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Will ISIS Plan Change Tide of Conflict?; Caught Between Cultures; Imagine a World

Aired September 11, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: 200,000 dead and 9 million displaced by the war in Syria. I'll ask the former British

foreign secretary and now head of the international Rescue Committee whether President Obama's fight against ISIS will change the tide of this


And a comedian's eye view on the deep cultural conflict between Islam and the West. British Pakistani Muslim Nadia Manzoor on her one-woman


NADIA MANZOOR, ACTOR, WRITER AND PRODUCER: My father from the earliest I can remember reminded me that I shouldn't get fat. I shouldn't

eat too many French fries because my inherent purpose would be jeopardized, which is to be a wife and a mother.


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

Thirteen years to the day after 9/11, the U.S. is launching a new war against Islamic terrorists in that very same region. A decision that's

been a long time coming and marks a dramatic shift for a president who's been reluctant to intervene in the Syria war for the past three years.

Now he's ready to target the brutal ISIS militant there and in Iraq.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. That means I

will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq.


AMANPOUR: Both the Syrian opposition and the Iraqi government welcome the president's plan and say they're ready to cooperate. And the U.S.

Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling around the Middle East, trying to form a consensus and a regional coalition. So far Egypt, Iraq, Jordan

and Lebanon say they will contribute somehow to a military campaign.

The American plan to strike inside Syria comes after more than three years of humanitarian disaster there. More than 3 million refugees are

seeking shelter in neighboring countries and millions more are displaced inside Syria itself. The former British foreign secretary David Miliband

is now president of the International Rescue Committee, and he faces a herculean challenge of responding to what is the worst refugee crisis in

recent memory.


AMANPOUR: David Miliband, thank you so much for joining us. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So just put on your foreign secretary hat for a moment. Is it extraordinary that 13 years to the very day yet another war is being

launched against the same basic outrage of extreme militant attacks?

MILIBAND: I think that obviously today is a day of remembrance in the United States, but it's also a day for a reminder. And it's a reminder

that failed or failing states cause trouble not just for their own citizens but can cause trouble on the other side of the world, terrible, tragic,

traumatic trouble.

And I think that that is the reminder. I suppose the second thing is that no analyst I know of would have said that the struggle against what

was -- against Al Qaeda that was launched after 9/11 would be anything other than a very long-term campaign and so it is proving.

And I think one of the messages that the president made last night, which is that there is no quick fix, that this is a generational struggle

within the Middle East is a very important message.

AMANPOUR: You've written and I'm sure you're having to deal with right now the fact that in all of this it is the civilians who get caught

up in it, not just those in their hundreds of thousands who've been killed, but the millions and millions who are displaced and who really have nothing


What do you think this new wave of military intervention is going to do to that situation?

MILIBAND: Well, I think that's a very profound point. If I'd been on this show three years ago and said that after three years the kind of

litany of misery that you've described would be the product, I think people would have called me alarmist.

But the truth is that for the civilians caught inside Syria, 6 million displaced from their homes, 10 million according to the U.N. in need and

for the 3 million in the neighboring countries, the prospects for the next year range from bad to terrible. And they are under a hail of barrel bombs

and other fire at the moment in a very complex conflict.

And the prospects are that that will continue. And I think it's important to recognize that the president laid out the importance of the

humanitarian plank of work, the humanitarian effort that he highlighted as the fourth part of his strategy.

But it's also important to inject a dose of realism that, for those civilians on the receiving end of terrible violence, all those who fled the

country, the -- at the moment, it's a very long tunnel without much light.

AMANPOUR: And what about all the -- you know, efforts that you and the rest of the international community have talked about before even ISIS,

the idea of trying to get humanitarian aid into Syria?

Has that worked? I mean, have you reached your most vulnerable populations?

MILIBAND: Well, every day I feel an enormous sense of pride and humility at the work of the 12,000 IRC staff around the world and the

thousand or more that are in the Middle East region, dealing with the Syria crisis, because every day they are providing lifesaving assistance.

Equally I know that for every person we're helping, there are many, many more who are not receiving help at all. And so there is immense

frustration alongside the pride. And the truth is it took three years to get a U.N. Security Council resolution about the humanitarian situation

committing to the kind of cross-border supplies and help that you've referred to, but six weeks on from that U.N. resolution, two months on, in

fact, we're still talking about a minimal number of convoys that have managed to get across.

And we are -- we and other NGOs are doing a lot of work in the Syria region, inside Syria as well as in the neighboring countries.

