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Libyan Chaos; The Elusive Cease-Fire; Imagine a World
Aired July 28, 2014 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, chaos and anarchy, fierce battles among rival militias in Libya leads to the worst violence
since the fall of Col. Gadhafi. Is the country becoming before our very eyes a failed state? I speak to the E.U.'s top envoy to Libya.
And later in the program, deadly blasts in Israel and Gaza despite U.N. calls for the violence to stop. My interview with the U.N.'s
undersecretary-general for political affairs.
GORANI: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Hala Gorani, sitting in this evening for Christiane Amanpour.
Chaos is rocking Libya again with more than 150 people killed in the worst fighting since the death of Moammar Gadhafi. Libya is caught in the
throes of what the American Secretary of State John Kerry calls "freewheeling militia violence." A war between heavily armed militias who
swear no allegiance to any central authority, even though most of them are on the government payroll, the firefight at Tripoli's main international
airport has spread to Libya's largest refinery afire there threatens to engulf 6.6 million liters of fuel.
A potential humanitarian but also environmental disaster for the country. Libyan authorities are repealing for international help saying
they can't fix this alone. Though at the U.S. embassy the lights may be on, but nobody is home.
The U.S. staff evacuated at dawn on Saturday, protected by these fighter planes. And a squad of combat-ready Marines the U.N. already
pulled out and other countries are planning to follow suit.
So for now, world powers stay on the sidelines as the violence spreads. Western governments are pinning their hopes however faint on a
newly elected parliament without much power set to convene next month.
In a moment we will hear from the special envoy for Libya for the European Union. But first a view from within Libya itself. I'm joined now
on the phone by Mansour El-Kikhia. He's a Libyan American author and a political scientist and he joins me now live from Benghazi.
Mansour El-Kikhia, you were in Tripoli just a few days ago. Now from the outside looking in, Mansour, it seems like complete anarchy.
Is that what's going on in Tripoli right now?
MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA, SPECIAL ENVOY FOR LIBYA FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION: Oh, yes, indeed, it is, Hala. It's just -- it is complete anarchy. You
have it. You have it right. From the outside.
GORANI: And so what's going on, these militia groups, heavily armed, no allegiance to the central government, fighting each other. Even the
U.S. embassy is evacuating its staff. Even the Marines are leaving.
How bad is it?
We've lost Mansour El-Kikhia. He's in Benghazi. But as we heard from him there, he was in Tripoli just a few days ago and agreeing with the
assessment for many outside of Libya that chaos and anarchy are becoming a real issue in that country. Three years or so after these airstrikes and -
- that led to the removal and eventually of the death of Moammar Gadhafi.
So when Libya calls for help, where are the Western powers?
Bernardino Leon is the E.U.'s special envoy to Libya. And he joins me now from Madrid.
Bernardino Leon, thank you for being with us on CNN this evening. We were speaking with our guests there from inside Libya, saying it's complete
chaos. A little bit before the program he also told me that these militia groups basically are fighting each other in a way that's making it
impossible for the central government to have any security authority.
How do you fix this?
BERNARDINO LEON, E.U. SPECIAL ENVOY TO LIBYA: Well, I would say that the only reason for hope at the moment is that it's not complete chaos. At
least it's not complete chaos yet. There's big combats are taking place in two areas, in Tripoli.
One is around Tripoli International Airport and the other one is El Salaheddine. And for the moment, the two militias are fighting around the
airports. So we still hope that there is room of maneuver for the international community to work with Libyans in order to reach a cease-fire
and afterwards to try to resume the political process.
GORANI: But who do you even speak with? These are armed militia groups; our guest was earlier telling us sometimes teenagers fighting in
what they think is some sort of religious war.
I mean, in order to achieve a cease-fire, you need all participants to agree to a deal. But how do you even achieve that?
LEON: Well, we are in contact direct or indirectly with the different actors. And it is important also to enhance that these forged are not
coming also only from the international community but also from the Libyans. And there are many initiatives and a lot of people trying Libya
to get this cease-fire.
For the moment, neither the Misrata nor the Zintan militias are willing to accept and but our message is at the moment we are -- we are
having a very important religious feast next -- in the coming hours, starting in the coming hours, which is Said (ph). And we are urging them
to stop and to respect these religious feasts, to give the opportunity for the new parliament to meet and to go back to the political process.
