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The Fight against ISIS and the Survival of Schengen; Iraqi Interior Minister on Turkish Troops; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 17, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: make or break for Europe's founding principle? Will Schengen survive as E.U. leaders try
again to impose limits on the flood of refugees and economic migrants?
France's foreign minister warns borders must be controlled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURENT FABIUS, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER: The moment will come when the different countries will have a tendency to say stop Schengen and we're
closing our frontiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Plus a reality check from ground zero in the battle against ISIS. Iraq's interior minister joins me from Baghdad.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
If ever there were a sober meeting, surely this is it. European leaders gathered in Brussels today for another summit, their last chance
this year to get a handle on their major crisis.
Almost 1 million refugees and migrants reached Europe across the sea this year, more than four times more than last year. And that puts the
central idea of open borders, Schengen, under threat like never before.
One piece of good news crossed as they met. Rivals in Libya, where the vast majority set sail across the Mediterranean, have signed a U.N.-
brokered peace agreement, which is aimed at creating a unity government.
The U.N. celebrated with four exclamation marks on its Twitter announcement. And I asked the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius how
this could stem the refugee flow and step up the fight against ISIS.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Fabius, welcome to the program.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, there is a lot of breaking news today, first about the refugees and the E.U. summit and borders that is underway.
People have said the survival of Schengen, open borders, is at stake.
Do you agree?
FABIUS: To a certain extent, because if we are not able to cope with that problem of limiting the number of migrants, then a moment will come
where -- when the different countries will have a tendency to say, stop Schengen and we're closing our frontiers.
And is the reason why, we have to find ways and means in order to control the number of migrants. And that is what this concern is about.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about Libya. There is news today of a very thorny problem and, of course, a lot of instability in Libya, that the
various factions meeting under U.N. auspices in Morocco have signed a peace deal.
What difference do you believe that is going to make?
FABIUS: It could make a big difference. You know that in Libya there is a serious crisis. You have two governments, two parliaments and daish,
ISIS, is gaining ground because of taking advantage of this instability.
Therefore, we have made a big effort in order to find an agreement which could unite, if I may say so, the two different factions.
Therefore, stemming from that, we have -- they have, the Libyans -- to have a government, first, of unity and then, obviously, this government
must have the real powers in order to govern and particularly in order to ensure security. And then this government, with our help, can fight
AMANPOUR: And about fighting daish or ISIS, they have now apparently taken up a serious base in the city of Sirte.
What can you all do -- let's say there's a united government -- to actually take on daish in Libya?
FABIUS: That's very true. Part of them are coming from Syria or from other places in order to go to Libya. And it's very dangerous because it's
a new country where they are. It's a very rich country with a lot of weapons and it's close to Europe, obviously, and it can be an element to
develop terrorism not only in Europe but in Tunisia, in the region and in other countries.
But you have first to have a unity government empowered with the capability of fighting against daish. And it's the plan for the next --
FABIUS: -- weeks and months.
AMANPOUR: Now you are in the fight against daish in Syria, in Iraq. And yet one of the things that we keep seeing is that they still have very,
very powerful financial lifelines.
Even if you manage to stop or slow down its oil, you know, money and revenue, it's getting nearly a billion dollars a year by tax, by extortion,
by confiscation of all sorts of assets and properties in Iraq and Syria.
FABIUS: Yes. The question of finance, it's obviously very important and is the reason why France in particular have insisted the fact that we
had to attack them through finance as well; it means attacking their oil convoys and now it's done.
And it's very important, because it's really tragic that they sent their oil to different people. Then we have to fight against all their
traffics. It can be art, it can be people, it can be drugs, many things.
And there is also the fact that they are imposing taxes on the population. But we have taken decisions and, in particular, there has been
recently meetings and particularly in the U.N. in order to attack them not only in terms of military forces but also in terms of finance.
AMANPOUR: But how do you do that, I guess, apart from attacking their convoys?
How do you stop them raising nearly $1 billion a year to pay their foreign recruits and to pretend like they're a state when they're
extorting, when they're taking taxes and bribes and all the kinds of stuff that organized crime does?
FABIUS: There are things that unfortunately we cannot control. For instance, the taxes, they're living on their population, if I may say so.
They can do it as long as they're controlling the population.
But for the trafficking on art and on finance, through international cooperation, we can and we must stop that.
AMANPOUR: Let me now talk about the ground force against daish. You know, the French, the British, the Americans, basically everybody knows
that an air war is not going to defeat them and that it is a ground war that has to happen.
We've talked about who are the ground forces. Let us be frank about this. The Kurds are the only ground forces who have shown any ability to
push these people back.
And yet certainly the Kurds in Iraq are not getting enough heavy weapons, enough ammunition, not enough equipment to be able to continue the
fight. You are all sending this through the central Iraqi government and they are, the Kurds, complaining that they're not getting it.
Why don't you directly arm the Kurds?
FABIUS: It is true that they are very courageous. And, really, they are excellent and very efficient. But it is true, too, that we are
committed to go through Iraqi government, because we are good friends of the Iraqi government, in order to deliver weapons to the Kurds.
