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ISIS Leader Calls for Attacks Against Saudi Arabia; Saudi General Talks About War in Yemen; The Woman who Change Child Marriage Law; Chicago Cubs Knock it Out of the Park. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired November 3, 2016 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:10] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a rare interview with a Saudi general on the forgotten war in Yemen. And the international
backlash against the mounting civilian casualties there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GENERAL AHMED ASIRI, SAUDI BRIGADIER GENERAL: We will not hide from our mistake. We will learn. But we want people to understand there is 26
million Yemenis hijacked by minority of minority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Also ahead, the inspiring young woman who took on the law in her homeland Tanzania and won, protecting thousands of child brides from being
forced into marriage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECA GYUMI, CAMPAIGNS AGAINST CHILD MARRIAGE: I was actually very surprised. You know like, these panel of judges, they're actually very
bold enough to say, you know, we are protecting their rights, we are protecting the fact that young girls can actually have the right to
determine their own future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Tonight my interview with a top Saudi general on the battles in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
But, first, hold your ground. That is the order to fighters in Mosul from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He did it in a rare audio message.
Fierce battles and American air strikes north of the city come as Iraqi forces reach an important milestone in the fight to retake the city. We
get this latest report from our Michael Holmes in Erbil.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time in more than two years, Iraqi forces back inside their nation's second biggest
Troops pushing into the neighborhood of Al Intisar (ph), on the eastern edge of the city on Thursday, fighting block by block, meeting fierce
resistance from ISIS militants including sniper fire and car bombs being used to hamper the advance.
The military said its forces were trying to open a corridor for civilians, but it was unclear whether the ferocity of the battle would allow that to
In another area on the eastern edge of the city, however, civilians were getting out of areas like Godulali (ph) after enduring nights of fighting.
They told of watching ISIS fighters plant road side bombs in their front yards and placing snipers on their rooftops.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The situation is tragic. There are families that are besieged and under fire until now. We were besieged
for two days, hiding in our basement. The children had not eaten for two days.
HOLMES: Thursday they walked for hours in hundreds -- men, women and children. Iraqi forces meeting them and screening them. Several taken
away for suspected ISIS membership after locals pointed them out to troops. The stories of ISIS brutality endless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They killed many people and kidnapped those whom they suspected of anything. Even the people who have
done nothing were taken and we have no idea what happened to them.
HOLMES: The others bussed here, Debaga (ph) camp, a United Nation's run facility like so many being set up around Mosul in anticipation of perhaps
tens of thousands of displaced people as the fight for the city goes on.
To the west of Mosul, Shia-led paramilitaries managed to cut the main road between Mosul and the Syrian border, severing a vital exit route for anyone
trying to flee to Syria, particularly ISIS fighters.
(on-camera): ISIS has had two years to prepare its defenses in Mosul, and while the fight to retake the city has now officially begun, it will be a
long and bloody one and a terrifying ordeal for the many civilians still trapped inside.
Michael Holmes, CNN, Erbil, Northern Iraq.
AMANPOUR: Bloody indeed, because as you just heard in a rare message attributed to the self-declared leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did
today called on his fighters in Mosul to fight to the death there. And he called for massive attacks against Saudi Arabia next, which is part of the
anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq and Syria. But it is also heavily involved in what's been called the forgotten war in Yemen.
For nearly two years Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition backed by the United States and the U.K. against a rebellion by Houthi rebels
supported by Iraq. But now it is drawing international condemnation especially after last month, one of its air strikes killed at least 155
people at a funeral.
In a rare interview, I asked Major General Ahmed Asiri about this and the sectarian battles that are splitting the region into fertile ground for
militants including ISIS.
[15:05:00] AMANPOUR: General Asiri, welcome to the program.
ASIRI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about the fight against ISIS in Mosul and what the leader of ISIS is saying?
Today, he is basically calling on ISIS to stand firm, to be martyrs, but then to take the fight to what he calls Sunni apostate states such as
yourself, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to defeat the crusader-loving states like Saudi Arabia.
Do you worry that the fight could come to you next?
ASIRI: Well, I think it is a joke that a terrorist tried to defer the Islamic war toward sectarianism war, and the time he is high-jacking
Muslims and killing them and cutting their head. I think the time now is to be unified as a Muslim, regardless of Sunni or Shia towards terrorist
groups like Daesh and their leaders like Baghdadi.
AMANPOUR: I fully understand what you're saying, but the fact of the matter is that you are in the middle of a very fractured sectarian divide
and you are leading one side of it, the Sunni side. And I know you believe Iran and its allies are leading the Shiite side.
