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CONNECT THE WORLD
Iraqi Forces Retake Key Dam In Northwest Iraq; Floods Affecting Millions In Pakistan, India; Serena Williams Goes For 18th Grand Slam Today; Double Upsets In Semis as Federer, Djokovic Go Down To Relative Unknowns; ISIS Threatens British Hostage; British "Bride of ISIS"; Joan Rivers Remembered; Developing Aqaba; Dubai's Hot Property; Tehran's Empty Homes; Aldar's Expanding Ambitions
Aired September 7, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, HOST: Fresh fire, new game plan, President Barack Obama getting set to reveal his strategy against ISIS as the U.S. expands its air
campaign against those Islamic militants in northern Iraq.
Also, fragile ceasefire -- shelling hits areas new two key cities in eastern Ukraine.
And, the power of nature and the devastation that can come with it -- floods washing away bridges and killing hundreds in Pakistan and India. We
have a live report straight ahead.
ANNOUNCER: This is the hour we connect the world.
CLANCY: Iraqi forces got a major boost in their fight against ISIS militants in northwestern Iraq. At the request of the Iraqi government,
U.S. war planes launched four airstrikes on ISIS position around and near the Haditha dam. Local officials telling CNN, Iraqi forces followed those
airstrikes with a ground offensive.
U.S. President Barack Obama saying he is going to outline Washington's next steps in the fight against ISIS during a speech to the nation on Wednesday.
Jomana Karadsheh joins us now live from Baghdad with some details on this. On the ground, this fighting let's get a quick update on that.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, as you mentioned there top officials told us at 5:00 this morning they did launch
this ground offensive which was supported by U.S. airstrikes, U.S. air cover that they had requested. The area targeted, this is about six miles,
or 10 kilometers west of the city of Haditha and also the Haditha down around there. This area called Bedouana (ph) they say the area and the area
surrounding it have been used by ISIS militants to target the Haditha dam.
Now much of that Anbar province, Jim, as you recall back in January fell into the hands of ISIS, including the city of Fallujah and others. But
Haditha and the Haditha dam have remained under the control of the Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribes. But there have been many attempts over
recent weeks to try and take them over by ISIS. Now, they say, the provincial officials there telling us that this -- these airstrikes and the
support from the U.S. has allowed them to push ISIS back from the Barouana (ph) area and stop ISIS attacks that have been targeting the dam.
They have been really concerned that a mortar attack or any sort of attack could damage the dam and cause catastrophic flooding, as they put it.
CLANCY: Jomana, you know, we have watched -- and it would appear now if you look at the game that's going on, on the ground. ISIS is being pushed back.
Of course over the past few weeks, we have noted the deaths of two American journalists at the hands of ISIS, brutal deaths. And that's all important.
But I think it's important we also stop and take stock of the terrible price that Iraqis have already paid .
You look back to June when I think it was Human Rights Watch that said 700 or 800 military recruits had just been marched into the desert and
The humanitarian toll in this fight is huge.
KARADSHEH: Absolutely, Jim. You see these videos and the impact that they have on people here is incredible. And that figure, 700 to 800 is just an
estimate that Human Rights Watch expects that number to rise. Officials here say that this is the tip of the iceberg.
It's been three months and there are more questions than answers about what happened to these recruits from Camp Spiker (ph) in the city of Tikrit. And
no one has more questions than the families of these recruits.
KARADSHEH: 5-year-old Drahaf (ph) and 2-year-old Hassan (ph) share what they have left of their father: a photograph, too painful for their
grandmother Fatima (ph) to watch. The children are too young to understand. Their father Ahmed Ambaraq (ph) is one of the men in this video of what
looked like an endless line of military cadets captured by ISIS in June as the group swept through the city of Tikirt.
ISIS claimed it killed 1,700 Shia soldiers and released videos of cold- blooded mass murders. Nearly three months on, like hundreds of other military families, Ahmed's family doesn't know his fate.
"I don't want anything in life, except for one thing, bring me my son," his mother Fatima (ph) tells us.
In an emotional scene that has come to depict the suffering of so many military families at a recent meeting with senior lawmakers, Fatima (ph)
tells them we brought you to power bring back our sons dead or alive.
She removes her headscarf, a symbol of her honor, and throws it at officials to shame them into finding her boy.
Fatima (ph) also was among this group of families who stormed parliament last week demanding answers. The protests forced lawmakers to summon the
minister of defense and senior commanders for questioning.
Families say as ISIS advanced in Tikrit, the recruits received orders from their commanders to move out of their fortified base Camp Spiker (ph) with
no weapons or security. They ended up in the hands of Sunni extremists.
The military denies issuing any orders and says they deserted.
Many relatives are holding onto the hope that some of the recruits may still be captive.
