Does her work tell us something important about the Israeli psyche?
Mental health is not easy to talk about, least of all for young men, so often brought up to regard emotional vulnerability as weakness. In a special edition of HARDtalk filmed in the BBC’s Radio Theatre, Stephen Sackur speaks to Stephen Manderson who is better known as the British rapper Professor Green. He has been very honest about his own struggles with mental health issues and is determined to break the taboos around the subject. Can we all learn from Professor Green? (Photo: British rapper...more
Theresa May’s European parliamentary elections could be a defining moment in the struggle for the EU's future; a continent wide clash between the forces of liberalism and populism exists - perhaps best personified by French President Emmanuel Macron up against Hungary's Viktor Orban. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Italy’s former centre-left Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Politically he’s with Macron, but his country is led by populists sympathetic to Viktor Orban. Whose message is resonati...more
As the political debate over Brexit grows ever more polarised in the UK exposing deep fractures within the political parties, questions are also being asked about the how the machinery of government is working. Lord Ricketts, a former top diplomat, and national security adviser has very publicly condemned the current government’s handling of Brexit negotiations describing them as a fiasco and expressing the fear that Brexit will leave Britain permanently and significantly weakened. This public a...more
Is President Putin crushing press freedom in Russia? Since coming to power nearly 20 years ago, Vladimir Putin has been accused of gradually taking control of the media in Russia, and silencing those who would criticise him. Galina Timchenko was editor of Lentu.Ru until she was fired – she claims as a result of pressure from the Kremlin. She left Russia and with some of her former colleagues set up another news organisation - Meduza – in exile, in Latvia. It reaches millions of Russians. But ...more
Can Hungary's ruling party win Europe’s battle of ideas? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur is in Budapest to speak to the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Hungary is led by a nationalist, populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who believes his opposition to immigration and his defence of so called Christian values can transform not just Hungary but the whole of the European Union. Image: Péter Szijjártó (Credit: Robert Ghement/European Photopress Agency)
Does comedy have the power to transcend borders, religions and politics and can it build bridges between different communities who may mistrust and misunderstand one another? HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to one guest that thinks so. He is one of the Arab world’s most popular comedians- Nemr Abou Nassar. Brought up in the USA and Lebanon, he quit his job as an insurance broker to become a stand-up comic. He believes humour can change the world. But does he risk promoting misunderstanding a...more
What makes a great photograph? Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the great women pioneers of photo journalism, Marilyn Stafford. She was born in the United States but moved to Paris where she became the protégé of the brilliant Henri Cartier-Bresson. Like him, Stafford loved to capture intimate portraits of ordinary people. She has photographed everything from refugees fleeing war to models on the fashion catwalks. Now at 93 her work is being admired by a new generation.
Is there any political or diplomatic initiative capable of saving Yemen? The current limited ceasefire in Yemen between the warring parties has barely alleviated the suffering of the country’s people. The situation is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster and millions of people are in dire need of food and medical assistance. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to Yemen’s foreign minister Khaled Alyemany.
Is Kenya's ruling political partnership in danger of collapse? Kenya’s big ambitions to be the economic and infrastructure powerhouse of East Africa cannot be truly realised without political stability. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur talks to the country's Deputy President William Ruto about fragmentation and factionalism at the top of Kenyan politics. Image: William Ruto (Credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
Stephen Sackur is in Florida to speak to Cameron Kasky, who survived the Parkland School shooting in February 2018 and went on to co-found the March for our Lives movement. This organisation was committed to taking on America’s gun lobby and organised a demonstration in Washington D.C. that was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. But one year after the attack, has anything changed? Image: Cameron Kasky (Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for March For Our Lives)
What draws the novelist to such dark visions of femininity? Sarah Montague speaks to Leila Slimani, one of France’s most famous, and most controversial, authors. Her first book Adele, just published in English, shocked readers for breaking taboos about women and sex addiction. Infanticide is the subject of her second novel, Lullaby, which became a publishing sensation and has been translated into 40 languages. (Photo: Leila Slimani in the Hardtalk studio)
Ireland's former Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, negotiated the Belfast Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland. Sarah Montague asks if Brexit is a threat to that peace. Image: Bertie Ahern (Credit: Getty Images)
Up until last month, Christian Zerpa was a Justice on Venezuela’s Supreme Court; now he is a high-profile defector from the Maduro regime. With two men claiming to be the country’s President and protestors on the streets, Stephen Sackur asks: is Venezuela's socialist revolution in its death throes?
Is Florida the state where the American dream turned sour? HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur talks to the writer Carl Hiaasen whose hugely popular newspaper columns and darkly comic novels cast a jaundiced eye on the Sunshine State where he was born and continues to live. His writing is fueled by anger - at rotten politics, crooked business and environmental vandalism.
Laura Boldrini is a centre-left Italian politician. Until last year she was the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, the Italian Parliament’s lower chamber. She has received many online threats wishing her dead or raped. Zeinab Badawi asks the Sicilian MP about her experiences, and what her current situation tells us about the state of politics in Italy and Europe’s changing mood. (Photo: Laura Boldrini. Credit: European Photopress Agency)
Shaun Ley talk to former spy chief Amrullah Saleh, now a candidate for vice-president in Afghanistan. Seventeen years on after the American-led invasion, the US and the Taliban are at last talking peace. With 45,000 Afghans who served their country dead in the last five years, and the Taliban still fighting, isn't it time for this war exhausted country to give peace a chance? (Photo: Amrullah Saleh (R) is embraced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Credit: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images)
What drives an exclusive band of human beings to push beyond the boundaries of existing knowledge and experience? Hardtalk talks to Bertrand Piccard, the renowned explorer and aviator; the first to fly non-stop around the world in a hot air balloon. Right now, he’s using his own experience with solar powered aircraft to encourage sustainable tech innovation, but is decarbonising the global economy a challenge too far, even for this pioneer? (Photo: Bertrand Piccard. Credit: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Get...more
In little more than two months from now, Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union. That beguilingly simple statement is at the heart of a political crisis which deepens by the day. The ruling Conservative party is riven with splits; so too is the Labour opposition. If Parliament’s Brexit paralysis persists, then Britain will leave with no deal in place, no orderly transition, and the prospect of economic disruption. What will Labour do in this moment of political truth? HARDtalk's Stephe...more
Until last year, Malaysia hadn't experienced a real change of government in the sixty years since independence. Prime Minister Mahatir, sailing back into power in opposition colours, can remember when Malaysia threw off the British colonial yoke. He was in his thirties then. Now in his 90s, he says next year he'll hand over to a former rival in his 70s. Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Syed Saddiq, is the youngest cabinet minister in Asia at 26. Is it time to skip a generation?
Tanzania is one of Africa’s fastest growing nations economically and demographically. It’s also governed by one of the continent’s most controversial leaders, President John Magufuli. Tundu Lissu is one of his most prominent domestic opponents; at least, he was, until gunmen pumped more than a dozen bullets into his body in 2017. Lissu survived and, after recovering in hospital in Europe, he is determined now to rejoin the fight against a ruler he describes as a petty dictator. Image: Tundu Lis...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur is in Paris for an exclusive interview with the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. The political and economic mood in France has shifted dramatically in a few short months. Last summer President Macron was pushing ahead with his reform agenda claiming that France was back. Now he is besieged by critics, forced into retreat by the Yellow Vest movement and grappling with problems inside and outside the EU. Has the Macron moment already passed? (Photo: Bruno Le Ma...more
If the normal political rules applied to Donald Trump he would be holed up in the white house in a state of deep despair. He’s at war with Democrats in Congress, the federal government machine is partially shutdown, his relationship with Putin's Russia is under fierce scrutiny, and his standing at home and abroad continues to take heavy hits. And yet, every day he come out punching; raising the stakes, not retreating. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Mica Mosbacher, Republican strategist an...more
Britain is in the grip of Brexit. To leave, or to remain in the European Union: that question has divided families, generations, and communities. Everyone seems to be shouting, no-one seems to be listening. Well, that’s not quite true. Jonathan Coe has been listening to and writing compelling fiction about contemporary Britain for decades. Can this novelist, whose latest novel looks at the impact of Brexit, help us understand Brexit better than a parliament full of politicians? (Photo: Jonath...more
There is plenty of disturbing data pointing to a significant rise in overt anti-Semitism in Europe and the United States. What are the reasons and how should the Jewish community respond? How much reassurance and protection is being offered to Jews whose past has so often been written in blood? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow and president of the Conference of European Rabbis. Is rising anti-Semitism a symptom of a liberal democratic order that is ...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Len McCluskey, leader of Britain’s biggest trade union and biggest donor to the Labour party. Brexit is tearing at the fabric of British politics. Theresa May’s proposed deal is hated by many in her Conservative party. It may well be rejected in a parliamentary vote next week. But the opposition Labour party is riven by division too. A clear majority of Labour members seem to want a second referendum as a pathway to reversing Brexit. But party leader Jeremy Co...more
Dr William Frankland is a world renowned expert on allergies and one of the last remaining British survivors of the Japanese prisoner of war camps in World War Two. His is a death-defying, life-affirming story. But at the age of 106, what keeps him going? (Photo: William Frankland. Credit: John Stillwell/AFP/Getty Images)
Stephen Sackur speaks to the author Lee Child. Storytelling is one of the most basic human impulses. But few are the storytellers who can draw in millions of readers all over the world, fewer still those who can do it repeatedly. Lee Child’s first thriller featuring former military policeman Jack Reacher was published 21 years ago. His latest is his twenty third and his book sales have topped a hundred million. Fans speculate endlessly about what drives Jack Reacher, but what drives Lee Child? ...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Gulnur Aybet, senior adviser to President Erdogan of Turkey. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul put Turkey at the heart of a story about a shocking abuse of power and a total disregard for human rights. Turkey was the accuser, Saudi Arabia the accused. And yet for all its appeals to the international community, the Turkish Government itself faces condemnation for violations of basic human rights. When it comes to respect for u...more
It took former cricketer Imran Khan two decades of political slog to win power in Pakistan. It’s taken his critics just months to decide he’s out of his depth. They point to the country’s crippled economy, propped up by emergency loans despite the Prime Minister's promise to end the begging bowl culture. Is the PTI government strong enough to put Pakistan on a new course? Stephen Sackur speaks to Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Asad Umar. (Photo: Asad Umar. Credit: Reuters)
What drives musical creativity? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to songwriter Mark Knopfler. In the pantheon of rock ’n’ roll greats, a special place is reserved for guitar virtuosos – think Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page or Mark Knopfler, front man of Dire Straits, one of the biggest bands in the world in the 80s and 90s. Unlike so many other rock stars, Knopfler never fully embraced the world of excess and celebrity. He forged a solo career writing, performing and working with the likes of Bob Dyla...more
President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua has been in power for the past 11 years, but this year he has faced popular protests and demands that he step down. His response has been repression and defiance. Stephen Sackur is in Washington DC to speak to leading Nicaraguan dissident Felix Maradiaga, now leader of an opposition in exile. Is change finally coming to Nicaragua? Image: Felix Maradiaga (Credit: United Nations)
How do we decide what's important? How do we balance the priorities of the here and now with the big picture challenges that will determine the future of human civilisation? HARDtalk speaks to Sir Martin Rees, one of the world’s leading astrophysicists, who has recently been gazing into the future of our own planet. The next century, he says, will determine humanity's long term destiny; so are the prospects good, or grim? Image: Sir Martin Rees (Credit: Getty Images)
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a mutiny inside her own Conservative Party, which threatens to scupper her Brexit deal and quite possibly her premiership too. If she loses the key parliamentary vote on her deal in just a few days time, the UK could plunge into political chaos. The stakes could hardly be higher for Owen Paterson, a Conservative MP and former Minister intent on rejecting Mrs May’s Brexit. Is it too late to avert a damaging national crisis? Image: Owen Paterson (Cre...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Danuta Hübner, an influential Polish MEP who sits on the Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament. In just a few days time the UK parliament will make a fateful decision; to accept or reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal painfully negotiated with the EU. Right across Europe the vote will have huge repercussions. For all of the focus on Britain’s political crisis, this is Europe’s problem too. Is the EU ready to deal with potential Brexit chaos?
