Return to Transcripts main page


Turkey Ramps Up Anti-ISIS Efforts in Syria; French Burqini Bans Draw Ire; The Hunt for Another Earth

Aired August 25, 2016 - 08:00:00   ET



[14:00:20] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Turkey sends tanks and troops into Syria as it ramps up its war on ISIS. But what lies behind

this new offensive? My exclusive interview with President Erdogan's right- hand man, Ibrahim Kalin.

Plus, fashion forward or symbol of repression, as the burqini row erupts across France. But British designer Kausar Sacranie tells me women should

have the right to choose what they wear.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

It's Turkey's biggest plunge yet into the Syrian conflict with tanks, warplanes and Special Forces helping U.S.-backed Syrian rebels to retake

the strategic town of Jarabulus; the Islamic State's last foothold on the Turkish border.

Indeed backed by U.S. air power, the town fell within hours of the offensive being launched.

Our Ben Wedeman is by the Turkish/Syrian border and just filed this report for us.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): It was a relatively quick victory for the free syrian army fighters supported by

Turkish tanks, aircraft and coalition aircraft as well when they retook the Syrian town of Jarabulus just on the border.

I'll step out of the way so you can get a better scene.

Just behind that line of trees over there, about 200 meters, is the Syrian border. Beyond that is Jarabulus.

Now we're told that there was very little actual fighting when it came to the entry of the Syrian forces and the Turks into the town. One of the

Syrian fighters was killed. Three were wounded. As far as we know, they took no ISIS prisoners. The ISIS fighters seemed to disappear into the

Syrian hinterland. Now the question is what comes next.

We did hear from a senior Turkish official that among the goals Turkey has in this operation is the establishment of what that official called a

terror-free zone. Now, there's no way they can maintain a terror-free zone without the presence of Turkish troops.

And it's well known that Turkish officials are very concerned about the spreading influence of the U.S.-backed YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia that

has been able to expand the territory it controls fighting ISIS quite dramatically.

Turkish officials are very concerned about that. And we heard from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that one of the goals of this operation or

rather the objective is the YPG.

Now, they haven't been involved in armed clashes yet, but they have told the Americans they want the YPG to pull back from Manbij, which they were

able to take control of last week and beyond to the east of the Euphrates River.

American officials say that's going to happen, but on the ground it appears it hasn't happened yet. So Turkey now very ever, ever more deeply involved

in Syria. It may be easier to go in than it will be to get out.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from the Turkish/Syrian border.


AMANPOUR: And Ben there with the very latest.

The U.S.-backed operation comes at a tense time for relations between Washington and Ankara. As Turkey continues to push for the extradition of

the U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, which it blames for masterminding the recent failed coup attempt against President Erdogan.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting with Erdogan and other officials to smooth over their differences. He was overheard by reporters

telling them he wished Mr. Gulen, quote, "Were in another country, not in the U.S."

Joining me now to discuss this and the anti-ISIS offensive is President Erdogan's spokesman and special assistant, Ibrahim Kalin.

Mr. Kalin, welcome to the program. Thank you for joining us.

Can I start by asking you directly, what is your main aim inside Syria with this offensive? Is it against ISIS or is it to ensure that the Syrian

Kurds, the YPG, do not advance any further?

IBRAHIM KALIN, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN: Thanks, Christiane. Thanks for having me on.

The primary goal of Shield Euphrates, as the operation is called, is to clear our border from all ISIS terrorists as well as from other terrorist

elements, that includes the YPG and other, you know, possible terrorist groups.

[14:05:00] ISIS or Daesh, as we call it, has been launching a number of attacks to our towns in Kilis and other places, and especially after last

week's true side attack in Antep, where we lost 53 people.

We said enough is enough. And we already had in fact these plans under way. And in cooperation with the international coalition, with our

American allies, informing the Russians and with our support, the free Syrian army members entered the City of Jarabulus and cleared the city from

Daesh or ISIS. This is similar to what happen in Manbij, but the difference is that we didn't want to see any PYD-YPG elements in the City

of Jarabulus, which is right next to our border.

And now the town is very quiet and peaceful. There are no Daesh elements. They moved to the south and we want to keep it that way.

AMANPOUR: So what next, before I get back to the YPG.

What next then?

I mean, are you just going to stay there? Are you going to push further on?

Look, it's well known that Turkey always wanted this offensive to go against Assad and not just ISIS. But you seem to be shifting tactics


KALIN: Well, for the last two years, we've been arguing for a safe zone along the Turkish/Syrian border for a number of reasons. First of all, to

protect our borders, but also to provide a sanctuary for the Syrian refugees.

In fact, if you had this safe zone area, along the Turkish-Syrian border, we probably wouldn't have this many refugees in Turkey. As you know, we

have about 3 million refugees in Turkey from Syria at the moment.

