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Iraq's Nightmare Scenario; Iraq Militants Surge; Imagine a World

Aired June 13, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, is Iraq finally falling apart? Will any more cities fall for the Islamic militants? The

former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, tells me that even the capital is under siege.

AYAD ALLAWI, FORMER PM, IRAQ: The belt of Baghdad is under their control and the government is unable to challenge this.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

And it is Iraq's nightmare scenario. The government is battling to fend off a stunning lightning strike by ISIS, the Sunni extremist group

that splintered away from Al Qaeda. Iraq's second largest city and major economic hub, Mosul, has already fallen and heavy fighting continues in

Tikrit, which is Saddam Hussein's hometown.

And tonight ISIS is trying to capture the major power plant in Baiji, which supplies electricity to Baghdad and much of the country. The

collapse of Mosul took the government and the U.S. government by surprise.

Half a million residents fled the city and 30,000 Iraqi troops dropped their uniforms, their American-made weapons and they deserted the

battlefield. Now thousands of volunteers are lining up to help prevent ISIS from marching on the capital. Iraq's foreign minister calls all of

this a mortal threat, the worst since sectarian war erupted in 2006.

But back then, a surge of U.S. forces defeated the extremists. Now President Obama has pulled out all U.S. forces. That happened at the end

of 2011. And violence has spiraled ever since.

ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria and indeed Syria lit the fuse for the current crisis, as the British Foreign Secretary William Hague

said yesterday on this program.


WILLIAM HAGUE, FOREIGN SECRETARY OF GREAT BRITAIN: It is a very dangerous situation and, indeed, it illustrates the dangers in the entire

region of the impact of the Syria conflict on neighboring states, including on Iraq.


AMANPOUR: Now Iraq not only has to get its military house in order but its political house in order as well. The current prime minister,

Nouri al-Maliki, is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian and sectarian.

Ten years ago, though, Ayad Allawi was Iraq's first post-Saddam prime minister, and he joined me here in the studio before heading back to

Baghdad in a last-ditch effort to gather a ruling council of national unity.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Allawi, thank you very much for joining me.

ALLAWI: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: This is about as bad as it can get, isn't it?

Are we seeing the end of Iraq as we know it?

ALLAWI: Probably it depends how it's going to be handled. But I think we are moving into a Syrianization kind of situation.

Unfortunately, I think what we have on our hand is an environment which have been quite supportive to forces of extreme to grow.

Unfortunately, this is what have happened. And we don't have institutions that can deal with this issue, including security institutions.

AMANPOUR: Let's talk about that for a second. Some people are telling me it is hard now to avoid the reality that Iraq will be


ALLAWI: It's very possible. It depends how things will be sorted out. But we are moving in that direction.

AMANPOUR: Moving in the direction of partition. So we're talking militants holding the west part; we're talking about Shiites (INAUDIBLE)

Baghdad and down.

Is this what we're talking about? Sort of partitioned, sort of around here and then Baghdad and down and then Kurdistan up?

ALLAWI: I hope -- I hope not. But this is the general situation out of --


AMANPOUR: This is what everybody has been trying to avoid for the last decade.

Can you explain to me how two divisions of Iraqi forces after 10 years of American training and equipment just laid down their arms and ran away

before several hundred militants?

ALLAWI: Because they had nothing to fight for. Absolutely. You know, the -- unfortunately, the situation --

AMANPOUR: They had nothing to fight for?


ALLAWI: No, no, no, because they have been disenfranchised. They have been oppressed. The situation had been getting out of control

gradually. The forces of CM (ph) thriving in Iraq. They have been, frankly, killing 1,000 people on average a month. And the government was

unable and still is unable to do anything about it.

AMANPOUR: When you say they have nothing to fight for, I know that you are a big critic of President Maliki. You have accused him of

increasing sectarianism, authoritarianism and a sort of a Shiite dictatorship.

Some believe that this could be a unifying, clarifying moment for him to open a different political venue to deal with this.

Do you think that that's possible? Will he do it?

ALLAWI: I think it's too late for him. Nobody's going to trust him. Nobody's going to take his word. He had the opportunity in 2010, both

himself and the United States. And both of them failed to grasp the opportunity and work towards a unified Iraq.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's when you got the most votes --


AMANPOUR: -- and then he was able, with U.S. help, to cobble together --


ALLAWI: I had the most votes, number one; number two, I had all the Sunnis (ph) rallying around us, around Iraq here, undo around one another

(ph). Well, we could have eased the sectarian situation and moved into a kind of reconciliation, which can unite the country. But unfortunately we

have not --


AMANPOUR: Do you feel that there's any way to be able to do that now? Or is it too late?