On December 11th, two and a half years of posturing, politicking and poisonous disagreement come to a head: the UK Parliament will vote on whether to accept the Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May has negotiated with the EU. Her case boils down to this: it’s the least worst option. But many in her own party, as well as the opposition, simply don’t buy it. Stephen Sackur speaks to former minister Jo Johnson, who resigned in order to oppose the deal. Does he have a credible alternative? Image...more
Can anyone or anything challenge Saudi authoritarianism? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Abdullah Alaoudh, a Saudi exile whose father is facing charges that carry a death sentence. President Trump says he doesn’t know whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and frankly he doesn’t seem to care. Safe to assume then that he also doesn’t care about the hundreds of clerics, intellectuals, and dissident activists locked up by MBS’s security f...more
Israel’s seemingly indestructible Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dodged another political bullet. After the recent flare up of violence in Gaza, his defence minister quit and another key cabinet hawk- Naftali Bennett, said he would go too if he wasn’t given the defence portfolio. The prime minister called his bluff, and Mr Bennett, who speaks to HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur has decided to stay put after all. What’s behind the chaos in Israeli politics? Are the right wing factions putting the...more
How do you stop prime ministers and presidents lining their own pockets with the country's wealth? US Judge Mark Wolf is lobbying for the creation of an international anti-corruption court. Judge Wolf knows the territory well, having helped expose the corrupt links between the FBI and a notorious gangster in Boston. He says countries that cannot or will not hold government thieves to account should let the court do the work. But when his own government suggests it wants international justice to ...more
Mohamed El-Erian’s career has been at the top end of economic advice. Along with writing several best-selling books, he spent 15 years at the International Monetary Fund, headed the investment giant PIMCO, advised President Obama on global development and is now the chief economic adviser at the insurance company, Allianz. The American economy is booming. Growth is well above 3% and unemployment is near a 50 year low. President Trump claims it’s the best it has ever been and has claimed the cred...more
In a special interview to start the BBC’s Beyond Fake News season, Stephen Sackur speaks to The Washington Post’s editor Martin Baron about the fractious relationship between the White House and the US media. Image: Martin Baron (Credit: Getty Images)
The US mid-term elections were a mixed picture for President Trump. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and that will allow them to block the President’s legislative agenda. As a leader Donald Trump has been accused of dividing the country and now Congress is split. Sarah Montague speaks to one of America’s best known and celebrated military leaders. General Stanley McChrystal oversaw the American war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since leaving the military he has studied a...more
It is an age old debate that engages scientists and philosophers; which is the more powerful influence on who we are, nature or nurture? In recent years, genetic science has done much to reframe the debate by highlighting the connections between our individual DNA and our traits and behaviours. At the forefront of this research is Robert Plomin, a professor of behavioural genetics at Kings College London. To what extent are our genes our destiny?
American politics in the era of President Donald Trump is a polarised, partisan arena. But still there are pillars of the US system of governance such as the constitution and the courts that are supposed to safeguard the liberty of all, irrespective of creed, colour or politics. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to David Cole, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union - the century-old guardian of citizen rights. Has the ACLU betrayed its mission by putting partisanship before prin...more
Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Jacob Zuma as leader of the ANC and President of South Africa with a promise to revive the country’s economy, tackle poverty and root out corruption. Maybe he underestimated the scale of the challenge, because South Africa is currently in recession, and popular discontent is rising. One key sector- energy, threatens the stability of the entire economy. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Deputy Energy Minister Thembisile Majola. Is the ANC incapable of delivering the cha...more
In just five months, Britain will be out of the European Union. But on what basis, and under whose leadership? And could it yet not happen? Brexit uncertainty is coursing through the veins of British politics leaving little room for anything else. The governing Conservative party is deeply divided, as is the Labour opposition. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to David Lammy - a prominent Labour advocate of another referendum on any final Brexit deal. But how would that help Britain move beyond i...more
Afghans will have to wait until next month to get the results of last Sunday’s parliamentary election – but in one sense the verdict is already in; the ballot again exposed widespread insecurity and the absence of government control in many parts of the country. Stephen Sackur speaks to President Ashraf Ghani’s recently appointed National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib. Has the US Government decided to engage with the Taliban regardless of the wishes of the Afghan Government? (Photo: Afghanis...more
Turkey’s President Erdogan says the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a savage crime meticulously planned in Riyadh. He wants all those responsible to stand trial in Turkey. As the pressure on the house of Saud mounts, will the kingdom’s partners in the West take punitive action? Stephen Sackur speaks to Alan Duncan, Minister of State in the UK Foreign Office. Has the time come for Britain to stop lucrative arms exports to Saudi Arabia? (Photo: Alan Duncan MP in the Hardtalk studio...more
What gives each of us our sense of who we are? At the most personal level we all have our own family background. In the most general sense we are, all of us, part of the human species. But it’s the stuff in between that puts us in groups or tribes and often motivates our behaviour. Gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality- these are the persistent fault lines that seem to separate us from them. Stephen Sackur speaks to Kwame Antony Appiah, an academic and public intellectual who says we need to...more
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Vice President of the small southern African state of Malawi, Saulos Chilima- a former business executive turned politician. Mr. Chilima was President Mutharika’s running mate in elections in 2014. Now he has left the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and says he will run against him in presidential elections next year to - as he put it - ‘save the country from destruction and corruption’. Why is he criticising a government of which he still is a membe...more
The Brexit endgame is underway. This is the week the UK Government and the European Union earmarked for agreeing a deal on the divorce and outlining a future relations. But on the eve of another EU summit, there is still talk of an impasse- focusing on the Irish border and Northern Ireland’s status after Brexit. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Mairead McGuinness, an Irish MEP and vice president of the European parliament. Is Brexit about to get very messy and very costly? Image: Mairead McG...more
The United States of America is a republic divided. The Trump presidency has exposed fissures that run along lines of race, gender, education, and culture. In next month’s mid-term elections the fight for political power will be between the two traditional parties, Republican and Democrat, but perhaps a different sort of activism is needed to deliver real change? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Kimberlé Crenshaw - a professor of law, a social activist and influential advocate of the idea of ...more
The Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Amid a welter of speculation and lurid allegations, a cloud of suspicion now hangs over the Saudi Government. The record of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, the Kingdom’s de facto ruler, suggests a determination to silence all criticism. Stephen Sackur speaks to Saudi academic Madawi al-Rasheed and former senior US diplomat, Nicholas Burns. Is ‘MBS’ taking his kingdom down a dangerous path...more
Almost two billion of the world’s people are Muslim, and yet half of them, the female half, have traditionally played little or no role in the institutions of their faith. That is changing, albeit very slowly. Stephen Sackur speaks to Sherin Khankan who became Scandinavia’s first female Imam when she opened the Mariam mosque in Copenhagen. Her focus on women’s rights in a 21st Century brand of Islamic practice has stirred controversy and debate far beyond Denmark’s borders. Is Islam ready to emp...more
Tania Bruguera's pieces and immersive performances have attracted international acclaim but prolonged harassment from the Cuban authorities. Is she artist, activist or both?
Tania Bruguera's pieces and immersive performances have attracted international acclaim but prolonged harassment from the Cuban authorities. Is she an artist, activist or both? (Photo: Cuban artist Tania Bruguera poses in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. Credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to the world’s oldest head of government, Malaysia's Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. He came back to office in May after election victory against his own former ruling coalition. The country has been mired in allegations of corruption swirling around the previous government, which have dented confidence at home and abroad. First time round, he was Prime Minister for more than 20 consecutive years until 2003. Can Mahathir Mohamad leave his own chequered past behi...more
Is the left losing the political argument in Europe? Stephen Sackur speaks to Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s radical leftist finance minister at the height of the economic crisis, and an advocate of a new global progressive politics. The old certainties in European politics are crumbling. Voters seem fed up with the long established supremacy of the parties of centre right and centre left. The politics of identity and raw emotion have fuelled populist insurgencies from Italy to Sweden to eastern Eur...more
Is Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit strategy in deep trouble? Stephen Sackur speaks to Lord Howard, former Conservative leader. Britain's Conservative party is about to hold its annual conference; it promises to be a fascination spectacle, with the party riven by deep divisions over Brexit; divisions which threaten to derail Theresa May's Brexit strategy and perhaps her premiership as well. At stake is not just the future of a venerable political party, but the future of Britain. (Photo: Lor...more
What is journalism for? To inform and bear witness, uncover inconvenient truths and hold power to account? Those are surely values most of us share, but have we collectively lost faith and trust in the news and those who report it? Stephen Sackur speaks to Alan Rusbridger- who edited the UK’s Guardian newspaper for 20 years in the midst of a digital revolution, which transformed the news business forever. If the established media is no longer trusted, who is to blame? (Photo: Alan Rusbridger in...more
Will post Brexit Britain be left behind in the race to reach new scientific frontiers? Stephen Sackur speaks to Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK space agency. Britain’s exit from the European Union has generated intense scrutiny of borders, tariffs and trade. But the shock waves will spread much further. A complex web of scientific collaboration and partnership is in jeopardy – most obviously in the field of space and satellite technology. The UK stands to be frozen out of the Galileo p...more
Deploying troops overseas, whether to fight or protect, is a costly business. It is one of the reasons why throughout history, wars and long term military commitments have often been contracted out to private operators – mercenaries – whose methods, personnel and costs can be very different. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Erik Prince, the founder of the Blackwater security contractor used by the US Government in Iraq until things went badly wrong. A decade on, he is pitching to replace the ...more
'Sense the party's thought, obey the party's words, follow the party's lead' are the words printed in red on a building at an internment camp in Xinjiang, China. It is one of the country's wealthiest provinces, and also one of its most restive. It has one and a half per cent of China's population, yet over 20 per cent of its arrests. Meanwhile, there are reports of over a million people currently in detention. The Government says the camps are needed to "re-educate" the people. Nury Turkel, chai...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur is in Italy to speak to Matteo Salvini, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and arguably the most important populist politician in Europe today. He has risen to power with strident denunciations of immigration and the European Union. What does his success mean for Italy and Europe? Image: Matteo Salvini (Credit: Reuters)
Does Spain's new government have any fresh solutions for the country's problems? HARDtalk speaks to Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell about a tumultuous year for the country, dominated by the prolonged political stand-off in Catalonia and a series of scandals in Madrid which eventually saw the centre-right government fall and the socialists take over. Image: Josep Borrell (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Stephen Sackur is in northern Italy for the annual discussion of global politics known as the Ambrosetti Forum. High on the agenda for many European politicians are the challenges posed by Vladimir Putin's Russia. Arkady Dvorkovich was until this spring Russia's Deputy Prime Minister. Amid the mutual suspicion and the sanctions, is there any way to avert deepening hostility between Russia and the West? Image: Arkady Dvorkovich (Credit: Reuters)
Has the internet left every one of us dangerously exposed? HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to Michael Chertoff, former US Secretary of Homeland Security during the Bush Administration and now a leading thinker on cyber-security. Most of us have embedded the internet and smart technology in our lives. We might like to believe we’re autonomous digital citizens, but what if our behaviours are now being monitored, and modified by private and state actors over which we have no control? Image: Mi...more
In the turbulent recent history of the Middle East, has there ever been a time when Israel has seemed more powerful – militarily, diplomatically and economically? Israel has the fulsome support of the Trump Administration and also has common strategic interests with Saudi Arabia and Arab nations preoccupied with perceived threats from Iran. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon. Is Israel making wise choices from its position of strength? Image: Danny ...more
In troubled times like these, does art really matter? Stephen Sackur is in Ramallah, more than five decades after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began, to meet perhaps the most renowned Palestinian artist of his generation, Suleiman Mansour. His paintings have come to define a sense of Palestinian identity.
The pictures are chilling – a handful of people in the German city of Chemnitz giving Nazi salutes. They were among thousands who took to the streets to demonstrate against immigrants after an Iraqi and a Syrian were arrested following a fatal stabbing. Some of the protesters chased down people they believed were immigrants. All this comes as politicians struggle to agree how to handle the migrant crisis in Europe. HARDtalk speaks to German MEP David McAllister, who chairs the European Parliame...more
Zeinab Badawi is in Washington for an exclusive interview with the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. He has been holding talks with President Trump at the White House on trade, investment and security. But how can President Kenyatta invite investors to Kenya when the country remains mired in corruption which pervades all walks of life and enriches the few at the expense of the many? Image: Uhuru Kenyatta, pictured in October 2017 (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Could a trade war escalate between the US and some of its trading partners? It’s not an easy time to be involved in international trade, with the world’s two biggest economies- the US and China trading insults and imposing tariffs on each other. Beijing says it is reporting Washington to the World Trade Organisation. The current tensions were sparked by President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on billions of dollars on imports from China, the EU, Canada and Mexico. HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi s...more
Stephen Sackur is in Bogotá for an exclusive interview with Colombia’s new President Iván Duque. He is a youthful centre-right technocrat who faces momentous decisions early in his Presidency. Will he uphold his predecessor’s fragile peace deal with the FARC guerrilla group? How will he respond to the economic and humanitarian crisis unfolding in neighbouring Venezuela? President Duque is a relative political novice in a volatile region and he is about to be sorely tested. Image: Iván Duque (...more
World figures have been paying tribute to the former UN secretary-general and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan, who has died at the age of 80. HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi spoke to him in April at a special event to mark his birthday and the tenth anniversary of the Kofi Annan Foundation. In a career spanning six decades at the United Nations, he held several senior positions including two terms as Secretary-General. There were high points such as the award of the Nobel Peace Prize as well as tragic events...more
Never before in the history of humankind have we had so much information, so many facts at our finger tips, and yet much of what we think we know is wrong. What on earth is going on? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Bobby Duffy, social scientist, opinion pollster and managing director of the Ipsos Mori Social Research Institute. How can we the people make informed decisions if we're not truly informed?
