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Interview with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Interview with Johns Hopkins University School of Advance International Studies Professor and "The Dispensable Nation" Author Vali Nasr; Interview with ACLU Deputy Director for Transgender Justice Chase Strangio. Aired 12- 12:55p ET

Aired October 13, 2022 - 12:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour". Here's what's coming up.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: NATO is not party to the conflict, but we will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.


AMANPOUR: Winter comes to the battlefield and I speak to NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg about helping Kyiv through this cold war. Then.



AMANPOUR: The struggle for freedom persists in Iran. Former State Department Official and author Vali Nasr joins me on this and the regional

fallout. Plus.


CHASE STRANGIO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR TRANSGENDER JUSTICE, ACLU: So, ultimately, it's not going to stop the trans people. If anything, trans

people are the canary in the coalmine.


AMANPOUR: The ACLU's Chase Strangio talks to Hari Sreenivasan about anti- trans abuse.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Temperatures are falling in Europe, so the urgency is rising to get Ukraine ready for winter warfare. NATO defense ministers have just wrapped up two

days of meetings in Brussels. Germany, the Netherlands, and France are rushing air defense systems to Ukraine after Russia launched a wave of

missile attacks which killed civilians.

And the alliance says it will go ahead with its annual nuclear exercises planned for next week amid Putin's veiled threats about tactical nuclear

weapons. The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is joining me now from Brussels.

Welcome back to our program.


AMANPOUR: So, what do you think? Is this a new phase as a lot of people have been saying? And do you believe that at this point enough, you know,

air defense and the other kind of systems that are clearly needed, are they going to Ukraine?

STOLTENBERG: As what we have seen over the last days and weeks is the most serious escalation of this war since the invasion in February. The illegal

annexation of Ukrainians territories, the partial mobilization of tens of thousands or more Russian troops. The dangerous nuclear rhetoric. And then,

of course, all the strikes against Ukrainian cities.

Altogether, this is the most serious escalation since the start. But it doesn't change the nature of the war. It continues to be a word of

attrition by President Putin against the sovereign independent nation in Europe, Ukraine. And therefore, the strong message answer from NATO allies

at our meetings today in Brussels has been to step up and continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

AMANPOUR: OK. I would like to play what the Ukrainian defense minister told me, just this week, in the wake of this barrage, this escalation of

cruise missiles, et cetera. This is what he told me about what they need.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I don't know how many more civilians have to die and how many more cities have to be destroyed for all

the countries who possess air defense and antimissile defense weapons to share them with us. And we are ready to engage in different models of

sharing. But we need to protect our civilians. If we are confident that we are able to protect them, we will be even more successful on the



AMANPOUR: So, of course, that was the foreign minister, Kuleba. But the bottom line is he's saying he needs those things. And yet, today, we hear a

senior NATO official quoted by the "Financial Times", saying that in fact you all are struggling -- well, NATO countries are struggling to identify

and secure enough air defense systems to meet Ukraine's needs and demands. Is that the case?

STOLTENBERG: So, NATO allies have provided unprecedented support, including a lot of air defense for Ukraine, and not least United States.

Then at the meeting in Brussels, allies have agreed that we need to step up and do even more. And therefore, just today, we had the Spain announcing

further delivery of whole factories or launchers to augmenter Ukrainian air defenses.


We have France, the Netherlands, Germany, United States, just over the last days announcing and actually delivering more air defenses. And new advance

systems, for instance, from Germany. And NATO will shortly -- NATO as an alliance will shortly deliver counter drone systems, hundreds of those, and

they can render ineffective both Russian but those Iranian made drones. And they will be in Ukraine within a very few days.

So, allies are mobilizing. We understand the desperation, the urgent need. We have heard the call from Ukraine. And therefore, the main priority in

the meeting in Brussels today, among the NATO ministers, have been air defense for Ukraine as fast as possible.

AMANPOUR: OK. Just to clarify, that official was wrong then. You're not struggling to send them? You have enough stocks?

STOLTENBERG: We have. So -- the NATO allies are digging deep into their existing stocks. But of course, Ukraine is a big country. A lot of

territory and many cities. And we also need to understand that we need different types of air defense to protect against different threats,

against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and then also drones.

So, that's the reason why we are providing so many different systems to be able to have a layered protection against different air and missile attacks

coming in from Russia. So, we are mobilizing. We are providing. And allies understand the urgency.

AMANPOUR: So, can I ask you whether you agree with the former minister of defense of Ukraine, who wrote an article just recently in "Foreign

Affairs". I mean, it's really interesting. He says, to win, Ukraine doesn't need a miracle. It just needs the west to increase its supply of

sophisticated weaponry. Putin may respond by calling up additional soldiers, but poorly motivated forces can only delay a well-equipped

Ukraine's eventual triumph. Do you agree with that?

STOLTENBERG: I agree that Ukraine can win this war. And what you have seen over the last weeks, is that the Ukrainian forces have made significant

gains. They have been able to retake, to liberate territory. And of course, these victories belongs to the brave Ukrainian soldiers.

