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CONNECT THE WORLD
Kurdish Aspiration For Independent State Not Dead; U.S. Army Mobile Labs Saving Lives In West Africa; Ebola Patient Thomas Duncan Dies in Dallas; Nurse's Assistant in Spain With Ebola May Have Touched Her Face With Glove; EU Health Commissioner Statement; Saving Kobani Not American Priority; Parting Shots: Paintings of Life in Raqqa
Aired October 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: One small Syrian city remains symbolic of the fight against ISIS and its Kurdish population symbolic of the regional
struggles that make this fight so complex.
This hour, the latest on the battle for Kobani and why Turkey, so close, could pivotal to the city's future and the future of the conflict.
Also this hour, the Ebola scare in Spain provides yet more evidence that the virus isn't just Africa's problem. We'll talk to Europe's top
health official about the risk to the region as a whole.
And if every picture tells a story, these sketches inspired by Syria will resonate more than most.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
All of the nations united in the fight against ISIS, one that borders both Iraq and Syria has been conspicuous by its reticence. Turkey faces a
dilemma. Ankara has no wish to see the Islamist militants bring their reign of terror into its territory, but the battle taking place across its
southern flank are largely being fought by Kurds, a group that has long been at odds with the Turkish leadership.
The perception in the Kurdish population that Ankara is standing by watching its people die has sparked protest inside Turkey and far beyond.
We'll examine all this throughout the next hour.
First, though, let's take a look at what is happening in northern Syria along that border with Turkey. Despite weeks of heavy clashes
between ISIS and Kurdish fighters in the city of Kobani and coalition airstrikes, let me tell you, U.S. officials say ISIS will win this fight.
These are live pictures coming to you from the area. In fact, they say Kobani is not a priority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, U.S. STATE DEPT. SPOKESWOMAN: No one wants to see Kobani fall, but our primary objective here is prevent ISIL from gaining a safe
haven. And our focus strategically is on, as I outlined, command and control structures, oil refineries and that's where we're taking our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, Arwa Damon is on the Turkey-Syria border close to Kobani joining us now. And these are the live pictures -- apologies from my suggestion
that the photographs that we were showing earlier on were live -- but these are live pictures you see. Activity in the air, Arwa. What is going on?
This, I know, is a B-1 bomber, I believe.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Beck. We've been watching two fighter jets overhead right now, clearly visible to
us at this stage. And throughout the day, we had been seeing and hearing, rather, fighter jets overhead. We did see what we believe were three
coalition strikes. We believe that, because of the intensity and size of the explosions that took place, very different to the usual artillery
barrage that we see taking place between ISIS and the YPG, the Kurdish fighting force.
Now at this stage, the Kurdish fighters are telling us, and so is a senior Kurdish politician inside Kobani, that because of the handful of
airstrikes that took place today and yesterday, they were able to capitalize on that and they were able to push ISIS back. That is because
the airstrikes were forcing ISIS fighters to advance on their vehicles. And because of that, the ISIS fighters were forced to advance on foot.
Now the Kurdish fighters managing to push ISIS back to the perimeter of the city, but we're still also hearing along with watching those fighter
jets up ahead, various bursts of gunfire. And throughout the day we also continue to see that barrage of artillery also continuing to fall on
So, at this stage, Becky, the Kurdish fighters really saying that they do still need to see more being done by the coalition, there's this sense
of frustration that the coalition could have undertaken this type of activity well before ISIS even gained a stronghold inside Kobani.
But also frustration with Turkey, because they want to see -- because they want to see the Turks open up a corridor that would allow for -- that
would allow for more weapons to go into Kobani. They say that they're running low, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right. We're going to leave it there for the time being, but that is the story of the hour. And we're going to do more on
the game plan so far as Turkey is concerned and interrogate exactly what we believe or can see as going on.
Arwa, for the time being, thank you.
Let me keep these shots up for you viewers. Turkey has been standing on the sidelines in this fight against ISIS. Kurds who oppose the
government's handling of the crisis are taking their anger out onto the streets.
