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What's Next for Syria? Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 19, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN COORESPONDENT: I'm Leyla Santiago in Mexico City and this is CNN.

CLARISSA WARD CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL COORESPONDENT: Tonight from the ruins of Raqqa. What now for ISIS after the fall of it's Syrian strong

hold? Our Arwa Damon is on the ground in the crumbling (inaudible). And Islamic radicalizationist (inaudible) here on whether the group will

retreat or return. Plus the shame of a nation. A devastating report on inside a Venezuelan mental health hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Backed away from the political chaos spilling into the streets of Caracas a heart breaking mental crisis is quietly stealing

what's left of this patient's humanity.

WARD, Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I am Clarissa Ward in for Christiane Amanpour in London. The capital of Caliphate has

collapsed. This is what now remains of Raqqa, Syria. It is now almost entirely in opposition hands. ISIS cemented it's control over the eastern

Syrian city more than three years ago. It became the central feature of the terror groups recruitment and is claimed to be a bonafide state. Back

then it was ISIS tanks celebrating in the central square but now it's the US back Syrian democratic forces and Syrian Kurds. The fall of Raqqa

harolds(ph) a new phase for ISIS and for Syria. With more on that in just a moment, but first my colleague Arwa Damon has made it into that

devastated city, I spoke with her earlier.

ARWA DAMON, CNN, COORESPONDENT: This square, and you will probably remember this, this is where ISIS would placed the heads of it's victims on

these spikes. A chilling reminder to every one of what their fates would be if they even dear to defy ISIS rule. This is where they carried out

many of their public executions, the beheadings. This is the square where they sold the (inaudible) woman basically as sex slaves. You see some

these fighters with the Syrian democratic forces now driving by. They are really exhausted, understandably, at this stage after having fought for so

long. There is also a number of women here from the female unit of the Syrian democratic forces and they're quite proud of what they have been

able to do, especially as women, because of how brutal ISIS was against women. And you look at the destruction, I mean, this is heart breaking.

You think about how terrifying it must have been for the civilian population that ISIS was holding hostage as the battle was raging around

them and how terrifying it must have been for them. And you also realize how difficult it is going to be to even begin rebuilding this city. As one

of the commanders was telling, so first priority, clearing it of explosives. They say it is going to take, at least, three months to do

that. And then, and only then, can families begin to come back. We are hearing, and what commanders are saying is it is going to perhaps be even

more difficult than physically rebuilding the city is that to ensure that an entity like ISI S is not able to regain a foothold in a city like Raqqa

again. They have to rebuild the fabric of society first (inaudible).

WARD: Oh well the city looks to eerily deserted. I'm just wondering where have all the ISIS fighters gone? Were they killed or did they escape?

Because this doesn't feel like it was a protracted or intense as a battle as Mosa was.

DAMON: Clarissa the battle might not have been as long as the fight for (inaudible) took but if you just look around at the destruction, it was

pretty intense and that's what the Syrian democratic forces fighter on the ground are telling us. Especially towards those final weeks and days. As

for the fighters that were here, a lot of them were killed in the battle but at the same time towards the end they had a number of deals as you'll

remember. They had a deal where those that were not foreign nationals could basically hand themselves over. Some 300 or so did. They had

another deal that allowed some of the foreign fighters to actually leave and go towards Zarzour. And they still do believe that there are small

pockets of fighters believe to be among the most hardcore foreign fighters who are still in the city and that's what they are really focusing their

efforts on right now.

WARD: Well that was our Arwa Damon in Raqqa. Raqqa has fallen but is ISIS dead?

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DAMON: are still in the city and that's what they are focusing their efforts on right now.

WARD: Well that was our Arwa Damon in Raqqa. So Raqqa has fallen but is ISIS dead? Far from it says Doctor Shiraz Maher he is the Deputy Director

of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College. He joins me now. Thank you so much for being on the show with

us. Is it too early to pop open the champagne? Is this the end of ISIS?


early to pop open the champagne. What we are seeing is ISIS being pushed back but this is not the end of ISIS. So there is an

important way we need to think of ISIS. What is it? Well it's essentially holding three different forms simultaneously. It has been a protest state

occupying large parts of Syria and Iraq trying to govern trying to be a government, so on and so fourth. It's also been an insurgency which it

continues to be and a terrorist movement which it continues to be. This military campaign that we have seen so far and the push back against ISIS

in Raqqa and in Mozul is really only addressing one aspect of its identity and that's the (inaudible) state aspect of it.