A tiny proportion of Muslim women in Britain wear the burqa or niqab; forms of dress which keep the face partially of fully covered. Nonetheless, those women find themselves at the heart of a sometimes bitter argument about religion, values and tolerance in Western society. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the Islamic scholar and imam- Taj Hargey, who has long stirred controversy amongst fellow Muslims by condemning the burqa and demanding a new form of Islam. Will his ideas ever gain tractio...more
When Iran’s President Rouhani was convincingly re-elected last year, Iranians seemed hopeful their living standards might improve. However, inflation, poverty, water shortages and corruption are all things that appear to be getting worse. Now, Iran is again facing US sanctions after President Trump walked away from the nuclear deal with Tehran. Stephen Sackur speaks to Iranian political analyst and erstwhile nuclear talks adviser Mohamed Marandi. Is Iran on the brink of an economic and political...more
The Christian religion is divided on issues of sexuality; not least the degree of acceptance and inclusion offered to gay men and women of faith. Amid the fierce theological arguments are stories of individuals torn between their faith and sexual orientation. Stephen Sackur speaks to Vicky Beeching, a popular Christian singer-songwriter, turned public advocate for LGBT rights, whose remarkable story has seen her described as one of the most influential Christians of her generation. Has she found...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Dutch MEP, Sophie Int’ Veld, deputy to the European parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator. British Prime minister Theresa May is running out of time to avoid the Brexit cliff edge. Her proposals for a post Brexit trade deal with Brussels got short shrift from the EUs chief negotiator – she seems to be hoping to get more joy from some of Europe’s national leaders. But with every passing day the prospect of a no deal, potentially chaotic Brexit grows more real. Is Brexit br...more
Anger is a powerful force in politics and there's a lot of it about. Donald Trump, Brexit and a host of populist movements have been fuelled by anger with the way things are. Where does it come from? How best to respond? One much discussed, provocative perspective comes not from a politician but the Canadian clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson, whose defence of traditional values has won him a worldwide following. Is his diagnosis liberating or dangerous? (Photo: Dr Jordan Peterson. Cr...more
It was front page news around the world when a mass grave was discovered at a Mother and Baby Home in Ireland. The remains of almost 800 babies were found. But research by Paul Redmond showed that this was only "the tip of the iceberg". He collected evidence of high death rates at homes for illegitimate children across Ireland and also claimed the catholic nuns who ran them were trading in adoptions; being paid to send children to the United States for adoption often against the mother's wishes ...more
The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Zeid Al Hussein, is stepping down in August after four years in the post having said he doesn’t want a second term. In an exclusive interview the veteran Jordanian diplomat tells Zeinab Badawi why he didn’t want to stay in the job. After being criticised for being too outspoken – especially about the US president Donald Trump’s policies – was he too vocal to be effective in promoting human rights globally, or is that just what the job demands? Im...more
In August it will be 20 years since more than 200 people were killed when simultaneous truck bomb explosions were carried out on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Zeinab Badawi speaks to the acclaimed Kenyan film-maker Wanuri Kahiu who made an award winning film on the tragedy. Her latest film depicting a lesbian love affair however has been banned in Kenya. What does her film making tell us about African society today and how they are viewed by wider audiences? (Photo: Director Wanuri ...more
Is Australia redefining what it means to be a good bloke? Stephen Sackur speaks to internationally acclaimed author Tim Winton whose prolific output of fiction is rooted deep in the soil and the shoreline of his native western Australia. His latest novel, The Shepherds Hut, focuses on a troubled young man wrestling with demons, and it comes at an opportune time with the Me Too movement demanding an end to ingrained sexism, misogyny and toxic masculinity.) (Photo: Tim Winton in the Hardtalk stud...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Elmar Brok, MEP - the longest serving member of the European parliament and a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The EU is bedeviled by problems that simply won’t go away – from Brexit to immigration to an increasingly vexed relationship with the Trump Administration. Germany is the EU’s most powerful economy, but is its political clout on the wane? (Photo: Elmar Brok prior to the beginning of the EU foreign ministers meeting on the constitution in Brussels, 2004...more
There are growing concerns that India, the world’s most populous democracy is in the grip of a divisive brand of populism. The ruling BJP Hindu nationalist party has been accused by the country’s 180million plus Muslims of treating them as second class citizens. India may be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women because of the high risk of sexual violence. Stephen Sackur speaks to India’s Law and Justice Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is at the centre of many of these s...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Hameed Haroon, CEO of the Dawn Media Group. In just a few days’ time Pakistanis will go to the polls to elect a new Government. Democracy rather than military dictatorship is becoming a habit. Or is it? Accusations are flying inside the country of military meddling - intimidation of critical media voices, and tacit support for friendly politicians. Is Pakistan's democracy in danger? (Photo: Hameed Haroon, CEO of the Dawn Media Group)
How far will Trump take his love of disruption? Stephen Sackur speaks to Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media Inc. President Donald Trump seems to value his gut instinct more than expert advice; and appears to respect raw power more than traditional alliances. This is not a President ready to make nice with Europe simply because of shared values. Amid the constant churn of Administration staff his informal advisers seem to know him best - like long time Trump ally and conservative media mogul...more
For nearly three decades the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been locked in a bitter dispute with neighbouring Greece over its name. There’s a Greek province called Macedonia. Last month the two countries signed a historic accord to change the name of this small Balkan state to the Republic of North Macedonia - subject to a referendum. The agreement paves the way for Macedonia to join the EU and Nato. This would be a welcome step for a country that is one of the poorest in Europe. But ...more
HARDtalk goes to the Hay Literary Festival in Wales where we are joined by an audience to meet a world-renowned specialist in death. For many of us, it is the hardest subject of all to think and talk about - yet for author Sue Black it is the very business of life. She's a professor of forensic anthropology whose ability to read the clues and stories in human remains has made her a world renowned investigator. What does she see when she looks death in the face? Image: Sue Black (Credit: BBC)
HARDTalk is in Jerusalem, an ancient city which arguably stirs more passion, argument and hostility than any other. Israel claims all of it as its eternal, undivided capital - a claim at odds with international law and much world opinion, but boosted by President Trump's decision to move the US embassy there. Stephen Sackur talks to Jerusalem's two term mayor Nir Barkat. Can Israel conclusively win the struggle for Jerusalem? Image: Nir Barkat (Credit: Getty Images)
Sarah Montague speaks to Ben Rhodes who was Deputy National Security Adviser for President Barack Obama. During his time at the White House he developed such a close bond with the President that he earned a reputation for being able to anticipate his thinking and administration insiders described him as the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from Obama himself. So how does he feel about the new occupant of the White House and what he has done with their legacy? ...more
The internet is perhaps the defining technological advance of the last fifty years. It has opened up a new world of possibilities, but what if it also represents an existential threat to humanity? That is the alarming possibility raised by computer scientist Jaron Lanier. He is no tech-phobic sensationalist; he is a Silicon Valley insider who was a hugely influential pioneer in Virtual Reality and a consultant to some of the biggest tech giants. In what ways are we sowing the seeds of our own de...more
Since the beginning of 2018, the Iranian Government has locked up a number of environmental scientists and campaigners. One respected conservationist was found hanged in his cell in what the authorities said was a suicide. What is going on? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Kaveh Madani, a scientist invited back to Iran from an academic post in London to be deputy head of the Environment Department. He got caught up in the crackdown and fled Iran in April. Why has environmental activism become...more
When historians write their versions of Donald Trump’s extraordinary ascent to the Presidency, prominence will surely be given to the former Director of the FBI James Comey. He was a Republican hired by a Democratic President, whose handling of two key investigations; into Hillary Clinton’s emails and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, polarised America. His recent memoir was a withering condemnation of the man who fired him, President Trump. But has James Comey sullied hi...more
One issue more than any other that is polarising European politics and dividing the European Union is migration. In Germany, it threatens Angela Merkel’s grip on power, whilst from Italy to Austria and Hungary and Poland, it is driving policies which threaten to smash any continental consensus. Stephen Sackur speaks to Karin Kneissl - the foreign minister in Austria's right wing, nationalist coalition government. Are Europeans finding their authentic voice or is a dangerous brand of populism...more
Can Kazakhstan move beyond one party rule? Stephen Sackur talks to the chairman of the Kazakh Senate, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The country's shiny new capital city, Astana, tells you plenty about the country’s oil wealth and its big ambition to be Central Asia’s regional powerhouse. But all of this cannot mask a nagging question - what happens in this country when the long serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev finally leaves power? (Photo: Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (L), chairman of the Senate of K...more
Mary Lou McDonald is the leader of Sinn Féin - the party of Irish Republicans in the Irish Republic and in Northern Ireland. Ireland is going through a period of extraordinary change. Social attitudes have shifted profoundly on abortion, gay rights and the role of the Catholic Church. Now Brexit poses a challenge to the island, north and south. Can Sinn Féin take advantage? (Photo: Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald after delivering a keynote speech for the first time during the annual par...more
The new Ethiopian government is making dramatic reforms in the country: the state of emergency had been lifted, the military and intelligence chiefs have been replaced and opposition politicians have been released en masse from prison. One of those released is Andargachew Tsege a prominent opposition leader from the organisation Patriotic Ginbot 7. He had been on death row in an Ethiopian jail for four years. Will his group renounce violence and will he go back to Ethiopia to help build the coun...more
Rodrigo Duterte has been President of the Philippines for two years. His war on drugs has cost thousands of lives, with his human rights record attracting international condemnation, and prompting charges of authoritarianism. Yet he has an approval rating unheard of in most democracies. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to former Chief Justice of the Philippines- Maria Lourdes Sereno, who was removed from the Supreme Court by her fellow justices. Was that a victory against official corruption or ...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive officer of the Afghan unity Government. The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered an unconditional ceasefire in the army's military campaign against the Taliban. But Afghans can be forgiven for being sceptical. The pause is for just two weeks. The Taliban has given no sign it will respond in kind; and the broader security, economic and political condition of the country remains parlous. Does he and President Ghani have a coherent pl...more
With Brexit the main preoccupation for politicians in Britain, the opposition Labour Party has announced a shift in policy which would see the UK retaining most of the elements of its current relationship with the EU. It wants Britain to have full access to the single market and stay a member of the customs union. But that does not go far enough for some staunchly pro-EU members of the party who want Britain to stay part of the European Economic Area. HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Labour ...more
It's hard to imagine how the US-Russia relationship could be any more dysfunctional. Each accuses the other of consistently malign action and intent. 'Worse than the Cold war' was the way it was described by Russia's foreign minister. And yet, the two presidents, Trump and Putin, appear to have some regard for each other. What does it all mean? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to former US ambassador to Russia, and Obama adviser- Michael McFaul. How deep does the poison in the relationship run? ...more
The National Assembly in Pakistan has been dissolved ahead of the general election in late July. Just as eyes were turned on him when he was a top international cricket star, much attention is focussed on Imran Khan who abandoned sport for the far less gentlemanly arena of Pakistani politics. He established his own party- the Movement for Justice Party, more than 20 years ago and says he wants to create a new Pakistan. In the last elections in 2013, his party came third. So can he make it to the...more
Sarah Montague speaks to biochemist Jennifer Doudna. Crispr Cas9 has been described as the greatest biological breakthrough in decades. It is a gene editing tool and the hopes that rest on it are immense - that it can be used to cure cancer and other intractable diseases, stop mosquitoes carrying malaria, create drought resistant crops and food that does not rot, even that it can recreate extinct animals. What does she make of the breathtaking pace of innovation since her discovery and does she ...more
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the British writer and commentator Ed Husain, who believes the gulf between Islam and the West is widening and that westerners see the religion as something to be feared rather than understood. He spent several years as a radical Islamist and then turned his back on jihadism and has written about his own personal journey as well as trying to explain why people join extremist groups. Now he is calling on moderate Muslims to reclaim their religion from the extremists. But ...more
For more than fifty years Les Hinton was the right hand man of one of the most powerful press barons of modern times - Rupert Murdoch. Hinton was a top executive at News Corp during some of its most tumultuous times. He has just lifted the lid on his time at the corporation in a new memoir. How much personal responsibility does he bear for some of the excesses at News International like the phone hacking scandal in the UK and did he have a career he can be proud of?
