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Interview with Foreign Minister of Bahrain; Interview with Foreign Minister of France

Aired September 23, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is not America's fight alone. Above all the people and governments in the Middle

East are rejecting ISIL.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Now who is standing shoulder to shoulder? The United States and Arab nations together strike ISIS in Syria.

Foreign minister joins me live, and from the Pentagon, we here what's next.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York where world leaders have gathered at the United

Nations General Assembly just as the United States and its Arab partners launched airstrikes into Syria.

President Obama says this is only the beginning of the mission.


OBAMA: More broadly, over 40 nations have offered to help in this comprehensive effort to confront this terrorist threat to take out

terrorist targets, to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian opposition fighters who are going up against ISIL on the ground, to cut off ISIL's financing,

to counter its hateful ideology and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region.


AMANPOUR: It's the first such U.S. military intervention in Syria's more than three year war, and Bahrain, Saudi, Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab

Emirates and Qatar are participating.

The bombing is mostly focused on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria. It's the de-facto capital of that self-declared Islamic state. And

these images released by local opposition activist reportedly show the aftermath of airstrikes in Kafaderian (ph) west of the town of Aleppo. The

United States says it bombed a network of seasoned al Qaeda veterans there, known as the Khorasan group, as they were plotting an imminent attack

against the West.

Joining me now live from the Pentagon is spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby. Welcome back to the program, Rear Admiral, and tell me how has this got,

what has been struck, have there been any ISIS casualties?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We are still assessing the results of the airstrikes overnight, Christine. What I can tell you is

every indication that we've received so far is that they've been very, very effective. Both against the ISIL targets that we hit in and around Raqqa,

as you said and along the border, but also the Khorasan group targets that we hit in and around Aleppo. Again, we are still assessing, but early

indications are that we hit very much everything we are aiming at.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe you put the group Khorasan out of business?

KIRBY: We believe that again, early indications, we certainly believe that we have disrupted their planning for this imminent attack that we know they

were getting ready for. And we definitely believe that we've degraded some of their capabilities, but again, we are still assessing. There's still

lots of work to do.

AMANPOUR: Admiral Kirby, this is just the first 24 hours, certain fixed targets and the like have been struck. Many military experts, many people

in the Pentagon is saying, without a proper ground force, there's only so much you can do. And as you know, ISIS has not been dislodged after six

weeks of air campaign in Syria. What is next?

KIRBY: Well, we certainly agree with those who say you've got to have competent capable partners on the ground, ground forces. And that's why we

are so interested in getting this train and equip mission, this program gone - getting under way to help train and equip a moderate Syrian

opposition that can defend their communities, can defend their fellow citizens, go against ISIL, as well as the Assad regime.

The partners that you need on the ground are indigenous partners. That's why we've been working so hard to support Iraq security forces and Kurdish

forces in Iraq as well.

AMANPOUR: Do you think you have the right schedule, so to speak, to get them up and running, so they actually can be effective and capitalized on

the air bombardment.

KIRBY: For us, it's more important to get this training and equipping done right than it is to get it done fast. And so as we've said, it's going to

take three to five months, now that we have the authorization and the funding to do it, three to five months to get to recruit and to vet a

proper set of trainees, and then it's going to take eight to 12 months after that to get them into the field in a competent way. We are going to

try to train them in basic leadership, basic military skills, basic unit organization. It's going to take some time. Which is why in the

intervening months we are going to continue to put pressure on ISIL from the air across the region.

AMANPOUR: So, Admiral Kirby, you are telling me now that it's going to take more than a year of air campaign, air bombardment before you have a

proper so called ground force set up.

KIRBY: Well, there's already a moderate opposition on the ground as you know. And the United States continue to support the moderate opposition in

many ways.

What I'm speaking to is just the U.S. military component of this train and equip program. The moderate opposition is still there. They are still

fighting against ISIL, and they are still fighting against the Assad regime. We want to make them more effective and more capable.

We are not turning a blind eye to ISIL spread inside Syria. Which is why we conducted these strikes last night, and why we are going to continue to

put pressure on them going forward.

AMANPOUR: Rear Admiral Kirby, thank you for joining us from the Pentagon, and we will keep watching. Thanks for joining us.

KIRBY: Thanks for having me.

