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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Christmas Bombing Plot Review; Worldwide Water Shortages

Aired January 8, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:03:00]

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: This week, failed security, failed warnings, and a failure to connect the dots, all of this still happening eight years after 9/11.

I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to our program. This week has been taken up by rising concerns over American security policy, everything from the intelligence infrastructure to whether development is the long- term answer. Should the United States completely rework aspects of its foreign policy? It's a question that's dominated the week's headlines.

At the White House, President Obama took responsibility and said the U.S. had failed to understand the intelligence that it did have just before the attempt to bomb an American airliner on Christmas Day.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: At the Pentagon, a draft intelligence report said that more detainees released from Guantanamo Bay are returning to terrorism. Almost half the remaining prisoners there are from Yemen, and President Obama has now halted their return home after the failed Christmas Day bombing plot.

And in Kabul, the top U.S. military intelligence officer issued a scathing indictment, calling its information-gathering system, quote, "clueless and ignorant of the local situation."

[15:05:00]

And in a mea culpa from Yemen, the foreign minister told us that his government had, quote, "spared Al Qaida" while it was busy fighting insurgencies in other parts of the country.

We'll be talking to Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi in a moment and, from the U.S. State Department, with Ambassador-at-Large Daniel Benjamin. We'll also be talking about the global fight over water in Yemen and other places with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will join us later in the program.

First, U.S. General David Petraeus now believes that Yemen is a safe haven for Al Qaida. Last weekend, he promised the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, more American help. CNN's Paula Newton reports from the capital, Sana'a.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Al Qaida, the renewed campaign in Yemen represents a stunning comeback. The bombing of the USS Cole by an Al Qaida suicide ring in 2000 was a prized terrorist victory. President Bill Clinton was in office at the time. A decade later, it's his wife, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, characterizing the situation in Yemen in the starkest of terms.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The instability in Yemen is a threat to regional stability and even global stability.

NEWTON: Yemeni officials insist they've always warned the U.S. of the Al Qaida threat and have asked for aid, military and intelligence support. Only recently, they say, have they had much help.

Yemen is now struggling to cope with not just a re-energized Al Qaida, but a rebel movement in the north and a separatist rebellion in the south. Add to that grinding poverty, an acute water shortage, and a country awash with weapons and potential terror recruits, many nursing a fervent anti- Americanism.

In 2008, the suicide bombing at the U.S. embassy in Yemen killed nearly 20 people, but did not penetrate the embassy walls. Yemeni terrorist connections are deep and far-reaching. Osama bin Laden's father was Yemeni. Many top Al Qaida operatives are Yemeni. Almost half of the Guantanamo Bay detainees that remain are Yemeni.

Some of those already released from Guantanamo have returned to fight for Al Qaida, like its deputy commander in Yemen, Said Ali al-Shihri, who was released from Guantanamo in November 2007.

And then there is the chase for Anwar al-Awlaki, an American Yemeni cleric, the so-called Internet sheikh, who is believed to be hiding out in Yemen. He may have been in communication with alleged Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and described accused Fort Hood killer, Major Nidal Hasan, as a hero.

The last thing the U.S. and its allies need is for their counterterrorism efforts in Yemen to set off an Al Qaida battle cry in an already challenged nation.

Paula Newton, CNN, Sana'a, Yemen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And now joining us from Sana'a, Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi.

Welcome, Mr. Foreign Minister, to the program.

ABU BAKR AL-QIRBI, YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTER: Good morning, and glad to be on the program.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, you've just seen that program. You heard what Paula Newton reported. How big a threat do you believe Al Qaida is in Yemen?

AL-QIRBI: You may remember, Christiane, that after the September 11th attacks, Yemen at that time was accused that it's going to be the next Afghanistan and the -- the new haven for Al Qaida.

AMANPOUR: That's happened.

AL-QIRBI: Events prove that was wrong. No, it didn't happen. I think over the last eight or nine years, we proved that Yemen wasn't a haven for Al Qaida. And -- and until now, it's not a haven.

