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Syria's War Enters A New Phase Of Violence; Silicon Valley's Boys' Club. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired February 20, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, after seven relentless years, the Syria war could be one of its bloodiest phases yet. I ask the

Syrian journalist and activist Rami Jarrah and retired US Army Colonel Peter Mansoor about the country's increasingly tangled battlefield.

Also ahead, why Silicon Valley has a bro problem. Emily Chang tells all in her new book, "Brotopia".

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

The bloody civil war in Syria grinds on. It enters its eighth year next month and there's still no end in sight. Today, there is a brutal news

from Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, which is besieged by the Assad regime and where more than 100 civilians were killed over the last 24 hours.

And the images are truly disturbing. These are children grievously wounded in the fighting.

Since the fall of ISIS in Raqqa late last year, the situation in Syria has incredibly become even more complicated. Foreign forces - from Iran,

Russia, Turkey as you're seeing crossing the border here and, of course, the United States - are dug in for the long haul.

As the US struggles to remain relevant in the region, it has to make known its vision for Syria's future. After all, the other competing powers have.

The journalist Rami Jarrah started the ANA Press agency to tell stories from inside Syria and he's joining me now from Ankara, Turkey. And Peter

Mansoor is a retired US Army colonel with several tours of duty in Iraq and elsewhere in the region and he's joining us from Columbus, Ohio.

Gentlemen, welcome to both of you. Let me go first to you, Rami Jarrah, since you're there on the ground. Just give me an idea, a sense of what is

happening in Ghouta. is the play that the Assad regime is trying to make there right now?

RAMI JARRAH, CO-FOUNDER, "ANA PRESS": Well, Christiane, I mean, I'm supposed to say that what we're seeing right now is a significant

situation. It is. But what we're seeing is something that we've seen since 2012 because this area has been besieged since 2012.

Over the past three months alone, we've seen around 700 civilians that have been killed due to air strikes that have been committed by the Syrian

regime and the Russians.

The Russians are very much involved, although there are parties in the Syrian opposition that are calling out to the Russians and asking that they

be somewhat a mediator in this to hold the Syria regime back from committing crimes when it is the Russians that are involved.

We've seen since yesterday alone 183 people that have been killed. The documented numbers that we're hearing are at around 100. But these are

numbers that we've confirmed because of imaging, but they're up around 183.

There are over 1,000 civilians that have been wounded. We have seven hospitals that have been put out of service since the morning, and this is

part of a widespread offensive by the Syrian regime and by the Russians because they plan on now taking Ghouta.

This is something that we have seen happen across the country. We saw this in Homs, we saw this in Aleppo.

We are hearing from the Foreign Minister of Russia saying that we should have a deal that is similar to the deal that we saw in Aleppo.

And what that means is displacing more people and taking them out of their homes. And if this sort of idea is supported by the international

community, supported by the United States, supported by all those parties that are involved, this pressure and this campaign on refugees not being

allowed to enter other countries is just ridiculous because you're forcing people out of their homes. You are supporting that idea. And then, your

preventing them from having anywhere to take refuge.

What we're seeing in Ghouta right now is widespread holocaust. And I've been criticized for using that word holocaust. I received messages today

because I mentioned it somewhere saying that I shouldn't be using that word because that word is only attributed to the massacres that took place in

Germany, but I totally refuse that concept.

Right now, what we're seeing in Syria is a holocaust.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me turn to just get a sense of the context of it because, obviously, Rami, you're covering it, you're trying to get as much

news out to tell the world, using whatever journalists, whatever people, civilians inside Ghouta who can tell the story.

Pete Mansoor, you can see it from a slightly more distant perspective. First of all, what do you make of what Rami says and, in fact, what we have

heard from the Russian foreign minister that they want an Aleppo-style end, resolution to Ghouta, to that suburb of Damascus which has been besieged

for the last five at least years?

