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Interview With Former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander General Richard Shirreff; Interview With "The Killing Of Shireen Abu Akleh" Correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous; Interview With "Empireland" Author Sathnam Sanghera. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 03, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR, here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to do this. This is our land, and we have to fight for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The stakes for Ukraine's much anticipated counteroffensive. And as the Kremlin claims an unsuccessful attempt on President Putin's life,
Richard Shirreff, former NATO deputy supreme allied commander joins me on where this all is headed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She came to cover the news. Why would they kill her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. We examine that dark moment on this World Press Freedom Day.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SATHNAM SANGHERA, AUTHOR, "EMPIRELAND": The reason I'm here in North London today is that some white dudes invaded Indian in the 17th century,
the empire explains that multiculturalism, that racism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: "Empireland," with King Charles coronation just days away, Michel Martin digs into the complex legacy of the British empire and how
that shaped modern Britain with bestselling author Sathnam Sanghera.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Russia is claiming that Ukraine has attempted to assassinate President Vladimir Putin in a targeted drone attack on the Kremlin. It says two
drones were flown towards the seat of the Russian presidency last night and that Putin was not in the building at the time.
CNN analysis of video showing the incident does support claims that drones were flown above the Kremlin, but there is no evidence of Ukrainian
involvement. And here's President Zelenskyy speaking about it in Helsinki today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We don't attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on our territory. We are defending our villages and cities. We
don't have, you know, enough weapons for this. That's why we don't lose use it anywhere. For us, that is the deficit. We can't spend it. And we didn't
attack Putin. We leave it to the tribunal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And here is the U.S. secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, addressing the same matter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I can't in any way validate them. We simply don't know. Second, I would take anything coming out of the
Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt. So, let's see. We will see what the facts are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, it comes as many believe Ukraine's long-awaited to counteroffensive could be imminent. The country's defense minister says
preparations are almost complete.
In the past few days, Russia has also stepped up its attacks, including on the capital, Kyiv. It seems this is a critical point therefore in this war,
and General Sir Richard Shirreff is NATO's former deputy supreme allied commander for Europe who is just back from an important visit to Ukraine.
And he's joining me now in the studio.
Well, your visit to us couldn't be better timed given the breaking news. So, what is your immediate reaction?
GEN. RICHARD SHIRREFF, FORMER NATO DEPUTY SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, I completely agree with what Mr. Blinken has said, nothing with Russia's as
it seems. And we all remember the old Churchill line about a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Of course, Russia would like to portray
that, but I -- that it is an attack on President Putin unlikely.
AMANPOUR: But why?
SHIRREFF: Because I think it's a way of separating -- causing division between those allies supporting Ukraine and Ukraine. Because Ukraine has
always said it will not attack Russian territory. And by portraying some evidence of them doing so, or trying to pretend that they are doing so, I
think they are going to sow division and potentially seek to unwind the level of support.
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, I should ask you, then, what do you think? Who do you think -- what's sent those drones there?
SHIRREFF: We will have to see what the facts are.
AMANPOUR: Is it even possible to send them that distance from Ukraine to the Kremlin?
SHIRREFF: I think you'd have to ask real expert in drone technology to answer that.
AMANPOUR: What does it say about the Kremlin's defense system if, in fact, it was breached?
SHIRREFF: Well, it says -- it doesn't say a great deal about it if it was breached. But I think it's highly unlikely that it was. And I suspect this
is a put-up job by the Russians.
AMANPOUR: Put-up, as you said, to split the forces on the Ukraine side. But what about what one of Zelenskyy's highest advisers says, this is
possibly yet another false flag, try to blame the Ukrainians for something that might just simply precede a planned massive strike by Russia?
SHIRREFF: Anything is possible. I think false flag, yes. But we've seen massive strikes by Russia. I mean, I spent most of the night in a bomb
shelter in Kyiv last week because of the attacks on the capitol. So, anything is possible with Russia.
AMANPOUR: So, what did you learn then about the Ukrainian side? I mean, there has been so much talk about a counteroffensive that is beginning to
just sound like noise now. And risks, I don't know, maybe risks putting Ukraine in a bad light if you can't seem mount one.
SHIRREFF: I think the first thing is the absolute unshakable determination of the Ukrainians to achieve victory. Because they know that unless they
achieve victory, this war will go on. And that means continued occupation, it means continued mass deportations of children, massacres of civilian,
rape of Ukrainian women and continued war. So, they are committed to fighting to achieve victory, with or without the support of the West.
I think the second thing is the imperative of the offensive. That is going to happen, but I think we have to recognize the challenges the Ukrainians
face with that offensive.
AMANPOUR: We had a map up there and I was going to ask you just to describe where you might think this counteroffensive would come. You know,
some people thought Bakhmut, but Bakhmut is an ongoing war of attrition, right? We can see the map there, what's -- you know, where Russian troops
are present, where Ukrainians have conducted counter offenses, et cetera.
So, what do you think? Because we're hearing a lot of reports from, let's say, the Zaporizhzhia region, which is further south. What, in your mind,
would be the most advantageous way for Ukraine to break out?
SHIRREFF: I am not going to speculate on the where or the when. I certainly don't know any -- have no inside knowledge at all, and I
shouldn't have because they don't need to know. But from a purely professional military perspective, where do you want to attack? You want to
attack where you can mast most strength and where you reckon the enemy is weakest. And to achieve that --
AMANPOUR: And where do you think that is now?
