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Trump's Orders Missile Strikes Against Syria; Terror Attack in Stockholm; Russia Condemns US Missile Strikes. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 7, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:01] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Finally, action against Syria's chemical weapons as Donald Trump launches strike. Tonight, our special
show and reaction from around the world, from Washington to Moscow and Damascus. We ask, what now?
Plus, terror in Sweden. A hijacked truck drives into pedestrians on the busiest street in the center of Stockholm. I'm joined by Sweden's former
prime minister, former foreign minister Carl Bildt.
Good evening, everyone. And welcome to this special program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. President Trump has turned his own foreign
policy on its head, launching dozens of missiles at a Syrian government airbase in response to this week's horrendous chemical attack, which killed
more than 80 civilians, including children.
And his UN ambassador has just said that it had better stop Bashar Assad from ever using those weapons again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered. His crimes against humanity
could no longer be met with empty words. It was time to say enough; but not only say it, it was time to act.
Bashar al-Assad must never use chemical weapons again. Ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: While in Europe, terror strikes Stockholm, Sweden. Another vehicle attack, like the previous ones in Westminster, Berlin and, of
course, Nice last year, at least two people are dead and a large number have been wounded.
In a moment, the former Prime Minister of Sweden on both these stories. But, first, international reaction to the US strike on Syria, which is the
first time the White House has carried out military action against Syrian regime forces in a war that is now in its devastating seventh year.
AMANPOUR: While President Trump hosted his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping to a formal dinner, on the other side of the world, the United
States was launching a barrage of cruise missiles at a Syrian government airbase.
It is the first direct US military action against President Assad in this six-year war. And it comes in direct response to the chemical attack that
killed dozens of people, including children, in Idlib earlier this week.
The Chinese, who voted against intervention in previous Security Council meetings, reacted by saying they're against the use of chemical weapons,
but also always oppose the use of force in international affairs.
While the British Defense Secretary supported the strike, calling it wholly appropriate.
MICHAEL FALLON, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE: We fully support this strike. We've been in close contact with the American government over the
last couple of days in preparation for this.
AMANPOUR: President Assad's Russian allies got advanced warning from the US, which President Putin today called an act of aggression. His foreign
minister, though, struck a more nuanced tone.
SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER OF RUSSIA (via translator): I'm particularly very disappointed by the way this damages US-Russia relations.
I don't think this is going to lead to any kind of irreversible situation.
AMANPOUR: In the aftermath of the strike, unsurprisingly, the Syrian government called it unjust, irresponsible and shortsighted.
But still, the United States has wide support from its friends in the Pacific, the Middle East and in NATO.
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (via translator): The attack of the United States is understandable given the dimension of the war crimes,
given the suffering of innocent people and given the blockage in the UN Security Council.
AMANPOUR: So, as that continues to be debated at the UN, we turn now to the breaking news out of Sweden.
The Prime Minister says the nation has been attacked in what looks to be a terrorist act. A bustling street in central Stockholm turned into a sickly
familiar scene as a reportedly hijacked truck rammed into pedestrians and through a department store window.
Police say at least two people are dead, scores are wounded and a manhunt is underway for the attacker. Carl Bildt is the former prime minister and
foreign minister of Sweden and he joins us now from Stockholm.
Welcome to the program. And behind you, we can see the police lights and presumably the street that is being blocked off. What can you tell us
about the nature of this attack and the fact that the Prime Minister is calling it an act of terror?
CARL BILDT, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN: I think it is highly likely that it was an act that was motivated by terror. It follows, as you
pointed out, the factor that we've seen in Nice, we saw it in Berlin, we saw it in London, someone hijacking.
[14:05:09] It was a sole man. He hijacked a truck not a couple of blocks from here and then drove it along a pedestrian street before it crashed
into a department store. And as you said, talking about two dead. We don't know the final figure. We don't know how many are hurt. But it
seems to follow that particular pattern that we have seen in other capitals. Tragic, horrible, but that's the world we live in.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting that you say that. Do you feel in your bones that this is a deliberate - I don't know - ISIS attack or is it the
kind of, as you say, lone wolf kind of thing, where inspiration is taken from what's obviously being shown all over the world on the Internet in
various other scenarios? Or do you - what do you, in your gut, think it actually is?
BILDT: Yes. As you pointed out, we don't know. It remains to be found out and that might well take some time.
Immediately after the attack, there were a lot of rumors circulating about other things happening in Stockholm, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
The only thing that we know at the moment is one person took that particular truck, did this particular thing. Where that particular person
is, we don't know.