Journalist Andrew Finkel joining us now from Istanbul with the very latest.
And Andrew, let me just explain -- I don't know if you can see a monitor -- as you and I talk, I do at times want to bring up the shots of
clear activity over Kobani. Kurdish protests, though, growing in Turkey and beyond about the government's inaction to date at least in the fight
against ISIS. What's going on in Turkish towns and city's today? And what's the government saying?
ANDREW FINKEL, JOURNALIST: Well, there's been a huge reaction among Turkey's Kurdish population to what they see as really what one MP, one
Kurdish nationalist MP described to me as government complicity in ISIS. They feel that the government is underhandedly helping ISIS, trying to help
put down what they see as this experiment in autonomy, in Kurdish autonomy on the Syrian side of the border.
So, there's a great deal of frustration and anger in Turkish cities. Thousands, tens of thousands of people have taken to the street in
particularly towns in the east of Turkey. There's been curfews imposed in many provinces.
But despite those curfews, people continue to go out on the street and continue to demonstrate. And as this MP told me, if Kobani should fall,
then really -- she didn't put it in these terms, but she said the gloves are off, the picture has changed, she said. And she predicts a really
quite serious outbreak of violence, I believe, in Turkish cities.
ANDERSON: Andrew, while we were talking, we were showing earlier on pictures of what is a plane in the air. I have to let our viewers know
that we can't know whether this is a coalition plane or a Syrian plane, of course. It is over Syrian air space, so as we get more information on
that, we will bring it to you and indeed our viewers.
We do, though, know -- and I'm being told this is a coalition plane at this point, so as I get information viewers, I'll bring it to you.
Andrew, what we do know is that only hours ago it seemed that Washington was very much giving the impression that Kobani wasn't a
priority, that they had bigger priorities so far as the U.S.-led coalition was concerned, and that if it fell so be it. How does that sort of
narrative go down with Turkey's Kurds?
FINKEL: Well, of course they can't really even imagine what would happen if Kobani were to fall. They anticipate a massacre of really
horrendous scale. So, of course that very idea is anathema to them.
The Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was saying something similar not all that long ago where he said, well, Kobani has more or less fallen. If
it's not today, then tomorrow. But I don't believe that that certainly is something -- an idea that Turkey's Kurds can entertain, Becky.
ANDERSON: Is there any sense from the Kurdish population in Turkey that their security is a priority to the Turkish authority?
FINKEL: That the security of the Syrian Kurds or the -- no, I think just the opposite--
ANDERSON: The Syrian Kurds, the Kurdish population as a whole across borders.
FINKEL: That's right.
No -- I mean, well the thing is that Turkey has in a way been incredibly generous. They've accepted refugees, there must be well over a
million -- some could say a million-and-a-half refugees from Syria, many of those are recent arrivals from Kobani. There's been, you know, tens of
thousands of people fleeing the ISIS advance. So in that sense Turkey has played a role.
On the other hand, the suspicion certainly within some Kurdish minds is that the government won't really be all that sorry to see Kobani fall,
that it feels it will weaken the Kurd -- the Turkey -- the Turkish Kurds, the PKK, the Kurdistan Worker's Party. And they basically don't like the
idea of an independent Kurdish entity on the Syrian side of the border, Becky.
ANDERSON: Andrew Finkel is in Istanbul for you today. And we're going to have more on the battle against ISIS coming up on Connect the
World with me Becky Anderson this hour.
With Kurds protesting Turkey's role in the crisis, we'll talk to a Kurdish politician about the balancing act facing Turkey and what the
government should do next to his mind at least.
Washington has outlined its priority in degrading and destroying ISIS, but it doesn't include specific cities in Syria. A live report from
Washington also coming up this hour.