PETER MANSOOR, RETIRED US ARMY COLONEL: I think what we're seeing in Syria is the war is entering a different stage. The defeat of ISIS has been

accomplished. The Islamic State has been destroyed.

And now, various regional powers and indigenous powers are vying for their more longer-term goals in the country. For the Syrian government and its

allies, Iran and Russia, that would be a contiguous state that includes most of what they call the usable Syria, the western and central portions

of the.

For Turkey, that means that they'll bump up against the US allies, the Kurdish forces in the northern part of the country that were allied with us

in besieging Raqqa and taking down the Islamic state. But now Turkey is attacking them and that puts Turkey at odds with United States, and that's

interesting because we're both NATO allies.

So, this is just another phase in the conflict which will go on as various regional powers and indigenous groups fight for control of Syria.

AMANPOUR: So, you say just another phase, but it is extraordinarily bloody. We just were showing pictures of what happened in Ghouta over the

last 24 hours. And you did hear what Rami said that it's a holocaust going on inside Ghouta.

I want to play for you a portion of an interview that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave to "60 Minutes" over the weekend. He was specifically

asked about the continuing use of chemical weapons by the regime.


MARGARET BRENNAN, "CBS" HOST, "60 MINUTES": There were six chlorine gas attacks in the past 30 days.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: That's correct. And we have called them out for the fact that Russia has special responsibilities, in our

view, because of commitments they made to destroy chemical weapons and ensure they knew that there were none.

BRENNAN: That sounds a lot like the last administration. Doesn't sound very different.

TILLERSON: Well, when it comes to killing people with chemical weapons, it shouldn't look any different. I think the only difference is the

consequences for it. And President Trump has already demonstrated there will be consequences.

Margaret Brennan: Does that mean military action is still on the table for chlorine gas attacks?

Rex Tillerson: As it was in April last year, we are serious about our demands that chemical weapons not become regularized or normalized as a

weapon in any conflict.


AMANPOUR: I mean, it's really worth putting that out there because these weapons are still being used despite what President Trump did, and he did -

he's the only one who took action against what happened a couple of years - a year ago.

But, Rami, what are you hearing from people inside Ghouta? What are they saying about the use of these weapons?

JARRAH: Honestly, Christiane, we are somewhat pushed to advertise an idea that we worry about chemical weapons when, if you look at the statistics in

Syria, if you look at the reality, as anyone that lives in Syria, chemical weapons have not been the majority of threats that have threatened the

lives of Syrians.

I mean, this area that we're talking about right now that is facing this offensive, in August 2013, 1,300 people were killed in a matter of minutes

using chemical weapons. But these are isolated incidences that happen every once and again just to remind the Syrian people that we are capable

of using such weapons and reminding them that there is no one to protect them.

But the truth is, in Syria, if you look at the numbers, over half a million people have been killed in Syria. That wasn't being done with chemical

weapons. That wasn't being done using sarin gas.

The truth is, in Syria, when the United States makes a statement and says that we're not going to all of you to use chemical weapons and signed a

deal with Russia to withdraw those chemical weapons, they are basically giving the green light to the Syrian regime and to all the other parties

involved to use any other means of violence to get Syrians.

What about the tortured victims in Assad's dungeons? What about those people? Do chemical weapons only justify the idea of actually standing

against something like that?

In Syria, the truth is, Christiane, that we are seeing a widespread massacre using many means of torture, of death, of weaponry that we've -

locally produced weaponry such as barrel bombs and elephant missiles, things that we've never heard of being used in Syria because war costs

money and the Syrian regime knows that war is financially a strong haul.

So, what they are doing is creating weaponry to kill people in a very cheap way. And that's it. That's fine. Just don't use chemical weapons.

That's the problem.

And I think that the United States and I think President Donald Trump, with his advisors, it's been explained to them, look, chemical weapons is not -

there's no necessity to use chemical weapons in order to carry out crimes against the Syrian people and to put them down.