Officials say the answers, like most of the bodies in mass graves, lie in Tikrit, a city ISIS rules and they cannot reach.
Fatima (ph) says she doesn't trust their government and wants an international investigation by the United Nations.
22-year-old Ahmed, like many others in this poor farming town south of Baghdad join the military because it's the only job he could find. His
wife, Yistrin (ph) cannot speak nor stop crying, the anguish visible in his father's face.
Fatima shows me the last time she saw her son alive in a video clip of the captured recruits.
"This one. This one," she says. "He looks at the camera. It's a message for us to tell us I'm here."
Ahmed's (ph) family is overwhelmed by grief. They don't know whether to mourn or to wait.
And, Jim, that's just one story out of 1,700, if not many, many more.
CLANCY: Jomana Karadsheh there painting a picture for us that are paying -- that Iraqis are enduring. It's been endless since 2003. It is a situation
that continues to haunt them to this day.
Jomana Karadsheh, thank you so much for that reporting.
We're going to have more on the situation in Iraq a little bit later right here on Connect the World. The fight against ISIS may create a rather
unlikely alliance, one between the U.S. and Iran? But there's one major problem, the Iranian military leader assigned to help Iraqi forces may have
American blood on his hands.
Also, we'll learn more about the British hostage being threatened now by ISIS. He was a humanitarian aid worker who went to Syria to help people,
and he got caught up in a horrible situation. All that and more is ahead on Connect the World.
Well, shelling across parts of eastern Ukraine could signal the beginning of the end of the ceasefire there. It could be unraveling, perhaps now,
it's hard to tell as artillery and explosions could be heard in Donetsk. The latest fierce fighting also taking place near the port city to the
south of Mariupol.
Our Diana Magnay is there. She joins us now live with the latest. And that is the question today, do we have a ceasefire or not? Certainly the people
there have to be hoping that despite the violations it will hold.
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This didn't feel like violations, Jim. They felt like very, very heavy artillery bombardment.
Last night at midnight, again today. We just heard the rumble of artillery fire just about 10 minutes ago, even though the government has been
emphasizing these are just violations in Mariupol and in Donetsk. It just doesn't feel that way to people on the ground, the people who were fleeing
the artillery shelling driving incredibly fast into town last night from the east as the shells came down, you know, it feels effectively as though
this ceasefire has already been broken, not worth the paper it was written on even if it's not being officially cited as broken, Jim.
CLANCY: You know, it's very important here, from your perspective -- and I understand it can be confusing with incoming, outcoming, who started it.
But where is the -- what's the source of the fire? The targets would suggest that these are pro-Russian rebels that are shooting.
MAGNAY: It's very difficult to know who started it, but what is quite clear is that when you go to the checkpoint on the eastern outskirts of the city,
and that is the checkpoint -- the main checkpoint on the road from Mariupol down to Novoesosk (ph), the town that was last week captured by pro-Russian
rebels down to the Russian border, that it was that checkpoint that was targeted. So it must have been pro-Russian rebels who started firing at
I have no doubt that Ukraine would have been engaged presumably in some kind of return fire rather than just absorbing all that incoming artillery
and mortar rounds.
But it did look very much as though it was that checkpoint which was being very precisely targeted.
And that follows the pattern of the last few days prior to this ceasefire where the shelling had been all along that coastal strip and it had been
initiated by the rebels as they tried to push closer and closer to the city and the shelling last night was the closest that it has got to the city, if
only by a kilometer or so.
And in fact, the Donetsk People's Republic tweeted that they were retaking Mariupol last night. And then a few minutes later they followed it up in a
rather a contradictory way that saying that it was the Ukrainians who had violated the ceasefire. So both sides blaming each other, Jim. But it looks
as though the pro-Russian rebels were trying to take that checkpoint, or at least destroy it.
CLANCY: Diana Magnay, our correspondent right there on the frontlines of Mariupol, a very fragile truce. If it remains in effect it is certainly in
tatters right now. Diana, thank you as always.
Well, turning now to the subcontinent, more than 200 people are dead, thousands, thousands more are trapped. These have been the worst monsoon
rains in decades. They pounded both sides of the India-Pakistan border. You can see there the flooding on roads has completely obfuscated them. People
all over the region are being rescued, they're being rescued in trucks, by helicopter, by boats, even carried by other humans to safety. It's a tragic
The rain has tapered off, but of course the flood waters are moving downstream. Many of the water levels are rising and so, too, is the danger.
CNN's Saima Mohsin is live in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. Saima, what is the situation now regarding the rescues and the plight of so many,
so many thousands of people?
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, so far today at least 500 people have had to be rescued, 3,000 people over the weekend in
helicopters, as you say, using trucks and boats as well. They've tried to use everything they possibly can. And that's because Pakistan really isn't
equipped, it doesn't have urban emergency service, it doesn't have search and rescue groups operating in urban centers, so they rely on the military.