WARD: So do we expect no to see it kind of morph back into that insurgency movement that it really sprung from?

MAHER: Absolutely. I think that is very important to appreciate. It came from being an insurgent group (inaudible) from Iraq and then taxolized(ph)

on the deteriorating security situation. Syria moved in there, established a foothold for itself before taking over both countries. So ISIS has this

ability to morph both ways and we've already seen after the fall of Mozul and now Raqqa. It's been pulling back into (inaudible) into the eastern

part of the country. Essentially retreating to the desert. Now you can encircle a large urban center like Raqqa, like Mozul and take it back but

you can't encircle the desert so they are pulling back and getting ready to fight another day.

WARD: You know you have obviously in the course of your research for your various books and your academic work, you have talked to a lot of western

ISIS fighters and they for such a long time played such a major role in propaganda efforts. Do you have any sense, because we don't hear from them

as much now, do you any sense of how many of them are still alive? What they're doing now? They're clearly not in Raqqa anymore.

MAHER: A number of the fighters were killed of course and a lot of the campaigns ISIS fighting was losing territory but you are right, they did go

off the radar. They weren't so political prominent in spreading propaganda in way they use to be during the high (inaudible) movement in 2014 or 2015.

But increasingly as the situation became ever more desperate, in Raqqa for example, as it became more encircled as they lost more more territory and

pulled back. You did get the odd message coming out of Raqqa, so a British born fighter from Birmingham in the Midland in the UK did send out a very

angry and very passioned call about what was happening in the city, about ten days ago now. So that was one unique voice that we heard, it's quite

rare now to hear those types of voices, we've seen the other odd message pop up here and there from other foreign fighters but it's really

symptomatic effect. They are becoming desperate again and they are trying to get a message out to the world that they want people to pull off attacks

in west.

WARD: And I think that obviously raises the concern about what threat they might pose. I want to play you some sound right now from (inaudible)

intelligence agency where he talks about this very issue of the issue of western fighters and what kind of threat. Here take a listen.



SERVICE: It is clear that we are contending with an intent UK terrorist threat from Islamist extremist. That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving

rapidly and operating at a scale and pace we have not seen before.


WARD: I mean you heard he is basically saying it is an unprecedented level. Does the collapse of Raqqa effect this in some way? Does it make

people safer? Does it prevent more terrorist attacks from happening?

MAHER: Continuatively actually in the immediate short term, probably immediate term, it increases the threat to us. We should use (inaudible)

as the key issue here. It's important to be ISIS back in Syria. It's important that their state project collapses and that their back foot(ph).

But as that happens the messages changes and the strategic imperatives for ISIS change as well. So in 2013 and 2014 and 2015, they were saying to

people, come here and join us come and be part of this (inaudible) this is your state and people flocked there in the thousands, tens of thousands in

many cases. Now what they are saying as they are on the back foot, don't come here. Do something at home. We would like to stay in your home

countries and pull off an attack. So that dynamic now of sort of redirecting people who are sympathetic to their case and to their message

means that the threats does grow for us and as you heard in those comments just before, that threat is quite impressive and is quite sharp at this

moment in time.

WARD: What about moral, does it have an impact on ISIS fighters or would the ISIS fighters as they are sitting at home and garner the glory days of

ISIS tanks doing their (inaudible) in the central square of Raqqa. Now, we're looking at devastation, demolition, the Caliphate is crumbling. Does

that have an effect on the psyche? Does it have an impact on the recruitment drive?

MAHER: I think it does in some senses and this is why it's important to push ISIS back. ISIS is perhaps the only terrorist group that we've known

that had some strap line (ph) remaining and expanding. And, in 2014 it was. It was winning on the ground. Whenever we talked about ISIS we

always saw those images of it producing these military parades through Raqqa, most of them at the past (ph).

That appeals to young people who were somewhat sympathetic to its cause. They wanted to be part of this winning team, to be part of a movement that

seemed to have momentum, success and drive on its side. Now, ISIS is not remaining and expanding. It's shrinking and dying.