But I can't pretend to you that anything other -- that it's anything other than deeply frustrating to find the most basic humanitarian effort is

blocked at many stages.

AMANPOUR: What about inside Iraq itself? Obviously as ISIS surge forth, there was an immediate threat to religious minorities, ethnic

minorities, Christians, Yazidis.

What is their status now, these poor people who fled up a mountain top and had to be rescued?

Are they safe? Or are they still in danger?

MILIBAND: Well, I think that they are traumatized, those that have survived. I mean, the most terrible story that I saw and heard about from

one of our staff is that a baby who literally dehydrated in the heat because of the amount of time that this baby and her parents spent up the

mountain, they were from the Yazidi population. We met those people as they came down from the mountain and then escorted them into the Kurdish

part of Iraq over, I think, 600,000 are in the -- fled from their homes.

And I think that the answer, the straight answer of a question is that they are relatively safe now but they're out of their own homes and they

can see that Mosul is not under Iraqi government control and they look forward, but with grave fears to the future, because they don't know if

they're going to be able to get back to their homes and get anything like the kind of life and livelihood that they had before.

AMANPOUR: Given the humanitarian pitfalls and challenges that you're describing and may indeed be exacerbated with an extra air campaign, do

you, nonetheless, agree that ISIS needs to be confronted and in the president's words degraded and defeated, destroyed?

MILIBAND: Well, you put me in a very difficult position there, Christiane, because like any human being, when I see the stories that are

emerging from Syria and Iraq, one can't -- you can't even imagine the feelings that I have and they're the same as yours and others, but equally

I know that I'm responsible for 1,000 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.

And it's very important therefore that I stick to my humanitarian mission, which is to say that these civilians, wherever they are, are in

the front of my mind and that we have to make contingency plans for whatever military or other catastrophe or crisis develops.

We're helping people who are in the eye of the humanitarian storm at the moment. And we see little sign that that storm is going to abate.

The president did say rightly last night that whatever military choices are made by whatever sides, it will take a political negotiation to

bring this conflict to a close or to bring any kind of stability to the region.

And from the point of view of the people that we are serving, I have to report that they desperately need that political effort to be injected

with an enormously greater degree of dynamism and urgency than there has at the moment. And they also need short-term steps to make sure that there is

ongoing focus on their humanitarian situation because it is a matter of life and death for them at the moment, not just because of the fighting,

but because of the sheer misery and need that exists around them.

AMANPOUR: And that actually was going to be my next question, about the political imperative, because none of this is going to work unless

there is a political resolution inside Iraq and a sense that all people are included in the beneficence of the state.

MILIBAND: I think that the overriding lesson of the last 10 years -- and you noted that when meeting on the anniversary of -- that we're talking

on the anniversary of 9/11, the overriding message is that whatever you do on the military side, whatever you do on the humanitarian side, whatever

you do on the diplomatic side, it needs to be within a political framework in which power is shared and which -- and in which conflict is contained

within political boundaries. That's the lesson from Iraq; it's the lesson from Afghanistan. It's the lesson from elsewhere.

And that imperative does seem to have been understood a new Iraqi government is obviously forming. But the truth is that 100 years on

almost, from the creation of many states that we are discourage in the Arab world after the First World War, there is a generational struggle going on

about the shape, nature, content, identity of those states.

And that's something that we in the humanitarian community have to deal with every day.

AMANPOUR: Right. Let me ask you about a generational struggle going on in our back yard, your former back yard, right here in the United

Kingdom, Scotland is heading to a referendum on independence next week.

And certainly the government and the main political parties seem to be -- have their work cut out to -- for them, if they want to keep the union

unified and united.

How do you think it's going to go?

What should be -- what should the government be doing better than it's doing right now?

MILIBAND: Well, political battle, fortunately, it's political battle, nothing worse, political battle is being joined in a way that is clearly a

passionate, energetic, energizing and real. I am often asked, well, you know, where are you from? I'm in New York. And they say where are you

from and I say I'm British. And yes, I'm a Londoner; I represented a constituency in the northeast of England, but I'm British. And I think

that the union of the United Kingdom has been an extraordinarily successful venture over the last 300-plus years. I passionately believe actually that

it's more relevant in the 21st century than it was in the 18th century, that this is a much more connected world. That's been the theme of our --

of the last 10 minutes of our discussion.

