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Saudi Foreign Minister in London for Syria Meeting; Saudi FM Defends Actions in Yemen; Extremist Preachers Sentenced to 5 and a Half Years in Prison; Democratic Alliance Promises an End to Corruption; Nomads Making a Move for Gold. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 6, 2016 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:11] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the Saudi Arabian foreign minister tells me they're still plugging away despite failing to

achieve a serious ceasefire at the G20.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With regards to the failure of the talks, I wouldn't characterize it as a failure, Christiane. I think it's still a work in

progress. There may be some possibility of reaching an arrangement over the next 24 hours so we'll see.


AMANPOUR: And South Africa's long ruling ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela, is this the end of its grip on power as the opposition snaps up victories

around the country.

The leader of the Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane joins this show live.

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

Millions of the world's Muslims are getting ready to embark on what for them is the spiritual journey of a lifetime. That is to Islam's most

sacred sites in Saudi Arabia. And the kingdom is busy preparing for a safe and smooth Hajj after a deadly stampede last year claimed the lives of

possibly thousands of people.

The famously rich country is dealing with a host of issues this year. Low oil prices are forcing the kingdom to make white spread reforms and deep

unfamiliar spending cuts.

It continues to flex its muscles in Yemen supporting its current president versus its former one, who's back by the Iranian-allied Houthi group. And

in Syria, the Saudis are still working to take down President Bashar al- Assad who is not budging.

The Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir is here in London for a meeting called by the Syrian opposition. And I asked him about the prospects of a

ceasefire and the benefits of yet another high-level meeting.


AMANPOUR: Foreign minister, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: You've just come back from the G20 in Hangzhou, China. And you know that there is so far a failure to achieve another ceasefire for Syria.

Both President Obama and President Putin despite 90 minutes of talks unable to close that gap. Why not as far as you know as one of the partners in


I think Bashar al-Assad is not interested in a cease fire. I think that he keeps using barrel bombs and he keeps using his air force and he keeps

provoking the opposition. I don't believe he has any interest in entering negotiations based on the Geneva 1 Formula and Security Council Resolution


AL-JUBEIR: I hope I'm wrong, but so far we haven't seen any of it. With regards to the failure of the talks, I wouldn't characterize it as a

failure, Christiane. I think it's still a work in progress. There may be some possibility of reaching an arrangement over the next 24 hours so we'll


AMANPOUR: And what sort of an arrangement because President Obama himself said that the gaps of trust between Russia and the United States, everybody

assumed that's what he meant, were too big to close at this moment.

AL-JUBEIR: That's a definition of it, and I can't characterize how they see the situation so that's up to them. I leave it at that. I think what

we have is we have a situation where there is a formula. We need to move on that formula. We have one party that's prepared to do so which is the

moderate opposition.

They have their plans. They have their vision. They have their road map if I can use that term. And we have the Bashar regime which has nothing

other than current bumps.

AMANPOUR: Turkey has change. Have said that actually now we accept Bashar Assad will be present during a transition. I understand that the United

States is also trying to get Saudi Arabia to accept that. Qatar to accept that.

Do you accept that Bashar Assad remains part of the transition process or in place during that period?

AL-JUBEIR: First of all, with regards to the Turkish position, we have been assured by Turkey many times that there is no change in their



AMANPOUR: So when they say that Assad can stay, you're saying no.

AL-JUBEIR: With regards to the transition, the Geneva 1 declaration calls for a transition of Assad's power gradually through governing council, and

then he steps aside.

So whether that process takes a day or a week or a month, I don't know. But he will have to give up power in order to leave.

Now if you think that Bashar al-Assad should stay for the complete transition, which is a year, a year and a half, then absolutely not.

That's not -- I don't believe that's the Turkish position and nor do I believe that's the opposition position and certainly it's not our position.

I think you would have to ask the U.S. but --


AMANPOUR: Are you taking that pressure from them, or those suggestions from them, or that encouragement from them?

[14:05:05] AL-JUBEIR: No, I don't believe that that's their position either. I believe that the position of the international community is that

he has to hand over power and then leave.

AMANPOUR: It appears that he thinks that he can win this because of Russia's support, Iran's support. You know, when we last talked in

February, this is what you said about Bashar Assad.


AL-JUBEIR: I believe Bashar al-Assad is weak, and I believe Bashar al- Assad is finish.


AMANPOUR: He's still there nine months later.

AL-JUBEIR: He's still finished. He won't be there. It's inevitable. It's just a matter of time. The Russian position has been that the Syrian

people have to decide the future of Bashar al-Assad.

The question becomes do they want to attend an election. And that could be a year, a year and a half down the road. I don't believe that's acceptable

to the Syrian people. I think the Syrian people have voted with their arms and with their feet. They have voted but they do not want this dictator to

be in Syria, and they are working very hard in order to bring him down.