SHIRREFF: I'm not going to speculate. To achieve, that you need surprise, you need deception, you need security and you need concentration of force.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think there's altogether too much talk about this counter? Because believe me, the Ukrainians are not shy about talking about
SHIRREFF: I think expectations are being built up, particularly, if I may say so, by the western media. I think we have to be very careful of that,
because I think it is -- it would be wonderful if I'm wrong, but I think it's highly unlikely that with one bound will, all the Ukrainians will be
I think we have to prepare ourselves for a series of counteroffensives, each requiring a buildup of troops, of training, of logistics, and each
overtime. And so, I think this is going to be a long haul.
AMANPOUR: So -- OK. Long haul. Then that kind of falls into what those leaked Pentagon documents seem to say, that it's going to be a long haul
and it's not entirely clear. And this has really ticked off the Ukrainians, that they can make any serious gains now or, you know, repeat what they did
in the fall, for instance.
SHIRREFF: I would challenge that. The Ukrainians can do that. But of course, they need our support. They need the support of the West. As one
senior minister said to our group, we are sick and tired of dying while western politicians' dither. And there's been too much dither.
Look at the issue of aircraft, for example. The Ukrainians need F-16, they need ammunition. And there's been so much handwringing about sending F-16s
to support the Ukrainians. If this had been done on the 24th of February last year, we would -- I mean, Ukraine would be --
AMANPOUR: Or even in April last year when the Russians were pushed back.
SHIRREFF: Or even in April. Ukraine would be in a much better place.
AMANPOUR: Well, on that level, the foreign minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, has said, at least according to a Ukrainian report, that it will
only be the result of the counteroffensive that will prompt allies to, you know, send them the planes. Does that make sense?
SHIRREFF: Well, I would argue that -- I mean, the Ukrainians are going to do this, whatever. But the quicker the West and NATO and NATO countries can
deliver what is needed the better. Because the quicker the Ukrainians get the tools to do the job, the quicker that series of camo blow (ph)
counteroffensives can be mounted and the quicker the Ukrainians will achieve their military objectives.
And my concern is that the longer we delay, the more we prevaricate in the West, the less we gear ourselves up to providing the tool to do the job,
and that means reordering our economy, mobilizing our economies on a war footing to produce ammunition, the tanks, the armored infantry, all the
capabilities required, the longer this is going to take.
And let's also be clear, that to achieve victory, there might need to be some sort of western intervention at some stage in the future. And the way
AMANPOUR: What does that mean?
SHIRREFF: Well, I -- if Ukrainians cannot achieve success on their own because the West has delayed, it might just be that we have to provide some
form of direct support.
AMANPOUR: Like people, boots on the ground?
SHIRREFF: We might have to. The way to avoid that is to give Ukraine the tools to do the job now.
AMANPOUR: I mean, are you serious? Because that's the one thing that they have said they do not want to do, particularly President Biden, he does not
want to get into a direct war with Russia. Right now, they can do sort of plausible -- not really, but they're not on the ground.
SHIRREFF: Nobody wants to get into a direct war with Russia. But we have to recognize, this is a war by Russia against not just Ukraine, it's
against the West and it's about -- it's a war to prevent Ukraine becoming a part of the West.
AMANPOUR: So, listen, you have been there. You have also seen and you're very knowledgeable about all the weapon systems that they've been getting.
Reporting -- there is a report from "The New York Times" around the Zaporizhzhia region which suggests that because it is so muddy, it's been
exceptionally rainy, much more than last year, for instance, this wet this season. The mud over there is really, really difficult, particularly for
the western supplied howitzers and their tracks.
So, what does that mean? Does that mean they have to wait until the sun bakes the ground or what? I mean, how good are all these western and allied
weapons systems are going --
SHIRREFF: I mean, you have to consider, again, I'm not going to go into the details of where it's good, where it's good and the tactical detail
because that's not for me to comment on. But all I would say is that when you are factoring in the planning for any form of military operation, you
have to take account of every single factor. You have to look at weather, you have to look at ground, you have to look at access, you have to look at
You put all of that through the system, you work it through, you conduct an estimate process. You work out your courses of action. And then, you decide
which is the best course of action to take and plan and execute accordingly. And I'm sure all of that will be factored in.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I want to ask you about morale. You've just been in Kyiv. As you know, the United States says that in the last five months, the
Russians have lost something in the region of 100,000 troops, apparently 80,000 wounded, 20,000 dead. What, though, is the morale amongst the
leaders who you met and amongst the troops on the ground?
SHIRREFF: Unshakable determination. Inspirational approach. I have --
AMANPOUR: They're tired. I mean, this is tiring.
SHIRREFF: They are tired --
AMANPOUR: And their best people are being killed.
SHIRREFF: They are tired. Of course, they're tired. And of course, those young soldiers fighting in Bakhmut and Aviv (ph) there and all the other
places where this fighting has been, they are tired, they are frightened, but they are motivated and they will continue to fight the Russians. As I
said earlier, come what may, they will continue to fight. And they will not break.
AMANPOUR: The Russians then. They have spent the last many months digging in, right? Defensive. They have really dug in there. That's certainly what
the Ukrainians report and I think what intelligence can see. What does that mean for a counteroffensive? How difficult will it be to dislodge them?