I don't know, many -- maybe other countries are acting differently and it's true, it's very true, that the need to have a lot of weapons. But
sometimes we are concerned we are going through government.
AMANPOUR: Would you think you need to tell your Iraqi government partners to step up the delivery of heavy weapons and ammunition to the
only ground forces that you have against ISIS?
I don't understand why you don't just arm the Kurds.
FABIUS: Because, you know, Kurds are part of the -- so far as Iraqi Kurds are concerned, they are part of the Iraqi country and, therefore, we
have to go through that.
But the main point -- I insist on that -- that they have to have enough weapons because they are very good, excellent, active, courageous.
And everything which can be done in order to empower them to be efficient is good.
AMANPOUR: All right. All right.
What about COP 21?
You know, everybody is giving you all a lot of congratulations and praise for having brought off this amazing summit and having brought 195,
nearly 200 countries to agreement.
What is your feeling, one week after that happened?
And for the future, are --
AMANPOUR: -- you sure that it will all be implemented?
FABIUS: Well, I think the COP and the agreement, the Paris agreement, is really a turning point. And it was obviously very difficult to achieve,
because to put together 195 countries on a text, which is a very ambitious and precise text, it was very difficult.
But I think, honestly, nothing would have been possible without Paris. It doesn't mean that Paris solved everything. And now we have to implement
things both in the field of this international agreement and in the field of non-governmental actors. I mean, the local authorities, private
Things are changing and you will see, Christiane, that, in the coming months and years, there will be a growing change to a low-carbon economy,
if I may say so. And it is stemming from the Paris agreement and, therefore, my task as the president of the COP 21, because it keeps on
until next November, is to be sure that the agreement will be implemented.
And we have a precise schedule -- 2015, 2018, 2020, 2023. And I think it's a major shift. It's very important for us, because, obviously,
everybody knows that there is a terrible climate problem. But it's very important for our children and grandchildren. Therefore, there is still a
lot of work to do. But it is really a turning point.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, happened in the terrible shadow of the massacre of the French people in Paris just weeks before.
FABIUS: That's true, and -- that's true, Christiane. It was very moving, because during 15 days, because it lasted 15 days, this conference,
I've seen 195 countries supporting France and saying to the world that an answer to these terrorists was to say that a deep action of peace was
possible, a universal action.
And it was done in Paris, precisely in the place where these terrorists' actions have taken place. It was very, very impressive, very
impressive and very moving as well.
AMANPOUR: Very interesting times.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, thank you so much for joining us.
FABIUS: Thank you. My pleasure. Bye-bye.
AMANPOUR: And from fighting ISIS from afar to facing them inside your own country, my next guest, the Iraqi interior minister. He tells me how
Iraq is pushing ISIS back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Just earlier, I've been discussing with the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, how to choke ISIS of its funding. It's a question that's
dominating high-level talks at the United Nations Security Council in New York today.
Meantime, the U.S. Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, has spent the past two days in Iraq, trying to end the ISIS chokehold on places like Ramadi
and eventually --
AMANPOUR: -- Mosul and Fallujah. I asked Iraq's interior minister what more will it take and whether the deep divisions between Sunni and
Shiites there can ever be healed.
AMANPOUR: Minister Ghabban, welcome to the program.
MOHAMMED AL-GHABBAN, IRAQI INTERIOR MINISTER: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you first about an issue that has come up today about the Turkish troops that are there, the extra Turkish reinforcements
that your government is demanding be pulled back.
What are the developments there?
AL-GHABBAN: We continued our negotiation and our political and our diplomatic effort to convince the Turkish army and the Turkish government
to withdraw because this is violating the sovereignty of Iraq.
AMANPOUR: And has Turkey responded?
What does it say?
AL-GHABBAN: Well, the Turkish officials, they say that their presence is only for training, which we, again, we clearly stated and clearly said
even there are any need of training, this should be comply with the rules and should be coordinated and should be asked formally from the Iraqi
government, from the federal government. And so any presence that not comply with this rules is out of question.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me move on to U.S. forces and U.S. help.
Has the Iraqi government, will the Iraqi government request, for instance, Apache or other attack helicopters for that mission or any other
U.S. military help?
AL-GHABBAN: Well, as you know, we welcomed any help from international community, from the international coalitions.
As you know, this happened now for several months. U.S. forces and the coalition forces with the Iraqi permission, with the Iraqi government
permission, they're doing their airstrikes when we welcome this sort of support or any support than can help the ground Iraqi forces to go ahead to
defeat daish in different frontier and different areas.
AMANPOUR: Do you want Apache helicopters?
AL-GHABBAN: Well, any sort of military support, I mean, airstrike or helicopter that can help Iraqi ground forces to progress and to defeat
ISIS, whether in al-Anbar now we have the operation or other areas, this is -- should be decided by the chief of staff and the prime minister himself,
as the chief commander of the armies, they are in need or not.
AMANPOUR: You know that ever since this started, when ISIS started to take territory in 2014, a lot of questions raised about the Iraqi army and
why they just fled, why they didn't fight back, why they couldn't fight back.
