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New leader of the Free Syrian Army: We warned the Americans about ISIS​

August 29th, 2014
10:10 AM ET

by Henry Hullah

The Free Syrian Army is on the verge of collapse.

Fighting on two fronts, it is not only battling the Assad regime but must also stop the march of the barbaric militant group ISIS across Syria.

For General Abd al-Ilah al-Bashir, the newly appointed leader of the FSA, continued American airstrikes could be key to aiding his army's fight against ISIS.

"The American airstrikes could help the revolutionaries to destroy this organization and make them step back," he told the program.

Christiane Amanpour asked the leader of the Free Syrian Army if he had been in contact with the American government as the threat of ISIS began to grow in Syria, were they made aware of just how big a threat this group could have grown to be?

"We met with the Americans a few times and we warned them of the danger of this organization and we showed our readiness to fight against them because it's dangerous, not only for the region, but the whole world," the General said.

"We are ready to defend the whole world. But we did not get much support or help to do that."

Earlier in the week, The U.K.'s Ambassador to the United Nations told the program that "ISIS is a monster that the Frankenstein of Assad has largely created". The General made clear that he also believed the government of Bashar al-Assad is to blame for this barbaric organisation. ​

"We are convinced that it is part of the Assad regime. And they have complete coordination with members of this regime and they lead and they coordinate with the Syrian regime."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Syria

Russia has 'imperial ambitions' says the top Ukrainian representative in London

August 28th, 2014
04:03 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

As the United Nations held an emergency meeting over reports of Russian troops in Ukrainian territory, Christiane Amanpour was joined by the top Ukrainian official in London, Andrii Kuzmenko, for analysis of what this could mean for his nation.

Amanpour asked what the diplomat was hoping for from the U.N meeting in New York.

"Since the sanctions that are already imposed against Russia we do have the terrible aggravation of the situation, it means that those sanctions are weak and insufficient. We are calling for a full stop of cooperation with the aggressor, for further tougher sanctions and further support of Ukraine."

"We are not at this stage asking for military assistance"

After what happened to Georgia in 2008, was he confident that Ukraine could defend itself against a potential Russian attack?

"This is a very new stage of conflict. We will halt the aggressor and I have no doubt we will defeat them but, for that reason we will need assistance from the West since we are fighting not just for territorial integrity of Ukraine."

"We are fighting against the war in Europe that could explode the continent."

'It is inappropriate to tolerate the use of force in the 21st century'

Kuzmenko  was  unrelenting in a powerful attack on the Russian government's behavior in this conflict. He told the program that he believed Putin's Russia was acting in a manner befitting the "19th century."

"We are witnessing another war crime," he told Amanpour. "Just due to the certain imperial ambitions."

Summing up Russia's actions, the diplomat said, "We should remember the war started with imperial ambitions and will end with shame for the nation."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

The abuse that went ignored: Rotherham's 1,400 'lost girls'

August 28th, 2014
03:25 PM ET

A report on child abuse in the northern English town of Rotherham is rocking the UK.
 
It concluded that 1400 children some as young as 11 were abused, trafficked and groomed for more than 16 years.
 
The London Times' Chief Investigative Reporter, Andrew Norfolk, was pivotal in revealing the extent of abuse. He told Christiane Amanpour how this story started for him four years ago.
 
"I couldn't help noticing that there was something about the names of the offenders that always seemed to be a problem, which is that they were Muslim names."
 
"We eventually decided that although it was an incredibly sensitive subject, we needed to carry out some in-depth research to discover whether this generally was a pattern that was not being acknowledged by the authorities."
 
Norfolk made sure to point out that in the U.K. the majority of convicted sexual predators are white middle aged men who usually act alone. He was completely stunned by the numbers of girls that had been abused over the years by the groups he had been investigating.
 
"I have to admit to being unprepared for the staggering figure that was announced yesterday in terms of Rotherham, in terms of 1,400 children over a 16-year period. But what was happening in Rotherham is happening in every town and city in England that has a sizable Pakistani community."
 
