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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.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode

Ex-Israel Intelligence chief Efraim Halevy calls for talks with Hamas: ‘There are worse options than Hamas’

July 15th, 2014
03:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The former Israeli Intelligence Minister called for negotiations with Hamas in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“Hamas is a very bad option, undoubtedly. But there are worse options than Hamas,” Efraim Halevy, former Mossad chief, said.

“And we already know what some of them might be, especially one of them: the ISIS – which is operating now in the northern Iraq and central Iraq – has its tentacles in the Gaza Strip too.”

Halevy said that just as in Europe, ISIS is recruiting in Gaza.

An Israeli cease-fire on Tuesday lasted six short hours; the Hamas rocket fire never stopped, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that attacks on Gaza be intensified.

It is “inconvenient politically,” Halevy said, for both Israel and Hamas to admit that they negotiate. But the truth, he said, is that they have already been doing it for years.

FULL POST

Envoy ‘reasonably confident’ about Afghan political future

July 15th, 2014
07:09 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As the U.S. brokers a deal to try to stave off political calamity in Afghanistan, the American special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan said he was hopeful and “reasonably confident” that the country can hold together politically.

“I think it will depend first of all on the leadership exercised by the two candidates” – Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani – “in forming a national unity government and then working together over the next several years.

“It will also depend on their ability to hold their supporters to this agreement as well. I think they have the capacity to do that. I think they are committed to working together.”

Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise trip to Kabul this weekend to broker a deal between the rival presidential candidates, who have both claimed victory in their country’s election and alleged massive fraud.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Germany sees an inattentive partner in Washington

July 14th, 2014
03:51 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Germany needs U.S. partnership on spying but must first see a change from Washington and “probably the most detached President [in] decades,” former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

There is “a level of mistrust that needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed from Washington,” Guttenberg told Amanpour in London.

Trust between the two countries has fallen to dangerous lows as new allegations emerged that the U.S. recruited a spy inside Germany’s secret service.

Berlin has since ordered the top U.S. spy in the country to leave – the first time a close American ally has expelled a CIA station chief.

Spying, Guttenberg told Amanpour, “is nothing new.”

“Honestly, we all do it,” he said. “But you shouldn’t get caught.”

Getting caught now is particularly embarrassing for the United States, which had been under pressure to repair relations with Berlin after it was revealed last October that the U.S. had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Germany • Latest Episode

After stunning World Cup loss, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pledges country will recover

July 10th, 2014
02:28 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

It was a stunning loss for a country that views soccer as a religion.

If Brazil has been shell-shocked since its 7-1 rout by Germany in the semifinals of the World Cup, the President who staked so much on the Cup, Dilma Rousseff, pledged in an exclusive interview with Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday that the loss will not shake the national psyche.

“There is one hallmark and feature about football,” she told Amanpour at the presidential palace in Brasilia. “It is made of victories and defeats. That’s part and parcel of the game.”

“And being able to overcome defeat I think is the feature and hallmark of a major national team and of a great country.”

Brazil, like so many other middle-income countries around the world, has been engaged in the great project of modernization, and lifting millions out of poverty.

Rousseff has had a long education in Brazilian politics – first as a left-wing guerrilla battling Brazil’s military dictatorship, then as right-hand woman to the heavyweight of Brazilian politics, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Despite the country’s deep-seated passion for soccer, its move to host the World Cup was controversial. Brazilians across the country turned out in the streets to protest the vast sums the government spent on stadiums and how they were built.

Rousseff was booed and jeered as she watched the opening match pitting the host nation against Croatia.

Now as she gears up for re-election in October, can President Rousseff push forward with Brazil’s grand transformation?

FULL POST


Filed under:  Brazil • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Indonesia at a crossroads

July 10th, 2014
08:33 AM ET

A tightly-fought presidential race has been underway in Indonesia – the third largest democracy in the world. Two very different candidates are offering up two very different futures.

And it's their personalities rather than their policies that seem to be grabbing the headlines.

On the one side is Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, a former furniture maker who's running on an anti-corruption ticket. On the other is Prabowo Subianto, a military man and former son-in-law of one-time dictator General Suharto, whose rhetoric is putting the country's recent hard-fought freedoms to test.

Author and writer Elizabeth Pisani, has just written “Indonesia etc,” a detailed account of life inside the world's fourth most populous country.

She spoke with CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Thursday.


Filed under:  Indonesia • Latest Episode

The grim reality in Gaza

July 10th, 2014
06:25 AM ET

As the shooting war between Israel and Hamas intensifies, what of the Gaza residents who aren't firing rockets, those who don't command or control Hamas fighters and aren't interested in the politics?

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, spoke with CNN’s Michael Holmes about the reality for the people on the ground.

Click above to watch.


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

Brazil President: 'My nightmares never got so bad'

July 9th, 2014
03:03 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Amanpour's full interview with President Rousseff airs Thursday at 2pm ET, 3pm Sao Paolo, 8pm CET on CNN International.

(CNN) - Never in her worst nightmares did Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff imagine such a crushing soccer defeat, she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

"My nightmares never got so bad, Christiane," she said through an interpreter. "They never went that far. As a supporter, of course, I am deeply sorry because I share the same sorrow of all supporters. But I also know that we are a country that has one very peculiar feature. We rise to the challenge in the face of adversity. We are able to overcome."

Brazil, she said, will recover from this "extremely painful situation."

"Being able to overcome defeat I think is the feature and hallmark of a major national team and of a great country."

Dilma Rousseff e a derrota do Brasil

FULL POST


Filed under:  Brazil • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode

Israel warns of possible Gaza ground operation as Hamas vows to defend itself

July 8th, 2014
02:59 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

An Israeli ground operation into Gaza “might become necessary,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

On the same day, Hamas Foreign Policy Spokesman Osama Hamdan vowed that Palestinians would defend themselves against any “attacks.”

“If the Israelis continue their attacks, the Palestinian people will defend themselves. Not only Hamas – all the Palestinians,” Hamdan told Holmes.

FULL POST


Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

Abdullah: Half of Afghan ballots are ‘suspicious’

July 8th, 2014
02:48 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah alleged massive fraud in his country’s election in an interview with CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

“Half of the ballot papers used are considered to be suspicious based on standard critereas [sic], universal critereas of free and fair elections,” Abdullah, the country’s former foreign minister, said from Kabul.

Preliminary results from last month’s election were announced yesterday, and showed Abdullah’s opponent, former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani, with the lead.

Ghani on Tuesday said the preliminary results were “legitimate and credible.”

FULL POST


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Latest Episode
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