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Syria: More ceasefire talks amid chlorine attack; US defense secretary on Syria negotiations; Saudi Arabia foreign minister in London for Syria meetings; South Africa's ANC is losing its single party monopoly; Imagine a World: Seeking a haven from war. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired September 9, 2016 - 17:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: 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 US Defense Secretary Ash Carter on deep frustration with Russia.


ASH CARTER, US 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 ceasefire. I think that he keeps using barrel

bombs and he keeps using his air force and he keeps provoking the opposition.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, the party of Nelson Mandela, is this the end for South Africa's ruling ANC's uncontested grip 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 weren't so serious and if every second didn't count for the Syrian people, one might be tempted to view yet more ceasefire talks as Groundhog


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

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

Just days before they convened, 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, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter described the administration's frustration with Damascus and with


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



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 this 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 leverage in 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 UNGA

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.

[17:05:07] But this morning's episode suggests that, at 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've bent over

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

conditions and all the rest of it, at what point does the president, does the US 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 - let's 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 and the prolongation, as I said

from when they first went in, pouring gasoline on the Syrian civil war.

And we all know that, ultimately, resolving the civil war is necessary in Syria. 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 Raqqa and collapse ISIL's

control of Raqqa.

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 -


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

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

CARTER: - in Iraq, 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 what 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: Not deploring, but as a practical measure because Assad is conducting chemical warfare using chlorine.

CARTER: Well, 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 its own people.


AMANPOUR: Earlier this week, as 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.


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 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 this?

[17:09:57] AL-JUBEIR: I think Bashar al-Assad is not interested in a ceasefire. 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 I 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 their definition of it, and I can't characterize how they see the situation. So, that's up to them. I'll 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 chlorine bumps.

AMANPOUR: Turkey has changed. Has 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 I declaration calls for a transition of Assad's power gradually to a 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 nor do I believe that's the opposition position -

AMANPOUR: Is that the US' position?

AL-JUBEIR: And certainly it's not our position. I think you would have to ask the US, but my sense is -

AMANPOUR: Are you facing 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. 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 finished.

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 it in an election. 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 that 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.


[17:15:10] 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 racking up victories all over the country. Last month's municipal elections even saw it elect the new mayor of


From Cape Town, Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, told me that their victory is breaking the ANC's stranglehold on power.


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 those.

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, 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, 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 step-by-step

strategy on your part?

MAIMANE: In many ways, we sat 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 ANC has got and the idea of a closed crony society to one that's 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, our election campaign really anchored itself on the idea of change. And people came out and did


We also, as I said earlier on, made an offer on racialism. I think one of the critical distinguishing features is that both the ANC and the EFF 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 it.

AMANPOUR: Well, you raise an issue which the critics have been throwing at you and for, 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 elections 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?

MAIMANE: Look, 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 that. So, they don't support perhaps maybe our policies.

The key debate points that are going to come onboard are now the 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.

[17:20:10] But, going forward 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 principles 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, they call 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, would you say that he's broken the law. 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 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 persecute 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 face on their perilous journey out of Syria.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): We have witnessed the treacherous routes 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.

[17:25:07] For them and their family, Europe seemed to offer a safe haven, but the route through Turkey and over those mountains was almost


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


AMANPOUR: Strapped to these horses, they slowly made their way to the people 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 onshore. Their mother, Amsha (ph),

wondered whether they'd ever make it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitle): It was difficult for normal people. So, for us, it was really difficult. Nothing I say can describe what happened.

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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitle): And their disability is not just any kind of disability. They cannot do anything. All of their bodies are disabled.

They can't get themselves a glass of water. They can't even wipe their own tears.

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.