There are Al Qaida operatives. The challenge we face is part -- partly -- is a result of the failure of our cooperation in countering terrorism, because as you have -- your reporter has said, that there is a risk of Al Qaida operatives coming to Yemen from Afghanistan, from Pakistan, from other places, and I -- and my question is, if they come to Yemen from all these remote areas, how can they move across so many boundaries without being detected and apprehended?

AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, you said that, quote, "hundreds of Al Qaida militants" are planning terror attacks from Yemen. How serious is this problem, then, in your view?

AL-QIRBI: I said there are 200 to 300 Al Qaida operatives in Yemen. Now, what role they play, what they will do, how many of them are going to undertake terrorist attacks is something that is obviously of concern to us, to Yemen.

[15:10:00]

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this. For Yemen, is fighting Al Qaida more important than fighting the insurgencies that you have in the north and the south?

AL-QIRBI: I would not really say it is more or less important. I think they are all important. We have to confront all the three challenges. I think our -- our fault was that maybe we should spare Al Qaida in the last year or -- because of the confrontation in the south in (inaudible) but Al Qaida took advantage of that.

And this is why they've tried to infiltrate, to establish some links with (inaudible) with El Harak (ph) in the south. And then they went even further to arrange for some suicidal attacks in Sana'a. And this is why it's always important that our security forces should take action against them.

AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Foreign Minister, if you're basically saying that you took your eye off the ball over the last year or so and Al Qaida has rushed into that vacuum, do you now accept U.S. direct intervention? Do you accept U.S. missile strikes, drone attacks? Will you accept U.S. troops in the fight against Al Qaida in Yemen?

AL-QIRBI: I think we've always stated that we welcome any support from our partners in -- in combating terrorism in Yemen and the region as a whole, but we think this is the priority and the responsibility of our security forces and the army and that what we need from the United States and other partners is, really, to build our capabilities, to provide us with the technical know-how, with the equipment, with the intelligence information, and with the firepower.

But apart from that, I think our military forces are able to conduct their actions against Al Qaida.

AMANPOUR: But what would happen if the U.S. wanted direct intervention? Would you accept that? Do you accept it?

AL-QIRBI: No, I don't think we will accept it. I think this -- I think the U.S., as well, have learned from Afghanistan and -- and Iraq and other places that -- that direct intervention can be -- can be self- defeating.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, you've talked about needing U.S. help in various ways, including in assistance. The U.S. has now bumped up its assistance to Yemen from $40 million to just over $52 million in the last year. Is that enough?

AL-QIRBI: Not really. I think an increase of $12 million, when you compare it to the billions that are spent on the fight in Afghanistan and fighting terrorism in the United States, is really going to have very little effect.

I think we need substantial assistance in both beefing up -- beefing up, really, the needs of our counterintelligence forces, as well as for development. And development is a very important element, really, in producing results both as far as stabilizing Yemen and in countering terrorism.

AMANPOUR: Well, given the fact that Yemen does actually have such a weak infrastructure and such poverty right now, what can your country do? Because there's obviously been a huge amount of complaints about the corruption, about how aid is being taken and not delivered in the correct way and basically pocketed. What can your country do and your government do to assure the West that its money will be properly spent?

AL-QIRBI: I'm sorry, Christiane, that some of these reports really are backdated to three or four years ago. People haven't come back to Yemen and looked at the progress we have made in fighting corruption, the - - our national reform agenda that is being now implemented in the country. And progress has been made, really, confronting these challenges.

More is needed. I think the challenge we face now is really with our partners realizing that what Yemen needs is not really analysis, advice, but direct involvement and participation with Yemen in trying to resolve all these challenges of poverty, extremism, unemployment, education, health. This is what is going to need, really, to real progress in Yemen.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you very much for joining us.

AL-QIRBI: Thank you very much. Nice to be with you.