So I passionately hope that those who are voting in Scotland, friends and strangers, people I know and people I don't, I hope they realize that

separating -- separation, which is what this is a discussion about, separation doesn't make sense in the modern world and that actually the

modern world is about connection and that the flexibility of the union that's been shown over the last 300 years, most recently through devolution

to Scotland, is something that should be prized. And that speaking from a country that went through its own battle over separation in the civil war

150 years ago, there's no question -- here, you're better together in the United States. And I would argue better together in the U.K. as well.

AMANPOUR: David Miliband, thank you very much indeed for joining me tonight.

MILIBAND: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And of course we should note that David Miliband is the brother of Ed Miliband, who's the leader of the British Labour Party and

who, along with David Cameron and, indeed -- and Mr. Clegg, who is the head of the Liberal Party, have been trying to put the better together campaign

in Scotland over the last couple of days.

Now before the United States deployed soldiers and airstrikes after 9/11, on that day the first line of defense on the homeland were the

firefighters. They have since become America's heroes. And on the wall of a firehouse across from the site of the World Trade Center in New York, a

bronze mural some 56 feet long and six feet high honors the 343 firefighters who gave their lives to save others that day on 9/11.

Nearly 3,000 people perished in the inferno and collapse of the Twin Towers. The firefighters of course ran towards the flames and saved

countless lives. Their sacrifice lives on as the fight against Islamic extremists begins a new chapter.

And after a break, we will switch gears and look for humor in this troubled world of ours. We'll meet a one-woman melting pot, the British

Pakistani Muslim woman living in New York. She's taken her "Burq Off!" Her one-woman comedy is a sellout across America and now here in London.

We'll meet her next.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Nadia Manzoor has a complex -- an identity complex, that is. But she's determined to get a few laughs out of her own awkward personal

melting pot. Born into a conservative Pakistani family and raised in rural England, Nadia was caught between two cultures and she struggled with that

conflict all her life until she moved to New York and was allowed to be herself. The result: an autobiographical one-woman show, which

incidentally resonates deeply right now as the world confronts the brutality of ISIS especially to women.

It's called "Burq Off!" And after performing for sold-out crowds across the United States, she's finally brought it back home to London

where she joined me here on the set.


AMANPOUR: Nadia, welcome to the program.

MANZOOR: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: For a conservative Pakistani girl, growing up in rural England, was comedy eventually an escape for you?

MANZOOR: I don't know if it was an escape. It was more of a tool that allowed me to be able to look into my past and my culture with a sense

of light-heartedness that allowed me to look at difficult things like, you know, dogmatism and traditional thinking and patriarchal oppression, all

that kind of thing, with a lighthearted approach that allowed me to tell the story that wasn't very heavy and, you know, burdensome.

And it gave me a liberating and -- it gave me a liberating approach into looking at my story.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's now play one of the clips from your one-woman show, precisely about that early impact that the patriarchal system had on

you. You wanted to be an astronaut. This is what happened when you told your family.



MANZOOR: Nadia, how can you be astronaut? Other women can't be astronauts. Who will cook? Who will clean? Who will feed your husband if

you're floating about in space?


AMANPOUR: I mean, it's funny.

Did it really happen like that? Is that exactly what your father said to you?

MANZOOR: Oh, yes. I mean, my father from the earliest I can remember reminded me that I shouldn't get fat. I shouldn't eat too many French

fries because my inherent purpose would be jeopardized, which is to be a wife and a mother, right?

And but I was fascinated by space and I was -- all kids are, right, fascinated by the unknown and I wanted to explore and I understood that

being an astronaut.

AMANPOUR: The inherent purpose, as you say, was to become a wife and a mother. On the one hand, that's not so different from what many young

girls, 30 or odd years ago, were expected to be.

On the other hand, how was it actually growing up in the heart of England under that kind of conservative, foreign kind of life?

MANZOOR: Sure. Deeply confusing. I had a real struggle throughout my life with my identity and who I was and where my moral compass and

integrity would come from, you know?

My values that were being described to me in home were very much about how the white person and the English person was the other, was a sinner; we

shouldn't become like them.

But at the same time, I was sent to an English school for the education. So there was this confusing thing which was like, you know, my

parents came here for the freedom; but yet they weren't fully able to embrace those freedoms.

AMANPOUR: So when you were at this school, you rebelled, I suppose. And I also read that you kind of lied about who you were and where you came


MANZOOR: I started lying from a really early age. So I would lie to my white friends about where we went on holiday; I didn't want to tell them

I went to Karachi and drank lassi and, you know, peed in a hole in the ground toilet and I would lie about my name. My brother's name was Khurram

and I would say his name was Kevin.