And you'll meet a reformed extremist who uses online cartoons to steer Muslim youth away from becoming jihadists. That is all this hour on
Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Well, moving away from the region just for the time being, Spain's prime minister calls for calm as we learn more about the first person to
contract Ebola s the nurse's assistant in Madrid may have been exposed to Ebola when taking off her protective suit.
In the U.S. Ebola survivor Kent Brantley has donated blood to the NBC cameraman who is now being treated for the disease in Nebraska after being
flown back from Liberia where he was infected.
And the World Bank warns the epidemic in West Africa could wipe $32 billion off economies across the continent over the next couple of years.
Well, U.S. troops have opened Ebola testing labs in Liberia. Their objective is to get ahead of the disease to stop its spread. Nima Elbagir
shows us how the labs are saving lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what we do in our day job I guess you could say. ??
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. naval personnel deployed to Liberia the day job has become testing for the Ebola virus.
Their lab just minutes from International Medical Corps Ebola care center. The U.S. has funded four such labs in the fight against the virus. ?
SEAN CASEY, INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL CORPS EBOLA TEAM DIRECTOR: It's a complete game changer. I mean it -- patients were afraid at one point of
coming to an Ebola treatment unit because they are afraid of becoming infected. Some patients have only minor symptoms and they're not convinced
that they have Ebola and so they might avoid coming because they're afraid that they'll become infected here. And now that we have the lab, patients
can get the results back within hours. ??
ELBAGIR: Perched on top of a hillside, the IMC treatment facility feels very far away from the crowded beds and dinghy hallways of the
Liberian government centers. This 19-year-old waited a week for an ambulance. He was carried here bleeding by his father. Today he's recovered
enough to tell us he thinks he's going home. ??For the naval scientists stationed here, it's hot and difficult work, but it's worth it. ??
LT. COL. BENJAMIN ESPINOSA, TEAM LEAD: In one aspect, we're all humans, you know. This is the humanitarian crisis that we want to help
with. But this isn't just a regional threat. Really this is a continental and a global threat if this were allowed to continue to propagate.??
ELBAGIR: But there will always be those they couldn't save. The IMC treatment center opened less than a month ago and already a line of graves
has snaked through this clearing in the jungle. And more are being dug. ??
President Obama has authorized up to 4,000 troops. Two hundred have arrived in country, 600 are expected before the end of the month. But will
it be enough? ??
COL. JIM CZAMIK, COMMAND SURGEON, JOINT FORCES COMMAND: There is no question in my mind that we are making an impact. There is no better fight
worth fighting than the one in Liberia right now. Soldiers are used to moving toward the sounds of the guns. These are the loudest guns that the
world has heard in a long time. ??
ELBAGIR: How quickly they can translate the gains here across the country will go some way to silencing the guns for good. ??
Nima Elbagir, CNN, Bong County, Liberia.??
ANDERSON: Well, still to come, stopping Ebola in Europe. I speak to EU's health commissioner about Spain's first case and how the EU plans to
make sure the deadly virus doesn't travel.
And Kurdish villages on the run as Kurdish forces battle ISIS. Up next, I'm going to take a closer look at this ethnic group that is playing
such a crucial role in the fight against militants in Syria and in Iraq.
ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back. It is 16 minutes past 7:00 in the UAE where
we are broadcasting from.
Activists say at least 45 ISIS fighters have been killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes around the Syrian city of Kobani. Despite that,
senior U.S. officials say that they now expect the city to fall. They've giving little weight to a claim by one Kurdish official that local fighters
pushed ISIS militants back to the edge of the town early on Wednesday.
Well, the Kurds are playing a significant role in the fight against ISIS and it's crucial to understand their complex history and aspirations
for the future.
Nic Robertson, with some background for you.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kurds in Syria and Iraq are under attack from ISIS. The Kurd's history is full of such brutal
An ethnic group of as many as 30 million people, they're mostly Sunni Muslims, have never had their own country. Following the collapse of the
Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, their ancient homelands were divided. Today, close to half all Kurds live in Turkey, another fifth in
Iraq with the remainder split between Syria and Iran. They have long aspired to have their own country.
