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Muslim Brotherhood Perspective on Egypt Crisis; Total Pullout of US Forces from Afghanistan Contemplated

Aired July 10, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


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

Just one year ago, Mohamed Morsy was starting his first term as Egypt's first freely elected president. Just before he took office, he told me that he would be president for all Egyptians.


MOHAMED MORSY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (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.


AMANPOUR: But he didn't. He was lambasted as catering just to Islamists. Mohamed Morsy remains locked up in an unknown location, detained by the military who toppled him last Wednesday. Although the country's caretaker foreign minister told me on this program that Morsy's being treated very well, the events of the past week have plunged Egypt into crisis. The country today is more divided than ever.

Just take a look at Cairo tonight. These are live pictures. On the right there, thousands of pro-Morsy supporters are once again demonstrating in the streets; on the left, Tahrir Square, which is the gathering place of the opposition, is mostly empty. Again, the caretaker foreign minister told me the new government wants to include the Muslim Brotherhood.


MOHAMMED KAMEL AMR, ACTING EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: As for the Muslim Brotherhood, what I'm sure of is that there is a stretch of hand to them to join. And, of course, it is up to them to accept that.

But there is a keenness within the leadership here to have as much consensus as possible.


AMANPOUR: But to the Brotherhood, it doesn't look much like an outstretched hand. Today, authorities issued an arrest warrant for the group's leader, Mohamed Badie, accusing him of inciting violence. The media, which is now firmly in thrall to the state, has taken to calling the Brotherhood terrorists. Their television stations have been silenced.

Add to that this week's killings of more than 50 Brotherhood backers and the group's call for continued protests against Morsy's toppling, and you have a very volatile brew.

Tonight, we get the perspective from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Amr Darag is a senior member of the group's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. He joins me now by phone from Cairo.

Mr. Darag, thank you for joining me.

Can you tell me -- ?



AMANPOUR: -- your reaction to the arrest warrant for Mohamed Badie? And has he been taken into custody?

DARAG: Well, actually this is not a strange thing to happen. I mean, actually the whole country has been seized. The whole country has been arrested by -- through a military coup; the legitimate president was (inaudible). The constitution was suspended. The parliament was (inaudible). So there is no wonder, I mean, that anybody can be arrested or what (inaudible) against anybody.

And this is quite expected.

AMANPOUR: So Mr. Darag, the accusation is that he's been inciting violence and that has certainly been a complaint by many in the opposition, including the military-backed rulers that the Brotherhood has been inciting violence and continues to do so.

What is your response to that given the fact that there is this constant call for, quote, "uprising in the street" against what's happened?

DARAG: First of all, the cause for uprising in the streets and not related just to the Muslim Brotherhood, the issue is not just the Brotherhood or President Morsy any longer. The issue is now what the Egyptian people will allow the democracy, their democracy to be taken away from them, the revolution dismantled.

The millions (ph) you see in the streets now are not only -- they are not all supporters of President Morsy or the Brotherhood. Many of them actually are reporters (ph) to the president.

But they are quite surprised that, all of a sudden, the democracy they've been working on for a long time that they thought that is going to be -- I mean, that they (inaudible) that would be very near with the election of a parliament after having a constitutional -- after having an elected president. And all of a sudden they find out that they are back to square minus one, actually.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, I want to ask you about the transition road map that's been put forward the interim government. But first beyond that, I just want to get it straight to ask whether your group is calling for any kind of violent protest. Now I'll tell you why, because signs have been seen, saying "Martyr in the Making," "Martyrdom or Legitimacy," "We won't leave until Morsy returns; otherwise, we'll die as martyrs."

Just be very clear about what you are asking your supporters to do.

DARAG: Actually the Brotherhood has never been violent. And the (inaudible) in the streets are not violent and, as a matter of fact, the opponents of President Morsy and the movement that (inaudible) on the 30th of June actually was doing exactly the same thing that the supporters of democracy are doing right now.

How can you call these -- this thing (inaudible) violence? I mean, this is demonstrations in the streets and sit-ins until the legitimacy (inaudible) can never be considered violence. And the killing that took place a couple (inaudible) ago actually were targeted against civilians who were praying and (inaudible) without any harm. Their backs were to the military and they were shot at.