AMANPOUR: And when we return, what can the U.S. do about this threat? The State Department's ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism will join us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:17:30]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, PRESIDENT OF YEMEN: We have been successful fighting and hunting down terrorists in spite of our humble financial resources. Yemen is safe and stable, and there's nothing to worry about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Safe, stable, and nothing to worry about; that was Yemen's President Saleh four years ago. Joining me now for the American perspective, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, the State Department's Daniel Benjamin.

Thank you for joining us.

DANIEL BENJAMIN, U.S. AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: Safe, stable, nothing to worry about, that's the view from Yemen four years ago. And just now you heard the foreign minister say that the threat was exaggerated, that Yemen is not a safe haven. Do you agree?

BENJAMIN: Well, we are certainly glad for the partnership of the president of Yemen and his government. It's quite clear that we do have a serious Al Qaida problem in Yemen, and we are working with them to resolve it. But I would not say that we are where we want to be in Yemen right now.

AMANPOUR: Is there a lot to worry about? And do you categorize it as a safe haven?

BENJAMIN: Well, we don't categorize it exactly as a safe haven, because it is -- there is a functioning government there and it's -- it's by no means a failed state.

It is also true, though, that there are parts of Yemen that are undergoverned and that the radicals have exploited because they can evade government security forces. So, you know, there are real problems in terms of getting a handle on -- on the terrorist problem there.

AMANPOUR: So -- but you heard the Yemeni foreign minister say that, in fact, they in Yemen, quote, "took their eye off the ball," or, indeed, that's my quote. They said they tried to give -- spare Al Qaida, and Al Qaida took advantage of it. People are saying, also, the U.S., in fact, took its eye off the ball of Yemen. What has to be corrected? Because suddenly this seems to have come out of nowhere, as far as the public is concerned.

BENJAMIN: The threat has gone up and down in terms of its potency. Certainly, there were times in the past when the cooperation between the two governments was less than it might have been.

What I can tell you is that the Obama administration has been focused on Yemen since day one. My first day in the department when I was sworn in, the deputy secretary of state said to me, "These are some of the priorities you need to be looking at," and right at the top of the list was Yemen.

AMANPOUR: Is the U.S. strategy to use its firepower, whether it be drones, whatever it might be, in Yemen?

[15:20:00]

BENJAMIN: Our strategy is to build up the Yemeni capacity to deal with the threats within their own country, but also to deal with the very acute problems that Yemen is dealing with. It doesn't -- it doesn't do the job if you just give them the firepower. You really need to help them with the governance issues, with the development issues.

Your set-up piece noted accurately the very serious poverty that Yemen grapples with. That poverty translates into -- into difficulties in terms of governing the whole country and having the security services and the police that are needed to deal with terrorism. So we're really trying to address Yemen's problems across the board.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Benjamin, you heard the foreign minister say that a $12 million or so increase is not much comparatively. Are you going to do more? And are they a trustworthy partner for this financial and other aid?

BENJAMIN: We certainly are doing more. We see that our assistance for 2009 went up 56 percent over the year before, and the trajectory is going -- is going up considerably. The increases have been notable.

Look, obviously, Yemen has a lot of needs. We don't know what the final figure for the next budget will be, but I'm quite sure that Yemen is getting a lot more attention and a lot more of the resources.

It's important to underscore, too, that we're working with a lot of other partners on this. The gulf countries are very concerned, and there have been press reports about the UAE, for example, allocating more than $500 million to Yemen. We know the Saudis are concerned, the British are concerned. There is very much of an international effort going on to help Yemen with its problems, both on the governance and development side and, very specifically, in terms of training up their counterterrorism forces.

AMANPOUR: You've -- you've been following Al Qaida and this terrorist threat from way before you even entered the State Department. Since Al Qaida is being pushed out now from various different locations, what is the option? I mean, you keep pushing, and then it pops up somewhere else. What is the overall strategy? I mean, it's -- it's because the Saudis pushed them out in 2004-'05 that they've popped up in Yemen now, right?