So, the theory, as far as we are at the moment, would be that it's someone, isolated individual, who had been motivated one way or the other to do
that. And, of course, it is - as such, it's an act of terror. It's the first time anyone had been killed in this country of terrorist act since
1975, which is 37 years ago when some German terrorists blew up the embassy. So, it's a tragedy.
AMANPOUR: Wow! That is a shock. I hadn't realized that it had - Stockholm had been spared for so many years. What do you make of the timing?
BILDT: Well, we had - yes.
AMANPOUR: I'm sorry. What do you make of the timing, given that it comes barely a day after the attacks on the Syrian regime's chemical
BILDT: I don't know. And as a matter of fact, I don't think anyone knows until one sort of apprehends the person or gets some sort of understanding
of why it was done by that particular individual. I think we have no way whatsoever of even speculating. I doubt there's any connection, but who
AMANPOUR: So, what is your view and your reaction? You've watched Syria and you've watched it for many, many years. What is your reaction to the
action the United States took to try to deter any further use of chemical weapons?
BILDT: I think it was - as has been said by several European leaders, it was understandable in view of the fact that there had been a previous
arrangement to take all chemical weapons out of the country. Even the Nobel Peace Prize was given for that.
And then suddenly - after ceasefires and we have political talks going on, suddenly this particular attack. Clearly, there had to be a reaction. And
it would have been better for the Security Council to stand behind unanimously. That is not the case. The Russians are very furious. But I
think the American move has met with understanding across Europe.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think the fallout will be? You know the Russians very well. You, obviously, know better than most the tense
politics between Russia and the West, Western Europe right now. What do you think the fallout will be?
BILDT: It remains to be seen. You notice yourself that when Sergey Lavrov was asked, he didn't escalate it too much. But when I listened an hour or
so ago at the speech that was given by the Russian representative in the Security Council, it was very vitriolic indeed.
So, that was a very aggressive tone in the Security Council. It remains to be seen what's going to be the fallout on the Astana talks, on the Geneva
talks. But that aside, I think it was understandable that an action was taken. The use of chemical weapons in this way is a war crime. It is
totally unacceptable. It is something that we can't just accept that it happens.
AMANPOUR: And do you think there's the political will to pursue this track, this military track, or is it going to be a one-off, do you think,
because of the chemical weapons attack and the rest of the focus is on ISIS?
BILDT: Well, what has been said from the US side, what I've seen so far, is that they've linked it very clearly to the chemical weapons attack and
the fact that they targeted that particular airbase that was used for the attack underlines that further. So, if there are no further chemical
weapons attack, I would expect this to be a one-off.
[14:10:01] The change that is happening is clearly that the US is now going to back to talking about that Assad doesn't have any future in Syria. As
you remember, a week ago, 10 days ago, the US indicated that there might be a future for Assad in Syria. I doubt we're going to hear very much about
that in the next few days.
AMANPOUR: Carl Bildt, thank you so much for joining us from Stockholm.
President Trump went, of course, from vowing never to get involved in Syria to something President Obama never did, launching airstrikes against Assad.
What is he thinking? I speak to one of his close advisors after a break.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. President Trump's decision to launch a military attack on a regime airfield in Syria is a marked
departure for a man who came into office as more of an isolationist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We, assembled here today, are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign
capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America
first, America first.
I now have responsibility and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly. I will tell you that. It is now my responsibility.
Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us.in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what does all this mean going forward? For an insider's perspective of the thinking within the Trump administration, let's turn now
to Anthony Scaramucci. He's an informal adviser to the president and he did serve on his transition team.
Welcome back to the program, Mr. Scaramucci.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, INFORMAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thanks for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, this, obviously, for the rest of the world is an incredibly important moment. Nobody has quite known what President Trump will do.
Give me an idea of - we've just shown the thinking, the sort of evolution of the thinking. Give us an idea of what you know to have gone on inside
his discussions and his thinking.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, only really the president knows his own decision-making. I can tell you from my observations of working closely
with him throughout the campaign and the transition that he's a very moral man, he's very compassionate.
And I think the scenes coming out of Syria, recognizing, yes, it is a seven-year civil war, but the atrocity of using chemical weaponry when we
all know that this is "weapons of mass destruction" and is really off the table for civilized nations, I think the president decided, with his team,
to send a message not only to the Syrian government, but the governments worldwide that the United States still represents a level of moral
authority in the world, not only its political power and its economic power, but we definitely need it to send a message that the United States
will find itself in a position over the next coming years of peace through strength.
