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Iraq Falls Apart; Miscarriage of Justice; Imagine a World

Aired June 23, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, exclusive as Iraq unravels, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan tells me he's going to go

it alone.


MASSOUD BARZANI, PRESIDENT, IRAQI KURDISTAN (through translator): The time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the

decision of the people is what we are going to uphold.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): And later, a shocking verdict in Egypt: three Al Jazeera journalists get seven years in jail on trumped-up terrorism

charges, twenty-four hours after John Kerry gave Egypt half a billion dollars in aid.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

As Iraq falls apart, can formal partition be far behind?

ISIS terrorists, Ba'athist remnants and Sunni tribes now hold a massive Northern and Western Iraq, making ever more gains. They've seized

control of much of the Iraqi-Syria border and they are moving the front line ever closer to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki still holds Baghdad and the Shiite heartland to the south, though today in Baghdad U.S. Secretary

of State John Kerry said that he should step aside if he cannot forge a political solution and unify Iraqis to stanch the bleeding.

And he repeated President Obama's pledge of limited military support.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The support will be intense, sustained and if Iraq's leaders take the necessary steps to bring the

country together, it will be effective.


AMANPOUR: But will it be enough to put Iraq back together again? The Kurds, gassed by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, autonomous since 1991 when

the United States defeated the dictator in the first Gulf War, have now moved quickly to pursue the biggest prize, their decades-long dream of


My exclusive interview with the Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani, who tells me that he will try to persuade Kerry when he visits the region

tomorrow that the time has now come, despite U.S. opposition and fears of an even wider regional war.


AMANPOUR: President Barzani, welcome to the program.

BARZANI (via translator): Welcome. Welcome, ma'am. You are all welcome.

AMANPOUR: Let me start by asking you, can Iraq hold together anymore?

BARZANI (through translator): It's very difficult to imagine so, because the current experience is showing us that we cannot continue this

way. Now we are living a new Iraq, which is different completely from the Iraq that we always knew, the Iraq that we lived in 10 days or two weeks


AMANPOUR: So if this is a different era, Mr. President, is this the time that the Iraqi Kurds want to pursue your long-time goal of self-

determination, even independence?

BARZANI (through translator): During the last 10 years, we did everything in our ability, we made every effort and we showed all

flexibility to build a new democratic Iraq. But unfortunately, the experience has not been successful the way that it should have.

And that's why I believe that after the recent events in Iraq, it has been proven that the Kurdish people should seize the opportunity now

because Kurdistan people should now determine their future.

AMANPOUR: Could I get you to be precise?

Does that mean seeking independence, Mr. President?

BARZANI (through translator): Like I said, the time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the people

is what we are going to uphold.

AMANPOUR: So if there was a vote tomorrow, what would the decision of the people be, do you think?

BARZANI (through translator): Without doubt, with no doubt, the people of Kurdistan in general -- there was a referendum a few years ago,

but it was unofficial. It was informal. And that was a true number, unlike the numbers elsewhere in other countries around us. More than 90

percent of people voted for independence.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, are you not afraid of triggering the breakup of Iraq?

BARZANI (through translator): Honestly, after the collapse of the regime in 2003, we could -- protected Iraq and the unity, the oneness of

Iraq. During the last 10 or so years, that's what we have done. But now, Iraq is obviously falling apart anyway. And it's obvious that the federal

or central government has lost control over everything.

Everything is collapsing. The army, the troops, the police. We are now approaching the existence of the formation of what we call ISIS.

We have a 2,500-kilometer borderline with a new state, and it is not our fault. We did not cause the collapse of Iraq. It was others who did.

And we cannot remain hostages for the unknown.

AMANPOUR: Are you fighting ISIS right now?

Has the Iraqi government, Baghdad, Mr. Maliki, asked for your help in fighting ISIS?