AMANPOUR: How much help has Russia been to Assad since it made that surprise declaration that the UNGA a year ago, September of 2015, that it

was getting into the fight.

AL-JUBEIR: Without the Russian intervention, Bashar al-Assad would not have survived. Bashar al-Assad couldn't get his military to protect him so

he called help from the Iranians.

The Iranians sent the revolutionary guards and they brought Hezbollah, and they couldn't save him. So they brought in Shiite Militias from Iraq and

Afghanistan, and Pakistan and they couldn't save him. And then the Russians intervened and they will not be able to save him.

AMANPOUR: One of the most effective ground forces against ISIS and to an extent against Bashar Assad's forces has been the Syrian Kurds. The United

States has been backing them with air cover, with arms, with training, et cetera. And a lot of that was thrown into question over the last few

weeks, when Turkey basically decided that they didn't want that anymore. They wanted to push them back.

What do you think is going to be the result of that on the ground?

AL-JUBEIR: I think the Syrian moderate opposition has enough men, could have the capability to take on ISIS. I believe that Turkey is moving

against ISIS.

We in Saudi Arabia have offered to send ground troops into Syria in order to take on ISIS. We have a large number of countries from the summit

alliance who are prepared to send ground troops into Syria to fight ISIS. We need a plan and we need a decision so that we can proceed.

So I don't believe that there's a shortage of resources in taking on ISIS. It's just a matter of making the decision.

AMANPOUR: Finally, there is a crisis in Yemen. The Saudi led alliance against one party there. And both the United States, Britain, you know

many people are asking to see this, you know, brought to an end. But also particularly, the end of so much civilian casualties and death, and they've

placed that, many including the human rights community, have placed that at the feet of the Saudi led alliance.

AL-JUBEIR: We never wanted this war. It was imposed on us. We didn't stage a coup in Yemen and try to bring down a legitimate government. The

Houthi-Saleh did it.

We didn't tear up the Yemeni National Dialogue that was leading the country towards a more secure future. The Houthi-Saleh did it.

We didn't surround the legitimate government in Yemen and threaten to kill the president. The Houthi-Saleh did it.

We didn't take ballistic missiles and put them on our boarder to threaten us, they did.

We didn't lob ballistic missiles at them. They did at us. We went in at the request of the legitimate government to protect that government to

remove a threat to our boarders and to open up the process for a political settlement. From day one, we have said the solution to Yemen is a

political one based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216.


AMANPOUR: Are you any closer. It's been a long time now.


AL-JUBEIR: We hope so. We hope so. I think the -- what is -- what is -- what we're committed to is a political process and we hope that we'll see

some sun, will come to their senses and realize that they will not be allowed to take over Yemen.

The Houthis are less than 50,000 people out of 26 million, and they want to control the country. It's preposterous.

AMANPOUR: On that note, foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir, thank you very much.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And by the way, when it comes to cracking down on radicalism and trying to defeat the forces of ISIS and others like them, the UK has just

sentenced that firebrand preacher Anjem Choudary to 5-1/2 years in jail on charges of recruiting for ISIS.

Now I first met him here in London in 2007 for a documentary about Islamic extremism in Britain. At the time, he was railing against a speech by then

Pope Benedict.

But even then, you could see his attempt to denigrate western democracy and exacerbate Muslims and Christians.

[14:10:] Now reporters here in the UK say that before Choudary was radicalized decades ago, he was in fact a trained lawyer. He studied at

South Hampton University where he drank, smoked cannabis and indeed had casual sex.


ANJEM CHOUDARY, MUSLIM RADICAL: One day, you will conquer Rome! One day, one day you will conquer the White House!

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Anjem Choudary is the public face of Islamic extremism in Britain. His group, Al-Muhajiroun disbanded before the

British government could outlaw it under its new anti-terrorism rules, but that hasn't shut Choudary up.

CHOUDARY: Whoever insults Islam or insults the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam, deserves capital punishment!

AMANPOUR: That was Choudary's inflammatory rhetoric just days after Pope Benedict's controversial speech about Islam.

CHOUDARY: Pope Benedict, you will pay!

CROWD: Pope Benedict, you will pay!

CHOUDARY: The Mujahideen are on their way.

CROWD: The Mujahideen are on their way!

AMANPOUR: Outside Westminster Cathedral, British Catholics looked on in disbelief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can stand outside our church and abuse us, and abuse our religion and abuse people we hold dear, with absolute impunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The simple question to the Christians is, do you condemn what the pope said? Do you condemn the pope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't condemn --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you condemn what the pope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he said --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no? Do you condemn the pope?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any of us was to amble up to, you know, the mosque at Regent's Park and say anything in regards to Allah or Muhammad or what

have you. Best case scenario, take away the police for inciting racial hatred.

