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Syria's Refugee Brides; Interview with Robert Kagan; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, my special report from the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, where early marriage for girls as

young as 15 is on the rise. We meet two of them and hear from a woman who's trying to stop this practice.


AMAL HOSHON, SYRIAN GIRLS FOOTBALL COACH (through translator): Girls have developed psychological complexes. They experience depression. Some girls

even try to poison themselves.


AMANPOUR: The head of Girls Not Brides joins me on how to end child marriage around the world.

And what will Trump's new ban look like?

We get a reality check on this new administration's foreign policy with Republican Party guru and author of the seminal book, "Americans Are from

Mars; Europeans Are from Venus," Robert Kagan.


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

2041, that is the year when women here in the United Kingdom will achieve equal pay with their male counterparts, according to new research. It was

front page news in some papers today and it does serve to remind us even in 2017 about the uphill struggle for women's rights around the world.

It is no secret that a girl's right to a full education wherever she might be is the pathway to empowerment and equality. Educated girls are less

likely to marry early, less likely to die in childbirth, more likely to have healthy babies.

We have just returned from visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan where there's an alarming rise in early marriage, with some girls as young as 15. But

there is also a movement underway to try to keep those girls in school, as we found at the Zaatari camp in Northern Jordan.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): The scenes and shrieks of girls being, well, just girls, age 8 to 15, they're enjoying their soccer. It is the brainchild of

an unlikely coach, Amal Hoshon (ph), mother of five, who's gotten them into playing soccer as a way to keep them out of marriage.

Some of the worst collateral damage from the Syrian war is an increase in early marriage, poverty-stricken parents offloading one too many mouths to

feed or believing their girls really will be safer with a husband.

In Jordan, you can legally marry at 18 or if sharia judges approve even at 15. Amal uses her coaching sessions to mentor these girls.

HOSHON (through translator): Marriage is such a big word. It affects them emotionally because when a child at that age gets married, you no longer

feel that she is still the same child.

She got involved with something much bigger than her age. Girls have developed psychological complexes. They experience depression. Some girls

even try to poison themselves. They don't like that life but many get stigmatized if they get divorced.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Yes, with around one in four Syrian refugee girls under 18 married off in this region, according to the UNHCR, early divorce

is a new trend in this refugee population. And it's a stigma that girls like this 16-year old are trying to shake off.

She would not give us her name nor show her face but she has been married and divorced by the ripe old age of 15.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I didn't know what marriage meant. I had no idea what it means.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The UNHCR's Nedi Assene (ph) helps her tell me her story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I tried it once. I got engaged. He was not so nice, I was not happy with him. I knew that I was not happy

with him. I shared it with my -- with my parents and I told them that, no, I have to stop this.

So we got separated. Next time he came, they were really another family and they were really persistent.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): War has an especially harsh impact on women and girls. In early marriages, they can enter slave-like conditions, endure

domestic abuse and even rape.

She tells me she is relieved no longer to be trapped in that vicious cycle and especially that her parents welcomed her home with open arms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to focus on my education. I want to continue my education to then be able to decide what I want to

be in the future.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): In Zaatari camp, most of the 28,000 kids go to school, girls --


AMANPOUR (voice-over): -- and boys in separate three-hour shift.

And these are the taiga (ph) girls --




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- to 14. It is not necessary for the girl to get married while she is still young.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And Amal says she's heard horror stories.

HOSHON (through translator): I know someone who got married for about six months and she rejected her husband. She was frightened by what she saw.

She rejected the very notion that a man can sleep by her side.

The husband tried repeatedly with her but he was unsuccessful. And she eventually returned to her parents' home in the same way she came from it.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): We also met Raida (ph), who was barely 17 when she got married three years ago to a Jordanian who lived in the city.

AMANPOUR: How did you think it would help you?

RAIDA (PH) (through translator): It was to escape the conditions in the camp.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Now back with her family and new baby brother, she says she said she fled her husband after just a few months.

RAIDA (PH) (through translator): He treated me very badly. His family treated me like a Syrian refugee who came from a camp and not as one of

them. I was inferior to them.

AMANPOUR: What would you say to young girls your age, you know, when you were 17 when you got married or even younger?