SHIRREFF: Well, this goes back to my earlier point, don't assume that one counteroffensive will be enough. This is going to require a series of
offensives, because to break into well-planned, well sighted defensive positions with extensive minefields requires real capability. It requires
air, it requires artillery, it requires armored engineers, mine clearing capabilities.
And this -- which is why I say, this is a major, major challenge for the Ukrainians. But I think that there is no question, they've got the morale,
they've got the spirit, they've got the leadership. They've demonstrated form with great successes last year, and I have no doubt that they will
prevail. But we shouldn't assume they will prevail in one go.
AMANPOUR: Many people, and certainly the United States we've heard, have questioned the wisdom of Ukraine, you know, standing to the last person, so
to speak, in Bakhmut. What do you think? You know, others have said, no it's a very important symbolic, anyway, and particularly at this time, for
SHIRREFF: Let me tell you what I was told by one senior -- by a senior Ukrainian individual, I won't name who. He said, we have designed a very
effective meat grinder in Bakhmut. And what they are doing is sucking in the Russians, causing enormous casualties to the Russians and effectively,
drawing -- by drawing the Russians into there, they're fixing the Russians, which in military terms, could allow them to strike somewhere else.
But nevertheless, the Russians are fighting. They're making the Russians fight for every house, every pavement, every street, and they are not
giving up at all.
AMANPOUR: President Zelenskyy was in Finland. Obviously, Finland has been approved to join NATO. When we spoke very early on in this war, you said
that NATO had to do much more deterrence in the future. It had to put tens if not hundreds of thousands of NATO troops all along the eastern flank to
send a message, once and for all, that this will not stand, this kind of aggression. Is NATO doing it?
SHIRREFF: No, it's not. And we've got the Vilnius Summit coming up. I would expect to see a much more tangible sign of that deterrence. But I
would also, and this is really important, expect to see clear signals from NATO that Ukraine will become a full member of NATO. Because that is the
long-term -- that is the only long-term solution for Ukraine's security. I would also add Moldova and Georgia to that.
NATO has to cast its security, that unconditional guarantee of mutual defense, as a security blanket across Ukraine. Because we have -- again,
there's not going to be peace in Europe while Putin is in the Kremlin. Once again, we've got a bloodstained dictator causing mayhem, inflicting
unspeakable damage, and the only way to prevent that continuing -- to prevent him, extending that reach is by bringing Ukraine into NATO.
AMANPOUR: OK. Do you see how this ends then?
SHIRREFF: I see this ending -- do I see this ending? Well, firstly, I think that Ukraine can, with the right support, achieve victory. And by
victory, I mean, defeating the Russians, inflicting sufficient of a defeat on Russia that Russia recognizes, Putin recognizes he will never achieve
his aims by military means.
Even then, there will not be peace. It might be a quiet period -- it bet it will be a standoff. And the way this ends thereafter is through that
deterrent band of steel, including Ukraine, by NATO across eastern Europe. And a long-term, generational challenge until and unless Russia changes its
And I have to think we have to recognize that long-term Europe is going to be -- have on its eastern border a dangerous, angry, humiliated, defeated
Russia with leaders still hellbent on rebuilding a new Russian empire. And the only way to prevent them from doing so is through effective deterrence.
AMANPOUR: One word answer. Does the West have the stomach to grit it out to that end?
SHIRREFF: It will do. It's got to.
AMANPOUR: General Sir Richard Shirreff, thank you very much indeed.
Now, on this 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day, we are reminded that without the freedom of the press there can be no free society.
Misinformation amplified by social media and the threat of artificial intelligence manipulating everything we see and hear makes fact-based
journalism more essential than ever.
The Committee to Protect Journalists which was recognized at the NASDAQ opening today says, a record 363 journalists were behind bars in 2022.
We've seen evidence of that most recently in Russia's arrests of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich. World Press Freedom Day is also
a moment to remember the courageous journalists who've lost their lives in pursuit of the truth, facts and evidence.
And this marks in nearly a year since the renowned Al Jazeera correspondent, the Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was
shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
CNN's investigation revealed evidence suggesting that Shireen was killed in a targeted attack by Israeli forces, which Israel denies. Al Jazeera's
documentary about their own colleague's death won a Polk Award earlier this year. And here is part of that film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Shireen, wake up, wake up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They were saying she's wounded, but no, she was a martyr. They killed her. They killed her in cold blood.
Shireen was a wonderful person, a committed professional journalist. She was a generous person. She was a teacher. She loved everything good and she
always did good. She came to cover the news. Why would they kill her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That is a question, of course. Al Jazeera correspondent who recorded this documentary, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, joins me now from New
Firstly, congratulations for winning the prestigious Polk Award. It is a real recognition of the quality of your work. And the gentleman we saw in
that clip talking was Shireen's producer who himself was wounded. He took a bullet to the shoulder.
Doing this documentary, I guess, my first question is, what do you hope to achieve through this documentary one year later?
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS, CORRESPONDENT, "THE KILLING OF SHIREEN ABU AKLEH": We're hoping to achieve accountability in her case. This was one of the
most prominent journalists of her generation, a face that was recognizable by people across the Arab world and internationally, who was killed in
broad daylight while wearing a flak jacket and helmet with the word press clearly visible in an area where there was no cross fire in the minutes
leading up to and during the time she was killed. And much of it captured on video. And her colleagues were there to witness it all. And despite
that, there has been no accountability in her case over the past year.
