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Moderate Syria opposition pleads for support, but not troops

September 18th, 2014
02:54 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As the U.S. Congress moves towards authorizing training and weapons for the moderate Syrian opposition, the former commander of the Free Syrian Army pleaded for support but said there was no need for international troops on the ground.

“We don’t need ground troops from any country in the world. We are able, if we receive enough support, to fight against ISIS,” Former Free Syrian Army Commander General Salim Idriss told CNN’S Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“We have a large number of fighters who are ready to fight and more than five thousand now are ready in the suburbs of Aleppo and suburbs of Idlib.”


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

Likening ISIS to the Devil, Cardinal makes case for ‘moral’ protection of civilians

September 15th, 2014
02:58 PM ET

Click here to watch Amanpour's full interview with Cardinal Fernando Filoni.

By Mick Krever, CNN

Likening ISIS’s rampage to the Devil, the Pope’s envoy to Iraq on Monday made the careful case for taking on ISIS in the name of protecting civilians.

“No one can use the name, or in the name of God to do something like this,” said Cardinal Fernando Filoni, referring to ISIS’s very public beheadings. “These are really Devil things.”

“I don’t say war. I wanted to say defending people who are in need. And this was asked by people there.”

The Pope has been particularly outspoken on ISIS, saying that the group must be stopped, though not necessarily by bombing and traditional warfare.

“The Holy Father many times spoke about no war,” Cardinal Filoni said. “But we are not talking now about war; we are talking about something different.”


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

For humanitarian workers, American offensive may spell trouble

September 11th, 2014
03:08 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

An expanded American offensive against ISIS in Iraq and Syria may complicate the work of humanitarian workers already trying to help desperate civilians in the region, David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“Like any human being when I see the stories that are emerging from Syria and Iraq … you can only imagine feelings that I have.”

“But equally I know that I am responsible for a thousand people plus who are working day and night to try and bring humanitarian help, and they are working inside Syria, including in areas where ISIS operates,” Miliband, who was British foreign secretary from 2007 to 2010, said.

“It’s very important therefore that I stick to my humanitarian mission, which is to say that these civilians wherever they are, are in front of my mind, and that we have to make contingency plans for whatever military or other catastrophe or crisis develops.”


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

Obama must go ‘all-in’ against ISIS, say two heavyweight American diplomats

September 10th, 2014
03:14 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

U.S. President Barack Obama must show the world that he is “all in” if there is any hope of defeating ISIS, two veteran American diplomats told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, hours before President Obama was set to reveal his plan to fight ISIS in a primetime address.

“We are fighting a mortal enemy, an existential enemy. We win or we pay,” said Ryan Crocker, who has served as American ambassador to Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

“It's all about American leadership. Either we assert it now or we don't win this fight.”

President Obama must demonstrate that “we're all in. We are in with a coalition that we will lead, and we are going to stick with it as long as it takes.”

“He was not all in in Libya…Nothing good is going to happen in Iraq, in Syria, and in the region without American leadership, and in our system that means presidential leadership.”


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

Iraq: We can defeat ISIS

September 9th, 2014
03:11 PM ET

Click here to watch Amanpour's full interview with Zebari.

By Mick Krever, CNN

On the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech outlining the American strategy against ISIS, and after the formation of a new government that was like a “caesarean operation,” Iraq’s new deputy Prime Minister said that ISIS in Iraq could be defeated.

“I think they are on the run, on the defensive. And with the increased international support coming … I think they would be defeated, at least here in Iraq. We have every confidence,” Hoshyar Zebari, who was long the Iraqi foreign minister, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Zebari hailed the formation of a new government – a “big, big challenge” – but some are skeptical whether the leadership is renewed or simply reshuffled.

“We all agree that this government has to be different from the previous government – in its leadership, in its faces, in its composition, and its representation.”

But Nuri al-Maliki – who was just forced to resign as prime minister for his divisive policies and whom many blame at least in part for the rise of ISIS – is back as one of the country’s three vice presidents.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode

West must include Syria stronghold in ISIS fight, says NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

September 5th, 2014
03:00 PM ET

Click here to watch Amanpour's full interview with Rasmussen.

