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U.S. Defense Secretary on Syria Negotiations; British PM Considering Migrant Controls; The Practicalities of Brexit; Seeking a Haven from War. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 7, 2016 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:18] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, after barrels of suspected chlorine were dropped on Aleppo injuring dozens of children, the

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has harsh words for Russia and its continued support of the Assad regime.


ASH CARTER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Obviously, if we could get them to a point where they stop doing the wrong thing and start to doing the right

thing in Syria, it would be very good for them. That's a decision they're going to have to make.


AMANPOUR: So Russia on the spot and the British prime minister faces a grilling in parliament over Brexit confusion, and how it will all shake


The British peer and former diplomat Paddy Ashdown joins this show, live. He's calling for new political movement away from polarizing extreme.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. In just over four months from now, the U.S. President

Barack Obama will leave the White House. His legacy will be judged for years to come on healthcare, race, guns and, of course, the foreign policy

crisis of his administration. That is Syria. Into its sixth year now, the war keeps raging on.

Opposition groups report a new chlorine attack by the Assad regime on more than a hundred people yesterday in Aleppo. It affected civilians,

including children struggling to breathe on this video released by the Syrian Civil Defense group.

While Syria's official opposition meets here in London, it's just been announce that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian

foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will meet again in Geneva on Thursday and Friday to try to reach the ceasefire that their bosses failed to achieve at

the G20 in China.

In an exclusive interview here in London, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter tells me that President Obama is giving Vladimir Putin one more

chance to prove that he is a real partner in Syria. But amidst deep skepticism that he'll use his power over Assad to push him towards that

vital political transition.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Secretary, welcome to the program.

CARTER: Good to be back.

AMANPOUR: Syria, yet more chlorine bombs apparently from regime aircraft as they always are.

What is the United States going to do about it?

CARTER: Well, this is why it's so important to get Russia to use its influence. That's why it said it got into Syria in the first place.

Because it could use its influence to help put an end to this civil war.

That is why Secretary Kerry is so patiently talking to the Russians. And as the president said he wants to test the proposition that the Russians

can at last do what they said they were going to do in Syria, namely make a political transition from the Assad regime which is necessary to put an end

to the civil war, which is the whole cause of all these suffering.

And also then join the campaign against extremism and particularly ISIL, which we are meanwhile conducting and having results in, but the Russians

aren't helping and not really participating in that

The thing that they really have led is the Syrian civil war.

AMANPOUR: So they are not doing what they said they were going do and the whole raison d'etre. A year ago, Vladimir Putin told the world at the U.N.

G.A., that the reason he was getting in was to fight ISIS. And you're saying they're not doing that.

CARTER: They have not done that. And they were two things. They have not done that, and he wanted to fight terrorism more generally. And the only

way to do that in Syria is to end the Syrian civil war.

But this morning's episode suggests that, as least as of this morning things are definitely not heading in the right direction --


AMANPOUR: If not, in the wrong direction.

CARTER: In that area of Syria. Exactly, right.


AMANPOUR: So are you skeptical?

CARTER: And I don't think Russia is going to bear the responsibility.

AMANPOUR: Are you skeptical that they will, that they can -- the Russians -- that they have any intention of doing this?

CARTER: Well, we will put that to the test. They have not shown that so far. Obviously, if we could get them to a point where they stop doing the

wrong thing and started doing the right thing in Syria. It will be very good for that. That's a decision they're going to have to make.

But, meanwhile, they bear the responsibility of the consequences of things that they could avoid.

AMANPOUR: And you're not hopeful.

CARTER: Well, I mean, you've got to keep hoping. The experience suggests that we're not close to that point yet.

AMANPOUR: Is there ever a point where you say, OK, Russia, you told us this a year ago. You haven't met your commitments. We bent over

backwards. We've tried to give you everything that you want, and there's a lot of criticism about United States trying to please Russia's, you know,

conditions and all the rest of it.

At what point does the president, does the U.S. say enough already? We tried this route and we're going to try another one.

[14:05:36] CARTER: I think what the president said is he wanted to give it one more try.

AMANPOUR: And then, what's plan B?

CARTER: Well, I don't see how this would end. I don't see whether we could work something out here. But, I think, one thing that's sure that is

if the Russia doesn't get on the right side of things here, they are going to bear the responsibility for the continuation of prolonged nation as I

said from they first went in, pouring gasoline on the Syrian civil war. And we all know that ultimately resolving the civil war is necessary in


Meanwhile, I'm confident we will defeat ISIL with the coalition. And we're taking steps to do that now. Forces we're working with in Syria are going

to prepare for the envelopment of Raqqah and collapse ISIL's control of Raqqah. You'll see in coming weeks and months that envelopment proceed.

