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Looking To The Future of Afghanistan; Egypt's New Leadership;

Aired August 13, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

This week, we're looking back at some of the top stories and interviews we've covered over the past few months, especially those still dominating the headlines right now. And we want to update you on these stories and the people who remain at the heart of major world events.

After investing 11 years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan, American troops are drawing down, as we know. So will President Hamid Karzai be ready to take over? We'll have my exclusive interview with him later in the program.

But first, Egypt. I spoke with the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi when he was still a candidate, leading the political wing of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi won the elections, of course, and he resigned from the Brotherhood. He said he did that in order to lead all of Egypt.

Recently, American Defense Secretary Leon Panetta traveled to Cairo to meet him and emerged endorsing his democratic credentials, saying, "I am convinced that President Morsi is truly committed to implement democracy here in Egypt."

But critical questions do remain, about the rights of women and Christians under Morsi's presidency about how Islamic the new democracy will be. And these are the very questions that I probed Morsi on just before his election.


AMANPOUR: Professor Morsi, thank you for joining us.


AMANPOUR: The Muslim Brotherhood said that it was not going to be running for the presidency. As a confidence building measure for the rest of Egypt, the rest of the world watching, what changed? Why did you decide to go from not running and not competing to competing?

MORSI: The situation in general. The domestic situation and the international situation and our neighbors' situation, the people have accepted our majority in the parliament and we haven't been able to do whatever we want through the parliament, because the government is not in our hands.

And the presidential campaign will enable the Egyptians, if they choose us, to blast through this bottleneck and have a better situation in the future. We feel that this (inaudible) on our shoulders and we should carry it out with the Egyptians.

AMANPOUR: The Muslim Brotherhood's slogan was "Islam is the solution," and then that sort of went to the side, as you all focused on other issues that mattered to the Egyptian people.

The slogan has come back again, and there are people who are concerned that a Muslim Brotherhood, which wins the presidency and dominates the parliament, could introduce a fundamentalist theocracy, an Islamic theocracy. What do you say to that?

MORSI (through translator): The Egyptian people are freely making their choice now, and they are the ones who chose the parliament. We are talking about elections and democracy. If the Egyptian people have chosen their leaders, then there won't be any room for worry.

We want to transform from a president of the institution to an institution of the presidency, to an executive branch that represents the people's true will and implements their public interests.

AMANPOUR: If you were president, do you see Egypt as more like Turkey, an Islamic democracy, or more like Iran, which is more fundamentalist and autocratic?

MORSI (through translator): There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only. And democracy is the instrument that is present now. The people are the source of authority. The social mindset is there are a people and the people chooses. That's democracy. And that agrees with consultation called for in Islam.

With that, we are eager for freedom. We are eager for justice, social justice and a democratic constitutional state. We see Egypt as a democratic country. The Egyptian people are free and the people's will should be implemented.

AMANPOUR: What about the role of women? Can a woman under a Muslim Brotherhood presidency, once the constitution is written -- do you agree with a woman running for president?

MORSI (through translator): I see it being called the presidency of the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is the presidency of Egypt. The president of Egypt in the next period will be chosen and elected by Egyptians. So if they pick the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, he will represent all Egyptians.

And in that case, the presidency in Egypt will be a constitutional presidency. He will follow the law and the constitution that applies to all.

The role of women in Egyptian society is clear. Women's rights are equal to men. Women have complete rights, just like men. There shouldn't be any kind of distinction between Egyptians except that that is based on the constitution and the law.

AMANPOUR: Can you guarantee to the women of Egypt that if you were to be president that the law that currently exists that makes it a criminal offense to sexually abuse women will not be overturned, will not be struck down?

MORSI: Rights will be based on the constitution. So all Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians, men or women, everyone and all will agree to it and will themselves call for it in the constitution.

And that means there is no need for worry at all over any kind of abusive power. It will be impossible to allow these kinds of abuse in the shadow of a constitutional state, a lawful state, a state that protects the dignity of a person. There is no room for any abuse of any kind of Egyptians, or even those who reside in the land of Egypt who aren't Egyptians.

AMANPOUR: So what I hear you saying is that you agree that the new constitution should keep that law, should make sure that constitutionally women are protected?

MORSI: Of course.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, thank you for saying that in English. I hear you loud and clear. And so will the women.

Let me ask you about a different issue.


AMANPOUR: Do you think that a woman should run for president in Egypt?

MORSI: Remember, you are a woman.


AMANPOUR: Exactly.

MORSI: (Inaudible).

AMANPOUR: Thank you. And all the Egyptian women are hoping that they will be respected and their rights will guaranteed. So I guess now that I have you here, I just want you to say it, loud and clear.

MORSI: Yes, loud and clearly, all Egyptian womans (sic) have the same rights like the men. They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife and my mother. They are all Egyptians. There is no differences whatsoever among the people in Egypt, the people of Egypt, there is none anything like believe or the sex or whatever you call, or you name.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to foreign policy. Of course, Egypt is one of the countries, one of the few countries in your region that has a peace treaty with Israel, the Camp David Accords of 1979. Now the Muslim Brotherhood has said that they would stand. But you've also said that you might put that to a referendum if you win the presidency.