RAIDA (PH) (through translator): The first thing to tell them is that it's not right for a young girl to get married. She should have an education

and look after her future first. And the parents should be educated instead of relying on tradition and customs that say a girl should get

married when she reaches 16 or 17.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The mentors and the teachers here tell us that some young girls need years of therapy to help get them back to normal, which is

why they say prevention is the best medicine for this trauma.


AMANPOUR: Child marriage doesn't just rob girls of their own young lives and productive futures. It also means communities and entire countries are

less likely to prosper without their skills and talent.

Lakshmi Sundaram joins me now. She is the executive director of Girls Not Brides, which is working to end child marriage around the world.

Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: How shocking is that, what you've just seen?

Is that similar to what you see in other parts of the world?

SUNDARAM: One of the things that's really awful within the context of Syrian refugee camps is just keeping in mind in that in Syria, before the

war started, the rates of child marriage were about 13 percent.

And by 2014 in the camps it increased more than 30 percent. That's a huge increase and that shows that families and girls themselves are using

marriage as a way to cope with this horrendous humanitarian crisis.

AMANPOUR: And we saw now, not just marriage but now divorce, young early to -- and kids who are divorced. We think we picked up sort of a movement

to try to stop these marriage practices and certainly the families we spoke, you know, they regretted that their girls got married. They're glad

that they're home.

Is there sort of a pushback on this as far as you can gather, not just in these communities but others that you monitor?

SUNDARAM: So Girls Not Brides members are working with girls and communities all over the world. And what they're trying to do is talk to

the girls, talk to families and communities about the actual impacts that child marriage can have, the devastating impact on the health of a girl if

she is forced into early childbirth, for instance, on her and on her children as well.

But also the impact on the community and the country if girls are forced into marriage and pulled out of school year.

AMANPOUR: You know, that is one thing that almost nobody talks about, the idea that it can really, really damage a girl's health physically, mentally

and then have the sort of ongoing impact.

Give me a sense of other places in the world that you have been to with the program and what the results of this early marriage are.

SUNDARAM: You know, child marriage happens across countries, across cultures, across religions. We're seeing high rates of child marriage in

places like Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, India.

It really is driven by the fact that girls and boys are not seen as equal but it's often exacerbated in situations where there is insecurity as we

see in these camps.

And, actually, we have Girls Not Brides members in Nepal, who were telling us that they saw increases in child marriage after the earthquake in Nepal

-- again, families and girls themselves are seeing marriage as a way of keeping girls safe without realizing the violence that these girls face

within marriage.

AMANPOUR: Android how did that change in Nepal -- or did it?

You know --


AMANPOUR: -- in the years subsequent to the earthquake?

SUNDARAM: Well, there's been a lot of work both from the government from NGOs, from U.N. agencies and others to really try and highlight the

negative impact of child marriage but also -- and I think this is fundamental -- is making sure that the camps or other places where are

girls and families are staying are safe for girls.

If girls cannot even go to the toilet without being worried about being raped, it is going to be very difficult to convince them that actually

being unmarried is a safe option and continuing to make sure that schools are available, that they are accessible and safe for girls as well.

But the other thing to keep in mind, whether it is in Syrian refugee camps, whether it is in other parts of the world, is that when girls are educated,

when they can stay out of marriage and go to school, they're much more likely to be a productive part of the solution, once the conflict is over.

AMANPOUR: We know that in many countries, (INAUDIBLE) in Jordan, we know in Pakistan, child marriage is outlawed. But nonetheless, it still


What do you make of these programs that we witnessed, the mentoring, the after-school programs?

That helps, right?

SUNDARAM: That has a huge impact. Working with girls directly has an impact; working with families and communities has an impact. Working with

boys, with parents, with religious leaders.

But we also have to make sure that there are schools available, that health services are available so that girls, whether they married or unmarried,

can stay safe and know about their bodies and can avoid pregnancy if they want.

And also, we need laws and policies that are supportive, that outlaw marriage and that provide recourse to girls who are -- find themselves in

these situations.

AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating inside and we were amazed to find what we did there.

So Lakshmi Sundaram, thank you very much, from Girls Not Brides.

SUNDARAM: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, can fake news become a self-fulfilling prophecy? We ask if President Donald Trump "last night in Sweden" comments

creating real riots or if they were there all along. We get a live update from Sweden and later we also talk to a leading Republican Party thinker

about the world of Donald Trump.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

So what did happen in Sweden?