BENJAMIN: Well, as I said before, they've been in Yemen all along. It is certainly true that the threat has grown because of the successes, frankly, of the Saudi counterterrorism efforts after the bombings there in 2003, and now there are a lot of Saudi militants in Yemen.

You know, dealing with terrorist groups is a little bit like trying to nail jelly to the wall. If they're not defending territory, then they will move around.

What we have to ensure is that, wherever they move, those countries have the capability to deal with the threat, that we can share the intel with them so that they can go after the terrorists wherever they may be, and that we can keep them from traveling with impunity. So it's -- it's a multi-dimensional challenge, and it's one that we're working on every day.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Benjamin, thank you for joining us from the State Department. A discussion to be continued. Thank you so much.

BENJAMIN: Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: We've also been taking your questions from Facebook and Twitter on Yemen, so log on to our Web site, cnn.com/amanpour, where a former adviser to the British and American governments on this issue will have the answers.

Coming up, how a shortage of resources such as water fuels instability and conflict in Yemen and elsewhere. We'll take a closer look at the water crisis that's gripping billions of people around the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:25:00]

AMANPOUR: As we've been hearing, Yemen is now at the forefront of the war against Al Qaida, but the government in Sana'a says that much of the violence in the country is about disputes over resources, such as water. According to the World Bank, Yemen is pumping about a third more water than is sustainable. In some areas, Yemenis are draining supplies even faster, and residents in parts of Sana'a, the capital, only receive pipe water once every two weeks. By one estimate, Sana'a could actually run out by 2015, as we heard earlier in the program.

And it's an issue in so many other parts of the world, as well, including the Middle East, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned at a news conference on Friday when she added access to water to the essentials for peace in the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We know what a final resolution will have to include: borders, security, Jerusalem, refugees, water. We know what the elements of this two-state solution must include.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And we'll be taking an in-depth look at the Israeli- Palestinian disputes over water next. And later, we'll have a special interview with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and all of her insights.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

[15:33:00]

AMANPOUR: Welcome back. As we've been reporting, there's another key source of conflict in Yemen, a shortage of water, which also affects billions of people in other parts of the world. Today, 1 in 3 people don't have enough water, and that number could double in 15 years.

And human efforts to divert water to parched fields and also to factories are causing immense damage to the environment and even fueling violence. And in one of the most intractable conflicts in the Middle East, water is a major issue between Israelis and Palestinians, as CNN's Paula Hancocks reports from the Hebron hills in the West Bank.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Izat Abdullah (ph) and his grandson have just enough wheat to plant, but they don't have enough water to make it grow. Abdullah (ph) already knows the crop won't be enough to feed his animals or his family. It's the fifth year of draught here in the Hebron hills of the West Bank.

He says, "When I was young, it used to rain a lot. No one used to worry about a lack of water."

In the neighboring village, Halad Dafa (ph) shows me his well. It's eight meters deep, but it's cracked, so it doesn't hold a single drop of water. Now he and his donkey have a daily four-hour trek to fill up four containers of water.

The water shortage affects not just crops and families, but also, of course, politics. Israel controls this part of the West Bank. Palestinian farmers say, if they try to dig new wells, the Israeli military stops them. The region's water also has to service Israeli settlements and farms.

(on-screen): Here in Gaza, the water shortage has reached a crisis point. Global aid organizations say that the underground aquifer which supplies the vast majority of 1.5 million people here is up to 95 percent polluted. It's unfit for human consumption.

[15:35:00]

(voice-over): The Arab-Israeli conflict is often described as a battle over land, but just as crucial is the shrinking amount of water that runs through it. And conflict over water is not restricted to this small plot of real estate. The United Nations estimates about 300 places around the world are at risk of potential conflicts over water.

One result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war is that Israel captured land giving it access to the Jordan River and control of the Sea of Galilee. Talk peace in the Middle East and water is near the top of the agenda. Israel's peace deal with Jordan in 1994 spelled out water rights in detail. Israel's aborted talks with Syria stumbled, among other things, over water- related issues.