That's a lot less attractive to a young person. Now, what you're seeing is that message filter through to this ultra hardcore so that casual observer

or sympathize isn't interested anymore. You're, sort of, getting down to the more zealot pool of people who are really coming into its course.

WARD: And, how much of an effect do you think -- the tech giants have really have been under enormous pressure to take steps to stop the

spreading and proliferation of this message. How effective do you think based on your observations they've been in this endeavor? Has it had the

intended consequence of damaging ISIS's propaganda and recruitment campaigns?

MAHER: I think no one could deny that the direction of travel we've seen from the major tech companies has been broadly in the right direction. You

cannot access mainstream ISIS propaganda through big platforms like Twitter or Facebook or YouTube in the way you used to be able to three or four

years ago.

That same volume scale intensity just simply doesn't exist anymore. So, they are moving broadly in the right direction. Still, of course, a lot of

work for them to do but these are really difficult issues with a whole surrounding package of moral, legal, ethical, free speech consequences, as


So, they're working through that. But the direction travel is important. We are seeing this material coming down. But, of course, the Jihadis are

not weathered (ph) or indebted to anyone particular platform. As soon as the operating environment became harder on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube they

moved and they exist on a platform called Telegram semi equipped.

And that is a platform now that myself and my colleagues are spending a lot of our time trying to understand this group better, what they're up to next

and the volume, I can tell you on Telegram is staggering.

WARD: And, just to close, you know, I mean, it comes back, as well to the conditions that created ISIS, whether in Raqqa or elsewhere are - they have

not been changed significantly.

You look at the Syrian battlefields, you look at Raqqa collapses, who takes over? I mean do you see any real shift on the ground in Syria in terms of

who will control Raqqa and who will control all of this ISIS territory eventually that leads you to believe we're safe from the return of a group

like ISIS or some other form of it?

MAHER: We're nowhere near seeing the end of this. I think you make a very valid point. Just as I said earlier ISIS is not one thing. The Syrian war

is not a war. It's a series of multiple wars happening simultaneously within a particular theater. There is an ethnic opponent to this conflict,

a subterranean component, a Jihadist and secular component, a regime versus these people component.

All these different things. There is no master plan to rebuild Raqqa. People remain insecure, desperate and those are the condition a Jihadist

group like ISIS sees (ph).

WARD: Exactly it. There is no martial plan. Shiraz Maher, thank you so much for being with us on the program.

MAHER: Thank you.

WARD: And from a hard fought victory to a tragedy unfolding before our very eyes, an incredible report from within a Venezuelan hospital shows the

patience abandoned as the country spirals. That's next.


WARD: Welcome back. After months of nationwide clashes left more that 100 people dead in Venezuela, the country's opposition is now calling for more

protest following President Nicolas Maduro's claim that his party took most of the governorships in regional elections.

Bolsters (ph) have predicted that a majority of states will go to the opposition which now says it will not take part in scheduled talks with the

government without a full vote recount. Venezuela's downward spiral has led to an acute shortages of basic goods with an estimated 85 percent of

medicines now impossible or difficult to find.

The reporter Guillermo Galdos witnessed the devastating results when he visited a psychiatric hospital.

GUILLERMO GALDOS, LATIN AMERICAN CORRESPONDENT: Pampero Hospital is home to some of Venezuela's most vulnerable residents. Packed away form the

political chaos spilling into the streets of Caracas a heartbreaking mental crisis is quieting stealing what's left of these patients humanity.

Nurse Evelyn Martinez (ph) works tirelessly with little to no resources to tend the needs of her patients.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: The state run hospital, like much of the country is running short of supplies, medicine and even food.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: The situation is so bad that this mental health hospital hasn't even had a psychiatrist on staff for four years.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: But Evelyn (ph), who is essentially runs the show here refused to give up on those who need help the most. One of her most immediate

worries, malnutrition.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: This man, already dangerously thin, has lost another half kilogram in two months. She (ph) does what she can to stretch the food they do have

as far as she can but now she will have to stretch it even further.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: Many of these patients have been forgotten by family members and society but (inaudible) is one of the lucky ones. His mother Lucilla (ph)

is one of the few family members who visit their loved ones. She says the hospital is bucking under the weight of a country in crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: Lucilla (ph), now must use her pension to buy Alisia (ph) the medication he so desperately needs.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: (Speaking foreign language)

GALDOS: One of the most troubling things she sees is the lack of security for those living behind these walls. Armed thieves have broken into a

Pampero Psychiatric Hospital more than 17 times in the last few years. They have stolen drugs, air conditioning units and even the patients

Christmas dinner.