"For four years, we have been asking for the research to be carried out to understand why that is the case. There have been some very high-profile criminal prosecutions in the past couple of years because since we've started writing about this, there's been a real change in the way authorities have been approaching it and tackling it, trying to protect the victims, trying to bring offenders to account."
 
"But until we actually understand why this crime has put down such deep roots in various communities, we're never going to actually prevent it from happening."

U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay: 'I am supremely confident that I speak with moral authority'

August 27th, 2014
04:19 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

In a world dominated by conflict, Human Rights are usually the first casualty.

It is the difficult mandate of United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner to try and protect them.

As the longest serving holder of this post, Navi Pillay is leaving just after scolding attacks on the entirety of the security council. She spoke to them in the past week, telling them that greater responsiveness towards the Syrian crisis could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

Many commentators believe that what the world has allowed to happen in Syria in turn let ISIS flourish. Chrsitiane Amanpour asked Navi Pillay about the monstrosities of the extremist group that Pillay's department has been documenting.

"This group is committing huge atrocities against men, women and children, large number - thousands of people killed and injured." Pillay told the program.

"What I want say is all actors, state and non-state actors, are accountable under international humanitarian law. But what I see here is neither side is taking measures to protect civilians."

A U.N. report released on the day of the interview has said that chemical weapon attacks by the Assad regime have been ongoing in Syria, even after United Nation's efforts to destroy them.

"Our recent report, which is being released today, shows levels of mass atrocities that are over six months period that have really deteriorated, increased to a large measure."

"Mostly chlorine gas," asked Amanpour.

"That is correct," she confirmed.

In the same region, Gaza has been left devastated by the Israel Defense Forces.

Pillay came out strongly against the actions of the IDF on the program, but went on to say that Hamas' actions are also unacceptable:​

"Obviously the acts of the Israeli government and the Israeli Defense Forces have caused far more civilian deaths and injuries"

"On the other hand, the Hamas and other armed groups are placing civilians as shields. They are placing mortars and rockets within civilian densely populated areas. And those amount to violations of international humanitarian law as well, as disregard for civilians."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gaza • Iraq • Latest Episode

Are we closer to stopping Ebola?

August 27th, 2014
01:17 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

It has been over five months since the worst outbreak of Ebola in history struck West Africa.

In Liberia, more than 570 people have died from disease.

But the nation's Information Minister Lewis Brown told the program that they are making progress tackling the spread of the virus.

"We believe now that we are better positioned than we've been in a couple of months to be able to get a handle on this and hopefully to eradicate it from our country."

Talking from Liberia's capital, Monrovia, he was hopeful but quite frank about the troubles his country faced when trying to halt the charge of infections.

"The truth of the matter is we're not just fighting a disease in isolation; we're fighting the disease with people we know. We're fighting cultural, long-held cultural practices and beliefs. And certainly we're not the most enlightened society in the world. And we're trying to bring every tool imaginable to bear in helping our communities help themselves."

"It is truly a difficult fight. We need all hands on deck. We need all those expertise to align behind this fight as best as we can."

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Filed under:  Africa • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Liberia

UK's Ambassador to the U.N.: ISIS is a monster that the Frankenstein of Assad has largely created​

August 26th, 2014
03:07 PM ET

by Henry Hullah

After the cataclysmic conflict between Israel and Gaza-based militants, some hope came today with an Egypt-brokered peace deal.

Christiane Amanpour asked the British Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Lyall Grant if he was hopeful.

"This is very good news, but we've seen truces before." he told her, "Just a ceasefire, if it gets back to the status quo, is not going to provide a long-term solution to the crisis."

"We need something that is: A) sustainable, and B) acts as a bridge to serious status negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel."

"We have to move on from this cyclical crisis to something that is more sustainable."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gaza • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

'There was fraud committed on both sides' says U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan

August 26th, 2014
12:10 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

Afghanistan is in a state of paralysis.

On the day of this interview the new Afghan President was supposed to be inaugurated, instead the country remains in a political deadlock.

