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Africa's First World War; Explosion of Violence in Iraq; Imagine a World

Aired November 5, 2013 - 14:00:00   ET


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

One of the worst wars of our time, a bloody conflict in Africa that's ground on, largely ignored by the world for the past two decades, now takes an important step towards peace.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5 million people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes and there's been an epidemic of rape.

But today there was a development few thought they would ever see, the rebel group M23 that's been fighting the government says it'll end its insurgency and lay down its weapons.

This conflict is known as Africa's first world war. The DRC is rich in minerals, many of them even turn up in the devices we hold in our hands, our cell phones.

Today's announcement came soon after a crushing U.N.-backed offensive by government forces in the eastern area of the country. When M23 made its boldest move last year taking over Goma, the main city in the east, the world woke up. This at a time when the United States is also refocusing its anti-terror fight onto Africa.

The U.N. approved a new, heavily-armed mission to fight the M23 rebels and the U.S. named a high-profile envoy, former Senator Russ Feingold. He joined me earlier from South Africa as news broke of the potential end of this rebellion.


AMANPOUR: Senator Feingold, thank you for joining me from South Africa.


AMANPOUR: Can you tell me whether this is for real?

Have the M23 not just announced an end to hostilities, but actually verifiably called an end to their rebellion?

FEINGOLD: This is a hopeful moment. You always have to be assured and verify in a situation such as all the problems in the eastern part of Congo.

But what has happened here is not simply the M23 rebellion, saying that they're going to have a cease-fire or a cease for a while. They have formally renounced their rebellion. And this is the first critical step in concluding what has been called the Kampala Talks.

The Kampala Talks were called by President Museveni of Uganda last December; it's been very difficult to get them resolved.

But now we have M23 saying they're stopping their rebellion; the Democratic Republic of the Congo has responded appropriately. So we are optimistic there can be a signing of the arrangements to make this possible in the next few days.

And this is a hopeful first step toward peace and prosperity in this region.

AMANPOUR: So do you think, then, that this could mean an end to two decades of conflict in the DRC? I mean, 800,000 people have had to flee their homes in this fighting. Millions have been killed over, you know, many, many years.

Is this the end of that, do you think?

FEINGOLD: It would be a great oversimplification to call this important step the end of all that. Some 5 million to 6 million people have died in this conflict over the last 20 years. There are dozens of armed groups involved. There are complex issues involving the countries in the region.

We need a broader political dialogue to resolve that. But this step is important and it creates the momentum so we can get on to the fundamental issues that have led to, frankly, what is one of the worst tragedies that has occurred in the last 60 years. So no one should mistake this as the final solution to this problem. It's a positive first step.

AMANPOUR: One of the reasons the M23, you know, launched this war was because they perceived a previous agreement with the government to have been flawed, at least that's what many say, that they signed an agreement with the government in 2009 and that that was broken by the government.

Are there pitfalls?

Is there an assurance that there are actual protocols in place this time to make sure that doesn't happen?

FEINGOLD: Well, there was no justification for any group, whatever the agreement was in 2009, to start an armed rebellion, illegal rebellion.

Having said that, a lot of those agreements there were in secret. This is a transparent process.

I hope the agreement and believe the agreement will provide that people who were part of the rebellion but did not commit wars against -- war crimes or crimes against humanity, that they will have a chance to, on a case-by-case basis, individually, renounce rebellion as individuals.

So the vast majority would be allowed to reintegrate into Congolese life, to have a living and to have political rights.

However, there is a group of individuals, a smaller group, who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, who cannot be reintegrated, who cannot be granted amnesty as they were in the past.

That is something that is intolerable, not only to the Congo but to the international community and particularly to the United States, which rejects that kind of approach. That is a big difference from the 2009 agreement that gave more of a blanket amnesty.

AMANPOUR: Now a lot of people also point to the fact that, back then the Congolese President Kabila had talked about sending the biggest offenders, and particularly the leader of the M23, to the ICC, General Bosco Ntaganda. He is there now; but they believe that that idea of holding them accountable, as you call, actually spurred the latest round.

Do you worry that that might happen again?