So who is proposing (ph) violence? And if people are protesting in the streets, this is exactly the right that we have acquired after the revolution. So who is proposing (ph) violence? We -- the Muslim Brotherhood is never proposing (ph) violence.

All the speeches, including that by the -- by Dr. Mohamed Badie (ph) a few days back, if you recall, it was very clear that he was saying that we are going through (inaudible) our peaceful approach until we achieve what we are looking for, which is the regain of democracy. Where is the violence in that?

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, then about regaining democracy. Obviously everyone around the world looking in, including here in the United States, wants to see a return to democracy and civilian rule as soon as possible.

You heard the caretaker foreign minister, Mr. Mohammed Kamel Amr, say that there is a stretched hand, an outstretched hand to the Muslim Brotherhood, the interim leaders want you back into the political process.

Is there anything that they can do or say now to bring you back into the political process?

DARAG: They have to bring us back from (inaudible) first before (inaudible) the political scene (ph). I mean, the leaders, all the leader, the legitimate leaders that -- including the president himself, is in jail; the chairman of our party is in jail and many other prominent leaders are in prison right now with very funny charges.

So, I mean, how can any (inaudible) back into political -- a political process taking all this into account? I mean, there has to be some sense in what is being said there.

The minister of foreign affairs, actually he has been a minister all the time President Morsy was president. And he was doing a good job cooperating with the president and all of a sudden, they realized that we are not living in a democracy and that the army has to interfere in order to (inaudible) democracy.

This is absolutely astonishing for me. I mean, we've been colleagues in the cabinet. I was minister of the international cooperation within colleagues, we've been cooperating. And he never (inaudible) anything related to the absence (ph) of democracy or anything like that. If he didn't like the bed (ph), why didn't he resign?

AMANPOUR: Well, he did, actually.


DARAG: And now he's saying that --

AMANPOUR: You know, he did, during the big protest. He did resign. But that's not the point about what he did or he didn't do. I'm trying to figure out what you, what the Freedom and Justice Party, what the Muslim Brotherhood are doing now.

What are you talking about? What is your strategy? How do you recover from where you are now or do you just stay in the streets?

DARAG: Again, I want to stress the point that it's not just a Freedom and Justice Party. It is not the Brotherhood. It is a big section of the Egyptian people who do not like what happened, who do not like (inaudible). (Inaudible) president, dissolving (ph) the parliament, suspending the constitution, this is by all democratic standards illegitimate.

And that's why you have a lot of people now in the streets who do not belong to the Muslim Brotherhood or do not even support it or do not even support the President Morsy. But they are (inaudible) democracy and the only way to regain democracy peacefully is to remain in the streets demonstrating peacefully, expressing their opinion.

And this is exactly what's happened last week. And the military made use of that to say that they had to change the president (ph) based on the will of the people. Now we have also millions of people in the streets protesting and demanding legitimacy. (Inaudible) this is very clear in my mind.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Darag, you know, this is obviously a seminal moment in your country and what you choose to do is going to determine how democracy is going to be put back together again.

But you know, President Morsy, before he was deposed on the eve of the toppling, admitted that he had made mistakes. And clearly, and clearly mistakes were made. Anybody looking in can see that, that there was just too much of a rush to accumulate power. There was too much of a siding with just one group.

And it was -- it was very clear that it was an increasingly Islamist presidency with increasingly Islamist, you know, laws and other such things being pursued and very questionable people being appointed to various positions.

Can you see that mistakes were made?

And when you talk you're an 80-year-old brute. When you talk amongst yourselves, what do you -- what is your strategy for coming back from those -- from that -- from that time?

DARAG: Well, actually, the president acknowledged that mistakes were made. But he did not acknowledge the (inaudible) that you are -- what you are saying. He said there are mistakes and nobody is without mistakes. I mean, if any president or leader committed mistakes within one year of his term and he's out (inaudible) military coup (inaudible) chaos.

And it is very courageous to admit that (inaudible) mistakes. I mean, we are all human. We all make mistakes. But the mistakes he was talking about are not really related to the full acquisition (inaudible) if we did. And as a matter of fact, what happened during last week proved 100 percent that there was no power actually in the hands of the president.