Zeinab Badawi speaks to Egyptian activist and writer Dr Nawal El Saadawi. She has been described as the Arab world's leading feminist. She is a medical doctor, writer, activist, campaigner and outspoken political critic. She was banned from speaking in the Egyptian media and imprisoned under the government of President Sadat for her outspoken views. How much freedom of expression is there currently under President Sisi? And what about the status of women in Egypt today? (Photo: Dr Nawal El Sa...more
What does Ireland's abortion referendum say about the country today? On 25 May Irish voters face a choice - by way of a referendum they can either keep a constitutional amendment which outlaws abortion in all but the most exceptional circumstances, or they can change their constitution and pave the way for the legalisation of abortion. Given Ireland's history, culture and religion it is a fierce debate. Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur is joined by two campaigners - Sinead Redmond, an advocate of expan...more
Can anyone clean up Brazilian politics? HARDtalk’s Shaun Ley speaks to former Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff. Brazil was one of the success stories of the early 21st century – under her mentor, President Lula da Silva, rapid economic growth was combined with radical redistribution of money to the poor. Dilma Rousseff, who was tortured under the military dictatorship, succeeded him, but under her presidency the economy faltered. In 2016 she was forced from office accused of fiddling the figu...more
In a special edition of the programme, Zeinab Badawi is in the Turkish capital of Ankara to speak to the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He’s busy preparing for elections which he has called a year and a half early. Is he trying to preempt a possible slide in his popularity, or simply trying to tighten his grip on power? And how worried is he about escalating tension in the Middle East? This episode was recorded on Thursday 10th May 2018.
President Donald Trump has blown a superpower sized hole in the international agreement designed to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. The US has given up on carrot and stick diplomacy with Tehran, in favour of just stick. So what now? The other signatories to the nuclear deal are trying to keep it alive, but ominously in the Middle East, tension is rising; most particularly between Israel and Iran. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely - how close are ...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Ukraine’s Health Minister, Ulana Suprun. Four years after the Maidan revolution, Ukraine is a country of unfulfilled expectations. Huge external pressures remain - not least Moscow's hostility - but many of the problems are internal; stalled reforms, political in-fighting and endemic corruption. Ulana Suprun, a Ukrainian-American doctor, is now the country’s health minister trying to drive through big reform of the healthcare system. It's a hugely symbolic tes...more
Elections are due in Pakistan in July and running for a seat in the National Assembly is the heir to the country's main political dynasty. HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari - son of Benazir Bhutto, the two time prime minister of Pakistan who was assassinated in 2007. He is Chairman of the Pakistan People's Party - founded by his grandfather 50 years ago. The PPP has seen its popularity plummet in recent years - can Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari restore its fortunes and turn arou...more
How is the European Commission coping with an increasingly fractious Europe? Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova at the headquarters of the EU's executive body, the Commission - the engine room of the EU. But how smoothly is that engine running? For all the focus on Brexit, perhaps the bigger challenge to EU unity comes from a growing fault-line between east and west within the European club. (Photo: EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Eq...more
The recent US-led missile strikes on several military installations in Syria changed precious little in the country's horrific civil war. On the ground, the bloodshed, displacement and suffering continue. Regional and global divisions over Syria are as deep as ever. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to a Syrian politician close to the Assad regime. Fares Shehabi is a powerful Aleppo business leader and self-styled 'independent' MP. Is Syria as we knew it broken beyond repair? Image: Fares Sheh...more
Can President Barrow live up to people’s expectations? HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to President Adama Barrow of The Gambia who has been attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. He came to office in January 2017 after his electoral victory over the incumbent Yahya Jammeh who ruled over The Gambia with an iron first for more than 20 years. President Barrow found a bankrupt nation, scarred by years of living under fear and intimidation. With nearly half the population ...more
HARDtalk is in Geneva, the headquarters of the Kofi Annan Foundation which marks its tenth anniversary this year. Zeinab Badawi speaks to the former Secretary-General of the United Nations as he reaches his eightieth birthday, in front of an audience. In a career spanning six decades at the United Nations, he has held several senior positions including two terms as Secretary-General until 2006. There were high points such as the award of the Nobel Peace Prize as well as tragic events such as the...more
Stephen Sackur is in Moscow for an exclusive interview with Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. In recent days the world has been alarmed by the very real possibility of a direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia. Syria is of course where the current tensions are highest, and where missiles have been fired, but the hostility is deep-seated on a number of fronts. We’ve had diplomatic expulsions, sanctions, there’s talk of a new cold war. What is Russia’s next move?
Twenty years ago the historic Good Friday Agreement was signed in Northern Ireland which put an end to three decades of bloody sectarian conflict. Politicians from Northern Ireland, the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the US who were involved in the marathon negotiations will mark the anniversary this month. Monica McWilliams represented the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition then, and continues to play a significant role in post conflict Northern Ireland. Given the uncertainty that hangs over N...more
US military action against President Assad's forces in Syria seems imminent. President Trump told the Russians- Assad's military backers - to "get ready" by way of a tweet. A spiral of events which began with an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian army is heading towards a dangerous confrontation between Washington and Moscow. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Philip Gordon- Barak Obama's senior adviser on the Middle East in 2013 when Assad's use of chemical weapons came close to pr...more
Politicians will always tell us they're tough on crime, but the evidence suggests they find it easier to be tough on murderers, muggers and robbers than they do on corporate white collar criminals engaged in fraud, and money laundering. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the outgoing head of Britain's Serious Fraud Office, David Green. For six years he has been out to apprehend corporate criminals; but has he ever been given the tools and the backing to do the job properly?
The outside world tends to view Scandinavia as a haven of prosperity, progressive politics and social liberalism, but look closer and you find a powerful strand of right-wing populism fuelled by a suspicion of immigration. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Siv Jensen- Norway’s Finance Minister and the leader of the right-wing Progress Party, a partner in Norway’s Coalition Government for the past five years. How does populism work in a country rated one of the world’s richest and happiest? ...more
The best art helps us to see and feel in new ways - it can challenge and provoke. Michael Rakowitz uses sculpture, installation, and site specific experiences to transmit a vision which reflects his Iraqi Jewish heritage and preoccupations which range from war to family, to food. He has made it his mission to test the boundaries of what we think of as art and has won plaudits around the world. What does his work tell us about the state we are in? (Photo: Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz...more
In 2010 Siddhartha Mukherjee wrote a book about the history of cancer which won the Puliter Prize the following year. He's also a practising cancer physician in New York. Hundreds of billions of dollars is poured into cancer treatment and research every year. We understand it better and have more effective tools to combat it than ever before, yet it kills millions of people each year. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Siddhartha Mukherjee. His book, The Emperor of Maladies - a self-styled biog...more
Stephen Sackur talks to America's Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto. Is the US in danger of losing friends and influence in Africa?
Stephen Sackur is in Geneva to talk to the head of the World Trade Organisation Roberto Azevêdo. The WTO is supposed to oversee free and fair global trade but right now, the organisation risks looking impotent and even irrelevant. President Donald Trump is making good on his promises on tariffs and protectionism and the Chinese are threatening to respond in kind. What can the WTO do to avoid a global trade war? (Photo: Roberto Azevedo at the second day of the summit of G7 nations 2015. Credit...more
In culturally conservative, male dominated Pakistan, can an actress be an agent of change? Stephen Sackur speaks to the country's biggest female movie star Mahira Khan. Women in the movie industry have taken the lead in a movement for equality, respect and an end to abusive male behaviour. The mantra #MeToo has become a cultural phenomenon in the United States but how far can it reach? (Photo: Pakistani actress Mahira Khan at the Beirut International Awards Festivals (BIAF), 2017. Credit: Anwar...more
What is Trump’s brand of disruption doing to US foreign policy? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Bill Richardson, former Clinton cabinet secretary and one time US North Korea emissary. The next couple of months will present President Donald Trump with foreign policy choices that could define his presidency. A summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is looming, so too a decision on whether to dump the nuclear deal with Iran. And never far from the surface, how to handle relations w...more
In the battle for Turkey’s future and its soul, who is winning? More than 150 journalists are currently in prison in Turkey. President Erdogan’s government stands accused of an all-out assault on freedom of expression. Stephen Sackur talks to Can Dündar, former editor of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, who has experienced imprisonment, life threatening violence and exile in the last couple of years after publishing material which infuriated the Turkish president. (Photo: Can Duendar, Turkish jo...more
Can the DRC find a path to prosperity? The Democratic Republic of Congo boasts assets that ought to be the envy of Africa – vast productive lands, abundant natural resources and a youthful population. But DRC’s potential remains unfulfilled thanks to political instability, communal violence and corruption. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to the country’s Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala – a one-time opponent of President Kabila who now serves him.
Are journalists still able to tell the truth to power? On March 16th 1968 US soldiers committed a war crime during the Vietnam war. More than 500 men, women and children were systematically slaughtered in the village of May Lai. The terrible truth was exposed thanks to the work of investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to him about a lifetime of reporting that has been punctuated by scoops, prizes and plentiful confrontations with the powers that be.