So, again, al-Qaeda attacked Saudi Arabia. Do you worry that ISIS, which has popped up in Iraq, Syria, in Afghanistan, in Libya, is a threat to you
ASIRI: We look to the Islam world as unity, leading by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who is serving the holy mosques to the Islamic war. What
Iran said, this is the way that they want to get the Islamic war and sectarianism thought, and we do not agree with this.
We should look to an Islamic world as a unity. This is what we work for. You ask me about the kingdom.
Yes, the kingdom were attacked by al Qaeda, attacked by Daesh, attacked by the Iranian criminal in our provinces, and this reflects that the kingdom
as a target for the terrorist groups. Why? Because they want to attack the heart of the Islamic world. And they know if Saudi Arabia collapsed
and couldn't control the Islamic world, this means 1.5 billion Muslims will explode in the war and this is too dangerous.
AMANPOUR: I see you rejecting this idea that there is a split, but of course every analyst and every player in the region believes differently.
So let's just move on.
You are on different sides of many issues, whether it's in Iraq, whether it's in Syria. Let us ask you about Syria now.
What do you think is going to happen? What is the fate of Eastern Aleppo, for instance? What is your intelligence saying? You have contacts there.
You are supporting one side.
ASIRI: The evolution of the kingdom were from day one was with the Syrian moderate opposition, with the Syrian population. And we keep calling from
the beginning to no fly zone, to assist the moderate opposition.
If you want to compose the situation in Syria, we have to talk about the regime and his forces, talk about 60,000 militias conducted by Iran and
their General Soleimani on the ground and we talk about the Russian.
The kingdom always with the international community, which is today represented by U.K., U.S., France and other allied to find out a solution
AMANPOUR: What do you believe the solution will be in the next few days?
ASIRI: Today for sure it is in a very difficult situation because we were late. We missed a lot of opportunity to defeat the regime, to defeat the
militias. Now we have to find out and create solutions in concert with the --
AMANPOUR: Do you think it's too late, because many say that now because of all of the things that you are describing that President Assad has the
ASIRI: Look, the Syrian population will have the upper hand even if we enforce Assad to stay by any agreement. At the end of the day, it will be
the world of the population. And you know the population, when they decide, they deliver.
AMANPOUR: Let's move on to Yemen then, where you are directly involved. In fact, you are leading a coalition. Again, it's a division between your
coalition versus what you claim to be an Iranian-backed, Houthi rebel attacks there.
It's not going very well. This has been going on now for more than a year, and there is a huge backlash against your forces. What do you say to
people who are legitimately criticizing what they see to be indiscriminate bombing of civilians as you prosecute what you believe to be a war?
[15:10:00] ASIRI: Well, I don't agree with most of what you said about indiscriminately attack against civilians. When you direct a campaign, you
Do the coalition have objective to kill the Yemeni population? No, because we are here to protect them against the militias. So when there's a
mistake, we have to take over a recommendation and investigation. And this was done lately for the funeral that you mentioned. There was a team who
investigate and he come up where there is a mistake. There is a breach of rule of engagement done by someone in the field. And there he command
One, that the Yemeni army should investigate and give us name for who gave the information and who conduct -- giving the order, breaching the rule of
Second, that we have to review and to tighten again our rule of engagement to the coalition. The third, that there should be re-compensation for
those people who were harmed by this accident.
Today, we achieve two. We are still waiting the investigation in the Yemeni army. Once we have, we will publish. We will not hide from our
mistake. We will learn. But we want people to understand there are 26 million of Yemeni hijacked by minority of minority.
AMANPOUR: You talked about the people of Yemen, General Asiri. You've obviously seen these terrible pictures. Here's one of them.
This is an 18-year-old girl who is on the brink of starvation as you can see.
ASIRI: Well, the --
AMANPOUR: No, let me ask you a question.
AMANPOUR: Because there are siege-like conditions there, probably both sides are doing that, perhaps both sides because there is international
humanitarian aid, A, not being able to get there fast enough, and what does, as you know, gets siphoned off and used and sold and money goes into
individual pockets. That is the result.
ASIRI: Well, I will comment on this.
AMANPOUR: No, I want -- yes?
ASIRI: I will comment on this. Maybe, and I'm sure this photo was taken in Taiz, which is a siege by Houthi. Maybe people forget Taiz today. They
don't know about Taiz. But they were manipulated by this such photo.
AMANPOUR: But you believe that's a real person?