And then those areas will be given to the Syrian people to manage, to control. And this is what's been happening in Jarabulus right now. And I

think it goes to show that if the modern Syrian opposition, a part of it is the free Syrian army, is supported properly, they can get the job done on

the ground.

So it's not only YPG that is fighting against Daesh or ISIS. In fact, if supported properly, free Syrian army and other moderate Syrian opposition

groups can do this in their fight against ISIS because, you know, they have been attacked by ISIS as much as they have been attacked by the regime

forces over the last couple of years.

AMANPOUR: But I'm interested to know, because there is a shift, first and foremost, you're in discussions with Russia. I know you're trying to mend

fences and you feel that you're back and re-establishing your relationship with Russia.

But you've also decided that at this moment, you are not insisting that Assad step down and that you are envisioning a role for him in, quote,

unquote, "A peaceful transition."

What is the root of this change by Ankara, by President Erdogan?

KALIN: Well, first of all, our position on the future of Assad hasn't changed. We believe Mr. Assad has no place in the future of Syria, because

he's lost all legitimacy. He's responsible for the killing of more than half a million people and responsible for millions of people who have

become refugees. So there is no place for him in the future of Syria.

For the transition period, that is an essential part of the political transition process, which we are working with Russians and Americans under

the U.N.

We would like to see -- we would like to focus on the mechanism rather than on the person. Some elements of the regime and elements of the opposition

can come together under the umbrella and under the premises that the Americans and the Russians have been discussing with us with the Saudi

Arabia, with Qatar, with Iran and all the other major players.

In fact, we can come up with a transition period, insisting on keeping Assad as part of the future or the political transition simply is a non-

starter and it makes things much more difficult on the ground. So our position on that hasn't changed.


KALIN: But at the same time, of course, we want to see a quick result of the blood letting in Syria, so we are talking to all the partners,

including Russians. And of course we have extensive discussions with Vice President Biden, when he was here yesterday.

So we are hoping that we will come up with some sort of a process and mechanism by which we can end this war.

AMANPOUR: Well, Vice President Biden and the Americans have basically told at your behest the YPG not to get any further towards Turkey, not to cross

the Euphrates, and they basically told them, if I'm correct, that you know, if you do and if you violate our command now, we will no longer give you

the kind of air support you need.

Now, presumably that's music to your ears. Has it totally repaired the breech in relations between the U.S. and Turkey?

KALIN: Well, we made it clear from the very beginning that YPG is an extension, is a Syrian branch of the PKK, which is recognized as a

terrorist organization by the European Union, by the United States and scores of other countries.

The claim that YPG is fighting against ISIS in Syria doesn't absolve it of its connections with the PKK Terrorist Organization. Furthermore, PYD and

YPG, they've been trying to create facts on the ground to grab more land from Arab towns, from Turkeymen towns and from others.

[14:10:18] This is what they did in (INAUDIBLE) and number of other places. And our agreement for the Manbij operation to clear Manbij from all Daesh

elements was that, you know, YPG and PYD elements will not stay in Manbij. So this is what's happening right now. And we asked them to go to the east

of the Euphrates River. So that's the agreement.

And it looks like it is working. We have no problem with the Kurds or Syria. The problem is with the YPG, PYD and other terrorist elements.

Just like we don't have any problem with our own Kurds, but we have a problem with the PKK, which claims to represent the Kurds, and that is not

the case.

So in Syria, of course the disagreement on the YPG, PYD issue continues but I think the Jarabulus operation, where free Syrian army entered the city

and cleared it from all Daesh or ISIS elements dismantles this myth that YPG is the only force -- effective force on the ground fighting against


AMANPOUR: Indeed, we'll see whether these forces that your backing continue to move on.

But let me ask you more about the U.S. relationship.

Obviously, you want Fethullah Gulen extradited. You have Justice Department lawyers and others working with your own people to try to figure

out this investigation. And you heard what president -- Vice President Joe Biden has reported to have said, he wished he wasn't in the u.s.

Are you satisfied with what the U.S. is doing? The speed at which this is moving. The U.S. says it could take a long, long time for this to be

resolved, if ever.

KALIN: Well, in a sense we are at the beginning of a new process. Vice President Biden, I believe expressed his sympathies and the extent to which

he understands now the magnitude of what happened here.

Because for a lot of people outside Turkey, they may not understand the, you know, severe nature and the magnitude of what happened here, so his

visit, you know, to the parliament, to the places where they were bombed, you know, by this military coup plotters probably made an impression on


And also, I believe he also saw how serious people here are and united about the Gulenists cult and their criminal network both here in Turkey as

well as in the rest of the world. And why there is this consensus on Gulen's extradition.