I mean, he did not have any proof (ph). He did not have any support within the states (ph), within the officials. And that's why it was very easy to manage that coup. If (inaudible) that are being cited that he controlled every bit of the states (ph), that coup would have been easy to succeed.

But mistakes are related to other things and this is natural. (Inaudible) tells me which president that does not make mistakes. The President Obama definitely makes mistakes. Does this allow the army to go and oust him and bring his opponents to power? This is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, it's (inaudible) mistakes (inaudible). (Inaudible) nonsense, in my opinion.

AMANPOUR: All right, Mr. Darag. Thank you for joining me and we continue to try to report this very volatile situation from all sides. And of course, last night, we had our lengthy interview with the caretaker foreign minister who represents the interim government.

Tonight, of course, you've just heard from the Muslim Brotherhood, Amr Darag.

While competing factions fight over Egypt, it's up to Egypt's political satirists to provide some perspective and biting comic relief.

Here's a cartoonist known as Andil (ph), who captures the rage and recrimination on both sides.

On the right, a police officer with a gun; on the left, a so-called Islamist waving a stick.

Now the translation: the police officer says, "I am killing him because he is a terrorist."

The Islamist replies, "I'm a terrorist because he is killing me."

That is satire. And after a break, we'll turn to Afghanistan, another nation where democracy and theocracy have waged a desperate tug-of-war with the U.S. racing for the exit. Will the Taliban be the last one standing? When we return.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now when the United States announced plans to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the Obama administration said that a significant residual force would stay behind to advise and train the Afghan military, to assist them in the fight against Islamic terror groups.

But now incredibly a zero option is being seriously considered, in other words, no troops left in Afghanistan at all at the end of 2014. Negotiations with the Afghan president Hamid Karzai over the long-term status of American forces, have been dragging on for months. And in June, President Karzai unexpectedly broke off talks altogether after a blowup over the Taliban's new office in Doha, Qatar.

So is history repeating itself? Is the United States preparing to abandon Afghanistan once again?

Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, and he's written extensively about the region and his book, "Manhunt," is the definitive account of the search for Osama bin Laden. He joins me from our Washington bureau.

Peter, it is good to see you.


AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to now what's not sort of a last option but a viable option now, zero, zero forces in Afghanistan at the end of 2014?

BERGEN: Well, Christiane, I think it's a mistake. I mean, you've been to Afghanistan frequently and there's a kind of narrative about what the United States has done in Afghanistan, which is we abandoned them in 1989 after they helped defeat the Soviets and we helped them with that project.

We closed our embassy. We zeroed out aid. And then we, you know, sort of did nation building on the cheap in the initial stages of the George W. Bush administration 2001-2002.

So Afghans are very concerned about that we're going to sort of pull the plug again, turn off the lights. And I think a public discussion of the zero option by the Obama administration, I don't even really understand why -- if you're even going to do that, just do it; don't talk about it for months and months.

I mean, the real problem in Afghanistan is a kind of political crisis of, you know, what is the future going to hold and we keep saying some very conflicting things about what we're planning to do. And Afghans are understandably confused.

AMANPOUR: So why is it happening? I can't for the life of me figure out why, after making such a huge commitment, to really remaining-- and by the way, let me just play you a little bit of an interview I did in this regard with the new special envoy for Afghanistan, James Dobbins.


JAMES DOBBINS, SPECIAL ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: We're no longer going to be, at the end of next year, in a combat role vis-a-vis the Taliban. But we will have a significant residual American military and civilian presence.

We'll have a large assistance program, including a military assistance program. We'll have American soldiers who'll be advising and training Afghan units.

So they'll be a fairly significant residual American presence and commitment.


AMANPOUR: So that was a mere 10 days ago.

What's happened? I mean, that's the new Afghan envoy -- AfPak as it's called, for the Obama administration. What's happened in the last 10 days?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, I think that clip is very instructive because I mean, if we're confused by that, imagine what the Afghans are -- you know, feel. Here's the main diplomat saying we're going to be there in substantial numbers and then stories in "The New York Times" and now also on CNN, about the zero option.

I think what's changed, as far as I can tell, is that the Obama administration is extremely angry with President Karzai. And it's almost in a fit of pique that they've cut the zero option, it seems to become more serious.

But also there may have been, you know, I think there's long been a split in the Obama administration, as you know, Christiane, between those who always favored either a light or zero presence and those who wanted something more substantial and the people who are advocating for something pretty small. They're clearly at the moment, winning the debate internally.