AMANPOUR: Now - you are welcome. Bahrain is one of the five Arab nations involved in this joint coalition, is a key U.S. ally in the region, and

it's home to one of the biggest U.S. Navy bases abroad. Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed al Khalifa joins me now. He's also in New York for, of

course, the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Foreign Minister, welcome to the program.

KHALID BIN AHMED AL KHALIFA, BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, thank you very much. Good to be here.

AMANPOUR: So tell me, in the full light of day, how unprecedented is this for Bahrain and why did you join this airstrike?

AL KHALIFA: Well, it's actually not unprecedented for Bahrain to join its allies and brothers in the region to fight terror and to fight forces that

would cause instability. We did it in Afghanistan. We did it fighting the pirates and corsairs in the - along the Somali coast and the Indian Ocean.

We did it to keep a watchful eye in the Arabian Gulf.

And we did it before that all - when we came together to liberate Kuwait. So, this is - this is, you know, another episode of fighting terrorists and

fighting - everybody who would try to destabilize our region.

AMANPOUR: Let me just confirm than. Bahrain took part in the air bombardments last night.


AMANPOUR: How long - so, you are confirming that. How long will you be part of that campaign? You just heard the Pentagon spokesman say the air

campaign is going to last a long time.

AL KHALIFA: Well, as long as it takes. We are partners with our allies and as long the operations are required that we will be part of it, we will

be. We used our F-16 and they bombed targets where the operations took place, and we will be there with our allies as long as we are required to

be there.

AMANPOUR: Can you confirm to me which of the other Arab nations that we've mentioned actually took part in the bombing last night?

AL KHALIFA: Well, we've heard the president speak today early this morning about a number of countries that participated, but I actually cannot

comment on that, and vis-a-vis tells that, you know, we'd leave them to come up by themselves.

AMANPOUR: All right, we'll let me ask you this. And as you can imagine, Russia has come out and criticizes this saying that it's a unilateral act,

that it's not fully legal, that whatever happens then, the perpetrators, as they say, of this bombardment will be responsible for the consequences.

How concerned are you by some of the protests already?

AL KHALIFA: We are not concerned. Actually, you know, what's happening, is happening in our region, and we are the people of the region and we know

what's happening. We know that this is a threat to sovereignty and integrity of countries, there is a declared state that transcends borders.

We know that this is something that targeted civilians and displaced them in the hundreds of thousands, affect mosques, churches, people of different

sects and religions, Yazidis, Christians, Muslims, Shia, Sunnis, this actually strikes at the fundamentals of the way our region have evolved

throughout the centuries. So we will just not allow that to happen, and our region cannot withstand this deviated cult to continue within us.

AMANPOUR: Well, you heard President Obama make his speech today before leaving from the White House. Here, to you, to the U.N. in New York. He

said a number of things, including the funding has to be cut off.


AMANPOUR: The flow of foreign fighters to ISIS, and the hateful ideology. First and foremost, the funding, because that is amongst what keeps them

going. And many of the states around the Gulf are directly responsible, one way or another for a lot of money going to these people.

Is that going to be cut off?

AL KHALIFA: Well, this is what we have mentioned in the Paris meeting for the allies, this is what we have mentioned in the Security Council last

Friday, and we said that cutting the finances to terrorists is half of the war. In order to - in order to defeat them, yes, you defeat them in the

battlefield, but also you have to not allow one dollar to go into their pockets. And this is something we are doing and we are hosting a very high

level important meeting in Bahrain in the next few days.

AMANPOUR: And what about the other part of this? You know, stopping and combating the "hateful ideology" as the president said?

AL KHALIFA: Well, this is something that we have seen now happening across the region from clerics and we - we urged every clerics and every place of

scholarship, and the Muslim religion to really stand out and say clear words in very clear terms that this is not Islam, and they are not Muslims.

This is a very deviated cult.

AMANPOUR: Now, there are so many pictures, and we've been reporting so many years on the victims of these three plus year war in Syria, mostly by

President Assad and his forces against - against the other groups and the civilians. So many victims and refugees. Do you think this campaign will

help or hurt Assad and do you believe that he should go as part of this war on ISIS?