KOUDDOUS: And, you know, if we can't get accountability in her case, what chance does anyone in Palestine have?
AMANPOUR: It's a very good question. And we all know how very, very difficult it is to cover the occupied West Bank, which Al Jazeera always
says, the illegally occupied West Bank. That is what you say in your narration, which is what I'm pointing out here.
I want to play a series of clips from your documentary. First, a clip because you said and you show in the thing that there was no cross fire at
any time. So, here is a guy who tries to leap to her rescue after she's been filled (ph) and tries to pull her away. And I just need to say that
perhaps some people watching this will find it disturbing because it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Every time she moved there was shooting. I tried to approach and I couldn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Pull her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A young man named Shadif (ph) jump over the wall to try and help, but he was also fired at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, why did you think that part of the story was important? Explain to our viewers.
KOUDDOUS: Well, look, let me set the scene for you. So, Shireen and her colleagues wearing their press gear were walking up the street. We hear a
burst of gunfire, about six shots. That's when the producer, Ali al- Samoudi, is shot in the shoulder.
About eight seconds later, there's an -- and we see the last shot of Shireen alive, crouching by a tree. Eight seconds later, there is another
burst of gunfire of seven shots, and one of those is the fatal one that killed Shireen. She's lying prone on the ground.
You know, moments later, this bystander, a resident tries to help Shireen and pull her. And again, he is targeted. So, this shows that this wasn't
errant gunfire, this was deliberately targeting. And also, the group, Forensic Architecture and the Palestinian human rights group, Al-Haq, show
that all of the shots were fired above shoulder level, what they call kill shots and they were fired in very close proximity to each other. And so,
they also conclude that this was deliberately targeting.
AMANPOUR: Let's talk about the who did it and why. So, the Israeli government immediately issued a statement that -- you know, they started by
saying, it wasn't them at all. That it was probably Palestinian militants who they claimed were in the area.
Now, you and B'Tselem, the very prominent Israeli human rights organization, and they did a lot of reporting. They debunked their own
government and their own military's account. So, I want to play this piece of your documentary where you are interviewing the director of B'Tselem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAGAI EL-AD, DIRECTOR, B'TSELEM: In terms of like trying to control the narrative, you can see how their version has changed. So, from, it was
probably a Palestinian.
KOUDDOUS: Here, the bullet holes from where he was shooting there. From three, you can see they're in the wall. And there's no way they could have
reached Shireen in. We're going to take a left to --
EL-AD: We're not sure who did it.
KOUDDOUS: -- and then a right.
EL-AD: To it might have been us.
KOUDDOUS: Another left.
EL-AD: To it was probably us. And each change in that narrative wasn't, you know, volunteered by Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that's really interesting. And let me just -- before I get you to respond, just say that CNN's own investigation found evidence
suggesting that the fatal shot likely came from a position where IDF troops are known to have been. And the pattern of gunfire suggests the bullets
were aimed rather than sprayed indiscriminately.
So, how important was that investigation by B'Tselem and has the Israeli government and also the IDF done a transparent -- you know, a transparent
and independent investigation?
KOUDDOUS: No. I mean, none of the eye witnesses have been interviewed in the case. The investigation has not been transparent. And as we saw in that
clip, the Israeli military's narrative changed several times.
So, in the beginning, they try and blame a Palestinian gunman. That claim is actually quite ridiculous for the video that they put out and it was
quite easily debunked by B'Tselem and we show that, as well in our piece. Then they claim that there is inconclusive evidence.
And then, following reports by CNN, by "The New York Times," by "Washington Post," by the Associated Press and under a lot of pressure, in September,
they issued their final report that said Shireen was likely killed by an Israeli soldier, but that she was caught in crossfire. They don't explain
how they came to that determination of cross fire. And that claim is contradicted by video evidence, by eyewitness testimony.
And to be honest, you know, this is part of a long-standing pattern by the Israeli military. The Committee to Protect Journalists is actually
releasing a report next week on the killings of journalists by the Israeli military, going back over two decades. They look at 20 separate cases of
journalists killed by the Israeli military and they find a pattern of Israeli response that's designed to evade responsibility.
So, the fact that Israel's investigation into the killing of Shireen had resulted in zero accountability is unsurprising, to say the least, and is
part of a pattern of impunity.
AMANPOUR: And in that documentary, you say that none of the main eyewitnesses were interviewed. None of her colleagues and none of those who
were actually at the scene. So, today, one year later, there's been a meeting at the Israeli -- you know, the Israeli Foreign Press Association,
and Naftali Bennett, who was prime minister at the time, was asked about it by CNN. This is what he says today, one year later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Bad things happen, civilians die, sometimes deliberately, in which case you need prosecution,
and sometimes not deliberately, in which case, no, I don't think -- if there's a battle going on and there is collateral damage that is not
deliberate, right, then, no. Otherwise, you're -- what you would do is shackle all the hands of fighters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What is your reaction to that, Sharif?