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You look at what is happening last night in Sweden -- Sweden. Who would believe this, Sweden?


AMANPOUR: See, that drew quizzical looks all the way from Stockholm to Sunsbaugh (ph) because, of course, nothing happened Friday night in Sweden.

But last night something did. Riots in a heavily immigrant neighborhood.

So is life imitating the art of the president?

Let's ask Ivan Watson, who's live for us in Stockholm -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christiane. You know, police say that the disturbances, the riot that was in the

neighborhood of Rinkerbe (ph) on Monday night, that that's something that periodically happens in that community, a community which has a large

immigrant community but also a great deal of unemployment and low education levels as well.

In that series of incidents, one police officer was injured when an --


WATSON: -- object hit them in the arm. And we went to that neighborhood and it was kind of hard to even find evidence of the damage that resulted

in 10 cars being burned.

But it is that kind of thing that has driven a right-wing political party here, the Sweden Democrats, to see ideologically themselves side-by-side

with Donald Trump, when he brought up Sweden. Take a listen to what one of that party's leaders said to me earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was good. I'm very grateful to President Trump that he addressed these issues. Very important to us here and I also understand

the motive to why he did it. He had the discussion there right now about border control and refugees in the United States.

And I think Sweden is a good example to put forward as a bad example.


WATSON: Now it is important to note that the government here insists that there is not any direct correlation between the big surge of immigration,

of asylum-seekers that came, particularly 2015, about 165,000 of them seeking asylum here at the peak and crime or organized crime in this

country, which is something that it has struggled with for a long time.

And it is important to note what one prominent former politician, Carl Bildt, the former prime minister former foreign minister, what he wrote in

response to Donald Trump on Twitter, quote, "Last year there were approximately 50 percent more murders only in Orlando and Orange County in

Florida where Trump spoke the other day than in all of Sweden. Bad."

So police I've talked to, counterterrorism experts I've have talked to, they say that they are not seeing the new refugee arrivals being

responsible for any Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks or organized crime, that the problems that they are seeing are coming from Swedish-born


They're problems that people are dealing that have been in existence for some time. I guess, in the end, what is important to note here is that

immigration here in Sweden, as in increasingly around the world, a global and very contentious debate -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Ivan, indeed, it is that and thanks for joining us from Sweden.

We're going to turn to that with our next guest. But first, since his campaign-style rally on Saturday night, President Trump has had a

relatively quiet few days as his emissaries around the world revert to tradition to try to reassure allies.

Robert Kagan is a conservative intellectual, who called out the party's embrace of Trump early on. His latest work is "Backing into World War

III," which he wrote for "Foreign Policy" magazine and he joins me right now.

Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: I did describe you as a Republican but you rightly remind that you actually quit the party -- last year?

KAGAN: Yes, I quit over its choice of our current president. But so now I am a very happy independent.

AMANPOUR: OK, so let's pick up what Ivan was telling us, that there are a lot of people, though, jumping on the Trump bandwagon and wanting to make a

sort of a mountain out of immigration and whatever they think might come with it.

How do you fit what the far right party in Sweden is making of this so- called riot or whatever with what is going on in Europe and Donald Trump's support of these populist groups?

KAGAN: Well, I think there's no question that Donald Trump in calling out what, at the time was not a real incident but now he can point to a real

incident, is basically looking for validation of his own position.

And it is a mistake to think people say, well, maybe he is an isolationist and he is going to retract American influence. I actually think he would

like to actually have an impact throughout Europe and strength -- see the strengthening of these nationalist anti-immigration parties, as I say, as a

kind of reflexive validation of his own position.

And certainly the person who is one of the most important people in the admin, Steve Bannon, has a real philosophy of trying to support those

groups in Europe.

AMANPOUR: So it is no accident that the first foreigner who came to meet Donald Trump after his election was actually Nigel Farage -- first, bar


He was the first. Now, of course, since Brexit, since Donald Trump, the next sort of piece of this puzzle everybody's looking at France.

Today, Emmanuel McCraw (ph), the independent, who is challenging for the presidency, was in London and he's obviously trying to portray a very pro-

European, pro-liberal democratic order policy for himself.

Is this at risk?

What do you think when you look at France and the rest of Europe as these populists present themselves for elections?