These days the nurses that work in here, they have to lock themselves up along side the patients. This nurse was mugged on her way to work and not

for the first time either. The situation has become so unstable surrounding the hospital the police now patrol the parameter.

Facing off against the criminals who still try to breach the hospital walls to get what they can.


GALDOS: Loosing supplies is hard enough, but (Evelyn) the state of fear here residents live under is far worse.


GALDOS: So how does (Evelyn) cope with the seemingly insurmountable odds?


GALDOS: Undeterred by thieves, lack of resources, specialists, and even the most basic necessities for living (Evelyn) and her staff soldier on.


GALDOS: Doing what is in their power to care for the souls that many have already long forgotten. Guillermo Galdos, Venezuela for CNN.

WARD: Well earlier I spoke to Guillermo Galdos and asked him whether there was any indication that the situation in Pampero Hospital might improve.

GALDOS: Basically I've been in constant contact with the hospital and actually the situation is - was by the day.

WARD: And is there any indication from the international community, we've heard a lot of promises coming from various quarters about getting more aid

into Venezuela. Based on your reporting in Venezuela is there any indication that that's likely to happen?

GALDOS: Well what I can tell you is that I - I getting only message on Pampero Mental Hospital, but I also went to a pediatric hospital where the

situation was a lot worse. And actually one of the kids that we filmed with has died since we filmed that.

And it's exactly same of what is happening in Pampero is the lack of medicine, the lack of resources, and the lack of doctors. Because I am

standing (negative) of the doctors are also leaving because, you know they don't have money to even get paid.

WARD: Give us a sense of what it was like to spend time with these people at this hospital to witness this suffering, this grinding poverty up close

every single day.

GALDOS: Well clearly these people were the most vulnerable for me at this time in Venezuela. And I'll - it was incredibly sad to see how as human

being can be locked up in the way that we saw naked in a cell where he goes to the toilet in the same place where he is sitting down. And it's

freaking inhumane.

I , I - not even in the worst jails that might cover several war zones and (I've seen) many jails and many prisons across Latin America. What I saw

the Pampero Hosptial I have no words to describe. Many of the things that I saw I - that were to hard to film I didn't even record, because of the

way I felt towards the people that I was filming. I was impossible to cope with.

WARD: What would you like people across the world to know about Venezuela and what's happening there?

GALDOS: I think that a lot of the journalism is concentrating in Caracas and I haven't seen a lot from outside Caracas. And I think that the

country saw the rural areas of Venezuela are suffering a lot. And recently I went the Gulf of Panama which is the boarder of Venezuela with (Trinidad

and Tobago) and the situation there was very, very bad. I don't know obviously access is not easy in Venezuela now a days, but certainly I would

like to see more things coming out from the country side up under rural areas.

WARD: Guillermo Galdos thank you so much for joining us with your extraordinary report.

GALDOS: Thank you.

WARD: Coming up after a break, imagine a world with out bugs. Trust me it's a lot worse then it sounds. The fall for flying insects is next.


CLARISSA WARD: And finally tonight imagine a buzzing world fading into silence. It's one we're up against as our flying insects disappear. A new

study conducted in Germany measured a 75 percent drop in the winged creatures over 25 years. While the cause of the fall isn't explicit, the

blame likely lies with the destruction of wildlife areas and the widespread use of pesticides.

It sounds pretty nice when you think about it at first, a world without bugs but if they vanish, an aptly named butterfly effect would tear through

our eco system. Insects after all make up two thirds of all animal species on Earth. And scientists say losing the flying ones not only endangers the

pollination process necessary to keeping many of our plants alive but it would also cut a chunk of the food chain out.

Starving bigger and bigger predators until it reaches us. So maybe the next time you see a fly or even a wasp buzzing overheard, for once you'll

be glad its there. Well that's it for our program tonight, thank you for watching and goodbye from London.