CHOUDARY: Democracy, hypocrisy!

CROWD CHANTING: Democracy, hypocrisy!

AMANPOUR: Even away from the bully pulpit, Choudary, who is a lawyer, not a cleric, continues to advocate extremist views, like calling for Sharia,

Islamic law for Britain.

CHOUDARY: All of the world belongs to Allah, and we will live according to the Sharia where we are. This is a fundamental belief of the Muslims. You

know, if I was to go to the jungle tomorrow, I'm not going to live like the animals.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Anjem, basically, a lot of what you're saying is, it's my way or the highway. I mean, how does that kind of logic fit into a

democratic state like the one we live in now? And like the one you live in? You live here by choice. Do you not believe in democracy

CHOUDARY: No, I don't at all. We believe that people must live according to the Sharia.

AMANPOUR: That would mean in a country such as Britain, people would have their hands cut off for robbery, we'd be stoned for what you call adultery,

hanged? You can see that happening?

CHOUDARY: One day the Sharia will be implemented in Britain. It's a matter of time. Whether it comes through our peaceful discussion and

debate, whether it comes because the Mujahideen would send an army one day, Allah knows.


AMANPOUR: Well, at the time, Anjem Choudary as you can see was full of fire and brimstone, but he always stayed just the right side of Britain's

hate speech laws. But that changed two years ago, when he publicly pledged allegiance to the ISIS founder Baghdadi.

So as we mentioned earlier, President Obama has been unable to end the war in Syria, but he's making history in Laos where he's the first sitting U.S.

president to visit there and he's trying to heal the wounds and the legacy of the Vietnam War.

He pledged $90 million to help clean up the tens of millions of unexploded U.S. bombs that still litter that South Asian nation.

And when we come back, the rainbow nation reaches for new skies. South Africa Democratic Alliance, the opposition party, rocks the political

landscape and we asked its leader whether it is paving the way for a real multiparty democracy now. That is after this.


[14:15:50] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now something extraordinary is happening under the global radar over there in South Africa. The ANC has dominated the country's politics since the

end of apartheid synonymous with Nelson Mandela. The party represented a new dawn for the nation.

Fast forward a couple of decades, though, the ANC has a trodden a path of broken dreams and promises. Poverty, corruption and inequality all thrive

with the country on the brink of economic recession.

South Africa's main opposition the Democratic Alliance says that it offers an alternative. The party prospered at last month's municipal elections

posting victories in Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and even Johannesburg.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance joins me now from Cape Town.


Mr. Maimane, welcome to the program.

How surprised are you? And how much of a watershed moment would you say this is for South African politics?

MMUSI MAIMANE, DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE LEADER: Good evening, and thank you so much for having us. It's an absolutely critical moment in South Africa

because in a world where you often see in Africa, many liberation movements stay in power for continuous periods of time.

In many of the major metros in South Africa, this has meant a significant change. So it has been a watershed in that out of the eight metros or the

big cities in Johannesburg that have such a big contribution to the economy, the Democratic Alliance is now the party that governs four of


And I think further more than that is that the dream of a party that is representative of black, white, Indian, colored South Africans, of all

races finally can come in and the electorate can stand up and say in 22 years subsequent to 1994's dream of Nelson Mandela, they would still affirm

their vote for a non-racial movement.

I think these are profound moments in our country and certainly signal a very important step towards the 2019 national elections at which South

Africans will go to the polls to elect a new president.

AMANPOUR: So, you know, we've listed some of the issues, the poverty, the endemic corruption, the country potentially on the brink of an economic

recession. But what do you attribute your victories to?

Is it the anti-establishment feeling that is sort of going around the world, or is it, you know, step-by-step strategy on your part?

MAIMANE: I mean, in many ways, we set back and looked at the economic climate in South Africa. It is absolutely a dire situation when you've got

9 million South Africans bustling to find work. This presents a very, very difficult situation for many people back here at home.

And so one of the thing that we needed to be clear about is to offer an economic plan. A plan that said, how do we stimulate micro enterprise?

How do we make sure South Africa is investor-friendly? How do we take the democratic project to a point at which when we talk about change, it's

material change from the hedge money that the NCS has gotten the idea of a closed crony society to one that is open that says how can we take the big

cities like Johannesburg and make sure they invest.

South Africans heard that message. And in fact, the election campaign really inked itself on the idea of change. And people came out and did


We also, as I said, early on, made an offer on racialism. I think one of the critical distinguishing features is that both the NC and the FF went

out and campaigned and said you'd have to vote as an expression of your race as opposed to an expression of your ideas and ideals.


