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Despite Shelling, Fragile Peace Holding In Ukraine; Serena Williams Wins 18th Grand Slam; Small Northern Iraqi Sunni Town Under Siege; Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Expecting Second Baby; Small Indian Village Becomes Energy Independent; UK's First-Known Suicide Bomber in Syria; Dispute Threatens Palestinian Unity Deal; Iran's Supreme Leader Undergoes Surgery
Aired September 8, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Obama goes on the offensive: the U.S. president gets set to outline his strategy for defeating ISIS as the militant group
conquers yet more territory in northern Iraq.
Also ahead, just in, new sanctions over Ukraine delayed after Russia threatens the European Union.
And the vulnerability of Iran's supreme leader: intimate new pictures show a softer side of the Islamic Republic.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: And that is the backend of a sand storm in the UAE. It's 7:00 in the evening.
As Iraq works to form a unity government with the new prime minister, the Islamic militant group ISIS strikes again. Several people have been
killed when two suspected ISIS suicide bombers attacked the Sunni town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad.
Officials say militants clashed with security forces just several hours before they were pushed out.
Well, meanwhile the Iraqi parliament may meet soon to vote on a new cabinet formed by the prime minister designate Haider al-Abadi.
Jomana Karadsheh joins us live from Baghdad with the latest. And as if, Jomana, we needed reminding just how prescient the forming of a new
government is, more death at the hands of ISIS, or the Islamic State as they call themselves.
Just how close are lawmakers at this stage to getting the first of what is a slew of jobs done, and that being agreeing on a new government?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, always with Iraqi politics, over the years, Becky, we have seen deadlines are set,
schedules, parliament sessions are set, but it's always there and unpredictable. And things could change last minute. But, up until now,
officials are saying that parliament session is still set for 8:00 local time tonight in about two hours from now for members of parliament to meet
and vote on this new cabinet.
Now we're hearing reports that possibly it might not be the entire lineup. There might be some posts that they will vote on later. It is not
clear -- and this continues to change hour by hour, really, as is the case always with Iraqi politics.
But very, very important, Becky as you mentioned, that inclusive government everyone has been talking about. We've heard President Obama
and U.S. officials continue to reiterate the importance of having this unity government.
But it's also very important to point out that since 2003, Iraq has had an inclusive government. No government that has come to power in Iraq
has not had representation of the Kurds and the Sunnis along with Shias leading this government. What is really important here, Becky, is what
happens afterwards. It is -- whether there will be a change of policy from what we have seen over the past few years.
What Sunnis here say has been those sectarian policies of the Shia-led government, the marginalization of Sunnis and the persecution by Iraqi
security forces as they say.
So it's going to have to be a real change in attitude and change of policies to try and bring the Sunnis into the fold and make them feel like
things are changing. That is what is going to be the real test and what is important after this government comes into power, Becky.
ANDERSON: Meantime, very briefly, the picture on the ground -- bleaker by the day.
KARADSHEH: Absolutely, Becky.
If we look at what's happened today -- you know, we talk every day about these towns within ISIS's advances that we have seen being besieged
by ISIS militants. Today, we're learning about a Sunni town that you mentioned, Dhuluiya, to the north of Baghdad about 35 miles from here.
People there say they have been surrounded by ISIS for more than 80 days. And they are calling for more help. They're saying they're not getting
enough support from the government. People from within the town with the Iraqi police in there have been fending off the ISIS attacks. They're
describing a deteriorating humanitarian situation, say they need more ammunition, more support, and they're getting empty promises from the
The only help they're getting is from a Shia town nearby.
Now they're asking for U.S. support. They're calling for U.S. airstrikes to come in and help them, too.
