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The War of Independence; Kurdistan Independence Vote Raises Tension; Inside War-Torn Yemen's Cholera Crisis; Inside Catalonia's Referendum; Redrawing the . Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 5, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET



[14:00:13] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN HOST: Tonight, what next for Catalonia as Spain takes another hard line step to stop its Declaration of Independence.

We'll hear from Catalonian MEP Jose Soleil (ph) and get the EU's perspective with German MEP Manfred Weber.

Plus, from the crisis in Catalonia to the crisis in Kurdistan. What's the real cost of these wards of independence? I speak to former top U.S.

ambassador Peter Galbraith.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Nima Elbagir sitting in for Christiane Amanpour in London.

Spain's constitutional court says it is suspending a session of the Catalan parliament scheduled for Monday. Leaders in Catalonia were expected to use

that meeting to declare independence after a highly controversial referendum, which the court declared illegal.

In duelling speeches Tuesday and Wednesday night, the Spanish king and Catalonian regional leader both accuse the other of ignoring the will of

scores of Catalonians.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): These authorities have really underestimated the feelings of solidarity, which unite all Spaniards. And

he deliberately ignores the millions of Catalans who don't think like him.


ELBAGIR: But the Catalan leader didn't directly mention a unilateral Declaration of Independence as he previously has. The European Union says

it's time to talk.

The Catalan government says Madrid has rebuts attempts to bring in a mediator.

Manfred Weber is a German member of the European Parliament and ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel. He tells me that the EU can't act as a mediator

without invitation from Madrid.


ELBAGIR: Mr. Weber, thank you so much for joining us.

The Catalan head of local police has been summoned by the Spanish High Court to stand on charges of sedition which does seem to really up the

ante. It seems to really push up the temperature on this and yet the European Union has said that it is to a greater extent staying out of it.


MANFRED WEBER, CHAIRMAN, EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S PARTY: Because the clashing of the constitution, the rule of law principle and the territorial integrity

of a country is first of all an internal and domestic issue like it was in the Scottish case, in Great Britain, like it was in other cases so it is

first of all a domestic issue.

We can help. We can assist, but first of all, we have to clarify things in Spain and we ask everybody now to come back to the negotiation table. The

only way out is in a democracy visit together and find an answer on the base of the rules in Spain.

ELBAGIR: So far the European opinion hasn't indicated that it is willing to play the role of mediator.

WEBER: We cannot jump in without invitation. If there is an invitation, let's see. Then things are changing, but for the moment, we see this as a

domestic issue. But one thing in regards to the European Union is clear, if somebody is leaving Spain, he is leaving the European Union.

That means no access to single market, that means no Euro anymore and that means that there is no corporation in most neighbors, in the Schengen

principles so there will be border control again.

That is what the Catalans have to have in mind. The discussion about the future. And hopefully, they recognize this.

So having this in mind, I think everybody must understand that the only solution is coming back to the negotiation table. And one thing is again

also very clear for us that the base of all of this must be the constitution of Spain, because Spain is a free country.

We have demonstrations. You see the pictures in Barcelona. We have free demonstrations. Free media. We have democratic process there. And so

everything must be covered by the constitution and by the rule of law.

ELBAGIR: It is a free country, but we also witness a particularly violent crackdown. 900 people injured. It has to be incredibly concerning to you

to see in a European country of Spain stature.

WEBER: Absolutely. Everybody is concern. The European parliament yesterday put this on the table. That violence is not an answer. You must

have in mind that even policeman were hurt, were injured. So on those sides, we saw this kind of violence and that is not acceptable inside of

the European Union.

You see in the streets as well, people who are burning the flag of Spain and even of the European Union.

[14:05:00] So there is also part of the process, it's a kind of a new nationalism and for me as a European politician, I want to underline that

nationalism is not a solution for the future. We need cooperation. We need solidarity between strong parts of the country and poorer parts of the

country. That is what we need, and that's why please come to the negotiation table and find a solution.

ELBAGIR: But surely that is, that is the biggest challenge at the moment. That the European Union as a project is facing, you have the Catalan

referendum coming off the hills of Brexit.

You have the rise of the far right in Germany. The far right entering a legitimate political space.

Does this not say to you that perhaps the entire European Union as a project should be resort?

WEBER: No. That's does not the answer, because without the European Union, we know what Europe is all about. It's about egoist. It's about

nationalist. Everybody is only to his self -- to himself and to his own interest.

Europe is the idea to sit on the table and find together a solution in a democratic approach like we are doing it here in the European parliament.