But the support, the advanced equipment, the HIMARS, the weapons, the ammunition, the fuel that they have received from NATO allies and partners

have enabled them and helped them to make these important gains. And again, the U.S. has been in the lead position, but also European allies, Canada

and many other partners around the world are now stepping up the support for Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: So, you know, furthermore into this, we do know that there is some reluctance to provide, for instance, the longer-range missiles, et

cetera. Because, certainly in the United States, they've been concerned if they, you know, go too far -- you know, near Russia or strain into Russia,

et cetera. Do you think these fears still exist among some NATO countries given what happened on Monday?

STOLTENBERG: NATO allies provide also with advanced systems, including for instance, precision guided systems and also advanced air defense systems.

And if anything, the attacks that we saw on Monday, but also later on this week has just encouraged and motivated and incentivized NATO allies to do


And the encouraging thing is that despite the challenges NATO allies are facing with increasing inflation, cost of living, energy prices, when we

look at the opinion polls and the support across the lines, it's actually continued strong public support for providing support for Ukraine. And we

need to be prepared for the long haul. And allies also realize that we are approaching winter. So, there's also -- now also a huge effort to provide

winter clothing, tents, generators, diesel, to ensure that we are enabling the Ukrainians to be able to operate throughout the winter.

AMANPOUR: So, just listening to what some Ukrainian soldiers have said after liberating various parts of important territory. They say, yes, we

have -- there are still a lot of Russians that they can throw at us with a lot of weaponry. The GCHQ here, the intelligence service here this week

said that Russian soldiers appear exhausted and to be running out of munitions -- well, certainly ammunition. Is that NATO's assessment?

STOLTENBERG: Russia has lost a lot of capabilities, personnel.


And they have also seen huge difficulties when it comes to logistics, the ability to provide the forces on the front with the resources they need.

And their main problem is the lack of morale. While there's strong commitment, courage, high morale on the Ukrainian side, because they are

defending their own country. And we see a low morale among the Russian forces because many of them don't understand why they are in Ukraine. Why

they are invading a neighbor. And therefore, this is one of the main reasons why the Ukrainians are able to make so many gains as they have made

over the last weeks.

But again, wars are hard to predict. Russia remains a strong military power and Russia is now mobilizing additional troops. Maybe they will not have

the equipment, maybe they will not have the training that they should have, but of course, this is to prolong the suffering both of Ukrainian people

but also of the people in Russia, who's also paying now in a higher and higher price for this absolutely illegal and meaningless war of President

Putin against Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: OK. We've seen President Putin, "Lash out", over this last week in retaliation and revenge for acts, you know, the battlefield going

against him. As you said, you think that Ukraine can win. Do you believe, as Putin's spokesman has said, and even the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov

have said, that NATO is now party to this conflict? Number one.

And secondly, Russian cyberattacks, the -- you know, various -- you know compromises of the gas lines and this and that. Do you consider them

attacks on NATO territory?

STOLTENBERG: So, first of all, NATO is not party to the conflict. NATO is not party to the conflict because we are not on the ground and not in the

air. But what we do is that we support Ukraine's right for self-defense. That is the right which is enshrined in the U.N. Charter. And we also saw

the vote today in the U.N. strongly condemn the attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories. So, Ukraine has the right to defend

themselves. We are supporting them in upholding that right. That does not make us a party to the conflict.

Then of course, we are closely monitoring the risks of hybrid attacks, as we call them, cyberattacks, sabotage attacks. There are now ongoing

investigations into the sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines. I will not speculate about who is behind that before we have more facts, hopefully

coming out of those investigations.

But we are -- indeed, we are prepared to also protect critical infrastructure. And of course, if there is a deliberate attack on critical

NATO infrastructure, there will be a united and firm response from NATO.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about a united and firm response when it comes to Vladimir Putin's veiled nuclear threat. So, on the one hand, you

are going ahead with the annual nuclear exercises, which I understand happened, obviously, without live fire and these happened all the time.

On the other hand, or at the same time, President Macron responded to a French interview saying that a strike back, a nuclear strike back is not in

France's nuclear doctrine. And furthermore, the less we talk about it, you know, more credible we are. I guess my question to you is, does President

Putin get the strong message about what you all will do if he uses a tactical battlefield nuclear weapon?

STOLTENBERG: President Putin knows that if he uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, it will have severe consequences for Russia. It will permanently

(ph) change the nature of the conflict. And NATO allies and NATO have also conveyed again and again that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be

fought. And this is something that we have stated again and again from the whole alliance.

NATO's nuclear deterrent is something we have to preserve peace, to prevent attack on NATO allies, and to prevent coercion. And that's also the reason

why we, on an annual basis, routine-wise are exercising our nuclear forces and live exercises, and also the exercises taking place actually in the

western part of Europe, far away from the Russian borders. That's -- it will be a very strange thing for us to start to change our exercises

pattern because of the threats from Russia.


AMANPOUR: Do you think President Macron muddied the waters? I mean, why even say that? That we would not respond. I mean, that takes away the

strategic ambiguity, doesn't it?