And we have a similarly totally different context now, Iraq, working with the Iraqi government --

AMANPOUR: In Mosul --

CARTER: In Mosul, which is ISIL so to speak, second city --


AMANPOUR: How long do you think that will take to resolve?

CARTER: Same thing this fall. We are right now positioning around --


AMANPOUR: Weeks or months?

CARTER: It's ongoing right now, the positioning of those forces. With that, the two largest cities in -- was the originating tumor of this cancer

called ISIL. We will destroy. And then of course we have work to do all around the world and --


AMANPOUR: Let's get back to Syria.

The Turks have shown that with a little muscles, some tanks and U.S. air cover and their U.S. and Turkish-backed rebels, they can take down an ISIL

town Jarabulus in a matter of hours. They now want and they want the U.S. to help establish a safe zone in that northern part of Syria. This is

something that the U.S. said it would do and help Turkey with a year ago, and there's been no movement on it.

CARTER: And I don't think that's true.

AMANPOUR: Well, there was a speech in 2015, a declaration in 2015.

CARTER: Well, we have been urging Turkey for some time to work, to get better control of that segment of the border. I'm very please that they

are doing that now.

You're right, we are absolutely helping them on both sides of that border to secure that which is the last segment of the border with Turkey through

which foreign fighters otherwise have been flowing and supplies for ISIL. So this is a good development and one that we certainly welcome and are

working with the Turks to do.

And at the same time also, pursuant to the same objective, which is the defeat of ISIL, we're working with the Syrian democratic forces.

Obviously, those two, Turkey, our NATO ally and good friend, and the Syrian Democratic Forces, which have proven themselves effective in Manbij and

will, I'm sure be successful in enveloping Raqqah. They don't always see eye to eye.


CARTER: So it's important for us to work with them both, be transparent about what we're doing with both of them. What we're going that, we intend

to do it --


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about that --

CARTER: And manage that extension.

AMANPOUR: Yes. It appears there's a lot of tension so let me ask you about that.

You talked about the Syrian-Kurdish forces, which had been armed, trained, provided air cover, fought and died for you to fight ISIS. And now Turkey

is not happy about that.

The Syrian-Kurds are worried that United States is going to sell them out. As you already told them, OK, don't push any further forward and you talk

about managing tensions with Turkey

What can the Syrian-Kurds expect from the United States going forward?

CARTER: Well, the Syrian-Kurds are an important ingredient in the Syrian Democratic Forces, which we are supporting. They've been an important part

of the strength, and they have been successful on the battlefield, and we've kept our commitments to them and they have kept their commitments to


They're a valuable partner to us, therefore. And we intend to continue to keep our commitments to them as they move towards Raqqah.

[14:10:02] Now at the same time, we intend to keep our commitments to Turkey. And you're absolutely right and you understand this very well that

they don't get along with one another. That happens.

We understand very clearly what our interests are here, which is the defeat of ISIL. We communicate that to them and we work with both sides, and we

try to manage the tension which we understand. But the way to manage that is for each of them to know exactly what they're doing and for us to

establish the way with them. Ways that they cannot interfere with one another in the pursuit of their separate objectives.

So, for example, we have agreed with them about where each party will be geographically in such a way that they can conduct their operations again,

ISIL, and not run into each other which might create a circumstance in which there could be a collision between the two of them, which we don't

want to see.

AMANPOUR: Getting back quickly to chlorine. During the march (INAUDIBLE), crossing of the red line and no repercussions for the red line, there were

bans on Syrian chemical weapons and they allegedly gave up some. Chlorine, obviously, was not amongst those. Chlorine has been used to great effect

by the Assad regime on the people, latest in Aleppo.

Should chlorine be on the banned substances? Was it a mistake to keep it off?

CARTER: Well, chemical weapons are defined by an international organization. But, I mean, you can't cover up the fact that chlorine is a

horrible and disgusting way to attack other human beings and especially innocents. And that's why history has deplored the use of chemical

weapons. That's why there are international conventions that apply to chemical weapons.

AMANPOUR: Should chlorine be added in this case.

CARTER: That's a decision for the international body to make. But, I mean, as you and I sit here today, we don't have to decide whether we

deplore what we saw in --

AMANPOUR: No deploring, but there's a practical measure because Assad is conducting chemical warfare using chlorine.


CARTER: Well, I think it's very practically speaking, very practically speaking there I think we need to -- that's one of the reasons why we need

to get Russia to use its influence with Assad, which is why it said it got into Syria in the first place for good, which is to put an end to stuff

like this, the use of chlorine by the Syrian regime against it's own people.


AMANPOUR: So exclusive interview with Ash Carter there.

