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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

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

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

Former British Commander: ‘We created Iraq,’ now we have to help fix it

August 14th, 2014
03:20 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A highly respected former British commander on Thursday said that the UK had a responsibility to help put Iraq back together again.

“Britain created Iraq in 1920,” Col. Tim Collins told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Thursday. “It’s hard to say at this moment is there such a nation as Iraq.”

There must be a strong diplomatic effort to create a more “balanced country;” an effort to supply the Kurds with equipment, ammunition, and training; and an effort to get Sunni tribes on board with fighting ISIS, itself an extremist Sunni group.

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Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister: 'Maliki himself and some of his associates do not realize how big is the threat'

August 13th, 2014
11:41 AM ET

By Henry Hullah

The rise of Haider al-Abadi to the Prime Minister's office has been applauded around the world and across Iraqi party lines.

The general consensus has been that with his tenure so too shall come a more inclusive government. Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the program that more involvment the country's many factions is a pivotal factor in the struggle against ISIS.

"To be truly representative of the Iraqi communities, nationalities, sexes. It is very important to defeat ISIS."

He told the program that in Iraq's current position, the nation needs "a democratic, a representative, an inclusive government to reach out to all communities and fight back."

When asked why the current government, under the incumbent Prime Minister Maliki, had faltered in it's response to the current crisis, the former Foreign Minister said a lack of speed was due to a failure to realize the extent of the ISIS threat.

He told Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, that "Maliki himself and some of his associates do not realize how big is the threat."

"You don't get that sense of urgency or the need to move or to make concessions in order to save the country from total collapse."


Filed under:  Iraq

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad: 'I'm shocked but not surprised'

August 12th, 2014
02:42 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

As the United States Ambassador to Iraq from 2005-2007, Zalmay Khalilzad said he was met with "demanding circumstances with a lot of violence."

Since the end of his tenure, Iraq and the region surrounding it have spiraled​ into political unrest and violent conflict.

The events have left the former ambassador "Shocked but not surprised."

The United States stepped into the fray with aid drops and airstrikes this week and by doing so, Zalmay Khalilzad says, U.S. President Barack Obama has "saved the lives of many people" and helped "Kurds prevent a takeover of Irbil, possibly, by the ISIS terrorists."

"I think the president has taken a good step. He needs to build on that as the situation requires."

Regarding the trials facing Nuri al-Maliki's replacement, the "more worldly" Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, Khalilzad told the program "he has huge challenges confronting him."​


Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode

Iraq's Ambassador to U.S. Lukman Faily: ‘Airstrikes need to be wider and more intense’

August 11th, 2014
04:06 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

U.S. airstrikes and aid drops have given hope to many in Iraq, where a large portion of the country is still under the control of ISIS militants.

However political turmoil has peaked in Baghdad with the new Iraqi president's nomination for Prime Minister: Haider al-Abadi. It's a job the incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pronounced he wanted for a third term.

A defiant al-Maliki has stated that the nomination of his former aide is in breach of the constitution, while al-Abadi has thirty days to form his new government.

Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, remains hopeful about the situation and told Fred Pleitgen, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, that he is "confident it will be resolved soon".

"What we have seen over the last six weeks we have never seen it before. Previously it took six months and the previous election nine months, now we are talking about six weeks. We are making significant progress now."

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Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode

America has ‘moral responsibility’ to intervene in Iraq, says Iraqi Kurdish foreign minister

August 6th, 2014
03:16 PM ET

By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN

The foreign minister of Iraqi Kurdistan on Wednesday issued a desperate plea for American and Western intervention to halt the advance of ISIS extremists.

“We are left alone in the front to fight the terrorists of ISIS,” Falah Mustafa Bakir told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour.

“I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to support us, because this is a fight against terrorism, and we have proven to be pro-democracy, pro-West, and pro-secularism.”

While much of the world's attention has recently been focused on Gaza, ISIS has been sweeping across northern Iraq.

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Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode

Man who ‘discovered’ Maliki explains what went wrong

July 16th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

In 2006 Iraq, Ali Khedery needed a problem solver.

The American occupation was in its fourth year, and the country was in disarray. Militias were gaining power in the country, and there was real concern about radical Islamists.

Khedery, as U.S. Special Assistant in Baghdad, found Nouri al-Maliki, leader of the Dawa party.

“We believed we needed a Shiite Islamist prime minister to crush the Shiite Islamist militias, along with Al Qaeda,” Khedery told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “And that is exactly what Nouri al-Maliki did from 2006 until 2008.”

Khedery was the longest continuously serving U.S. official in Baghdad.

But as Iraq’s violence ebbed, America’s bet on al-Maliki began to backfire, according to Khedery.

“By 2010, after violence had been reduced 90 percent since pre-surge highs, I lobbied the White House – including Vice President Biden and senior administration officials – that they needed to withdraw their support from Prime Minister Maliki.”

“We had very clear indications at that time that Maliki was trying to build a Shiite theocratic state around his political party and around himself,” just as Saddam Hussein had consolidated power around himself a couple of decades earlier.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode

U.K.: We warned Iraq about extremist threat

July 7th, 2014
12:18 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Amanpour’s full interview with Ambassador Simon Collis airs at 2pm ET, 7pm London, 9pm Baghdad time on CNN International.

The United Kingdom consistently warned the Iraqi government about the threat posed by ISIS before that group swept across large swaths of the country, UK Ambassador to Iraq Simon Collis told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“I’m not suggesting that anybody saw quite the speed and scale of the advances that took place, which were in part also a result of the collapse of very significant numbers of Iraqi security forces.”

“But the fact that Mosul was vulnerable was known. The fact that ISIL were already holding territory from last year in parts of western Iraq, in Anbar and elsewhere, was well known.”

“We were aware of the threat and we gave clear advice at the time and throughout about the best way to tackle it, the only effective way to tackle it.”

The UK told Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government that the only way to defeat ISIS was through a “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy,” involving political, economic, and security measures, Ambassador Collis said.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode
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