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What Next as Regime Recaptures Aleppo's Old City; Judge Akay Charged with Offenses Against Turkey; On Bended Knee at Standing Rock. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired December 7, 2016 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the Syrian regime forces continue their relentless march against the opposition. They've now

taken back three-quarters of war-ravaged Eastern Aleppo. We get the latest from our Fred Pleitgen on the front line.

And should this be the last gasp for the opposition? A debate on ending the war with the former State Department official Evelyn Farkas and the

former U.S. ambassador Peter Galbraith.

Also ahead, a U.N. judge orders Turkey to free his Turkish colleague, another one caught up in the post-coup dragnet.



spirit to allow Judge Akay to be released from prison.


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

The Syrian regime recaptures Aleppo's old city held by the opposition since 2012 in what is fast proving to be the most decisive moment of Syria's five

and a half-year war.

Aleppo, once the country's most populist city, is almost entirely back in Bashar al-Assad's hands now. Activists tell CNN that the opposition now

controls less than four square miles of the city.

Six western nations including the United States and the United Kingdom are fuming, but apparently in words only. Calling out, quote, "The Syrian

regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid and the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for

a political solution."

The U.N. says more than 30,000 people have been forced to flee Eastern Aleppo in just ten days. Half of those are said to be children.

Our Fred Pleitgen was the first international journalist into the old city since it was recaptured last night and he's just filed this report for us.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what rebel desperation looks like during the nights, firing of jets in the skies,

unable to stop them from dropping their deadly load.

And this is what the rebels defeat looks like when daylight comes. Thousands of civilians fleeing the old town of Aleppo only hours after

government forces took most of it back.

Among them, Najuwa (ph), with her seven children, one of them her baby, Balal (ph).

"When we left, there was a lot of shelling behind us, a lot of shooting in front of us and the airplanes above us," she says. "We barely managed to

get out."

Most seem weak and malnourished. Some resting, finally in safety in this former school.

The smallest, a baby girl Hazal (ph) is only seven days old, born right as the battles were at their worst.

(on-camera): It's really remarkable some of the scenes that we're witnessing here. Hundreds of people have already come across the border

crossing between Eastern and Western Aleppo. And many of them are taking shelter in buildings like this one. Carrying only the very few possessions

they could take as they fled.

(voice-over): Soldiers take us to the places they recaptured from opposition forces only hours before. We see Syrian troops evacuating weak

and elderly. And rebel barricades showing just how intense the fighting was.

(on-camera): Just look at all the destruction here. We're actually in the old town of Aleppo right now. And this entire area until a few days ago

was right on the front line.

(voice-over): While this may not be the end of the opposition's fight in Aleppo, many of those fleeing describe the rebels' morale sinking and the

harrowing conditions in the besieged areas.

"We didn't have food and barely any bread," this man says. "We were eight people. They would only give us two loaves of bread every two days. That

was it for all of us."

While much of Eastern Aleppo has been reduced to rubble, the one thing expanding was the cemeteries. This one ran out of space as the bodies kept


Now that much of Eastern Aleppo has changed hands, Syrian soldiers plant their flag on the ruins the place they've just conquered.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Aleppo.


AMANPOUR: Joining me now to discuss the turn in the battle for Aleppo and what it means for Syria's future is the former U.S. diplomat Peter

Galbraith and former deputy assistant secretary of state Evelyn Farkas.

Welcome, both of you, to the program. You've just seen that really stark reporting from Fred Pleitgen.

[14:05:00] Let me ask you first, Peter, you know, all your experience in the Balkans and before in Iraq and with the Kurds, how do you see this

ending now? Is this the end? Is it just a matter of days? Or will the rebels move to fight another day, even in a more enclosed area?

PETER GALBRAITH, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: Well, the scenes are eerily familiar of people streaming out of their homes and the destruction. So

your heart really feels for this.

But I think this war, there are really two wars in Syria. There's one between the government and the opposition, which includes moderates to

extremists, and there's a separate war of being fought in the east between the Kurds and the Islamic State. But it is the war in the west, in the

populace west that is coming to an end. And this is how wars often tend to end. They seem like they're going to go on forever, and then there's a

really rather rapid collapse.

And you'll remember, Christiane, in Bosnia, in July of 1995, after Srebrenica look like it would go on forever and in fact it was over by

October --


AMANPOUR: With absolutely horrendous consequences in Srebrenica and the massacre of 8000 men and boys there.

And I wonder, Evelyn -- let me just turn to, Evelyn, before I come back to you, Peter -- you know, is the worst-case scenario being feared in

Washington now?

