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U.S. Defense Secretary on Syria Negotiations; Democratic Alliance Promises an End to Corruption; Saudi Foreign Minister in London for Syria Meeting; Seeking a Haven from War. Aired 2:30p ET

Aired September 9, 2016 - 14:00   ET


[00:00:00] JONATHAN MANN, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann. This is "CNN News Now".

Russia's Foreign Minister suggests the United State is holding up a potential deal on a cease-fire for Syria. We're still waiting for Sergey

Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to speak to reports after their talks in Geneva, that's the rumor we expect to hear from them.

Lavrov says the U.S. delegation is now still consulting with Washington.

Meantime, the U.N. Security Council has been meeting in emergency session over North Korea's test of a nuclear device. U.S. detected a 5.3 magnitude

seismic event. Noth Korea says it conducted its fifth nuclear test and now has warhead small enough to fit atop a missile.

The Paris prosecutor says three women arrested this week in terror raids have ties to ISIS. One of the women had a letter pledging her allegiance

to extremist group. The women were arrested in connection with gas cylinders inside a car in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Thousands of trapped passengers have been rescued from cable cars high in the French Alps. There were stranded more than 3,600 meters above the

ground and forced to spend the night there after two cables crossed over each other and the cars became stuck in position. Bad weather also slowed

the rescue.

That's your "CNN News Now". Stay with us for "Amanpour".

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, my interviews with two key players in the Syrian civil war as diplomacy to end the violence is given yet

another shot, Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on why Assad must go, and the U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on deep frustration with



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

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

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SAUDI ARABIA: 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



AMANPOUR: Also ahead, the party of Nelson Mandela, is this the end for South Africa's ruling ANC's uncontested group on power? The leader of the

Democratic Alliance Mmusi Maimane joins the program as his opposition party steps up big victories around the nation.

Good evening, everyone and welcome to our weekend edition of this program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

If it was so serious and if every second didn't count for the Syrian people, one might be tempted to view yet more cease-fire talks as Groundhog

Day. But Friday morning in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov got around the table again to try to

reach the peace still that their bosses failed to achieve at the G20 in China.

Just days before they convene, another suspected chlorine attack by the Assad regime was launched on more than 100 people in Aleppo affecting

civilians, including children who are struggling to breathe on this video as you can see from the Syrian Civil Defense group.

In an exclusive interview here in London, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter described the administration's frustration with Damascus and with

Moscow. Without holding out much hope, Carter told me that President Obama is giving Vladimir Putin one more chance to prove that he is a real partner

in Syria.


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.

[00:05:10] 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.

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 our 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.

AMANPOUR: During the march vaunted, 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: Early this week is the official Syrian opposition laid out its political roadmap for the country at a conference right here in London. I

sat down with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir for his view from Riyadh.


[00:10:02] AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, welcome to the program.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

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 cease-fire 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 this?

AL-JUBEIR: 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 2254. 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 see.

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 roadmap 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 my sense is --

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

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: And coming up next, South Africa's opposition party rocking the political landscape. Could it be a defining moment for the rainbow nation?

That's next?


[00:15:34] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. The ANC has dominated South Africa's political landscape since the end of apartheid. The party

of Nelson Mandela, represented a new Democratic dawn for the nation, but fast-forward a couple of decades and that dawn has turned into a nightmare

of poverty, corruption and inequality for far too many people.

Now, the main opposition is rocking out victories all over the country. Last month's municipal elections even so elect the new mayor of

Johannesburg, from Cape Town, Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance told me that their victory is breaking the ANC's strangle hold on



AMANPOUR: 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


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 furthermore 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: 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 battling to find work. This presents a very, very difficult situation for many people back here at home.

And so one of the things 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're investor-friendly?

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 D.A. 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?

MAIMANE: Look, the arrangement is quite -- it's a unique one in that we have a proportional representative system here in South Africa.

[00:20:01] 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 that. 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 20 -- into this next election cycle and passing budget, I

think both us and 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 ad0ministration 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.

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

can't have a corrupt president at the top,

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: When we come back, we imagine a desperate escape from the hell of war in Syria. The journey of these two disabled Syrian siblings, next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, UNICEF announced this week that almost half of all refugees around the world are children. They face huge challenges

as they seek a haven from war and other disasters. But what about trying to flee while disabled?

Tonight, we imagine a world of difficulties they faced on their perilous journey 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: They and all those still trapped in Syria have so much at stake of course from this weekend's peace negotiations in Geneva.

And that is it for our program tonight, remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and


Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.