Return to Transcripts main page


John Kerry Criticizes Moscow for Syria Stance; State Department Spokesman on Rift with Russia; The Battle of Cable Street

Aired October 4, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a day after the U.S. cuts off Syria talks with Russia, what next for civilians dying in the endless

bloodshed? My interview with the State Department Spokesman John Kirby on the most serious obstacles to peace.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: You can't choose your own facts, and the facts are that the Russian military is aiding the Assad

regime as it continues this devastating siege on Aleppo and continuing to kill innocent people who are simply trying to live a better life.


AMANPOUR: Also ahead, today, Hezbollah provides Assad shock troops on the ground. But decades ago, they were kidnapping Americans like the

journalist Terry Anderson.

Imagine being freed after seven years and finally meeting your child for the first time. She's written about "The Hostage's Daughter."


SULOME ANDERSON, AUTHOR, THE HOSTAGE'S DAUGHTER: We flew to Damascus, where I immediately fell asleep on a couch in the American embassy. And my

father woke me up, and it was quite a, you know, defining moment in my life. Because, you know, it was the first time I met him.


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

The U.S. and Russia stopped talking, but the Syrians keep suffering. Just a day after breaking off ceasefire talks with Moscow, the U.S. Secretary of

State John Kerry criticized Russia for its, quote, "Irresponsible and profoundly ill-advised decision to back the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad."

But he said the U.S. won't stop trying to forge a peace.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: But I want to be very, very clear to everybody. We are not giving up on the Syrian people. We are not

abandoning the pursuit of peace. We are not going to leave the multilateral field. We are going to continue to try to find a way forward

in order to end this war.


AMANPOUR: Syrians have heard this many times before, indeed since 2011 when the war started and few believe it anymore especially now that the

U.S. and Russia are almost admitting what many have suspected all along, that they cannot, in fact, work together to stop this war.

Kerry is in Brussels today and with him is the State Department Spokesman John Kirby. I spoke to him just a short while ago.


AMANPOUR: John Kirby, welcome to the program.

KIRBY: Thank you, Christiane. Good to be with you.

AMANPOUR: So you have announced a dramatic rupture of connections and ties with Russia over Syria. So what happens next? How does this affect the

people of Syria? What good does this do?

KIRBY: Well, what it doesn't do is it doesn't stop our efforts inside the international community of trying to, on behalf of the Syrian people, bring

an end to this civil war.

And as the secretary said this morning in a speech here in Brussels, our multilateral efforts inside the International Syria Support Group and with

the U.N., those will all continue.

What we have suspended is U.S.-Russia bilateral discussions and engagement on furthering the cessation of hostilities because we just couldn't get

there with our Russian colleagues. But that doesn't mean that we're turning a blind eye to what's going on in Aleppo or elsewhere in Syria.

And it doesn't mean we're going to stop working for peace.

AMANPOUR: But how if you don't have a partner. I mean, you guys are meant to be working together to get that ceasefire.

KIRBY: Well, by keeping our efforts inside the international community on exactly that end. You're right. Nobody wanted to be where we are today.

We actually worked this very, very hard.

And Secretary Kerry did take it to the extra mile here to try to get some sort of bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia, but we

couldn't get there. We couldn't get there because the Russian government and the Syrian regime continue to barrel bomb and gas their own people

particularly in and around Aleppo.

But that doesn't mean that we're going to stop working through multilateral fora like the International Syria Support Group and with the U.N., and it

doesn't mean that we're going to stop exploring options on our own here.

AMANPOUR: So what are options that you might pursue on your own? That's the only noble thing you've just said.

KIRBY: Well, we've long said, frankly, that it would be irresponsible for us as a government not to look at other alternatives here if the diplomatic

approach fails. We're not ready to give up on diplomacy, though, Christiane.

As I said, there are multilateral fora where we can continue to pursue diplomatic approaches. So I wasn't trying to hint at anything unilateral


AMANPOUR: You know that Secretary Kerry was recorded in a private meeting in New York with Syrian opposition activists in which he lamented the

inability to have a credible threat of force to back up diplomacy.

Forget actual intervention and force, but even a credible threat of force, this administration will not put on the table to back up its diplomacy.

KIRBY: Well, look, I won't get into what was a private conversation that he had, and I'm aware that, you know, that there has been recordings out

there of this conversation. I don't want to talk about the details of that.

What I will tell you is that we continue to believe that there's not going to be a military solution to this civil war in Syria. Despite the fact

that obviously the Russians don't believe that anymore and despite the fact, clearly, that Assad doesn't believe that.