I mean, you know, this administration in the West, which simply did not step up to help the opposition in the way that they could have done, could

there be a massacre? Is that what they are fearing today?

EVELYN FARKAS, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Yes, I'm sure. But the thing is first I have to correct the record. I was with D.O.D., Department

of Defense, not state.

But, second, I think what we are really seeing, though, is not any likelihood that it's going to come to an end ala Bosnia, because in Bosnia

what you needed was a real threat to the forces that were on the ascendancy, so the Serb forces which were doing well. They needed a threat

of a defeat on the battlefield. And we still don't have that appropriate leverage over the Russians, the Syrians and the Iranians in order to bring

it to an end the way we did in Bosnia.

AMANPOUR: So, Peter, you've written about how to get leverage and how to end this. What kind of a diplomatic deal or what kind of deal with the

devil is going to be required to end this?

GALBRAITH: Well, first, it is the Syrian government backed by Iranian forces, the Russian Air Force, Iraqi Shiites, Afghan Shiites and Hezbollah

that have the upper hand. These are the ones that have the power.

And, you know, I see no point in continuing to support an opposition that has already lost. It simply gets were people killed. So what I've said is

this is the time now to see if we can negotiate, basically negotiate a surrender but where the losing side doesn't lose everything.

And there are some things that are achievable. For example, amnesty. Some opportunities for people to return home. Possibly even the removal of some

of the Syrian officials, obviously not including President Assad, who are responsible for the worst crimes. Some international monitoring. It's not

a lot, but it is a lot better than continuing a lost war.

And here Russia has a lot of leverage and it shares some of our goals, which Iran and the Syrian regime don't. But the Syrian regime would still

like the Russian Air Force.

So I think there is a possibility. No guarantee of success. But a possibility of trying to have a basically a negotiated surrender that

provides some terms that would allow the losing side to continue to live in Syria.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, Evelyn, I'm sure you're wincing at the word "surrender" as many people who supported the opposition should must be. Plus, I would

like you to address what Peter is suggesting, in fact, what's becoming conventional wisdom that Assad will not go and he will remain. That's the

only way this is going to happen.

First of all, what leverage, if any, does the U.S. have to change this dynamic one iota right now? And what is the hope for the people as Peter

says to grant people amnesty and safe passage. And to make sure there's not a slaughter of people who were trapped behind the front lines.

FARKAS: So I don't think we have anymore leverage. I mean, Secretary Kerry, you know, if he could and God knows maybe he is still on the phone

with Lavrov trying to actually do exactly what Peter has suggested. Of course. I mean, I think we all would like this to come to an end as soon

as possible. But the cost is quite high. Because if we come to an agreement right now with Russia, given the fact that we have no leverage,

those people will not get amnesty. The Russians will not feel that they have to give them everything. And frankly speaking, it's the Syrian

government that will have to decide that.

And what we've seen thus far is all the places that they've cleared out. They've taken retribution against the opposition. Fighters, but also

against the civilians. And we're already seeing reports of that coming out of Eastern Aleppo today.

[14:10:10] So I think it would be a grave mistake to, you know, basically seal the international travesty with a negotiated settlement right now,

given the fact that we have no leverage.

The only leverage we would have maybe would be Donald Trump saying if you don't, you know, give them the amnesty, et cetera, et cetera, I will

actually provide weapons to the opposition. I will do --


AMANPOUR: Well, then, let me ask you about this. Do you have any hope that Donald Trump gives any quarter to the rebels or to the opposition. I

mean, what we're hearing is quite the opposite and that he's much more inclined to do a deal with Russia to end this.

Do you have any hope, first, Evelyn, and then Peter on this issue?

FARKAS: No, I don't. Because everything that he has said has indicated his entire focus is not on the civil war between the Syrians, the

opposition and Assad's forces, of course, aided by the international community. His focus is not on that. His focus is on the fight against

ISIS. And that means that he's going to disregard what's happening to those innocent civilians -- the travesty of human rights violations, the

Russian bombing deliberately hospital, et cetera.

So everything Donald Trump has said about Syria, and then of course, he said a bunch of things about wanting to cooperate with Russia, and that

also indicates a kind of forward-leaning posture, not one that would indicate that he's going to kind of take a firm stance on behalf of the

Syrian moderate opposition or the civilians.


AMANPOUR: So, Peter, you've heard on the ground in the last, you know, few months in that area. And you've heard just what Evelyn has said, and what

you -- you know, the idea of so-called negotiated surrender, particularly with an incoming president, doesn't that put the United States president on

the side of Bashar al-Assad?