So they've employed 14 helicopters and boats to head out to these remote areas to try and rescue people.
And because the worst hit provinces -- the Punjab, Jim, that's the bread bowl of Pakistan, so a lot of agricultural land at stake, but also a lot of
livestock having to be rescued alongside people. So extraordinary scenes of cows and goats alongside people being rescued from these remote areas.
Now if we take a look at the areas that are affected right up north, Jim, it's Gilgidboldastan (ph), shares a border with China, also heavily
affected by these rains. Then coming further down, Pakistan administered Kashmir bordering Indian administered Kashmir which you say as well has
been heavily affected by these rains.
So, a number of rivers, reservoirs and dams being kept a close eye on, Jim.
CLANCY: Saima Mohsin there with a good overview of what's happening right now from, you know, dealing with the flood waters themselves to try and
rescue people and give them the aid that they will need. Saims, thank you so much for that live update.
Well, still to come right here tonight, saying goodbye to an entertainment icon. People are gathering to bid farewell to comedian Joan Rivers. We're
going to have a live report coming up from New York.
And, there's a report out suggesting Iran wants to work with the U.S. to defeat ISIS. Washington denies it, but just what would it take to see some
form of collaboration between Tehran and Washington?
CLANCY: You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World. I'm Jim Clancy in for Becky Anderson. Welcome back everyone.
I want to recap a little bit on our top story, and that is the United States expanding its air campaign against ISIS forces in Iraq. The latest
targets, militant positions around Haditha dam (ph) in western Iraq. It's a critical piece of infrastructure. An Iraqi ground offensive was launched
immediately following that on Sunday. The U.S. President Barack Obama saying he's going to be giving a speech outlining how he would deal with
ISIS. That will come our way on Wednesday.
Now the question, and it's a good one, is perhaps encapsulated in a report in British media that says Iran's supreme leader wants to work with the
U.S. to confront the threat of ISIS. I'm just looking at a tweet that came from Hassan Rouhani who says he's in Mashad (ph) and he's meeting with
Demark's FM, the foreign minister, having what he calls hashtag #constructiveengagement.
Now there's been a lot of talk about the U.S. and Iran collaborating against ISIS. The Iranians have denied it. The U.S. has denied it. They've
been long-term adversaries. But some hints there they could team up on this occasion.
Let's get more from Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, residents were under siege from ISIS. They feared a massacre. ??But
in recent days, the siege was broken. Iraq's president acknowledges a combination of U.S. air strikes and Iranian-backed Shiite militias on the
ground drove ISIS away. Is there any cooperation or coordination between the U.S. and Iran against ISIS? ??
MARIE HARF, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT: We do not coordinate military action or share intelligence with Iran and have no plans to do so.
?? TODD: An Iranian official denies a BBC report saying Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, approved cooperation between his forces and the
Americans against ISIS. Specifically the report says Khamenei sanctioned General Qassem Suleimani, the shadowy head of the Quds Force of the
Revolutionary Guard to work with U.S. forces. Suleimani may look like George Clooney, but analysts say a better Hollywood comparison would be Don
PATRICK CLAWSON, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EASY POLICY: He's a relatively mild-mannered man but he has a done a very effective job at
organizing the most brutal thugs that the Islamic republic has. ??
TODD: This photo, posted on Twitter by a group called Digital Resistance, is described to be of Suleimani on the ground in Amerli around the time of
that siege. CNN cannot independently verify that. ??Qassem Suleimani would be among the strangest bedfellows America has ever had. ??
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA/FBI COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICER: As soon as you sit down with him, though, you're sitting down with someone who's got the blood
of Americans on his hands. ??
TODD: U.S. officials believe during the Iraq War Suleimani's units provided Iraqi insurgents with a lethal weapon against American troops. ??
CLAWSON: It was his Quds Force which provided these very advanced explosive devices -- really, it's a misnomer to call them improvised explosive
devices -- that penetrated the armor on American vehicles and, as a result, killed an awful lot of Americans. ??
TODD: Despite their mutual hatred of ISIS, other reasons why a U.S./Iranian alliance may not work? ??
MUDD: Let's remember: we want Bashar al Assad out. Iran has a long-standing support of Assad. We want a more inclusive government in Baghdad. Iran
would prefer a Shia government.
TODD: There's also the matter of Qassem Suleimani's dangerous reach beyond the Middle East. U.S. Treasury officials say he was involved in a notorious
plot on American soil overseeing Quds Force officers who, in 2011, tried and failed to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States
right here at Wasington's upscale Cafe Milano.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CLANCY: All right, some interesting perspective there.