ALLAWI: I don't think it's too late; it is late, definitely. But it's not too late.

I started -- spoke in the last three days to the senior politicians in Iraq and I told them that what we should look at now is how to convene a

small meeting of the -- as a summit meeting to see the road map ahead, what can we do and to form a government of leaders, not a government of second-

or third-layer people, but rather the leaders should be involved.

And I think this can salvage the situation.

AMANPOUR: That means without Maliki or a parallel government?

ALLAWI: No, Maliki can be part of it. But he can't head it. He can't head this government --

AMANPOUR: Do you think there's any hope in hell that that's going to be accepted?

ALLAWI: Well, Hakim accepted this. Jaffery himself, the head of the national --

AMANPOUR: Former prime minister.

ALLAWI: -- former prime minister accepted this. Others have accepted this. I have asked Jaffery to speak to Maliki. So it -- to accept it,

because if it doesn't then the only outcome is going to be dismemberment of the country.

AMANPOUR: So let's talk about the immediate threat. They haven't just taken Mosul; they are struggling now for Tikrit. They've got a hold

or they're advancing on the major power plant in Baiji. And they have Ramadi and they have Fallujah.

ALLAWI: And they are running actions and terrorist activities in Basra, Karbala, Baghdad. The belt of Baghdad has fallen practically for

the last three weeks and they now --

AMANPOUR: Outskirts of Baghdad?


AMANPOUR: Has fallen?

ALLAWI: For the night, it's under the control of the armed people, armed forces.

AMANPOUR: The militants?

ALLAWI: The militants.

AMANPOUR: The Sunni militants?

ALLAWI: Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: Do you think there is any way that they can get Baghdad?

ALLAWI: Well, definitely the belt of Baghdad is under their control. And the government is unable to challenge this. The government is unable

to prevent explosions inside Baghdad, even in the areas around the degree (ph) zone.

AMANPOUR: But there's a city of 7 million people, and it's mostly Shiite. They're going to resist, aren't they?

ALLAWI: The Shiites do not really -- are not respecting the government. They see that Maliki, if you take, for example, al-Sadat (ph),

if you take Hakim, you can see very clearly that they reject Maliki's pressing power and Maliki is insisting on continuing power.

AMANPOUR: Who is going to intervene, do you think? Do you see Iran intervening with troops? Do you see America helping? Do you see your

forces able to retake Mosul without any outside help?

ALLAWI: I am not sure whether the American intervention is going to be helpful. It will probably put oil on the fire. I don't think this is

right. I think the Americans have lost their effort to and their capability to influence things in Iraq, especially after they left and

departed in 2011.

I think there are two players now in Iraq, two major players, Iran and for lesser, much lesser extent, is Turkey. But again, they can't use and

they can't come clearly and nakedly into Iraq and try to do what they'd like to do.

But I guess now as the Iraqi people and the leaders of the various factions. And they have to have open mind and they have to be able to sit

down and talk, even to the armed people.

AMANPOUR: Well, I want to show you this map again, because obviously most people are incredibly worried about this connection here and this

border. Mosul is not far, 100 miles or kilometers, from the Syrian border. And these ISIS people have talked about a caliphate in this whole area.

Do you see that possibility?

ALLAWI: I think it's a possibility. You know what happened in Syria is definitely spilling over into Iraq. And what happened in Iraq has

spilled over into Syria.

My worry, really, is that throughout the greater Middle East, Al Qaeda is coming back again with various other extreme groups. They are spreading

in Afghanistan. They are spreading in Pakistan. They are spreading into Somalia and Palestine.

Then frankly speaking, Iraq and the Iraqi players need to sit down and need to reconcile and need to look deep and to salvage the country because

if Iraq is disbanded, then this will carry on to the rest of the region and it will be quite bloody, really, as is now the case.

AMANPOUR: Former prime minister Ayad Allawi, thank you very much for joining me.

ALLAWI: Thank you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And the onslaught of jihadists from Syria into Iraq has sent tremors throughout the region and as far away even as Manhattan. The

New York City police commissioner, Bill Bratton, warned this week that homegrown radicals now fighting in Syria could pose a serious threat to the

United States.

Said the city's top cop, "There are a significant number of Americans in Syria. And when they come back, they're going to come back with skills

that they didn't have when they went over there."

And when we come back, did the United States pull out of Iraq too soon? A former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, when we return.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. A top (INAUDIBLE) commander tells me, quote, that "We were as irresponsible in leaving a war as we were

in starting one." The desertion of 2 Iraqi divisions -- that's 30,000 men -- in front of several hundred Islamist militants puts the lie to the U.S.

claim to have stood up a competent army before leaving.