So, it seems that we don't need - we can just use this tone in saying, don't use chemical weapons and it seems like we're holding the Syrian

regime (INAUDIBLE), but they're not. This is the truth of the matter.

No one is stopping them from killing their own people. No one is preventing them from doing anything.

AMANPOUR: So, let us ask you, Pete Mansoor. I mean, look, you were there with Gen. Petraeus in Iraq, you have seen these kinds of brutal campaigns

against civilians.

I mean, it is so tangled, as I said, and each of the other powers there are using the Syrian battlefield, over the bodies of the Syrian people, waging

their proxy war.

So, if I were to ask you now, Pete, who is in the ascendancy in Syria? I'm not talking about the Assad regime. Which are the foreign forces actually

know what they're doing and have a plan in Syria?

MANSOOR: Well, I think it's pretty clear that Iran is in the ascendancy. They have a grand strategic vision of linking Iran through Iraq and Syria

all the way to Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, the so-called Shia Crescent. And they're achieving that goal.

Look, in terms of what Rami is saying, this is part and parcel of how Assad and Russia and Iran are trying to win the war. They want to make

neighborhoods uninhabitable for their enemies, and so they bomb hospitals, they make civilians' lives miserable, either with chemical weapons or

barrel bombs or whatnot, eventually force them to flee and then they declare victory.

What they will end up controlling is the shell of cities that no longer have people in them, but that apparently is fine with them.

But in terms of who is on the ascendancy, it's clearly Iran and, to a lesser extent, Russia. Turkey is very upset with the United States for

backing Kurdish groups in northern Syria. Of course, Turkey views the Kurdish population in southeastern Turkey with great skepticism and the PKK

is a terrorist group that they view as an existential threat.

So, the United States is really the nation, the great power that's in danger of losing in Syria. Allies are being attacked.

AMANPOUR: Your allies are being attacked and, as you said, in danger of losing, and not necessarily having a strategy out of it.

So, I want to play you something that the national security advisor, Gen. McMaster, said to the Munich Security Conference about this issue over the



GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: What's particularly concerning is that this network of proxies is becoming more and more

capable as Iran seeds more and more capable weapons, more and more destructive weapons into these networks, so that the time is now we think

to act against Iran.


AMANPOUR: I mean, he says the right things, the time - or at least what they think is the right thing, that the time is to act. But what action

could the US take? And we have Iran potentially rubbing up against Israel now in a military manner.

MANSOOR: Well, actually, they've already rubbed up against them. One of their drones was shot down and then an Israeli fighter jet was shot down

over Syrian airspace, and this could lead to a wider conflict involving Israel.

The United States really has limited options. The only way that we can achieve our objectives is diplomatically and by engagement over the long


And this administration and the American people often don't understand that these conflicts take years to play out, but it would clearly involve

engagement with the Iraqi government and engagement with the groups that are willing to side with us in the Syrian conflict, and that includes the

Kurds, it also includes some Syrian democratic forces, some Syrian Arab forces as well.

But it's a very, very difficult predicament for this administration.

AMANPOUR: Rami, I've just got a really short time left, but you are a Syrian journalist and activist. You're there. You're hearing the stories.

Do you see any way out of this at the moment? Is there any room for a diplomatic initiative, which has after all been tried for the last umpteen

years and it's got nowhere?

[14:15:00] JARRAH: I'd love to say yes. And the position that we're placed is that we advocate, and we try to push people to support this cause

in a hope that there is some sort of solution.

But if you look today at the statements that have been coming up from the parties we would call neutral parties involved, we heard the special envoy

to Syria for the United Nations, Staffan de Mistura, today saying a very vague statement that we worry that what we're going to see in Ghouta today

is what we saw in Aleppo, and that just depends on what everyone's own opinion on what actually happened in Aleppo. It's that thousands were

displaced from their homes and that's what we're going to see now happen in Ghouta.

