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UN Security Council Holds Special Session on Syria. Aired 11:00a- 12:00p ET
Aired September 25, 2016 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:44:06] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Samantha Power is the U.S. ambassador to the United Sation, You have been hearing her speak, how she
said Russia is sponsoring barbarism, not counterterrorism. And she says do not expect to hear Russia tell the truth at what is an emergency meeting of
the UN Security Council.
Russia will speak, or the representative for Russia, will speak in around a half an hour, 40 minutes time. You've also heard from Stefan de
Mistura, the special envoy to Syria today who said I will not resign even though what we have seen in the past week have been one of the worst weeks
in Syria in six years.
Much of what receive seen, he say, may amount to war crimes.
He says I would not resign because that would mean he and the UN would be giving up to Syria and Syrians.
Lets bring in Richard Roth who's our UN correspondent. And Richard, Samantha Power, there
cannot be anybody more frustrated in this session than Samantha Power. Humanitarian intervention is her issue. She was the architect of what is
known as the R2P, which you well know is the idea that the UN and major power have a responsibility to protect civilians and prevent genocide.
She will not want another Rwanda on her watch, but quite frankly is that what we are watching at this point?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it hasn't reached Rwanda levels. And despite the UN's responsibility to protect the language that
often doesn't happen, especially when you have, as witnessed in this meeting, big power divisions to get anything done at the security council.
The French ambassador, who you are now watching, talked to reporters on the way to the meeting. I can tell you, he was reading from his speech
can give you some indications of what he is going to say.
He will say that Aleppo is what Sarajevo was to Bosnia, what Guernica was in the Spanish civil war. He's pressing the U.S. and Russia to get
together and try to revive this humanitarian halt in fighting for access for humanitarian aid.
However, British ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters on the way in to the security council, that it appears the U.S./Russia track is
nearing the end of its life.
As you mentioned, yes, Samantha Power blistering remarks towards her Russian counterpart, and the nation of Russia, there have been words
before. A week ago, the U.S. and Russia quarrelled why there should be weekend meeting after the convoy -- excuse me, after the accidental U.S.
strike on those Russian -- or Syria-led soldiers.
This is going to be a real fierce attack on each other and on each nation. As Samantha Power tried to isolate Russia there in her remarks,
asking each ambassador look at what you are about to say, can you really say this in front of the people of Aleppo.
The big humanitarian crisis in Aleppo has been on the table here at the council for years, and nothing really has been achieved despite all of
these lofty words of rhetoric. You've got to get Russia on board and Russia and its proxy, the Assad regime, thinks it can make military gains
despite what Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy said this war cannot be won militarily.
[11:47:30] ANDERSON: 270,000 people, 270,000 in east Aleppo under de facto seige now for the past 20 days is what de Mistura suggested earlier
More than 100 have been killed just in the past few days and thousands once again having their lives laid to waste and in what is effectively,
was, one of the most iconic cities in the Middle East as described by Samantha Power. It's horrendous, isn't it.
Richard for the time being, thank you. We'll be back to that session at the UN when the Russians start speaking or when the ambassador for
Russia starts speaking, we'll also dip back in should we think that there was anything that you should hear viewers.
For the time being, we're going to take a short break. Back after this.
[11:50:00] ANDERSON: Right. Welcome back. We have been listening to the UN Security
Council members in New York debating what to do to end the Syrian conflict. Whilst they do that -- and we will dip back in of what is being said there
as the Russian ambassador starts to speaking in a very short while -- but meanwhile, people on the ground are suffering, activists say hundreds of
government air strikes have reigned down in east Aleppo in the past few days alone.
The UN envoy, in fact, to Syria, Staffan de Mistura just this past couple of weeks -- past couple of minutes, told the session at the UN, that
this has been -- this past week has been one of the worst in six years.
Well, in one instance, just this week, a group says barrel bombs were dropped on a neighborhood killing seven people, six of them were kids.
The Syrian government renewed its offensive there as the ceasefire collapsed.
Well, on Saturday, CNN spoke with a member of these Syrian civil defense, that is a volunteer rescue service also known as the white helmets
and referenced by the U.S. ambassador to the UN just a few moments ago when she was making her speech in New York.
Our guest described the desperate situation on the ground. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISMAIL ABDULLAH, VOLUNTEER, SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENSE: Every day we have a lot of massacres, a lot of people injured seriously and they -- today, I
have seen more than 100 people were injured, seriously injured. Up to now, according to civil defense sources, we have more than 50 people who were
killed up to now. And during the -- talking to you, I hearing bombing and I hearing air strikes. Just yesterday, yesterday we have more than 100
people who were killed by all kind of of (inaudible). First it was bombs, cluster bombs, rockets, everything.