Indeed, commanders always warned that gains they had made over a decade in Iraq were reversible without at least a small residual U.S. force

on the ground.

Now no one knows the political and military challenges in Iraq better than Zalmay Khalilzad, who was U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2005 to 2007

and also to -- ambassador to Afghanistan and to the United Nations.

And he joins me now from Washington.

Are you like everybody -- first of all, welcome to the program.

Are you like everybody stunned --


AMANPOUR: -- by what happened, the takeover of Mosul and the advance of ISIS?

KHALILZAD: Well, yes, I think while the threat was there, I think their speed situation. I think that move that reminded me of what happened

in Afghanistan in the '90s, when the Taliban came to the scene and moved extremely rapidly, as you remember, Christiane, to take over one city after

another which shows that there was two problems, one, the dissatisfaction of the local population with the status quo and second, that the morale of

the armed forces that were there, the security forces, was problematic and they just melted away, disintegrated.


KHALILZAD: So this is a -- this is a surprise.

AMANPOUR: Former Prime Minister Allawi basically about morale, he said to me just a few moments ago, they have nothing to fight for. And I

want to talk about that with you in a second.

But first, you compared this to the lightning push by the Taliban in 1994 and '96 into finally Kabul. And we saw what happened next with 9/11

several years later.

What do you think it's going to take to push them back?

Do you believe that these forces can push them back?

Do you believe the United States will get redrawn into this war?

KHALILZAD: I think it really depends. What is left of the Iraqi armed forces and one needs to know that and, two, if there is a significant

Iraqi force ready to fight, then I think the U.S. should take a look at what it can do to help those forces, including the possibility of air

attacks to reassert control.

The U.S. also has to recognize that the reality of Iraq has changed after Mosul. Now the current or the other strong forces moved in to

protect the disputed areas, the areas they believe are theirs, but was taken away from them by Saddam and Arabiya (ph).

They're not going to go back, either, and so the U.S. needs to do not only take into account the Iraqi forces, can they be helped, can they be

effective, but also the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga, how to relate to them, because they are perhaps in a better position even than the Iraqi

forces to affect things in Northern Iraq.

AMANPOUR: Right. But you seem to be raising the specter of what Ayad Allawi also told me, that Iraq is headed for dismemberment. He used that

word, for partition, a former top U.S. commander told me the same. It's hard to avoid the fact that this could be partition now.

KHALILZAD: Kurdistan has emerged de facto as a separate state. The question is will they make it de jure and announce it. They have taken

over the areas that they believe are theirs. They have taken the energy resources of those areas that can give them the energy independence, the

financial independence that they need.

So now what remains is a political decision. And that would depend on something else that Ayad said, and that was whether the Iraqi political

leaders can come together and come to an agreement on not only confronting ISIS, but also on what kind of an Iraq they can all agree to, because one

of the things that has been missing has been a compact among the various Iraqis about the future of the country.

AMANPOUR: How vital a threat is this to U.S. interests?

The U.S. has pulled out; the U.S. is not doing anything to stop what's happening in Syria.

Is it still vital to U.S. interests?

KHALILZAD: I think it is because the threat from ISIS, Al Qaeda groups in that area, both on the Syrian and Iraqi side -- the border

essentially has disappeared between the two countries, can pose a threat certainly to Iraq; we can see it right now -- but also to the region and

beyond the region to the United States as you refer to the police chief of New York.

I think this has the potential to drag in regional powers into Iraq that was always the risk. And our presence there played a role of keeping

the situation from getting out of control, keeping regional powers from coming in.

I believe Prime Minister Maliki made a mistake or the Iraqi leaders made a mistake and ours, too, not to leave a residual force behind in Iraq.

I think that would have made a significant difference.

AMANPOUR: And what about this notion, that the United States and indeed Britain and NATO countries talk about having set up competent

armies, not just in Iraq, as they left, but also in Afghanistan?

I asked Foreign Secretary William Hague on this program yesterday, wasn't he worried, given what happened in Iraq, about what might happen

post-withdrawal in Afghanistan?

Listen to this. I'd like you to comment afterwards.


HAGUE: Well, of course there are risks to the withdrawal of NATO, of ISAF forces. Of course there are. And that's -- we have done everything

possible to build up the Afghan National Security Forces.

It is vital that Afghans look after their own security without presenting a threat to the rest of the world. That's been the whole point

of what we have been doing. So the day has to come when that happens. And so we have to have some confidence in them that they are up to that



AMANPOUR: I mean, what he said there at the very end, Zalmay Khalilzad, we have to have some confidence. Surely has been totally

undermined by what happened in Iraq and what might happen to the Afghan national forces in Afghanistan, post-withdrawal.

