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Aleppo Residents Suffer as Cold Weather Sets In; Russia's Growing Global Influence; Rise of France's National Front Party; Hundreds Evacuated from East Aleppo; Girl Dubbed "Syrian Malala" Now at UK School

Aired November 15, 2016 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:13] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Assad calls it liberation, the U.N. calls it, quote, "a complete meltdown of humanity."

Risky evacuations as Aleppo falls. We'll speak to a senior U.N. official and we will also chart -- we will also chart.

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

Bashar Assad is declaring Aleppo liberated in what looks like hastily shots smartphone phone video. Syria's president called it a historic moment for

his country.

The announcement comes after the first round of evacuees left Aleppo's last rebel held enclave. The sick and wounded were the first ones to go, but

departures were nearly derailed early this morning when forces loyal to the government fired on an ambulance.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we are hearing sounds of weapons. We don't know what's happened now.



AMANPOUR: Still so many people are trapped in the cold and uncertain conditions. As we see in this except from Dan River's who was reporting

for ITN.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): This is what it looks like when a city is emptied by war. There are thousands of people in this refugee

camp and 500 also arriving every single day. It is bitterly cold in this warehouse and they're left to huddle around the fire to try and keep warm.

You got to wonder where is the international community.

(voice-over): Tonight, the temperature is plummeting well below zero. Some don't even have shoes. Grown men are shivering. So how was a baby

supposed to survive?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My grandson is orphaned. His father and mother were killed. We don't have anything to wear. We leave

everything behind to come here.


AMANPOUR: So to that desperate question, where is the international community. We'll be speaking in a moment to Baroness Valerie Amos, the

former U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs.

But, first, now Russia's intervention in Syria has changed the course of this war. It seal the faith of thousands of people in Eastern Aleppo as

we've seen and it's keeping Assad in place at least for now.

But away from the Middle East, Moscow is also meddling in Western politics. The chief of the UK's Armed Forces called Russia today dangerous for

democracy. The CIA concludes that it hacked into the U.S. democratic system to help the Kremlin's favorite candidate. And there is more

interference in western elections on the horizon.

Just how much of a game changer is all of this and to what strategic end? The Pulitzer Prize winning author and Russia expert and Anne Applebaum

joins me to explore this phenomenon.

Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: It is incredible to see how within just 18 months of a concerted effort, Vladimir Putin has cemented his policy in Syria.

How do you read what he is doing there and what he has been doing in the United States? In Europe?

APPLEBAUM: In theory, it seems to me that his goal is the same as it was in Chechnya, which is reassert authoritarian control at whatever cost,

whatever human cost whatever physical cost, destroy the city, get rid of everybody, start again. And what we will see probably in Aleppo is that

it's like some kind of puppet regime put in place with the Russians and the Iranians behind it.

AMANPOUR: But in eastern -- sorry, in the U.S., we see already today, the White House has again been talking about the hacking and you know how it

affected the U.S. election. We're hearing fears at least from German intelligence, and then maybe the same thing going on in the upcoming German


What is Russia's plan? You've been studying this for a long time.

APPLEBAUM: Look, Russia is a revisionist power. It doesn't like the world the way it is. It wants to change the rules. It doesn't like the liberal

world order. It doesn't like the European Union. It's doesn't like NATO. What it wants and will say this. This is not a secret. What it wants is

to rule all of that back.

It wants to reassert control, reassert Russian influence in Central Europe. It wants to end the international institutions that prevents, you know,

stop Russian corruptions, stop Russia monopolies from controlling the gas industry, stop Russia from exerting influence where it wants to and it will

now do that using any means that it can.

[14:05:14] Actually, you said two or three years. This goes back a decade. The Russians had been working on their propaganda state, working on how to

manipulate social media, working on how to play in their neighbor's election campaigns for the -- for at least 10 years.

AMANPOUR: And you also been setting the way that they had been, well, hacking, not just into the US election system but into the Baltics, in many

other areas and churning out and placing fake news. Is this all to shape not just politics, but global opinion?