We still continue to believe that a political solution is best and that means getting the two sides back to the table. And that means getting a

cessation of hostilities in the country that can be enforced nationwide and sustained and humanitarian access for food, water, medicine.

All of that has to happen before we can get the two sides back to the table. And that's what we're going to continue to work on. We continue to

believe that trying to find a military solution to the civil war is the wrong approach.

AMANPOUR: But obviously your boss, the secretary of state, believes differently, that a credible threat of force would have strengthened his

hand and it is the basis, as we've seen all over the world, for successful negotiations in these kind of intractable situations. The U.S. has used it

over and over again.

Be that as it may, let me ask you this then. Secretary of State John Kerry said today that the United States would not be abandoning the Syrian

people. This is what some of those Syrian activists asked Secretary Kerry and said to him the other day in New York.

Let's have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the bottom line? How many? How many Syrians? What is the bottom line? Because chemical is there, and it

wasn't the bottom line. Hospitals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean, the red line.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. No, no, what is the end?

KERRY: So you think the only solution is for somebody to come in and get rid of Assad?


KERRY: That's the only solution?


KERRY: Who is that going to be? Who is going to do that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three years ago, I would say you, but right now I don't know.


AMANPOUR: So quite a lot of despair there, not a lot of hope that the U.S. can actually alleviate their situation.

KIRBY: Well, look, we understand the frustrations that they continue to feel. Nobody is going to be interested in having negotiations and

political talks when their families and their homes and their businesses are being destroyed by Russian and Syrian aircraft.

AMANPOUR: Does your administration, the Obama administration, have to completely rethink its analysis of Russia's end game or even its short

game, because I've heard a million times from President Obama, to Secretary of State John Kerry, to you that you all believe that Russia, in the end,

is going to see the light, that it's going to be caught in a quagmire that God knows it doesn't want to be caught in.

There are others including Russians who think you've got it completely wrong. Let's hear what the former foreign secretary Andrey Kozyrev told



ANDREY KOZYREV, FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY: They confuse Russian long term national interests while those guys are after their short term interests of

keeping the power and they show the hardware, the airplanes, bombing, and that's good for a picture of the macho image of their leadership.


AMANPOUR: In other words, you've got it wrong. They don't care about the quagmire in the immediate future. Maybe in ten years.

KIRBY: Well, look, I mean, these are decisions they have to make as a sovereign nation.

AMANPOUR: No, no, this is about you --


KIRBY: What I can tell you, though, Christiane --

AMANPOUR: This is about the U.S. perception and analysis of Russia's end game or Russia's motivation so that you can actually deal with it.

KIRBY: What I can say is that Russia as a co-founding member of the International Syria Support Group and as a member of the U.N. Security

Council has said time and again, publicly and in writing, that their goal, their long-term goal in Syria is a unified, whole, pluralistic Syria. The

future of which is determined by the Syrian people. Now they've said that. We've all said that to international community.

But Russia signed up to those documents as well. So I don't think we have it wrong. I think Russia has it wrong, quite frankly. The way they think

they are going about their future in Syria isn't going to get us there.

There's not going to be a military solution. And helping Assad barrel bomb and gas his own people is not the way to end this civil war. So I


I don't think we have it wrong at all. And we can point to Russia has said themselves about what they want and claim to want in a Syria -- again,

matched up against what they're doing right now.

AMANPOUR: And one more thing. The Russians take great exception to the U.N. and the U.S. strong suggestions that they are committing war crimes by

their repeated bombardment of civilian targets, hospitals, and the like. This is what President Putin's spokesman has said recently.


DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: I strictly rule out a possibility of Russian military forces, air strike forces being involved in offensive

against civilians. This is out of possibility.

Russian Air Forces are still performing their task in terms of fighting terrorist organizations.


AMANPOUR: So how do you answer, Mr. Peskov, there that they're doing it exactly as they should be doing?

KIRBY: I would point him to the many eyewitness accounts from first responders and from innocent Syrians on the ground in Aleppo. I mean, the

evidence is clear. Whether they claim it or not, they are hitting civilian infrastructure.

They are killing innocent women and children. They are going after first responders as they try to deal with the aftermath of initial strikes and

they are hitting hospitals. I mean, the facts are clear.

And, you know, you can have whatever opinion you want to. You can't choose your own facts. And the facts are that the Russian military is aiding the

Assad regime as it continues this devastating siege on Aleppo and continuing to kill innocent people who are simply trying to live a better


And because we can't seem to come to agreement on even those basic understandings, obviously, we had to regrettably had to call this

suspension in the U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on this issue.