KOUDDOUS: Well, I mean, we can just take him at his word that there wasn't a battle going on. There's video footage, there's 16 minutes of video by a
resident who Jenin who streamed it on TikTok that shows, you know, all those minutes leading up to the shooting. There's the Al Jazeera footage as
well. There was no battle going on. The reporters were standing around in clear sight of the Israeli convoy and began walking slowly up the street.
So, as he said, if it was deliberate, which in this case many organizations -- many findings have found that it was deliberate, there should be
AMANPOUR: Next, to the fact that she is not just Palestinian but American. She is an American citizen. And you take your investigation to the White
House and to the State Department and you ask specifically about, you know, their investigations to hold her -- to find out exactly what happened.
I want to play this, which shows you speaking to the -- at the time, the State Department spokesman, Ned Price, when you took your evidence to him.
And you also talk in this clip to Senator Chris Van Hollen, who believes there should be an investigation. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOUDDOUS: Let me just ask you about the central claim in the Israeli military's report that if an Israeli soldier killed her, it was because
Shireen was caught in exchange of fire by Palestinian gunmen in the area. That claim is completely disputed by eyewitness testimony and video footage
from that area in the minutes leading up to and during the shooting. Doesn't that discrepancy concern you?
NED PRICE, THEN-U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Of course, we are concerned when there are allegations that a civilian was intentionally
targeted. What the Israelis found and what our security coordinator found was that there appears to have been no intentionality. Our security
coordinator found no reason to believe that Shireen Abu Akleh was intentionally targeted by --
KOUDDOUS: Have you seen the footage?
PRINCE: -- Israeli -- of course. And I have looked at everything that is available in the public domain.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Clearly, they have not done what they said themselves they were going to do. Secretary of state said there would be an
independent investigation, there has not been an independent investigation. Backing off sends the wrong message around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you, because yesterday, that Senator, Chris Van Hollen, said that he had sent a letter to the Secretary of State,
Antony Blinken, pressing for the release of a new report compiled by the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian authority. What do
you think this development could mean?
KOUDDOUS: Well, we don't know what's in that report yet. I think, you know, in that letter that Senator Van Hollen, who's been a leading voice in
Congress calling for an investigation into the case. He says that his office was informed that before the State Department releases this new
report for congressional review, that the administration plans to make unspecified changes to its contents, a move that Van himself says would
violate the integrity of the process.
But I think we also have to question whether there's going to be anything new in this report because Axios reported yesterday, citing a U.S. security
official that there would be no new findings or conclusions. If that is indeed the case, then we can only look to the security council -- the
security coordinator's original report back in July which relied heavily on the Israeli investigation and came to, essentially, the same conclusion, an
Israeli soldier likely killer, but that it wasn't intentional. They don't specify how they determine that.
So, you know, and like I said, this contradicts the video footage and the eyewitness testimony. And the FBI, several months, ago informed the Israeli
government they were going to conduct an investigation. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, said they would not cooperate with the
investigation. We have to see where that's going. But really, the Biden administration has not stepped up on this.
And the family, you know -- let me just add, also, as we're talking on World Press Freedom Day.
KOUDDOUS: President Biden at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner a few days ago, rightly raised the cases of Evan Gershkovich, "The
Wall Street Journal" reporter, who is imprisoned on trumped up charges in Moscow. He raised the case of Austin Tice, U.S. Journalist, who disappeared
at a checkpoint in Syria 12 years ago.
He said nothing about Shireen Abu Akleh's case. He also refused to meet with Shireen's family, both in Palestine and when they came to Washington.
So, you know, why? Does her family not deserve the same support from President Biden? The same call for justice? It's extremely telling and
AMANPOUR: And let's not forget, she is an American citizen. So, you know, I think the whole world realized who Shireen Abu Akleh was in her funeral
and that procession. It was unbelievable. And we, of course, have pictures of that. Not just the huge, thousands and thousands of people who came out
to mourn her and to say farewell. But the fact that even there, the event was disrupted and attacked.
You can see the Israeli forces there beating and attacking the procession. The coffin almost falls to the ground. It's really is shocking to watch
that. I guess my question to you, therefore, is why do you think that this journalist was killed deliberately and even her funeral was disrupted? Why?
Why would they do that?
KOUDDOUS: I mean, I can't speak to why. You know, this is part of why we need an independent investigation. Israeli soldiers have body cameras that
they carry and the Israeli military actually released some body camera footage in its first video when they tried to erroneously claim that a
Palestinian gunman killed them. That body cam footage hasn't been made available. None of the transcripts of any interviews with Israeli soldiers
in that unit have been made available.
Was this a rash decision by the Israeli sniper? Was this an order from above to shoot on journalists? We don't know. This is why an independent
investigation is so important. And as you said, you know, the attack on the funeral, Shireen's niece, Lina Abu Akleh, who has been leading, kind of,
the fight for justice said this was an attempt to silence her again.
There was a massive display of unity. Shireen Abu Akleh really brought people together, Palestinians across class, across gender, across religious
affiliation, across political affiliation. And there was a massive turnout in Jerusalem for her funeral because she meant so much to Palestinians.
Her family next week is holding a memorial to mark the one-year anniversary of her death. And in the printed announcement, you know, inviting people to
the memorial, they include a quote of Shireen's where she said, maybe I wasn't able to change the reality, but at least I was able to bring
people's voices to the world. And Shireen was killed as she was doing that. As she was working to bring the voices of Palestinians to the world. And no
one's been held accountable of that attack.