GALBRAITH: Well, let's be clear. In his very first interview as president-elect which was with "The Wall Street Journal," Donald Trump said

that he wanted to work with the Assad government and with Russia to defeat the Islamic State.

And, yes, what's going on in Syria is absolutely horrendous. But the alternative to trying to save something is to do nothing. And to have the

massacre continue, the fighting continue until many more people are killed and sometimes when a war is lost, it is better to try to end it.


AMANPOUR: Well, let me play devil's advocate -- so, Peter, you have in the Balkans and you mentioned Srebrenica, that is not what ended the war. What

ended the war was the United States leading a coalition to bomb and push back the aggressors, the Bosnian Serbs.

Why shouldn't that happen in this case, Peter?

GALBRAITH: Well, I mean to be precise, it was less the United States than the United States giving a green light to Croatian army on the ground.


AMANPOUR: On the ground, but the U.S. was in the air.

GALBRAITH: Which pushed back the Serbs.


GALBRAITH: A month later. But, look, the sides hadn't been defeated. In fact the Croatians were on a roll. The Bosnians were making some progress.

And there was a United States willing to come in and use military power. Clearly, that's not going to happen now. President Trump has been clear

that he's going to work with Russia and with Assad.

And so, under those circumstances, I think it's -- the right thing to do is focus on what can be saved and beyond the civilians and ending the fighting

in the west, there's also the war in the east. Where our allies have been the Syrian Kurds and they have made enormous progress against the Islamic


In fact, they've taken -- of all the groups fighting, they are the ones who have taken the most territory. They've inflicted the biggest defeat on the

Islamic State and the question is, what's going to happen to them ater this is over. Will we abandon them?


AMANPOUR: I'll get to that in a moment, because that's obviously your cause.

Let me ask you, Evelyn, quickly. What peter says is correct. That there's been no willingness to either empower a force like the Croatian army on the

ground in the Balkans or indeed to engage overhead with air power. Doesn't the Obama administration assume an enormous amount of culpability for the

way this is ending?

FARKAS: Yes. Absolutely. But the problem is, I don't think -- I mean, I'm not -- you know, a part of me understands obviously Peter's argument.

I would also like a negotiated settlement. But it's not going to end the violence. Because you're still going to have Islamic State. Then you're

going to have the moderates still fighting Assad. So it's just going to happen in a different way. Probably more like what we see in Iraq with car

bombings, et cetera.

So I don't think, unfortunately, this is going to bring -- this kind of negotiated settlement under these circumstances will bring an end to the


AMANPOUR: And very, very quickly, because we have only about 20 seconds left, Peter. I know you say that the west should prop up the Syrian Kurds,

et cetera. But the Turks are never going to allow that, are they?

Oh no, we just lost Peter Galbraith. The satellite went down.

So just very finally to you, Evelyn, is there a feeling that there's nothing more to be done, that Russia is absolutely in the driving seat and

this is going to end on their terms?

FARKAS: Well, unfortunately, I don't really see an alternative, because if our government is not going to step in and provide assistance, it remains

then for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, these other countries that could provide MANPADS and other equipment that we have been thus far unwilling to

give the opposition.

Now I will say that the new defense authorization bill that is pending in Congress, about to be passed, that will contain a provision allowing the

next president to provide shoulder-fired missiles, which would help against the Russian airpower to the moderate opposition.


AMANPOUR: Yes, but you don't expect the next president to do that?

FARKAS: But I don't expect it to happen. No. Unfortunately, no.


AMANPOUR: All right, Evelyn. Evelyn Farkas from the D.O.D., thank you very much indeed for joining us. And, of course, Peter Galbraith, former


So how this war ends will of course dramatically affect next door Turkey as we've said, which seems most intent on denying any foothold to the Kurds

who have been critical to coalition efforts against ISIS.

Turkey continues to come down hard on any perceived opposition at home as well, even against judges. When we come back, the veteran international

judge armed with a U.N. mandate pleads for the release of a college rounded up in Turkey. That's next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

The future of Syria is also critical to its neighbor, Turkey. When the war started, Ankara was Assad's biggest opponent. But now Turkey looks to be

softening its stance, moving closer to Russia and pulling back from the opposition.

Meantime, Erdogan continues his crackdown at home. Now even detaining a Turkish U.N. judge, who has international immunity. The legal community is

outraged. It's calling for the release of Judge Aydin Sefa Akay. One of the most important voices on this is his boss, the leading international

jurist, Theodor Meron who is president of a special U.N. court which is tasked with finishing up prosecutions and functions of the tribunals on

Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

I asked him how this case affects the long arm of international law and justice. He joined me from New York.


AMANPOUR: Judge Meron, welcome to the program.