You know, one of our top stories online right now argues that ISIS's threat to the U.S. -- now we're not talking about the threat to Iraq or to Syria,
but to the U.S., well that's mostly hype. You've seen Peter Bergen on air many times as the networks national security analyst. In an opinion piece
that he's written, Bergen accuses officials in Washington of inflating the numbers of Americans who are over there fighting for ISIS and inflating the
threat that they may pose to the U.S.
Read his take on the real threats and leave your own thoughts. That's waiting for you at CNN.com/international. It's writing worth reading.
You're watching Connect the World. And coming up next, an American Open that's going down in the history books. Find out why all eyes are on
Flushing Meadows after this short break.
CLANCY: All eyes, and I mean all eyes, are going to be on the U.S. Open for the next 48 hours. There will be without a doubt two historic final
matches. There you see Serena Williams, she's hoping to join and exclusive club of women to clock up 18 or more grand slam titles when she takes on
Carolina Wozniacki later today.
And in the men's, well, you don't know who these guys, Kei Nishikori is the first Asian man ever to reach a single's final at a grand slam tournament
and he's playing fabulously.
CNN's Andy Scholes joins me once again from New York. Boy, you know, this is going to be some much -- must watch television if you're a sports and
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you know what it sure it, Jim. And it all starts here in a few hours with Serena Williams taking on
Caroline Wozniacki. Of course, they're going to be enemies on the court later on today, but in real life they're actually really, really good
You know, in May when golf superstar Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement with Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams was in the midst of planning
Wozniacki's bachelorette party, that's how close these are. She was there to help Wozniacki through that tough time she was going through.
Now does that mean she's going to take it easy on here later today, there's no way. Serena looks like she's on a mission this year at the U.S. Open.
She hasn't lost a set yet in the tournament.
And, you know, if she gets the win later today she's going to join some pretty exclusive company. No one since Chris Everett back in the 70s has
won three straight U.S. Open titles, that's what Serena would do if she was able to win today. It would also be her 18th career major title, that would
tie her with Everett and Martina Navratilova at 18.
Wozniacki, on the other hand, she's looking for her first major title later on today. It's going to be tough to beat Serena, but it would definitely be
a great way to get her first major title if she was able to get the win.
Also it would probably be good for her as she continues to watch Rory McIlroy win all these golf majors, for her to get a trophy of her own to
CLANCY: Yeah, you know, I don't know how much the game has changed for -- you know, Rory, but you know for her it has changed a huge amount. You
know, you remember you mentioned Chris Everett, you know, the old line battles, the volley battles they used to have.
But enough about the women, got to talk about this sensation, you know, that's come on here, Nishikori. What are his chances of getting it all?
SCHOLES: Well, they're pretty good, Jim. But you know everyone was gearing up for what they thought was going to be a Federer-Djokovic final match,
that's what everyone was really looking forward to. But, hey, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic, they had other ideas yesterday.
Nishikori, he shocked the world. He knocked out the top seed in the tournament Novak Djokovic yesterday in four sets. And it was just amazing.
As you said earlier, he became the first Asian born player ever to make it to a major men's final. And he definitely earned it, Jim, he beat the fifth
ranked, third ranked and the top ranked in Djokovic to get this point.
Cilic, on the other hand, he pulled off a huge upset as well, knocking out Federer. Everyone thought once Nishikori made it, Federer was going to step
up his game and make it to the final match, didn't happen. Cilic, 6'6", serves it over 130 miles per hour. He just took Federer out in straight
sets, which really surprised a lot of people.
So now we're going to have, you know, the final matchup that no one expected -- Nishikori versus Cilic.
And, Jim, this is the first time since 2005 that we're not going to have a player named Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Novak Djokovic in the final.
So maybe turning the new page in men's tennis.
CLANCY: Does Cilic's height give him a real advantage in this, the men's final?
SCHOLES: I'm sure. He's like Jon Isner. He's got that powerful serve that Federer had a lot of problems with yesterday. So we'll see how it plays
out, but I -- like I said, Nishikori, man looks like he's playing better than anyone out here.
It should be an exciting match tomorrow night even though we don't have the big names playing in it.
CLANCY: Oh, maybe those are the big names, we just don't know it yet.
All right, listen I want to thank you, Andy. Andy Scholes for being there with us. Have fun there today. Wish I was there.
SCHOLES: Will do.
CLANCY: We'll be back in a moment with the latest world headlines.
Plus, as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to lay out his gameplan on ISIS, the life of a British aid worker is hanging in the balance. We'll
have that story ahead.
CLANCY: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Jim Clancy and here are your top stories right now. The fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine under threat
this hour. Artillery fire and explosions reported in the eastern city of Donetsk. The fiercest fighting taking place near the port city of Mariupol.