STOLTENBERG: NATO allies have made it clear that there will be severe consequences if Russia uses a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. At the same time,

it's also a clear and united NATO position that the circumstances in which NATO might use or might have to use nuclear weapons remains extremely

remote. So, this is NATO's position. And that will remain NATO's position on a potential use of nuclear weapons.

AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, what do you expect the battlefield to look like as the winter comes in? I know you said you have to get them ready.

But do you expect frozen lines? Do you expect, you know, rest and recovery and regroup or do you expect, you know, hot war to continue through the


STOLTENBERG: I'm always very careful about predicting how wars will evolve because wars are by nature unpredictable. And second, I think we should

leave it to the brave, skilled committed commanders of the Ukraine armed forces to announce and to tell what they plan to do or not to announce what

they're planning to do. That's their privilege.

Our responsibility as NATO allies and partners is to provide support to Ukraine. It is in the -- it is important for us that they win because we

are not party to the conflict but it matters for us that the lessons learned from Ukraine is that authoritarian regimes like Moscow or Beijing

should not -- learn the lesson that when they use brute military force, they can achieve what they want. That will make the world more dangerous

and therefore it is important to support Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, thank you for joining us.

STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much for having me.

AMANPOUR: So, as we know, Russia is in the throes of its unpopular military mobilization to fuel President Putin's war. And as we said, the

British intelligence reports that Russian soldiers are exhausted. And Moscow is turning to foreign friends for weapons that are terrifying on the

battlefield. You just heard the secretary general talk about Iranian drones. Fred Pleitgen has more about that from Ukraine.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Early Thursday morning, an attack on a town west of the Ukrainian capital.

Russia continues its bombardment of Ukraine's key infrastructure. Across the country, scenes like this one in central Ukraine are a common sight,

wreckages of power plants. The tactic is familiar, the weapon until recently was not.

A kamikaze drone seen here after an attack on the other side of the country in Kharkiv. Cheap self-detonating and unmanned, they are a new weapon in

Russia's war on Ukraine. The markings say Geran 2, but this is no Russian- made weapon.

Its name is Shahed, designed and manufactured in Iran. Known as a loitering munition, it could circle a target and the lightweight air frame can travel

long distances. The U.S. government says a Russian delegation traveled to Iran in June to inspect the drones, seen here in satellite imagery obtained

exclusively by CNN.

In recent weeks, Russia has massively stepped up its use of the drones, evidence posted on Ukrainian social media on a near daily basis.

SERHIY BRATCHUK, SPOKESPERSON, ODESSA REGIONAL ADMINISTRATION (through translator): The enemy is trying to save up on cruise missiles, various

caliber types. These Shaheds are firstly much cheaper. They can be used much more frequently and they work in pairs.

PLEITGEN (voiceover): Ukraine, too, uses kamikaze drones like the much smaller U.S. manufactured switchblade. Though there is no evidence to

suggest Ukraine has used the weapon against anything but military targets.

Ukraine's air defense has been fairly successful in downing Russia's drones. But the fact that there is so cheap has the Ukrainians worried and

plays a big part in their push this week for more western help with air defense. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says Russia has ordered 2,400

kamikaze drones from Iran. Officials here fear that as Russia increasingly targets population centers, kamikaze drones are a growing part of the



AMANPOUR: Fred Pleitgen reporting there. And Iran is also dealing, of course, with its own crisis at home where protesters are on the streets and

refusing to be silenced. They continue their calls for freedom some four weeks after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.


Meanwhile, Iran's regional rival, Saudi Arabia, is flexing its geopolitical muscle with the kingdom and Russia leading plans to cut oil production by

fellow OPEC members. Vali Nasr is a former state department official and an expert in the volatile politics in the region and he's joining me now here

on set.

Welcome back to the program. So, let's start with what's happening on the streets. How do you assess them, the protests?


very significant. First of all, as you mentioned, it's now four weeks that they've continued. And both crackdowns and attempts to persuade the

protesters to go home have not worked. And I think the protests have gone beyond what we see on television, that it's brought support among the vast

amount number of women. Even women who donned the hijab, the one who might identify themselves as generally loyal to the Islamic republic are very

sympathetic to the protesters. They believe that this fundamental issue of the government deciding what people do and don't do should go away.

So, I think the government is now facing something much bigger than just the people who are coming in the streets.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you that? Because what you're saying sounds very American. The protesters and people who criticize, even in the United

States, the Supreme Court, having a view of what they do in their own private sphere. Are you saying even in the Islamic republic, even these

very religious and women and others don't believe that the government should tell their girls what to wear?

NASR: Well, in many ways, Iran is perhaps the only country in the Muslim world which is post Islamist. They've had an Islamic government. They have

an Islamic revolution. They are looking past that. And we've seen that Iranian society, we see it in their cinema, we see it in their music, it's

a very sophisticated society.

In terms of their conception of what individual freedoms mean, they're very, very advanced. And what they're -- obviously individual freedoms

then, you know, parlay into political freedoms and bigger things but it starts from the fact that young Iranians, as young as 16, started by

saying, you cannot tell me what I wear. And I think that in itself was much more powerful than demanding a specific political right. And it's something

that a lot more Iranians can identify with.