We hear UNICEF saying that there's no way to describe the pain that children and mothers and fathers are facing in Ghouta right now.

And these statements, they're just vague, very irresponsible statements that don't get us anywhere, they don't offer anything, they don't put

anything on the table. We have now a country that has become basically a country of empires and a country of empires that is led by a president

whose father also created an empire to say that this country has no civilian power, has no contribution from its own civilians.

We have a country right now that is controlled by the states that are involved outside the country who have no interest in absolutely seeing an

end to the war.

I know that that sounds like a conspiracy theory. But we as Syrians now don't see a solution to this war. So, we see this going on for a very,

very, very long time.

AMANPOUR: And since it has gone on so bloodily and so violently, we understand the despair coming from your end.

Rami Jarrah, thank you so much indeed. And Col. Pete Mansoor, thank you for joining me.

And we are going to turn to a different kind of battle now. That is the age-old battle of the sexes at work in Silicon Valley. Imagine hot tub

parties, orgies and blatant sexism. This is the shocking world of Emily Chang's expose, "Brotopia".

After years of interviewing tech leaders and reporting on the industry for "Bloomberg", Emily Chang calls out a boys' club where too few women reach

the top rung and they endure discrimination and sexual harassment on the way out. And she is joining me now from San Francisco.

Emily, welcome to the program.

EMILY CHANG, AUTHOR, "BROTOPIA": Christiane, thanks so much for having me. So, how did it get like this? Did it have to be this way in Silicon


CHANG: I didn't have to be this way. And that is why I wrote this book.

When I went back to the 1940s and 1950s, what I found is that women played vital roles in the burgeoning computer industry.

They were programming computers for the military and programming computers for NASA. Think "Hidden Figures", but industrywide.

Then, as the industry was exploding in the 60s and 70s, they were so desperate to find good programmers that they started developing these

personality tests to identify people they thought would be good at this job.

And two psychologists decided that people who "don't like people" make for better computer programmers.

Well, if you look for people who don't like people, the research tells you'll hire far more men than women, but there's no research to support

this idea that people who don't like people, or men, are particularly better at this job than anyone else.

But, unfortunately, that perpetuated and solidified this stereotype of the antisocial white male nerd that many of us think of to this day when think

about computer programmers.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it really is extraordinary when you trace it back to those two scientists in the 60s and the 70s or psychologists who came up

with this.

But you just sort of said, the typical nerd, kind of maybe sort of outlier who's the brilliant tech genius has sort of taken over, that idea has sort

of become part of the Zeitgeist right now. How does that translate then into the workplace and into relations with women who come into that


CHANG: I think, for a long time, this idea, this stereotype of the antisocial white male nerd became solidified not just in the industry, but

across computer labs and then became repeated in popular culture.

And then, when you had investors looking for new ideas and new people to fund, they were looking for people who look like Bill Gates and looking for

people who look like Mark Zuckerberg.

And you've had an extraordinary amount of wealth and power given to people who are incredibly young and they accrue this sort of wealth and power very

quickly without the same sort of socialization that can happen over the course of a long career.

And, unfortunately, I think that's led to a sense of entitlement and, quite frankly, arrogance. And a lot of people who are using their incredible

power - and, by the way, Silicon Valley wields an extraordinary amount of power over our lives, these people aren't using that power responsibly.

[14:20:15] AMANPOUR: Let's get into some of the more shocking aspects of your book and what you discovered over two years of interviewing all sorts

of people in that industry.

The sex parties. You talk about drug-fueled orgies. You say that it's sort of (INAUDIBLE 0:28). These aren't special. They're not that secret.

They're part of what this particular group, you say, considers, I guess, normal for their group.

CHANG: Silicon Valley and San Francisco, the Bay Area, has had a long tradition of sexual exploration and liberation, and so we see a wide

spectrum of behavior.