Rescuers fanning out in India and Pakistan after horrible floods. More than 200 people have lost their lives. Some cities got several months worth of
rain in a matter of days.
A new poll in Scotland must make the people waving these signs happy. For the first time, a survey by the YouGov shows a majority there, 51 percent,
say they want independence. This comes just ten days before Scotland holds a referendum to decide the matter. We should note that the figures do not
include undecided voters and fall within the poll's margin of error.
An Iraqi ground offensive joining US airstrikes on militant positions around Haditha Dam in western Iraq. That's as the US president, Barack
Obama, is telling us he's going to give a speech Wednesday to describe how next to deal with ISIS.
Now, the Islamic State says if US airstrikes continue, it will kill a British aid worker who was kidnapped in Syria last year. Karl Penhaul joins
us, now, on this story from London. Karl, it's a terrible position for everyone in this.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And there's certainly a sense that the clock is ticking down for David Cawthorne Haines. Now, he's
a Scot. He's in his 40s and he was kidnapped back in March, 2013. \
He was working for a French aid group as the logistics and safety manager up on the Syria-Turkish border near the refugee camp of Atmeh there. He
was, we're told by the French aid organization, involved in the delivery of tents, water, and food to the refugees there.
No real idea, no real sense why he was taken. But now, he finds himself in this position. He was the next man in the orange jumpsuit showed at the end
of that horrific Steven Sotloff video. And as we know, there are about two weeks between the first execution video, James Foley, that video appeared
on August the 19th.
And then the following video, which appeared to show Steven Sotloff's execution. That was on September the 2nd. So, a sense that time could be
running out for David Haines. We also know, of course, that there are a number of other British and American and possibly other nationalities also
being held hostage by ISIS. We don't know what fate may befall them.
We have heard in the last week from the British government, they're still looking at all the options to see if there's any way that they can either
negotiate these hostages to freedom or possibly launch some kind of rescue attempt, Jim.
CLANCY: As people -- because you've been there, I really want to tap your knowledge of this. So many people think, well, these people were in the
wrong place at the wrong time. They got taken by chance. That's not usually the case.
Some of these people, because of their passports and their nationalities, they have a price on their head. No, it isn't ISIS that takes them, it's
criminal gangs that cash in on them, isn't it?
PENHAUL: That's true, and it seems to be true both in Syria and across the world as well with other insurgent groups. There seems to be a long history
of that. In South America, for example, insurgent groups negotiate a ransom for a foreign national. But it's in fact a criminal gang that has taken
them and sold them on.
Also interestingly, just yesterday, I was talking to a British Muslim who had been to Syria to the area near where David Haines was taken, to that
area of refugee camps, and he said that it was a common site to see rebel fighters in the camps, whether they were from ISIS or from the al Qaeda-
affiliated al-Nusra, or from any of the other rebel groups.
They were a common appearance in these camps because some of the refugees did have relatives who were fighting against the Assad regime. So,
something has clearly happened there for the people, the very people going in to help these refugees, for those fighters suddenly to turn against them
and take them, then, as bargaining chips, possibly to raise cash on the one hand.
But of course, now people like David Haines are being used as political pawns. It seems that time has run out to buy their way to freedom, that
ISIS is certainly looking for political gains here, and in this case, for the US and possibly Britain as well not to get involved in any further
military campaign against them, Jim.
CLANCY: Karl Penhaul, who has been there, inside Syria, on that border following this story in the field, reporting there from London. Karl, as
always, appreciate your perspective.
Well, as well as direct action, like abductions, there are also fears over the possible reach that this ISIS propaganda machine possesses. A mother
and father in Scotland are now without their 19-year-old daughter just because of the group. CNN's Atika Shubert has the exclusive story of a
seemingly normal college student who became a so-called "bride of ISIS."
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Aqsa Mahmood as her parents know her: a loving daughter who massaged her mum's
tired feet. A Glasgow teenager who didn't even know which bus to take downtown, much less board a plane by herself.
But this is Aqsa in Syria, unrecognizable, in an all-encompassing niqab with other brides of ISIS fighters. Online, she posts photos of guns and
the Koran, urging Muslims to carry out attacks, like the bombing in Boston, the British soldier hacked to death on the streets of London.
MUZAFFAR MAHMOOD, AQSA'S FATHER: She was the best daughter you could have. And we don't know what happened to her. We thought there was nothing wrong
in praying and reading the Koran.
SHUBERT: The last time Muzaffar and Khalida saw their daughter, she had only her university backpack and kissed them goodbye. Four days later, she
called from the Turkey border just as she was crossing into Syria.
MAHMOOD: We are a moderate Muslim family. And it was a big shock for us.
SHUBERT (on camera): What did she say when you asked her to come home?
MAHMOOD: She -- one message was that "I will see you on the day of judgment."