AMANPOUR: Is that, do you think, why it's lasting this long?

NASR: Well, it's also -- has tapped into all sorts of other grievances. I mean, there are political demands, there are all sorts of anger, there is

anger at the incompetence of the current government. There is anger at the economy. And in every case, we've seen around the world, protests may start

for a very small reason. If they persist, they can bring in a broader set of grievances and then they become something bigger.

I think we're right at the cusp of that in Iran. That's something that started around the questionable death of a woman in police custody, kind of

Iran's George Floyd moment. The question about individual freedom could become something much, much bigger.

AMANPOUR: So, you just said the incompetence of the government. And we know that Ebrahim Raisi, who's the current president, actually campaigned

on a very hardline interpretation of Sharia law as it actually applies to women. I mean, that was part of his campaign. All the other candidates were

essentially brushed aside. He was, sort of, handpicked to run. And yet, are we seeing now some cracks even within that conservative establishment?

Because there are some officials coming out and saying different things.

NASR: That's correct. Well, you know, the -- for -- when Raisi became president, essentially there was a purge of even conservatives in Iran. The

Iranian regime became even much narrower and much more focused on a very narrow interpretation of what society and foreign policy and country ought

to look like.

And I think there is a lot of this dissident voices that are now not only seeing political opportunity to challenge Raisi but also believe that they

-- it's now very, very evident that the way in which the supreme leader set up the Raisi government is completely out of whack with the society that

has come out and shown its face. And the pragmatic aside of some of these people is essentially questioning whether the Islamic republican can

continue being so far apart from where the society is.

AMANPOUR: So, you know, there's -- and it's been repeated in U.K. newspapers and there's this Instagram posting of what one of the real

establish conservatives, Ali Larijani, who -- let's remind everybody, once was speaker of the parliament, the Majlis, and has been really, you know,

in the heart of the power structure for a long, long time for decades. He has said in an interview with an Iranian newspaper.


It is not 100 percent wrong if young people do not implement in a social and intellectual way Sharia rules correctly. Then he says, look at the time

of the Shah. Even though hijab was not promoted, many people still wore it, at that, time our ulama -- in other words, religious scholars, were

following the right path.

Golly. Can you break that down? He -- he's bringing in the Shah --

NASR: That's right.

AMANPOUR: -- as something to -- for this lot to follow.

NASR: He crosses several led -- red lines in that one paragraph. One is that he actually says, it's OK if people don't practice religion perfectly

and the war is not going to end of that happens. And secondly, he's using the Shahs here as an example, which is big, big taboo.

So, somebody like Larijani, he wanted to run for president, the supreme leader didn't allow him. He was not allowed to run. He's being purged. He

essentially is telling that the supreme leader that, you know, the way you went is too narrow. Leadership in Iran has to be more broad.

But also, people from -- like, Larijani, are hearing from their wives, daughters, and mothers. There are a lot of women who may be, as a I said,

loyal to the Islamic republic but I -- but they think that what's happening in Iran today is wrong. And that these girls, even though they may be

secular, even though they're burning their scarves have a point and that they want -- they are speaking to their menfolk. And I think they are

basically parlaying this into conversation. And I think that you're seeing a lot of, I think, cracks of the top, debates that are coming out. Where

they go, we don't know. But they're happening.

AMANPOUR: So, I wanted to ask you where do they go? Because yesterday on the program we talked about the education minister who put out an edict

that these girls who are caught are going have to go to reeducation camps for cultural and religious indoctrination. We see the so-called supreme

leader put out a tweet saying the same thing, and that others, what he calls rioters, need to be harshly dealt with. So, where do you think the

twine (ph) meets or doesn't it?

NASR: I don't think it needs right now. I think there's a sense that within this regime that they need to crackdown and they're not going to

negotiate with protesters. If they get past this moment, then, you know, they talk later. But the longer that this goes on and the more cost Iran

will pay in terms of its image abroad, in terms of its economy, in terms of all sorts of things. I think these kinds of dissident voices are going to

become louder and they're going to become more significant.

And I think -- it doesn't mean that necessarily the powers that they will listen to them. But what we are seeing is that for the first time,

confronting protesters, the Islamic republic's elite are not speaking with one voice.

AMANPOUR: Really, really interesting. Now, you talked about, you know, the financial and other underpinnings. We know that a lot of these young people

simply see no hope. They say it over and over again, we have to work four jobs just to pay the rent. We have to, you know, do whatever just to feed

our children. The inflation is sky-high, some 50 percent. And it's, you know, obviously -- you know, made much more difficult for people.

There is no Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions are still on. The government there mismanages the economy. Do you believe that there is, even with this

happening, a chance of both the U.S. and Iran coming to -- and Europe, coming to a new nuclear deal?

NASR: I think that chance is fading. Very rapidly. Because, first of all, Iranians head is not right now in that conversation. All the debates are

internal. Secondly, we're seeing increasingly that the public image of Iran is making it more difficult for European and American governments to

actually engage the Iranian government than let alone lift sanctions on this government.

