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Obama Gives Final U.N. Speech; Aid Convoys Attacked Near Aleppo; Canada's Prime Minister on Welcoming Refugees; Queen Rania Calling for Humanity; Horror of War Tempered by the Beauty of Music. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired September 20, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:30] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, live from New York, President Obama makes his final address to world leaders at the U.N.
General Assembly building behind me as they get a failing grade for addressing the number one issue of our time, the plight of 65 million
displaced people around the world.
We get a master class from one of the world's youngest and newest leaders, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The fact is Canadians understand that immigration, that people fleeing for their lives, people
wanting to build a better life for themselves and their kids is what created Canada. It's what created North America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Also ahead, shock and disgust. A U.N. aid convoy destined for Syria's most needy is bombed to smithereens. An exclusive as Jordan's
Queen Rania weighs in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN RANIA AL-ABDULLAH, QUEEN OF JORDAN: To see such a terrible crime take place just shows how much we have failed in Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Plus, from bombed out Damascus to European concert halls, the refugee playing to win hearts and minds.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations at the annual opening of the general
assembly. As any semblance of ceasefire in Syria goes up in flames with the bombing of an aid convoy and warehouse near Aleppo last night. At
least 20 people were killed and truckloads of food were destroyed.
This sickening sight shows how the United States and Russia, the main power brokers over Syria, cannot get humanitarian help to the desperately needy
civilians, much less a pause in the war long enough to give peace a chance.
The longer that rages, the more likely lone wolf terror attacks becoming, giving rise to more populism at the polls and a cold shoulder to refugees.
They are the focus of this general assembly, and President Obama used his final speech here to urge, of course, correction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe that at this moment, we all face a choice. We can choose to press forward with a better
model of cooperation and integration, or we can retreat into a world sharply divided. And ultimately in conflict along age-old lines of nation
and tribe and race and religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: This will be the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first speech here, and he has bought that trend opening his arms to Syrian
war refugees, and he explained how Canadians are embracing that policy when I sat down with him here in New York.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Trudeau, welcome to the program.
TRUDEAU: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: On one of the major issues that is actually, potentially a major political issue for governments around the world, particularly the
western world right now, the refugee crisis.
The idea of identity politics that is being played up right now. And you can see in Europe, you can see again here in the United States that that's
a real divisive issue.
You invited, I believe, 25,000 refugees in as one of the first things you did. And you said to them, you're home.
How is that working for you? How are you able to tell that story of integration and hospitality, and still get elected and see your polls
rising instead of falling?
TRUDEAU: Well, the fact is Canadians understand that immigration, that people fleeing for their lives, people wanting to build a better life
for themselves and their kids is what created Canada. It's what created North America.
Whether -- and even recently, whether it was the smiling Muslims coming from East Africa in the early 70s, whether it was the Vietnamese boat
people in the early '80s, there are communities who came to Canada and contributed extraordinarily to our success and our communities. And that
understanding that that's a source of strength for our country is something that everyone gets because everyone with the exception of our indigenous
peoples came from somewhere else.
And that idea that there's enough success to go around and, indeed, when your neighbors are successful, you have more chance of being successful.
You create successful societies. That's something that Canadians understand.
[14:05:10] Maybe it's the cold, maybe it's the length of the winter and maybe it's the spaces between our communities, but we know we have to lean
on, on each other and that works for us.
AMANPOUR: Why aren't people like Merkel or the United States, why aren't they able to tell that story? I guess what would you -- would you
advise any of these leaders on how better to tell their refugee story?
TRUDEAU: Well, I mean, there's a few different things. First of all is how you support language learning integration, get people jobs. You
can't just bring them over. You have to help them on a path towards being successful and sometimes it doesn't take a lot.
I mean, a lot of these families who are fleeing the Syrian civil war were professionals, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, a range of things that, you
know, really want to be able to continue to build a better life for themselves and their kids. And that's one thing to draw on.
The other issue is making sure, as we always have, that security is not an issue. I mean, Canadians know that we -- yes, we take security seriously.
Yes, there's proper screening. There always has been. There always will be.
But we know that bringing people in contributes to our society. And that acceptance that someone could be totally different from you, but share the
same values, openness, respect, compassion, a desire to see your kids succeed, a willingness to be there for each other, a search for equality,
for justice, shared values makes for strong societies. And when you don't wrap it up with surface identities, there's a deeper resilience and
AMANPOUR: You are here to say Canada is back, not just to the U.N. but basically on the international stage. Your predecessor would come and
not even go to the U.N. G.A.