Those hopes have come at a cost. In 1988, the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurdish town of Halabjah (ph) killing close to 5,000
In Turkey, in the 1980s and 90s, Kurds, denied the use of their own language, fought the government. Innocent civilians were killed, Kurdish
PKK fighters were outlawed, branded terrorists.
In Syria and Iran, the large Kurdish minorities also faced oppression. But change for the Kurds even admits today's danger could be coming.
ISIS's regional war in Iraq and Syria to rip up 20th Century borders is presenting opportunity. ISIS rampaged through Iraq this Summer, the
Kurds snatch the long contested oil rich city of Kirkuk with no intention of giving it back to the Iraqi government.
MASSOUD BARZANI, IRAQI KURDISH PRESIDENT (through translator): We never had any doubt at any time that Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan.
ROBERTSON: For the Kurds, the dream of a Kurdish state is far from dead.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: OK, I want you just to join my colleagues at domestic in America now for breaking news.
(SIMULCAST WITH CNNUSA)
ANDERSON: A Liberian national who was undergoing treatment for Ebola at a Dallas hospital has died. Thomas Eric Duncan started receiving an
experimental drug nearly a week after he was admitted to the hospital, but a short time ago, we learned that he succumbed to the disease.
In Spain, the nurse's assistant who contracted Ebola after treating two patients of the disease may have been exposed to the virus while
removing her protective suit. A doctor who is treating the woman in isolation says she told him she might have touched her face with her glove.
The European Union's health security committee is gathering today to hear from Spanish officials about the details of its Ebola case. Officials
are trying to deal with that while finding ways to help fight the virus, of course, in West Africa.
Late last month, the EU's health commissioner said, and I quote, "This is a global crisis which concerns us all. It is a tragic reminder that we
must never let our guard down. We pay the price of complacency with human suffering and loss of life." Earlier, I asked Tonio Borg if Spanish
authorities had been complacent. This is what he said.
TONIO BORG, EU HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I don't think so. The fact that one has a system which works doesn't mean that some day somehow something
does not go wrong. The fact that the reaction has been rapid -- for instance, tracing the context, which has already been done by the Spanish
But also, in a pan-European effort, we have established a network of laboratory tests also to know where the isolation units are, what our
capabilities are should the disease spread to other countries as well.
So, I don't think that just because there has been once case of an infection with European boundaries, one can criticize Spain for not
reacting swiftly to this crisis. Of course, something went wrong, and that is being investigated, but this is one case, and considering that flights
are still ongoing between Europe and these regions, one must also put everything that is proper, as I mentioned.
I'm not saying it's not a matter of concern, of course, but not saying -- I don't think that this leads to a conclusion that the Spanish health
system did not work.
ANDERSON: OK. You talked about the flights. A week ago, you said a flight ban to infected countries could aggravate the problem. You said we
need to isolate the disease, not the countries. Do you stand by that?
BORG: Yes, I stand by that. And this is not only common sense, but also the direction of the World Health Organization, which has given
specific instructions to the effect not to isolate these countries.
If we isolate these countries, how can the humanitarian assistance reach these countries? How can we encourage people to help these counties
not only through signing a check, but also to go there and try and help, either through consultancy or through other methods, the containment of the
ANDERSON: The US, you'll be well aware, is considering screening passengers from infected countries. Is that something that the EU is also
BORG: Yes. The Health Security Committee is considering, but this is not without difficulty. It creates not only disruptions, but creates also
in certain instances problems of people with a fever getting in touch with others who might have the Ebola virus.
BORG: But it is being considered. It is not being excluded at all. And only this morning, there was a discussion, a debate on this question in
the Health Security Committee of the European Union by member states.
ANDERSON: And with that, sir, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed for joining us. Your thoughts and your words -
BORG: Thank you.
ANDERSON: -- are very useful. Thank you.