The only thing that argues for the United States or Europe to actually contemplate a deal with Iran is that they're facing use of tactical nuclear

weapons in Ukraine, as you were discussing. Use of tactical nuclear weapons by North Korea in an experiment, China, Taiwan. So, there might be some

sliver of arguments in Washington and in European capitals that says we don't need a fourth major crisis.

Which a collapsible Iran nuclear deal would present because, you know, we have to problems with Iran right now. One is that the fate of the regime,

the protests is ongoing. And then the other one is that with Iran's back to the wall, with it nothing to lose, it can very easily make the decision to

go to 90 percent or more and then that would --

AMANPOUR: This is about uranium in Richmond?


NASR: Uranium in Richmond. And that would then put the crisis in Iran on par with the other major crises in the world. So, I think the challenge for

Europe beyond all of the public image that is coming out of Iran is how to keep the hope for the openness in Iran alive and yet, avoid the fact that

the Iranian government decides that, OK, there's nothing left and why not just go to the maximum and avoid a crisis that then could derail the

protests and what it means in Iran?

AMANPOUR: It's really become very, very entangled and incumbent. And adding to that, Iran's rivals, enemies, whatever you want to call them in

the Gulf, the Persian Gulf, are ganging up to, right, against the United States, against Europe, for instance.

How do you read what MBS, the Saudi Arabian crown prince, has done with President Putin to lower production and jack up oil prices? At this time.

NASR: At this time. I mean, you might look at it and say, why is he betting on the wrong horse? I mean, Putin's losing the war. His image is in

the tanks in the West. Why would he bet on that? And yet, there is a financial reason and leads Saudi Arabia and maybe other OPEC countries

would benefit from high oil prices in the short run. They don't trust that necessarily if they brought these -- if they played the game with the West

that down the road, they will benefit from it.

It may be animus still between Saudi Arabia towards the Biden ministration, and we're going into midterm elections. All of those calculations maybe

there. But also, Saudi Arabia's very worried about losing Russia to Iran. I mean, Iran -- this military relationship that is emerging with these

suicide drones. At what point would Russia to turn around and tell Saudi Arabia that, look, you colluded with the Biden administration on oil, I'm

going to get advanced jet fighters or missiles to Iran.

I mean, you know, the Saudis -- not everything in other countries' minds is about us. But having done this, it also raises the issue about Iran's oil,

even the little bit of exports that Iran has now may become quite important in the calculation of the oil market for the wintertime.

AMANPOUR: So, you know, President Biden, just this week, in an interview with CNN, threatened, you know, severe consequences if -- you know, if this

pursuit and these oil prices by an ally. And here's what John Kirby, the National Security spokesman said publicly today, we presented Saudi Arabia

with analysis to show them that there is no market basis to cut production targets. And they could easily wait for the regular OPEC meeting to see how

things develop. Other OPEC nations communicated to us privately that they also disagreed with the Saudi decision but felt coerced to support Saudi's


NASR: Well, I think there is anger in Washington. And there is a sense that you cannot let Saudi Arabia, you know, act like this towards the

superpower. And at this point in time, we don't look favorably upon anybody who helps Vladimir Putin. So, all of this is there.

But again, practically speaking, the United States already has a big, big Iran problem. If it goes down this path, it will also have a second big

problem called Saudi Arabia. And then, you know, you are basically playing a three-dimensional chess in the region between Saudi Arabia, Iran. At the

same time, as your plate is full.

So, my gut feeling is that the anger will simmer, but that given what we have on our plate with Iran domestic nuclear deal, everything else that I'm

not going -- I don't think that we're going to have a breakup of the relations. Because that could --

AMANPOUR: Between the U.S. and Saudi.

NASR: Saudi Arabia, yes. Because that will then have all kinds of other consequences, which makes things much more complicated in the Middle East.

AMANPOUR: And finally, other Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, all those countries, jumping up in joy as they watch the people of Iran demonstrate

for their freedom or is it, you know, a horror story for them too?

NASR: They're jumping only this much. Because everybody wants Iran's wings clipped. Everybody wants the Islamic Republic weaken. They're hoping that

the crisis internally in Iran will force Iran to withdraw from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and get out of the region. They can fight their own people

internally but they get out of the region.

But nobody, I think, the dictatorships in the region want these young girls to succeed. Because the example that Iran is setting now is much, much

bigger than Iran. I mean, the Iranian women -- thanks to CNN and others, the way they're covering this around the world, every Muslim girl around

the world is watching, in awe. And that would -- that's a virus that the Iranians are putting in the system. And that really what is all of Iran's


AMANPOUR: Because of what happened in the Arab Spring and all of that?

NASR: There might be another second Arab Spring thanks to Iran. You know, Arab Spring came after the 2009 uprisings in Iran. Iran may instigate the

next one.


AMANPOUR: Very briefly before we go. We've already seen protesters, women in Afghanistan saying, you know, Iran's done it, now it's our turn. You

used to work on Afghanistan for the state department. Where do you see that going?

NASR: Well, as we're talking about Iran, yesterday, the minister of interior in Afghanistan ordered all the ministries to audit every law and

make sure that they're compatible with the Sharia. So -- and they're kicking out all the journalists out of Afghanistan. They're clamping down

on the country. So, Afghanistan is not going in a very good direction.