Why is it and what is it that you're trying to do?
TRUDEAU: Well, I think one of the things we recognize is the world has a level of interconnectedness that it rarely -- it's never had before.
We are so much dependent on one another across borders, across economies that this trend line of concerns and worries and withdrawing support from
globalization I find is taking us in the wrong direction. And what we're doing in Canada was very much focused on showing inclusive growth,
diversity, opportunities for everyone, is a path forward and I'm finding a lot of reflection of the desire for that on the world stage.
So it's an opportunity to highlight what we're doing, but also you showcase what alternative there is to the Brexit negativity that tends to go on out
I think we have an important story to tell, and I think Canadians do better when they're engaged in the world.
AMANPOUR: I wonder if that important story is even more important right now. You know, it's often been said that Canada is a kind of
gentler, more sensible, sane America. And here you are in New York.
There's been a terror alert. A terror attack, we think. We've got very divisive politics in one of the most important elections that people are
looking at for a very long time.
How do you respond to that saner version of your southern neighbor?
TRUDEAU: Well, I think the first thing to highlight is that we're not all that different. I mean, the election campaign that got me elected
featured some tremendously negative personal attacks.
I mean, my main opponent spent about $25 million on personal attacks. And in Canadian politics, that's an awful lot of money.
There was Islamophobia. There was the politics of identity and division, and fear and security fears so we have the same kinds of conversations.
I just think what we were able to do in the last election collectively as Canadians is say, well, let's instead just recognize there are challenges,
but let's focus on how we can pull together to deal with these challenges, instead of trying to scapegoat or look for easy answers.
And that reflection, I think is something that we're seeing in different parts of the world as well.
AMANPOUR: And you just met in Montreal, I believe, with the mayor of London. The new mayor Sadiq Khan, the first ever Muslim mayor of London,
and who also faced a very negative and divisive campaign. And told me that it was the politics of hope that triumphed over the politics of fear and
The politics of fear and division are happening between Trump and Clinton.
How does a politician tell the story of hope and progress?
TRUDEAU: Well, I think -- I think people need to understand hope isn't just all touchy-feely, you know, pretending everything is great,
because everything is not great.
There is very real anxiety about the economy, about our job prospects, about our kids' jobs prospects, about security, about a world that is, you
know, more and more dangerous. We see it all the time on the news.
The question really becomes, well, what can we do to counteract that narrative? And what we've built our solution around is the idea of growth
that works for everyone, inclusive growth. Saying, look, we understand that trade and globalization has often benefited just the one percent, just
the multinationals, just the state level actors.
[14:10:17] Can we make sure that it starts to work for the middle-class again? Can we create policies that include everyone, whether it's access
to education, whether it's research and innovation, whether it's direct income support for the middle class and those working hard to join it?
AMANPOUR: You've made certain pledges to that regard, and in fact, the IMF chief Christine Lagarde was recently with you and said that she
hoped that your economic policies would go viral. And yet you're bucking the trend. I mean, you're not talking about austerity. You're talking
about stimulus. You're talking about closing the inequality gap by taxing the more wealthy.
Is that really a starter in Canada? Because everywhere else, they're talking about, you know, not doing that.
TRUDEAU: Absolutely a start. I think people understand that the wealthiest one percent are doing well. That the middle class is stalled so
we raise taxes a bit on the wealthiest one percent so that we could lower them for the middle class. It was the first thing we did when we got into
On top of that, we're putting out a child benefit that recognizes that, you know, people who have families get the same kinds of income besides someone
who doesn't at any given job.
So making sure that you're supporting particularly low and middle-income families with kids is money that will be spent on the economy. So it's
just -- it has a circulatory impact in terms of that. I would say stimulate it, but it does keep money in the pockets of people who need it
and who are going to spend it.
On top of that, we have interest rates at a record low level. Canada's debt to GDP balance is very healthy. Now is the time to be investing in
infrastructure. Investing in public transit, getting people to work and back home quicker, easier, cheaper, more reliably and more responsibly for
These are the things that people have been asking for that we said now is the time to invest in our future.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Trudeau, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
TRUDEAU: Real pleasure, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And tomorrow, we'll have part two of that fascinating interview with Prime Minister Trudeau.
Now much closer to the refugee crisis even than Canada, Jordan hosts more than a million refugees.
Queen Rania joins me next with a call to stop dehumanizing these people.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program from outside the United Nations. More than 300,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to
Europe so far this year. And the U.N. refugee agency warned today that 2016 looks to become the deadliest year on record for migrant crossings.