FEINGOLD: There has to be accountability for those who committed crimes against humanity and war crimes. That accountability could, in some cases, occur in front of the ICC. But it doesn't have to.

In fact, my expectation is that most of the accountability will be through the Democratic Republic of the Congo's justice system, and the international community is to assist them in any way we can, but to make sure they have the right techniques, whether it be mixed courts or commissions of inquiry, to make that possible.

So the ICC has played a role in situations like this in the past, but by no means is the only show, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is going to reassert not only its sovereignty over all its territory, but also its ability to properly and fairly administer justice, accountability and punishment for those who have committed such crimes.

AMANPOUR: Senator, a key ally of the United States, Rwanda, the president there, Paul Kagame, has over and again denied that he was behind M23, that he backed M23, that he fueled their rebellion. He's denied it, although many people have accused him of doing it.

He's also said this about what needs to happen in the future. Let me play it for you.


PAUL KAGAME, PRESIDENT OF RWANDA: What the President of the United States was saying is rather it's about finding a solution to the problems that our conflict is not -- it's not a simple conflict. It's not just an issue of the M23 or one other problem. It's a number of problems that are together, that we need to sort out and move on.


AMANPOUR: So what he's saying is that it goes way beyond M23.

What can you say to that?

What can the United States do to try to help solve issues there beyond M23?

And are other African governments, African countries, on board with what's been declared today?

FEINGOLD: Not only is Rwanda a friend and ally of the United States of America, President Paul Kagame's statement that you just made is absolutely correct when he says there is far more to this problem than just the M23.

There are root causes of this dispute that has led to so much tragedy in the last 20 years that cannot be addressed through the Kampala Talks that are concluding at this point.

We need, in the context of the framework agreement, under the leadership of Mary Robinson, the special envoy from the United Nations, under the leadership of the African Union, a broader political dialogue -- in my view, perhaps, a mediated dialogue where these kinds of issues can be addressed as President Kagame suggests, with the countries involved at the table.

So Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, perhaps other countries, actually at the table of serious negotiations of the type that have occurred in the past, resolved very difficult international problems.

So that is correct. That's why I said at the top of the interview this is only the first step; a broader dialogue is essential.

Otherwise, we're going to keep seeing this again.

AMANPOUR: And Senator, finally, what's in it for the United States?

Why are you there helping to resolve this issue?

FEINGOLD: I've been asked to do this by the leadership of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry because it is their judgment -- and I know this because we've all served together in the Foreign Relations Committee -- that Africa is a very important place for the United States to have good relationships with.

We believe that the tragedy of the Eastern Congo is one of the worst that's occurred, and we have a moral responsibility to address it. But it goes beyond that.

The president and secretary of state have a positive vision for this region, that if we can get this conflict over and have the countries in that region work together, the enormous resources of that region can, for the first time, be for the people of that region, not for those who want to exploit those resources.

The United States believes this is important for peace and prosperity.

And we are all over the world, trying to make sure that places that are ungovernable or do not have proper governance are fixed, because people, negative actors, exploit places. As we've seen in other places around Africa and around the world, those are the places that people that want to do us harm exploit.

So it's in the national security interests of the United States as well as a moral obligation that both the president and the secretary of state have shown leadership on. And that's why I was pleased to take on this assignment at their request.

AMANPOUR: Senator Feingold, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

FEINGOLD: It was my pleasure, thank you.


AMANPOUR: And now while helping to broker peace among warring factions in Africa is challenging, as we've heard, imagine trying to do the same in Iraq after years of renewed sectarian violence.

The former Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, was there in the bad times, after the U.S.-led invasion. Ten years later, I'll ask him if these times are even worse.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now Iraq has been in the news again and again for all the wrong reasons, an outburst of sectarian violence has killed almost 7,000 Iraqis this year alone. Dozens are being killed every day and it's making this the most violent year in Iraq in more than five years, and it's fueling fears of a descent into the kind of civil war that racked the country back in 2006.

Back then, the United States sent in a surge of troops, 140,000 at its height, to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Today, there are no U.S. troops there after President Obama withdrew them in 2011. And AQI is making a violent comeback, and it's feeding off the chaos in neighboring Syria and the rise of Al Qaeda there as well.