[14:15:00] And so, ironically, I agree with the former Swedish Prime Minister and would tell you not only was it the right thing to do, and the
other world leaders from the West agree with that, but it's probably made the world slightly more safer this morning and this evening than yesterday.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Scaramucci, do you think then that President Trump has sort of been hit by the reality that, once in office - as he said himself, this
is now my burden, my responsibility and I bear it proudly. He used those words.
Because he did actually make a point of saying, we can't just be the enforcer of morals around the world or uphold international law, we're
doing America first and we're going to get better deals for the United States. He has actually turned that on its head. This was an intervention
to uphold international law.
SCARAMUCCI: Yes. But I actually don't see it that way. I actually think you can look at this through the prism of the America first doctrine, which
is basically, at the tip of the spear, you have to make sure that there is some kind of peaceful process in the world or some kind of civility.
And so, this is an atrocious act. I don't know anybody that condemned the United States' launching of those cruise missiles that said, `oh, great,
that was wonderful that there was a chemical attack.'
So, for me, I see it inside the prism of the America first strategy where a couple of things that we need if we want to grow our economy, make the
world safe, and increase disposable income for the middle class and lower income people, and that is that there has to be a force.
Both of us are students of history. We know that when there is one strong hegemonic power that suppresses the internecine conflict - that's sort of
what Tom Hobbes wrote about in the Leviathan 200, 300 years ago - actually 400 years ago.
And I think what the president is recognizing as the commander-in-chief that he has to start to use these tools to send messages to people. And
so, I said earlier today that this is sort of the air traffic controller moment for President Trump. That's citing back to 1981 when President
Ronald Reagan said that he was going to fire the air traffic controllers here in the United States if they walked off the job.
They didn't believe him. They walked off the job. They got fired.
SCARAMUCCI: I think that sent a very resonating message of the type of leadership that the world was going to experience from President Reagan.
And President Trump is doing that right now today.
He's letting world leaders know, particularly the dictator in North Korea, that we will use, if necessary, and judiciously, our military force for
good around the world. So, I think this is a good thing and I'm very proud of the president today.
AMANPOUR: All right. Then I want to, obviously, take you back to some of the things that even the Swedish former prime minister said. It was just
this week that the administration said that, you know what, yes, Assad is doing bad things, but we cannot focus on getting him out. We're going to
deal with ISIS and we're not going to focus on Assad. That was before the chemical attack.
Everybody wants to know what comes next. Is this just a one-off?
But, particularly, I also want to ask you in the context of President Trump's previous statements over the years. You remember when President
Obama first laid down a red line that he didn't actually cross. Well, at that time, Donald Trump said, "To our very foolish leader, do not attack
Syria. If you do, many very bad things will happen. And from that fight, the US gets nothing."
And then he said, "What I'm saying is stay out of Syria." So, there's a little bit of hypocrisy here despite the fact that most people think he did
the right thing.
SCARAMUCCI: You want to call it hypocrisy, but what we both know because we're both reasoned, fairly intellectual people, is that people change
their policies, they change their decisions as they get more and more information.
I think back then, two, three years ago, that may have been the right judgment at that time. But in 2017 March, when you have missiles being
launched out of North Korea, you have an unsettled environment in the Middle East that's perpetrated now for 15-ish years and the rise of ISIS,
we certainly have to be a part of the solution of putting it down. I think he's sending a message that enough is enough. We don't want to see these
innocent children attacked with chemical weapons.
AMANPOUR: And it's a very important message. The rest the world, his allies, want to know who is actually the president's most important
advisors because already we're getting reports that potentially Steve Bannon was against this strike, it didn't match the nationalist populist
thing that he backed.
So, tell the world who is giving President Trump his best advice on these big issues.
[14:20:01] SCARAMUCCI: Well, here's what I would tell the world. I was in the White House on Tuesday night. I had dinner with Chief of Staff Priebus
and met with Steve Bannon alone for a very long period of time.
I think the information that's being portrayed about what's going on inside the White House, there may be a disconnect between what is actually going
on and the information that's being portrayed.
When I walked into the White House on Tuesday night, on the patio, which is behind the chief of staff's office, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer,
Reince Priebus, they were all back there in a very collegial discussion about how to serve President Trump.