Can a movement founded on a hashtag really change the world? HARDtalk’s Sarah Montague speaks to Patrisse Khan-Cullors, the woman who first coined the slogan Black Lives Matter. She used it as a hashtag on a friend's Facebook post back in 2013. Since then Black Lives Matter has taken off as a political movement around the world. She’s now written about her own experience growing up in a poor black family in California, and how she’s convinced that if racism and state violence against African Ame...more
Why does migration frighten so many of us? HARDtalk speaks to writer Mohsin Hamid whose novels have explored cultural, economic and religious tensions between East and West. Globalisation is a trend based on movement - of money goods, ideas and people - across continents and national borders. In a world of glaring inequality, it has stirred a powerful backlash manifested in the rise of nationalism and identity politics. This clash of human impulses is fertile territory for the Pakistani novelist...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to, Boris Titov, leader of Russia’s Party of Growth. Seven candidates are challenging Vladimir Putin in this month's Russian presidential election; but none of them has much hope of victory. One of the seven 'other' candidates - Boris Titov - is a Putin appointee as government ombudsman for business. Does Russia need reform rather than authoritarianism? Image: Boris Titov (Credit: BBC)
Stephen Sackur speaks to Ahmad Tibi. He is a veteran Arab Israeli MP and one time adviser to Yasser Arafat. President Donald Trump claimed he could broker the deal of the century between Israel and the Palestinian. Instead he seems to have entrenched the hostility after recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Is the Arab-Israeli experience a sign that the status quo is the only viable response to the conflict between Jews and Arabs? (Photo: Ahmad al-Tibi, speaks to the media at a Jerusalem...more
In September 1957 nine African American students, including Elizabeth Eckford, entered the all white Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, thereby breaking for the first time the racial segregation barrier in US schools. They became known as the Little Rock Nine. Two years earlier the US Supreme Court had ruled segregation in schools to be unconstitutional. The first time Elizabeth Eckford tried to enter Little Rock Central High she was turned away and the image of her surrounded by a hos...more
It is ten years since Kosovo became Europe’s newest nation. It has not been an easy decade. Relations with neighbouring Serbia remain hostile and international recognition has been patchy with Kosovo is still struggling to get on top of endemic poverty and corruption. Stephen Sackur speaks to Ramush Haradinaj – Kosovo’s Prime Minister. Can Kosovo escape its troubled history? Image: Ramush Haradinaj (Credit: BBC)
The HARDtalk programme, like so many others in the churn of 24/7 news tends to focus on people and places facing problems and challenges. More often than not we hold the powerful to account for things that went wrong, not right. Are we missing the bigger picture about the world we live in? Stephen Sackur speaks to the psychologist and writer, Steven Pinker. His new book, Enlightenment Now, is a paean to human progress driven by reason and science. How convincing are his reasons to be cheerful? ...more
Who or what can deliver South Sudan's people from despair? Its first six and half years as an independent country have been an unmitigated disaster. A brutal civil conflict, a broken economy, famine and epic levels of corruption - on any and every measure the world’s newest country is failing. This comes despite some of the largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa. HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to South Sudan's Minister of Petroleum, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth. Image: Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth (Cr...more
Gross misconduct and sexual exploitation in the humanitarian aid industry - what's gone wrong and why? Oxfam is at the centre of a storm of allegations of abusive behaviour, shoddy recruitment and management cover up. Now the entire aid sector is under scrutiny for safeguarding failures which appear to go back decades. Stephen Sackur speaks to Amira Malik Miller, an experienced aid worker who has witnessed misconduct and is prepared to speak out. Image: Amira Malik Miller (Credit: BBC)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition deal with the Social Democrats looks fragile, with Germany's biggest opposition party now the right wing Alternative for Germany Party. Peter Boehringer is an AfD MP and newly elected chairman of the influential Parliamentary Budget Committee. How will the AfD seek to use its expanded influence? (Photo: Peter Boehringer, member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, poses for a portrait in Berlin. Credit: Reuters)
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to David Smolansky, anti-regime activist who was the mayor of a district in Caracas until he fled the country to escape a jail term for aiding last year’s street protests. There was a time last year when it seemed President Maduro's grip on power in Venezuela was loosening. Yet here we are two months away from a presidential election with Maduro oozing confidence and his opponents seemingly in disarray. Why does Venezuela's opposition so consistently promise more...more
The Israeli Defence Force sees itself as an institution that binds the nation together. Most young Israelis serve in its ranks after leaving school. It claims to combine defence of the state with a sense of moral purpose. Avner Gvaryahu served in the IDF but he sees an institution in denial – corroded and corrupted by the military occupation of Palestinian communities over a fifty year span. Avner Gvaryahu and like-minded soldiers turned dissidents say they are breaking the silence. Are they pat...more
Is the long-time friend and sometimes adviser to President Trump a symbol of all that is currently wrong in US politics? They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. If that is true, Roger Stone - a hugely controversial and divisive figure in American conservatism - should provide telling insights into the character of the president. (Photo: Roger Stone at Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center. Credit: Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images)
The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mehmet Simsek, talks about Turkey's recent military operation in the north western Syria enclave of Afrin. How long will the operation last and does it risk increasing tensions with the United States who are helping Kurdish fighters in Syria? (Photo: Mehmet Simsek on Hardtalk)
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Raphael Tuju, Secretary General of Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party. Has the Kenyan government over-reacted to the self-inauguration of the opposition leader Raila Odinga as the so-called “People’s President”? Image: Raphael Tuju (Credit: BBC)
When it comes to politics, Kenya has a history of disputed and often violent elections. In this exclusive interview, Zeinab Badawi speaks to the opposition leader Raila Odinga: he claims he and not Uhuru Kenyatta is President and he's had himself self-inaugurated as the people's president at the end of January. It's been slammed as a treasonous act by the Kenyan authorities and rejected by the world. Given Kenya's volatile electoral history, is Raila Odinga not acting illegally, irresponsibly an...more
Argentina is stepping up efforts to re-engage with the world, especially through its presidency of the G20. It says wants better relations with the United States after years of poor relations. Zeinab Badawi speaks to the Argentine Foreign Minister at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Just six months into the job, what is his assessment of ties with the Trump administration which has been unsettling its neighbours in Latin America. Image: Jorge Faurie (Credit: Reuters)
Stephen Sackur speaks to Lord Neuberger who was until last year President of the UK Supreme Court. Britain prides itself on its system of justice. Centuries of common law, a proudly independent judiciary and a reputation for fair dealing has made it an international centre for dispute arbitration. But are the cracks starting to show in a system steeped in tradition ? Does the British judicial system need a 21st century reboot? (Photo: Lord Neuberger on Hardtalk)
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the actor Shah Rukh Khan. He has been given an award for his philanthropic work advancing women’s rights. How far is he using his voice to do that ? (Photo: Indian Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan poses during a press interaction, 2015. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Currently deputy president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa could become president very soon if Jacob Zuma heeds calls to step down. But is this ANC stalwart and wealthy businessman the right person to create a new South Africa from a country mired in cronyism and corruption allegations? In his first interview with the BBC since he became leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC in December, Cyril Ramaphosa talks to Zeinab Badawi for Hardtalk. (Photo: Deputy President of South Africa, and newly el...more
Is it futile to try and resist Brexit? Hardtalk's Sarah Montague speaks to one of the big beasts of British politics. Known as the Father of the House because he is the longest serving member of the UK’s House of Commons, he has also held more cabinet posts than any other living British politician. And yet Ken Clarke says we are now in "the maddest situation" of his lifetime and talks of the political system being "broken". It's one of the reasons he couldn't quite bring himself to retire at the...more
Living with death threats for daring to speak out against Islamist jihadist violence. The former Charlie Hebdo journalist and French-Moroccan writer Zineb El Rhazoui knows the risks can be a matter of life and death. She was working for the satirical magazine when 12 people were murdered in the Paris office in 2015. She happened to be on holiday. Subjected to a multitude of death threats because of her determination to speak out against what she sees as the malign and dangerous influence of Isla...more
Russia is calling on the EU to stump up billions of dollars to help rebuild Syria. Russia’s representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, says if they don’t they will “bear the responsibility for that”. But Russian planes are still destroying parts of the country and rather than support the peace process at the UN, they have set up their own parallel talks. Sarah Montague asks Ambassador Chizhov - what responsibility do the Russians themselves have for ending the war in Syria? (Photo: Vladimir ...more
The White House has never before seen a president like Donald Trump. He does not play by any conventional political rules – that much is obvious from his Twitter feed, his hiring and firing of staff and his apparent relish for outrage. Stephen Sackur speaks to Anthony Scaramucci, the White House Director of Communications for all of 11 days before he was fired in a media firestorm in 2017. He has stayed loyal to his former boss – why? (Photo: Anthony Scarmuccin on Hardtalk)
A year after President Trump’s inauguration and not a day goes by without a new media storm over a presidential comment, tweet or announcement that has Democrats decrying him as unfit for office. What do Republicans feel and do about their de facto party leader? Stephen Sackur speaks to Michael Steele, a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee. (Photo: Michael Steele on Hardtalk)
Stephen Sackur is in New York to speak to the actor and activist Ashley Judd. The movie and entertainment industries have been rocked by allegations of systemic sexism, misogyny and abusive behaviour. Ms Judd was one of the first women to go public with her accusations about the producer Harvey Weinstein. What began with voices of anger and pain has become a movement demanding radical change. How far can it go? (Photo: Ashley Judd accepts the WMC Speaking Truth To Power Award, Oct 2017, New Y...more
The removal of Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe in November 2017 led to several Mugabe loyalists going underground. The most prominent of these is probably Jonathan Moyo - until recently a cabinet minister, key ally and close adviser to Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace. He has been described as one of the most hated men in Zimbabwe and is wanted in the country on corruption charges. Jonathan Moyo is now in hiding in self-imposed exile and says his family is being harassed and that his lif...more
Zeinab Badawi speaks to comedian, actor and disability advocate Maysoon Zayid. She was born in the United States to Palestinian immigrant parents and since birth has been living with cerebral palsy - a condition which affects the brain and nervous system. She believes comedy has the power to transform lives by helping people overcome the disadvantages of being disabled. She also says her stand-up comedy shows help normalise the perceptions of Muslims when many seek to demonise them. Can comedy r...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of the Islamist movement Hamas. Donald Trump broke with long established diplomatic convention by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital. His recent tweets on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been music to the ears of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So what do the Palestinians do now? Hamas controls Gaza and has been at loggerheads with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for more than a decade. Are the Palestinians ...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to former British Labour Foreign Secretary, Lord David Owen. The beginning of the year is a time for reflecting on the past and plotting a better future. In Britain the focus is on where Brexit is taking the nation. How will leaving the EU affect the UK's sense of itself and its international standing? Lord Owen, David Owen tried and failed to change the face of British politics by launching a new party on the centre left. Does the UK currently have a clue where ...more
We are slowly and inevitably losing the generation of men who fought in and survived the last world war. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to 96 year old George ‘Johnny’ Johnson – the last remaining British survivor of one of the most extraordinary and most famous aerial missions of World War 2 - the Dambusters raid. It was costly and not entirely successful. So why has it become such a part of Britain’s national folklore?
Israel's prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu took great satisfaction from President Trump’s decision to ignore longstanding international convention and recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But that diplomatic boost can't disguise Mr Netanyahu’s vulnerability at home. He's the target of a long running police anti-corruption investigation and may soon face charges. Stephen Sackur speaks to Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett who has declared he wants to be Israel's next Prime Minister. Is a chang...more
Is Sudan's government coming in from the cold? HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour. The US lifted economic sanctions on Sudan in October ending two decades of its financial isolation. Washington says Sudan has made progress on human rights, democratic reforms and ending ethnic tensions in the country. But critics argue it has not done enough: there’s still no peace in Darfur and other conflict areas, and human rights violations continue. Has the government really...more
Not so long ago British food was the laughing stock of the world – it was bland, stodgy and flavourless, but how things have changed. Today the nation seems obsessed with cooking and baking on TV and fine dining. My guest today is one of the new breed of top celebrity television chefs Marcus Wareing. Yes we are now obsessed with good food but is that altogether healthy? (Photo: Marcus Wareing)
Hardtalk is in Oslo to speak to the winners of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.) It comes as North Korea continues its testing of missiles capable of reaching the United States with a nuclear warhead. President Trump has threatened ‘fire and fury’ against North Korea and talks of increasing America’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Earlier this year ICAN helped to deliver the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was signed by ...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Swapan Dasgupta, Indian journalist, writer and now member of the country's upper parliamentary chamber. One of the world’s biggest countries has a leader who polarises opinion, stokes nationalist sentiment, has a controversial past, and a predilection for Twitter. I'm thinking of course of India's prime minister Narendra Modi, but are there any parallels to be drawn with America's current president? Does this conservative ally of India's prime minister see any...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Winnie Byanyima, the Ugandan boss of Oxfam International who is overseeing the NGO's move from the UK to Kenya. A significant shift is afoot in the world of international development. More of the decision-making power is being located in the global south - closer to the frontline in the war on poverty. There's less talk of aid, more of empowerment, self-help and local solutions. Is international development currently unfit for purpose?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Jorge Toledo, Spain’s minister for EU affairs. When the Spanish Government threw out the regional Government in Catalonia, imposed direct rule from Madrid and called regional elections, it took a calculated risk. Next month we'll see whether it was well advised. If Catalans give a clear majority to pro-independence parties, Spain - and the European Union - will be facing a protracted crisis. Can Madrid out manoeuvre the secessionists?
Russian TV journalist Ksenia Sobchak announced last month that she will run to be president of Russia at elections due in March 2018. She is the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak who was Mayor of St Petersburg in the 1990s and was a mentor to Vladimir Putin when he was starting in politics. Ksenia Sobchak says the situation in Russia is unjust and although it would be unlikely she could beat President Putin if he decides to run again she hopes to build a strong democratic coalition capable of...more
There aren't many people who are recognisable only from their make-up, but mention a zigzag of black flames around the eyes, painted on a white face, and millions of people around the world will know you are talking about the frontman of the rock band Kiss. Take away the makeup and you have Gene Simmons - a man so canny about business that he realised he could make more money from marketing the Kiss brand than from selling records. His famously long tongue has also proved a loose one – he is fre...more
It's dangerous to generalise about the human impulse to create art, but it does often seem to be linked to the experience of dark and painful places. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Lemn Sissay - a renowned poet and playwright whose writing and performances lay bare his own intimate wounds. He was abandoned as a baby, rejected by his foster family and abused in public institutions of care. He has since been on a quest to understand his past and piece together his identity. Along the way how ...more
Is it safe to do business in the United Arab Emirates? The former Managing Director of Leeds United, David Haigh thought so, until he endured a 22 month nightmare imprisonment, during which he says he was violently assaulted. His former employer says he's a convicted fraudster. Mr Haigh says he's the victim of legal, economic and political malfeasance. Is there something rotten in the UAE? (Photo: David Haigh looks on during the Yeovil Town v Leeds United match, 2014, Yeovil, England. Credit:...more
How did a boy from the Australian backwoods get to make his celluloid dreams come true? Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to director Baz Luhrmann who made his name with a wildly entertaining debut movie called Strictly Ballroom. It was theatrical, sentimental and sweet, and became a hit around the world. Since then he has continued to make larger than life films combining dazzling visuals and epic stories. Is he brash, brilliant, or both? (Photo: Baz Luhrmann at the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Gar...more
Across the world sixty five million people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of war, persecution and economic desperation. It's a migration crisis which is generating immense human misery and alarming levels of political discord. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to David Miliband - head of the US-based International Rescue Committee and a former British foreign secretary. Can this politician turned humanitarian explain why governments around the world are failing to meet the migra...more
Should anything be off limits in comedy? It's meant to be subversive. It finds laughter in dark and difficult places, but when comedy goes wrong things can get ugly. Stephen Sackur speaks to Kathy Griffin, an American stand-up comedian probably best known for being pictured last May holding President Trump's severed head in her hand. The Trump head was fake, but the outrage was real - from the President, the TV network which fired her, the FBI which investigated her and the public which heaped a...more
There's neither blood nor tanks on the streets of Riyadh, but what has happened in Saudi Arabia in recent days represents a revolution of sorts. King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed have launched a purge of princes, ministers and potential rivals - part of a grand plan to entrench their power and transform the country. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Saudi journalist, commentator and current political exile Jamal Khashoggi. Is the Saudi drama about raw power or real reform?