Will you guarantee that you will not put that existing treaty to a referendum?

MORSI (through translator): Egypt is a great country, proud and ancient, and is a member of the United Nations. Egypt ,the institution, the state, in its new regime, respects all the treaties and agreements that have been implemented between it and the between the states of the world. With that, we confirm that we respect all the treaties that we have signed onto before the Egyptians.

At the same time, we say that what the Israelis have done in terms of violations in the past must be taken into account by the new Egypt, an Egypt with a message of peace.

We have come to the world with a message of peace, but we cannot permit any form of aggression upon us, whether in words or in deed. It's now time for the Israelis to know that the peace accord must be respected by both sides, and no parties to it should violate it.

AMANPOUR: As leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, you have, in the past, before you became the leader of this party, called Israeli leaders vampires and killers, and you basically said that even if you're president, you won't meet with the leaders. How is that going to work if you're president and you have a peace treaty with Israel?

MORSI (through translator): We want balanced international relations with all (inaudible) of the world. We continue to protect the accords we have made with all.

At the same time, we are able as Egyptians with an elected president to protect our border and to defend ourselves. And we won't allow anyone to threaten that border. Whoever wants to live in peace and follow those treaties must show his sincerity.

AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you one last question on the -- on the treaty with Israel, because you know, with all the translation, I just want to make sure that I've got it correctly.

Let me just get it straight.

Are you saying that if you are president, the treaty will stand, it will not go to a referendum and you will respect that treaty?

MORSI: Yes, of course. I will.

AMANPOUR: Got it. Loud and clear.

MORSI: Give me another point.


MORSI: Provided I will have respect, provided the other side keep it up and respect it.

AMANPOUR: Very, very good. Thank you.

MORSI: Thank you. Thank you. Same to you.


AMANPOUR: So far, President Morsi has sought to allay fears and assert his independence from the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the army. He has recently named his new cabinet, all of whom are technocrats, not Islamists. And the world will be watching to see if he can continue to chart a new course for Egypt.

Meantime, in Afghanistan, a new course has already begun through the U.S.-led coalition committed to leaving in 2014. Where will that leave President Hamid Karzai and his country? Just recently, the parliament has had his defense minister and interior ministers ousted. What will that mean for future stability? I'll talk to Hamid Karzai when we return.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to tonight's program. A look back at the most important interviews and stories we've done so far.

When I spoke with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he was negotiating a strategic partnership agreement with the United States. The agreement was a sort of post-nuptial, laying out terms of the U.S.-Afghan relationship moving ahead, once the U.S. withdraws.

The stakes are high. The destiny of everything the U.S. has fought for in Afghanistan and, indeed, the destiny of Afghanistan itself depends on how well the two countries stick to the terms of the deal.

I started by asking President Karzai about one of the crucial issues, and that's immunity, whether American soldiers would be protected from legal action in Afghan courts.


HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: In the current frame of things, the question of the U.S. bases and the stationing of U.S. personnel on Afghan soil will be discussed upon the signing of the broad framework of the strategic agreement that we are now working on for a year.

And within that negotiating period we will determine the status of forces agreement and the -- and the hows and the conditions for it. So that's to come, and I can't say anything about immunity in positive or negative right now.

AMANPOUR: Because you know why I'm asking. Obviously that was a big problem for Iraq and the U.S. couldn't get to keep its troops there, because Iraq did not agree to that -- to that -- to that clause.

If you had to predict would Afghanistan agree to that or not?

KARZAI: Well, ma'am, it depends on how this relationship will go forward. It depends on how the commitment (ph) of the international community, the United States' (inaudible) of Afghanistan will be judged by the Afghan people.

It depends on how successful this whole operation will be and particularly the conduct of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the economic assistance to Afghanistan, the stabilization efforts of Afghanistan, all of those are issues that will have an impact on how the Afghans will view the granting of immunity or the lack of it.

AMANPOUR: What is the state of those relations right now? How would you describe your relations, Afghan people's relations with U.S. forces, with the U.S. presence and with the international presence in your country?

KARZAI: Well, we are grateful for the assistance given to the Afghan people in the past 10 years by way of which we have achieved much significant progress in the area that I already mentioned. Our country is a better country today. Our country has overall stability. Our country's flag is flying around the world. Our economy is better. Our education is a lot better.

We have nearly 8 million students going to school, tens of thousands going to universities, thousands studying abroad in the rest of the world. Our health system is a lot better. We are going to professional provision of health services to our people now. So all that is something that the Afghan people are happy about, and thankful to the taxpayers' money in America and with our other allies.

But on the -- on the military front and the war on terror, there is much to be desired there. We have our very strong point of view stated time and again over the past many years without much attention to our point of view.