KHALILZAD: Well, that's certainly a risk. I think having announced the deadline 2016 for total withdrawal itself already will have a negative

effect in terms of reconciliation. People are going to begin to hedge and once the withdrawal has taken place, I think the Afghan forces will be

really tested.

I see this a similar risk. I think one lessons that we should learn from Iraq is that building up the forces are important; they're necessary.

But in order for that force to be -- remain cohesive, to remain a fighting force, more time is needed and therefore a presence, a smaller presence

that itself is a success is -- would be required for a longer period of time.

And maybe we are become a little too impatient that we will want to withdraw completely that reflects the public reality, the political reality

that I think it will have very negative political, security and geopolitical consequences if we go through with it.

AMANPOUR: Let me just revert back to the politics of Iraq. It's well documented that you yourself was one of the first people to introduce Nouri

al-Maliki as a possible prime minister back in 2010.

Ayad Allawi's party actually did gain the most votes, but it was Nouri al-Maliki that the United States and Iran decided should be the prime


And as you know, he's become increasingly authoritarian. He obviously hasn't been able to manage the necessary political unity in his country.

Did you make a mistake? Was that the wrong man to pick for the job?

KHALILZAD: Well, remember he was elected as prime minister by his party in 2005. So -- 2006 -- sorry. And he did a relatively good job

during his first term.

But during the second term, as you referred to in 2010, I think he has had more difficulties working with other political forces in Iraq, whether

Sunnis or Kurds. I think in that period, the second term, had been much more problematic.

But the -- in 2005 or '06, he had -- he was the better of the alternatives that existed among the Iraqis. And I think he has moved into

Basra to confront the militias that were there, has moved to work during the surge period without forces and has moved to have a more broader

political movement, a state of law. Those were positive.

But I think the second term has been much more problematic.

AMANPOUR: So just very briefly, yes or no, Ayad Allawi is going back to try to form a national unity of leadership.

Is he the man to be able to do that? Some say only he can do that.

KHALILZAD: Well, I think he is one of the key figures. But there are others who are important as well. The Kurds are now in a very strong

position. What will they demand. What about the other Sunni political leaders, such as Nujaifi, the speaker, or the governor of Mosul, his


And what about the Shiite leaders? I think no single person can do the job. The Iraqis have to come together. And Ayad Allawi is certainly

one of the possibilities.

AMANPOUR: Former Ambassador Zalnay Khalilzad, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

KHALILZAD: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And while the Iraqi wildfire threatens the whole region as we've heard, much of the world is looking for inspiration and escape to

Brazil, where the World Cup begins tonight.

But just before the first match, in Sao Paulo protesters clashed with police again, who used tear gas and riot gear to keep the demonstrators

away from the stadium.

Meantime, here in Britain, London's irrepressible mayor, Boris Johnson, has defied the Home Secretary by ordering three police water

cannons from Germany. Boris defended his decision and rose to the challenge during a chat with a radio host.


NICK FERRARI, LBC: Will you, with me in front of them, when they first arrive, and I will stand by your side. I'm prepared to take that

risk, to be sprayed by a water cannon.

Will you accept my challenge, Mr. Mayor?

BORIS JOHNSON, LONDON MAYOR: You want to be sprayed by a --


FERRARI: It would be the two of us together.

JOHNSON: I'd be certainly prepared to do anything to show that they're safe within reason. I'm not quite sure whether I want to stand in

front of a water cannon. I haven't done anything to deserve it. But if it will really make you happy and fulfilled, I will investigate the whys and

wherefores of whether I could stand in front of a water cannon, if I'm infringing some code of health and safety.


AMANPOUR: After a break, startling new details about a nuclear mishap during the height of the Cold War. The night the bombs fell on America's

own backyard. We'll tell you when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, in this dangerous world of ours, a chilling reminder of another time four decades ago, when Cold War tensions

came within an eyelash of a nuclear nightmare. No, it wasn't when JFK and Khrushchev came eyeball to eyeball over the Cuban missile crisis.

Imagine a world where two atomic bombs fell to Earth not on Washington or Moscow but on a sleepy little village in the state of North Carolina.

According to documents declassified and released this week by the National Security Archive, on the night of January 24th, 1961, a U.S. B-52

bomber broke in half high above the Carolina farmland.

Before it crashed in the fields below, killing three of the crew, two multi-megaton bombs with 500 times the destructive power that leveled

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, came hurtling down afterwards.

Their fuses were automatically armed and they would have detonated on impact but for a series of fortunate what-ifs, or as Defense Secretary

Robert McNamara said at the time, "By the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was


Food for thought. And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on

Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.