But you are right. The national question, the identity question is of one of the key debates in the European Union today in a lot of national debates

and the European level. And my answer is an EPP leader. It's the leader of the biggest group, don't make a contradiction out of it.

Down from Bavaria, I'm from a region, proud region in Germany. I'm a Bavarian. I'm a German citizen. I have a German passport and I'm a true

European. I'm convinced that Europe is our future together and I don't allow any populist to tell me that this is a contradiction. That belongs

together for me and we should have a common identity for the future. Cooperation again. European spirit is what we need and not egoist and


ELBAGIR: The sense often from within the U.K. is that the foreign secretary has his gaffes that he is essentially playing, speaking, but

you've made quite clear that you view him as a liability during these delicate negotiations.

You've actually called for Boris Johnson to be sacked. Why?

WEBER: Time is running. And in London, what we see there, Boris Johnson is writing articles in the newspapers where he is saying the opposite

towards what Theresa May said in Florence.

Then we have David Davis here with negotiation (INAUDIBLE) and nobody knows what is the British position on these things. And, again, time is running.

We are ready for a possible -- possibly for a transitional period afterwards but when you are leaving 2009, the European Union exhibits want

to do, then they cannot have the same advantages on the market and other fees like the member state of the European Union.

I'll share with you one concrete point, it's about the citizenship. So the EU citizens who are living in Great Britain and the Brits who are living in

the European Union today.

The people -- millions of people who have a lot of uncertainty ahead of them, and you have to create certainty. What we offer is make simply

freezing off the current rights of these people. Guarantee them to same rights they have today and then they already can close one file.

ELBAGIR: Let's say if they proceed on this current trajectory, if they don't take your advice to at least wrap up this port folio and European

Union citizenship, what do you envisioned playing out for the British in 2019.

WEBER: Look, Theresa May in Manchester said that they are even ready for the hard Brexit so transition is back. And I have to say, OK, if they

think that this is an option for them, let's go on. I don't like it.

ELBAGIR: When you say hard Brexit, what do you mean?

WEBER: That means we have no regulation after 2019. So time is running for the Brexit. So in 2019, time is over. And then we have -- there are

no leaf treaty on the table, which is already having the consent of European Parliament, then they are going out of single market and that is

creating a lot of uncertainty for the economy and that is already one problem for Britain.

You know the rating agencies downgraded Great Britain already. So the long term forecast for Great Britain's economy is very bad. It's a bigger

problem for them than for us. It's damage for both, but it's a bigger problem for Great Britain.

Again, we don't want to have this, but we need a partner who is ready to negotiate. I would say stop (INAUDIBLE) Tory internal battles between

Johnson and Teresa May.

Please come to a common solution and sit on the table and negotiate assessment.

ELBAGIR: Thank you so much, Mr. Weber, for joining us.

WEBER: I thank you.


ELBAGIR: And when we come back, we'll go to Barcelona for the Catalan response to that from MEP Jose Soleil (ph).

And also, another reach for independence as tensions bubble between the Iraqi government and its Kurdish population.

We asked what could happen -- next.


[14:11:25] ELBAGIR: Welcome back to the program.

It's been just over a week since Kurdistan voted for independence from Iraq with an overwhelming yes vote of 92 percent of Kurds. The response from

Kurdistan's neighbors was quick and harsh.

Iraq closed Kurdish airspace and prepare to cease control of border crossings, Turkey threatened to shut down its oil pipeline. Then Tuesday,

Kurdish patriot Jalal Talabani, a former president of Iraq, died in a German hospital. And the pause for mourning could he de-escalate the


So what's next?

Former American diplomat Ambassador Peter Galbraith has deep roots in Kurdistan and close ties to the Kurdish leadership. In the 80s as a Senate

staff, Galbraith help document the destruction of Kurdish villages by Saddam Hussein.

He joins me now from Paris.


ELBAGIR: Ambassador Galbraith, thank you so much for joining us.


ELBAGIR: When we both were recently in Erbil, it felt like the rhetoric was definitely escalating quite dangerously. And yet now there seems to be

a little of cooling off especially with this enforced mourning period, suspending the sessions of Parliament.

Where do you think we go to from here now that both sides have had the opportunity to kind of exhale a little bit.

GALBRAITH: Before I talk about that, I think it's worth saying a word about the voting that you and I both observed, because it really was

nothing like your other story the Catalan referendum.

You had a huge turnout. It was entirely peaceful in a country that is one of the more violent parts of the world. Not a single incident of violence

and an overwhelming result. And, you know, people -- women dressed in their finest clothes, a real sense of excitement that this was something

they've been waiting for, for a century.