AMANPOUR: Vali Nasr, thank you so much indeed.

NASR: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And we continue to ask, of course, Iranian officials for come on the show amid these ongoing protests. So far, they've declined.

Now, as America approaches its midterm elections, the question of transgender rights are also in the spotlight. Multiple states including

Texas and Alabama have passed some sort of restrictions affecting trans people. Chase Strangio, deputy director of Transgender Justice at the

American Civil Liberties Union, joins Hari Sreenivasan now to discuss misconceptions about transgender health and rights.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Chase Strangio, thanks so much for joining us.

First, let's kind of set the table a little bit here. When we start to talk about this topic, especially in the heated political climate that we're in

right now. I think it's good to have just some basic understanding at some terms that we might have in this conversation.

So, for example, what is transgender medical care? Because a lot of times, it just is synonymous with surgical intervention, and that's not true.

CHASE STRANGIO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR TRANSGENDER JUSTICE, ACLU: Thank you so much for having me and for starting us off with that important framing.

I do think a lot of times when we're talking about health care for transgender people and particularly, for adolescents, there are a lot of

distortions. So, when we're talking about what's often referred to as gender affirming medical care, this is medical treatment that had been

developed by medical associations like the Endocrine Society, like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics

affirming a set of guidelines.

And these guidelines include care like puberty suppressants. So, that is treatment that pauses puberty for individuals who are still in puberty and

that is a certain type of treatment that has been used for a very long time to treat other conditions and is totally reversible. And then, there are

hormone therapies that are used for both adolescents and for adults. Things like testosterone for transmasculine people, estrogen for transfeminine


And again, these are terms that are used to treat a lot of other conditions and are specifically part of the protocol for treating patients with gender

dysphoria. And then, there are surgical treatments that are usually reserved for adults. In some cases, trans adolescents have surgery like top

surgery for trans masculine patients or breast augmentation for transfeminine patients. But again, these surgeries, when they are available

are for older adolescents and are the types of surgeries that we see for other individuals as well.

But what we hear often are these really incendiary and distorted arguments about care -- surgical care being performed on trans adolescents, which is

largely not what we're seeing in this context.

SREENIVASAN: Is this something that children can seek out or is this something that is usually done with the parental consent?

STRANGIO: This is only done with parental consent. In the United States you -- you know, by and large, cannot consent to your own medical treatment

until you reach the age of majority, which is usually 18. This is care that is incredibly conservative in the way it's provided that requires

substantial oversight and parental consent.

So, when we're talking about accessing things like puberty blockers or hormones for trans adolescents, parents are involved. The parents are the

ones consenting to the treatment not the young people themselves. So, these are treatment decisions where you have a doctor who is seeing a patient and

their family, recognizing some sort of medical need, recommending a course of treatment that in and of itself is highly regulated with

endocrinologist, psychologists, social workers, maybe general practice pediatricians, and then, it is the parents who are weighing the risks and

benefits as to what happens with pediatric care. And then, deciding in conjunction with the doctor and the young person to move forward with this

particular treatment. This is not care that young people themselves are consenting to because that's just simply not how medical care is provided

in the United States.

SREENIVASAN: Last week, different medical organizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Children's

Hospital Association released a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. And they wanted essentially an investigation into the ongoing threats

against doctors who provide gender affirming care to trans children. What are you hearing from doctors?


STRANGIO: Yes. I mean, absolutely. Unfortunately, what we're hearing across the country is that medical providers who treat transgender

adolescents in particular, whether at gender clinics or through university programs or affiliated with children's hospitals are facing a host of

threats that are coming largely from social media, but as we saw on the case of Austin Children's Hospital, there were bomb threats called into the

hospital. The hospital, entire hospital had to shut down.

And ultimately, what is felt as with the case of the abortion context and those access in care at places that provided abortion, whether they were

receiving abortion or not, is that patients are then children going to those places because you are scared. You are scared both for your physical

safety but also, emotionally to have to manage that type of in your face protesting when you're trying to get the medical care that you need.

And it's important to remember that this is all part of the same strategy. The very same lawmakers that stand up in state legislatures to restrict

trans health care often in the very same legislative hearings are trying to be on abortion. These are interconnected fights. Challenging the ability of

people to self-determine their bodily autonomy and their identities and to live freely.

And so, when we think about the coming weeks, months, years ahead, these fights are incredibly interconnected. We are going to see a tax not only

abortion and trans health care as we have already seen with all of these bills attacking both types of medical care, we're going to see attacks on

access to contraception, we're going to see attacks on access to same-sex marriage and adoption.

So, we know these kinds of attacks on our autonomy are coming. But they are deeply, deeply interconnected.

SREENIVASAN: How much legislation is happening now and kind of put it in context for us and whether it's sort of normal or not? And what is the

range of what these pieces of legislation across multiple states are trying to do?

STRANGIO: Yes. I mean, what we've seen for the last six, seven years is an increasing escalation in legislative attacks on trans communities. This

started in large part in the aftermath of the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was the case that struck down bans

on a marriage equality for same-sex couples.