The EU is considering screening passengers coming in from areas infected in West Africa with Ebola. That after we hear that Thomas Eric
Duncan has died in the US of the virus.
More on the fight against ISIS coming up after this short break. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: US officials tell CNN that they believe Kobani will soon fall to the militants. But they downplay that, saying it's not a major
concern. In fact, they say the US military's main focus is going after the senior leaders in ISIS and oil refineries, a source of income for the
militants. Jim Sciutto reports on the latest US action against ISIS. Joining us now from Washington, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF US SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, coalition warplanes active again in the last 24 hours over Kobani. And in
fact, fighters on the ground, those Kurdish fighters inside Kobani, saying the airstrikes are having an effect, that they have helped push the ISIS
fighters back to the outskirts of the city. But US officials saying that saving Kobani, in fact, is not an American priority.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): With Kobani on the brink of falling into the hands of ISIS, a Kurdish rebel told CNN the US-led coalition finally woke
up. With the situation on the ground deteriorating, coalition warplanes unleash several airstrikes overnight --
SCIUTTO: -- and into the day.
SCIUTTO: Relieved Kurdish fighters welcomed them. However, US officials are making clear that Saving Kobani is not a priority inside
JEN PSAKI, US STATE DEPARTMENT: Certainly no one wants to see Kobani fall, but our primary objective here is preventing ISIL from gaining a safe
haven. We would not have taken the range of military strikes we have taken, including overnight, if we did not want to support and defend the
SCIUTTO: Airstrikes in Syria remain focused on ISIS command and control, critical infrastructure, and funding sources, principally oil.
Still, as he visited the refugee camps across the border in Turkey, where many of Kobani's residents have fled, the Turkish president said even
the broader air campaign is doomed to fail.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): You cannot resolve this conflict with air bombardments. Months have gone, but
nothing is achieved. Right now, Kobani is about to fall.
SCIUTTO: In his own country, however, demonstrators are demanding that Turkey do its part. Turkey's Kurdish minority taking to the streets
in protests that turned violent. The Turkish parliament authorized military action in Syria last week, but President Erdogan has yet to take
it. Turkey's priority is less combating ISIS than taking down the government of Bashar al-Assad.
REVA BHALLA, STRATFOR: The more ambitious goal is to topple the regime in Syria and to put in place a friendly regime that's going to look
first and foremost to Ankara for guidance.
SCIUTTO: US officials say the aim in Syria is not saving cities, such as Kobani, or others, or even gaining back territory from ISIS, but keeping
ISIS under pressure there from the air. In Iraq, however, Becky, they say that gaining back territory is a priority,in part because they have a
ground force, there, Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga. But as you know, they haven't gained a lot of ground back yet, either, and we're now
two -months into the US-lead campaign.
ANDERSON: I just spoke to the co-leader of the PYD party, which is the main Kurdish group in Syria allied with the PKK in Turkey, no friend of
the Turkish administration, of course. And I asked him how he felt about this line from the States that Kobani isn't a priority, and quite frankly,
it was clear that he felt incredibly let down.
He did, though, say that airstrikes are helping and that they want to see more. Is your sense, though, that we would -- or should be surprised
to see much more action in the air over Kobani --
SCIUTTO: I --
ANDERSON: -- for example? That the US is sort of moving on, it's got a wider spectrum -- sorry.
SCIUTTO: Well, we will see it and have in the last 24 hours the day before, and the State Department spokesperson making that point, that they
wouldn't be striking there if they didn't want to save the city. But it's interesting at the same time saying but, indeed, it's not really priority.
It's not part of the broader strategy. In effect, protecting themselves to some degree from failure there.
But I think they're also making a broader point that don't expect the coalition to come to the rescue of Kobani and every city that comes under
threat from ISIS, because the simple fact is, there is no ground force there to gain back that ground.
They can keep the fighters under pressure from the air, but there's no contiguous ground force to gain back a lot of ground. It really is a
reminder here of how difficult and how long this campaign is going to have to be.
