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Assault on Mosul by Iraqi and Kurdish Forces Underway; Around 250,000 People Still Live in Eastern Aleppo; Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in "No Man's Land;" Dylan Leaves Nobel Blowin' in the Wind

Aired October 21, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:00:15] JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Jonathan Mann. This is CNN "News Now." And we're following a developing story in London.

A chemical incident has forced the evacuation of the London City Airport. The cause is under investigation. More than two dozen people are being

treated at the scene for difficulty breathing. Two people have been taken to the hospital. Once again, the incident is at the London City Airport.

Not one of the better-known and substantially busy airports in the London area. If you're traveling through Europe just to reassure you the incident

is unrelated to any travel through Gatwick or Heathrow or Stansted. We have teams heading to London City Airport and we'll continue to follow the

developing story.

The United Nations is sounding the alarm over Iraqi civilians being used as human shields by ISIS. The high commissioner for human rights says he is

greatly concerned that hundreds of Iraqi families have been forced from their homes near Mosul. He fears they've been taken into the city and

placed in harm's way near ISIS positions.

Meantime, the United Nations has canceled planned medical evacuations from Aleppo on the second of a three-day pause in fighting there declared by

Russia. The U.N. says for now it's just not safe to operate there. The top U.N. human rights official calls the bombings in Eastern Aleppo crimes

of historic proportions.

That's your CNN "News Now." AMANPOUR is next. I'm Jonathan Mann and you're watching CNN, the world's news leader.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, as Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers take the fight to ISIS, my exclusive with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan as

his Peshmerga lead the charge.


MASOUD BARZANI, IRAQI KURDISTAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have achieved many successful achievements. And the terrorists of ISIS, we

managed to defeat them. But it's a fierce fighting.


And in Syria, a tense standoff, a pause in air strikes from Russian and Syrian jets. But an FSA commander in Aleppo says that he's not budging.

And he's calling for more weapons to defend the city.


MULHAM EKAIDI, DEPUTY COMMANDER, FASTAQIM MOVEMENT (through translator): We need to protect our children so that we don't drag them out of the



AMANPOUR: Plus, this incredible duo on their stage and screen careers, past and present.


IAN MCKELLEN, ACTOR: You think yours has been more distinguished than mine?

PATRICK STEWART, ACTOR: No. I'm thinking that yours was distinguished from the start.

You were distinguished when you were a student, Ian. People were writing in the national papers.

MCKELLEN: Get him off.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.

As the United States and Iraq this week triggered the long-awaited offensive to dislodge Daesh or ISIS from Mosul, which is its major

stronghold in Iraq.

By the end of the week, Iraqi forces with U.S. and coalition support were making faster-than-expected progress. Helping lead the charge are the

battle-hardened Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

But with all the different factions involved, one of the main concerns is about the day after. How will a liberated Mosul be governed? And who will

stabilize it? This is especially important for the Iraqi Kurds, whose semiautonomous territory is very close, which I found out when the

president of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani joined me from their capital, Erbil.


AMANPOUR: So tell me about why this is important for the Kurdish people? Why is this fight important for you? And what is the formation and the

military responsibility of the Peshmerga? What are they meant to be doing?

BARZANI (through translator): The terrorists say that Mosul is the capital of their militia. Mosul is 60 to 70 kilometers far from Dahuk and 18

kilometers far from Erbil. And it's on the touch line with the Kurdistan region. So the existence of ISIS terrorists in Mosul is constant threat to

Kurdistan region.

AMANPOUR: You know there's a lot of concern about all the different forces, which are fighting.

What is it that you as president of the Iraqi Kurdistan want in return for helping to liberate Mosul? Because there's a lot of talk about political

activity, about territorial gains for the Kurds.

[14:05:00] BARZANI (through translator): We do not want to conquer anyone's land. And the lands or the Kurdish lands are the Kurdish lands.

And whenever we can attack and hit the terrorists, we will do that. And we always say that anyone who helps us against the terrorists, we thank them.

And also, also we will help to diminish the terrorists. This is our philosophy in our war against the terrorists.