BARZANI (through translator): The prime minister has not asked us. On the contrary, he rejected every offer to assist. We now are defending

Kurdistan from ISIS or otherwise. Anyone who approaches the border of Kurdistan we will fight back, but fighting the terrorists is a duty that we

will not hesitate to undertake.

But we will not fight -- we will not engage in the fight without having a clear future in sight, and without a comprehensive political


AMANPOUR: You say the Maliki government rejected your offer to fight ISIS. I also read that you warned them, you know, two or three days before

Mosul fell, that ISIS was threatening Mosul, and that they rejected or didn't listen to your warnings. Tell me about that.

BARZANI (through translator): I did warn Mr. Prime Minister not only a couple of days but about a few months before the fall of Mosul. I did

warn him, but he did not take the warning seriously. And I have many witnesses to that effect that I did warn him.

And so that situation is clear to you, people and these Sunnis, Sunni areas, they revolted. Again, it's the policy of the central government.

Not everything that took place was done by ISIS, but ISIS, as an organized organization and the organization with potentialities, is trying to seize

the opportunity and control the situation.

But people in those areas found that the opportunity was there to revolt; again, that wrongful policy, because what's happened actually was

caused by that wrong policy from the central government and the terrorists seized the opportunity.

That is the public anger. And it's important to distinguish between what are legitimate rights and what terrorists are trying to accomplish.

AMANPOUR: President Barzani, can ISIS be isolated and pushed back?

BARZANI (through translator): It's possible if there was understanding between Shias and Sunnis, and if there is a guarantee of a

true partnership in the authority, in political power. And if the wrong policies are dealt with. But this cannot be accomplished without a true

national reconciliation and a comprehensive political solution.

But the situation has been very complicated. And the one who's responsible for what happened must step down.

AMANPOUR: Do you mean Mr. Maliki?

BARZANI (through translator): Of course. He is the general commander of the army. He built the army on the ground of personal loyalty to him,

not loyalty to the whole country. And he monopolizes authority and power. He led the military, and this is the result. His wrong policies he is

responsible for.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Barzani, do you think President Obama's sending 300 military advisors can change the balance of power on the ground?

BARZANI (through translator): I do not believe so. I do not believe that this will change the balance of power.

And this issue cannot be resolved by military means. It's a political issue that has to be dealt with politically. And, after that, a military

resolution can be easier to accomplish if there was a political agreement and a political power.

AMANPOUR: The United States has been the Kurds' greatest friends, at least since the 1990s, with the no-fly zone after the First Gulf War, and

you've been able to build a thriving, autonomous, mostly democratic society.

But Secretary Kerry is coming to visit you tomorrow, to Erbil, and they do not agree with independence for the Kurds.

What are you going to say to him?

BARZANI (through translator): I'd like to take this -- to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the United States and to the

sacrifices made by the American military. The United States has been a true friend and we Kurds have shown that we deserve that friendship and

that, if we are given the opportunity, we can successfully rule our own region.

And the success of the region of Kurdistan was the only success that resulted from American policy.

And the United States has given opportunities to all Iraqis to build a modern, democratic state, pluralistic state, federal state. But,

unfortunately, the others were not able to seize the same opportunity.

AMANPOUR: What will you say to him?

BARZANI (through translator): I will try to explain the situation to him. And I will try to explain to him what we have done during the last 10

years. There is nothing that we -- no effort that we spared in order to make the democratic experience succeed, but this is the result.

I will ask him how long shall the Kurds, the Kurdish people, remain like this? The Kurdish people is the one who's supposed to determine their

destiny and no one else.

AMANPOUR: For a long time, President Barzani, there was a question about what resources you might have in Kurdistan. You have now seized

Kirkuk, with a big oil-producing area.

Are you going to give back Kirkuk or are you keeping Kirkuk for good?

BARZANI (through translator): We never had any doubt at any time that Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan. But we are willing to resolve this issue

using the provision of Article 140.

