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Syrian Regime Continues East Aleppo Offensive; No Functioning Hospital Left in East Aleppo; Trump's Syria Strategy; Refugee Children Turn to Prostitution; Donald Trump Blasts CNN Journalist on Twitter. Aired 2- 2:30p ET
Aired November 29, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Aleppo bombed to rubble, about to fall to Assad. What will a Trump presidency mean for Syria? Renowned
expert Andrew Tabler on the new U.S. policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW TABLER, FELLOW, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Everyone is quite resigned to the fact that East Aleppo is likely to fall. The war
is not over, but the trend generally inside of the country isn't towards that stable, unified outcome but rather towards something much more
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the live report from the U.N. on the humanitarian catastrophe.
Also ahead, preparing to be president one tweet at a time. When a twitter tirade is more than just a tirade.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The world is attuned to Donald Trump's every tweet. The latest blasting Americans' First Amendment right to protest. But what about the world?
What about Syria policy?
The journalist Michael Weiss asks, "Donald Trump, can you tweet about Aleppo so the media will talk about that for five minutes. Try this,
Such is the state of debate in the United States while Eastern Aleppo comes under withering fire. 16,000 civilians have fled where there are no
functioning hospitals and where food supplies are spent, where Assad forces have taken a huge portion of the city from the rebels since just this
Here's the latest from Bana Alabed, a 7-year-old girl who tweets the unfolding horrors. "This is our house. My beloved dolls died in the
bombing of our house," she said. "I am very sad, but happy to be alive."
Joining me now from Oslo is Jan Egeland. He is the senior special adviser to the U.N./Syria envoy and secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee
Mr. Egeland, you just heard how we've set this up. No policy discussion in the United States. Terrified children tweeting to the world what's going
on around them.
What are you able to do or say to them in Eastern Aleppo today?
JAN EGELAND, SENIOR SPECIAL ADVISER, U.N./SYRIA ENVOY: What we hope is that we can bring some hope in a desperate situation, but we cannot
guarantee anything. I mean, we're unarmed humanitarian workers. We stand by just outside the besieged East Aleppo city, where this tremendous battle
is raging in the middle of a densely populated urban area. We can go from West Aleppo or we can go from Turkey just an hour's drive away with lots of
We can evacuate the wounded to many hospitals, both in West Aleppo and in Idlib and in Turkey. We haven't -- the pause from the Russians and from
the Syrian government that we need, we are appealing for that now every hour, every night.
AMANPOUR: So what exactly are you doing? You're appealing publicly, but is there any hope that Russia will meet and answer this appeal, or do you
think that this is actually now part of a concerted military and political strategy to actually take all of Aleppo before the next U.S. president is
EGELAND: Well, there may well be a military strategy to take all of East Aleppo, indeed. But I hope it's not going to be a strategy that will
really, you know, obliterate civilian life there. That's why, indeed, I believe we will get the pause that we asked for. We had meetings today
with the Russian diplomats and military. We detailed what we need. I'm waiting for an answer back from them. We'll have a meeting on Thursday in
the International Syria Support Group, where all of the powers that have influence on Syria will sit around the table. Russia, the United States,
Iran, Saudi Arabia, all of them, and our appeal will be let's get the pause now before it is really too late.
AMANPOUR: So you say too late. What, to your best understanding, is the situation on the ground? You know, we know that more than a quarter
million people were in besieged Eastern Aleppo, that hospitals have been deliberately targeted, medical centers, schools, homes as we've seen.
What is the situation? Because we also understand the Assad Forces have regained a significant amount of territory there.
[14:05:00] EGELAND: Yes. I mean, this was a stalemate kind of a situation for months. In the last 72 hours, there has been a shifting of front lines
that have been dramatic and, again the civilians in the midst of this crossfire.
So a quarter of a million people now feel, I think, in free fall. They do not know where this will end. They have no hospitals to go to when they
are wounded. There is no more U.N. food inside the besieged area. It couldn't be worse. But we're not giving up. We cannot give up. We have
to change this and I think the first priority now is to get an immediate pause to get medical relief in and evacuate the hundreds of wounded out.