AMANPOUR: You've said that this is the first time the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces have worked together. And there is obviously a huge concern

about what happens after Mosul is liberated. So many competing forces, competing political groups, competing ethnicities and militias.

Is there a plan for Mosul after the liberation?

BARZANI (through translator): This is true. This is the first time that the Peshmerga of Kurdistan with the Iraqi forces, they fight against the

one enemy. And it's a change. And the second thing is we, we would have loved to have a political plan along with a military plan how to manage

Mosul, how to administrate Mosul because Mosul have a variety of religions with ethnicities

Probably it would have taken a longer time. But in order for us to continue, to continue not to face more difficulties, so we agreed with

Baghdad, to form a committee -- a joint committee that if there is any problem occurs, we can deal with it.

AMANPOUR: All right, you just said there was no political plan for the post-liberation of Mosul in order to govern Mosul. But there are reports

that the United States believes that the former governor of Mosul will come back. The governor of the Nineveh Province, which where Mosul is, Mr.

Aqoub (ph), and that the place will be divided into sub-districts to be, you know, governed by local mayors.

Is that acceptable to the Kurds? Is that the plan as you know it?

BARZANI (through translator): I'm not aware of this kind of plan. But there must be a new form for Mosul. But the most important thing is that

all these people, all the components of Mosul to be reassured of their future. And not to face this crisis again.

The solution is that after the liberation of Mosul -- first of all, we'll not -- let's not allow the revenge on and we want to reassure the people of

Mosul, to live a prosperous life and no one can have revenge.

And also, to have a common administration -- a common administration or some administration divisions in order to insure a good future for all

these components. So we have to talk about all this with the people of Mosul and also with the related parties.


AMANPOUR: With all the focus on Mosul now, the people of Aleppo beg the world not to forget them. There's been a three-day pause in Russian and

Syrian bombings. And Syria will be high on the agenda for whoever the next U.S. president will be.

At their final face-off during the debate in Nevada this week, the Republican nominee, Donald Trump mistakenly claimed that Aleppo had already

fallen. And he also said that President Assad had outsmarted Hillary Clinton and President Obama.

For her part, Hillary Clinton outlined the decisive intervention she plans if she's elected.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And I'm going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria. Not only

to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to frankly gain leverage on both the Syrian government and the

Russians, so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end.


AMANPOUR: But all the talk of politicians has been going on for more than five years now. The Syrian opposition continues to fight on.

I spoke to Mulham Ekaidi, a local commander of the free Syrian army who had a clear message this week to his no-show allies in the west.


AMANPOUR: You've heard from Secretary Kerry, you hear the world leaders talk about Aleppo. There does not seem to be any military intervention

that will come to help you.

Are you getting any weapons at least?

[14:10:08] EKAIDI (through translator): Unfortunately, let me say the friends of Bashar Al-Assad, who is a first class war criminal and who lost

legitimacy since 2012, has spared the United States administration itself. Their criminal atrocious regime with no legitimacy whatsoever has sincere

friends who spare no effort to help it.

We have been hearing for years from the U.S. administration and others that they will not militarily intervene in Syria, which is practically a green

light to Bashar to continue his massacres. We don't want them to come to our help. We just want high quality weapons that will enable us to defend

our people and our land.

AMANPOUR: Do you have high quality weapons? Are you getting more high quality weapons?

EKAIDI (through translator): We now have to say that the friends of Syria have provided some aid for the Syrian fighters who defend the Syrian

people. But that aid is not a match at all to the Syrian -- to the Russian might, the Russian air force and the Russian missiles.

The kind of weapons that we have been receiving from our friends cannot provide any balance in power. The Syrian revolutionaries now will need

antiaircraft missiles. That's what we need in order to stop the air strikes that kill our people.

We need to protect our children, so that we don't drag them out of the rubble. We want to defend ourselves against the missiles that even strike

bunkers, even underground bunkers are being bombed by the Russian air force, with the pretext that there are terrorists down there. All we need

is the ability to defend ourselves from such weapons.


AMANPOUR: And after a break, we go from Broadway here in New York to London's West End, to talk to two brilliant Brits -- Sir Ian McKellen and

Sir Patrick Stewart on the power of theater, language and their very special friendship. That is next.