So, I sort of don't buy in to a lot of the stuff that you're reading about in the paper. Sure, there are big egos. And, sure, there are moments
where people have a disagreement. That's what the president would try to set up around himself. I think he does best, frankly, when there is some
level of different opinions at the table.
And so, for me, I don't think you could pick any one of those people and say, that's the number one person, but I do think that the president is a
super smart guy. And depending on the situation, he's drawing upon different people.
My guess is, is that General McMaster and General Mattis were probably the two people he leaned on the most as it related to this recent missile
AMANPOUR: All right. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you for that inside information.
SCARAMUCCI: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And coming up on the program, President Trump has sent a message to the Assad regime and the regime's backers are sending a clear message
right back. We'll have the view from Russia next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. President Donald Trump's swift action in Syria was roundly criticized in Russia, Assad's powerful ally.
Russian officials now say they'll help bolster Syria's air defense system and suspend their own crucial airborne anti-conflict channel with the
The Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister both warning the airstrikes will further degrade their relationship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAVROV (via translator): Of course, this is an act of aggression committed on an absolutely made-up pretext. And it reminds me of the situation in
2003 when the United States and Britain, along with some of their allies, invaded Iraq without the consent of United Nations Security Council, which
represented a gross violation of international law. And at that time, they at least tried to present some evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But Lavrov also said, he did not think this would cause an irreversible split with the United States. We're learning right now brand-
new information at this hour that threatens to change that.
The Pentagon says it's investigating whether Russia played a role in this week's deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria, and that's according to a
senior US defense official. I want to get right to my next guest, David Filipov, who's "The Washington Post" bureau chief in Moscow, and joins me
David, welcome to the program. We spoke earlier this week. Has this news of a potential Pentagon investigation into what Russia might or might not
have done around the time of that attack on Tuesday, has it reached Russia and what's the response?
DAVID FILIPOV, "THE WASHINGTON POST" BUREAU CHIEF IN MOSCOW: Well, the people that have heard about it are reacting like Russians are getting used
to reacting to things that come out of the United States. They think it's ridiculous and they're dismissing it with a good degree of incredulousness.
[14:25:10] The thing is that Russia insists that Bashar al-Assad has no chemical weapons and hasn't had them since Russia helped destroy, under an
agreement in 2013, the arsenal. So, they're saying all of this is made up. That's what Lavrov meant when he said a pretext that's far-fetched.
AMANPOUR: Well, in the Security Council, Nikki Haley was facing off against the Russian ambassador and basically turned him and said, well,
either Russia is incompetent or is complicit or the Syrians are playing them because, clearly, there are chemical weapons still there. And as we
know, they have been used by the Syrian regime.
FILIPOV: And this is the worse outcome for Vladimir Putin who had worked so hard to make a peace process where regional powers, Turkey, Iran, Syria
were going to get together and cause - and solve this whole conflict in a way that would work for Russia.
By launching these attacks, basically, not only does Assad say I don't want no peace process, he's also making it impossible for Moscow to defend its
ally. And a lot of what you're hearing from Russia right now is trying to come up with a brave front, while at the same time realizing that there's
really no way to defend him here.
So, how does Moscow save face and continue to defend its position, but at the same time acknowledge to the rest of the world that, in fact, the
pariah is acting like a pariah.
AMANPOUR: And to take that step further then, how does or will, do you think, Russia be inclined to meet the United States sort of halfway when
Rex Tillerson and try itself to put pressure on Assad if it might be feeling that, right now, its client is getting out of control?
FILIPOV: Right. And it didn't take us very long to get to this, didn't it? When President Trump was elected, one of the things we were wondering,
what happens when there's a military conflict involving President Trump and President Putin, the two disruptors in chief.
Right now, there are two ways things can go. Russia has said it's not going to observe the air conflicts memorandum, which means that, I suppose,
presumably, it could start shooting things down, like cruise missiles.
The other way it can go is Tillerson - Secretary of State Tillerson gets to Moscow and they have to come up with some way to manage this conflict. Is
the United States going to continue to get to overthrow the - to topple the Assad regime. If so, what's Moscow willing to do? And is Moscow willing
to basically back away from the regime? That's going to be the conversation when Rex Tillerson gets here.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think when you watch the result of what's happened, the way it's sort of added a spoke into the already tricky
relationship between the United States and Russia, what's been going on in Congress investigating Russia and its ties potentially to the Trump
campaign, where do you think relations go from here, quite apart from just over Syria?