MAIMANE: And we took it and said non-racialism is still an anchor of our democratic project. And that was proven that many South Africans still

have a great appetite for.

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, you raise an issue which the critics have been throwing at you. And certainly the ANC and others, they have said actually

this party is mostly white. Yes, you are a black South African and you're leading this party, but actually it's not really for the blacks.

So you've just sort of answered that, and the election seemed to have answered that. But one of your fiercest critics has been Julius Malema,

the leader of the EFF, and he had criticized the DA. And yet I believe in Johannesburg, you were able to win there and appoint the mayor because he

went into alliance with you.

Are you comfortable having that firebrand in your alliance?

[14:20:27] MAIMANE: The arrangement is quite -- it's a unique one in that we have a proportional representative system here in South Africa. So in

many ways, the EFF have not officially come into a coalition with us. They simply said for you to elect the mayor, we would then vote in support of


So they don't support perhaps maybe our policies. The key debate points that are going to come on board and other debate about the budget and

whether we can pass a plan that seems to address the issues of the people of Joburg.

So as we stand at the moment where no formal coalition agreement with the EFF, they remain in opposition, which I'm very comfortable with them.

Because ideologically, we could never agree on many issues, but going forward into this next election cycle and passing budget, I think both us

in the EFF can at least agree on one key thing that, A, it's better for change to happen away from the ANC and, B, the principals that we've agreed

on is to say how do we govern for the poor. How do we ensure that in fact we build an economy that's growing and creates more jobs?

And I think it is wise for them to be able to say we've shown that we're not a corrupt party. We are a party for all South Africans, and so I

welcome the opportunity they've allowed us to have to govern in Joburg even as a minority government to be able to steer that city towards a prosperous

city for all people.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned corruption. Obviously huge allegations and charges being leveled at the president and many, you know, they call you

know his cronies in the ANC, but particularly the world is sort of watching this fight, this internal fight go on in South Africa.

Pravin Gordhan, your finance minister, you know, would you say that he's broken the laws. Zuma has been trying to remove him, to prosecute him.

What is your view on him? And would you retain him in your administration should it come to that?

MAIMANE: Look, our view is simply to say no one particular individual is above prosecution. No one has pronounced guilt on the finance minister.

We're simply saying that if there is a case for him to be answered for, the national prosecuting authority must be able to charge him appropriately,

must be able to in fact investigate him should they need to do so.

We must never create a culture where anybody is above the law. But furthermore, what we've seen in South Africa, which is a much greater

challenge, is the state catcher done by the president and the use and the abuse of state.

And I think in that particular instance is for that reason that I'll be going to the parliament to process, to request that there be an independent

investigation to ensure that we deal independently with the stance or if you like the war that is seen taking place between the finance minister and

the presidency.

The long-term trajectory of this issue says how do we stabilize South Africa's economy to make sure that there's certainty for investors so

should it have to come to a question about whether there could be a new administration in place, I certainly think that Pravin Gordhan has proven

himself as a very competent individual, has proven himself to be able to make tough decisions in the face there off.

What South Africa needs at this point in time is stable leadership in the presidency. And so if it came down to a choice, it's very clear that you

can't have a corrupt president at the top who has captured the state and is using state institutions to prosecute people with prejudice. And

therefore, we do need a strong change at the top to make sure we stabilize South Africa's economy going forward so that it becomes a place that

investors globally can feel comfortable to be able to put their money into.

AMANPOUR: Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.


AMANPOUR: And now to the other political movement shaking South Africa, a group of Pretoria high school girls took to the streets in protest after

their school told them that, quote, "exotic natural afros should be tame."

As words spread, solidarity demonstrations sprung up across the country. Enter the National Department of Education, which suggested the school

should suspend its hair brained policy.

When we come back, as the Rio Paralympics Games get off the starting blocks tomorrow, we imagine a world of even more daring do. Discover the World

Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan. That, after this.


[14:27:02] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, away from the bright, shining Olympic torch and the imminent debut of the Paralympics, imagine a world

captivated by the aged old sports of eagle hunting and goat carcass polo known as Buzkashi in parts of Central Asia.

That is right. They're just a couple of the great games showcasing in Kyrgyzstan right now. They are officially called the Nomad Games, and the

idea is to celebrate the region's customs and culture.

One competition involves girl chasing where male horse riders chase down female riders and try to win a kiss.

Another is called mass wrestling where competitors grapple over a small stick. There are 23 of these different kinds of sports in total. While

away from the arena, Yurts have sprung up selling handmade crafts, playing ethnic music and even featuring the occasional fashion show with grannies

modelling traditional dress.

But there's no word on whether Uzbekistan is attending since the demise of its long-time dictator Islam Karimov this week.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast or see us online at And follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.