By Mick Krever, CNN

The West must include ISIS’s Syria stronghold in its effort to defeat it, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Friday.

There is “no doubt that Syria and Iraq should be looked upon as a whole. Many of the problems originate from the internal conflict in Syria. There is a clear spill over to the region.”

“And that’s why I think the international community will have to address these problems as a whole.”

The United States said at the conclusion of a NATO summit on Friday that it would seek to assemble a coalition to confront ISIS. President Barack Obama has said that the goal is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.

But the White House has not said yet whether Syria, a country President Obama has long been wary of becoming involved in military, would be included its efforts.

“It has been very hard to see a military solution to the conflict in Syria,” Rasmussen said. “And still I think a long-term, sustainable solution will take a strong political and diplomatic effort.”

“But the bottom line is that we have seen the rise of this terrorist organization, the Islamic State, that has committed horrific atrocities, and now I see it as an obligation for the international community to stop it, to defeat it, and take the necessary steps to that end.”


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

NATO: Judge Russia by actions, not words

September 5th, 2014
02:00 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As Ukraine and Pro-Russian separatists agreed to a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the deputy NATO military commander said Moscow must be judged by its actions, not its words.

"If [the ceasefire] is the portent of a peaceful solution to this conflict in eastern Ukraine that's welcome news. But I think we need to judge things by actions and not by words,” General Adrian Bradshaw told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Friday.

“I'm afraid during this crisis in the past we've heard words said which haven't been reflected by actions on the ground. So we need to just ensure that people are being genuine here."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Russia • Ukraine

Iraq president pleads for help in ‘very vulnerable situation’

September 4th, 2014
02:27 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Iraqi President Fuad Masum appealed for international support to fight ISIS in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“If there is cooperation and coordination between Iraq and the United States, and the neighboring countries, I believe that that organization can be quickly wiped out.”

NATO has not received any request for support from Iraq, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday, but any application would be “considered seriously.”

Amanpour put that to President Masum.

“From here, and through this interview with you, I request … support for Iraq, to fight those terrorists, because Iraq now is in a fragile situation, very vulnerable situation.”

“And when that organization defeats Iraq, it can proceed to other countries.”


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

ISIS killings highlight lack of Iraq intelligence assets, says former UK Intel Chief

September 3rd, 2014
03:19 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The brutal ISIS killings of two American journalists, and the threat to kill a British hostage, highlight the fact that America and Britain have very little intelligence capability in the country, former UK Security and Counter-Terrorism Minister Pauline Neville-Jones said Wednesday.

“One of the things I think that looking back it was certainly a mistake, was that when both the U.S. and U.K. left Iraq, the intelligence assets were removed at the same time,” she told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour.

“That has meant there is a real hole in our collective knowledge of what’s been going on on the ground.”

“That has to be restored, because, you know, you don’t in the end conduct really successful military operations of any kind in the absence of good intelligence. So that’s urgent, important, and I think it’s underway.”

All eyes are on the U.K. as Western leaders step up their rhetoric on ISIS. Not only is a British national threatened with being the next to die, the executioner of the two American journalists speaks with a London accent in videos released by ISIS.

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said the U.K. “will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said America would follow ISIS “to the gates of hell.”


Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

‘Stay tuned,’ on American plans against ISIS, says State Department

‘Stay tuned,’ on American plans against ISIS, says State Department
September 2nd, 2014
03:39 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As ISIS released a video Tuesday showing the beheading of a second American, a top State Department official told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to “stay tuned” on U.S. plans to combat the organization.

“We are putting the features in place, developing a broad regional coalition, a broad international coalition, working to get a new Iraqi government stood up, working to get our plans in place. So stay tuned,” Brett McGurk, Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, told Amanpour.

“Obviously ISIS is a very sophisticated organization. You cannot just go in militarily and start dropping bombs, and hope that it’s going to work out. You have to have a very sophisticated approach to this.”

Just weeks after beheading American journalist James Foley, a British-accented ISIS militant executed another U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff.

The executioner says the U.S. is “paying the price” for intervention, in the form of airstrikes, against ISIS; he threatens the life of a British captive.


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