In any future Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians, water could prove as much of a deal-breaker as the holy city of Jerusalem. But a deal may as well be a world away for Dafa (ph). At 73 years old, his constant fight for water has little chance of ending.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, in the Hebron hills of the West Bank.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: So how should the world deal with this developing crisis? Joining me now is one of the world's leading environmentalists, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who's founder and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Welcome to the program.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., PRESIDENT, WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE: Thanks, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: What is the real crux of this matter? We can see that it's fueling all sorts of violence, but there's also contamination, scarcity. What can be done about it?

KENNEDY: Well, generally that's a regional question. And, for example, in the eastern United States, the big issue is water equality, pollution of water, and the destruction of water. This is an issue all over the world, as well.

In the western United States, the -- the kind of conflicts that you're seeing in the Mideast are happening there, as well. It's over water quantity.

AMANPOUR: Tell me about that.

KENNEDY: Well, there -- it's not -- it's not a question so much of violence. It's a question of -- of big battles between states and lots of lawyers over diminishing quantities of water in the Western states. There's an old expression in the West that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. And the Colorado River used to supply most of the water needs of the Western states. Today, Lake Powell is about 100 feet below its historic levels, and soon it's going to be dry.

The other big source of water in the West was the Ogallala Aquifer, which is 10 million years old. It's several hundred feet below its historic levels. And communities like Scottsdale and Phoenix and -- and Las Vegas are continuing to encourage sprawl development, build golf courses in the desert, and these are huge. These are becoming greater and greater issues. The Colorado River no longer even reaches the sea. It drives up in the Sonoran Desert.

AMANPOUR: Who's responsibility is it to provide water? Is it a basic right?

KENNEDY: Well, you talk about a right. It's part of the commons, so that historically water was -- was governed -- water is part of the commons, and so government has a -- it can't be privatized. Government has a responsibility to make sure, whether you're rich or poor, humble or noble, black or white, that you have a right to your share of that resource. Everybody has a right to use it; nobody has a right to use it in a way that will diminish or injure its use and enjoyment by others.

Today, one of the big issues that we're seeing around the world is -- that's causing a lot of conflict is the growing attempt to privatize public water supplies, to hand them over to private corporations. A few years ago, the Bechtel Corporation took over a public water supply in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and -- and hiked the rates, which caused riots in the streets. It caused the -- the collapse of the government there.

And -- and this is a bad trend, and it's a trend that I think everybody, you know, decent people who have -- who have thought through this issue want to make sure that water stays in the hands of government and -- and the people, rather than being allowed to be privatized, any more than you wouldn't want to privatize the air supply.

AMANPOUR: So -- but what about the issue, then, of contamination? For instance, I did a report some 10 years ago in Bangladesh about arsenic in the water levels and just a few weeks ago looked at the front of the New York Times here in the United States and found that some 20 percent of America, its water supply is contaminated with, among other things, arsenic and such things, 49 million people having to suffer levels of bacteria and other such things in the water here. How is that possible?

[15:40:00]

KENNEDY: Well, there's lots of threats to water quality in the United States. One of the threats that -- that is receiving increasing attention is the level of pharmaceuticals in our drinking water. In New York City, where we are today, has one of the finest drinking water supplies in the world, but there are 122 sewage treatments discharging into the 2,000- square-mile reservoirs upstate in the Catskill Mountains in Westchester County.

Those sewage treatment plants, the water that comes to New York City is unfiltered water. It has to be heavily chlorinated. That creates a class of chemicals called trihalomethanes, which the city of New York doesn't even test for.

In addition to that, there's growing concern about pharmaceuticals in our water supply. About 80 percent of the estrogen in a -- when -- when a woman takes birth control pills, about 80 percent of that estrogen goes through her body and then ends up in the -- either the septic system or the sewage plant, which discharges into public drinking water.

In addition to that, there's antibiotics, there's antidepressants in measurable amounts in almost every public water supply in our country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: That was the environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., speaking to me earlier. And coming up, the U.S. launches a new attempt to kick-start the stalled Middle East peace process. Will it succeed? I'll sit down with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:43:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenge posed by lone recruits. And that's why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that Al Qaida offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including the murder of fellow Muslims, while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress.