ASIRI: No, let me tell you something --
AMANPOUR: Do you doubt that picture?
ASIRI: Where is it taken?
AMANPOUR: I don't care. That is somebody.
ASIRI: So this is why we move in Yemen, to avoid this picture to come. To give the population in Yemen their right to be treated well, having their
AMANPOUR: Are you saying your war is going to stop that?
ASIRI: No, look, now there is a country and this woman is among those country high jacked by a criminal group who want to implement their force
in spite of the prize.
AMANPOUR: Do you accept any responsibility? Because, obviously, as I said, there are siege-like conditions by both sides.
ASIRI: No, this is international community responsibility. If we do not resolve the problem of Yemen, all of us is responsible. We asked all the
(INAUDIBLE) to go to Taiz. And, today, in your camera I will say, the one who want to go to Taiz to solve those kinds of picture, tomorrow we receive
him. Where they are from Yemen? Unfortunately, they are a distance from Yemen.
AMANPOUR: General Ahmed Asiri, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
ASIRI: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So we look very hard into that picture and we found out that starving girl is not actually from Taiz as the general said, but she is
from the neighborhood next door, which is also controlled by Houthi rebels.
But the U.N. said the Saudi-led coalition and local authorities must allow rapid access for humanitarian aid into a crucial port there and to repair
that port fast as it is the country's only lifeline.
Now, sexual enslavement and forced marriages are just some of the horrors that ISIS inflict on the civilians they take hostage. When we come back,
we look to the global struggle against child marriage and we find change is possible. The young woman who made it happen in Tanzania. She joins me
[15:15:40] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
The American election is less than a week to get away and while there's been a lot of focus on Hillary Clinton's e-mails, here's one you probably
didn't see. It's about forced child marriage.
As secretary of state, Clinton wrote, quote, "Do you recall Nujood Ali, the 10-year-old Yemeni girl who got herself divorced? Is there any way we can
help her? Could we get her to the United States for counseling and education?"
Child marriages are a global epidemic according to the advocacy group, "Girls Not Brides." 15 million girls are married before the age of 18
every year. That is 28 girls per minute. Now you're going to meet a girl who changed the law on all of that in Tanzania, practically single handed.
Rebeca Gyumi successfully petitioned the high court and she is here to tell her story.
AMANPOUR: Rebeca Gyumi, welcome to the program.
GYUMI: Thank you so much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Did it ever affect you? Were you ever threatened to be married off before 18?
GYUMI: I'll probably say, fortunately, I was not one of the victims of child marriage when I was growing up. I was very lucky actually to grow up
in a family where my mom actually understood the importance of sending me to school. But I've seen it from my friends. You know, after finishing
primary education, some of my friends did not continue to further education because they had to get married.
AMANPOUR: And what was that like? Because what age was that? Did your friends start sort of dropping out of school and into marriage?
GYUMI: So that is like 13, 14.
AMANPOUR: 13 or 14?
GYUMI: Yes, because that's the age in Tanzania, where most students or pupils in primary school will have finished primary education.
AMANPOUR: And then off they went.
GYUMI: It's like 13 or 14. Yes. Unfortunately, I had like few of my colleagues at the school where I went to, they even got pregnant when we
were still in primary school and they couldn't continue with their education.
And I had similar cases as well when I was in secondary school. You know, I had few of my friends who had to drop out of school because they got
pregnant. They had to get married.
AMANPOUR: Some people say it's cultural. Others say it's traditional. But in some countries including Tanzania, it's actually written into law
that girls under the age of 18 can be married.
GYUMI: Actually, Christiane, to be honest, it is both. Even in my country, it is not just about the law. You know, law is just one of the
driver, but we still have very deep-rooted culture, custom and tradition, which is still believe that, you know, a young girl would just get married,
you know, one day, and it is not good to invest in education.
And if they're just at home, the better way to invest in her, you know, is to find a husband who will marry her.
AMANPOUR: So tell me a little bit about what exactly you did, because it took a few years. It wasn't when you were 13 that you started this. You
actually went to school, you learned law. You are a law graduate.
AMANPOUR: What did you decide to do?
GYUMI: What I actually decided to do, Christiane, after I have seen myself and been part of the advocacy, that I had actually seen little progress in
changing this law.
In January this year, I decided to petition to change the Tanzania Marriage Act, which actually allowed for girls as young at 14 to get married.
GYUMI: Yes, to get married. And I was actually very happy in July, 8th of July of this year, the high court of Tanzania actually took a very bold
decision and say that, you know, this law is actually unconstitutional and it actually lost its purpose, and that the minimum age will be 18 for both
boys and girls.