AL KHALIFA: Well, we really need to find a solution for Syria that would relieve the Syrian people of what they are going through. This is a very

difficult time for Syria. But this also takes us to a very important point, that fighting ISIS or DAESH as we call it is one battle. This is

only one state that's been declared by an al Qaeda affiliate, and you don't forget AQAP, don't forget the al Qaeda in the Maghreb, don't forget, you

know, other terrorist groups that are not necessarily of al Qaeda, don't forget Hezbollah and what they are doing. They have also terrorized -

terrorized the Syrian people. They have also terrorized the Iraqi people and everywhere. So we need to have a holistic approach to the matter, and

we need to find a solution to all of that. Yes. That confirms what the spokesman from the Pentagon said that this will take time. Holistic

approach will need some time.

AMANPOUR: Do you worry that your bombs will hurt civilians, will kill civilians, because you know that is what they are going to want to show to

the world?

AL KHALIFA: Well, actually, this is - this is a detail, you know, that only the military people can answer. But definitely we strive not to hurt

the civilians, we are there to relieve the civilians, help the civilians, and reed them of this threat from the terrorist groups.

AMANPOUR: Foreign minister, do you think the Arab nations who are part of this coalition that many other nations that want to try - to really stand

up an opposition ground force, expand the Free Syrian Army, do you think now we can get everybody on board, to focus on one group? Is that

spreading the money around, and who knows where it goes to, and just wasting time?

AL KHALIFA: Well, we - we have a coalition. We have about 40 countries that expressed their interests and support for the operations against DAESH

and other terrorist groups. So, we do have international support, we do have. And we do see it as a legitimate way of protecting people and

people's lives in the region.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister al Khalifa, thank you so much indeed for joining us today.

AL KHALIFA: Thank you very much, thank you.

AMANPOUR: And now many questions have been asked about why NATO member Turkey is not part of the current airstrikes against ISIS in Syria? But

President Erdogan today told reporters that he welcomes the U.S. -led campaign and will contribute to the coalition. And that coalition of

Western and Arab nations, as we've heard, also includes France, which is the oldest ally of the United States. My interview with Foreign minister

Laurent Fabius is up next.


Welcome back to the program. Now, France is not partaking in the current air attacks against Syria, but it is part of the 40 nation coalition that

President Obama says he is gathering to stand up the Free Syrian Army and moderate opposition forces to take on ISIS and Assad. As the United States

was preparing to launch cruise missiles and fighter bombers against ISIS overnight, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told me just how

vital this fight is.


AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: You have an enormous task here, you and allies, to try to gather and form a coalition against ISIS. How serious is it for France to fight


FABIUS: Well, it's very serious. Because we have to defend ourselves. We call them DAESH, by the Arab word.

AMANPOUR: Why is that? You know this ISIL, ISIS, I.S., now you are the first one to call them DAESH.

FABIUS: In French, they want to be called Iqda (ph) Islamic, Islamic State. That it's a double mistake. A, they are not a state, they would

like to be a state, but they are not. And they are not representative of Muslims.

AMANPOUR: So, you've made a moral political judgment?

FABIUS: Well, you have to name things correctly, OK. But afterwards, we have to fight because we have to defend ourselves. Because these guys are

murderers. They are sword cutters. I've seen many people that have been chased by them. And all of them say, well, when they come in some place,

they say either you join us, or we kill you, we rape you, we crucify you. And it's not only Iraq and Syria and the region. It's all of us. All of

us. U.S., France, Europe, and we have to defend ourselves.

AMANPOUR: But now that you (INAUDIBLE) trying to build a coalition to fight them, they are trying to frighten you by killing your nationals. Is

that going to frighten you?

FABIUS: Not at all. But you know, it's the way they are acting, they want to frighten us, they are terrorists, and terrorists, you have terror. And

we have to stand firm.

AMANPOUR: France has started bombing and air raids in Iraq. It's the first time you've done that in 15 years.

FABIUS: We have been asked by Iraqi people ...

AMANPOUR: Right. What about Syria? Will France take the fight to DAESH, I.S. bases in Raqqa, elsewhere in Syria?

FABIUS: So far, as Syria is concerned, because DAESH can be in Iraq and in Syria, we shall concentrate on the helping moderate opposition. We cannot

do everything, and since the beginning, we have said that we have to support the moderate opposition, because we have to fight against DAESH and

against Bashar, I said as well. But our own task is to support the opposition.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that you can actually raise a good FSA, an effective ground force?