Christiane, we want justice after what happened. We don't want revenge. We are after justice. People are asking for justice and closure, not



AMANPOUR: I need to ask you about that. In the final --


KALIN: So Gulen's extradition is part of this.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you that. Because people do think revenge is happening and whole scale revenge with tens of thousands of people being

rounded up and shoved into jail.

So there's a huge amount of concern despite the fact that this was an legitimate coup attempt, that the people of Turkey came out and supported

President Erdogan. You know, stared down the coup and it failed.

But, nonetheless, you know, really, can you really arrest tens of thousands of people, journalists, opposition figures, I mean, in every walk of

society and keep them in jail? How is that going to work?

KALIN: Well, first of all, a large number of people participated in the coup on July 15th, so we have to keep this in mind. You know, thousands of

people from military, from judiciary, from other places.

Secondly, there was a team of 70 prosecutors that is conducting this investigation at the moment, so they are doing their job. Some people are

being detained, some are arrested. There is a court case or a judicial investigation going on. We will find out more as more evidence comes up.

But those have been connected to the Gulen cult and movement, which is now declared as a terrorist organization in Turkey, of course they will have to

be investigated.

You know, at one point Gulen claimed that he has millions of followers. So what's happening in Turkey is proportionate to the magnitude and severity

of what happened on July 15th.

Secondly as a reminder, this is not very different from what Germany did in the early 1990s when the two Germanys united. They sacked also thousands

of thousands of civilian servants -- civil servants on the grounds that they may have connections to the old regime, Stasi (ph), and so on and so



KALIN: So this is in the line -- in the light of what happened there, this is a judicial process. The prosecutors are doing their job. But there is,

as I said, there is a growing consensus on what needs to be done to make sure that, you know, such coup attempts do not happen again in Turkey.

AMANPOUR: Ibrahim Kalin, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

KALIN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed.

Now, as the Syrian war drags on into its fifth devastating year, with diplomacy failing at every turn, across the world in Latin America,

Colombia offers some hope that the hard, consistent slog for peace can work. Celebrations in the streets as a peace accord is signed with FARC

rebels after 52 years of war.

[14:15:15] Coming up next, the burqini bust-up that's been heard and seen the world over as France goes to war over swimwear. We speak to a leading

burqini designer -- next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Regulating your fashion. An increasing number of coastal French towns are banning the burqini. A modesty garment originally designed for Muslim

women causing a fierce backlash for Muslims and non-Muslims alike sparked mostly by this image of a woman in Nice surrounded by police, being fined

and forced to remove some of her clothing.

The European court of human rights and a top French court are all involved in this battle over beachwear, but the government there isn't backing down

saying that it is defending liberalism and secularism.


MANUEL VALIS, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER: This word burqini comes from bikini and burqa. And this for me is a symbol of the enslavement of a woman.

It's like the presence of a woman in a public area were indecent, we have to cover her again.


AMANPOUR: And of course it's not just France. Many countries in the western world have restrictions or outright bans on full-face veils, for


Joining me now is a fierce defender and designer of the burqini, Kausar Sacranie, who founded her own company, Modestly Active.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So does it not represent the enslavement of women?

SACRANIE: No, it doesn't. No.

AMANPOUR: Why not? I mean, what we know of the burqa, let's face it, is from the Taliban who enforced it on women in Afghanistan and around the

Muslim world where, frankly, patriarchal societies demand that Muslim women be totally covered up.

SACRANIE: Yes. That is -- I understand that, what you're saying, that, you know, in Afghanistan and that they have this vision.

What difference is it that France is putting on us right now? Regarding my product or anybody else's product in France. So I don't see why they're

banning this product. There is nothing wrong with it. It's just a two- piece garment which is allowing women to be liberal, to integrate in society and, you know, enjoy the beach and enjoy the water.

AMANPOUR: Let's see it, because you brought it in. You're one of the earliest designers of the burqini. And in fact, I think you designed one

for Nigella Lawson, who is not a Muslim, very western.


AMANPOUR: And quite revealing in many of her clothes, but she wanted it for what reason?

SACRANIE: Nigella Lawson wore my product because she's a very pale skinned -- that's what she wore it for.


AMANPOUR: You mean, to protect herself from the fierce sun.

SACRANIE: Yes, protect herself from the sun. And she has a history of, you know, cancer in her family. So, therefore, this is the reason why she

wore it, because she didn't want to show off her bits and bumps on the beach, especially most important thing was to protect her from the sun.

AMANPOUR: And, you know, it's obviously erupted now, this backlash, this sort of controversy over the burqini because of what we're seeing happening

in France in terms of it being banned.

But these so-called modesty garments have been rocketing in their sales for the last several years.

I mean, why did you start your business to begin with?