SHUBERT: That must have been very hard for you as a father.
MAHMOOD: It was.
MAHMOOD: "I will take you to heaven, I will hold your hand." That's what she said. "I want to become a martyr."
SHUBERT (voice-over): So, how did this happen? Aqsa grew up in an affluent neighborhood, attended a prestigious private school. She loved Harry Potter
books and the British band Coldplay. Her family believes that whatever radicalized their daughter happened online.
AAMER ANWAR, FAMILY LAWYER: She was a bedroom radical. That this could happen to Aqsa, who had all the life chances, the best education that money
could buy, a family that were moderate, liberal, and have used freedom, education, love, and affection, that this could happen to her, somebody so
intelligent, then it could happen to any family.
SHUBERT: They have refused to do any interviews, but they spoke to CNN to deliver a personal message to Aqsa.
"My dear daughter, please come back, I'm missing you so much. Your brothers and sisters miss you a lot," her mother says. "My dearest daughter, in the
name of Allah, please come home. I love you."
In February, Aqsa called for the last time with important news. She was getting married to an ISIS fighter. One of her last blog posts was this
poem to her mother, that ends with the line, "Forgive me, ya Umee, I've left, and I know you have accepted that I'm never coming back." Words her
parents desperately hope will not come true.
Atika Shubert, CNN, Glasgow, Scotland.
CLANCY: Are you concerned about the threat from ISIS, worried it could affect you wherever you are in the world? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD
would like to hear your thoughts, your comments. Go to cnn.com/connect and facebook.com/CNNconnect.
Loved ones are gathered in New York to say goodbye to comedienne Joan Rivers. She died, of course, on Thursday. She was 81. In her long career,
Rivers made millions of people laugh, and she paved the way for women in stand-up comedy.
CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now, live from New York where that service is already underway. Good to have you with us. What's the scene?
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Jim. It is exactly the kind of star-studded event that we know that Joan Rivers would have wanted. She
had joked openly about the kind of celebrity affair that she would hope to have at her funeral, and that wish has been granted here.
We're at Temple Emmanuel in New York City. It's a temple that can hold probably a couple of thousand people, and you'll recognize a lot of the
faces that we saw heading in there this morning. Just to give you an idea of who's here for Joan Rivers, fashion designer Carolina Herrera, the co-
host of E Network's "Fashion Police," on which Joan Rivers was a host.
Donald Trump is here, shock jock Howard Stern, the Bravo Network's Andy Cohen, a who's who of media A-listers. Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer,
Whoopi Goldberg, comedienne Kathy Griffin. Just a few of the famous faces that have filed into Temple Emmanuel this morning.
We are hearing some of the details of how Joan Rivers will be honored in there. We know that the New York City Gay Men's Chorus is performing, they
say that Joan Rivers was a longtime supporters of theirs and that they feel honored to be performing. They're the opening act of this memorial service.
The called it an upbeat service. They say that their choice of songs will reflect that upbeat attitude that people are trying to have this morning. A
couple of the numbers, "Hey, Big Spender," "What a Wonderful World." They say that those things could be on their set list.
We know that words will be spoken by Cindy Adams, a longtime friend of Joan Rivers. She's a columnist, she writes for "The New York Post." She
published an article this morning saying that she would be a speaker, Deborah Norville would be a speaker, Hugh Jackman, and of course, Joan
Rivers' daughter, Melissa Rivers.
We did not see Melissa Rivers or her young son, 13-year-old Cooper, entering the temple. Of course, we know that they are inside, there to
reflect on their mother. This is a very personal day for them, this is a private, invitation-only service.
But certainly a lot of fans lining the streets here on Fifth Avenue, paying respects to Joan Rivers, and also getting a look at this celebrity-filled
crowd inside this morning, Jim.
CLANCY: Joan Rivers, very much a part of New York, very much a part of Hollywood and life in America. She saw through it all and made us laugh at
ourselves. Thank you so much for being with us and giving us an idea, here, of what's happening there inside New York. A tribute to Joan Rivers this
Well, I'm Jim Clancy, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. I want to thank you all for watching.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, we take a tour of the region's property hot spots, from Jordan's Port of Aqaba to Tehran.
We look at what is driving prices, despite regional unrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMED KHALIFA AL MUBARAK, CEO, ALDAR PROPERTIES: We look at this mall. This mall to me is a California mall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: And 235,000 square meters, but who is counting? We'll get an early look of Abu Dhabi's foray into what is called a super-regional mall
market at Yas Island.
Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST and our special look at property this week. The Arab Spring has altered the landscape and created some hot spots
along the way. Over the past year, we have visited cities, developments, and even ports.