Authority is a priceless commodity in politics. It's not easily measured, but when a Prime Minister loses it then governing becomes a perilous task. So it may be in Britain today - Theresa May has lost two cabinet ministers in a week, with her own team divided over Brexit and seemingly unsure about its core message. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the increasingly influential Conservative MP and staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg. Can the Tories get out of the hole they're in?
David McAllister is a political ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Germany is Europe's pre-eminent power, but how will Berlin use that power over the next decade? The composition of the country's next governing coalition has yet to be decided, and there are strategic uncertainties too. How far does Berlin want to push EU integration, and how wide could transatlantic differences become? (Photo: David McAllister speaks at the an...more
How significant will President Trump’s U-turns on Obama-era agreements prove to be? Stephen Sackur speaks to Ernest Moniz, Energy Secretary in the Obama Administration and a key figure in two landmark commitments - the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate change accord.
Have the secessionists scored a massive own goal? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Alfred Bosch of the Republican Left of Catalonia party. Far from settling anything, the Catalan regional government’s recent declaration of independence has deepened the uncertainty and confusion in Catalonia. Madrid has placed the region under direct rule, with the leaders of the ousted administration in Barcelona facing charges and trial. New elections are to be held in December. Alfred Bosch is a senior figu...more
Over the past 25 years Zambia has been a positive example of stable, relatively free and democratic governance in Africa. But that cherished status has been jeopardised recently with the country witnessing a disputed election, political violence, a state of emergency and the imprisonment of Zambian opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema. He was freed last August, but still refuses to accept the legitimacy of last year’s election. Is he destabilising Zambia? (Photo: Zambian opposition leader Ha...more
Does the daughter of Martin Luther King believe racism is on the rise again in the US? Hardtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Bernice King, CEO of The King Center and the youngest of Martin Luther King's four children. They are in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the most picturesque cities in the American South – yet one that holds an ugly truth. It was the main port for the slave trade; around half of the Africans brought to the United States passed though there. The fight for freedom and justic...more
Albie Sachs is a survivor. He survived imprisonment, exile and being blown up by the country's security forces. He helped write the post-apartheid constitution and thinks it's one of the world's best. So why do others, especially the young, say "the constitution is against us, especially when you are poor"? HARDtalk’s Shaun Ley speaks to the former South African Constitutional Court Judge as South Africa's ruling party, the ANC, chooses a successor for the beleaguered president Jacob Zuma in Dec...more
As research and development into artificial intelligence intensifies is there any sphere of human activity that won’t be revolutionised by A.I. and robotics? Stephen Sackur speaks to Alan Winfield, a world renowned Professor of Robot Ethics. From driving, to education, to work and warfare are we unleashing machines which could turn the dark visions of science fiction into science fact?
In 17 months time, Britain - barring a sensational political U-turn - will be out of the European Union. But on what terms remains to be seen. How will post-Brexit Britain relate to the club it has just quit as well as the rest of the world? These are questions that Theresa May's Government has been struggling to answer, but they’re just as difficult for the opposition Labour Party. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry - what would the oppositio...more
As the world continues to follow the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanamar, condemnation has been heaped on the Burmese authorities for not doing more to protect them from attacks from Buddhist militants. Hardtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to the acclaimed Swiss film director Barbet Schroeder. His latest documentary is about an influential Buddhist monk in Myanmar who uses strong anti-Muslim rhetoric in his speeches and writings. Barbet Schroeder has made the subject of evil the focus of many...more
Is there still public appetite for Dan Brown’s high fibre blockbuster novels? He’s one of the biggest selling authors of all time. His 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code challenged the story of Christianity and sparked outrage in the Vatican. Now he’s back with another epic tale, this time about man’s quest to understand the beginnings of life on earth. Stephen Sackur speaks to Dan Brown about his new book - Origin. (Photo: American author Dan Brown during a press conference at the 2017 Frankfurt B...more
Oscar winning actor, activist and fitness guru Jane Fonda is a special guest on Hardtalk as it celebrates 20 years of being on air. In a career spanning six decades she has never shied away from speaking her mind. This is a trait that has not always been welcome in the movie business, where sexism and abusive behaviour are currently in the spotlight as never before. How dark is the reality behind Hollywood's glitz? (Photo: Actor Jane Fonda attends the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Micr...more
Seventy years ago, the leader Mustafa Barzani made a declaration of Kurdish independence which was ignored. Last month, his son -Masoud, won a referendum in Iraq intended to achieve it. However, Baghdad says it will impose its rule instead. If the Kurds are to succeed, Masrour, grandson of one Barzani, son of the other, will need all the clout he's acquired waging war on the group that calls itself Islamic State. He believes that has earned Kurds the right to a state of their own. But with Iraq,...more
What keeps the punk legend Wilko Johnson going? We're all familiar with rock music's living legends - think Jagger or Springsteen, but perhaps more intriguing are rock and roll’s cult heros - the artists who've inspired other artists without getting massive rewards. Wilko Johnson fits that bill. His raw guitar sound in the band Dr. Feelgood paved the way for punk. He's kept on rocking through cancer, depression and changing musical tastes. (Photo: Wilko Johnson in the Hardtalk studio)
What difference will the Alternative for Germany party make to the country? Nearly six million people voted for AfD in last week's election, making it the third biggest party in the Bundestag. But within days of its stunning electoral success, its co-leader declared she was out. She said that the party was too anarchic, too focused on Russia, discrediting its moderate members and would be ineffective in opposition. Sarah Montague talks to the AfD's deputy leader, Beatrix Von Storch.
Can President Macron fix awkward realities in France and elsewhere in Europe? Stephen Sackur speaks to France’s Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, about the young president's vision for a reformed France, leading Europe on a march to deeper integration and greater global influence. (Photo: Foreign Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau leaves a cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace, Paris, 2017. Credit: Bertrand Guay/AFP)
Is Pakistan at risk of losing allies over its inability or unwillingness to control militants? Sarah Montague speaks to Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif. President Trump has accused his country of "housing the very terrorists" that the United States is fighting. He says that will have to change "immediately". He has also questioned why the United States is giving Pakistan billions in aid and military support. It is an argument that has been made before. But now other countries are also ...more
Relations between the US and Russia are at a post-Cold War low point, filled with mistrust, unpredictability and potential danger. In Washington, there's a President whose mixed messages tie his own staff in knots. Meanwhile, in Moscow is a President who seems intent on exploiting Western division. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Russian Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee and an influential Russian voice on foreign affairs. Does Russia see opportunity in ...more
Are reports of the EU’s resurgence premature? After a bleak decade of economic stagnation, internal dysfunction and public disaffection in the EU, officials in Brussels claim the tide has turned. But is there really a renewed appetite for deeper European integration, while Britain is still searching for an exit strategy? Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to former Italian Prime Minister, EU Commissioner and ardent integrationist, Mario Monti.
In this age of the internet, the world has come to expect instant access to knowledge. But real, deep understanding takes longer to acquire and to share. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the world’s most acclaimed novelists- Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk. He has lived almost all of his life in Istanbul, writing stories about Turkey which have over decades painted a vivid picture of a country and society pulled between east and west, past and future. What is the key to understanding Or...more
As demands to relocate migrants across Europe continue to grow, Hungary seems more and more at odds with the EU's policy on migration. After losing a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice which overruled its objections to the compulsory fixed-quota scheme, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has accused the court of playing politics. He tells Zeinab Badawi that the EU's migration policy is the most serious threat to security in Europe and the real battle is only just begi...more
Does the UN have the moral clout and authority to handle pressing world crises? Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is presiding over his first UN General Assembly since he took up the post in January this year. Hardtalk speaks to him at the UN headquarters in New York. (Photo: António Guterres, UN Secretary General, attends the London Conference on Somalia, 2017, London. Credit: Jack Hill/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Is the African National Congress- the iconic movement of South Africa's liberation struggle, close to the end of its productive life? If so, will its demise be quick, or slow and painful? At the end of this year, the ANC’s current party leader- Jacob Zuma, will quit as party chief, with a host of candidates including his ex-wife vying to replace him. HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the former President of South Africa and ANC stalwart, Kgalema Motlanthe. Are the most respected ANC members re...more
How will Africa cope with an impending population explosion? Over the next thirty years Africa's population is projected to double, requiring delivery of jobs, housing and infrastructure to enable two billion people to thrive. It is an unprecedented leadership challenge. Does governance in Olusegun Obasanjo's Nigeria inspire confidence or scepticism? (Photo: Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria speaks at the London Global African Investment Summit, 2015. Credit: Anthony Devlinl/Gett...more
Is social media bad for public discourse? Man Booker prize-winning author Howard Jacobson thinks the internet is changing the way we use words, and not for the better. But is he an artist swimming against an irresistible cultural tide? (Photo: Howard Jacobson author of The Finkler Question, poses after winning the 2010 Man Booker Prize. Credit: Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
Donald Trump embraces disruption and unpredictability, but what does that mean for America's national security and foreign policy? At first glance it seems to herald a new era of confrontation, from the Korean peninsula to the Mexican border, but are there limits to the President's break with convention? Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to veteran US diplomat and adviser to a host of Republican presidents - John Negroponte. Does this presidency mark a permanent shift in America's global role...more
Is it easy to lose sight of what matters most to business success? We speak to one of Asia's best-know businessmen, Tony Fernandes. He is the boss of Air Asia, football club owner, one-time Formula One investor, and dabbler in reality television. But is a flamboyant style and diversification into sports or media necessarily good for the bottom line? (Photo: CEO AirAsia Tony Fernandes at the World Economic Forum, Jakarta, 2015. Credit: Adek Berry/AFP)
US Senator Lindsey Graham speaks to Hardtalk about the foreign and domestic impact of President Trump. Senator Graham made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but remains an influential voice inside the party. He has been openly critical of President Trump but has also praised him on some aspects of foreign policy. Where does America go from here as tensions with North Korea escalate? (Photo: Senator Lindsey Graham holds a press conference, Washington DC, 20...more
How do you survive the North Korean labour camp system? Kenneth Bae is an American Christian missionary who was arrested inside North Korea and spent two years in a Pyongyang prison. (Photo: Kenneth Bae speaks at a briefing on North Korea 2016. Credit: Getty Images)
Neo-Nazism, and race hatred are alive and kicking in the United States. The violence in Charlottesville was shocking not just because a life was taken, but also because of the polarising impact of President Trumps response. Stephen Sackur speaks to Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a group devoted to civil rights activism. How fanciful is the notion of a 21st century American civil war? (Photo: Richard Cohen on Hardtalk)
Politicians and civil servants usually abandon their offices in the dog days of August, but not this year in London, where Brexit is now an overwhelming political priority. Theresa May's Government has issued a raft of proposals on what trade, border and legal arrangements might look like post Brexit, with a striking focus on continuity rather than change. Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the Conservative Party's staunchest 'Brexiteers', MEP Daniel Hannan. If Brexit is not a clean brea...more
In the age of Donald Trump maybe the world is getting used to international politics delivering the unexpected. Stephen Sackur speaks to Mikheil Saakashvili who served two terms as President of Georgia. He then abandoned his home country to take citizenship in Ukraine, serving as a regional governor until he fell out spectacularly with the Ukrainian President. Now he's been stripped of Ukrainian citizenship and is stateless. So Is this the end of Mikhail Saakashvili’s political career?
For more than two decades the ANC has been South Africa's impregnable political structure, but now cracks are appearing. At least 30 ANC MPs defied the party whip and supported a no confidence motion against party leader and national President, Jacob Zuma. Stephen Sackur speaks to Pravin Gordhan, the man President Zuma sacked as Finance Minister in controversial circumstances earlier this year. Does the ANC need to be broken up to enable South Africa to thrive?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Mostefa Souag, Acting Director General of Al Jazeera. The news network was launched in Qatar in 1996 it had a seismic impact on the media landscape in the Middle East. Here was an Arab broadcaster refusing to play by local rules: ambitious, punchy and provocative in its coverage of the region and the world. Two decades on, it seems that patience is wearing thin in much of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia and its closest allies recently demanded Qatar close the net...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Isaias Medina, former Venezuelan diplomat at the UN and now an anti-Maduro dissident. Venezuela's political and economic crisis is precariously poised - the Maduro regime is determined to re-write the constitution to strengthen its grip on power - the opposition is intent on using mass protest to bring the Government down. The current standoff isn’t sustainable, but which side will prevail? Can Maduro outlast his enemies?