AMANPOUR: Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart, two knights of the realm and the stage, not so shabby on the silver screen either. McKellen

is known to millions as the wizard Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings" and he's also appeared alongside Stewart in "X-men" where they are enemies.

These blockbuster movies and many others have made them household names around the world. While between them, on stage, they've tackled all the

great Shakespeare roles and many, many more.

After winning rave reviews here on Broadway for some of the most complex and challenging material the stage can offer, Harold Pinter's "No Man's

Land," they are now performing the same play to packed houses in London's West End, which is where I met these two great friends for a master class

in theater.


[14:15:20] AMANPOUR: May I welcome you to our program.

MCKELLEN: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: Sir Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, you're doing "No Man's Land" by Harold Pinter.

How do you see this role?

STEWART: There are a variety of different subjects that you can attach to this play. Youth, age, birth, dying, optimism, pessimism and so on. All

of those contradictions. But it is also about the truth. And the truth, it seems to be increasingly in this world becomes a variable and grey area.

MCKELLEN: Three accused politicians are lying. I think it's because we all lie actually. We all select what we're going to say. Isn't that


You don't tell your mother you've just fallen down or you got some serious disease because it will upset her. Is that lying?

STEWART: It's often been said that the role of the actor is to tell beautiful lies. Because what we do eight times a week, on this stage here,

is not real life.


MCKELLEN: You've done rather well.

STEWART: Oh, quite well, yes. Past my best now.


AMANPOUR: You've been touring with this play and you've brought it home to London. And you are going to broadcast it basically around the world, 55

different countries, I think, which is kind of a big deal.

MCKELLEN: I first discovered the theater outside London, although London is the center of all things in this country including theater. Most people

live outside London.

And not to make any comparisons, but if it hadn't been for the touring companies that went through Stratford-on-Avon, where William Shakespeare

was a little boy, we might never have had his plays because that's how he discovered the theater.

And when you play "Hamlet," let's say in Aberdeen in Scotland, where there hasn't been a Hamlet for the last 40 years, as is the case when I played it

there, it is a lot more exciting than playing it in London, where the critics come and see me because there have been ten other "Hamlets" that

year in London.

AMANPOUR: So tell me about that because he wrote these plays at a time, I guess, when there were these, you know, stomping, thumping audiences. I

mean, there was a different kind of relationship between the players and the audience.

STEWART: I believe he was non-political in an activist sense because I think to have been political in the 16th and 17th century would have been

very dangerous especially to have been radical in your views, but there is, nevertheless, an underlying humanism in the plays that you cannot overlook.

People accuse "Merchant of Venice" of being anti-Semitic, it's not. It has anti-Semitic characters in it, vile characters.

MCKELLEN: Anti-gay characters.

STEWART: Anti-gay characters, exactly.

MCKELLEN: Anti-black characters.

And the same with fellow (INAUDIBLE), Shakespeare was absolutely fascinated about people's private lives. So when he's writing about great public

figures, which he usually is -- kings, generals, emperors, queens, yes, he'll give you the facade, but what is really interesting about this is the

reality behind the mask.

He's writing about the type of person who likes power, and their failings and their virtues. So it's in that sense, that's his humanity comes

through and you can apply that to current politics.

AMANPOUR: You've noted that occasionally you have written acceptance speeches for Oscars, but have never won one and you would have written

about, you know, gay rights and gay empowerment. Tell me a little bit about Hollywood and gay.

MCKELLEN: Oh, dear -- I mean, much as we all love Hollywood and the idea of Hollywood, people of our generation, we have to admit that you don't

look to Hollywood for advancing, precisely advance, rather late to discover that there are black people in the world that had to be taken seriously and

gay people.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned eight times a week, you're doing this play. I often wonder how -- I mean, I know that everybody and their brother is

asking you this question, but how do you pull it out every time? How do you make it special, new, how do you feel it eight times a week?

MCKELLEN: It's live theater. It's not dead. And it's live because you are doing it for a group of people who have invested their time and money

to come and hear what's going on.