AMANPOUR: And we saw quite a lot of banners calling her the voice of truth. So, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, thank you so much. It's a very powerful
documentary and congratulations on winning the prestigious Polk Award for it. "The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh", the documentary is available to
stream online, on YouTube, and the Al Jazeera English website.
Now in a few days, the eyes of the world will be on Westminster Abbey here in London, for the coronation of Britain's new king in a ceremony meant to
reflect the country's modern multicultural society. But behind the pomp and pageantry, a reminder of Britain's colonial legacy. And questions about
King Charles's ability to usher in a new era of accountability. Michel Martin talks now with Sathnam Sanghera whose new book, "Empireland",
examines Britain's complicated past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Sathnam Sanghera, thank you so much for talking with us.
SATHNAM SANGHERA, AUTHOR, "EMPIRELAND": Thanks for having me on your show.
MARTIN: Your book, "Empireland" was published in the U.K. in 2021. And it explores the, sort of, the modern legacies of the British Empire. You know,
you'd think that somebody would have done that, but apparently, they have not. So, what gave you the idea?
SANGHERA: Yes, I mean, I got to my mid 40s and realized I knew nothing about empire and yet it explained so much about my life. The reason I'm
here in North London today is that some white dudes invaded India in the 17th century. The empire explains multiculturalism, racism, a lot about
wealth, the importance of the City of London and yet I knew almost nothing about it. And it turned out lots of other people felt the same. And so, I
thought I'd try to plug in the gaps in my knowledge.
MARTIN: Why do you think that is though? Obviously, there's some really loud debates going on in the United States right now about slavery and our
history and stuff. But at least it's a debate. You seem to, sort of, describe kind of a collective silence about this. Does that sound right?
SANGHERA: Yes. And it is very strange given British Empire was the biggest empire in human history. It's the biggest thing that Britain ever did, and
we don't teach it well. We don't talk about it. We don't reflect it very well in our films and culture.
My theory is that British Empire happened abroad. So, unlike the French or the Germans, we didn't have a dark night of the soul where we had to
confront our history because it all happened abroad. And so, we could act like it wasn't happening even when it was happening. And it continues. And
now we are talking about it, the world is talk about the legacy of slavery, the legacies of loot, and so on. And Britain still feels quite disconnected
from the conversation.
MARTIN: How do you think all of this is playing out in the events that are about to unfold with the coronation of King Charles? Do you feel that this
kind of reckoning is in a way, kind of, bubbling under the surface?
SANGHERA: Yes, I guess the main difference between the coronation this year and the one -- last one in 1953 is that in 1953 they talked explicitly
about empire occasionally. But now, we act like it never happened.
So, in 1953, the queen talked about the colonies. She had a dress which was sewn with the emblems of empire. But now, all the things to do with empire,
the multiculturalism of the ceremony, the fact that some of the jewels and the crown jewels were looted. The fact that "The Lord's Prayer" is going to
be said in multiple languages. People don't connect it with the fact that we ran the biggest empire in human history. And I think it's because if we
acknowledge that fact, we'd have to talk about the legacies of slavery, we'd have to talk about reparations. And that's a very difficult
conversation for Britain to have.
MARTIN: You said that King Charles III's coronation has failed before a single drop of holy oil has anointed his hands, breast, or head. Why do you
SANGHERA: Right from the beginning, one of the first things the royal household in the run up the coronation is that they said they weren't going
to use the Koh-i-Noor diamond in the crown jewels, and that's the diamond that the Indians won back because it was looted from a 10-year-old Singh
Maharaja. And actually, the Iranian want it back. The Afghanis want it back.
And so, the royal household thought, you know what, we just won't use it. Instead, they're using a crown which features a Cullinan Diamond, which is
South African diamond, which is also highly contested. And it just shows you how they just can't run away from the history.
There's also been a series of revelations about slavery and about the royal family's involvement to slavery. And I think people have always understood
that, you know, Queen Elizabeth I was involved in the early slave trade journeys. She loaned her ship to one of the first slave traders. But I
think people didn't realize that the Royal African Company was so involved, that 187,000 Africans were shipped across the Atlantic.
That the Royal African Company was governed from royal palaces. That when the slaves arrived in places like Barbados, they had the initials of the
Duke of York branded into their flesh. And I think the British public has been quite shocked by the details, and it's quite strange that this is all
coming out hundreds of years later. But it's just one of those things. And I feel that the British establishment can't really deal with the
MARTIN: How are they dealing with it as -- in the run up to the coronation? Is the royal family dealing with this legacy in any meaningful
way in the course of these festivities?
SANGHERA: Well, King Charles did say something new, and very unexpected the other week, where he said he approved a research being done into how
the royal family were involved in slavery. He's also said he wants to learn about slavery, which is it feels like a bit late given he is 70 years old.
And the research that he has allowed, it feels a little -- not much and very late. Basically, it involves allowing one Ph.D. researcher access to
the archives and she is going to report in 2026. And compared to what the Dutch royal household has done, it's not much. I mean, they've commissioned
an entire committee of historians to look into this history. And actually, they might reveal things about the royal household before the British do
because William III was both a British monarch and a Dutch Prince. And so, it's pretty embarrassing that another country is going to make revelations
about this history before we do.