Meantime in Philadelphia, Donald Trump seeking to solidify a national security plans only to be sowing more confusion and more questions.

Having declared months ago that he actually has a great plan to defeat ISIS, he now says that if elected, he would give his advisers 30 days to

come up with one.

Next how to disrupt the forces of extreme politics and populism from the United States to here and all the way to Asia.

Former Royal Marine and former leader of the British Liberal Democrats Lord Paddy Ashdown joins me live on that after this.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

An increasingly common response to difficult problems these days seems to be, "build a wall." The latest today here in Britain when the government

proposed a big new wall in Calais to prevent migrants getting across to this country.

[14:15:00] Controlling migration, of course, was a red line for Brexit supporters, but Prime Minister Theresa May has already dismissed their plan

for a points-based immigration system like the one Australia has and she is also batting away some of their economic ideas, too.

So have voters been misled by their political leaders about how easy a post-Brexit Britain would be to build. On this and other issues, veteran,

British political leader Lord Paddy Ashdown joins me now.

He's concern that British and world politics are being driven to the extremes.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So on the whole issue of extremes, we've just talked about Donald Trump, basically just having witnessed an amazing speech by the U.N.

Human Rights Commissioner.

ASHDOWN: Really powerful speech.

AMANPOUR: Just putting on notice, bigots he called them from all over the world. What is it that you think you can do to change this dynamic?

ASHDOWN: Let me take it back. Because, first of all, I think conventional political parties are falling. I think they've lost contact with their

people's movements, and I think they were treating into sort of narrow, vertically-high rock much the same as 1870.

They don't realize that this is the network age, and I think they've got disconnected with political movements. And yet, this is the age of the

political movement.

AMANPOUR: When you say they, I mean, do you bare some responsibility? Does your party --

ASHDOWN: No, absolutely. I mean, the truth is the political classes have failed to fill that space in politics which should be about the clash of

principles and ideals, and it's become mere managerialism. And I watched it happen, and I've expressed my regrets and concerns about it. And that

vacuum was now being filled by lots of other ideas but the ugly ones.

So here's the question. You know, in the age we live in, with broadly the failure of the establishment, I think a revolt against the establishment,

as the political establishment is not holy and unreasonable. They are a rational thing to do. But why does every revolt have to be for something


Why does it have to produce a Farage or a Trump, or (INAUDIBLE) Deutschland or a Marine Le Penn? Could we have a political movement for something


So what we've established in Britain is that into that base movement, you can belong to any party to belong to it, which defends a series of broad

principles and which will seek to create a home for those millions who want to see respect in politics, internationalism, green policies tackling the

gap between rich and poor, but who don't believe that they can make an impact in politics through political parties. And it shows in the way they

can --


AMANPOUR: So how, if it's not a political party that doesn't put his money where his voters --

ASHDOWN: Oh, yes, it does --


AMANPOUR: How do you expect to affect the dynamic?

ASHDOWN: Two way. First of all, politics is driven by big money, which drives politics to the extreme. We want it to be founded by lots of small

money so credit funding.

We generate a large amount of money. We've already in five weeks got 30,000 who joined us, who want to make a difference in politics but don't

want to do it through political party. That money we will then plough into helping people get elected, who observe our principals and can belong to


AMANPOUR: Have you written a constitution? What is the plan? What are the principles?

ASHDOWN: The principles are all the things we just mentioned. You know, internationalism, an acceptance that we need immigration, with green

environmental policies, tackling the gap. All those things that sustain modern progressive politics.

Now, how do we do it? We will try funds, to raise money. We will then support those candidates of any party or none who support those principles

in politics and who are prepared to stand for them in election.

So we are providing a political movement, a people's political movement that can sustain progressive politics rather than having one that sustains

these ugly politics that we have been talking about yesterday.

AMANPOUR: In the meantime, you can describe it however you want, but there was a, either depending on how you look at it, a narrow vote for Brexit or

a convincing vote for Brexit.

ASHDOWN: It's a vote for Brexit. Let's not argue with it.

AMANPOUR: Fine. But in the aftermath, what is the solution.

So we've had, for instance, David Davis, who the prime minister, you know, made the Brexit negotiator. He went to parliament for his first speech.


ASHDOWN: I'll give you a straight answer.


ASHDOWN: I'll just note what that has unleash, because the ugly forces -- I don't say everybody who voted for Brexit -- many of them voted out of

conviction. I fully respect that. And I thoroughly respect the outcome of this. We can't reverse.

The voice of the British people, there are sovereign masses. Ever much I wish it went the other way, that's what we have to do.

We must now see what we can do to deliver the best interest of our country in the context of Brexit. And I love how we do that.