To advance that progress, we've sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: That was President Obama speaking on Thursday. A day later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a resumption of the Middle East peace talks, quote, "without preconditions." So can the U.S. win the confidence of the Muslim world?

Joining me now, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Welcome back to our program.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: So in all of this, in all of this, ramping up again of the war on Al Qaida, President Obama still is saying that we must continue our outreach to the Muslim world. Is that because he's sticking to his policy, or is that a strategy for winning?

ALBRIGHT: I think it's both, frankly. I mean, he wanted -- and he made that very clear in his Cairo speech and in a general way, that we had to have a different relationship with the Muslim world. Actually, a term, "Muslim world" doesn't work in many ways, because it's not monolithic.

But I do think that he believes, as do I, that an outreach is very important and an understanding of what is going on. So I -- I think it is sticking with his policy, but at the same time, also making clear that there has to be movement on the Middle East peace talks and generally on having a different relationship.

[15:45:00]

AMANPOUR: Well, we're going to talk about that. In fact, let's put up -- let's just read what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. She said that we must now -- and we're working with the Israelis, the Palestinians, et cetera, to re-launch negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions. That sounds a little bit like a backtrack to me. Does it to you? Because they started by having a firm condition, and that was the freezing of all settlements.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that that is what they would really like, but also what I think has to happen -- and that is what both the secretary and the president are saying -- is that we can't just kind of sit around while the situation deteriorates in many ways in Gaza and generally in the Middle East and that it's important to get the talks going again.

I have listened quite carefully also to what Senator Mitchell has been saying. He is either on his way or about to go to the region in order to really push for a restart of the talks and try to look at different ways that the United States can bring the parties together.

One of the images all the time that were out there when I was in office was that the Middle East peace talks are so much like a bicycle, that you just do have to keep peddling. And the bottom line is that it's been quiescent for several weeks, months at this point, and the U.S., I think, believes it's essential to get back together.

AMANPOUR: Former Senator Mitchell, the special envoy, said that he thinks that it must take two years and it will take two years and then it'll be done once it's started. Is that realistic?

ALBRIGHT: I think that what is realistic is to not have people think that this can happen instantly, and I think that's part of the thing that Americans would like to say, new administration, bring them together. There is a willingness to move the process forward. And I think what he has indicated is that the complications of the final settlement issues and the deterioration of the situation does and is going to take time. And so he has laid out the fact that you can't expect something instantly.

AMANPOUR: What about the whole idea of a two-state solution? Obviously, most people want that, but even former administration officials who worked under you and your administration are really saying that this is getting a more and more distant hope the longer it -- the longer it goes.

ALBRIGHT: Well, people are analyzing the situation very carefully and thinking about what some options are. I happen to think the two-state solution is the -- the way to go, but there are those who ultimately think that they will -- could be a one-state solution, which I think is, in many ways, problematic, because given the demographics and the combination of an increasing number of Palestinians within that area, there is then the question as to whether Israel stays a Jewish state.

And so in many ways, what we were working on when we were in office was a two-state solution with demarcated borders and a way that two peoples could live side by side.

AMANPOUR: Let's jump back to Yemen. We're hearing now and it's being written everywhere and talked about by a lot of people that it must be a long-term development strategy for Yemen. You could say that for Afghanistan and elsewhere. But there are many people who doubt that the United States has the desire, the staying power to actually do that. What does the U.S. need to do? Doesn't it just need to change the way it does foreign policy in these places?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think what we're seeing more and more -- and Secretary Clinton gave, I think, a very compelling speech about the importance of development and diplomacy and defense...

AMANPOUR: Can we just play that sound bite? Because we do have it, and then we'll talk about it.