While arrivals are down by almost half over last year, the raging Syria war means the flow won't stop anytime soon.
Jordan is one of the frontline states hosting nearly one and a half million refugees.
And Queen Rania joined me for an exclusive interview telling me we desperately need to recast refugees on a global level.
AMANPOUR: Your majesty, welcome to the program.
QUEEN RANIA: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.
AMANPOUR: So you're here at a time when the refugee crisis is literally spilling out of control.
First, let me ask you your reaction to a really heinous act that's been likened to a war crime. The bombing of a convoy of aid trucks into Aleppo
and the aid warehouse. 20 civilians dead. The convoy totally mangled.
QUEEN RANIA: It's absolutely unacceptable. And I think it just shows the depths to which this crisis has descended to. I mean, the whole point
of the ceasefire was to try to give some relief for a little while so that we can give some aid to the people who have been stuck in this conflict.
And to see such a terrible crime take place just shows how much we have failed in Syria.
You know, I think the situation in Syria got to this point because initially, there was a political paralysis when it came to dealing with
Syria and a failure of international diplomacy to try to reach a political solution or to have a unified vision for Syria. And that has led to a
similar paralysis when it comes to dealing with refugees.
And, you know, I think that something has to be done about this. We can't let this pass because it just sets a terrible trend for the way we do
business in the world.
AMANPOUR: The refugee crisis has affected the whole of the western world. Democracies are at stake in the western world.
Angela Merkel, who was the most welcoming of all western leaders to refugees has paid very dearly at the polls for it and has now said that
perhaps she should have managed it better.
You've seen what's happened in Brexit. All these politics of identity and division. You see what's happening here in the United States.
What would you say about the impact of the refugee crisis on the politics of the nations that are the only ones who presumably can deal with it?
It's causing so much fear and loathing.
QUEEN RANIA: Well, I think that we need to desperately recast the debate on refugees globally. You know, the world refugee has become so
politicized and the narrative around refugees has become so polarizing that we've lost sight of the actual suffering and human tragedy that's at the
core of this whole issue.
I find it completely heartbreaking to see how something that is so fundamentally humanitarian has been transformed into something political
and used in order to garner votes and popularity when at the end of the day, these are people who have lost everything through no choice of their
And sadly it took images of the lifeless bodies of children washing up onshore, or that child in Aleppo, that 5-year-old in the back of the
ambulance who was so shell-shocked that he wasn't even fazed by the sight of his own blood.
It took these images to bring the suffering into blinding focus and to strip away the politics. But, you know, even though these images have
shocked the world, they fail to mobilize it.
We thought that the public outcry would actually represent a political transition in the way we deal with this issue, but instead we've seen a
weary resignation to the plight of refugees and almost a global numbness to disaster. And, like you said, you know, people have been capitalizing on
the fear to revive -- devise politics and isolation policies in the world, and that's something that stands to harm all the rest of us because at the
end of the day this is about humans and it is about values. And they are at the center of it. And we all stand to lose.
You know, when you think of what extremists want, at the end of the day, they dream of a world that is divided and weakened. They dream of a world
that is dominated by xenophobia and fear and suspicion and apathy. We should not be playing into their hands.
AMANPOUR: And yet so many politicians are. I wonder if you would comment on this.
This was tweeted -- it's a re-tweet by Donald Trump, Jr.
"Basically, if I had a bowl of Skittles, which is an American candy, and I told you to just three would kill you, would you take a handful? That's
our Syrian refugee policy."
And, of course, Skittles turned around and said this is a candy. Refugees are people. This is not an appropriate --
QUEEN RANIA: That's a very unfortunate analogy. And, again, it speaks to the levels that we have gotten to in terms of dehumanizing this
And I always say that, you know, nobody chooses to become a refugee. A refugee is something you become when you've run out of choices. You know,
at the end of the day, these are people who have lost everything through no fault of their own.
AMANPOUR: To that point, you have been meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has bucked the trend certainly on the North American
continent and immediately invited 25,000 plus refugees in.
And I'm told by my Canadian friends that there is still a clamor by Canadians for their government to bring in more refugees. All provinces
and towns seem to want their Syrian refugees.
The difference between what he's doing and what he's achieved compared to some of the other countries we've talked about, notably this one, how do
governments tell the story, a positive story?
QUEEN RANIA: Well, you know, he's enlightened leadership means that he views this responsibility as a global responsibility. He understands
that it can't be left to the countries closest to the conflict to shoulder this burden. It is something that affects all of us, and we all have a
role to play.