Now the response from the neighbors and from the Iraqi government was of course not unexpected and the rhetoric has escalated. Some of the more

recent steps, well, they close the air space. Iraq has lifted the immunity for Kurdish parliamentarians and the federal parliament Baghdad and

expelled them from the parliament. They have been shutting down bank transactions for the Kurdistan region.

These are all things that are likely to accelerate the move to independence because for the Kurds, it basically says, you know, this is exactly why we

want to get out of Iraq because we were not really being treated as full citizens and clearly they don't want us.

Jalal Talabani, the former Iraqi president, who was a Kurdish national and a close friend of mine for almost 30 years, he was a great peacemaker. He

could bring together Iraq's different factions and he'll be missed, but it would be certainly a fitting tribute for him at the mourning period, where

it be an occasion for reconciliation.

In the end, Kurdistan will be independent. You can't deny that to a country where people so overwhelmingly want to have their own state. But

the important thing is to avoid a war and to do it peacefully in a way that Kurdistan and Iraq remained good neighbors and that the other neighbors

accept it.

ELBAGIR: Ambassador Galbraith I think it's -- the issue of the right to self-determination isn't what's up for discussion here. I think what's up

for discussion is whether the neighborhood will allow it to happen and whether given the delicate balance of power in the neighborhood and the

ongoing fight to still retake territory from ISIS, whether it would be pragmatic to allow the destabilization that threatens to happen.

So given that everybody told them not to do it, and yet they did it anyway, where do you think they go from here?

[14:15:30] GALBRAITH: Well, the first point on destabilization, I'm sure that almost everybody has notice, Iraq is not exactly been a stable place

in its entire 100 year history.

So it's hard to see how this destabilizes it. Now the real question for the West, because the United States and others are going to play a big role

here is, is the United States going to side with the Kurds who had been our friends, who are democratic and spouse western values, or is it going to

side with the Iraqi central government, which is Iran's closest ally in the world, where the hostile Shabi (ph), this is the Shiite militia, is now

threatening to attack the Kurdish Peshmerga with American weapons and meanwhile the Trump administration has cut off U.S. weapons to the


So in a certain sense as a -- just as Donald Trump is talking about breaking the Iran deal, not because Iran is in keeping, but because of its

activity in the region, the United States is on the side of Iran and against the people who were our friends. It's an odd arrangement, and I

don't think one that is actually going to be able to last.

I think already you see in the U.S. Senate moves to have a support for Kurdistan's independence and of course the U.S. will have to weigh in with


ELBAGIR: You used to see a situation where the U.S. will eventually have to come around to supporting this, because so far Secretary Tillerson has

said that we will not acknowledge this referendum or its outcome.

GALBRAITH: Well, you know, Tillerson's statement on the one hand it was positive because it called for de-escalation, and on the other hand, he

said we can't recognize the voter or the results, but nobody has challenged the fairness of this vote.

GALBRAITH: I mean, everybody agrees that it was an honest count and this is what the people of Kurdistan wanted. But the real reason is that Iran

is the sponsor and closest ally of the government of Baghdad.

And, you know, for example, the Shia militias, which may now attack the Kurdish Peshmerga who have been leading the fight against ISIS, these

militias were created by Qasem Soleimani who is the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They still basically report to him.

It's basically an Iranian-ran militia. Incidentally also the Iranians had been sending some of these Iraqi militiamen into Syria to fight for Assad.

So from the point of view of the United States, it's really a choice between our friends and those who are aligned with our adversaries and in

the end I think the United States will go with its friends.

There's something the U.S. has served traditionally oppose the independence of every country that's come along. It wanted to hold Yugoslavia together,

want to call the Soviet Union together, but when the break up actually occurs, the United States comes around and recognizes the results and I

expect everybody else will as well.

ELBAGIR: Well, there was definitely a sense that as far as the Kurds were concern, this wasn't something that they believe should even be up for


Mr. Galbraith, thank you so much for joining us.


ELBAGIR: In the midst of all this news, Yemen's Cholera outbreak is quickly becoming the worst ever recorded in modern times. And it has been

as forgotten as the two years Civil War that has paved the road for its eruption.

Cases of the highly preventable disease are expected to reach 1,000,000 by 2018.

CNN's Diana Magnay has more.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started just after breakfast. Vomiting and diarrhea. Little Fatima has all the signs of

cholera -- severe dehydration, the skin on her stomach crumpling like paper. A child like so many whose grown-up with this war that can't

understand why it leads to this.