ANDERSON: Yes, and how wide as a sort of room it has to a certain extent. Jim, Turkish authorities insist that the only way forward is boots
on the ground, a buffer zone in that Syrian-Kurdish area, and what would effectively be a no-fly zone above that.
This is, of course, an area where most of the Syrian Kurds reside. I asked their leader whether he would support that. He didn't seem keen.
Clearly, the Syrian Kurds don't see their security as a priority to the Turks.
I know this is incredibly complex, but when we sort of strip it all out, you've got the Turks saying that they are getting onboard with this
coalition, but we are yet to see how. How has the American administration reacted to all of this? And do you see the setting up at Turkey's behest
of a buffer zone and a no-fly zone? Do you get any impression Washington's up for that?
SCIUTTO: Well, what US officials say is that they already have a no- fly zone in effect, to some degree, over a large portion of Syria, because they're keeping ISIS under pressure, that in effect, they are controlling
the skies there. They will say that.
But I think you're also getting to hear, Becky, just the conflicting priorities. Because Turkey is less concerned about ISIS in many ways than
it is about Assad and that their price for participation, in effect, is redirecting resources to take down Assad, not just control ISIS.
And you have this playing out in a number of areas as well, because if you look at the Free Syrian Army, for instance, their priority in many ways
is taking down Assad, and as the US campaign has gone underway, I've been speaking to Syrian opposition officials.
They've been saying to me, "Oh, we've been having these games against Assad's regime here and there. And I asked them, what about your gains
against ISIS, because isn't that what the US is backing you for? And they'll say, well, we're also making gains against them.
But in that message, you get a sense that of all these players, they're not necessarily on the same page as to what victory is defined as,
and that's going to be a real problem going forward.
ANDERSON: Jim Sciutto, always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us out of Washington.
We are in the UAE, it is 53 minutes past 7:00 in the evening here. Since ISIS took over the city of Raqqa in Syria, very little unfiltered
news or pictures have actually made it out of the areas.
However, in tonight's Parting Shots, one US artist, with the help of a Raqqa resident, has created images which bring to life the reality on the
ground. And those are what we have for you tonight. Your Parting Shots.
MOLLY CRABAPPLE, ARTIST: My name is Molly Crabapple, and I'm an artist and journalist. I started drawing because it was my way of
communicating with the world when I was this weird, awkward little child. But then, when I was 27, I started not just drawing the world inside my
head, but the world around me.
Me and an anonymous Syrian, who's living under ISIS rule in Raqqa, just released a collaboration with "Vanity Fair." About a week before the
coalition bombings started, I was talking to them and saying wouldn't it be amazing if we could create something together.
And I asked the person if they could just send me cell phone photos of their daily life. People using the internet outside of the cafe, or local
landmarks. Something about the humanity of living in Raqqa as well as the sensationalist headlines.
There are a few reasons that I chose to do drawings from my friend's photos rather than just releasing the cell phone photos. The first is that
they took all those photos surreptitiously, so they're blurry, some of them are taken across the street.
Another reason was that I feel that art can distill the essential. Twitter if filled with cell phone pictures that brave Syrians and brave
local activists have posted, but what art does is it sets something apart, it's special, it's rare.
A third reason is that the photos reveal people's faces, and I feel like it's very important to protect people's privacy, and art has the
capacity to make things anonymous.
ANDERSON: CONNECT THE WORLD and the team here always wants to hear from you. You've seen how you can get in touch, that's exactly how you can
get in touch. Parting Shots is yours. But any other comments or analysis you have, facebook.com/CNNconnect. We do read them, we listen to you. You
can tweet me @BeckyCNN. That is @BeckyCNN. However you want to get involved.
All right, I am Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. We'll have much more on breaking news from this hour. A Liberian national who
was undergoing treatment for Ebola at a Dallas hospital in the United States has died. That's just ahead on "The International Desk" with Robyn
From us here in Abu Dhabi, it is a very good evening.