And we are not satisfied where the war on terror is concerned, where the provision of security to the Afghan individuals, Afghan people is concerned. That has been an area where we believe things could have been done better.

AMANPOUR: Are you concerned that Afghanistan will descend into a kind of a civil war after the U.S. and other NATO forces leave?

KARZAI: No. I'm not concerned about that at all. I'm rather very confident that once the international forces leave, the Afghan people will hold hands, will join hands to defend their country, to defeat terrorism.

But of course, we will need the continued assistance of the international community in forms other than the presence of the -- their troops on our soil. And that is being considered. We are right now talking with the United States on a strategic partnership between us.

We are talking with Germany right now. We have signed some with other partners. The removal or the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will not add to the dangers that we face.

AMANPOUR: What I want to ask you, then, is because part of your platform is to try to negotiate with elements of the Taliban, what pressure is there on the Taliban right now to negotiate? What can -- why would they want to, when they know the international forces are leaving, and their view is that they would like to be able to control Afghanistan?

KARZAI: The reason -- the reason I am sure we will be able to defend is because the past 10 years we have seen where Afghans have acted alone and in clearing areas of terrorists or those who come from abroad to attack us.

We have done well, and we have held those places well till today.

AMANPOUR: Are you not worried about the talk right now that the Afghan forces, which have already been trained and which are projected to be nearly 31/2 hundred thousand, are going to actually be less, because nobody can afford it, not the international community nor you, sir, can afford to keep up this huge 300,000-plus force?

KARZAI: We are not reducing the forces right now. We are negotiating with the United States and our -- and our NATO allies on a structure of force that will be sufficient as a matter of necessity for the conditions that we have today.

And that should go on at least till 2015, from 2015 onwards, keeping in mind the security environment of the country and the recent situation, Afghanistan will consider to reduce the number in accordance with the needs and the necessities that we may have.

AMANPOUR: So that presupposes that the Taliban is going to be, in some way, pacified or negotiated or some way brought into the process. That doesn't look like it's happening yet, even though I know that that's something that's on your mind. Are you having, right now, any negotiations with the Taliban?

KARZAI: Well, we have -- we have -- we have contacts with the Taliban. I cannot call that a formal negotiation with the Taliban at this point. We have had contacts with the Taliban in Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan. A formal negotiation, I hope, will come soon.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about America's counterterrorism strategy. As you very well know, it's relied a lot on drone strikes. Many of those have taken off from bases inside Afghanistan. Your foreign minister said in Washington recently that post-2014, after the U.S. leaves, Afghan territory will no longer be available to launch drone strikes.

Do you confirm that?

KARZAI: Well, we have not made -- we have not made Afghan territory available to any force, even today, for drone strikes against other countries. So this isn't by an agreement with us.

Beyond 2014, the agreement between Afghanistan and our international partners, including the United States, will certainly not have a provision by which they will be allowed to conduct an airstrike against a neighbor. That will not be there. Rather, it will be Afghanistan making sure that our neighbors are not threatened from our relations with other countries.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Karzai, thank you again.

KARZAI: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And with all the challenges ahead, much remains uncertain in Afghanistan, not only in its dealings with its neighbors and its Western allies, but with its own people.

In a country where boys are valued more than girls, Afghan parents sometimes pass their daughters off as their sons. For one woman, that masquerade has become a way of life and a way to be counted. Her remarkable story when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And a final thought, imagine a world where women have to disguise themselves as men just to be taken seriously as people. This is the world of Bibi Hokmina, a politician from the Khost province of Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.

I recently met her when she came to New York to speak at the Women in the World Summit, about women's rights in Afghanistan and around the globe.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Bibi Hokmina looks like a man, dresses like a man and has been elected to the local council in her rural province, which is dominated by men.

But Bibi Hokmina is a woman.

"My heart has become the heart of a man," she told me. "Just as a man cannot put on the dress of a woman, I cannot. It would be very shameful for me. I'm considered a man now."

Hokmina told me that she's lived as a boy since childhood. Her father told her that he needed a boy to fight alongside him after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

Indeed, dressing young girls as boys is quite common all over Afghanistan. Some families do it for social prestige and necessity, since boys are valued more than girls. And others do it for freedom, particularly in areas where women need male escorts to run basic errands, like going to the market.

"Our women have been deprived from their basic rights, even in the elections," she told me, "providing us limited seats as compared to men. We have been ignored. You people have been given your rights. Our rights have been deprived."

Ultimately, though, Hokmina hopes for a time where women in Afghanistan can just be women. But as the United States prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, Hokmina says that it must make sure that women don't again pay the price.

"The only solution," she tells me, "is to get Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations all together to bring the Taliban to the table and say to them, `Listen, you cannot do as you've done before. You must follow the law. And if you do not, you will be brought to justice." Otherwise," says Hokmina, "the cycle of war will just start all over again."


AMANPOUR: What an incredible story. And that is it for tonight's program. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.