Let me again say that it is important to remember that it is not only about combat in Tripoli, but there are also combats in the East. There is
still these ongoing revolt by former general Haftar. And this is also a matter of concern. And I think it's very important if we want to have an
opportunity to find a solution for Libya to remember that combats should stop everywhere in the country.
GORANI: Now the big question facing so many Libyans and those in the international community that support an intervention in Libya to remove
Moammar Gadhafi, it has this become, in your estimation, a failed state?
Is Libya a failed state, yes or no?
LEON: Listen, to answer this, we should wonder first of all whether Libya has ever been a state. We don't think the so-called Jamahiriya or
the Gadhafi regime allowed a state. So it was not a state. It was this sometimes realistic regime with these tribal base in many areas in the
country and these cities that sometime seem to be autonomous cities in Benghazi, in Misrata and others.
And this is basically what the country is today with different sources of power, with the government, with the GNC, the future parliament council
of representatives, with local authorities, very strong in cities like Misrata or Benghazi, with the tribes in the south and, of course, with the
militias, which, as you were saying, it's a key actor today in Libya.
You have to talk to all of them. We are talking actually to all of them because it won't be possible to find a solution if all of them are not
included. And actually I would say that inclusion and guarantees for inclusion in the political process is the key to find a solution to the
GORANI: Well, it was no secret all these institutions had to be built from scratch after decades of dictatorship and that there are tribal
allegiances and alliances. That is not a surprise to anybody.
But did these powers that intervened to protect the civilians in the east, to help remove Moammar Gadhafi, did they then not do -- did they then
not do enough -- I mean, essentially, do they bear a part of responsibility in what has transpired in Libya?
LEON: Well, we are doing everything possible in a very difficult context. But let me tell you that one of the key questions in the last
months has been that Libyans were very adamant on trying to find solution by themselves. The United Nations has done an incredibly important work,
supported by the international community, supported by the countries and institutions that supported the into intervention.
But I think that what we can assess today is that Libyans won't be able to find a solution by themselves and that the international community
has indeed to be much more active, to find solutions for the country.
GORANI: All right. With not much appetite for anymore intervention there, but we'll see if that happens. If these calls for help are
answered. Bernardino Leon, the E.U. special envoy to Libya, joining us from Madrid, thank you very much.
Let's get back now to Mansour El-Kikhia. He's the Libyan American author and political scientist who spoke with us before this interview.
Mansour, one of the things you say is that the number of dead, is that the toll across Libya, because of this violence, is a lot higher than
Could you explain that?
EL-KIKHIA: Well, yes, I action, actually. You know, I've been looking at the numbers that have been broadcast of people dying. But I
have been watching the morgue here in Benghazi, for example, and they said that we have only 27-28. But actually the (INAUDIBLE) hundred people who
And the bigger problem in what I'm seeing is I told you, Hala, is that the majority of those are children, teenagers. There are so many bodies
that they don't know who they belong to, because many of them are not even Libyans. They are the result of the influx of so many foreign fighters in
And so it's really a huge mess. There's no place to keep them in cold storage (ph) so they can't bury them. And so it is a huge mess that's in
Benghazi. That's it.
And totally the problem has -- a little bit less. There's more -- there's dead there as well. But that is much conflict as we see it over
here in --
GORANI: And, Mansour, let me ask you, Bernardino Leon, the European envoy to -- special envoy to Libya, was saying it's not anarchy yet, that
there is still hope, that there is hope for a cease-fire, that the international organizations such as the E.U. are in touch with all the
actors that in a situation that could achieve a cease-fire.
Do you share that level of optimism with him?
EL-KIKHIA: Optimism is at heart. And I think so but, Hala, I've never seen a paradox that I've seen here in Libya. I've never, never said
seen it before.
When the one part of the city have been shelling in the killing and of today I've just seen two airplanes, one a Mirage and another a Galeb, a
form of the SOKO military aircraft (ph), to a bombing the centers of these -- of these (INAUDIBLE), and part of the other part of the city you have
shops that open, streets are going down the street, people are buying and selling. They're (INAUDIBLE). And that's contradiction. I can't
understand it. But it's here.