But you know, whereas with my parents, I would lie about the kind of things I was learning at school or if my friends talked about boys or, you

know, when I eventually got a boyfriend at 18.

I -- everything was hidden, you know, because so much inherent in the Pakistani ideology is what other people think of you. And your family's

honor is the most important thing. So I could never do anything that was dishonorable to my family.

But at the same time, all of my friends are doing all of these things that, you know, was just a person who wanted to be accepted and normalized

in her environment. I couldn't do.

AMANPOUR: You have sold out in all your sort of appearances, where there's across the United States and here in London, going on right now.

What did your family say? Do they know what you're doing?

MANZOOR: So my father is a completely transformed human being. He went from a very kind of oppressive, patriarchal, domineering Muslim man to

a feminist, to a spiritual, evolved person who recognizes that we're all here as equals, that you know, has become one of my biggest fans and

supporters, comes to all the shows and is able to see himself through the show in a light that I think has made him reflect on his past and, you

know, be like, "I was that person. But I'm not that anymore, thanks to my daughter."

AMANPOUR: You said you used to visit Karachi; I don't know whether you still go to Pakistan. But obviously there is a deep conflict in

society there, particularly when it comes to young girls, to women.

Blasphemy laws, you know, they're often misused to settle scores. I just talked to a filmmaker, Jamie Duran, who'd done a film about young boys

and, before, young girls. You know they are obviously very abused, many of them, out there.

And he says a lot of the dysfunction in a place like Pakistan is because women aren't free and empowered.

Do you agree?

MANZOOR: I think that within a patriarchal context, anywhere in the world, where the emphasis is on the woman being quiet, not heard, her

opinions don't matter, her voice is silenced, that that is inherently part of the -- part of the issue because women are objectified and therefore

continued -- seen as separate beings.

And so violence, abuse, talking to them in a different way happens. I mean, that's just kind of the science of objectification, right?

AMANPOUR: And here, in England, people have been shocked by an old sex trafficking ring that's been exposed, 1,400 white girls, preyed upon by

mostly Pakistani or Asian men.

And people have been afraid to talk about it, especially about the sort of multicultural, ethnic, religious aspect to it.

What's your take on that?

MANZOOR: I just -- I feel very conflicted, because I think that, you know, one of the things that I grew up in is a very sexually repressed

environment. So we didn't speak about sex. We didn't talk about, you know, things that are very normalized.

And as a result, I feel like in sexually repressed communities, these kind of pathologies arise, as we know, in the Catholic religion, as we know

in -- you know, it's not just a Muslim problem. I think it's to do with repression.

And so I feel, you know, also this whole -- this whole idea of seeing others as separate, so the white person is other, sinner; this whole idea

of separation breeds this kind of conflict of us fighting them.

So I think that if, you know, indicative of what happened in Rotherham and what you're speaking of. And I -- just the whole battle mentality of

us versus them; we're actually all in this together as human beings. And I think that's the biggest thing that we need to shift into.

AMANPOUR: Nadia Manzoor, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

MANZOOR: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: And on the same night that President Obama announced his strategy against ISIS, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on a giant screen

here in London to address the unvanquished heroes of other wars and helped launch the Invictus Games for wounded warriors that we spotlighted earlier

this week.

The brain child it is of Britain's Prince Harry, who himself is a veteran. The Games opened with military bands and waving flags and a

dramatic flyover before the actual competition began among some 400 wounded veterans from 13 different countries.

But after a break, imagine another competition, this one in a far- flung corner of the globe, where the favorite sport isn't chasing a soccer ball, but a stuffed sheepskin. From the steppes of Central Asia, the

world's first Nomad Games when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where ancient tribes put aside their ancient grudges to do battle in fairly competition. The

world's first Nomad Games have begun, appropriately in the remote mountain nation of Kirgizstan, once a part of the Soviet Union and now struggling to

establish itself as an independent republic in the shadow of Russia and China.

Over 300 competitors from a dozen countries are taking part in this unique display of unique nomadic sports, like buzkashi, a ferocious Central

Asian variation of polo, where riders chase after a stuffed sheepskin.

And there are also amazing feats of derring-do, like galloping horsemen, heedless of fire, or performing other death-defying tricks on

horseback in and out of the saddle.

But it's more than just showing off. These games are also a celebration of the culture and traditions of peoples who have roamed some

of the most inhospitable regions on Earth and still have found a way to make themselves at home.

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

Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.