MARTIN: One of the things I was impressed about your book, too, is that your book isn't -- doesn't, sort of, try to wash away the history. It
doesn't try to exonerate people for their behavior, but it doesn't condemn them either. I mean, it describes the facts of life as they were. And so,
what are some of those facts?
SANGHERA: I think -- I'll just say that, because I think too often this history seemed to the prism of pride or shame. And actually, we should just
try to understand. And when you try to understand it, this empire was so influential. One of them -- one of the main reasons we're speaking English
today to each other is because of the British Empire.
The popularity of cricket, the Indian diaspora is largely the result of the fact that the British sent a million Indians around the world to do the
jobs of the enslave once they abolished slavery. The existence of countries like India, Pakistan, Nigeria is all down to the British Empire. The chaos
in places like Kashmir, Sudan, at the moment, and even Palestine can be explained by the British Empire.
So, I think if you want to understand the world and world history, you've got to understand British Empire because it was one of the biggest things
that ever happened. And it happened over 400 years, as well.
MARTIN: Why do you think it is that we romanticize this institution, the - - particular the royal family to the degree that we continue to do? I kind of feel like, didn't we fight a war over here so as we could not care about
these people? And yet we're still, like, obsessed with them. And I'm just like, why is that? Why do think that is?
SANGHERA: I think it's partly -- it's a very complicated history. It's quite hard to get your head around. It's much easier to say -- to tell a
very simplified story. This is a history that covered a quarter of the planet, it covered 400 years, and it was a very contradictory history. At
one point, the British were heavily into slavery. They dominated the slavery at one point. But then they abolished it and they went around the
world, trying to get rid of slavery.
At one point, it wasn't allowed for English people to get involved romantically with brown people in India. But then another time, it was OK.
So, this is a very complicated history. It's much easier to tell some of these stories, or it's much easier to focus on World War I or World War II
which have clear narratives, clear beginning, clear ends. And academics can't even agree on when the British Empire began and when it ended.
MARTIN: The "Empireland" was published in the U.K. in 2021. But an edition published this year opens with a note specifically for American readers. As
briefly as you can, could you just describe, kind of, the interplay between those two, or some of the ways that the British Empire affected the shaping
of the American story.
SANGHERA: Yes, I think Americans like to see themselves as anti- imperialist. But I don't buy it, because America itself is a creation of British Empire. The 13 colonies were a distinct face of British Empire. And
the way America than expanded, echoed the way British colonies like Australian and South Africa expanded with the, kind of, recent --
residential school system, the reserve confinements, this settler colonialism.
And then you have people like Theodore Roosevelt, talking about how he admired the way British Empire dealt with India and how that was a model
for the way America could deal with the Philippines and the West Indies. And I think British Empire and America are intricately linked.
MARTIN: Do you think the country, the countries of the United Kingdom are ready to face this history?
SANGHERA: I think so. And I think mainly because of multiculturalism. The main reason we are a multicultural nation today is because we had a
multicultural empire. One of the main reasons we have an Asian prime minister is because of empire. And this is a history we've always struggled
I grew up with a narrative that brown people came here uninvited and took advantage of British hospitality, that's a narrative that exists in America
too. What I didn't know is that, actually in the 1940s and '50s, brown and black people came to Britain as citizens, as British citizens. And that is
very poorly understood. And it has led to a whole bunch of scandals and a whole bunch of racist policies, it resulted in, some of what they call, the
Windrush scandal where these children of immigrants have been returned to countries they don't even know.
That is the level of the ignorance. And I think people have had enough. And suddenly, I think young people are going to school and saying to their
teachers, teach me about colonialism. Teach me about how it shapes our modern world. And regardless of what is allowed in the national curriculum,
they're having to teach it.
MARTIN: And is there the same resentment of that as we are now seeing in the United States? I mean, as you probably know, you know, there has been
this tremendous backlash against teaching of African American history, against the, you know, accurate teaching of the horrors of slavery. Is
there a similar backlash? Like, how dare you, this is a this wokeism, this business.
SANGHERA: I'm afraid exactly the same thing is happening in Britain. We've even let -- started having the book banning. People are going to libraries
and saying, why are you stocking this woke book? And, it's a -- it's reflected actually in government policy. You've had politicians getting
involved in this. And we have a culture war in Britain where our leading politicians have gotten involved in imperial history and started things
like, you know, if you want to be -- if you're proud of being British, you should be proud of the history.
It is such an unnamed thing to say, because history is long and complicated. And yet, politicians are putting forward very simplistic view.
And we even have Rishi Sunak say, at one point, that he was going to report people who did Britain down in history to prevent the anti-terrorism
agency. So, we've got the unhappy scene where the children of imperial immigrants are themselves getting involved in this culture war. And I'm
afraid to say what happens in America eventually happens over here and vice versa.
MARTIN: How do you understand Rishi Sunak's view of this or how he is playing this, for one of a better word?
SANGHERA: Well, he is a conservative prime minister and he realizes that conservative politicians have to say certain things. And, actually, the
British government is very ethnically diverse. And they all say things which are anti-immigration, anti-woke, and anti, you know, anti-racist, if
that make sense, you know.
And it seems that you can make it to the top in Britain as a brown person or a black person, but you've got to agree to leave things as they are when
it comes to race. And I think that is a very depressing state of affairs and that is in true diversity. I get the feeling that if you're
conservative, you're not allowed to bring your full self to the cabinet table.