AQI is finding fertile ground in Iraq amongst the country's minority Sunni population, who are frustrated with the political muscle-flexing by the Shiite majority led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Any attempt at power sharing between Shiite, Sunni and Kurd seems to have fallen by the wayside during two terms of Maliki rule.

Now with the body count rising, the prime minister came to Washington last week to lobby for increased security aid. It was his first time in Washington in two years, and his relations with President Obama are distant at best.

Ayad Allawi was the interim prime minister of Iraq and a member of the U.S.-led interim governing council after the American invasion in 2003. He joins me now from his home in England, where he's recovering from knee surgery -- and get this, for an injury that dates back to an assassination attempt by Saddam Hussein in the 1970s.

Welcome to the program, Prime Minister. Good to see you and I'm glad to see that you're recovering.

AYAD ALLAWI, FORMER P.M. OF IRAQ: Thank you, Christiane.

Thank you for joining me on the program.

AMANPOUR: Now you are headed back to Iraq, you tell me, in about a week. But it's pretty bad there.


AMANPOUR: And I was really interested to hear one of the former U.S. commanders in Iraq, General John Allen, say that the United States could have prevented this bloodletting if only U.S. forces were still there.

Do you agree with that?

ALLAWI: It's not really -- this may be a part of a solution, very small part. But their solution as to reengage the political process and have it an inclusive political process and this is practically the way forward to stabilize the country.

Unfortunately, as I speak now, we don't have a viable inclusive political process. The -- it's not only Sunni versus Shia versus Kurds, but rather ex-fighters, ex-Army, ex-police, ex-security, ex-judiciary, those are all being disenfranchised in Iraq. And they have a component of Sunnis, Shias, Christians and so on.

So really the problem is much more -- much more deeper than is being simplified as a Sunni-Shia problem. This is part of the problem.

But the --


AMANPOUR: But Prime Minister?

ALLAWI: -- is...

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, sorry to interrupt you, and we'll talk about the politics, but many people believe, including former U.S. ambassadors, commanders, et cetera, that you can't really do as much as you would like on political progress without having security.

So the question is, do you think Prime Minister Maliki had a successful visit to the U.S.? Did -- do you believe he got what he wanted from President Obama? And what does the U.S. need to do to help at least in the security area right now?

ALLAWI: I don't think the U.S. have a larger stake to improve security overnight in Iraq. I don't know what he discussed -- and Maliki discussed in the U.S. But I definitely know that the ingredients of security are not there.

The ingredients, the three (inaudible) security lies upon is healthy political process; institutions which are professional, that control their responsibility and the economy finding jobs for the people, in a rich country like Iraq, where a third of the nation are under poverty line.

On top of this, we have gross interferences from our neighbor to our east, which is Iran. Iran have been trying to meddle with the Iraq efforts, especially after everything was dismantled upon occupation and Iraq -- Iran became the most important power wreaking havoc on Iraq and supporting militias and support sectarianism in Iraq.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, regarding the political situation, President Obama urged Prime Minister Maliki, the current prime minister, to make sure a new election law gets passed.

Apparently it has been passed; there will be elections according to what's been laid out in a road map.

Do you have hope for those elections?

And do you eventually plan to run for election again yourself?

ALLAWI: Of course. I mean, you know, we have fought for 30 years for my country, to get rid of tyranny. We will continue to play a role in politics. And definitely I'll go into elections.

But I don't have that much faith. Last time I won the elections, I was two seats in Parliament, and we were clearly the winners. And according to our constitution, the way I should form the government, or at least should be given the chance to form the government and the chance was according to our constitution for 45 days.

This even challenge we were denied to have. And according to Maliki, was reinstated, what the power of Iran, with the support of Iran with the acceptance of the U.S. And we are where we are now, unfortunately.

People have been betrayed in Iraq as far as the elections are concerned. And they felt that they went -- when they went to the ballots and they elected their -- whatever or whoever they elected, but yet the results were not to their -- to the -- to the standards of the -- of the (inaudible). But rather to Iran to decide what was doing there. And those were not doing there.

AMANPOUR: So what is your view of where the Sunni population is going to be?

I said that they felt frustrated and this is some fertile ground for the resurgence of Al Qaeda.