ANDERSON: Jomana is in Baghdad for you with the very latest out of Iraq. We're going to have more on the situation there and in Syria coming
up on Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to outline his plan in the fight against ISIS. The Arab League has condemned the group, but will they join
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They need to be involved. This is their neighborhood. The dangers that are posed are more directed at them right now than they are at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And what about the U.S. Congress? Can he convince them to authorize airstrikes on Syria. A live report from Washington coming up on
Well, the ink was barely dry on a truce when shelling and gunfire started again in Eastern Ukraine. Explosions could be heard near the main
airport in Donetsk, homes in the surrounding area were left in ruins. Artillery shells also hit the city of Mariupol. One woman was killed, four
were wounded here.
And Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists blame each other for breaching the truce.
Well, meantime, Russia faces new sanctions from the European Union over its involvement in Ukraine. The Kremlin threatening to retaliate if
they went into effect. And we've just heard those discussions have now been extended, effectively those new sanctions put on hold.
CNN's Matthew Chance in Moscow with more details. And Russia's warning.
What do we know of the details of these new sanctions? What is Russia threatening in return? And why is it that at this point the EU has put a
slight hold on things?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly a lot of debate going on amongst the 28 nations of the European Union about
whether now is the right time to impose more sanctions. This latest draft raft of proposals was made up before there was a ceasefire in Eastern
Ukraine. Since then, obviously the ceasefire has been implemented. There have been violations, which we've been reporting, but basically the two
sides, or the various sides, have been saying that the ceasefire is still in force. In fact, within the past hour or so, Petro Poroshenko, the
Ukrainian president, are saying that 1,200 prisoners of war have been returned from the pro-Russian rebels to the Ukrainian side.
And so, I expect that's sewn a certain amount of division amongst European nations about whether more sanctions is the right way forward. In
terms of what they're including, what they're looking at now, they're looking at more sanctions against various individuals who are linked with
the pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, more Russian political decision makers, oligarchs as well, according to the EU announcement.
Also, trying to enhance sanctions against Russia's access to capital markets, sensitive industries, dual use technologies and things like that.
And so pretty big intensification of the kind of sanctions regime that's already in place from the European Union as well as from the United
States against Russia.
In terms of what Russia's response might be, well, the government here has said that it would be an asymmetrical response. They haven't been too
clear on what exactly they mean by that. There are various options open to them. And Dmitry Medvedev, the country's prime minister, though, has gone
one step further and sort of said, look, you know, one of the things we could look at is the transport sector and looking at the potential of
banning international over flights over Russian territory. That would of course be enormously significant given the geographical size of Russia who
are putting a lot of pressure, of course, on the airline industry and on airline companies, you know, in the west that use Russia's airspace to get
from, you know, Asia to the United States.
ANDERSON: Matthew Chance is in Moscow for you.
Well, in Britain, another royal baby is on its way. It'll be the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And he or she will be
fourth in line for the British throne. The couple's first child, Prince George, turned one in July.
With more, CNN's London correspondent Max Foster joining us live. And Max, it seems only like only yesterday that you were outside the private
wing of St. Mary's Hospital in West London. I was anchoring from where you stand today as the arrival of the new Prince George was announced.
What are the details as we know them today?
MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You are at a safe distance, Becky, this time around.
We reckon it's about seven months from now we'll have the due date. I expect you to be back in this position, Becky, talking to me all about
whether or not it's a boy or a girl. It's probably we won't find out until then.
But actually she's -- she's not feeling well. She's actually announced this early, but she's had to cancel engagements, for example, one
she had in Oxford today because she got that acute morning sickness that she had with Prince George as well. She's confined the Kensington Palace.
She's got a doctor nearby. So she's not very well.
Prince William has just been talking about her very briefly in Oxfords, because he carried on with that engagement saying he has been
quite worried. She has been unwell. And he wants to get back to her. But he was determined to carry on with the engagement.
She's not too bad. I mean, they've been through it before, but they're just having to watch her. If he was very concerned, of course, he
wouldn't have gone to Oxford today.
But the palace have told me that she wasn't even 12 weeks pregnant. She's not even 12 weeks pregnant. And they've had to push this
announcement forward just because she wasn't going to be showing up at places and people would be wondering why.