Actually, everything has changed. Now, the situation it's very difficult for everyone, for everyone. Yesterday when I our teams were
trying to save the people from under the rubble another airstrike hit them, and three of our staff were injured.
And today, when our firefighting team is going to douse a fire, when (inaudible) the people who are stuck in the fire, another airstrike hit
This is the situation. Actually, everything in Aleppo City is is -- it is like, everything -- the situation has changed. And the ceasefire
ended two or three days ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: One of the white helmets working in east Aleppo.
For more I am joined by Fawaz Gerges. He is the chair of contemporary Middle East studies at the London School of Economics and author of "ISIS:
A History." He is with us from our London studio.
And again, I'm going to show our viewers an image in a moment, Fawaz, which is incredibly
disturbing, but I think is important to show it is an example of the -- what is going on in Aleppo just this weekend.
You can see a father here on the left next to his young son. Activists tell CNN of the five in the family, only the mother and daughter
who were there on the left survived.
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN just a few minutes ago effectively put Russia in the dock at the court of international opinion
suggesting that they are sponsoring barbarism and telling the rest of the room who are talking the talk about what to do about Syria, telling the
rest of the room, that Russia, who will speak in a moment won't be telling the truth. How does this all help in people of eastern Aleppo, tell me?
FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, it is very powerful and very strong moral language on the part of the U.S. ambassador to the
Security Council. She has used very strong language, accused Russia of committing barbarism. I mean, barbarism, war crimes. It's a powerful
But will it help? I doubt it very much. In fact, it might counterproductive. I'll tell you why, Becky, it might be counterproductive
to helping the people of eastern Aleppo, because without Russian support, without Russian help, there could not be no ceasefire in Syria.
Just think about it a few days ago, you and I were talking about Russia and the United States from potential partners and allies in Syria to
now bitter rivals. How do we have a cease-fire in Syria without Russian support. How do we have a cessation of hostilities? How do we have
I mean, the Russians are fully supporting the Assad regime. What you are seeing, Becky, now, in the past 48 hours in eastern Aleppo is the
continuation of diplomacy by other means. I apologize for this obscene language. What Russia and the Assad regime are doing are really continuing
diplomacy by using military force in order to send the message to the United States.
I mean I understand Samantha Power, I understand her pain, her anger, her rage. But is the United States willing to do anything about it? If
the United states is not willing to invest any strategic investment inside Syria, if the United States is going to use just moral
language, which has been doing in the last five years and a half, I don't see these particular powerful language is going to help the people of
eastern Aleppo and somewhere else -- in Hamaa or other places or (inaudible) or other places inside Syria.
[11:56:01] ANDERSON: And Fawaz, as you are talking, we are vaguely listening into what the
British ambassador the UN is saying. But we will go straight back to the UN when the Russian ambassador starts speaking to hear how he response to
But I just want to put this to you, is what we are witnessing a room of full of people at the UN, a room full of diplomats at the UN, who are
going through their own Rwanda?
Somebody wrote just a couple of days ago that this is President Obama's Rwanda, as it were.
You've pointed out that the U.S. has made mistakes on its approach. It has clients on the ground. What will we say when we look back in
history as to where we are today?
GERGES: Well, I think Syria is a heartbreak. Syria is a catastrophe. The international community has basically let the Syrian people down. The
United States, while from the first years, President Barack Obama said he would like President Assad out. Yet at the same time, he never translated
his rhetoric into kind of reality.
And in fact, in many ways you can make the argument that the United States has misled the opposition, because the opposition believed from year
one that somehow the Americans and the European powers would hand Syria on a silver platter to them as it did Libya.
Well, we know where Barack obama stand, he does not want any major military adventure in the Middle East. He does not want to get bogged down
in Syria, or anyone else.
But why then, make such powerful statement? Why establish red lines? I mean Syria is a major failure not just for the Obama administration, but
I think it's a greater failure for Russia. Let's not really -- I mean be ahead of ourselves and celebrate Russian victory. Russia could easily find
itself bogged down inside Syria.
Final point, Becky, regardless of what you hear in the Security Council, Russia and America have to work together. They have no choice,
ANDERSON: OK, we are going to listen now to the Russian ambassador, thank you Fawaz.
This is the Russian ambassador speaking now viewers.
(UN SECURITY COUNCIL COVERAGE)