AMANPOUR: And we keep seeing this heartbreaking pictures of children. They are amongst the civilians there and there is no amnesty or immunity
for the children and it's a terrible situation.
What can you tell us to the best of your knowledge about the state of the kids there?
EGELAND: It is unheard of what is happening to the children, also to women and now they're very vulnerable civilians. The minority there are
fighters. The vast majority are civilians. Half of the population are children and they are not spared. So every single day in the year 2016,
children are dying in East Aleppo. It will be, you know, a black stain on our conscience here. It will be a black stain on the history of the United
Nations and our international relations in general, but let's not give up. This can change tomorrow. This is a man-made disaster from A to Z. Man
can change it. Men with power and guns can change this tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's hope you're right. Jan Egeland, thank you so much. This is a horror to witness.
And last month, Donald Trump falsely claimed that Aleppo had already fallen, and he said the U.S. should focus on working with Russia in Syria.
Was he signalling a whole new U.S. policy?
I asked Andrew Tabler about that. He is one of the most respected Syria policy analysts in Washington, and I asked him how he sees the way forward.
AMANPOUR: Andrew Tabler, welcome to the program.
TABLER: It's great being here with you.
AMANPOUR: Usually when we see these massively stepped up offensives, you have all this flurry of diplomacy. You have John Kerry traveling all over
the place. You have Sergey Lavrov. You have President Erdogan. You have Staffan De Mistura. All these people descending on Damascus. Not a peep
this time since this massive offensive started and Eastern Aleppo looks like, you know, most of it is going to fall, if not all of it. Why?
TABLER: I think this is something the worst case scenario that all of these politicians did not want to come about. I think there was a lot of
effort to try to work with the Russians and coming up with a viable settlement. But, look, we have to be honest. And I think the Russians
have been honest with us. They don't want Assad to go. They would like him to be part of the settlement because they don't see an alternative to
In the long term, it's a different game. And I think that's the reason why this time around everyone is quite resigned to the fact that East Aleppo is
likely to fall. The war is not over, but the trend generally inside of a country isn't towards that stable, unified outcome, but rather towards
something much more fragmented and probably much more difficult for a Trump presidency to deal with.
AMANPOUR: So what do you foresee? Do you foresee a coherent Donald Trump policy emerging yet that we know of. And could it be 180-degree flip from
what the policies been under President Obama, which nominally at least, has been to support moderate opposition against Assad.
TABLER: Right. Well, I think, you know, it's very hard to tell at the moment, but what is unclear is on a sort of larger level, is how can you
work more closely with Russia in combating terrorism, at the same time that you're challenging Iran and its nuclear deal in the region. It's Russia
and Iran that are backing up Bashar al-Assad in Syria. So the contradictions kind of meet there.
But there's a larger issue inside the country itself, and that is with the limited manpower of the regime, the regime in and of itself and its allies
are not a whole country solution. And I think any American president, including Donald Trump, needs that whole country solution, that solution to
put the pieces back together again in order to deal with these terrorist safe havens.
And so I think it's very complicated stuff. We haven't seen much outlined yet and we'll have to watch, you know, very carefully the cabinet picks to
determine where this all might be going.
AMANPOUR: I spoke yesterday with the French defense minister who was meeting at the Pentagon, but also with the incoming Trump transition team.
And he was very clear that there can be no future for Syria with Assad in power.
Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, FRENCH DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Unlike what the Russians think, this cannot be done by maintaining Bashar al-Assad
in power. One can't imagine people going back to Syria if Bashar al-Assad is still responsible for that territory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And he further went on it to say he hoped the new U.S. presidency would maintain the policy, that policy which the allies have
maintained for the last five years.
Do you think that Donald Trump foresees actually Assad in control of a lot of Syria and would be happy for that?
TABLER: Yes, I think that he does. I don't think he would be happy about it. I don't think Donald Trump likes Assad. I think he's been pretty
clear about that. But, you know, it's very important in one respect to realize that as long as this new order that Assad is creating, this bloody
new order in the western part of the country, the longer that goes on, the longer it's going to take for refugees who are in neighboring countries to
go back home. And that is a real issue for European countries who would like those refugees to go back home, who would like them to be returned.