ANDERSON: All right, Max, you're absolutely right. It'll be a story that we will continue to cover for, what, nine months minus 12 weeks or so.
Thank you for the time being. Outside Buckingham Palace, of course.
Still to come this hour, a moment of apparent tenderness transmitted by Twitter in a country where the social media site is blocked. We'll
investigate what is going on in Tehran's corridors of power, or perhaps we should say it's corridors of a local hospital.
And the U.S. president wants Arab states to step up in the fight against ISIS. That as he's about to lay out America's plan to fight the
militants. We're live in Washington for you with the details up next.
ANDERSON: At 13 minutes past 7:00, you're watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back.
Several people have been killed in suicide bombings, two of them in Iraq. Suspected ISIS militants carried out the attacks in a Sunni town
north of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver a national address on Wednesday outlining his plans to defeat the terrorist group. He says
he'll reveal his gameplan going forward. And it's sure to be more offensive than we have seen so far.
The president has again ruled out deploying U.S. ground troops, though, to confront ISIS militants.
For more, let's head to the White House. Jim Acosta standing by for us.
And Jim, only a week ago we were told by Obama himself that he had no strategy. Can we -- what can we expect then Wednesday?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, nothing, you know, gets a strategy together than admitted you have no strategy and then everybody
pounces in Washington. Things have changed very quickly, Becky.
I can tell you that a senior administration officials tells us that the president and his top aides have started working on that speech to lay
out that strategy against ISIS on Wednesday. That speech will be on the day before the next 9/11 anniversary in this country. And it's a message
that the White House hopes will really deliver a clear signal to ISIS that he's ready to take the fight to the terrorist group.
ACOSTA (voice-over): After a few fumbles on ISIS, President Obama has a new game plan he says to start going on some offense. ??
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities, we're going to shrink the
territory that they control, and ultimately we're going to defeat them. ??
ACOSTA: But in an interview on "Meet the Press" the president insisted once again U.S. combat troops won't return to Iraq. ?
OBAMA: This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war. ??
ACOSTA: That tough new approach on ISIS came with an expansion of U.S. airstrikes over the weekend targeting the terror group for the first time
in western Iraq around the Haditha Dam. That air power the president hopes will tip the balance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as potentially
moderate Syrian rebels battling ISIS on the ground. ??
OBAMA: We are going to be helping to put together a plan for them so that they can start retaking territory that ISIL had taken over. ??
ACOSTA: The ISIS reset was welcomed by Democrats who worried the president was being too cautious. ??
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I want to congratulate the president. He is now on the offense. ??
ACOSTA: GOP critics are far from convinced. ??
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I believe this president has committed presidential malpractice in his foreign policy. ??
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, the Pentagon was going to what-if scenarios. But the president apparently wasn't, hasn't
developed a strategy. I don't know whether you can't see reality from a fairway. ??
ACOSTA: That golfing reference is not lost on the president who acknowledged he stumbled after the beheading of American journalist James
Foley. Mr. Obama admitted he sent the wrong message during his recent vacation when he recognized Foley's execution only to head to the golf
course minutes later. ??
OBAMA: After having talked to the families where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through. After
the statement that I made, that I should have anticipated the optics. You know, that's part of the job. ??
ACOSTA: Now one thing we should also point out is that Secretary of State John Kerry and other top administration officials will be fanning
across the Middle East over the next several days trying to line up Arab partners for this coalition effort against ISIS.
In the meantime, the president is going to be sitting down with senior congressional leaders here at the White House tomorrow to go over that
strategy. But at this point, Becky, it is not clear whether the president will seek authorization from congress to expand that air campaign against
ISIS into Syria, that is a decision that the White House has not announced yet. At this point, they're indicating they're not going seek it, Becky.