You know that there are still many, many difficulties in Iraq between the Shiites of Iraq and the Sunnis of Iraqi.
And therefore you must know that your own party, the Badr Organization, is very, very controversial. And many accuse it of being
responsible, in great part, for a lot of these sectarian divisions and violence between the sides.
How do you respond to that?
AL-GHABBAN: Well, I think there is no problem between the Shia and Sunnis. This is, first of all, because the main issue and the conflict is
between political powers from the Sunnis. They are trying to gain the power.
The problem is that as you know, the external powers, some countries from regional, they have the agenda. They provoke those powers inside
As you know, daish and ISIS take this advantage from this crisis. And as you know, daish and ISIS targeted everybody and it is the danger of not
only Iraq, it is the enemy of the -- all the region and a threat to all the whole world, as we saw in the French and -- in France and other countries.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you though, because you talked about outside powers promoting their own agendas.
As you know, the Badr Organization is heavily promoted and backed by Iran and many, many people are very worried about that.
And particularly I want to read you something from a U.S. State Department cable that was released -- and it was back in 2009 -- regarding
the head of your party, Mr. Hadi al-Amiri, saying that he was one of the people who directed many of the sectarian killings and, quote, "One of
Amiri's preferred methods of killing allegedly involved using a power drill --
AMANPOUR: -- "to pierce the skulls of his adversaries," of his enemies.
How do you react to that?
AL-GHABBAN: You know, I'm not concerned about what is in the Internet, you know.
AMANPOUR: No, it's a U.S. State Department cable.
AL-GHABBAN: -- well, you mentioned about the drilling and about, you know, sectarian crimes. There are many, many rumors and many accusations.
It's not -- we are welcoming any proof of these things and, by the way, in no way Hadi al-Amiri involved in sectarian, you know, crimes.
On the contrary, he was a man of the state. So it is not true and I don't think Badr Organization was involved in any sectarian violation, on
AMANPOUR: Mr. Ghabban, a lot of people are still very concerned about these tensions and many people blame the Iranian-backed militias --
AL-GHABBAN: I'm concerned -- I'm concerned myself. Sorry, sorry. I'm concerned as well myself about the tension. I'm not denying there is a
tension. I'm not denying there is a problem, you know.
But the problem, as I said, it's the outside agenda.
AMANPOUR: But just a question then.
If you are concerned about that, have you also noted, have you done anything about the fact that, in some of these areas that were liberated by
the Iranian-backed militias, this cycle keeps being continued. First, ISIS rapes and pillages and then the Shiites rape and pillage.
Do you -- do you accept that?
And is there a way out of that?
AL-GHABBAN: Let me tell you about my experience when we liberated Tikrit -- it's hometown of Saddam, you know.
So when we -- all the forces jointly went forward to liberate Tikrit, on my side, as ministry of interior, as minister of interior and my
ministry and all, you know, forces we have in the ministry of interior, we did our best to secure the area.
Once we liberated the area, establish security. This is -- was the aim and now we see 80 percent of Tikrit people, they went back.
Yes, I know there were some violations. I'm not denying. There was some, you know, people, which, they did some violations. But of course, we
condemned these violations. We did our best, quickly acting to, you know, to control those violations and not to let any violations happen.
AMANPOUR: And, Minister, how do you assess now the state of the fight against ISIS?
Are you winning?
AL-GHABBAN: Forty percent of the area occupied by daish is liberated. Now they're losing their hold. They cannot resist. Whenever we do
operation, we liberate that area.
Yes, we have each other now, sometimes they have these sleeping cells, sometimes they have some shelters. People are refusing them because of
their acts, because they target everybody, because of their violations, because of their tyranny.
Nobody now tolerate ISIS. They have no place. And we will defeat ISIS and we will do our best because the main, now, I think, base for daish
is Mosul and Fallujah. And we have a plan in the future, after we liberating al-Anbar.
AMANPOUR: Minister Mohammed Al-Ghabban, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
AL-GHABBAN: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: After a break, we imagine a world of baseball diplomacy between America and Cuba, celebrating an important anniversary with their
shared sports stars. We hit that story out of the park, next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where shared national pastimes provide a diplomatic home run.
One year ago today, Presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama simultaneously announced to their people that they were normalizing ties
between their countries after half a century of Cold War.
Well, what greater way to celebrate that anniversary than with a game of baseball or La Pelota, as it's called in Cuba?
Not just any game and not just any players; this was aimed at mending ties between Cuba and Major League Baseball in the United States by
returning some prodigal sons, players like Yasiel Puig and Brayan Pena, were once vilified for fleeing Cuba.
But all was forgiven when they flew back to Havana, where they were swamped by family, friends and film crews before setting up a master class
for the city's children, a baseball clinic to teach a whole new generation of Cuban baseball stars, to teach them the tricks of the trade that they
had learned in the United States.
La Pelota has long been a national pastime on the island nation and of course the famously slow game has become a bit of a metaphor for the slow
pace of restoring commercial ties. Only now have Cuba and the United States agreed to restart direct flights between the countries but, who
knows. Perhaps they're just taking time to cover all their bases.
And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on
Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.