And they are not the people who came last night. And they are not going to come tomorrow night. They are now. It's the now. It's for now. Every

performance is unique.

STEWART: We -- a lot of actors have this game we played here moments before the audience see us. We have a tiny improvisation. And before our

little few words of improvisation is over, the audience are aware that the two of us are on stage.

[14:20:13] Where it is helpful for me and I suspect for you, though we've never discussed it, beyond that improvisation, I know nothing. I know who

my man is, but I have no idea what the next moment will bring.

You have to somehow erase the future of the play from your head so that you are simply cliche in the moment each time that we're on stage. And it is

that process of being in the moment that makes it unique every night, makes it admittedly very interesting for us because we are not simply in the

world of repetition.

It is being re-created every night. And I often wish that audiences would know you are part of this one-off experience never to be repeated.

MCKELLEN: When you see a film, you can laugh, you can shout at the screen as much as you want, but they're just going to go on doing what they did

last time it was screened.

The first time I stepped on the stage in the big part as an undergraduate at Cambridge, I stepped on to the stage and (INAUDIBLE), he must have been

drunk, get him off. Get him -- remove him from the stage.

AMANPOUR: We don't often see these long-standing, old professional friendships and you've quite sort of open about it on Twitter. You've got

this Twitter friendship or social media friendship that's going, where you post photos of each other when you officiated his wedding, and on and on it



MCKELLEN: I'm always friendly with everybody I work, or I try to be. It would be dreadful to meet someone night after night you couldn't get on

with. It does sometimes happen.

The trouble is we're practically the same person, and then it gets rather dodgy. Because the person you are liking so much is actually a reflection

back on yourself.

Don't you think? I mean, our careers have been very similar really.

STEWART: Yes, yes.

MCKELLEN: You think yours has been more distinguished than mine?

STEWART: No. I'm thinking that yours was distinguished from the start.

You were distinguished when you were a student, Ian. People were writing in the national papers.

MCKELLEN: Get him off.


I've often thought if it were to happen, if Armageddon were any moment, going to hit this planet, I would like to be in a rehearsal room with a

group of actors. It's much more than sentiment. It is the sense that all of us have been in our careers struggling to represent humanity to other

people, to communicate the best and the worst of what people are. And I think it means that actors for all the bad press that we have got and we

get, the lovey (ph) syndrome, which is a term that I think all of us hate, that there is something actually quite substantial about the people who

work in this business of make believe.

AMANPOUR: Very nicely said. You certainly give a lot of joy to millions of people out there.

STEWART: We're lucky.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed.

Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, thank you.

MCKELLEN: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we imagine a world of art for art's sake. Bob Dylan plays coy on winning the biggest award there is, that Nobel

Prize. We'll explain next.


[14:25:15] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, it wasn't so long ago that a Nobel Prize drew a response of joy and gratitude from a recipient, but

today we imagine a world where the times, they are changing because despite multiple attempts to contact the singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, this year's

winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, hasn't responded to the news of his victory at all.

He hasn't said he wants it. He hasn't said he doesn't want it. Even though several novelists have spoken up and they've criticized his winning

it. Now the Prize committee has given up hope of contacting the elusive troubadour saying "We have stop trying. We said everything indeed to his

manager and friend. He knows about us being eager to have confirmation from him, but we haven't heard anything back."

Clearly, Dylan is a man who marches to the beat of his own tambourine, but he isn't the only one to have an unorthodox response to a much wanted

award. The British novelist Doris Lessing had this blunt response to her unexpected victory in 2007.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you heard the news?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've won the Nobel Prize for Literature.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel?

LESSING: This has been going on now for 30 years. I've won all the prizes.


AMANPOUR: Well, and Barack Obama recently poked fun at his own controversial, some say premature, win on "The Stephen Colbert Show."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any awards or commendations?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I have almost 30 honorary degrees and I did get the Nobel Peace Prize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, really? What was that for?

OBAMA: To be honest, I still don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you did. All right.


AMANPOUR: So maybe the Nobels have had their day. No, surely not. But maybe the good and the great should also chill out. In the words of Bob

Dylan, "Don't think twice. It's all right."

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and, of course, follow me on

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from New York.