AMANPOUR: Well, in that context, let me ask you about the economy. This is what David Davis, the minister, named by the prime minister said about,

you know, what might come.

Listen to what he said Brexit would look like.


DAVID DAVIS, BRITISH POLITICIAN: It simply means leaving the European Union. This must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to

Britain from Europe. But also a positive outcome for those who wish to trade in goods and services.


[14:20:07] AMANPOUR: So, you know, it's really confusing still because then he said we don't have to stay in the single market, and then Theresa

May said no -- you know, she batted that down. That's not a government position. And then about immigration, they talked about an Australian

point system.


ASHDOWN: They got slapped very quickly.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and so is the Boris Johnson immigration plan. Theresa says no. So what's the plan?

ASHDOWN: These guys didn't expect to win so they didn't have a plan. They'll have to make it up. I'll tell you what I think would happen.

If Mrs. May puts the interest of the country first in the Brexit context, and I think she will, because I think that's her nature, she knows she must

take down, she must opposed the hard, right-wing totally extreme, anti- European MP's. I call them the brown shirts yesterday.


AMANPOUR: You did. Actually, I was going to note that's very, very harsh language, isn't it?

ASHDOWN: No, it's not harsh language. It's a metaphor. And I don't think we should ever be allowed ourselves to be frightened out of using


Metaphors are part of the English language. Everybody knows that I wasn't calling them narcist. I'm calling them extremist and they are like it's

tough or a bad luck.

But, look, here is the center. She will have to decide when she makes that decision, she is going to have to face these people down. My guess is she

won't say it, but we'll go for something like Norway. But in Norway, they call it Norway, but it will be Norway with an up bells and whistles and I

have to make it look like something else.

We will be in the single market and we will have to accept similar conditions including freedom movement. My guess is that's where it comes

out. She has an internal vote. I think you're going to see a split in the conservative party. And my guess is that the graph of probability, the

probability curve which suggest the general election rises strongly towards May of next year.

At that time, we have to find the means to beat back the ugly move which has been unleashed in Britain, which is now leading to increased number of

hate crimes.

Trump maybe alright for America. Certainly, he'll (INAUDIBLE). I hope he loses. But I don't think we're all prepared to tolerate it in Britain. A

more United UK is an Internet based organization that creates the people's movement, in which those who want to make an impact on politics can do so

without necessarily doing so through a political party.

AMANPOUR: All right. Lord Paddy Ashdown, thank you very much indeed.


AMANPOUR: And words are flying as you can see, but a picture tells the story of a major crisis, Syria, again.

And satellite imagery released by human rights watch shows tens of thousands of refugees, fleeing the war, who is stranded in the Jordanian

borders, waiting for water in the desert.

Will the latest ceasefire talks help them?

When we come back, we imagine the desperate escape from the hell of war. When you have to do it while disabled. Watch the journey of these Syrian

siblings -- next.


[14:25:02] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, UNICEF has just announced that almost half of all refugees around the world are children. That is a 75

percent increase in just five years.

There are not just huge challenges therefore to children seeking a haven from war, but also to the disabled. Tonight, we imagine a world of

difficulties that they face on their perilous journeys out of Syria.


AMANPOUR: We have witnessed the treacherous route that more than a million people have taken on the high seas and on land, risking their lives on

perilous journeys for way too many months now. But imagine crossing mountains without even the use of your legs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For normal people, it's very difficult. But for disabled people, it's like a miracle to cross the borders.

AMANPOUR: Siblings Eilan (ph) and Gian (ph) were born with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that severely hampered their escape from

ISIS in Syria. For them and their family, Europe seemed to offer a safe haven, but route through Turkey and over those mountains was almost


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we arrive at the top of the mountains, we took two horses, one for me and my sister, disabled sister, and the one for our


AMANPOUR: Strapped to these horses, they slowly made their way to the people's smugglers selling boat passages in Turkey. Crushed into a 6-meter

long boat with around 60 people on board, they were forced to abandon their wheelchairs on shore. Their mother, Amsha (ph), wondered whether they had

ever make it.


AMANPOUR: Four hours later, they landed on this Greek island and were given another set of wheelchairs. They were sent to the Ritsona refugee

camp on the mainland, but it's not easy to navigate in a wheelchair there and winter is fast approaching.


AMANPOUR: Waiting since March to reunite with their father and sister in Germany, Eilan (ph) spends his days teaching English to other Syrian

refugee children. Uncertain that he will ever get there, but still hopeful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a family there. I have a job. This is my dream.


AMANPOUR: So is there fate and the fate all of the Syrians still stuck under the barrel bombs and the heavy artillery that's at stake when the

talks between the Russians and the Americans resume yet again.

That's it for our program tonight.

Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.