FILIPOV: Well, the first thing, I think, is we told you so because (INAUDIBLE) when they were popping champagne bottles and cheering Donald
Trump, he's going to have better relations with Russia. But where does it go from here?
Right now, the question is, can the, shall we say, cooler heads - can the Rex Tillersons of the world come up with some sort of framework that Russia
and the United States can use to solve their upcoming conflicts.
Because in our first one, the first major conflict, we're already talking about turning off the systems that prevent us from shooting down your
stuff. That can't be the way that this develops. There's going to have to be some sort of arrangement where Russia agrees to somehow back off from
this unconditional support for Bashar al-Assad. Or else -
AMANPOUR: And we'll be watching, obviously. This is a really important turning point. David Filipov, thank you for joining us from Moscow.
"Washington Post" bureau chief there.
The US strike to deter Assad's further use of chemical weapons coincides with some painful history this very week. Thursday marked 100 years since
the United States declared war on Germany and officially entered World War I. That was in 1917, the war that introduced the horrors of poison gas to
Afterwards, the world rallied to formally ban the use of chemical and biological weapons with the 1925 Geneva protocol.
Now, back to the present, after a break, and more reaction on America finally drawing the red line against chemical weapons. (INAUDIBLE) we hear
from the presidential spokesman next.
[0:01:55]CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the program and just a quick reminder of the importance stories we're following and all two
familiar whole mark of terror struck the heart of Sweden today when a truck drove into pedestrians on the busiest street in Stockholm at around 3:00
At least two people have been confirmed dead with many, many more injured. The Swedish Prime Minister is saying everything indicates a terrorist act.
Police are now searching for the man that you see here. He has been described as a person of interest without any further elaboration as to why
he is being sought.
Now, in Syria it is less than 24 hours since multiple U.S. Tomahawk, cruise missiles, struck the Shayrat Airfield, that believed by the U.S. to be the
base for war planes that carried out the chemical attack on a rebel-held town near Idlib this week. The Syrian government says nine people
including four children were killed in today's attack.
While Russia and China opposed to the use of force against the Assad regime, many countries including Turkey say they support the U.S. military
action. Now Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman and advisor to Turkish President's Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They called the organized strike on Assad facilities
a positive response to the regime's war crimes, and he joins me on the phone.
Mr. Kalin, welcome the program, you have called it a positive response. Where do you think it goes from now and do you believe that it will deter
any further use of chemical weapons by the regime?
IBRAHIM KALIN, SPOKESMAN AND ADVISOR TO TURKISH PRESIDENT (via telephone): Oh, that's our hope. That's why we supported last night's air strike
against the Shayrat Air Base, from home of Syria.
Christiane, if you remember when the same regime, the Syrian regime perpetuated this similarly attack in Utah, Damascus suburb in 2013, the
U.S. at that time had said to enforce what they call the -- what President Obama called the red line.
Now, of course the Assad Regime has been permitting those war crimes with both chemical and dimensional weapons ever since then. So by retaliating
against this Assad regime last night, President Trump has indicated the chemical attacks will not go unpunished. But of course there are other
works that need to be -- other steps that need to be taken if they are to stop those work and prevent the Assad regime from committing further crime.
AMANPOUR: So what do you think? What does Turkey, the presidency, the Prime Minister, where do you think these needs to go from now? Because you
hear many Europeans leaders now this is repeating now the mantra that there's no future for Syria with Assad in power. But it doesn't look like
there's going to be a whole say of change of strategy. Where do you think this is going to lead?
KALIN: Well, we have two processes as you know going on at the same time. One is the Geneva process and the other one is the Ostana process. And
that their common goal is to initiate and hopefully complete their political transition process. At the end of which Assad will not remain in
power. That's the general understanding.
How that will be worked out? Obviously, it's a matter of time and a lot negotiation.
[0:04:55] But I think by taking a clear stance against the war crimes with the Assad regime, at least the new administration, the Trump administration
have indicated that if you are going to give any substantive value to the political process, it will have to be in a way that will force the Assad
regime to, you know, give up on its claim to legitimate powers in Syria.
And the second things of course, what our president has been calling and that is the establishment of safe zones and neutralized zones in Syria,
they've been arguing for this for a long time and they have not been given any concrete reasonable argument as to why it cannot be done even though
some security issues and logistical issues have been mentioned as reasons.
But if we have this safes zones, neutralized zones, you know, in Syria followed by this chemical attack and other capacities within have taken
place. So we are in thoughts with allies, with the United States, with international coalition, the developed countries, we are also talking to
the Russians because we initiated the Ostana process together.