AMANPOUR: Because before boys had been 18?
GYUMI: Yes, boys had been 18.
AMANPOUR: I mean, a young girl like yourself, you're not even a practicing lawyer. How on earth did you have the guts, the presence of mind to do
GYUMI: Some people actually think maybe, I had like people behind us. You know, we had like maybe big organization behind us, but, no, Christiane.
It was just young committed advocates and a fellow lawyer who believed that, you know, we had to be the voice of so many other young girls in our
But I was actually very surprised, you know, like this panel of judges were actually very bold enough to say, you know, we are protecting the rights,
we are protecting the fact that young girls can actually have the right to determine their own future.
[15:20:13] AMANPOUR: What's next? I mean, it's enacted into law. It has to be implemented. What happens next?
GYUMI: We are starting to educate the community, because that's where the work is. And even when I won, I said I don't believe winning the case will
end child marriage. You know, we have more work to do, and we have more work to do in the community.
AMANPOUR: You know, you look at this picture and you see a little girl who is dressed in a Western-style wedding dress and a veil, and it looks very
beautiful, but it's not for them.
What did your 13, 14-year-old friends tell you? What did they suffer when they were forced into marriage?
GYUMI: I definitely know for sure they are not happy. You know, they wish life could be different, you know. And they always tell me -- especially
for the ones who have kids, we will make sure that, you know, our kids will not have the same story like the one we have gone through.
AMANPOUR: And who is it that they marry? I mean 13, 14 year olds. They are marrying people double or triple their age.
GYUMI: So I'll give you an example. The day that I won the case, I had few girls traveling from Shinyanga, the region with the highest incident in
my country, and they actually came to Dar Es Salaam to wait for the judgment. And I was talking to one of them, and she was telling me she was
actually married to, you know, an old man, 60 years old man and she was the third wife.
And at the age of 12, she was already pregnant. Unfortunately, she was so beaten -- you know, she got a miscarriage.
GYUMI: Yes, with her husband, so she couldn't have the baby. But later at age 14, she conceived again and she had a baby, and that baby she has until
Now she is 16, but she was rescued by one of the organization I'm working with in Shinyanga, and now she is going back to school. She wants to be a
AMANPOUR: And just finally, you know, many people say, oh, this is culture, this is their culture. Do you accept that?
And, also, it is surprising to hear that it happens here in the West as well.
GYUMI: Yes. Unfortunately, I think among so many things that we tend to be proud of, I don't believe this is -- we can really say this is our
culture. You know, marrying off children, I don't believe that is something that we should be proud of.
You know, I very much believe in culture. And I think this is not the right thing as a society we should embrace, you know, as something that we
are proud of, you know.
We should probably take it more as a handful custom and tradition, because as a country, as a society, we must think clearly how to invest in the
largest population of our country.
For us to attain our potential, our economic potential, we have to invest in the largest population.
AMANPOUR: Which is the women.
GYUMI: Yes, which is the women, which is the girls. So if we're not investing in this population, we won't attain our full economic potential.
And I just think it is definitely a smart move to make and we shouldn't hide behind culture. I definitely think we should not hide behind culture.
AMANPOUR: Rebecca Gyumi, thanks so much for being with us.
GYUMI: Thank you so much, Christiane, for having me.
AMANPOUR: That powerful story of winning a legal battle against all the odds. And next, we imagine a world coming right out of left field against
Baseball team Chicago Cubs hit it right out of the park for the first time in more than 100 years. That's next.
[15:25:50] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world of epic battles over diamonds and curses that lasts more than a century. No, not the
bilious political battles, but another sporting fairy tale for 2016 as the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the U.S. World Series beating the Cleveland
Indians and sending fans in America into a delirium after a losing streak that had lasted 108 years.
Yes, they last won in 1908, which is 12 years before women could vote in the U.S. The same year that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their
In fact, the Cubs racked up losses so numerous that a myth sprung up around them. The story goes that in October 1945, a Chicago tavern owner named
Billy tried to go to a Cubs game with his pet goat, billy goat. Despite them both having tickets, the goat wasn't allowed to enter the stadium. In
a rage, the story goes, Billy cursed them never to win again. And so they didn't, until now that is.
Baseball divided American's First Family as well. The First Lady, a Chicago native, has been cheering on the Cubs since she was a kid, while
the president was supporting the Chicago's other team, the White Sox. Nonetheless, he's invited them to make one last run to the White House.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.