ALBRIGHT: Yeah, great, yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We must also be honest that in some situations we will invest in places that are strategically critical, but where we are not guaranteed success. In countries that are incubators of extremism like Yemen or ravaged by poverty and natural disasters like Haiti, the odds are long. But the cost of doing nothing is potentially far greater.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Well, here I'm kind of perplexed, because in November of this year, she practically said the opposite when talking about Afghanistan, that the days when we'll come and talk about how we're going to help the Afghans build a democracy and a more functioning state are pretty much over.

So the question really is, what is the policy? Do they know?

ALBRIGHT: well, I think that they are dealing with two very complex situations. You're talking about Afghanistan, Yemen. You could add Pakistan...

AMANPOUR: But it's still all about development and about long-term investments.

ALBRIGHT: I think that what people have said is that there are various ways that some people talk about military solutions in places. And that seems to always be the quickest fix.

[15:50:00]

On the other hand, anybody who really looks into the problems there understands that these are long-term issues and that they require what a lot of people -- I've been calling kind of the comprehensive solution -- that requires the security provided by the military, but, in fact, in a long-term way, requires development, education, and doesn't mean that it's all done only by the United States.

And so I think that what you're seeing -- and so far, people have been mostly talking about Afghanistan, but I think this will move to Yemen, also -- is conferences like the one in London in a couple of weeks where there's going to be an attempt to have the international community understand that our security and the well-being of the people in the region are going to require some kind of a comprehensive approach.

AMANPOUR: And do you think the U.S. -- you say it's not just the United States, but obviously the U.S. has the biggest pockets and the biggest ability to do that -- will it pursue that program? Because, as I say, again, leading up to the Afghan question, there was a pushback on the idea of development.

ALBRIGHT: Well, there was a pushback on the idea of term that has acquired opprobrium, nation-building. That is different, I think, than development, in terms of trying to figure out whether there isn't a way to get support for the people -- you've done so much work on looking at what happens to the people in these countries and women and the situation. And I think that there is a way that development, whether -- and Secretary Clinton talked about this, with the help of nongovernmental organizations, businesses, because they obviously have some stake in having something work, and so to have an approach that has a longer term approach in applying a way that there can be education, there can be a way of resource development, not necessarily something that just works with the government.

AMANPOUR: And in terms of -- we've been talking about water and that sort of being a source of instability -- you came face to face with that in Middle East peace negotiations. How crucial is it in resolving conflict?

ALBRIGHT: I think absolutely crucial. I mean, there are a lot of people who believe that fighting over water as a resource may end up being more complicated and deeper than fighting over oil, because in so many ways it obviously has to do with agriculture, it has to do with the style of life that people have, the whole environmental questions, and it certainly is a problem in the Middle East, and it was one of the issues between Syria and Israel as to control over the headwaters and also money -- water that comes out of the Sea of Tiberias. So I think that it is one of the big issues, and then delimiting the lines and environmental issues, so it's a very, very big deal.

AMANPOUR: We're going to go to a break right now, but do you think there's any chance of restarting the Middle East peace process?

ALBRIGHT: I do. And I think that it's something that is going to require detailed work by Senator Mitchell and by the secretary and ultimately by the president, but it doesn't happen if you don't really work on it on a day-to-day basis.

AMANPOUR: All right. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, thank you so much for joining us.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And next, we'll have our "Post-Script," more about Yemen, that deeply conservative country, and a young girl who's challenging its traditions.

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[15:54:30]

AMANPOUR: And now our "Post-Script." From its lack of women's rights to its strong disdain for America and its Western ways, Yemen is a deeply conservative country. Tradition dictates that most women and young girls cover their heads with scarves, and at least one young Yemeni girl is choosing her own path, 13-year-old Najima (ph), featured in the documentary "A Stranger in her Own City."

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AMANPOUR: Extraordinary, really. Khadija Al-Salami directed that film. And to see a longer version and to submit your videos as part of our "Global Dispatches" series, go to our Web site, cnn.com/Amanpour. Send us a snapshot of your world.

That's our report. Thank you for joining us. Goodbye from New York.

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