So, in essence, you have the Supreme Court ruling in 2015, a major piece pro-LGBTQ legal paradigm shift occurs and the opposition immediately shifts

to trans people. And then, in 2016, we start to see the proliferation of anti-trans bathroom bills. That's when we saw to HB2 in North Carolina and

you saw hundreds of those bathroom bills across the country.

The context of the bill is to sort of shift it overtime over the last six years, we went from sort bathrooms to locker rooms and then, what we've

seen more recently are attacks on the ability of trans young people to play sports, the ability of trans young people to access health care and then,

the ability of trans people to be referred to by their pronouns in schools. These are sort of the three areas where the legislation has really focused

over the last two years.

In the context of health care, the escalation has been quite staggering. Because you actually had across the country a relative increase of access

to medical treatment. This was consistent with the increase in recognition by medical associations that this careless effective and safe for this

population. And as that care access increased, we had a backlash that coincided with this backlash from the marriage equality decisions.

And we are seeing these attacks on health care for trans adolescents which started in apart on restrictions on insurance coverage and then, what we've

seen quite rapidly is rather than just restricting who pays for the care, we're seeing these outright bans. And in the case of say, Arkansas, which

was the first state to pass one of these bans in 2021, it's ban has a set of civil penalties regulating the doctors themselves.

Then we see in Alabama, which passed a ban in 2022. That ban has a felony provision that authorizes imprisonment of medical providers and possibly

parents up to 10 years in prison. And of course, in Texas what we're seeing is the governor and attorney general directing the child services agency to

investigate for the child abuse if they're providing this medically recommended treatment to their adolescent children.

And so, it goes from the civil regulations, which, in essence, to ban care but all the way up to threatening to remove children from their homes if

the parent is providing this treatment.

SREENIVASAN: When we talk about access to medical care, I mean, there was NIH report back in 2020 that said, 82 percent of transgender individuals

have considered taking their own life. So, you know, right now, when you hear that statistic and you hear legislators say, why don't we just wait

for these children to be adults, until they're 18, to be able to have whatever it is type of care that they want. What's the risk here?

STRANGIO: I mean, I think there's two things to say. First, the risk, of course, is that they're not going to turn 18. The risk, of course, is that

there is simply not going to make it. We're talking about a population of people who is experiencing incredibly high level of distress and for whom

there are interventions that can alleviate that distress.


And so, take those interventions off the table is just a devastating outcome in a population of people who are suffering and struggling so much.

At a time when, by the way, it is hard to be a young person growing up right now. We are dealing with pandemics. People have their education

disrupted. And so, the last thing that so many people need is to have the government attacking them in this way.

And then, the other thing I'll say is that they claim that it's about young people and that there are just restricting access to care for young people.

But we're starting to see the ages creep up. We're starting to hear about bans for adults. And so, I think that too is quite a disingenuous argument

from the opponents of LGBTQ people.

I don't believe they're going to stop with adolescents. I think their goal is to take over care from all of us. And in any event, even just talking

about the young people, they're suffering, they're struggling. Banning this care is a completely egregious and intrusive use of government power and


SREENIVASAN: So, I know the ACLU has posted a few stats online. It says that 16 bills have been passed in states like Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma,

Iowa, Louisiana, South Carolina, South Dakota. I keep going on. And 27 are still awaiting decisions. So, is there a key target? Are they basically a

copy paste job of what's work in previous states or are different states taking kind of more restrictive or less restrictive measures?

STRANGIO: Yes. When we look at the national landscape of anti-trans bills and most of the states that had passed laws have passed laws that are

banning trans women and girls from sports, again, in states where, at times, they cannot point to a single trans girl who is playing sports or in

the case of the states like Kentucky, they can point to a grand total of one. And so, we have those types of bills that are being pushed around the

country as well as these health care bans. And I'm sure we're going to see new types of restrictions emerging in the 2023 legislative session.

But it is a copy and paste job. I mean, these are not constituent indriven (ph) pieces of legislation. I do not think that the individuals in Arkansas

are sitting around thinking the most pressing thing for them to be doing at this moment with so many things going on is to ban trans girls from sports

when nobody can even identify one trans girl who is playing sports. These are bills that were drafted by national organizations that have decades

long history of lobbying against anti LGBTQ -- lobbying against LGBTQ people, restricting the rights of people -- restricting reproductive


And again, you have model legislation that are shipped out to lawmakers across the country and then, pushed through exceedingly anti-trans and

conservative legislatures. And what we're seeing is increasingly those bills are becoming a law. And when it comes to the health restrictions that

had previously been unsuccessful because even, for example, Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas who had signed many pieces of anti-trans legislation

thought this is a bridge too far. This is intruding into the family and fundamentally unhelpful and dangerous ways. And he vetoed the health care

ban. But the legislature overrode his veto.

SREENIVASAN: There was a Gallup poll a while back that said some 70 percent of U.S. adults said that it should be legally recognized, same sex

marriage. So, I think we're at a point where same-sex marriage is something that is not a great sort of political weapon to start using against one

party or another.