APPLEBAUM: Yes. I think it's about shaping global opinion. It's about creating, it's not so much about creating pro-Russian opinion. They don't

really care about that. It's about undermining democracy and undermining Western institutions because those are the institutions that are problem

for Russia both in its foreign policy and its domestic policy.

Russia doesn't want -- sorry, Putin doesn't want his people to it. Admire the West. He doesn't want to them to want democracy and so what he has

tried to do in a variety of country, starting with Estonia, Lithuania but also Poland, Ukraine has tried to undermine those systems.

AMANPOUR: So in Lithuania, apparently, they hack some story into, into, into the system there and sort of accused the president of being a KGB call

girl. They talked about also, you know, NATO being ready to annex part of Russia. I mean, all sorts of dreadful things.

But you've had your own experience with this. You've been trolled by Russian-backed, you know, social media attackers. And your husband, the

former foreign minister of Poland, was also targeted.

APPLEBAUM: Yes. I mean, really, anybody who writes about Russia has had this experience. And that's why I think people who are studying and

following Russia were aware of how this work before others did.

It may even be something that, you know, once it's happened to you, you're more upset about it. I think in United States, people thought it was

incredible and so weird. You know, how could Russia hacking the U.S. election, hacking some material and putting it on the Internet and tweeting

some stuff about it. How could that matter?

Well, until you've seen it happened to yourself and you've seen fake news stories written about yourself and repeated, and you know, multiplied on

this Web of fake news sites, then you don't really understand the power of it.

AMANPOUR: What is -- just about, you know, how you don't believe it and etcetera, but it has been out there. Donald Trump keeps tweeting that if

the U.S. was so concerned or knew about these suspicions that Russia was hacking, how come this wasn't made public.


APPLEBAUM: But it was.

AMANPOUR: Well, right. That's what I was thinking. It was. Everybody is --

APPLEBAUM: Look, I was writing about it last summer. You know, I was writing about it this summer. There were several statements in the fall.

You know, it was stated repeatedly over and over. And, again, it's one of these things that it just -- it has taken some time to dawn on people that

that's actually what happened.

I think actually this fake news story, the strange pizza gig conspiracy, which was connected to the John Podesta emails that were leaked may have

woken people up because they saw that it actually affected people. You know, completely phony stories which were obviously fake about pedophilia

and all kinds of strange things, actually persuaded a man in North Carolina to get in his car and drive to Washington D.C. with a gun to try and

investigate a restaurant where this was supposedly taking place. I think people are beginning to understand now how powerful it is.

AMANPOUR: Beyond that, we're talking about trying to upend Western politics. I mean, this wave of populism, whether it's Brexit. Already,

we've had an MP suggest that we need to look into it. British intelligence needs to wake up to, you know, whether Russia is interfering there.

We've seen it in the United States. And there are fears of Germany and France etcetera being, you know, succumbing to the same kind of


APPLEBAUM: Some of it is much more aggressive than that. In Germany and in France, the Russians actually fund the main Populist Party. They fund

Marine Le Pen.

AMANPOUR: How is that, when you say fund?

APPLEBAUM: There is a bank account, which is -- a Russian check bank has lent her the money that she is using to run her campaign and it's not a

secret. She's spoken about it. Everybody knows it. You know, it's not a - - it's not a secret campaign.

And the Russians actually do this and lots of European countries, they give money to party. They don't invent any of this, mind you. They don't

invent populism.

They give money to existing parties, which they -- whom they would like to see succeed. And that includes parties on the far right and it includes

parties on the far left.

They're actually not all that bothered about that ideology, what they are interested in is the parties which are anti-system, anti-NATO, anti-EU and

anti-American of course.

AMANPOUR: Is there, very briefly, any way to resist this? Any way to vigorously respond?

APPLEBAUM: Yes. Well, first of all, you have to make people aware. Then we need to begin looking at how news travels. How we can improve fact

checking, how we can improve media literacy so that people understand better what it is that they are reading.

I think there are things that can be done, but you know, we need to put money into doing them and we need to begin starting that now.