Is the nation going to be able to take significant steps forward any time soon?

The United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, James B. Cunningham, seems to think so.

"There's actually been quite a bit of progress," he told Christiane Amanpour.

"What they've agreed is that there will be a president; there will be what's called a chief executive officer, not a prime minister, because that position doesn't exist under the Afghan constitution. It may later, but it doesn't now."

"All the details of how to do that are what they're sorting out right now."

Amanpour asked about the probability of a candidate being inaugurated by the new designated date of September 2nd.

"I think it's possible," said the diplomat. "It's an important opportunity for a president to be declared and to get him on to the international stage at the NATO summit a few days later."

"We'll keep trying to help them reach that goal"

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Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talks about a world in crisis

August 25th, 2014
04:10 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

A tense stand-off in Ukraine, the biggest Ebola outbreak in history, devastation in Gaza - and all the while, ISIS grows in strength in the heart of the Middle East and racial tensions come to a head in the United States.

A fractured world and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is the man tasked with picking up the pieces.

"The world is confronting multiple crises at this time," Ban Ki-moon told Christiane Amanpour.

"The situation in Iraq, we have a very serious crisis in Ukraine but we still have very serious crises in Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic. On top of this we are now being hit by Ebola epidemics."

Amanpour first asked him about the increasing threat of ISIS: an extremist militant group whose seized territory across Iraq and Syria has been said to be larger than the United Kingdom. Can the U.N. help those affected and to stop the threat before it spreads even further?

"The United Nations cannot do it alone in addressing international terrorism and extremists. The way they have been terrorizing the international community and its people by kidnapping the women, children and particularly journalists, this is totally unacceptable. These are against the international humanitarian law and against the international human rights law and we saw this horrendous killing of Mr. James Foley, that we have condemned in the strongest possible terms."

Amanpour asked if the horrors of ISIS that he had just described were due to an escalation of the Syrian crisis because, as he had told her in a previous interview, there was no "Plan B".

"That is why I have always been urging, the number one priority should be that that the parties stop the violence unconditionally and return to political dialogue."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gaza • Iraq • Latest Episode

Chief U.S. negotiator says Iran talks ‘the most complex negotiation I've ever seen’

July 29th, 2014
09:29 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Talks with Iran over its nuclear program are “the most complex negotiation I've ever seen,” Chief U.S. Negotiator Wendy Sherman told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Friday.

“The number of elements that have to be addressed – from enrichment capacity, to facilities, to research and development, to possible military dimensions, existing U.N. Security Council sanctions – I could go and on.”

“It is very complicated, very technical, many pages of annexes ultimately in any final agreement. So this takes a lot of work.”

Iran and world powers agreed, a little over a week ago, to extend negotiations four months in the hope that a permanent deal could be struck.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, told Amanpour that the talks are "a historic opportunity for all of us to end a rather prolonged chapter.”

“The point is whether it is possible to make a deal,” he said. “We're not talking about a bad deal or a good deal, but a doable deal. A lasting deal.”

Sherman praised all the negotiators, including Iran – and Zarif, who leads the delegation – as having been “very serious and very focused.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on illegal migration: In short, it’s a crisis

July 24th, 2014
04:16 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

Juan Orlando Hernandez is a relatively new leader of his nation - his tenure began just six months ago - but already he is facing a problem that has received huge international attention: the exodus of civilians emigrating from Central America to the U.S.

Amanpour asked the President how migration became a crisis in his country.

"This problem got out of proportion from a year ago and this has surprised us. The causes are multiple. One of them is the violence caused by drug trafficking, poverty, of course, the lack of opportunities. But, for us, this is an enormous challenge."

Hernandez is set to speak to U.S. President Barack Obama about the immigration crisis this week. Amanpour asked what he would say:

"The crime that comes from drugs, the violence, the lack of security that comes from Central America has a cost for the United States, it's not a benefit," President Hernandez said. "In short, it's a crisis for Central America and it's a crisis for the U.S., so let's work together to solve it."

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Honduras • Immigration • Latest Episode
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