And what you're referring to is a lot of business in Silicon Valley that gets done outside the office, whether it is the hot tub, believe it or not,

or at the hotel lobby or at the party.

And what happens is women cannot participate in this scene without being victims of a double standard.

And in a lot of ways, these parties are more about power than they are about sex and the power dynamic is completely lopsided.

And if you just look at the numbers, Christiane, we're talking about women holding 25 percent of computing jobs. There's 7 percent of investors.

Women-led companies get 2 percent of venture capital funding.

I think about all of the women and the future Facebooks that never got a chance to be simply because they didn't look the part.

And so, I fully believe that the people who are changing the world and taking us to Mars and building self-driving cars that they can change this

part of the world. They can hire women and pay them fairly.

AMANPOUR: Tell me how these parties happen. It is shocking for those of us who don't live in that particular sort of part of society. But what's

shocking is the way you write about it, as if - some of them, anyway, who you talk to believe this is all about pushing the boundaries of free sex,

of all sorts of different ways of having relationships, that whole sort of issue that's going on right now.

CHANG: We're definitely seeing a trend and a rise in open relationships and a number of the people involved are tech workers.

I'm a journalist. I came into this without an agenda. The Bay Area has a long history of this kind of behavior, but because so much of the business

is getting done in these gray areas, what we're finding is women getting put in a lot of uncomfortable positions.

And what's interesting is I spoke to both men and women who are part of this scene, over three dozen people. In fact, many more men and women have

come forward to share their stories with me.

When you talk to the men, a lot of them talk about how they are not just changing the world with respect to the products that they're building, but

challenging social mores and challenging traditional morality.

When you talk to the women, they feel completely shut out. If they don't participate in these events, they're missing out on powerful connections

and opportunities to meet with powerful people.

But if they do attend, they're discredited and disrespected and they don't stand a chance of getting the same amount of funding or the same

opportunity that a man who participates and might be lauded would receive.

AMANPOUR: I want to just ask you to listen to a little bit of an interview I did with Melinda Gates. Talk about a powerful woman who got to the top

and, as you know, co-founded the foundation with her husband Bill Gates, but had this to say about the still very deep inequality in terms of gender

inequality in that sector. Just listen to what she said.


MELINDA GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: First of all, we are equal partners of the foundation. And so, it's an expressed goal of

our to make sure that people know and see that.

And as I write in the annual letter, it took a bit of time, quite honestly, because when Bill retired from Microsoft, which has been almost ten years

ago, and we were doing more visits together with presidents and prime ministers, they would often turn to him first in the meeting, and that's

kind of natural in a certain way, but we had to just create some space and some time and let a little time go by.

And then, as soon as I would speak up, people would realize, oh, my gosh, she's an equal partner here in this work.


AMANPOUR: So, I mean, she lays out a lot of what you're saying in terms of how women are treated, how women feel.

But there are powerful women like Marissa Mayer, formerly of Yahoo!, like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, have they not been able to sort of slightly

redress this gender imbalance?

CHANG: There are powerful women like Sheryl, like Marissa, but there are not enough powerful women. And I think they've been doing a lot to do

their part and try to crack that silicon feeling for others.

But this industry is simply so male-dominated - I love what Melinda Gates is talking about. And she has, in fact, called on the industry to provide

more data about how much discrimination and sexual harassment is costing us.

[14:25:12] What's really interesting is we simply don't know the numbers. I had 12 women who work in technology over at my home for dinner. And

they're exhausted. They're frustrated and fed up. And they feel that throughout the day, all day long. They're the only women in the room.

And they're constantly having to prove themselves and do all of this emotional labor that's almost like a second job entirely, a job that men

simply don't have to do.

The great part about it is that they love their jobs. They love doing their part to change the world. But the industry really needs to wake up

and make a real culture change to keep those women here working.

AMANPOUR: Emily Chang, author of "Brotopia", thank you for joining us from San Francisco tonight.

And that's it for our program. 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.