ANDERSON: And Jim, President Obama also calling on American partners in the Middle East, not just any secretary of state out here, but calling
on his partners in the Middle East, specifically Sunni states, to do their part. I just want our viewers to hear what he said on that and then we'll
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Well, I think that it is absolutely true that we're going to need Sunni states to step up, not just Saudi Arabia, our partners like
Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, they need to be involved. This is their neighborhood. The dangers that are posed are more directed at them
right now than they are at us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And Jim, the Arab League, of course -- and let's remind our viewers -- includes the likes of Saudi, Qatar, Jordan in its 22 member
body. It came out with the strongest statement on the matter so far calling for a comprehensive political and military confrontation. It also
backed UN security council resolution, as you know, that's asking states to stem the flow of weapons and fighters into Syria and Iraq.
But there was not much substance there. What does Obama and what will John Kerry expect specifically from their regional partners?
ACOSTA: Well, I think that remains to be seen. I think that is the subject of these conversations, which are obviously going to be very
delicate from a diplomatic standpoint. And Becky, I think that is a big open-ended question here, will the Saudis, will the Turks, will the
Jordanians put ground troops in Iraq and Syria. I just don't see how that is going to take place. I think that you might see the president lining up
support from these countries' declarations of support from these countries so it doesn't look like the U.S. and the West going back in the Middle East
with another conflict that just causes problems down the road militarily and diplomatically for the United States and the West.
But at the same time, the president is deeply frustrated by what they see as a major problem in the Middle East and that they don't see a
sufficient buy-in from those Arab partners to go after a threat that they see as, you know, potentially very destabilizing for the Middle East. I
think it's something that is a very big part of this president's strategy, one that we'll hear more about later on this week, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah, we'll do the digging from this end, let me assure you. We're hear in the gulf. And we're doing the work to try and put some
bones, some flesh on that statement from the Arab League at present.
Not getting an awful lot more from them. Jim, always a pleasure, thank you for that. You can get more of our coverage on the U.S. response
to ISIS on our website ahead at CNN.com for more interviews and analysis. Find out what options are open to viewers and which countries it can call
on in the region for help.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Coming up, we'll see how one small village in India came out of darkness and into the light in more ways than one. Your headlines will be
at the bottom of the hour, but we'll take a short break. Back for this after that.
SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In much of rural India, this is how women step out at night, this is how children do their
homework, a fourth of India's 1.2 billion people have no access to electricity. And in this state of Bihar, one of India's poorest, more than
80 percent live in darkness.
"We always used to wonder what it would be like to have light, how wonderful life would be," she says.
For decades, Darnai (ph) was just another one of Bihar's 19,000 villages without electricity. Government-owned power lines stopped working
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This village has everything. It has a school, it has a (inaudible), it has a radio station, but one thing that is holding
them back, that's electricity.
UDAS: Greenpeace India, along with other local non-governmental organizations, turned Darnai (ph) into a pilot project to see how power can
make a difference.
In this village of 2,200 people, 60 solar street lamps have been set up, and every single household now has access to power 24/7.
With India's ever increasing population and insufficient resources, Greenpeace says the country needs to look at alternative energy.
ABHSHEK PRATAP, GREENPEACE INDIA: The vision is to transform the rural electrification, how it is done in the country. When you have a huge
problem of 300 million people in this country do not have electricity you can't wait.
UDAS: In July, Darnai (ph) became energy independent.
"Suddenly, it feels like light has come into our lives, our children can study easily. We can walk around freely. We're finally happy," he
It's still far from developed. The villages now have access to basic trappings and modernity, the ability to charge a mobile phones at home,
fans and temperatures that often hit 40 degrees Celsius, even computers and most of all confidence that they are now part of the new India.
PRATAP: And once the phones and the computers are on, the whole world is in their feet.
UDAS: Women like Rani Devi also feel safer.
"Until last month, we couldn't even think about stepping out after 6:00 p.m.," she says.
It's something most people take for granted, but you just have to come to a village like this to see what a difference one light bulb can make.
It may be too early to tell what the long-term economic benefits will be, but social change is already evident.
ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour.
And mortars and artillery shells are falling on Donetsk and Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine. Two days of sporadic explosions and gunfire are
putting Friday's ceasefire in doubt. Now the Ukrainian government and pro- Russia rebels are blaming each other for violating the truce.