And then, what's interesting is how many people agree that there should not be any discrimination against trans people, but when it comes to the

context of sports, that support wanes a little bit when it comes to figuring out exactly what should be done about how a competition should


STRANGIO: I think when we look at polling, the example of same-sex marriages is a perfect one because so much of how people respond to these

questions, about legal rights and protections for LGBTQ people has to do with how comfortable and familiar people are with the population of people

we're referring to.

And even though now people tend to think that same-sex marriage is relatively non-controversial, if you look at the early 2000s, that was the

main way that people were driving out conservative voter base was through bans on marriage equality. I grew up in the '80s and the '90s in the 2000s.

And certainly, it was not uncontroversial to talk about access to same sex marriage. And you would hear similar things like, well, I don't have any

problem with gay people, I just don't think they should get married, or I don't have a problem with gay people, I just don't want them in my locker


So, these are not new ideas. In essence, what you have is general support for the proposition that there shouldn't be discrimination and then,

something that makes people uncomfortable in part because they haven't had any exposure to the issue or to it at the side of individuals.

I think the more people see trans young people for who they are, they will stop picturing the sort of othered monstrous figure of Lebron James in a

dress playing sixth grade basketball and instead, recognize that we're just talking about another set of young girls who want to play on a sports team

with their peers. This is not about some group of people coming into dominate. This is not about some scary unknown people who's going to take

away rights from others.


SREENIVASAN: Why do you think this is an issue that we're even talking about? Is this because we're heading into a midterm cycle? Is there

essentially a political advantage for framing this as a defining issue?

STRANGIO: I mean, I think it's two things. I absolutely think the timing is relevant. I think that the fact that it's something -- the fact of the

midterms are this year and then, there is a presidential election in 2024 means that we're going to see the escalation and attacks on trans people,

an effort to mobilize opponent (ph) base rather than it being tied to some serious set of the policy concerns that people have. I think it's

opportunistic election year tactics.

That said, I also think there is groups of people who generally believe that the idea that you can have autonomy over your choices with respect to

reproduction, with respect to sexual orientation and with respect to gender identity is deeply troubling and the idea that people have that type of

freedom is something that should be constrained and curtailed.

And so, there are people who have a fundamental ideological opposition to the notion of gayness or the notion of transness and we've seen that from

time. And in that opposition, it's a desire to establish a very sort of far-right political agenda. And we're seeing around the world, for example,

if you look at places like Brazil or Hungary, you can see that the rise of far-right governments was tied to this sort of so-called attack on gender

ideology and the idea that we have to control norms (ph) of gender in order to consolidate power in certain political systems.

And so, there is an ideological piece of this that is part of sort of global political project that is shifting governments to the right. And

then, of course, there's just the opportunistic drive to turn out voters in the midterm election here.

SREENIVASAN: This is roughly a population, about 1.6 million people or so in the United States now, and that's still a less than 1 percent of the

population. So, I guess, coming into a midterm, we've got all these incredibly pressing issues. How do you get people to get motivated, to --

that this is an important issue, that this is part and parcel of what is at stake?

STRANGIO: So, I would say, first and foremost, everyone should care about those who are experiencing marginalization, who are facing attacks just

because we should care about our fellow human beings. But separate and apart from that, you should care about the attacks on trans people if you

care about your access to reproductive health care, if you care about your access to libraries, if you care about robust curriculum for your schools,

if you care about the ability to provide medical care to your children in states that decide that they don't want to support full free access to

medical care.

And so, ultimately, it's not going to stop with trans people. If anything, trans people are the canary in the coal mine, as we've seen over and over

again, around the world. So, ultimately, we should be in this fight together. As well as the fact that they're using trans people to mobilize

voting based to erode (ph) everyone's rights.

SREENIVASAN: Chase Strangio of ACLU, thank you so much for joining us.

STRANGIO: Thank you so much.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, a look towards tomorrow's program where I am joined by the monumental literally artists Barbara Chase-Riboud. As you

can see in her work surrounded by seven decades worth of her art. We discuss her extraordinary life and career and she told me how she makes her

pieces in her room and foundry.


BARBARA CHASE-RIBOUD, ARTIST AND AUTHOR: Since I work directly in the foundry, I have all this noise around me and all this activity and all this

Italian language. But I am so focused on what I am doing until I could be - - you know, I could be in a sound box. I don't hear anything.

AMANPOUR: A lot of these have never been seen publicly. Many are in private collections as well. I just want to ask, you mentioned seven

decades of work in. You're in your early '80s now. Are you still manipulating wax and bronze?

CHASE-RIBOUD: People say, are you still -- first of all, are you still alive?


CHASE-RIBOUD: And second of, all are you still working?

AMANPOUR: Not working. Working in this intricate and difficult and noisy and just tactile way.

CHASE-RIBOUD: Well, I didn't know how long, you know, I'm going to be able to go on. But as long as I can stand.


AMANPOUR: The incredible Barbara Chase-Riboud tomorrow. That is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

and on our podcast.

And we're now going to hand you over to my colleagues in Washington where the House Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S.

Capitol is about to hold its 10th public hearing. The last before next month's midterm elections.