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Jordan govt. is choosing 'the least bad option'

January 28th, 2015
02:16 PM ET

Negotiating with terrorists is "not in Jordan's usual policy," Former Deputy Jordanian Prime Minister Marwan Muasher tells Christiane Amanpour.

Click above to watch the full interview.

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

Iraqi Prime Minister: ISIS advance ‘is being reversed’

January 22nd, 2015
06:17 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The extreme Islamist group ISIS is being pushed back, the Iraqi Prime Minister told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

Haider al-Abadi referred to ISIS as "Daish", the Arabic acronym used for the group.

He said “the onslaught of Daish has been reversed, not fully but is being reversed, it’s in the opposite direction now, I think that’s very important.”

Representatives from member countries of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS gathered in London on Thursday to discuss their coordinated effort against the terrorist group, which has claimed large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Haider al-Abadi said that with continued support from the alliance, ISIS could be forced out of Iraq in a matter of months.

“If we’re talking about eliminating Daish from the face of the Earth, I think that will take a long time, but If we are talking about pushing Daish out of Iraq, that can take months. I think we have the capability now, with enough support from the international coalition - I have to be very blunt about this, we need this support, the support is essential.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode

EXCLUSIVE: Rare access to ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq

December 22nd, 2014
10:39 PM ET

CNN's Frederick Pleitgen talks with German author Jürgen Todenhöfer who traveled to ISIS-controlled Syria and Iraq. Click above to watch part one

You can read about Todenhöfer's trip and discoveries here.

PART TWO: Al Qaeda "nothing" compared to ISIS

PART THREE: Todenhöfer: "ISIS were not kind to me"

Filed under:  Iraq • Latest Episode • Syria

Iraqi Deputy PM: Fight against ISIS entering a new phase

December 17th, 2014
01:08 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The fight against ISIS is entering a new phase, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“The fight against ISIS and the other terrorists in Iraq is now going through a stage which is different from previous stages. In the past, the terrorists were able to accomplish some successes, particularly in Ramadi and other areas.”

“But now after the allies started the aerial bombardment, particularly the United States, the situation has changed.”

“And now the battle is turning into a new phase,” Shaways said, adding that “the fighters have started now – the fighters who are fighting against terrorism – are now advancing and accomplishing victories against terrorists.”

Last month, Iraq’s armed forces had their first major victory against the militants with the recapturing of the Baiji Oil Refinery, the country’s largest refinery which fell to ISIS in June following the Iraqi army’s near collapse.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode

Hagel resignation unrelated to Iraq policy, says Pentagon

November 24th, 2014
03:11 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s decision to resign on Monday was not because of policy disagreements over Iraq, where the U.S. is waging a war against ISIS, Pentagon Spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby insisted in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“The Secretary’s decision to resign has nothing to do with Iraq policy,” he said.

Some have speculated that Hagel and U.S. President Barack Obama disagreed over ISIS policy.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iraq • Latest Episode

Sunni cleric: ISIS chief al-Baghdadi ‘is going to hell’

November 17th, 2014
03:30 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A prominent Syrian Sunni cleric on Monday condemned the ISIS killing of the American Peter Kassig and said that ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “is going to hell.”

“We have to speak loud and very clear that Muslims and Islam have nothing to do with this,” Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“ISIS has no nationality. Its nationality is terror, savagery, and hatred.”

He expressed his “deepest condolences” to Kassig’s family, as well as to the families of the “many Syrians” who have been killed. (Kassig converted to Islam in captivity; his parents now refer to him as Abdul-Rahman.)


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

Not all foreign fighters in Syria are the same, pleads father whose sons are waging jihad

November 11th, 2014
10:16 AM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The British government should differentiate between the different types of Western men and women who decide to take up arms and join extremist groups, the father of two British jihadists killed fighting in Syria and terror expert Peter Neumann told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

Abubaker Deghayes, whose two teenage sons were killed while fighting for the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, wants “to try to talk to our government and tell them that don't put everybody in one basket” as “there are different types of people who go there.”

A third son of his is still fighting in Syria.

Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, agreed with Deghayes.


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

U.S. senior envoy for Iraq: every time we've engaged with local forces we’ve succeeded in defeating ISIS

November 4th, 2014
04:00 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS has succeeded in defeating the terrorist organization every time it has worked with local forces on the ground, Brett McGurk, the U.S. Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

"What I can say is that every single time we have worked with a local force on the ground and we have coordinated with them with our special forces who are in the field, and we have coordinated with them with our air coalition above, we have succeeded in defeating ISIL, not only defeating ISIL, but actually routing them in some major battles,” he said.

McGurk described the operation against the terrorist group, which has recently seized vast swathes of Iraq and Syria and executed hundreds of religious minorities, as “very much a fight to the death.”


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

New documentary explores perfect storm that allowed ISIS to grow

October 29th, 2014
01:18 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

A new documentary from producer and journalist Martin Smith gives insight into the series of failures and unheeded warning signs that allowed ISIS to grow into one of most brutal terrorist groups in the world.

The Rise of ISIS, by PBS’s FRONTLINE, draws on numerous interviews with both Iraqi politicians and U.S. decision makers. It points to Syria’s bloody civil war as the organization’s main breeding ground.

“Maliki's crackdown [on Sunnis] was a factor. But without Syria, I don't think ISIS would have become ISIS,” Smith told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.

Smith added that it was around 2011 that “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of then Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, sent a few men over into Syria and guerrilla movements need sanctuary and they need open spaces where they can exploit, grow.”

Some former Obama administration officials have criticized the President for not supporting moderate rebels earlier, so that extreme jihadi militants would not gain strength.


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

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.


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