Buckingham Palace has announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their second child. The royal family not saying when
Catherine is due. Her next child will be fourth in line to the British throne.
Political leaders in London are promising to outline more powers for Scotland after a nationwide poll suggested a slim majority supports
independence from the UK. The survey published in the Sunday Times is the first with that result, but comes just 10 days ahead of a referendum on the
At least nine people were killed in the Iraqi Sunni town of Dhuluiya when two suspected ISIS suicide bombers attacked. More than 70 were
wounded and residents describe a dire humanitarian situation. They're calling on the US to launch airstrikes against ISIS militants surrounding
Hundreds of British citizens have thrown to Iraq and to Syria to join ISIS and other militant groups. One of them was a 41-year-old father of
three who grew up near London. Now, he's the first Briton known to have carried out a suicide mission in Syria. Karl Penhaul spoke with his family
and one of his close friends. Have a listen to this.
(WOMAN SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tears for a son who never came home.
PENHAUL: Happier times -- British-born Abdul Waheed Majid with his first bicycle in the 1970s. Fast-forward to February, posing with jihadi
fighters moments before his suicide mission in Syria.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allah Akbar!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allah!
PENHAUL: He'd phone his brother, Hafeez, back in England a week before.
HAFEEZ MAJID, BROTHER: He said that he loved us all very, very much. And he said, "I know that you're looking after the family and you're doing
a very, very, very good job." And that, "If I've done any wrongs in my life, that I hope maybe you can forgive me for those wrongs."
PENHAUL: Majid was born just outside London. Pakistani parents with what appears to be a normal British childhood. Family snaps, awkward
school uniforms, the new car, and relatives who fought in the British army.
Here in his hometown, Crawley, media investigations link Majid to a Muslim hate preacher and a Muslim radical convicted of a terror plot. But
he was never accused of any crime.
H. MAJID: He wasn't as other press speculations say a jihadist, a man who was born to fight, a man who wanted to commit terror on the streets.
PENHAUL: Last summer, Majid, who drove a highway maintenance truck for a living, went to Syria on this aid convoy organized by a British
Muslim charity. His wife and three children stayed at home. Friend Raheed Mahmood went with him.
RAHEED MAHMOOD, FRIEND: He just raised the issue. He asked me how I felt about it, I turned around said yes, let's just do it.
PENHAUL: Photos show Majid volunteering in refugee camps. So, just why would the man in the Minnie Mouse ears become a suicide bomber?
H. MAJID: With the horrors that he may have seen out there, the stories he would've heard out there, I think that would have gave him the
courage and the strength to actually -- to do his best to help as many people as he can.
PENHAUL: Mahmood says they met Syrian rebels, including ISIS and al Qaeda-affiliated radicals in the camps.
MAHMOOD: ISIS would help, but you would -- you would hear of people swapping from group to group, unsure of what -- who to fight with.
PENHAUL: But Mahmood says he had no idea Majid had been recruited. His suicide mission was commanded by Chechens, who had recently defected
from ISIS to al-Nusra, the al Qaeda faction.
(MEN SPEAKING ARABIC)
MAHMOOD: He was obviously at peace. He had obviously -- the idea wasn't troubling him in any way. And I can only put that down to faith,
really. An idea of where he's going.
PENHAUL: This is the video of Majid's attack on Aleppo Prison, where President Assad's brutal regime was reportedly torturing hundreds of
H. MAJID: We feel no shame whatsoever on whatever he did. His intentions were bona fide, and they were true to the heart.
PENHAUL: But the UK government did not share that view.
H. MAJID: As soon as we took one breath, the police were knocking on the door with their search warrant, which is under the Prevention of
PENHAUL: A complex portrait of how a British boy became a suicide bomber, and a mother who just can't believe her son is gone.
MAPBOOL MAJID, MOTHER: I don't know. Does God even know? I don't know.
