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Saudi Arabia could aid talks with ISIS in hostage situations, says veteran negotiator

October 22nd, 2014
02:22 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Saudi Arabia could have a role in hostage negotiations with ISIS militants, former U.N. hostage negotiator Giandomenico Picco told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Picco conducted many high-profile negotiations in Lebanon that led to the release of several Western hostages in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He told Amanpour that if asked to engage in open talks with the terrorist group, he would have a “conversation… with somebody in Saudi Arabia”.

The veteran diplomat also stressed that it was equally important to open a channel of communication with “a military arm in ISIS which is actually led by the deputy of President Saddam.”

He said he would attempt to focus negotiating efforts on that wing of the group rather than on the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who “may have been able to catch the hostages, but may be unable to negotiate their release.”

Governments tend to ask desperate families to stay quiet and trust them to get their loved ones back, but John Foley, whose son U.S. journalist James Foley was brutally murdered by ISIS in August, told Amanpour that he and his wife Diane Foley regret having remained silent.

“In this country, we feel that citizen pressure may have pushed our government to become more aggressive at a much earlier point in time, which may or may not have helped Jim and the other American and British, I feel, heroes and the hostages.”

ISIS is believed to be holding several Western hostages and its latest beheading video threatened the life of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig.

“I think in the future we would look to - enable the press to be a more cohesive force in aiding families such as ours, to exert pressure on our government to use any and all means at their disposal to try to obtain the release of these young aid workers and journalists who are fighting to protect the freedom of speech as well as mitigate unspeakable pain and suffering in these war-torn areas,” John Foley said.

While some Western governments will often pay ransoms to bring hostages home, it is U.S. policy that the government does not engage in such deals with terrorists. Foley believes that an international dialogue must be developed.

“This is not a United States problem or a British problem. This is a world community problem. And I'm well aware of the risks taken by men and women in our armed forces to bring these people home. But in the end, I feel that the small amount, relative small amount of money involved in a ransom certainly is justifiable to bring these wonderful people home.”


Filed under:  Iraq • Journalism • Syria

Confronting religious extremism

October 21st, 2014
10:06 AM ET

As ISIS commits terrible crimes in the name of Islam, Christiane Amanpour speaks with two experts on the religion.

Click above to watch.


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

Using comedy to counter ISIS

October 20th, 2014
02:47 PM ET

The fight against ISIS is not only being fought on the battleground - it is also being waged through comedy, on Iraqi TV. Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Imagine a World • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Saudi extremist funding ‘has been stopped completely,’ claims Prince Alwaleed

October 20th, 2014
02:31 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

With the scrutiny of the world on ISIS’s alleged Gulf funders, billionaire Saudi businessman Alwaleed Bin Talal insisted in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that his country has completely clamped down on the practice.

“Yes, we had a weakness over there, whereby some unfortunately some extremists in Saudi Arabia…did fund certain extremist elements in Syria. But Saudi Arabia has taken very strict rules to stop that from happening. And yes, right now all this has been stopped completely,” he said.

Qatar has come under the most scrutiny in its alleged funding of extremists like ISIS, as Amanpour discussed with that country’s emir last month.

But wealthy patrons in Saudi Arabia have also been under the spotlight, especially now that the country (along with Qatar and several other Gulf nations) have joined the American coalition against ISIS.

The clampdown, Alwaleed said, is “better late than never.”

“I think we are hopefully doing some good and positive by halting at least the ISIS move now into northern border, the border of Syria.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Saudi Arabia • Syria

Iran touts ‘experience’ fighting terrorists, says airstrikes not enough against ISIS

October 14th, 2014
03:27 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Iran has “good experience” fighting terrorists, and came to the aid of Iraqis against ISIS, the speaker of the Iranian parliament told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, saying that U.S.-led airstrikes alone would not be enough to destroy the militants.

“I think it is very unlikely to destroy guerilla fighters by just dropping bombs on their heads,” Ali Larijani said through an interpreter.

Along with the president, Hassan Rouhani, and Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei, he is one of the most powerful people in the country.

“Us, I mean Iran, went to the side of the Iraqis very early when the crisis broke out. We don't really want to broadcast it; we don't want to go to the media and talk about what we did for the Iraqis. But in practice, we defended them.”

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, has even been photographed on the ground in Iraq.

“Terrorists cannot be destroyed by bombing them. You cannot solve terrorism by occupation. And in order to fight them effectively, you have to choose another method. And you know that we have good experience in that, because we have actually fought against them.”

FULL POST


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

ISIS fight may take 5-10 years, says key Iraqi MP

October 13th, 2014
03:25 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Countering the assessment of the Obama Administration, a key Iraqi parliamentarian on Monday told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the fight against ISIS could last “five to ten years.”

Mowaffak al-Rubaie represents Baghdad in parliament and is a former national security adviser to then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“I do not agree with the White House assessment that three years is enough to destroy ISIS from Iraq and Syria. I believe this is a long war, and we have to prepare ourselves in a political, social, and ideological challenge as well, as well as the security challenge.”

FULL POST


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

ISIS fight needs boots on the ground, says former British military chief

October 8th, 2014
02:43 PM ET

WEB EXTRA: Richards says the world cannot take its foot off the pedal in Afghanistan.

By Mick Krever, CNN

The former head of the British military, General David Richards, said on Wednesday that the international fight against ISIS needed boots on the ground.

"I think you’ve got to make sure that your aerial campaign is accurately delivered, and that probably means some special forces up front," he told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Experienced Western armies must play some role in the war, he said, if there is hope for victory.

“I’m not saying they have to be on the frontline, but they have to be deeply involved in the logistics, which is what often discriminates proper armies from amateur armies.”

An air campaign alone, he said, "cannot possibly" succeed.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria • Turkey

Turkey willing to put troops in Syria 'if others do their part,' Prime Minister says

October 6th, 2014
02:27 PM ET

Click here to watch part one of Amanpour's conversation with Prime Minister Davutoglu, about ISIS and the Syrian war, and click here to watch part two, about Turkish domestic issues.

(CNN) - Turkey would be willing to put its troops on the ground in Syria "if others do their part," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Monday.

"We are ready to do everything if there is a clear strategy that after ISIS, we can be sure that our border will be protected. We don't want the regime anymore on our border pushing people against - towards Turkey. We don't want other terrorist organizations to be active there."

FULL POST


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

EXCLUSIVE: Qatar's Emir: We don't fund terrorists

September 25th, 2014
04:11 PM ET

Click here to watch part two of Amanpour's interview with the Emir of Qatar.

By Mick Krever, CNN

(CNN) – In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism and pledged support for the fight against ISIS for the long haul.

"We don't fund extremists," the Emir told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Thursday. "If you talk about certain movements, especially in Syria and Iraq, we all consider them terrorist movement."

"I know that in America and some countries they look at some movements as terrorist movements. ... But there are differences. There are differences that some countries and some people that any group which comes from Islamic background are terrorists. And we don't accept that."

FULL POST


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

John Kerry: The fight against ISIS is 'going to go on'

September 24th, 2014
09:13 AM ET

Click here for part one of the full interview, and here for part two.

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN

(CNN) - In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Secretary of State John Kerry echoed President Barack Obama, saying it will take time for airstrikes to degrade ISIS.

"There's a definitely a second day and there will be a third and more. This is going to go on," Kerry said Wednesday.

The United States conducted a second day of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq since the expanded military campaign against ISIS.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Syria
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