Is Poland, a country that was held up as a model of post-Soviet transition, turning away from liberal democracy? In July the EU announced that it would launch legal action against Poland over plans to give politicians more power to sack and appoint judges. Zeinab Badawi speaks to Poland's foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski and asks what this latest dispute means for Poland's place in Europe.
Zeinab Badawi speaks to one of the most influential voices in global finance today. He was made honorary Governor of the Central Bank of France, following a period as Governor for twelve years. Prior to that he was a Vice President of the European Central Bank and has worked for various leading international financial institutions. Christian Noyer has been tasked with making the case for Paris as a financial hub following Brexit. Is he making too tough a sell and potentially damaging ties with...more
This summer, Iraqis can perhaps see a glimmer of light amid the darkness that's enveloped their country for so long. The country's second city, Mosul, is no longer in the hands of jihadist fanatics, with the so-called Islamic State caliphate shrinking fast. But will any semblance of stability and unity follow? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to one of the great survivors of Iraqi politics, Vice President Ayad Allawi. Does he think Iraq has a viable future?
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nicola Benyahia, the mother of a deceased ‘IS’ fighter. After terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the UK is preoccupied with questions about how best to counter the Jihadist threat. For politicians the focus is on policing, intelligence, and detention powers. Nicola Benyahia's son Rasheed was radicalised in Birmingham, went to fight with the so called Islamic State group in Syria and was killed aged just 19. She now offers support to other families facing the dan...more
Few issues are as controversial as abortion when it comes to discussing women's rights. Pro-life campaigners believe a woman's right to control her fertility does not extend to abortion on demand. In January, President Trump blocked US federal funding to groups who provide or promote abortions. One such organisation is the IPPF - the International Planned Parenthood Federation - which will lose millions of dollars as a result. Zeinab Badawi speaks to its Ethiopian-born director-general Tewodr...more
Shaun Ley speaks to Lebanon’s Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani. A quarter of the country's population are Syrian refugees which is putting Lebanon’s infrastructure and resources under increasing strain. Some leading political figures in the country are now calling for the refugees to be sent home. But since some in the government have ruled out talking directly to President Assad, how can they be sure any returning refugees would be safe? (Photo: Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani)
What does the UAE hope to achieve by isolating Qatar? The four Arab nations that cut all ties with Qatar have replaced a list of 13 specific demands with six principles including combating extremism and terrorism.Sarah Montague asks top Emirati diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash if this move will resolve the crisis that has gripped the Gulf. (Photo: Omar Saif Ghobash in the Hardtalk studio)
Mohammed Fairouz is a US-Emirati composer - a youthful artist who has spent much of his creative life defying boundaries and stereotypes. His work ranges from symphonies to opera, to unique fusions of music and poetry. He's an Arab educated and resident in the West; an outspoken advocate for creative freedom who nonetheless rails against western cultural imperialism. His aim is to foster cultural crossover rather than confrontation; but can this artist avoid taking sides?
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe drought that has left a third of its fifteen million people dependent on food aid. The state is running out of dollars, workers go unpaid and unemployment is very high - a dire situation that presents the opposition in the country with an opportunity in nationwide elections next year. HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to Welshman Ncube who leads his own faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change - known as MDC-N. The main opposition parties have...more
In a special edition of the programme, Zeinab Badawi is in Istanbul to speak to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is a year since coup plotters tried to remove him from office in a series of events that were condemned by the international community and Turks from all backgrounds and political persuasions. But now hundreds of thousands of Turks have been on the march protesting at what they say is President Erdogan's purge of all opposition forces - not just the coup plotters. Is Presid...more
Are radical policies needed to address the current ills of the US? Zeinab Badawi speaks to the progressive Canadian-American writer and activist Naomi Klein, who is calling for mass protests against President Trump. She says that his rise to power amounts to a corporate takeover of the US by brand Trump. (Photo: Canadian author Naomi Klein talks to the media at a press conference at Sydney Opera House, 2015. Credit: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images)
Is the Nigerian army effective in securing the country? As the stability and unity of West African nation is threatened by internal tensions, conflict and corruption, Stephen Sackur speaks to Nigeria’s Army Chief, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai.
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda. The recent release of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi by the Libyan group holding him has led the ICC in The Hague to demand his arrest. He has been indicted by the Court for alleged crimes against humanity, murder and persecution. The ICC was set up in 2002 as a court of last resort to try such individuals. But it has met a barrage of criticisms, principally that it has an anti-African bias, because ...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the former US Senator, Joe Lieberman. A generation ago the first President Bush proclaimed a new world order, in which the United States would lead by example. Twenty-five years on, Donald Trump is in the White House - so what kind of example is the United States setting now? Joe Lieberman was former US Senator, Al Gore’s Vice Presidential running mate in 2000, and has recently been touted as a contender for FBI Director under the current president. Is Donald ...more
Moshe Ya'alon served in the Israel Defence Force for 38 years including as Chief of Staff from 2002 to 2005. He then entered politics and served as Minister of Defence for three years until his resignation in May 2016. At the time warned that Israel had been taken over by "dangerous and extreme elements." He wants to run for prime minister at Israel's next election and he tells HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur "I found too many politicians generating hatred against someone, against the Arabs, against l...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to the American film-maker and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for the film Milk and has just completed a major series on the struggle for gay rights. It’s fifty years since homosexuality was decriminalised in much of Britain. Since then, the campaign for LGBTQ rights has won landmark victories in many parts of the world. Has the time come to declare a famous victory? (Photo: Director Dustin Lance Black 2017. Credit: Andrew Toth/Getty Images)
Stephen Sackur speaks to Philippines Senator, Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes. When it comes to populist politics delivered with robust action no-one does it quite like Rodrigo Duterte, elected President of the Philippines a year ago. Since he came to power, around 7000 people have been killed in his war on drugs crime. Human rights groups are aghast, but a majority of Filipinos seem to admire his iron fist policy. Is President Duterte taking the Philippines and the region in a new direction? (Phot...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Thuli Madonsela, South Africa's Public Protector until late 2016. President Zuma's grip on power in South Africa appears to be weakened. He will relinquish leadership of the ANC at the end of 2017. Whether he will complete his term as South Africa's President is uncertain as allegations of cronyism and corruption pile up around his government. Thuli Madonsela exposed a web of worrying connections between the state and big business interests; but are her concer...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to the former head of Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin. For the past 17 years Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia - as President or Prime Minister. But he hasn't done it alone. He has been backed by a coterie of trusted associates, connected through past ties in St. Petersburg, or in the KGB or in business. Yakunin was part of President Putin's inner circle, so much so the US made him a target of sanctions after the invasion of Crimea. Are cracks showing in the Putin project?...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander de Croo. The recent UK General Election was supposed to strengthen the British Government’s hand in the looming Brexit negotiations. Instead, it has backfired with Theresa May a weakened Prime Minister at the head of a minority government ill-prepared for the complex, difficult talks that lie ahead. Does Europe view Britain's travails with sympathy or relish?
Stephen King was the chief economist at HSBC from 1998 to 2015. He now says 'Western led globalization is in big trouble. We may be witnessing the collapse of the post-war international economic and political order'. Stephen Sackur asks him why he thinks globalisation could go into reverse and what damage could be done to economies across Europe and the United States. (Photo: Stephen King on Hardtalk)
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Nicola Benyahia, the mother of a deceased ‘IS’ fighter. After terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, the UK is preoccupied with questions about how best to counter the Jihadist threat. For politicians the focus is on policing, intelligence, and detention powers. Nicola Benyahia's son Rasheed was radicalised in Birmingham, went to fight with the so called ‘Islamic State’ group in Syria and was killed aged just 19. She now offers support to other families ...more
Zeinab Badawi speaks to US Democratic Party insider Jake Sullivan, a key adviser to senior Democrats, including Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State as well as on the campaign trail last year. President Trump has attracted a lot of criticism at home and abroad over his rhetoric and style of leadership. But is he not proving more effective in important foreign policy issues, like the fight against extremists than the previous Democratic administration? (Photo: Jake Sullivan)
Stephen Sackur talks to Rachel Dolezal, the ostensibly black American human rights activist whose life unravelled in 2015 when it turned out that she was the daughter of white parents. So what gives us our sense of who we are? Our upbringing and our communities both have a huge impact, but what about the most basic pillars of identity that we tend to regard as immutable? Is our racial identity something we can define for ourselves? (Photo: Rachel Dolezal talks to Stephen Sackur as part of BBC...more
Stephen Sackur is at the 2017 Hay Literary Festival to speak to the US Senator Bernie Sanders - the longest serving independent in US congressional history. He was credited with injecting passion and belief into the race for 2016’s Democratic presidential nomination - a race that was eventually won by Hillary Clinton. But did he plant the seeds of a political revolution in the United States? (Photo: Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) react during a news conference on release of the president"s F...more
What hope is there for the people of South Sudan? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to the head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, David Shearer. South Sudan's lethal cocktail of civil war, ethnic division, failed governance, widespread hunger and disease threatens millions of lives. It represents a tragic failure on the part of the rulers of Africa's newest country, and on the part of the United Nations mission there which has brought neither peace nor protection. (Photo: David She...more
President Trump has regularly criticised the New York Times and accused it, and other media, of propagating ‘fake news’. Does its claim to be fair in its reporting stand up to scrutiny? Hardtalk is in New York city to speak to Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times. The paper has been at the forefront of reporting into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and the first months of the Trump presidency. Stephen Sackur asks Dean Baquet how far the public can...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. After the collapse of the Soviet Empire, a new, freer, more prosperous region emerged in eastern Europe, anchored in the EU and Nato. The EBRD was created to foster that transformation to democracy and the free market. These days many of its investment projects are in Turkey, Central Asia and North Africa - has mission creep undermined its founding values?
Stephen Sackur speaks to renowned academic Gilles Kepel, an expert on Islamist terrorism in France and beyond. His work is influential - it was cited by newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron during the recent campaign - and to some, controversial. In the wake of the terrible suicide bombing in Manchester, a familiar question is being asked again - is the West any closer to an effective counter terror strategy? (Photo: Midlle East specialist and Professor at the Paris Institute of Pol...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Elif Shafak, the Turkish novelist and writer who lives much of her life in London. A dozen years ago Europeans looked at Turkey and thought they saw a country becoming more like them - embracing western values and on a long term track to EU membership. But today Europe sees authoritarianism, conservatism and repression embodied in the all-powerful figure of President Erdogan. Does the West get anywhere close to understanding Turkey's complex culture and politics? (Pho...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum resources, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. When President Muhamadu Buhari won the Nigerian presidency two years ago it seemed like Africa's most populous nation had turned a corner. A first ever peaceful, democratic transition brought a promise of cleaner, better governance, and major economic reform. How is it going? Can oil dependent Nigeria transform itself into a modern trading economy? (Photo: Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu arrives for an ...more
Every day Venezuela seems to get one step closer to economic and political chaos. Mass anti-government protests have swept the country for the past month. Close to forty people have been killed in street clashes, the shops are short of food and hospitals low on medicine. Stephen Sackur asks Julio Borges, Speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, if the Chavista Socialist revolution is dying on its feet? (Photo: Julio Borges speaks at a joint press conference with Peruvian presi...more
Are the cyber-crooks several steps ahead of the cyber-cops? Hardtalk's Stephen Sackur speaks to Rob Wainwright, head of the European police agency Europol. In every aspect of our public and private lives we have become increasingly dependent on the power of the internet and computing. That makes us vulnerable to those who would do us harm. One such example is the worldwide spread of the ransomware known as WannaCry which has shut down vital computer systems in businesses, and public institutions...more
Ireland has bounced back from the financial crisis of 2008, but now it is being swept by a new wave of apprehension. This time it is all about Brexit. When Britain leaves the European Union, Ireland will suffer significant collateral damage – in terms of jobs, trade, and the status of its borders. Stephen Sackur speaks to Ireland’s foreign and trade minister Charles Flanagan - will Brexit have catastrophic consequences across the Irish Sea? (Photo: Charles Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affai...more
This Sunday, Emmanuel Macron takes office as President of France. His nascent political organisation promises to get France's sluggish economy on the move again; but only if it can win legislative elections next month. Shaun Ley speaks to French MEP Sylvie Goulard who has thrown her support behind Mr Macron. Can the new President deliver and move France forward ?