And the recent attacks of the Assad regime, obviously around diskette (ph), undermining the Ostana process to which we are both committed, Turkey and
Russia. So we are urging all parties including the international coalition, Russia, Iran, that have (INAUDIBLE) over the Assad regime, not
to undermine the Ostana process. So we in the coming days, we will continue to have folks with the Russians and others also to make sure that
the process, you know, move forward, but at the same time we have to do something so that this will not happen again.
AMANPOUR: And finally, has your government spoken to the U.S. administration, to the U.S. Secretary of State today? And do you think
paradoxically, because frankly, Mr. Kalin, these piece processes have so far produced absolutely nothing, do you believe that this current process
will -- I know there will be some change now that there is this pressure on the Assad regime?
KALIN: Well, that's our hope. That's why last night's responds, retaliation I think is something that we have to take seriously and I've
been following the U.S. response and position at the U.N. Security Counsel and other official statements. They are encouraging in the sense that they
are ready to put really serious significant pressure on the Assad Regime, so that the political process move forward.
You're right, number of the initiatives have been thrived in the past and they have unfortunately failed. And I think the lesson to learn from all
of this is that we cannot fail again.
AMANPOUR: Ibrahim Kalin, thank you for joining us by phone, you are on the road with campaigning for the constitutional referendum coming up in a
week. Thanks for joining us with the view from the Turkish government.
And we are going to turn to the military ramifications of the U.S. bombing in Syria, and as we said the Syrian air strikes have been loudly denounced
by the Syrian regime.
But we are joined now by Andrew Exum, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Policy.
You have reached on about what's just happened. Where do you think this puts the west, the Turkey, or the people who are trying to get an end to
ANDREW EXUM, FORMER. U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE MIDDLE EAST POLICY: It well all depends on where we want to go next. I think that
what Ibrahim Kalin just said is exactly right that if the Trump administration and its partners and the Geneva process, and want to use
this as way to reinvigorate talks about the political transition in Syria, I think they can do that. One of the things we are hamstrung by frankly in
the Obama administration is that we weren't going use force, and folks knew that.
I think that the Trump administration is now proven, it is willing to use force but nobody knows where the Trump administration wants to go with
this. It's not a strategy, it's just a strike and there seems to be some worrying signs that they are saying that, well, this is just one-off or
this is just -- look this is not a big change in policy. That's worrying because I think that they could actually use this to jump-start some
But what I think is also weighing on their minds is they don't want this to interfere with the other fights that's taking place in Syria, which is the
campaign against the Islamic state and they don't want this strike to be used as a pretext for Russia or the regime to interfere on that fight.
AMANPOUR: Well, you did just hear Ibrahim Kalin say that his government is being in touch Russia, the two foreign ministers have spoken, we've just
learned, presumably, to try to make sure that doesn't happen. How much stake do you put in Turkey and NATO member being able to convince Russia,
well, first and foremost, you know, not to close its deconfliction channel and secondly, you know, frankly as David Phillip (ph) also said, too, what
Assad has done can't be good for Russia either and to use this moment to get what everybody seems to want which is an end to this process.
[0:09:57] EXUM: Yeah. That's exactly right, first of, this is going to be embarrassing for Russia not just the strike on the Syrians but use of
chemical weapons by the Syrian, but the use of chemical weapons by the Syrians themselves. Russia had, you know, had put themselves forward as
kind of a guarantor that Syria wouldn't use these weapons. And then they have these weapons and had turned all these weapons over to the
So it's a bit embarrassing for the Russians. And it does perhaps present some leverage for Secretary Tillerson when he goes to Moscow. I'm not sure
unfortunately and I -- we're deeply embedded to our Turkish partners for the role they've played and to fight against the Islamic state. But you
remember that Turkey actually shutdown a Russian aircraft.
EXUM: And hasn't really been flying in Northern Syria since then. So I'm not sure that they're going to be the best on-voice to kick start the
deconfliction channel. I will say that I think Russia's move to spend that channel I think is largely petulant. I think that that channel benefits
Russia as much as it does the United States, because it's in no one's interest for Russian and coalition air craft to be flying into one another
or to be engaged in unsafe actions over Syria.
AMANPOUR: Just put on that military hat again and try to explain how the international community, whether it's Turkey or Russia or the United States
and its NATO allies can achieve an end to this by both cutting off and destroying in the words of a different administration, ISIS, and making
sure that actually there isn't room for a dictator who uses chemical weapons.