FABIUS: You remember, maybe then since the beginning, two years, three years ago, we've said that, you know, at that time that we are not

terrorists in Syria, that we've said that we had to support the moderate opposition. That's not been done for different reasons, and now we have

terrorists. But by various transchenimenin (ph), Bashar and the terrorists are helping each other and we know that Bashar has helped tactically the

terrorists and we cannot say to this country, you have only the choice between either dictatorship or terrorism. And therefore, we shall make our

best with other partners in order to foster this opposition, which has been strong, which has become weak, but which can become again strong.

AMANPOUR: All our countries are very concerned about nationals going over to fight this jihad. France's implemented some new rules and regulations.


AMANPOUR: What are you doing and how will it make the difference?

FABIUS: We had to change our rules in different ways. First, we decided that the government, administration would be able to suspend - not only a

passport, but also I.D. for people whose intention is to go to Syria. We have a possibility of getting in touch with families or, rather, families

with us, because you have many cases where families do not agree with the youngster. But - and at a moment, they are aware that the c want to leave,

and therefore, they have to take - to get in touch with us in order to have a reaction (ph). Well, we have to be very, very strict. And to explain to

these young people, especially for the young girls, 13, 14 years old, that if they are going there, maybe some of them think that it will be a new

life. In fact, they are prostitutes. They are sexual slaves. And for the young people they are utilized and many of them are killed. And therefore,

it's, you know, a very difficult work, but a necessary - not only for France, not only for Belgium, Italy, Germany and so on, but for all of us.

AMANPOUR: Laurent Fabius, foreign ministers, thank you very much for joining us.

FABIUS: Thank you. My pleasure.


AMANPOUR: So, strong warning about why ISIS has to be fought and a particular word of warning to young people who think that it may be the way

to go from France, Europe and all over the world, and he's warning about what happens to young girls once they get over there and join ISIS. They

just become sexual slaves, he said.

Now, one way to fight the would-be Islamic State is to beat them at their own game, which is the use of social media. While this millennial

militants have pushed their propaganda on YouTube recruiting videos and on Twitter, other Muslims in Britain and around the globe now are pushing back

with the hashtag and a video message of their own.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ISIS do not represent Islam or any Muslim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because this is totally un-Islamic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they are killing innocent people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you are unjust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must all unite together and try to stop this group from damaging Islam and damaging Muslims.


AMANPOUR: Now, this has been online for a while, but it keeps gathering momentum as people really start to try to delegitimize ISIS claim to

represent Islam.

And after a break, if sticks and stones can break my bones, some words can do even more damage. Winning the name game against ISIS, or is it ISIL?

Or none of the above? When we come back.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, it's a question as old as Romeo and Juliet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy. What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.


AMANPOUR: Now, from that romantic notion, imagine the world where the name of the most wanted terrorist group on earth has become part of the

conflict. In fact, Western presidents and prime ministers as well as Muslim leaders and imams want to delegitimize the extremists and deny their

claim to Islam. So, instead of calling them by their preferred moniker ISIS or ISIL, or it's more recent incarnation, the Islamic State, a group

of nations including France, as you heard from the foreign minister and indeed, you just heard the Bahraini foreign minister say, they are up in

the ante by calling the organization DAESH, as it's known in Arabic. Now, it's to turn this despise by the militants themselves, because it sounds

like another Arabic word that means to trample on or to crush. Unless you think this is all one elaborate diplomatic name game, Najib Razak, the

prime minister of Malaysia, a country where over 60 percent of the population is Muslim, explained it to me this way:


NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: They are against Islam. They are against God. They are against humanity. And we should not call them

Islamic State, basically, they are not - the un-Islamic and they are neither state. Nor a caliphate, for that matter. So I think we call them

what we need to call them, but certainly not Islamic, nor a state.


AMANPOUR: And we'll have much more of my interview with Prime Minister Najib later this week. Not only his views on the so called caliphate, as

you heard, but his very first comments on the unusual behind the scenes diplomacy that he personally took to get back bodies and the black boxes

after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 in July.

Now that's it for our program tonight. But we will be speaking to key voices on this campaign against ISIS. And later tonight, I speak

exclusively to the Iraqi prime minister, his very first interview. Tomorrow, I'll have an interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

and then on Thursday, exclusive interview with the Emir of Qatar. Followed Friday by the President of Iran. And remember, you can always contact us

at our website and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching. And for now, good bye from New York.