ANDERSON: Karl Penhaul joins us live, now, from London. This does beg the question how is it that the father of three who went to Syria on an
aid mission turned into a suicide bomber? His mother says she doesn't know. His brother says they feel no shame. And his friend says that he
can sort of understand it, that he'd -- something he felt inside? How do you explain it?
PENHAUL: It's certainly a much more nuanced picture than the British government or the American governments had wanted to paint to us of these
foreign jihadis heading out to Syria to fight. Abdul Waheed Majid was certainly not some crazed young nut case.
He was a man already in middle age. He was a man who had held down a steady job for a number of years. The highways agency, those are the guys
that drive here along the highways putting out orange cones to direct traffic while road works are going on. And of course, three teenage
children as well.
He went on one of these aid convoys. He was a many who prayed regularly. He prayed his five times a day, sometimes at home, sometimes at
one of two mosques down in his hometown of Crawley, which is a very normal, pretty boring British town, it has to be said.
And there, of course, he came into contact with people in his community. In the past, Crawley has been known as a hotbed for Muslim
And although his brother says that he knew some of these people in the past because he was born and bred there, he said that he really didn't have
too much more to do with them. Certainly not in terms of plotting any terror plans or anything, and he had no criminal record, accused of no
But it seems that when he went to Syria, that's when his eyes were opened. And also, mixing in with those refugee camps were also armed
fighters as well. So, it seems at that point, that's where he was recruited.
But still, there seems to have been a leap of faith. It's still along stretch to imagine how you go from feeling sympathy for the rebel cause to
jumping in a dump truck --
PENHAUL: -- and blowing yourself to bits, Becky.
ANDERSON: And Karl, I was fascinated to hear his friend talking, there, about jumping from -- he heard people when they were out there
talking about jumping from one group, ISIS for example, to another, the Nusra Front.
Was there anything more that his friend told you that might help explain exactly what happened? Clearly he was unaware that this was going
to happen. But anything else that you think might lead us or authorities to sort of help understand what does go on in the mind of a would-be
PENHAUL: Yes, absolutely. The way his friend was describing, he said first of all, you've got to understand, the Syrian rebel groups, whichever
ones they are, as part of the civilian population as well.
He said because everybody that they used to meet in a refugee camp would have a family members who was fighting in what he termed "the
resistance." The resistance against what we know is a brutal regime of President Assad.
And he said there didn't really seem to be that much difference between the ISIS or the al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra, or any of the other
groups. This as recently as January of this year. He said that yes, they would get into ideological fights, they would get into theological fights,
but often, they didn't see the real violent infighting between those groups where they were in those refugee camps.
And by all accounts, it seems like this suicide operation was backed by a number of different groups led by al-Nusra. But the al-Nusra
commanders that led this bombing operation against Aleppo Jail had only recently split from ISIS. So, a very complex picture of who is who in that
part of Syria at least, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes, amazing. All right, well, fascinating stuff. And stay on it and keep digging. All right, thank you. Karl Penhaul is in
London for you.
Fresh tension threatening to rip the Palestinian Unity government apart. Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas slammed Hamas'
leadership at an Arab League meeting, accusing them of operating what he called a "shadow government" in Gaza. A senior Hamas spokesman quickly hit
back at Abbas's comments, calling them unjustifiable.
Well, Ian Lee following the latest developments for us from Jerusalem. And Ian, ahead of what we will be -- we are promised, at least -- more
talks in Cairo about what happens after this long term truce, as it were.
And we were promised that a week or so ago, and that was -- what? -- some one-month window. So, we're looking at that within the next couple of
weeks. And it seems now a schism once again amongst the Palestinians. What more do we know?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Becky. This really has thrown a monkey wrench into this whole cease-fire talks and
unity talks. You have Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accusing Hamas of running that shadow government in Gaza, saying that, quote, "We cannot
accept the current state of affairs, and we will not accept a partnership between us and Hamas if the status quo remains as it is in Gaza.
Now, these words call into question the unity government that was created last April. A new cabinet was formed shortly after, but Abbas is
saying Hamas' shadow government is now running Gaza and essentially rendering that unity government helpless.