AMANPOUR: It's really interesting. Anne Applebaum, thank you very much.

[14:10:00] And talking about the French election, could Moscow be interfering there? Will center right candidate Francois Fillon proved to

be as pro-Putin as the far right National Front Marine Le Pen as we've been discussing. She, of course, is riding a populist wave. And as Jim

Bittermann report, she's attracting disillusioned young voters.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than four decades, the flag-waving super patriots of the National Front Party have

been the outsiders of French politics struggling to shed the party's extremist image, which has made it something of a pariah among mainstream


But now the current party leader Marine Le Pen believes her time has come with waves of populism sweeping away traditional politics and politicians

in Britain, Italy and the United States, she's more confident than ever that despite her underdog standing in the public opinion polls, she can win

the presidential elections next May.

(on-camera): The time and political wisdom has of course have Marine Le Pen cannot be elected president of France, but after the miscalculations of

the pollsters and pundits over the referendum on Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, there's a kind of an egging feeling here that perhaps there's

another miscalculation brewing in France.

For supporters like salesman Tommy Anou are certain that is the case. Le Pen, he says, has modernized the party and reduced the stigma attached to

working force.

TOMMY ANOU, NATIONAL FRONT SUPPORTER (through translator): The National Front is constantly being attacked by the media saying it's a disreputable

party. As of right now, I think the polls underestimate how much the French are actually fed up. I believe there might be a real surprise.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): While the party is still staunchly against immigration, Le Pen has labor to reduce the impression that it's racist and

xenophobic. Guy Debale has helped. The sign of African immigrants, he used to work for the socialist party, but now has jump across the political

spectrum to the National Front.

He says he had no problem being accepted by the party.

GUY DEBALE, NATIOANL FRONT SUPPORTER: I met different people, exceptional, very exceptional and I feel in this party that all the people of France, no

matter where you're from, what's your color, etcetera, etcetra.

BITTERMANN: For the mainstream political observers, though, this is the person who will stop the National Front's ambitions.

Francois Fillon, five years the French prime minister under President Nicholas Sarkozy is the candidate for the center right Republican Party,

but his views on many issues are as conservative or more so than Le Pen, something which could undermine her support in the general election.

Still, Fillon is pro-Europe, whereas Le Pen promises to organize a Brexit- style referendum in France as soon as she is elected.

The issue has surprising traction among young people, who were supposed to be among the principal beneficiaries of a united Europe.

I have a conversation with young National Front supporters and you will find out why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We don't believe in the European Union. We believe that an independent nation within Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The problem with the European Union is that bit by bit, they are taking our sovereignty away. We are

pushing countries together that are completely different and have opposite legal and economic policies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What attracts a young person to the National Front is the idea of something new. A party with a program

that is radically new.

BITTERMANN (on-camera): People are saying that this is the new populism that's sweeping around the world, with Brexit, the election of Trump in the

United States. Is there a new populism in France, soon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You hear the word populism use everywhere. It's pejorative. It's to denigrate the parties, which are


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When you look at the definition of populism, it's in the name of the people. Someone who is populists acts in

the name of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If being populists is being on the side of the people, then our slogan for the presidential election is in

the name of the people.

BITTERMANN: It's that notion of being on the side of the people has a familiar ring to it, so does the goal of these three young people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make France great again.


BITTERMANN: Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


AMANPOUR: And after a break, while Russia's military might maybe dominating the outcome in Syria, we take a long hard look at the

humanitarian crisis that's enveloping Aleppo. That's next.


[14:16:00] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Joining me now to discuss the international response to the crisis unfolding in Aleppo is Baroness Valerie Amos. The former U.N.

undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and of course she has been to Syria many times. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: And of course you have been a UK government ministry as well. So to put all this into perspective, as a humanitarian, how do you think

these evacuations are going to go? We saw that they failed the first day and they've even been somewhat under fire today. Do you think people are

going to get out? 50,000 trap people.

AMOS: Well, I hope so, but I'm not 100 percent confident. We've seen this before. We've seen firing on people who are trying to get people out.