To understand, I would much like to believe what the U.N. envoy has said. Yes, I hope there's -- there is a -- there's hope. But you know, I
don't know. I don't know. I'm lost.
EL-KIKHIA: I really am lost.
GORANI: Well, where there is hope, there is life. Mansour El-Kikhia in Benghazi, saying he is lost . I'm sure many Libyans as well feel the
Thank you very much for joining us on CNN.
And where diplomats have failed to bring peace, others are appealing to a higher authority. Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered before
the al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem today to celebrate Eid el- Fitr, the three-day festival that marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Worship blended with protests against the Israeli military incursion into Gaza at the same time other Palestinians prayed in front of the
controversial barrier built by the Israelis in the West Bank.
While these displaced Palestinians found refuge in a place to pray, an United Nations school in northern Gaza, you see it behind me.
And there were also prayers in southern France, where the faithful joined their voices to those in such far-flung trouble spots as
Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Little baby's head poking there in the middle.
Will prayers be answered in Gaza? We'll seek the answers when we come back.
GORANI: Welcome back to the program. I'm Hala Gorani. Christiane is off.
Every attempt to stop violence between Israel and Hamas has failed so far and Monday, today, has been no different. Just hours after the U.N.
Security Council called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, the violence started again, which started as a relatively quiet day with
Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, quickly returned to what has become the bloody norm. Each side blaming the other for deaths at a Gaza hospital
and at a refugee camp once again eight children were killed.
And in Israel, four people were killed by a mortar attack. The United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon just back from a failed attempt to
broker peace put blame squarely on Israeli and Palestinian political leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Good morning. They have to show this humanity as leaders both Israeli and Palestinians and particularly of
when they continue to fight. Then it's only the people, only the civilians, helpless civilians, who are being suffered and killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Over 1,000 people are dead in the latest round. The vast majority Palestinian civilians. So will the humanitarian situation ever
get so bad that world leaders have to step in rather than just urge the Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate with strongly worded statements?
Joining me now is Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs. He previously spent nearly 30 years at the U.S. State
Department serving in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon.
Jeffrey Feltman, thanks for being with us. First of all, last week you said a cease-fire was, quote, "indispensable," and that is your word.
And yet today, here we go again.
Why are leaders and international organization such as the U.N. and the United States through its secretary of state failing to persuade Israel
and Hamas to stop this violence?
JEFFREY FELTMAN, U.N. UNDERSECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Hala, it is so painful to see what's happening today after the, I would
say, letup in violence earlier today and the humanitarian pause that had taken place over the weekend. You know, as Muslims are preparing to
celebrate Eid el-Fitr, you see the violence now increasing again. But it's not for lack of trying on the part of the international community,
including the secretary-general, who went to six different countries, spoke to multiple leaders.
We really have to get the parties themselves to muster the political will simply to stop the fighting, to allow the humanitarian deliveries, the
recovery of wounded, the retrieval of dead. The secretary-general's continued push is for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-
fire that we hope could then create the space and time to address the longer term issues. But the immediate goal is a cease-fire now for
GORANI: But it really appears as though the U.N., the U.S. influence on events is negligible right now.
Wouldn't that be fair to say after all this time, all this violence, the thousand-plus Palestinians killed, most of them civilians, so many of
them children as well? Is that fair to say?
FELTMAN: Well, it just is terrible to watch what's going on. I couldn't agree with you more. But I would also keep in mind that there are
173,000-plus Palestinians, 10 percent of the Gaza Strip population, that are now being sheltered in U.N. facilities, that the U.N. is still working
to talking with all parties to try to get to that immediate unconditional cease-fire that the secretary-general's demanded.
The U.N. is playing a role. I wish, like all of us, that the impact were on the fighting were clear now. But it's the responsibility of the
leaders as much as nobody else.
GORANI: Right. But you're talking -- the U.N. is speaking to all parties.
Does that include Hamas?
FELTMAN: You know, we've -- Hala, we couldn't do our job if we didn't have channels to get messages, talk to, hear from all parties. I -- so we
are able to reach all parties in this conflict, which I think puts us in a unique -- in the unique role. But again, for right now, it's not so much
trying to do deals. It's to persuade people to have an unconditional cease-fire for humanitarian purposes.