MARTIN: Is there the argument that this is, it doesn't contribute to national unity? That if you were to look at this and its totality that that
somehow makes people ashamed of their country, or that it's, you know, divisive or that it, sort of, is -- it's a -- it's dangerous to national
SANGHERA: If we understand this history, it brings us close together. I mean, me -- my understanding of this adversity has made me realize that
people of color have been here since the days of Henry VII, you know. And a profound part of our national stories of World War I in World War II. And
no one thought me at school that millions of soldiers from India and Africa fought for the British Empire.
You know, I sat through dozens, probably hundreds of ceremonies for British -- of World War II at school and no one ever mentioned that people like me
were there. And deleting this history, that's the thing that divides people. Knowing it and knowledge brings us together.
MARTIN: You are saying that a British education encouraged you to view your Indian heritage through patronizing western eyes. Would you just say a
little bit more about that?
SANGHERA: Yes, I think one of the main tools of British imperialism was education. Even today, a lot of world leaders have a British education. And
what that does enforces or spreads certain ideas about Britain, certain ideas about the west. I definitely was subjected to those. I had supposedly
one of the best educations in the world. I went to a private school on a scholarship and then I went to Cambridge University. But I didn't study as
the single brown writer until my final term at university. And it was a very selective education. A failure in education, actually.
And looking back, it was a form of colonization really. If that makes sense.
MARTIN: So, let's loop back to this weekend's events. Will this history, in any way, be visible in these ceremonies?
SANGHERA: Yes, I think it is a very multicultural ceremony. It has to be because as a king, he's the head of a multicultural country and also the
head of a multicultural commonwealth, a collection of 56 former British imperial states. So, the British government can engage in these culture
wars. But the monarch can't really because he's got ahead to this international association of countries. And actually, one of the things
they really want to talk about is the legacies of slavery and the legacies of empire, and it is something that the government doesn't necessarily want
to talk about.
But I think you are going to see a very multicultural, very inclusive ceremony. I mean, "The Lord's Prayer" has been said in multiple languages.
There are people from the commonwealth. I think it is going to be reflecting of empire, although, you won't hear the word empire.
MARTIN: Can I just go back to the whole Prince Harry and Meghan Markle situation? It did seem for a minute that her acceptance into the family
signaled something. Like a willingness to live in the world as it is as opposed to the world --
SANGHERA: Yes --
MARTIN: -- that was. And that does not seem to have happened at all. What is your take on that?
SANGHERA: It says a lot about the state of affairs when it comes to race. Because, finally the royal family had a person of color as part of the
family which reflected multicultural Britain. This is an amazing thing for so many people of color in Britain. And I can't help noticing it went very,
very wrong, and she's not even coming.
And, you know, I've traveled around the former empire this year, and there is a view that this is reflective of the racism of the royal family. And
actually, there is much less support in multicultural Britain for the monarchy than there is generally. I think 38 percent of ethnic people in
Britain support the monarchy. Whereas, a general figure of 68 percent.
And I think this is a real problem for the royal family because they also, historically, tied up in the racism of British Empire. I mean, black and
Asian immigrant staff were banned from working in clerical roles in Buckingham Palace until the late 1960s. And even now, Buckingham Palace is
excluded from a lot of equality legislation.
MARTIN: Do you have any sense, and I understand that you are not a royal whisper, but do you have any sense of whether the royal family writ large,
particularly King Charles, cares about any of this?
SANGHERA: Actually, no. Prince Charles, when he was Prince Charles, really cared about it. You know, he ran this charity called Prince's Trust who did
loads of work for the black community, black businesses. He spoke up in defense of Islam. He is a -- he called himself a defender of the faiths,
plural, rather than just a defender of the Christian faith.
He is pretty woke. And actually, I think, you know, the establishment disliked him for that. And it's going to be interesting to see how he plays
it because now he is the ultimate establishment. And there is a tension between what he believes and what he needs to do as the head of the
commonwealth, and what this current government wants to do. And I don't know how that is going to play out.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, have there been efforts to ban your book?
SANGHERA: My publisher gave out 15,000 copies to British schools, so that's been nice. But, yes, I've had a massive backlash in terms of racism,
and racist abuse, and I've actually stopped doing events because so many people come to them to just shout at me. But it also makes me realize I'm
doing important work. And whenever people do shout at me, I have so many people buying the book and trying to engage with me to make up for that.
And I think I need to focus more on the positive but that is hard to do sometimes.
MARTIN: Well, Sathnam Sanghera, thank you so much for talking with us.
SANGHERA: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Interesting conversation. And don't miss our show tomorrow when I will be speaking to Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht. Who are starring in a
new play on Broadway called "Summer 1976".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you feel from the audience? Because obviously there's a lot of laughter, there's a lot of involvement.
LAURA LINNEY, ACTRESS, "SUMMER 1976": We were very surprised with the laughter. We were not expecting it to be as enjoyable and as raucous as the
audience. It was big --
AMANPOUR: So, do we get it --
LINNEY: -- which is amazing.
AMANPOUR: -- or we missed the plot here?
LINNEY: No, I think it's an honest reaction. I think it's -- I think there is something about the truth that tickles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. On your screen now is
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