Let's begin our coverage on the Red Sea port of Aqaba, and how money from here in the UAE is sparking a property boom there.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): For a small city on the Red Sea, the Port of Aqaba has some big things going on. There is a construction boom underway, with
housing going up at a rapid pace. This is a working model of Marsa Zayed, one of the biggest projects to break ground.
DEFTERIOS (on camera): Can Aqaba absorb this sort of scale of a project? Right now, it looks like a fairly sleepy town. But you don't expect it to
stay that way.
EMAD KILANI, CEO, AL MAABAR JORDAN: We all believe in the vision that His Majesty has for Aqaba.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): His Majesty, of course, is King Abdullah of Jordan, who has kept plans alive for the port since the launch in 2001. Container
traffic has more than doubled in eight years under the management of Danish operator AP Moller-Maersk. Fifteen shipping lines serve Jordan, Iraq, and
north to central Asia.
And there are designs for Aqaba to be the new financial hub.
KILANI: Where we are heading today is that it will be the economic capital of Jordan.
DEFTERIOS: UAE developer Al Maabar will eventually pump half of the $20 billion that officials say has been committed to Aqaba.
ZIAD ABU JABER, CHAIRMAN, JORDAN PROJECT FOR TOURISM DEVELOPMENTS: So, you come here to rest. To enjoy yourself, so --
DEFTERIOS: But credit has to go to the first mover here, developer Ziad Abu Jaber, who launched the Tala Bay complex a decade ago, with 440 units and
But the gains are nothing to laugh at. Apartments like this one went for $900 per square meter when Tala Bay launched. They have more than tripled
to $3,000 per square meter in just six years.
Today, Aqaba has only 3,000 four- and five-star hotel rooms
JABER: I'm greedy, so there's no limit for me. But in reality, I think Jordan, or Aqaba specifically, needs about 7,000 rooms within the next five
DEFTERIOS: Developers can only hope that unrest does not derail their ambitious plan.
DEFTERIOS: The regional unrest has had the opposite impact on Dubai. Since the Arab Spring, we've seen an influx of residents into the emirate, and
also, Dubai secured the World Expo in 2020. Those two factors have driven a property boom. Now there's concern that a bubble is forming again. Let's
take a closer look.
DEFTERIOS (voice-over): In the last two decades, on what was once Dubai's desert now stands audacious and creative architecture. Preparations for the
World Expo 2020 fuel further construction. Residential property prices are on the rise, as are initial fears of a repeat property collapse like that
MASOOD AHMED, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: You do see an increase in property prices, particularly real estate prices in Dubai. And
these are things to watch out for. Overall, inflation rates in the GCC remain quite manageable, but you need to keep a vigilant eye.
DEFTERIOS: With this word of caution comes optimism. The International Monetary Fund predicts annual growth of about 5 percent for the next 6
years. Rather than allow the specter instability to cloud Dubai's future, the government has moved to cool the market.
ALAN ROBERTSON, CEO, JONES LANG LASALLE MENA: The Dubai government raised the transfer tax from 2 percent to 4 percent, so it made property
transactions more expensive and less attractive to flippers. The UAE Central Bank introduced new loan-to-value proportions on mortgage lending.
Some of the developers have been introducing their own regulation.
DEFTERIOS: Dubai is one of the world's top transit hubs. With no corporate tax and stable governance, investors keep coming. At this $19 million
villa, one of the most exclusive addresses in the Emirate --
PATRICK CROWE, HEAD OF LUXURY RENTALS, LUXHABITAT: And of course, the beach right on your back doorstep.
DEFTERIOS: Estate agent Patrick Crowe says his high-network clients are undeterred.
CROWE: The driver seems to be lifestyle. Some of our clients, for example, Russian clients, they like seafront property, so the Palm suits them well.
Our GCC clients, they like penthouses. Indian, Pakistan clients that we have, they tend to go for the Emirates Hills properties.
DEFTERIOS: For those with less cash to splash, purchasing sales have slowed. But rents have soared. On average, 20 percent year-on-year.
NICK MACLEAN, MO, CBRE MIDDLE EAST: Cost of living is going up, not just housing prices here. So, Charger (ph), Russel Kamer (ph), Fugera (ph), have
been beneficiaries of people moving away to seek better value of accommodation. So, Dubai has to be very careful that this -- the
affordability gap, as we're calling it, doesn't get out of control.
DEFTERIOS: Dubai, known for its it "build it and they will come" philosophy, doesn't want to add the post-script, "but only if you can
DEFTERIOS: Across the Strait of Hormuz, we're starting to see property prices on the rise in Tehran. After years of sanctions against the overall
economy, investors decided to put their money into property as a safe haven. But it's not clear whether that will be a good bet or not. Reza
Sayah has the story.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Japanese- inspired garden with mini waterfalls welcomes potential buyers to this newly-built luxury apartment for sale in the most exclusive neighborhood in
Tehran. A four-bedroom, four-bathroom unit with amenities that rival five- star hotels and apartments so posh, visitors are required to wear sanitary shoe covers.