GORANI: But so you are, at the U.N., in touch with Hamas as well as in touch with Israeli political leaders. How close -- I mean, so therefore
you're familiar with the discussions. I should say that perhaps we don't know what's going on necessarily behind the scenes.
Are we anywhere near any kind of breakthrough in terms of a humanitarian cease-fire that would last more than 12 hours?
FELTMAN: No. It was encouraging to see that we -- that we did work together, all of us, to see the humanitarian pause and we wish it could
have continued. And so our goal is to get back to that. But right now, you see the tragedy of the cycle of violence that's escalating today.
Secretary-General himself spoke on the phone this morning with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He's continuing his own telephone diplomacy even
from New York to try to persuade all of those who have -- that have influence on the situation to realize the need --
GORANI: Jeffrey, I'm sorry to -- I'm sorry to jump in, but you're talking about diplomacy and phone calls. And today eight Palestinian kids
were killed, four Israelis were killed in a mortar attack. I mean, it seems like these phone calls are doing nothing.
FELTMAN: I -- as I said, I wish that we were able to point to an end to the violence as having been achieved. It hasn't been achieved. We
continue to do our role, though, in trying to care for civilians, to try to urge all parties to comply with international humanitarian law, even in
cases of conflict like this. There are rules to warfare that dictate the protection of civilians, the provision of humanitarian assistance. There's
a lot that the U.N. is doing. There's a lot of effort being put behind these.
But you're right. The goal of a cease-fire hasn't yet been achieved, at least not in a sustainable way.
GORANI: Do you think the Israeli operation is proportional to the level of threat that Israel faces?
FELTMAN: Well, I don't think any leader whose first priority is to protect his or her civilians is going to be able to tolerate attacks from
tunnels and attacks from the sky. So there's certainly a security problem that's affecting the lives of Israeli civilians.
At the same time, the secretary-general has pointed out the need for Israel to do more and regarding protection of civilians in Gaza, the need
to take into account proportionality, distinction between civilian and military targets. But it's also a responsibility on Hamas. Gaza is a very
crowded place, as I know you're aware.
And the responsibilities on the leadership on both sides to protect the civilians there is immense. It's required on the international
GORANI: Sure. Jeffrey, quick last one, I mean, are we going to be having this conversation in a week, where we have a six-hour, 12-hour pause
and then the bombing starts again and then we see these horrendous pictures of dead kids and -- are we going to be having or is the U.N. and other, are
they -- other international organizations going to truly make a push this time?
FELTMAN: I think that the Security Council presidential statement last night indicated a change in the international community that there's a
-- that there is a strong push by the international community. Certainly the secretary-general's been pushing for a while.
I don't want to have this conversation with you in a week nor do I want to have it in two years. Because that's the other problem is that
even if we can address this now, there needs to be a diplomatic negotiating effort that addresses the root causes, the core grievances, concerns that
both sides have so that we not only don't have to have the conversation next week, but we don't have to have it again in two or three years.
GORANI: All right. I know that people in the region certainly hope so as well.
Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. undersecretary-general, speaking to us there from New York. Thank you very much for joining us on CNN.
And after a break, imagine as families squabble that escalated into a world war. No, it's not last Christmas at Grandma's house. It really
happened between royal cousins a century ago. That story when we come back.
GORANI: And a final thought tonight, imagine a world where a family quarrel took the lives of nearly 40 million people and still shapes our
world today. Exactly 100 years ago the First World War did not begin on July 28th, 1914, Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia. Retribution for
the assassination of Austria's heir to the throne in Sarajevo one month before.
Over the next seven days as the clock began ticking down to Armageddon, Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm of
Germany, exchanged a flurry of telegrams, each asking the other to rein in his client state to prevent a global conflict. Signing off affectionately
as Nicky and Willie, they appealed to family and friendship. But neither side would yield.
At the same time another royal relative, King George V of Great Britain, as revealed in a letter only recently discovered, was working
behind the scenes to find a reason to go to war against his cousin, the Kaiser. On August 1st, Germany declared war on Russia; two days later,
Germany declared war on Russia's ally, France. And on August 4th, France's ally, Britain, declared war on Germany. The family game of dominoes had
begun to fall with disastrous results. Never again, they said. And it happened.
That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us on our website, amanpour.com, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
@halagorani. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.