Stephen Sackur speaks to the American diplomat Christopher Hill who has served under three US Presidents and was a former lead negotiator on North Korea. Recently, President Trump has described North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un as a “pretty smart cookie” who he would be “honoured” to meet. But with military tensions on the peninsula rising, could Trump's unpredictable approach to foreign policy actually work?
As the scandals pile up, are we witnessing the slow death of the ANC? Stephen Sackur speaks to South Africa’s police minister. South Africa's ANC was once seen as an inspirational model for Africa. Now it is becoming a byword for infighting, cronyism, corruption and the dangers of one party rule. President Jacob Zuma stands accused of abusing his power - not just by his enemies but by many erstwhile ANC colleagues. Fikile Mbalula was made police minister in a recent hugely controversial cabinet ...more
The war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 civilians but this number may soon be dwarfed by the numbers starving to death. Yemen is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe, which the warring parties are making worse and which the outside world seems unwilling or unable to tackle. Stephen Sackur talks to the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in the country Jamie McGoldrick. Is he losing the struggle to save millions of lives? (Photo: Jamie McGoldrick on Hardtalk)
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi is in Ankara to speak to the Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim in an exclusive BBC interview. Politicians in Turkey from the ruling AK Party say they are trying to bring the country together after the divisive referendum giving the presidency greater powers. The government narrowly won the vote, but the result is still being questioned by opposition parties and no-voters. Protests claiming the poll was rigged have been widespread, but the electoral commission has u...more
Stephen Sackur is in Germany to speak to Niklas Frank. His father was Hans Frank, the Governor General of Nazi Occupied Poland during the World War Two. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials and executed in 1946. Niklas Frank tells Stephen Sackur he 'despises' his father and does not want Germany to forget the crimes of his father and the legacy of the Nazi era. (Photo: Niklas Frank)
Stephen Sackur speaks to the General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos. In just a few days from now Pope Francis will fly to Egypt to offer his personal support to the country's Coptic Christians. He will find a community filled with apprehension, targeted by jihadist extremists, and subject to persistent discrimination and sectarian violence. Elsewhere, in Syria and Iraq particularly, the plight of Christians is even worse. Do Christians have any future at all in the Middle...more
Will Russia promise not to pervert democracy in Europe? There are fears the Russians could meddle in the French elections and other European votes this year. Sarah Montague speaks to Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's Ambassador to the EU.
Stephen Sackur speaks to the writer and public intellectual Pascal Bruckner and asks, is something rotten in the Republic of France? As the country prepares to elect a new president, polls suggest record levels of apathy and disillusion amongst French voters. A spate of terror attacks has sown insecurity and sparked a heated debate about immigration, Islam and France's identity. Is France living through an age of decline? Photo: Pascal Bruckner in the Hardtalk studio)
Why did a UN agency publish a report that categorised Israel as an apartheid state? Rima Khalaf was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia until March 2017. She commissioned a report which accused Israel of systematically implementing apartheid policies and promptly resigned from her UN post when the Secretary General refused to accept the work. What were her motives?
HARDtalk’s Zeinab Badawi speaks to psychologist, Jan Kizilhan, a Yazidi Kurd living in Germany who has helped bring over a thousand Yazidi females from camps in Iraq to Germany to start a new life. The so-called Islamic State may be coming under pressure in both Syria and Iraq but still accounts emerge of atrocities carried out by them. The minority Yazidi community has been amongst one of the most persecuted groups of people: living mostly in northern Iraq, they have been killed, forced to conv...more
Sarah Montague speaks to the economist, Professor Sir Paul Collier. The refugee crisis is one of the world's most intractable problems: 60 million people have fled their homes, with a third of them also fleeing their own country. But Professor Collier believes the problem is fixable and "we can do it easily". The solution he argues is to give refugees jobs. In doing so he suggests everyone will benefit. But if the answer was so simple why has it not been done before?
How does the EU need to change if it is to win over the next generation of Italians? Hardtalk’s Sarah Montague speaks to Italy’s Under-Secretary for European Affairs, Sandro Gozi. The EU seems in greater trouble than ever before and not just because of Brexit. Even founding members of the club – countries like Italy - are unhappy about the direction that it is headed in its 60th year. The Italian economy has always struggled within the confines of the Euro. Additionally, it wants its fellow memb...more
Whether you think of him as Richard III or Gandalf, you will know he has won hearts and accolades around the world - not just for five decades of work on stage and screen, but also for his passionate public advocacy, particular on the issue of gay rights. Sir Ian McKellen was brought up in a Britain in which homosexuality was still a crime. He did not come out publicly until he was 49. Almost three decades on he is still acting and still campaigning. For this special programme recorded in front ...more
Why is a former head of state-sanctioned executions now an opponent of the death penalty? A host of countries around the world still impose the ultimate punishment on the most serious criminals - death. But what is it like to be in command of the machinery of state-sanctioned execution? In a rare insight, Stephen Sackur speaks to Allen Ault, who spent years running the corrections system in the southern US state of Georgia. He organised the killing of criminals until he could stand it no more. W...more
American psychologist James Mitchell helped devise the CIA’s enhanced interrogation programme after the 9/11 attacks. He personally interrogated some of the top terrorist suspects using the programme’s techniques, including waterboarding. His critics label him a torturer; he says he has nothing to apologise for and what he did was harsh, but legal and necessary.He speaks to Zeinab Badawi. (Photo: James Mitchell)
He spent 26 years in jail for trying to topple South Africa’s white minority government. Veteran anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada has died. He was 87 years old. For 18 years he was with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, and when he was released from prison in October 1989 at the age of 60, he continued the struggle for a non racial South Africa. After the first democratic elections in 1994, President Mandela persuaded him to join him in government as his political adviser. Sarah Monta...more
Looking back, what does the last surviving prosecutor at the Nazi Nuremberg trials think they achieved? 98-year-old Ben Ferencz helped liberate the death camps in Europe when he was serving in the US military. Himself a Jew from central Europe, he speaks to Zeinab Badawi in Florida about what he has learnt in his long life about the nature of evil.
Does Turkey's main opposition party have a credible alternative vision for the country? Zeinab Badawi talks to Selin Sayek Böke, a deputy leader for the CHP. Her party was established by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and was the automatic party of government for decades. So what went wrong? (Photo: Selin Sayek Böke, Deputy Leader of the CHP on Hardtalk)
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Joshua Wong, a leader of the so-called umbrella pro-democracy protests that swept Hong Kong in 2014. He's now the secretary general of the Demosisto political party. But since Hong Kong is due to elect a new chief executive later this month, who will not be chosen by the people, has the territory's pro-democracy movement failed?
Sarah Montague speaks to Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi. His job is to persuade people to holiday in a country where doctors, nurses and teachers have all been on strike, half the rural population face starvation and the economy is in the grip of a major currency crisis. He's worked alongside President Mugabe for the last decade. But at the age of 93 and with plans to stand in elections next year, isn't it time for the oldest head of state to go? (Photo: Walter Mzembi. Credit: Gett...more
Sarah Montague speaks to Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vice-Chairman of the pro-democracy movement Open Russia. He was rushed to hospital in Moscow when his organs started failing and says he knew immediately what was happening because the same thing had happened two years previously. Both times he claims, he was the victim of deliberate poisoning. He also claims he was targeted because of his opposition to President Putin and the Russian government. After his stay in Washington, where he is currently re...more
Bob Graham is one of the most popular politicians in contemporary American history. He has never lost an election and has served as a state legislator, Florida governor, and in the US Senate. He hails from the progressive, liberal wing of the Democratic party. But with Donald Trump in the White House and the Republicans controlling Capitol Hill, Zeinab Badawi asks him, has his type of politics gone out of fashion? (Photo: Bob Graham. Credit: Getty Images)
How tainted is Joice Mujuru by her long association with the ZANU-PF party? Stephen Sackur speaks to Joice Mujuru, former Vice President of Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is 93 years old. His wife recently suggested he could win re-election as a corpse, but failing that Zimbabwe needs to grapple with the issue of the succession. Who will follow Mugabe? Joice Mujuru is his former vice-president and one-time heir apparent. She broke away from the ruling party two years ago and now l...more
Zeinab Badawi speaks to the Congolese businessman and politician Moïse Katumbi. The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila has been in power for sixteen years and it was thought he would step down at elections that were due in November 2016. However, the elections are yet to be held. Moise Katumbi says he will run for president at the next election but is currently in exile in Europe. But can he rally enough support since he's not even living in his own country? (Photo: ...more
What does the Trump era mean for the Palestinian dream of statehood? For years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been stuck, condemned to repeat itself year in, year out. But now something has changed – the two protagonists remain deaf to each other’s demands – but there's a new US president who seems to care little for Washington's long established quest for a two state solution. Does the Trump era signal the end for Palestinian hopes of statehood? Husam Zomlot, Senior Adviser to the Pale...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former Prime Minister of Ukraine. After three years of fighting in eastern Ukraine, 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, is it time for Ukraine's leaders to acknowledge they’re in a war they cannot win? Arseniy Yatsenyuk was Ukraine's prime minister from 2014 to 2016 and he described his own premiership as a 'suicide mission.' How does his nation avoid self-destruction?
Is the much vaunted Singapore model under threat? HARDtalk’s Stephen Sacker is in Singapore for an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore represents one of the great economic success stories of the last fifty years but clouds are gathering on its horizon. President Trump is challenging assumptions about free trade and traditional security alliances in Asia.
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sacker is in Singapore for an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore represents one of the great economic success stories of the last fifty years but clouds are gathering on its horizon. President Trump is challenging assumptions about free trade and traditional security alliances in Asia. Is the much vaunted Singapore model under threat?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Donald Verrilli, US Solicitor general under Barack Obama. The Trump presidency promises to be a fascinating test of the resilience of the system of government crafted by America's founding fathers. The new president has already criticised the courts for utilising their authority in blocking the so-called travel ban, with a new ban coming into effect imminently. Does the constitution ensure that the White House is always subject to and not above the law?
What is the Iranians' response to criticisms from Trump over its missile testing, and is it fuelling terror and conflicts in the Middle East? Zeinab Badawi speaks to Iranian academic Mohammed Marandi from Tehran, a staunch supporter of the leadership in Iran. Amidst his pronouncements on foreign policy Donald Trump has ratcheted up the rhetoric on Iran, calling the nuclear agreement with Tehran the 'worst deal ever negotiated'. He's expanded US sanctions on Iran after it tested a missile in Jan...more
Sarah Montague speaks to Tzipi Livni, the joint leader of the Zionist Union opposition in Israel's parliament and a former Foreign Minister. For decades many have assumed that the only way there will be peace in the Middle East is when the Palestinians have their own state. But President Trump has made it clear that America is no longer wedded to the idea, whilst Tzipi Livni has in the past stated her support for “two states for two peoples". Could one state where Jews, Muslims and Christians ar...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to Irish sports journalist David Walsh, who was convinced that cycling’s untouchable champion Lance Armstrong was a drugs cheat long before the sport revealed the scale of his deceit. Armstrong is history now, but doping continues to devalue elite sport - maybe it is a problem no amount of truth telling journalism can fix. It is the job of the journalist to speak truth to power, but can defying conventional wisdom and the powers that be often mean the profession can be a lo...more
Stephen Sackur speaks to John Madden, an Oscar winning director whose latest film is set in the murky world of Washington politics. The Academy Awards are upon us and Hollywood is awash with speculation, spin and self-importance. But this year, with Donald Trump in the White House and in a deeply divided America, real life has thrown up a melodrama which makes the movies look tame. Is Hollywood accurately reflecting the times we are living in? (Photo: Film director John Madden. Credit: Getty ...more
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Jens Spahn, a rising star in Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. With so much focus on America's new president, it's easy to forget Europe is facing its own period of prolonged uncertainty. Brexit negotiations are about to begin, the Greek debt crisis is going through another convulsion. It is also a year of key elections, most particularly in the continent's dominant economy, Germany. Is German politics going to reshape Europe?
Zeinab Badawi speaks to humanitarian activist and one of Hollywood’s best known and versatile actors, Forest Whitaker. One role for which he won numerous accolades including an Oscar for best actor was his portrayal of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. But how far is he concerned that his portrayal of Idi Amin played into racist stereotypes of Africans and their continent?
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur speaks to Myron Ebell, who led President Trump’s transition team on environment policy and has long been an advocate of radical reform of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The Trump administration seems intent on a radical reset of America's energy and environment policies. The implications will be profound on everything from fossil fuel production to climate change policy. In America's new politics will the interests of big business consistently overshadow ...more