[14:20:00] I started my business, and why I designed this concept and why I put it together, it was for my personal use. When I actually wanted to

cover, when I was, you know, not happy wearing the leggings and the T- shirts, which is a health and safety issue, it was dragging me down. It wasn't allowing me to be free in the water the way I wanted it.

AMANPOUR: But this is -- isn't this leggings and things as well?

SACRANIE: Yes. If you have a look at this product, this is made out of the finest materials, OK? This allows you to swim comfortably without

dragging you down. These are approved products. These are multi-award winning product, and this is why it's got the UV protection on it, it's got

sea salt resistant on it, it's got the chlorine-resistant on it and it's got the water-resistant on it so it stops you from dragging. It stops that


AMANPOUR: You mean, most Muslim women would have to go in with their full hijabs and chadors, is that what you're saying.

SACRANIE: That's their personal choice if they wanted to. But now I have given them an option that they don't have to cover, that they have to go

into the pool, or they don't have to go on the beach with their burqa and not being able to enjoy the water like everybody else does.

AMANPOUR: So as you know, there have been lots of pictures of fully clad nuns in their habits that have been tweeted around in the midst of this

crisis, in the midst of this controversy. And people are saying if nuns can go in the water fully-clothed in their religious garb, why shouldn't

Muslim women we able to do it.

SACRANIE: Of course.

AMANPOUR: But do you accept the fact that this is happening in France, where in the name of a perverted vision of Islam, people have been

barrelling into ordinary people with vehicles, with guns, I mean, basically slaughtering civilians. And this is coming at a time of amazing

sensitivity in France.

Can you understand their reaction to this on the beach, especially in Nice?

SACRANIE: I can understand their reaction, but at no point does -- how can you associate a burqini with somebody behaving like this. I don't


I'm not condoning that what they're doing or what's happened in France. You know, it's absolutely wrong, that's 100 percent. But what is a two-

piece garment going to do or harm anybody else?

You know, like what I've been told before, that, oh, this is extremists and, you know, this is offending people on the beach.

Why is it offending them? What is it that is offending them? You know, we should be able to wear what we want and, you know, we shouldn't have -- I

don't think anybody should have a problem.

AMANPOUR: Many men or some have tweeted pictures of them in full wetsuits, which some of them wear on the beach and next to this -- you know, asking

what's the difference if a man wears a wetsuit or a woman wears a burqini.

What do you think is going to happen if this ban is enforced? In other words, you know, even if people are uncomfortable with women wearing this

on the beach, what will a ban, do you think, have -- what will the result be?

SACRANIE: I think what's happened -- obviously, it's not been taken nicely. People are not happy with this ban. And as women, we have been

fighting for 100 years for liberation, equality in order to be able to have the equality, even after 100 years, we are still fighting. And, you know,

France is taking us all the way back again. We are still fighting to be equal in pay, equal in society and everything. And now we are told what we

can wear, what we can't wear. Where is the freedom of choice, you know?

AMANPOUR: It is so interesting because this is a crazy dilemma for liberals who believe in the freedom that you're talking about, but also

many of them believe that this garment is actually anti-freedom because it's forced on them in so many cases.

SACRANIE: Then why are the women that are not practicing, why are the women that are not Muslim wearing them? Why are they choosing that?

Is somebody forcing them? Is somebody oppressing them? No. It's a freedom of choice. Not everybody wants to show their bits and bumps.

Everybody wants to enjoy and everybody should have their right to enjoy it. That's what I think.

AMANPOUR: Kausar Sacranie, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

SACRANIE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Well, as the French mayors engage in the battle of the burqini, Italy is reaping the benefits as some aficionados have reportedly abandoned

France for a nearby Italian resort town.

Alassio is less than two hours from the French border, happy to host burqini summer refugees and their euros.

When we come back, we're crossing borders, too, not to another country but to another world. Imagining the new home that could be out there amongst

the stars -- next.


[14:26:45] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine a world not so far and not so different from our own, albeit elsewhere in our universe. This

week the European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of a new neighbor called Proxima B.

The planet is a little bigger than earth and predicted to have the similar rocky surface and crucially within the habitable zone of its own solar

system. That is the area with the distance from the sun that doesn't leave the planet scorched or frozen. Meaning liquid water and life could exist

somewhere on its surface, orbiting our solar system's nearest star.

One year on Proxima B -- one year on Proxima B lasts just 11 days with scientists believing that one side of the planet could be locked in

perpetual night.

In space terms it's quite close to us here on earth as well, just 4.2 light years away. That's about 70,000 years away for us mere mortals. And while

scientists delve into whether it can truly play host to life, we've still got to figure out how on earth to get there.

And that's it for our program tonight.

Remember, you can listen to our podcast any time. See us online at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching, and good-bye from London.