We've seen firing on people coming out. We've seen people round it up afterwards, particularly men and boys. So there has been a terrible

history in relation to all of this.

And we've seen other examples, where the Syrian government has basically use siege and starvation as a way of getting people to submit. It's an

appalling situation.

AMANPOUR: Do you have any fear? I mean, you've just sort of mentioned it, but could they be keeping those men back. We don't really know whether the

fighters are going to be allowed. As far as we know, the most urgently, you know, desperately wounded, those in desperate need have been amongst

the first to have been allowed out.

AMOS: And that's what we have to hope. That the vulnerable, the families and then the fighters will be allowed out and you have to take it step by


But I can imagine that those people, the ICRC, the U.N., I think the World Health Organization, those who are overseeing this, are going to be worried

every single step of the way.

AMANPOUR: Can I put you questions about the world's response? You know, you wrote more than a year ago, shortly before you retired from this

particular position -- for "The Washington Post" -- you said, "I visited Syria seven times. I've talked to Syrian refugees on numerous trips to

Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. During every visit, I was asks the same thing. Why has the world abandoned us? Why does nobody care?"

And we've been seeing these very words on these desperate people's social media and all the postings they've been doing over this because they

thought they were going to be slaughtered in their homes.

Why does the world abandoned them? Because it has.

AMOS: I just feel so strongly that we failed. We saw that unedifying spectacle at the UN Security Council earlier this week with it as it were

the trading of insults.

AMANPOUR: Do you mean Samantha Power and Vitaly Churkin?

AMOS: And the world watching and thinking, what is going on when people are dying, when we desperately need the United States and Russia to

actually come together at the Security Council. And we have not seen that.

We saw it a couple of times on the humanitarian stuff. We saw it on chemical weapons. But we have not been able to see it, to get in agreement

for political transition.

AMANPOUR: Is there any hope and heck that that would have ever been allowed, been able to have. I mean, the Russians need to have just about

resolution that was put forth.

Bashar Assad refuse to negotiate or engage at all with the opposition even when they came kicking and screaming in good faith to the Geneva process.

AMOS: But, Christiane, we did have that moment last year and towards the beginning of this year when we really saw John Kerry and Lavrov involved in

a sort of almost shuffled diplomacy, when they spent a lot of time together, when it was clear that the two of them seem, and we all hope,

seem to be working towards finding some kind of solution and it didn't work.

There are lots of others. There is Iran. There's Turkey. There's Saudi Arabia. There are so many that are involved in this conflict. And that's

just the government level. But, yes, we have that moment of hope. It wasn't necessarily going to work. That should have happened so much


[14:20:00] AMANPOUR: And there are many people. And I ask Ben Rhodes, the President Obama's deputy national security adviser, and their sort of

slogan, their mantra has been we couldn't do anything, out of a bad set of options, this is all we had. No, you know, we have not failed, we've done

our best, etcetera.

But the truth of the matter is, as you say diplomacy should have started so much earlier, in 2012 and particularly in 2013, when there was the red line

over the chemical weapons, there was an opportunity to reverse this trend.

As a British parliamentarian and a former government minister, when you look back and you see how the Labour Party MPs refused to allow Cameron to

actually take action because of chemical weapons, wasn't that a massive failure?

AMOS: I think it's hard to see it like that because we don't actually know what would have happen. Now from my perspective --


AMANPOUR: Air fields could have been bomb, planes didn't have to take off.

AMOS: But from my perspective, I think that you do have to take risks to try to actually change something in a conflict like that. And we've seen

many other conflicts where you can move to a transition. You can move to a more peaceful solution, when risks are taken.

Now I've seen the impact of intervention. I'm not going to say that intervention is always right or should be the first thing that any

government should think about.

AMANPOUR: Or always wrong. You in a government, Tony Blair, who intervened in Kosovo and yet free there.

AMOS: And so I think to rule out intervention just because they have been bad examples where it hasn't worked is not the right thing to do. But what

I always say is that intervention has to be part of a broader strategy.