MERON: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: So what were the circumstances of the arrest of Judge Akay?

MERON: He was arrested in September. And we were in the United Nations, in the tribunal, in the office of legal affairs given no notification of

his arrest.

AMANPOUR: Have you been able to talk to him? And do you have a satisfactory answer from the Turkish authorities as to why he's being

detained and has he been charged with anything?

MERON: Well, I don't have an answer in the technical sense, but I have been in touch with the son of the judge, who also happens to be his lawyer.

And I understand that he has been charged with offences or attempts against the constitutional order of Turkey.

[14:20:10] AMANPOUR: And what is your reaction to that? Because, of course, their view is that he's been held up because of some alleged

conspiracy with the failed coup.

MERON: Well, first of all, let me start by saying that everybody, judges included, enjoy a presumption of innocence.

He's a very respected person. And I do fully respect the right of all states to address their legitimate law enforcement, law enforcement

concerns. That, of course, includes Turkey, but they must act according to due process and the rule of law.

AMANPOUR: What is your message to the Turkish authorities about Judge Akay?

MERON: Turkey has traditions stretching over centuries, during the Ottoman Empire. On the whole, they have the policy, highly supportive of

privileges of minorities that are open policy, protecting Christians, protecting Jews.

In that great tradition, I would appeal to the government of Turkey, in humanitarian spirit, to allow Judge Akay to be released from prison, to

resume his functions as a judge of an international criminal tribunal. And by so doing, they will be not only demonstrating their interest

international justice, but also enabling us to fulfill a mandate, given to us by the Security Council.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the future of international criminal justice. Because you can see the pressure that the International Criminal

Court is under with any number right now of African countries having pulled out and quite a lot of, you know, of assaults, verbal at least, on the

court. For instance, from the Russian foreign ministry.

"Unfortunately, the court has not justified the hopes attached to it and has not become a genuinely independent authoritative organ of international

justice, revealing that in its 14 years of work says the Russia foreign minister, the ICC has pronounced just four verdicts and spent over $1


Address those complaints.

MERON: Well, I think that all courts perhaps could find better ways of doing things. I think the ICC is a very complex institution. It is only

permanent International Criminal Court and thus it is the center piece of international criminal justice.

I think that the recent withdrawals have been a blow, but as long as they do not become toxic, as they do not become viral, they can be contained.

Indeed we have had during the last few days, that the Gambia maybe withdrawing its abandonment of the court. But I think that with regard to

international criminal justice, we really must go outside of the box. And look more creatively at the whole issue. So we must have more

international prosecutions.

We must have more hybrid courts. Perhaps we should have more African or regional courts. Not at the expense of the ICC, but as a synergy with ICC.

Serving a common holistic goal of advancing the cause of justice.

AMANPOUR: Judge Theodor Meron, thank you very much for joining us from New York.

MERON: Christiane, thank you so much for having me again.


AMANPOUR: And, of course, we asked the Turkish government for comment, but they didn't get back to us.

And from one man seeking justice to another focusing on truth. Today, marks the 100th birthday of John G. Morris, the legendary photo editor for

"The New York Times" and "Life" magazine. He was known for scooping the world by publishing photojournalist Robert Capa's exclusive D-Day pictures

and putting this iconic image of the Vietnam War on the front page of the "New York Times."

He told me when he was a sprightly 97 why he does it.


AMANPOUR: What did you hope that these pictures would achieve?

JOHN G. MORRIS, PHOTO EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It was to build public pressure for peace. I never fooled myself that I had the power to stop

war. But all I had to do, I had the compulsion to try to stop war. That's all.


AMANPOUR: And looking at what happening in Syria and elsewhere, those words are words to live by.

And from capturing history's horrors to trying to make up for them, imagining a truly extraordinary scene next. U.S army veterans on bended

knee at Standing Rock. We'll explain -- next.


[14:27:17] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world healing the wounds of the past with the help of unlikely allies. When Native Americans

stood up to defend sacred sites against the Dakota access oil pipeline, thousands of U.S. army veterans flocked to Standing Rock to support the

Sioux tribe. And when the U.S. army on Monday said the pipeline would have to bypass their sites, army and Sioux warriors shared in the joy of their


Now imagine going a step further and exorcising a painful past.

As Wesley Clark Jr., son of a former NATO supreme commander got down on bended knee with other service men and women begging forgiveness for a

history of violence against America's indigenous peoples.


WESLEY CLARK, JR., SON OF FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: We didn't respect you. We polluted your earth. We hurt you in so many ways. We have come

to say that we are sorry, we are at your service, and we beg for your forgiveness.


AMANPOUR: A really amazing moment.

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

Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.