I guess I think what you just said is so important. The fact to this moment could be used to drive a wedge into that sort of feeling of lack of
power to actually, you know, change the situation on the ground.
EXUM: That's right. I mean I figured there are really two problems but they're obviously closely intertwined. The first is containing the fight
against the Islamic state, driving the Islamic state from Raqqa and then (INAUDIBLE). And I think that there's first need to be a clear message to
the Syrians and to the Russians, don't interfere with that campaign. Syria has a very robust air defense system, U.S. and coalition aircraft have
flown through and around that system largely unimpeded over the past two years. That needs to continue. The second thing is, is that upon the
Trump administration, I actually want to foster a little bit of strategic ambiguity as to whether or not the Trump administration would strike again.
I don't want to say this is a one-off, this could be something that they could do again and that in and of itself might give you negotiators,
Secretary Tillerson and others, a little bit more leveraged the next time they set across in the Russians and the Syrian regime across the
AMANPOUR: Fascinating. It could be a game-changer. We'll see. Andrew Exum, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
And a quick update from Sweden, an important one. The Stockholm Police tells CNN that one person has been arrested in connection with this
afternoon's attack. They have not given any more details at this time. We'll bring you what we have when we have it, as always.
And after the break, we'll move from international reactions to the human victims of chemical weapons in this world. We'll talk to those who bear
witness to the devastating reality on the ground in Syria.
[0:15:20] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. For years, we've been speaking to Syrians, whose way of life has been shattered by this war.
Many of them have witnessed war crimes firsthand and survived to tell the story.
One of those people is the award-winning citizen journalist, Waad al- Kateab, who risked her own life to document the brutal siege of Aleppo and captured some of the most compelling footage of the war.
I sat down with Waad recently and I also -- what it was like to film the victims of one of the many chlorine gas attacks? We're protecting Waad's
identity for her own safety.
AMANPOUR: I want to also play a piece which is equally important and may one day be used as evidence in trials. This is when you were in the
hospital and they seemed to be the barrel bomb, the disposed chemical weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): They're older than 4 or 5 years old. Her oxygen mask slips off. She tries to fix it herself but her hand is
shaking too much. No one seems to notice in this Aleppo hospital. There are too many other patients needing urgent help.
More are brought in, their clothes stripped off, their bodies hosed down. And it's chlorine they've been hit with. These doctors here suspect they
need to act fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is so dramatic to watch that because we've heard for years now about the barrel bombs, about the chlorine gas, the chemical
weapons and this is potentially evidence of that. Did you recognize what you were shooting, what you were filming at the time?
WAAD AL-KATEAB, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Of course, yes. What we have to do that's everything was happening in Aleppo will be an evidence to what the regime
was doing in Aleppo or in Syria all. You couldn't see blood. You couldn't see interrupted maybe hands or legs, but you see a lot of people couldn't
to breathing. And you also, when you were in the E.R. room, you smell the smell, and it's very bad things. And there were many people that's injured
by the chemical weapons. Especially in the last days of Aleppo, every day at the evening, there was chlorine gas attack. And that was very
AMANPOUR: A vivid reminder that this week's chemical attack was by no mean the first. President Bashar al-Assad's office has spoken out against the
U.S.'s air strikes, calling the action nothing but foolish and irresponsible behavior.
So let us get the view from Damascus. The Syrian freelance journalist Alaa Ebrahim joins from there live.
Welcome to the program Mr. Ebrahim. I guess that you all have been seeing what's happening, seeing how it's being reported around the world. What is
the reaction from the officials there and all the streets?
ALAA EBRAHIM, FREELANCE JOURNALIST, SYRIA: Well, for officials in general, they remain committed on that, which is -- that did not carry out in the
chemical attacks against any other -- any place in Syria including the recent attack in Khan Sheikhoun. And as far as the people on the street
are concerned, there is a great state of concern and we call it at some stage as panic among people because they're afraid that this new
intervention and the Syrian conflict could further escalate bombings (ph), could further promote certain groups and certain rebellious actions to
prolong the fight, feeling that they have the support now of the United States, especially after recent reports that they might be also receiving
(INAUDIBLE) into air craft missiles.
So in general, there's a great deed of concern heard on the street that this would be a new turning point to small escalation in the conflict.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you to comment on some of the reporting we heard from Syrian state news agencies today, you know, that we are going to, you
know, fix up the airfield, we're going to fly again out of it or -- and we're going to continue to do our work they would say. Have you any
evidence that there have been any flights out of that airfield since this cruise missile attack?