As you know Jordan has a country of 6.5 million, has taken in 1.3 million refugees. We've punched way, way above our wage when it comes to this
issue. And I think Jordan has done more than its -- multiple times more than its fair share in terms of taking in refugees. We have been stretched
to the limit.
[14:20:03] AMANPOUR: Are you getting the aid you need to support the money?
QUEEN RANIA: Only 35 percent of the cost of hosting refugees is covered by the international community.
And as you know, Jordan is not a rich country. And so it's really stretched us to the limit. And I could not be prouder of the Jordanian
people, the generosity and the compassion that they've shown sharing what little they have in terms of housing, in terms of classrooms, hospital
beds, jobs, but you know, they can't do more.
I could not be prouder of our military who, you know, when you look at some countries who are putting up walls to stop refugees from coming in and
using soldiers to prevent them, there have been instances when our soldiers on the borders have had to dodge bullets from the Syrian regime in order to
let refugees into our country.
But this is an international responsibility. This is a new global reality that we need to deal with.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about that potential consequence in Jordan. Today, you have elections in Jordan. For many years, it looked like the
experiment of political Islam after the Arab spring was dead. It's now resurging and these people are not going to be boycotting the polls as they
Analysts say that the Muslim brotherhood group in Jordan could become the single strongest party after today's elections.
What do you say to that?
QUEEN RANIA: Well, I'd like to actually recast that question by saying that it is quite incredible that Jordan that has been stress tested
like no other country in the past 15 years through multiple wars, through financial crises and now, you know, we have wars on our borders and the
aftermath of Arab spring that we are still able to remain at the forefront of peace and moderation, that we are still able to continue with our
reforms and these elections are another step in the right direction when it comes to reform.
And we welcome the fact that the Muslim brotherhood is participating because we want them to be inclusive elections. And everybody has to
participate and have their fair share, because we do want Jordan to set an example in the region of a country that is trying to do the right thing.
Trying to do the right thing by its people, trying to do the right thing by fighting the extremists and by holding on to peace and moderation.
AMANPOUR: Your majesty, Queen Rania, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
QUEEN RANIA: My pleasure. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And later this week, we'll have more of that interview including how to de-fang the radicals.
Now whether it is royalty or the owner of a small bar in New Jersey not far from here, the message rings just as true when it comes to the divisive
immigration issue here in the United States.
Today Harinder Bains, a sick New Jersey bar owner who called the police on the suspected New York Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami told CNN that he was just
doing what any citizen would do regardless of race or creed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARINDER BAINS, OWNER, MERDIE'S TAVERN: I did what I think every American would have done. My neighbor would have done the same thing. Any
Jewish, Christians, Sikh, Muslim. Anybody would have done the same thing.
I'm from Sikh faith. I've been taught to always stand up against atrocities, any kind of persecution. So I did what every American would
have done. And we will be more stronger like this if we do everything together, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we imagine the incredible journey of the pianist of Yarmouk. From war to a record deal. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where the horror of war is tempered by the beauty of music.
You may remember this video. Aeham Ahmad pianist of Yarmouk playing his song to the rubble of Yarmouk. ISIS would burn his piano and Ahmad had no
choice but to flee his home, leaving his wife and young family behind as he made the perilous journey so that he could then send for them later.
In May of this year, he finally got that much prized refugee status in Germany. And a few weeks later, his wife and two sons joined him to make a
Now in the past year, he has bagged himself a record deal and he's played over 100 concerts.
Our Atika Shubert was in the audience at one of them.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): First tell me, when you first arrived in Germany, what did you think?
AEHAM AHMAD, PIANIST: It's my dream to play in Europe, in Berlin. My family in the audience. It's my dream.
SHUBERT: How many concerts has it now?
AHMAD: 120 concerts.
SHUBERT: 120 concerts since you've arrived here.
SHUBERT: And you have two young children.
AHMAD: Ahmed (ph) and Kinam (ph).
SHUBERT: Do they know that you're playing music, and do they like music like you do?
AHMAD: Yes, yes. One time I make a recording for him. Ahmed (ph), he sings all the time.
SHUBERT: When you look back at the video of you playing the piano in Yarmouk, what do you think?
AHMAD: Why I didn't die there. Why -- what I make now, I don't make anything. I make a revolution with the music there, but not there.
AMANPOUR: The sound of hope and optimism to end our program tonight.
Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and good-bye from the United Nations in New York.