For the U.S., it's primarily until now been a terrorist issue. But the danger is when the threat of terrorism crosses over with the migration
issues that come out of this conflict, a lot of dangers can be generated from this and they're very hard to deal with because they generate attacks
in Europe, in neighboring countries around Syria and, also, partially, inspire attacks here in the United States.
And that is a real possibility going forward as this settlement based on Assad in the West is cemented into place by Russia and Iran. But for the
interim, Bashar al-Assad has shot, blasted and gassed his way into power in the short term. Where it all goes from here will be up to Donald Trump and
his new cabinet.
AMANPOUR: Andrew Tabler, thank you so much for joining us.
TABLER: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And for now, those who do escape Syria or any other war zone, reaching safe haven is no guarantee of safety. When we come back, the
tragic tail of unaccompanied minors turning to prostitution to survive. That's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
It is a desperate journey made by thousands of unaccompanied refugee children from war torn countries every year. They come here to Europe
longing for safety and survival, but instead too many of them face torment and tragedy and too many resort to having to sell their bodies to
Now after a month long investigation, our Arwa Damon has this report from the streets of Athens.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where the deals are made. Our camera is filming from a distance with the
mike on (INAUDIBLE).
(on-camera): This is the audio on the microphone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK.
[14:15:00] DAMON (voice-over): He's a social worker showing us Athens' prime shopping ground for illicit sex. Older men troll the square scoping
their options, waiting for the right moment to approach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look behind you. There is an old guy, that make message to a young boy, you see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a game.
DAMON: The boys who played to survive are often unaccompanied minors, many from Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's shocking. It's shocking, really. It's shocking. You know, they are desperate. There is no way out unless they find money.
DAMON: Those we approached were too afraid, too ashamed to speak to us. But Ali, not his real name, agreed in hopes it would somehow make a
He's 17 and has been here for nine months. The little money he had ran out a long time ago.
ALI: (SPEAKING THROUGH FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: The act itself happens in a sprawling park, a five minute walk away from the square. It has long been a haven for drug users and the sex
trade, now exacerbated by the refugee crisis.
ALI: (SPEAKING THROUGH FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: Tasus (ph) takes us into the park during the day so we can see the sheer scale of the situation.
(on-camera): It's really quite disconcerting to be here even during the day and stepping back into one of these areas behind the bushes off the
main path. You just get a bit of a sense of what happens here after dark. There's condom wrappers all over the place.
(voice-over): The cost varies.
ALI: (SPEAKING THROUGH FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: Some, he says, take the boys home, a chance to shower, sleep in a bed, eat a proper meal.
ALI: (SPEAKING THROUGH FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON: The sickening trade is the result of a flawed European refugee policy and lack of preparedness. The Greek government's latest figures
show that about 1,200 unaccompanied minors are on a waiting list for shelter.
In a statement to CNN, Greek police said that they have not had any cases reported of the sexual exploitation of unaccompanied minors from the parks
we went to, but acknowledged the problem and said they are working to address it.
(on-camera): One day, hopefully, you'll be able to bring your mother and you'll see your mother and your sister again. Do you think you'll ever
tell them about what you had to do to survive?
ALI: (SPEAKING THROUGH FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DAMON (voice-over): Then his eyes filled with tears.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Athens.
AMANPOUR: It's really just so tragic, that month long report and investigation from Arwa Damon.
When we come back, imagine a world trying to read the tea leaves, in this case the tweets, for some insight into a Trump administration foreign
Does a Twitter barrage comfort or confuse allies and adversaries alike? We asked long time Washington columnist Walter Shapiro -- next.
[14:21:25] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world taking President-elect Donald Trump at his word. Which tweet do we trust? And
which of his many stances will translate into policy?
In the latest fury, Trump has declared with absolutely no evidence produced as yet that he did not -- that he, not Hillary Clinton, actually won the
popular vote. And that her 2 million plus vote lead is fraudulent.
Now he's launched his Twitter feed offensive at CNN for pointing out that his accusation is baseless.