Now, obviously, Hamas denounced Abbas's statements, calling them unjust and unjustified, and that this sort of criticism shouldn't be aired
out in the media in the public, but rather in dialogue.
Well, one of the things about this unity government was they were going to have elections from the top down. And in a recent poll, they
state that if that presidential election were today, Hamas' political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, would trounce Mahmoud Abbas.
And that poll also states that 80 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas won the Gaza War. So, it's no surprise to see why Hamas is so
But Israel is delighted with this rift in the unity government. They've denounced it from the first day. They've said -- they've urged
Abbas to forget it and to join dialogues again with them, so we'll be watching that closely, Becky.
ANDERSON: Ian is in Jerusalem for you. Ian, thank you.
You are live in Abu Dhabi watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Next up, an insight into Iran's political hierarchy. Why the
Supreme Leader's latest health scare turned into a photo opportunity and a social media sensation. That after this.
ANDERSON: Well, the Supreme Leader of Iran is recovering after undergoing prostate surgery in the capital, Tehran. State media called the
surgery routine. And just before the procedure, the 75-year-old Khamenei said there was nothing to worry about. But that hasn't stopped widespread
discussion about his health.
Here's why images of the Ayatollah in his hospital bed have been widely distributed, both by the national press and by social media. In a
country where Twitter is blocked, this photo of a visit from President Hassan Rouhani was first tweeted by the Supreme Leader himself, and then
re-tweeted by the president.
Mr. Rouhani also posted it on Instagram. Well, relations between the two men have occasionally been strained, especially by President Rouhani's
dealings with Barack Obama.
Well, what does the release of these photos tell us about the two men holding power in Iran, and what can we learn from the way it was shared?
I'm joined from London by Kelly Niknejad. She's editor-in-chief of Tehranbureau.com, an independent news site hosted by "The Guardian"
Let me firstly ask you, were you surprised -- as surprised as we were, perhaps, and this is in the West -- to see these pictures, not just
tweeted, but tweeted by the Supreme Leaders and the president?
KELLY GOLNOUSH NIKNEJAD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TEHRANBUREAU.COM: No, not really. It makes a lot of sense. Twitter and Facebook are great
propaganda tools for officials, for government officials everywhere, especially in Iran.
I think if news leaked out that Ayatollah Khamenei had gone -- had been hospitalized, it would have just -- who knows what the consequences
But they preempted that. They nipped it in the bud and they had him saying -- acknowledging his cancer officially for the first time and saying
right away that it's a routine operation. And to have the president there, making sure he's OK, I think, was very -- very -- it was a very impressive
tactical move on their part.
ANDERSON: Yes. We were discussing this earlier on, and I've seen this being discussed, again, on social media today that those are or could
be perceived as pictures of a very vulnerable man being looked after or at least spoken to by someone who were are led to perceive is very much second
But in these pictures, that -- it doesn't seem or feel that way. Again, how would this have gone down, or how has this gone down, at home in
NIKNEJAD: I haven't -- I'm not sure. I haven't -- I'm not sure how it's gone down in Iran, but I think it's, of course, been very interesting
for everyone. I think everyone knew. There were widespread rumors that Mr. Khamenei had cancer. This was the first time that it was officially
It's -- everyone in Iran is on social media. So, it's kind of -- it's been part of -- yes.
NIKNEJAD: It's been part of -- the discourse for a long time.
ANDERSON: No real surprises, you're saying?
NIKNEJAD: Yes, exactly.
ANDERSON: Listen. Mr. Rouhani has been very vocal on the issue of online censorship, and we've been alluding to the fact that these guys have
been tweeting these pictures when actually, Twitter is banned.
And he has said, and I quote, "Some people think we can fix these problems by building walls. But when you create filters, they create
proxies," he has said in relation to Iranians using them. "Force does not produce results." Should we be led to believe that the time for censorship
NIKNEJAD: No, Mr. Rouhani says a lot of things, and then people sometimes act on some of the things he says, and then they end up in very
uncomfortable situations. And then, he doesn't -- he's not in a position to do anything about it.