AMANPOUR: John Kirby, spokesman for the State Department, thank you so much indeed.

KIRBY: My pleasure. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So diplomacy is failing with deadly consequences there.

But on another front, years of difficult climate negotiations have now produced an unprecedented new step forward after the EU parliament has

overwhelmingly approved the Paris Accords, they are set to come into force.

Now when we come back the daughter and her dad rebuilding a bond broken by his kidnappers. Sulome and Terry Anderson on her new book, "The Hostage's

Daughter." That's next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Few people have come to symbolize the 1980s Lebanese hostage crisis more than Terry Anderson. He was captured in 1985 by Shiite extremists. He was

the last American to be freed and the longest held after nearly seven years in captivity.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The longest held and the last American to be freed, Anderson arrived with joyous welcome, one hand clutching a bunch of

flowers, the other the 6-year-old daughter he has only just met. She was born three months after he was captured.


AMANPOUR: Remember that day well. And she, that little girl, is now the journalist Sulome Anderson whose new book, "The Hostage's Daughter," brings

her face-to-face with one of her father's captors.

So I asked them both whether this journey was cathartic and whether it had repaired their much publicized ruptured relationship.


AMANPOUR: Sulome and Terry Anderson, welcome to the program.

You know, I was just a young journalist starting off at CNN when you were kidnapped, Terry, and it was the story of the era at that time in the early

'80s and I covered your release. But I want to ask Sulome your recollections, the first time you met your father.

S. ANDERSON: So, actually, that memory is pretty clear for me.

My mother woke me up in the middle of the night and said my father was coming home. And we flew to Damascus, where I immediately fell asleep on a

couch in the American embassy. And my father woke me up, and it was quite a, you know, a defining moment in my life because it was the first time I

met him.

And he took me by the hand and we went out, you know, outside, and there was this huge crowd of people and camera flashes and noise and I just

remember looking at him and seeing how he was reacting to all the noise and the lights. And, you know, his hand was shaking and he looked just

uncomfortable with it. And that was the first moment I think I realized exactly, you know, exactly how traumatic his experience had been.

AMANPOUR: And you, Terry, I don't know whether you realized until many years later, how much PTSD you came home with. But remind us, tell us,

what it was like to meet your daughter for the first time. You'd been in captivity for nearly seven of her first years of life.

TERRY ANDERSON, FORMER HOSTAGE: You know, I look back at that and I -- and it was tremendously joyous moment, but I realize now, and I think you can

see it if you look at all these pictures carefully. I was in some form of shock.

It had been hours since I was in a cell chained to the wall, and suddenly I'm here in Damascus and meeting my daughter and talking to the president

and then a press conference and the lights. It was just -- it was quite an impact.

And no, I didn't realize for a long time how damaged I had been. We were all damaged. And it took all of us a while to figure that out.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about the damage because, Sulome, your subtitle is called "The Hostage's Daughter," but it's a story of family,

madness and the Middle East.

And you describe in very open detail, you know, the mental stresses that you were under and obviously that your father was under. How well did you

even get on in those early years?

S. ANDERSON: Dad and I had a pretty fraught relationship until I would say pretty recently. It was very difficult for us both. You know, in

hindsight, I can see how hard he was trying. And that I think he was ill- equipped to form this emotional bond with me that I needed.

And, of course, I was a child, so I didn't understand the context of the situation. And I thought, you know, my dad didn't love me and there was

something wrong with me. And that belief persisted for many, many years.

T. ANDERSON: I had a very serious problem with communicating with other people. It's not something that was new to me, but it certainly didn't get

any better. In fact, it got a lot worse while I was in prison. And when I came out, it was very hard to express emotion or the love that I felt in

ways that could be understood.

AMANPOUR: Well, I assume that one of the reasons you wrote this book, Sulome, was to try to understand what had turned your father into someone

with so many demons. And I'd like to ask you to read it, because I think it will be more effective if you do, the page in which you so brilliantly

describe asking one of the captors why he did it.


"Do you know why we kidnapped your father," the Mashoul (ph) asked me? It was nothing personal. Our fight was not with Terry Anderson or the other

hostages. Our fight was with the people who had slaughtered our families."

"But you ruined my family, I tell him. the Mashoul (ph) hold my pain up to the light and examines it. I can tell it hurts him to look at it. He


"When we took your father, we weren't thinking about you, he replies. You are sitting here in front of me now. You're a decent, good, respectable

girl. I like you very much and I liked your father. He is a good man. The best out of all those we took. But it could have been anyone."