KAGAN: Well, it's clearly a risk and it's -- it was a risk before Donald Trump. But I think that the Trump victory in the United States, together

with the victory of Brexit in the U.K., has really encouraged these movements to think that sort of history is on their side.

We'll see. I don't -- you know, right now Le Pen is not supposed to win ultimately in a --


KAGAN: -- runoff. And then -- but we will see what happens. But I don't think there's any question that these movements and these parties have been

strengthened by the Trump election and that Trump is happy to see that.

AMANPOUR: So there's that. And there's also been this -- people are trying to scratch their heads, figure out why the close relationship

between Donald Trump and Putin, who's also backing a lot of these movements, not just sort of by words but also fake news and all this other


But in the last couple of days, we've noticed that the Russian media have been told to back off their fawning over Donald Trump.

So what is going on, do you think, in the Kremlin?

KAGAN: Well, I think the Russians and Trump and the Bannon approach have sort of the coincidence of interests. They would both like to, in Europe,

defeat the center right and center left sort of pro-E.U. parties and see these other parties win.

But I think that beyond that and maybe fighting Islam they agree about that. But beyond that, I do not think they have many interests in common

and I think that they are looking at Trump and seeing someone who may be erratic, unpredictable, unfocused and maybe want to be a little bit careful

about looking like they are embracing him too much.

AMANPOUR: So erratic, unfocused, unpredictable. I spoke to a close friend of Donald Trump's yesterday, Chris Ruddy, who was the CEO of Newsmax, a big

media owner, who said the following about what we really can expect from the president.


CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: He is learning the ropes very quickly. But look what he's done foreign policy wise. He quickly and he has signed

onto the One China policy. He has backed up South Korea and confirmed (INAUDIBLE) support there, grew our relations with Japan beyond Obama did

initially, resupported, reaffirmed support of NATO, warned Israel about not going through with settlements, won't move the embassy right now, warned

Iran about breaking the agreement and he's extending an olive branch without giving anything away to Putin.

And that's just in the first 30 days. So I think he is going to be a lot more traditional than people think.


AMANPOUR: Are you as sanguine, a lot more traditional on foreign policy.

KAGAN: You know, I really do think it is too early to know exactly what he is going to do. I think, in some respects, he was not really ready to make

any particular moves. I think his views he has expressed pretty clearly. But I think it is true that, now he has tried to move to a more cautious

position on all of these areas.

Where he ultimately wants to go, however, is another question. And I think there is an overall guiding philosophy, which, ultimately, will have an

impact on American foreign policy and that is one of a much narrower definition of American interest than we have seen over the past 60 years.

AMANPOUR: So I need to ask you because we introduced "Backing into World War III." That was the title of your big work for "Foreign Policy.

What exactly do you mean by that?

KAGAN: Well, that was really -- that piece is more of an analysis of the situation. Trump may play a role in it. He may accelerate the dangers but

they were already existing issues.

The fundamental argument in that piece is that you have two what they call revisionist powers, Russia and China, unhappy with the international

situation, believing that they should have more power, more status, control of their spheres of influence -- in China's case, over all of East Asia; in

Russia's case, over Eastern and Central Europe.

And they see the United States as a major obstacle in the West. At the same time, you have a West that is losing confidence, that does not believe

perhaps that it should play that role. Americans are very much in doubt about continuing to play that role.

Those are two trendlines; historically when those kinds of trendlines intersect, you actually get a crisis and maybe even a destruction of the

global order. That is what I am worried about, whether it's this year, no. But, you know, at some point, five years, 10 years, it's very hard to


AMANPOUR: Fascinating that. Thank you for your insight, Bob Kagan.

KAGAN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And after a break, the German town that offered Syrians refuge and saved its much-storied school. Imagine it can actually be a win-win

situation. That's next.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where Syrian refugees come to the rescue. Disaster has struck the German town of Golzow, right on the

Polish border. And its beloved primary school, which was famously featured in the five-decade-long documentary series called "The Children of Golzow."

A severe population drop there meant there simply were not enough young children to keep the school open. Luckily, though, inspiration struck the

town's mayor, as Syrian refugees started pouring into the country.

He asked German authorities to send him families with young children to fill the vacant school. And so they did. The townspeople welcomed them

with flowers and their children crowded into empty classrooms. And two years later, the children and the school they saved are flourishing.

Indeed a win-win situation when people really put their mind to it. That is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our

podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.