EBRAHIM: Yes. According to my enough resources, in the afternoon today, there has been Su-22 jet that tool off from one of the airfields in the
airbase flew for 20 minutes and then came back to land in the airbase (INAUDIBLE) sure that the airbase is still operational. And the Syrian
army's chief of staff, Major General Ali Ayyoub was seen in footage distributed by the Syrian army's base office this afternoon inspecting the
base and meeting with pilots and saying the base will be back next week as soon as possible to resume it sure in combating tour (ph) as the Syrian
government calls it.
[0:20:15] I should mention here that this space is located in central Syria plays a critical roles in the campaign that the Syrian army launches
against ISIL in that area. And most of the air strikes that were carried out against ISIL in the facility (INAUDIBLE) took off some of this
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you also? Just to give us a sense of how the people in the government controlled territory, those who you come into contact
with the elderly (ph) civilians, were they even officials? I mean are they tired? Do they want to see an end to this war? Would they prefer to see,
you know, the government actually, you know, making real steps just to some kind of solution around the negotiating table, because the government just
keeps saying, "Well, you know, these are terrorist and we can't negotiate with them."
EBRAHIM: Well, this is not a fair collectivization of what's going on across the country. One thing that goes across boundaries and across
frontlines, and on both sides of aisle in Syria, that both populations under the government (INAUDIBLE) both agree on the fact that we need a
quick solution to end the conflict to Syria. But at the same time, many of the rebellious actions participating in the conflict have a -- have taken
part in an offense upon Damascus as late as March this year, less than three weeks from now trying to take new districts of the capital.
So the violence is not only caused by one part of the conflict, it's actually caused by both parties of the conflict. And while we are on the
issue, we should mention that the United Nation is inquiring to the use of chemical weapons. And the period between 2013 and 2015 found out that out
of five incidences were United Nations can confirm that chemical weapons were used, two of these incidents were against government troops.
So in general, the situation is much more complicated than what -- yeah, what it seems at first glance.
AMANPOUR: And very finally then I wonder if you could comment on the interview that president Assad gave to the Croatian newspaper this, in
which the headline was that, "We will have to continue this war. We have no option." So, basically saying that, as far as he's concerned, this is
an ongoing military campaign.
EBRAHIM: Well, most of the areas outside the control of the Syrian government was controlled either by ISIL or by a coalition of rebellious
actions. And in most cases where there's a coalition of rebellious actions, there is a strong presence for al Qaeda Syrian (INAUDIBLE) as it
known right now (INAUDIBLE).
So the (INAUDIBLE) Syrian government, that they're fighting against a radical groups, the terror groups, whatever you like to call them is solid
as far as the they are concerned. Because wherever they're following or wherever they're hitting, there's a presence for one of this radical
groups, either ISIL or al Qaeda affiliates.
So they Syrian, for example, obviously say that we were going to continue to do this, continue to fight or continue to bombard this people, and at
the same time, in the same interviews the Syrian government has also committed to the political process after talking to other rebellious
actions who agreed to join efforts against terrorism.
AMANPOUR: All right. Thank you so much indeed for joining us from Damascus.
And when we come back, we imagine the incredible compartmentalizing act that the world leaders are often forced to perform, hosting the formal
banquet for a fellow head of state while also launching his first presidential air strike. That's next.
[0:25:09] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine the world where America's first strikes on Syria coincide with the main course of steak and
Chardonnay as President Donald Trump sat down to dinner for his first meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping at 7:00 p.m. in Mar-a-Lago,
Florida estate (ph). He'd also just given the go-ahead for his first presidential active war. Less than two hours into that lavish meal,
Tomahawk cruise missiles descended onto a Syrian airbase.
Perhaps President Trump, took a lesson (ph) in the fine arts of high dining and high states military action from his predecessor President Barack
Six years ago, he had just given the order for a Navy SEAL way to capture Osama bin Laden's compound, just before cracking jokes to the gilded White
House correspondent's dinner where he also ruthlessly needled none other than Donald Trump who is in attendance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORME PRESIDENT: We all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example -- no, seriously, just recently, in an
episode of "Celebrity Apprentice," you didn't blame Little John or Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would
keep me up at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: All these years later, who would have thought that President Donald Trump would be taking a page from the same playbook. It is breath
taking to imagine a world of such high adrenaline action and the need to keep calm and carry on in public.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online @Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.