To help us decipher how to approach this unprecedented method of communication, long-time Washington watcher and journalist Walter Shapiro,
who has covered ten American presidential elections joins us now.
So, Walter Shapiro, thank you.
First and foremost, how do you think the world, which is watching this program and obviously watching Donald Trump and looking into the United
States right now should be looking at and trying to decipher Donald Trump who comes across on tweets?
WALTER SHAPIRO, JOURNALIST: Well, first of all, I have this vision of this man in solitary splendor at Trump Tower watching cable television
obsessively and talking back to his television set by tweeting things.
There was something on American television this morning, I think on "Fox News," about the American flag not being put on -- up on a flagpole at
Hampshire College. Suddenly Trump is all over Twitter with tweets about flag burning and how people who do that should be stripped of their
So, I mean, what you have is for the first time in American history, you have a perfect view of a president's id. That this is Donald Trump
uncensored, unplugged and what comes out is quite scary for democratic norms.
AMANPOUR: Well, you said unprecedented. You have covered ten presidential elections and many people say, well, you know, every president has lied,
has done this, has done that, has spun. Give me the perspective on that for people watching.
SHAPIRO: The hardest thing to deal with is that this is the most out of the norm electoral event in American history since the civil war. So the
idea that if you take spin at 10 percent, Donald Trump is 110 percent. There has been nothing in American history with the possible exception of
Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s of a major public figure, in this case a president-elect with total and wanton disregard for what normal human
beings would consider truth.
Going back to that 2.5 million stolen votes, that's the entire population of Los Angeles, California, San Francisco, California and San Diego,
If all of the votes in all those cities instead of going for Hillary Clinton had been -- not happened, that is the margin that Trump has. And
for a conspiracy that vast, a totally invented conspiracy, it would require a massive level of coordination, none of which have been proven, and that
is why words like "The New York Times" use in the headline "baseless." That we are dealing with someone whose connection with reality is that of a
con man. A con man who believes his own con.
[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: But you know, I want to -- I want to go on to the foreign policy aspect of it, but you brought up the voting issue which is
the latest big one. And he's taken aim at CNN. You know, basically saying to our -- you know, re-tweeting and tweeting about our correspondent, "What
proof do you have. Donald Trump did not suffer from millions of fraud vote. Journalist do your job."
And then our response from correspondent, "Good evening. Have been looking for examples of voter fraud. Please send our way. Full-time journalist
here still working."
What, for the sake of public understanding and how should journalists be covering this president-elect, this next president?
SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, I don't think you can ignore the tweets, because I said they are the unfiltered window into the mind of the
president-elect. And I think you have to keep saying words like baseless, totally made up, bizarre, that wonderful New York Phrase, whacko. That
this is just a level of denial of reality that we have never seen in American political life.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right.
SHAPIRO: And the only thing you can do --
AMANPOUR: I'm sorry to interrupt you, I just want to ask you about keeping on reporting, that you've use twice now denial of reality and not quite
tethered to reality.
This is somebody who is going to be leading much of world geopolitics and everybody abroad is trying to figure out what kind of relationship, and how
to react to the next U.S. president. Many people think that it will be business as usual. That what they say in campaigning or even before they
are inaugurated will not translate into the presidency.
How do you see foreign policy ahead, for instance?
SHAPIRO: Well, I don't think we know until we know who the secretary of state and secretary of defense is. That said, he has a national security
adviser, a General Flynn, that when he headed the defense intelligence agency was known around the Pentagon for what were called Flynn Facts.
Hyperbolic statements that were not grounded in reality. So I am just so petrified that we are going to have a phantom world view that's going to
direct real foreign policy and I think it's not at all like business as usual.
Before I was somewhat confident that Trump would veer towards reality, but I think the choice of Flynn for the most important job in government that
is not subject to Senate confirmation, the national security adviser, was really a chilling signal of where Trump is going.
AMANPOUR: Well, you've been watching this for a long, long time.
Walter Shapiro, thank you very much for your perspective tonight.
And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast anytime and you can always see us online at Amanpour.com and
follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.