AMANPOUR: So tell me then what would happen if the zero option was implemented? What would the fallout be? What are the risks of that as we stand right now?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, I think -- well, let's start with the fact that our NATO allies are going to head for the exits immediately themselves. I mean, if the United States is not going to have any kind of presence at all, why would Britain, Germany, Italy or any of the other 40 countries that are presently in Afghanistan in some shape or form also involved themselves?

And then, of course, it signals to the Taliban, you know, that basically that they have a -- they may have a pretty free reign. It signals to Pakistan that we're not serious about maintaining some sort of role in the region. And it's most importantly signals the Afghan government that we're basically washing our hands and the Afghan people, that we're washing our hands of them. I think it's very unfortunate.

AMANPOUR: And what -- let's say we wash our hands and we leave and we send all the wrong signals. Physically, on the ground, what will it look like? Are the Afghan forces ready? Is the Taliban going to roar back and snatch a victory? What will happen without any U.S. forces there?

BERGEN: I think the Taliban -- you know, it's a force of about 35,000 men. It's clearly able to hold rural areas. Even if we left completely tomorrow, it's not like they'd be able to take Kabul. There's a substantial Afghan army and police force, 350,000 strong. There's sort of a debate about their capabilities.

On the one hand, Afghan army units aren't really able to operate very independently with NATO air cover and other forms of support. But on the other hand, we've seen a lot of Afghan provinces being transferred to Afghan military kind of control. And that's gone somewhat well.

So you know, the Afghan national army is clearly a work in progress. But if we -- and when I say we, the United States and its NATO allies and other countries just aren't there on December 31st, 2014, I don't think that's at all helpful for the Afghan national army.

AMANPOUR: And at this point, do you think that there's any chance of any kind of, I don't know, negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government with the U.S. playing the role? I mean, everything seems to have just blown up in the last few days over that.

BERGEN: I -- blown up, I think, is a very good characterization. Everything's blown up, all the different parties seem to be very angry with each other. There is one major American negotiation with the Taliban over something very concrete, which I think will go forward, which is we have one American POW, Bo Bergdahl (ph), who's still been in the hands of the Taliban now for more than four years.

The Taliban want five senior Taliban officials in Guantanamo to be released to be -- they would go to Qatar where the Taliban office is and be under some sort of house arrest. That negotiation, I think, is likely to proceed because it's very concrete. And both sides want something very specific that is doable potentially.

AMANPOUR: And that might unlock the current impasse.

BERGEN: Yes. I mean, that would be a big confidence building measure.

AMANPOUR: Incredible. A work in progress. Peter Bergen, thank you very much as always for that insight.

And while the threat of the Taliban's return impels the safety and future of Afghanistan's women, extremists in other countries, most recently Nigeria, continue to wage a bloody campaign against educating girls and boys as well.

In Pakistan, one brave young teenager literally took a bullet for her right to go to school. Miraculously, Malala has lived to see her 16th birthday, which will be this weekend. She makes a wish for children everywhere. And we'll have that when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, Malala Yousafzai, the brave Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for going to school and daring to speak out about it, turns 16 on Friday. That would be incredible enough.

Now imagine a world where her birthday isn't celebrated with 16 candles like many girls her age, but as a triumph over ignorance and hate shared with millions of other young people around the globe.

Malala is flying here to New York to celebrate her birthday by addressing hundreds of other students from more than 80 countries at a special U.N. youth assembly to highlight the 57 million children worldwide who have no primary schooling.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, shown here Skyping with Malala, saw his own school destroyed as a boy growing up during the Korean War. He says, "The extremists have shown what frightens them most -- a girl with a book."

Malala has faced down that fear as she did a year before she was shot when the world first heard her call for education and human rights for girls and boys everywhere.


MALALA YOUSAFZAI, EDUCATION ACTIVIST: When I looked at my -- at my people and my school fellows and the ban on the girls' education and the -- and the Taliban, so I thought that I must stand up for my rights, the right of education, the right for peace. So I did it.


AMANPOUR: That precocious teenager is now a leader, about to take her place on the world stage. And we wish her a very happy birthday this weekend.

That's it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us on our website, Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.