Is the Sunni population still willing to give politics a chance?

ALLAWI: It's getting much weaker, their resolve towards politics and towards election is getting much weaker now. Unfortunately the turnout in the last provincial elections, which was just under a year ago, was in the best 28 percent in the best areas in the -- in the -- in some of the -- like most are like Salah ad-Din (ph) and Anbar (ph).

And you know, all these provinces now have been demonstrating for the last seven months, eight months, and there are lots of adversities being committed against them.

So really there is a lot of faith lost in the -- in the elections and the results of the elections. And even on the democracy, there is a loss of faith. And that's why Al Qaeda is getting more powerful in the country, it's waging a clear war, sitting whenever they like at whatever -- whatever they like, without the government being able to do anything about this.

AMANPOUR: You sort of -- I know you're not playing down the violence, but obviously you're playing up the need for a political solution; everybody would agree to that. But how do you expect to be able to again try to defeat and push back Al Qaeda? And how dangerous are they right now, especially given the fact that Al Qaeda in Iraq has linked up with Al Qaeda in Syria?

ALLAWI: Well, Christiane, let me tell you frankly, if people are disenfranchised, if people are oppressed, if people are on the side, if people are not cared for, if they live in poverty, they will definitely go to the extreme. And this is unfortunately what's happening in almost half of the country.

And that's why Al Qaeda finds this as a fertile ground to grow (inaudible). And that's what's happening. Now what is contributing to this issue is what's happening in Syria on the one hand, and also what's happening in the rest of the region vis-a-vis the influences of Iran and the interferences of Iran to support sectarian issues as they are doing in Syria, as they are doing in Lebanon, unfortunately.

AMANPOUR: So how do you expect --


ALLAWI: (Inaudible) I mean, you know -- sorry. Go ahead.

AMANPOUR: I was going to say how do you expect to resolve these -- this impasse between, as you mentioned, Sunni-Shiite-Kurd, without an honest broker, without a mediator? The U.S. did used to provide that for you.

Do you think you need U.S. mediation, at least?

ALLAWI: I am not sure whether the -- you know, unfortunately our American friends do simplify things and they believe that the conflict is only Sunni-Shia-Kurdish. It's not. It's much wider, much deeper than this.

It all revolves around a very disenfranchising political process and especially amongst the Sunnis, where they feel they have been cheated. If this is not rectified and if things are not being done by the government to open up and have a dialogue, a real dialogue and to respect the process of democracy and the results of democracy, the elections, then there is no hope but for violence to increase.

And this is what's happening in Iraq, unfortunately. And I guess -- and I can see that even if there is coming elections, there will be more violence, unfortunately, during before, during and after the elections.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, painting a very grim picture there, thank you for joining us from London.

ALLAWI: Thank you. Thank you very much (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: And while Iraq struggles to forge a future, back in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein had an ambitious plan for an Iraqi space program, believe it or not. It never got past the testing stage. But imagine other nations that have known war and want now looking to the stars. The new race for outer space, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we've seen both the ravages of war and the prospects for peace here on Planet Earth. Now imagine a world where a new race for outer space, with new players, has achieved liftoff. Over 50 years ago, it was U.S. President John F. Kennedy who announced America's intention to beat the Soviet Union to the moon.


JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.


AMANPOUR: And today, a spacecraft was rocketed into orbit, the first stage in an ambitious mission to Mars. But it wasn't launched by the United States or Russia; the unmanned spacecraft was launched by India for the relatively bargain-basement cost of $73 million. It's scheduled to reach the Red Planet sometime next year, where it'll conduct scientific experiments.

While some say India should spend its treasure feeding its children, among the most malnourished on Earth, India is also a global rising economic power in open competition for research and resources.

China, one of India's chief competitors, has been sending manned missions into space for over a decade, not only with plans for a permanent space station, but a manned landing on Mars by mid-century.

From a one-man space program under construction in a back yard in Uganda, to South Africa's commitment to send its third satellite over the rainbow, to a joint space initiative between up-and-coming power Brazil and Russia, the race is on, and the sky is no longer the limit.

And that's it for tonight's program. Remember, you can always contact us at and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.