For the last 10 years, we have been waiting to have that article applied, but we haven't seen any seriousness from the central government.

And since we have new developments in Iraq now, this is what brought about the new situation with Kirkuk coming back to Kurdistan. And it has always

been part of Kurdistan.

So there is no reason to talk about this.

AMANPOUR: Do you mean a referendum?

BARZANI (through translator): We haven't done this referendum yet, but we will do and we will respect the opinion of the citizens, even if

they refuse to have Kurdistan as an independent state.

AMANPOUR: President Barzani, do you feel that your life's work is about to be accomplished?

BARZANI (through translator): I really hope this is the case.

AMANPOUR: President Massoud Barzani, thank you very much indeed for joining me from Erbil.

BARZANI (through translator): Thank you; thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: So as Massoud Barzani has his eyes on the prize, the threat of a resurgent Al Qaeda-styled terrorism seizing a state safe haven in Iraq


In Egypt, the newly elected president, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and his war against militant Islam, now looked good to the United States. John

Kerry was in Cairo on Sunday, unfreezing half a billion dollars in U.S. military aid for Egypt.

But one day later, al-Sisi's promise of a road map to democracy and human rights looked exceeding hollow in a Cairo courtroom. Journalists

receive a shocking sentence. Story when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

And elsewhere in the Middle East, a Cairo courtroom struck a blow against a free press today. There was chaos as three of our colleagues, Al

Jazeera journalists, were sentenced to seven and 10 years in jail on terrorism charges that have never been proven and for which evidence was

never presented.

From their families to the United Nations and world capitals, the outrage was instant.


WILLIAM HAGUE, FOREIGN SECRETARY OF GREAT BRITAIN: The freedom of the press is fundamental to -- not only to a free society but to any stable or

prosperous society. And Egypt has taken a major step in the wrong direction.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Now the U.S. secretary of state was in Cairo yesterday, and announced half a billion dollars in military aid to the al-

Sisi government. Now he's calling this verdict chilling and draconian.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed left the courtroom banging their fists against their cage. They're going back to jail cells,

where they've been holed up without formal charge for the past six months already.


AMANPOUR: Greste's two brothers, Andrew and Michael, were in court today and Andrew joined me shortly after the shocking verdict was



AMANPOUR: Andrew Greste, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: I just want to say how sorry we all are for Peter, his colleagues and for all of your family and friends. And I want to ask you

your reaction when you heard this verdict.

ANDREW GRESTE: Well, I was in court this morning and I was -- I'm guarded, devastated. It's very difficult for me to come up with words that

adequately describe how I felt because it was -- obviously it was a result that we thought I guess was possible. But to -- you just can't prepare

yourself really.

AMANPOUR: Did you expect it to go a different way?

ANDREW GRESTE: My hopes were that obviously he'd be completely acquitted. Obviously there was a possibility of a different result, but I

definitely wasn't expecting such a harsh punishment. You know, seven years, it's extremely difficult to understand.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you how did Peter and Mohamed Fahmy and Baher and all the others, can you tell me how they reacted as soon as they heard?

We heard it was quite loud and quite chaotic in the court room.

ANDREW GRESTE: It all happened very quickly. The judgment was given over, it probably only took about five minutes. And the court got rather

chaotic once the verdict was announced.

And then very quickly after that, the three of them were removed from the cage and removed from the courtroom. So it was only a very short --

you know, we made eye contact very briefly and sort of gave a fist pump and tried to signal to Peter that we'd fight, continue to fight on.

AMANPOUR: And were you able to talk to him afterwards? Are you going to see him in the next, I don't know, 24-48 hours?

ANDREW GRESTE: No, there wasn't any opportunity at all to see him, to talk to him in court this morning. But yes, but my brother and I both plan

to visit him tomorrow. So I guess we'll try and regroup tomorrow with Peter and see where we go from there.