So there is absolutely no reason why intervention is part of a broader strategy may not have changed something in this conflict. But I can't look

back and absolutely it would have done. But what I do remember in 2013 is that the Syrian government were not allowing me in for a very long time.

When it got to that point of the redline, they very quickly change their tune and wanted me to desert. Now --

AMANPOUR: The pressure was working.

AMOS: So thinking that having sort of one person, the humanitarian coordinator as a human shield, I mean, that was never going to work, but

from my perspective, it was interesting to see how quickly they went from, no, you cannot visit to yes you can because they came under pressure.

They were absolutely ruthless. They continue to be absolutely ruthless. They've had a very clear strategy all along and what we are seeing is that

strategy being work through.

AMANPOUR: Baroness Amos, thank you very much for joining us.

AMOS: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we will continue our story of Syria. Looking at a Syrian refugee who got a rare chance to resettle here. We

imagine a young girl known as Syria's Malala building a new life in Northern England. That's next.


[14:25:30] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a whole world taken from you. For the children of Syria, it's a reality they face, but Muzoon

Almellehan wanted to give them back their futures through education.

She is known as Syria's Malala. And she work tirelessly to secure education for children in the Za'atari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan.

Now she is one of the lucky few to find refuge here in England and we went to see how she is settling in.

Here's Isa Soares.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years, she had lived in dusty refugee camps and has seen serious (INAUDIBLE) by the winds of war.

But Muzoon is far from defeated. Instead, she's emboldened.

MUZOON ALMELLEHAN, SYRIA'S MALALA: There is no matter if I'm refugee or I'm not, but the most important thing to work really hard to myself and to

believe in my abilities, then I can be what I want.

SOARES: This is her new life now, in Newcastle, Northern England.

And here, the only fate these children can escape is math. There are no exceptions. Not for this 18-year-old, nor for the other 13 refugees who

have been welcome to Kenton School from Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After the almost 2000 people walk in these hallways, most of them white and working class, becoming friends with a new Syrian

classmate has been a learning experience.

CALLUM WILLIAMS, STUDENT: There are people (INAUDIBLE) racist term of categorizing all the people going over. They were immigrants. They were

potential threat. They can be terrorists.

SOARES: To change this, the school set up a community so the other pupils could better relate to their Syrian classmates, be at through posters,

fundraising and assemblies tackling Islamophobia and the refugee crisis.

TOM VINEY, STUDENT: It's awful if you're over here. I mean, you're living on very little money if you come over here and you even get asylum, which

not everyone does. And they can't work. It's illegal for them to work. And you wouldn't leave where you were living unless it's genuinely was

better here.

SOARES: It's a message Muzoon has been keen to share. After all, hers is not an exceptional story. It's an inspirational one.

ALMELLEHAN: If you do, they can do something. They can change something in their communities. They can be educated people. They didn't lose their

future and hopes. Also, they have a dream.

SOARES: Despite having seen war ravaged her country and tear her family apart, Muzoon goes around the world campaigning for her country's future

and to build education.

ALMELLEHAN: Like all these children, refugees children have dreams.

SOARES: Grassroots efforts that have dubbed her the Syrian Malala. Even her classmates are in awe of her.

LILITH ALLEN, STUDENT: I was like skeptical to say hello because (INAUDIBLE) being in the same room. It's like she's really important.

SOARES: You think she's inspirational?

ALLEN: Yes. I find her inspirational.

SOARES: Muzoon doesn't see herself that way. Walking home with her sister, Yuzrah (ph), a humbling reminder she's just an ordinary girl.

ALMELLEHAN: You are welcome in my home.

SOARES: A girl who has seen more than we ever will in our lifetime.

ALMELLEHAN: And this is my little brother Zin (ph). This is my room.

SOARES: Yet she has the resilience and strength of heart to know that home will always be Syria.

Isa Soares, CNN, Newcastle, England.


AMANPOUR: A welcome bit of hope and inspiration. And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us

online at And, of course, follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.