"If someone else had caught our eye, we would have taken him. I look at you now and I feel for you. I think about your father and I feel for him,

too. But at the time, we didn't see your father as Terry Anderson the person. To us, he was America."

AMANPOUR: Did that help you, Sulome?

S. ANDERSON: I think what helped me about meeting him and speaking with him is, you know, I understood the path that brought somebody like him to

the place where he could commit these kind of atrocities. I mean, I don't approve of them. I don't -- you know, I don't excuse them, but I

understand how it happened, if that makes sense.

AMANPOUR: And, Terry, I wondered, do you understand because years earlier, you had gone and actually for CNN, you did a documentary. I think it was

called "In the Lion's Den," and you found Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah and you asked him about the kidnapping. And I'd like to play



HASSAN NASRALLAH, HEAD OF HEZBOLLAH (through translator): The group that took hostages in the past did not want to start a revolution, but they

wanted a more civilized regime. They just wanted to pressure the United States, to meet the Kuwaiti government, stay the execution of some

president. I'm not saying their methods were good or not, right or wrong. These actions were short-term with short-term objectives and I hope they

will not happen again.

T. ANDERSON: Can you say, Sayyid, flatly that this was wrong or a mistake?

NASRALLAH: I can't make such an absolute judgment.


AMANPOUR: All these years later, what do you make of what Nasrallah told you and what Mashoul (ph) has told your daughter?

T. ANDERSON: I think much of the peace -- I mean, these people convinced themselves that this was something that they had to do and they told me

that many times.

We have nothing against you. It's just that we have to do this because how else can we fight Israel and America.

And, you know, yes, you can understand that they feel that this is what they have to do, but by no means does that mean you approve or accept.

AMANPOUR: We're talking now in the context of all these journalists and aid workers and others who are being kidnapped by an even more vicious and

violent and terrifying group, ISIS.

I wonder what goes through your mind when you think of those people and how they've been treated even worse than you were.

S. ANDERSON: Well, actually I have a pretty personal connection to that. My good friend, Peter Kassig, was kidnapped and beheaded by ISIS in 2014.

I have to say speaking to the Mashoul (ph), I could see the shame that he felt and I could see -- as I said, the reasoning that brought him where he

is or where he was.

But with ISIS, I've -- I have a lot of trouble finding anything that's human to connect to them. It's just the kind of brutality that I can't


AMANPOUR: And, Terry, finally to you, obviously your freedom was won after a lot of negotiation. Today, nobody will negotiate for the release of

those who have been taken by ISIS or release many Americans and British will not.

T. ANDERSON: I have been quite forward on my opinions about American policy on negotiating with hostage takers. I don't believe you should pay

ransom for them. It does not mean you shouldn't try to talk, OK.

My release and the release of the people who are with me came at the behest of (INAUDIBLE), the deputy secretary-general of the U.N. who get nothing.

We didn't pay any money. We didn't give them any reward, simply persuaded them that this was getting anybody -- getting no one anywhere and they

eventually, they released us.

When somebody robs a bank and takes hostages, what's the first thing they do? They call in a professional hostage negotiator. They don't intend to

give them a plane and they don't intend to let them get away with money. But the first thing they do is talk.

AMANPOUR: All right. A really fascinating story. Good luck with the book, Sulome Anderson and Terry Anderson. Thanks for joining me.

S. ANDERSON: Thank you, Christiane.

T. ANDERSON: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we go back in time and place to imagine a world where Londoners found a spot of European fascism had spread here and

they rose up to crush it. The battle of Cable Street 80 years on. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, it is hard to imagine the kind of political extremism that was to have been stamped out forever after World War II

instead rearing its ugly head again today. But it is demagogues and populists preaching hate and fear climbing up the polls. But imagine a

world where one neighborhood here in London simply rose up and drowned that message out. That was 80 years ago. And its lessons today are self-


Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists planned a provocative march through London's east end, home to Jews, Irish immigrants and other


100,000 people had signed a petition to stop it, but the government allowed it to go on and they deployed thousands of police to protect the march.

What happened next became known as the Battle of Cable Street.

Records say as many as 300,000 people, Jews, trade unionist, communists, and other outraged citizens held off the black shirts by building

barricades, even with police help, Mosley and his marches couldn't make it through Cable Street. That defeat was the beginning of the end of Mosley's

brand of British fascism, a lesson taught on a London street 80 years ago that should be remembered and should resonate across Europe today.

And 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. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.