At roughly $8,000 per square meter, the price tag, $3.5 million. But for the past year, this swanky apartment has sat empty without a buyer. Half of
the other units in the six-story building are empty, too. So are tens of thousands of other apartments throughout Tehran.
BAHAR KHALILI, AGENT, GOZINE BARTAR REAL ESTATE (through translator): Right now, we have a lot of apartments that aren't being sold and sitting empty
because of high prices.
SAYAH: Housing prices in Tehran soared beginning in 2012, soon after Western powers imposed the toughest round of economic sanctions against
Iran to curb its disputed nuclear program.
The sanctions were a huge blow to Iran's economy, and when Iranian currency started taking a nosedive and no one could figure out where the economy was
going, many here poured their money into real estate.
KHALILI (through translator): This is the safest investment you can make today. Real estate has always increased in value.
SAYAH (on camera): But with uncertainty still plaguing Iran's economy, and may Iranians lacking buying power, the market is at a standstill. Sellers
not selling because they're hoping prices go up, buyers not buying because they're hoping prices go down.
SAYAH (voice-over): The outcome is a Tehran skyline full of empty apartments and investors still looking to buy and build, despite very
DEFTERIOS: Well, there's no shortage of shopping demand in the emirate of Dubai. Dubai Mall is known for its rush of shoppers from all around the
world. But Abu Dhabi's about to enter the super mall market. Up next on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, the chief executive of property group Aldar,
Mohamed Khalifa al Mubarak, and his plans for the Yas Mall. That's after the break.
DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. Yas Island here in Abu Dhabi is already home to the F1 racing circuit, the Ferrari World theme
park, and also a gigantic water park. Soon, it will also be the home to the Yas Island Mall, a 235,000-square-meter complex for the entire family.
But the question is, is the market ready for a structure of this size? Here's the CEO of developer Aldar two months before its opening.
MUBARAK: Over the last five years, the growth of both Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates have been immense. They have both done fantastic, and they
have both created the spaces in itself.
Abu Dhabi does not have that sort of destination here. It does not have that retail experience. It needs that. It's hungry for it. And Yas Mall is
hopefully going to cater for that hunger.
DEFTERIOS: As you look two months out from opening, do you say, I'm glad I built it this big? This is quite a --
DEFTERIOS: -- a destination.
MUBARAK: Absolutely. And we're already looking at phase two. There has been a -- the retailers have really liked this space. They like the destination.
They really understand its growth. They've become a lot forward-thinking, just like us. We couldn't fit the retails who wanted to be here. So, we're
already starting to plan phase two.
DEFTERIOS: What do you think you can accomplish with Yas Mall in terms of footfall, say, over a three-to-four-year period.
MUBARAK: We're taking a conservative approach here. I think in year one, we're looking at around 20 million visitors and increasing that voice to
anywhere between 5 to 8 percent every single year. It's conservative, but it's right.
DEFTERIOS: Does Yas Mall make a statement with a super-regional size that you're ready to go to the next level in terms of scale?
MUBARAK: From a recurring revenue, absolutely. Over the last year, we've grown -- Aldar has grown its recurring revenue to over $1 billion. Yas Mall
adds a significant addition to that, so we're very excited for that. We're excited to -- awareness to our shareholders on that behalf. It is
definitely a game changer for us.
DEFTERIOS: In 2013, you ranked 18th in the world in terms of new retail space. How do you balance it out where you don't have a massive glut in a
three or four year window and convince the rest of the world in the retail space this can be absorbed?
MUBARAK: It's all about growth. I think Abu Dhabi is a growing city. It's growing in its developments, it's growing in its demographics, and we are
catering our retail for each development. So, we have community retail, we have super-regional retail, and we have boutique retail.
DEFTERIOS: As a company, you were carrying a lot of debt, and you had the merger with Sorouh. Now are we seeing that the demand is picking up so the
properties that you're putting onto the market can be absorbed much quicker than you expected, so debt's not the issue that people thought that Aldar
MUBARAK: No, we continue to manage our debt to the best of our abilities, and we continue to be a development company. Over the last year, we have
launched two major projects that have been completely sold out.
We've built in a mature, professional manner, whether it's been with the payment plans or even the designs of these buildings, and we've done a
fantastic job of doing so, and we will continue to build and develop new product for the market.
DEFTERIOS: Mohamed Khalifa al Mubarak, the CEO of Aldar, the owner of the Yas Island Mall, and also the operator of the World Trade Center Mall here
in central Abu Dhabi.
And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST and our special look at the property sector. I'm John Defterios, thanks for
watching. We'll see you next week.