But generally, the Iranian leadership does not have an ideological approach to anything. They're very pragmatic. And social media is one of
them. So, in the words of Ayatollah Khomeini, you can do anything -- any change is allowed, challenging even Islam is allowed, as long as it doesn't
endanger the establishment.
And so, social media is that. It's something that is very -- been very helpful to the regime in terms of propaganda, in terms of getting
their news, their information out. And I think they also -- the Iranian cyber police use the social media in order to be able to befriend people
and see who their connections are.
So in the long run, social media has been a boon to them. And because of that, it's allowed. And especially allowed for officials because
they've always believed that one set of rules apply to them and another set of rules apply to everyone else. And I think Iranians are very used to --
ANDERSON: All right, because this --
NIKNEJAD: -- this hypocrisy.
ANDERSON: Yes, this isn't the first time, of course, that Mr. Rouhani has tweeted a picture that's gone viral. And often insight into the
president's personality. This tweet, during the World Cup group stage, as you'll remember, and I'm sure many of our viewers will, showed a very
different side of him, casually relaxing in front of the TV.
So, ultimately, and briefly, what is he trying to achieve with this social media activity? You say one set of rules for the leaders and one
set of rules for the rest of you or us as it were. Ultimately, for the president, what do you think he's trying to achieve?
NIKNEJAD: It's great propaganda. It's great -- it's a way of -- a lot of it is also in English, so it's a way of showing Iran in a much more
humane light. And it gives them the opportunity to continue -- to do whatever they are doing domestically, but then show the world another
picture of themselves to make it easier to accomplish the things that they want to do on an international scale, i.e. the nuclear talks.
So, it makes sense. It's a great way of spying on people, it's a great way of -- it's a great propaganda tool. And it's great advertising,
and they've been using it extremely well.
ANDERSON: Fascinating. All right, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed.
I've certainly had an awful lot of re-tweets after sending out that picture. You can follow me @BeckyCNN, of course. Let me know what you
think. You can visit the show, facebook.com/CNNconnect. Have your say on all the day's stories. You can get us on Instagram as well, just search
for Becky CNN. It is not banned, as far as we are concerned, at least.
Coming up this evening on CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, after this short break, we're going to take a trip to Scotland for you as
it gears up for its referendum on independence. Don't worry, though, we're going to let the politics take a back seat in tonight's Parting Shots.
ANDERSON: Next week, the people of Scotland go to the polls to decide whether they will become independent of the United Kingdom. CONNECT THE
WORLD Scottish producer Nicol Nicolson is heading home ahead of that big vote, and he is offering his own Parting Shots from his native land.
Today, he takes us back to his roots on the Isle of Skye.
NICOL NICOLSON, CNN PRODUCER: You sometimes have to wait until adulthood to appreciate what you had growing up. Whatever changes in
Scotland after the independence vote next Thursday, one things is bound to endure, and that's the natural beauty of the place.
I've been working overseas in warmer climes for five years now, but if my childhood memories of the Isle of Skye are somewhat shrouded in mist,
unfortunate that I seem to take the weather with me whenever I return these days.
I've lived all over Scotland, but my name is rooted in this place, and I've always felt at home in these hills. The island mood is ever-changing,
and I can certainly relate to that. But, while its extremes can at times be challenging to mind and spirit, they also ensure it's rarely boring.
In some ways, Skye reflects Scotland as a whole in the run-up to this referendum. A little bit set apart, difficult to tame, anxious to balance
its distinct identity with its vital connections to the wider world.
No matter the outcome of the vote, these rocks will continue to attract and inspire writers, painters, climbers, and nature lovers. And,
of course, homesick Scots working for CNN in Arabia. For me, that's reason enough to feel optimistic.
ANDERSON: And a reason enough to visit Scotland, I would say. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. Your
news headlines follow this very short break. Stay with us.