A needle in the hand and drip overhead.

Yemen's few remaining hospitals echo with the moans of cholera patients. There are some 750,000 suspected cases across the country on both sides of

this two year conflict.

It's the most severe outbreak in modern history says the World Health Organization and it's expected to get worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Most people are being forced by expired and contaminated food. Even the drinking water in some areas is

contaminated with sewage water. Therefore the immune system in most people is weak.

MAGNAY: Access for journalists into Yemen is extremely limited. International Rescue Committee is one of several aid organizations working

in country and provided CNN with this footage.

War forced eight-year-old Wajida (ph) and her family from their home in the besieged city Taz (ph) three months ago. Her mother says cholera has swept

through the camp where they are now, which is why her daughter is sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came to treat my daughter. When the missiles came and the fighting, we fled. We're living in a kind of no man's land.

MAGNAY: Alongside the 2 million other internally displaced, many of whom lived with little access to clean water.

Jerry's cans scattered like confetti awaiting this precious delivery. Water from the aid organizations, a lifeline to communities like this, as

these educations in how to wash your hands properly. The cholera must be treated fast and mobile units like these can't make it to all the corners

of this country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The number of illnesses has risen and people can't afford to buy any medication and go to hospitals.

They simply don't have money, but hopefully will be able to help and save lives.

ELBAGIR: There's not enough food item. Cholera on top of appalling malnutrition, a double affliction on an already war-ravaged people.

Diana Magnay, CNN, London.


ELBAGIR: Coming up, we return to the impact of the referendum in Catalonia. That's next.


ELBAGIR: Welcome back to the program.

Unfortunately, Jose Soleil (ph) will not be able to join us from Barcelona. But we'd like to continue talking about this story for you tonight.

Catalonia's independence has now seen tensions in Spain rise to a level not seen in decades. And the violent crackdown by the police against what

Madrid sees as an unconstitutional poll even let some Catalans to set up clandestine polling stations.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin has this report.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Barcelona's response to police violence. Tens of thousands took to the streets in a

show of solidarity, a counter to the crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum.

In the distance, a face in the crowd, who's asked to remain faceless. He wanted his identity concealed, the potential legal ramifications for what

he's done, unclear.

He's one of the activists, ran the logistics at a grammar school turned clandestine polling station in the outskirts of Barcelona.

He says planning for the referendum began with a phone call, asking for volunteers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know me, that I would help.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Over three months, calls turned into encrypted messages. Apps such as Telegram and Signal and secret meetings,

separatists wary of government spies.

MCLAUGHLIN: So this is one of the ballot boxes.


MCLAUGHLIN: You kept it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I had been a difficult and sad back during United States.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): He tells us how they managed to hide them, each component -- the sticker, the lid, the case kept separate, assembled at the

last minute.

The night of the vote, the activists camped at the school gym to keep watch over the ballots. By dawn, a line of voters snaked around the corner.

While the Catalan police were hands-off, the national police, another story.

They raided a nearby polling station. The potential consequences were clear.

"I was the person in charge of that school," he says. "I felt the pressure and was scared that people here would be beaten, that police would storm in

violently and hurt many old people, children. My family was there. My parents were there. So that fear was there."

They had problems with the voting technology. Verifying voters was that much more difficult.

MCLAUGHLIN (on-camera): Given that there weren't independent monitors present, that there were technical difficulties, do you feel that this

referendum was legitimate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem had been that maybe a lot of people don't -- didn't go and go to vote because of maybe fear about the police. And so

the result maybe is not the best because then not all the people finally vote. But I think that it's absolutely legitimate.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The Spanish government tells a very different story, of an illegal referendum that defies the Spanish courts and

democracy, a referendum that has sown division and thrown the country into crisis.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Barcelona.


ELBAGIR: And finally tonight, imagine a world redrawn as waves of popular revolt continue to challenge the map. We could see a new world with brand

new countries shattering centuries of geography.

In this show alone, we cover the potential succession and creation of two countries. Imagine, the Republic of Catalonia boarded by a bitter Spain.

Imagine an independent Kurdistan also with angry neighbors.

We've seen Iranian war games on the border of the Iraqi-Kurdistan region and just the day before Kurdistan's referendum no less.

As minorities try to carve out homelands from nation states, the world over, they proudly speak of the benefits of preserving local cultures and

languages. That for many is rightly important. But perhaps it's also worth remembering the power of diversity within countries.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can listen to our podcast and see us online at

Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.