AMANPOUR: Can I just play for you a part of an interview that your parents gave us back in April. And this is how they described Peter trying

to get through all this.


LOIS GRESTE, MOTHER OF PETER GRESTE: He said they have their down days and their good days, like we do. We have our down days and good days,


JURIS GRESTE, FATHER OF PETER GRESTE: We are pleased to know that Peter is certainly very disciplined and strong and keeping himself very

well together.


AMANPOUR: So that was your parents saying the most positive they could about him.

How have they reacted today?

ANDREW GRESTE: Well, with -- I mean, we're all devastated and as parents with a child that we believe is completely innocent, you know,

being locked up in a jail for six months, obviously they're going to take it hard and we've all taken it hard.

So it's probably one of those particularly down days for us. And it's going to take a little bit of time for us to regroup and think about it,

the whole verdict logically, I guess, and try and develop a plan from where we go next.

AMANPOUR: Clearly you're going to appeal.

ANDREW GRESTE: It's very difficult.

Well, all those are options, something that we've really got to discuss and get our head around. It's literally been four or five hours

since we heard the verdict.

So it's -- I think we need a little bit of time to think about it and digest it and try and determine what the best course of action is from here

on in.

But obviously we're going to keep fighting it because we believe Peter's completely innocent and he's done nothing wrong and it's

demonstrated by the amount of worldwide support that he's getting and the interest that has been shown in the trial and the outcome of the trial.

AMANPOUR: And finally, I'm going to let you go. I know it's been a very traumatic day for you and your family and of course for Peter and his


Do you think that he will continue to be as disciplined, as positive, as keeping himself together as your parents described a couple of months


ANDREW GRESTE: Well, I hope -- I hope so. I just -- he's been remarkably resilient to this point and an inspiration really to us all,

looking forward but also, you know, with a certain amount of trepidation about visiting Peter tomorrow because I honestly don't know -- don't know

how we're going to find him. And I guess we're just going to have to try and pick him -- help pick him up and give him some kind of hope.

AMANPOUR: Well, Andrew, keep up the good fight and all of his supporters will as well. And thank you very much for joining me today.

ANDREW GRESTE: Thank you. Thanks for the support.


AMANPOUR: And human rights groups and journalism advocacy groups have called this a travesty, what happened in that Cairo courtroom today.

And meantime, Egypt is just the tip of the pyramid. According to Reporters without Borders, there are 167 journalists imprisoned around the

world, while CPJ, the Committee to Protect Journalists, sets that number even higher at 211, with Turkey, China and Iran vying for the title of

worst offender.

And meantime, CPJ confirms that some 17 journalists have been killed this year worldwide for just doing their jobs.

From those sobering statistics, we'll turn to another dedicated craftsman who's made a name for himself by preserving the names of others,

a love match lasting 35 years, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, journalists in jail for doing their jobs, the Iraqi flag in tatters, the Arab Spring wilting before our eyes,

now imagine a world where all is green, boundaries are clearly marked and the battle is waged with courage and sportsmanship.

No, it's not Camelot, it is the idyllic grass courts of Wimbledon, where the grandest fortnight in tennis began today with crowds queueing up

for the obligatory champagne, strawberries and cream. And oh, yes, to also see if last year's men's champion, Britain's Andy Murray, will once again

be holding the trophy.

But no matter who comes out on top on the men's and women's side, they can thank a 76-year-old Polish artisan for immortalizing their names in

gilded silver.

Roman Zoltowski has been the All-England Club's trophy engraver since 1979, working under intense pressure that almost matches the matches

themselves, he and his assistant must inscribe the names of the winners and runners-up for 48 trophies and medals from the moment the last point is

scored until the presentation just minutes away.

And while the players dream of glory, Zoltowski climbs into his 50- year-old MG convertible and travels from his home in Poland to Wimbledon every summer. And he has no intention of slowing down.

"I'm not ready to retire and wear slippers yet," he says.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and

Facebook. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.