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OPEC Takes Aim At American Gas Producers; Russia, Turkey Agree to Expand Trade Ties; Global Exchange: Dubai Metro; World Food Program Suspends Food Voucher Program; Tracking Iraqi Army's "Ghost" Soldiers; Prince Harry Shares Secret for World AIDS Day; HIV Impact in Middle East; Parting Shots: Inside India's Strongest Village; Russia and Turkey Talk Trade and Energy

Aired December 1, 2014 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: As oil prices hit their lowest level in five years, we look at who is benefiting and who is hurting. We'll hear why

Saudi Arabia won't cut production and why Russia perhaps can't.

Also ahead, energy fears allowing these men to paper over their differences on Syria. Russia's president is in Turkey. We're live in Moscow and in

Istanbul for you.

And Iraq's ghost soldiers: getting paid but not turning up to fight. We report on the latest setback in the fight against ISIS.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: It is 8:00 p.m. in the UAE. The emirate's palace lit up for National Day December 2, tomorrow, with the colors of the national flag.

Well, there's more fallout from a decision made in Vienna last week. Oil prices have taken another dive, tumbling to levels not seen in five years.

Now OPEC members agreed not to cut production. And the ripple effect, well it's being felt across the globe.

Let's get to the U.S. market, which has started the trading day. And it is in the red.

Maggie Lake joining me from New York with the latest on that.

And Maggie, there's talk of the big oil producers, particularly in this region, are waging what could be described as de facto oil war against the

U.S. companies, squeezing margins on big natural gas fracking projects, for example.

The market here hitting the buffers, though, today with investors concerned that local producers have taken too big a risk.

What is the story in New York?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is a cat and mouse game, absolutely Becky. And both sides look like they are digging in. And it is

making investors nervous.

Let's start with the fallout and the winners and losers in terms of that ripple effect hitting equities, and then we can talk about the producers in

the U.S versus in the Gulf. And if you take a look, you mention the Dow down today. It is energy stocks that are dragging U.S. stocks lower, some

of the big oil producers, really oil services companies taking a hammering once again. We're talking about Schlumberger, Halliburton, even Norwegian


Some of these stocks now down 20 to 30, getting close to 40 percent in the last three months and no one willing to step in. The domestic fracking

industry also hit. And even railroads, which transport a lot of that crude here in the U.S. are also taking a hit.

On the flip side, there are some winners, and we do need to talk about this, consumers. This is like an immediate tax cut for everybody coming

right in time for the holidays. U.S. consumers gas, a big ticket item for us. And so those petrol prices going down. A lot of people are hoping

that that's going to translate into consumer spending.

And airlines, if you're taking a flight, hasn't really made its way into ticket prices for us, but airlines are enjoying a nice ride because of

those lower fuel prices. Remember, jet fuel 30 percent of an airline's cost.

So there are clear winners and losers, but when you're looking at some of those U.S. fracking companies, again many people say that's OPEC's

strategy, put the squeeze on those U.S. producers. They're bunkering down saying, you know what, we think we can outlast OPEC.

ANDERSON: Can they?

LAKE: That's the question, isn't it, Becky?

Right here, for the moment in the short-term analysts think they can. At where we're sitting around $70 a barrel they're going to cut investment,

spending, some people say by maybe as much as 25 percent next year. So they're going to squeeze it in. But they don't think that they are going

to cut production.

If you get closer to $60 a barrel and it stays at that level, at least one producer I spoke to last week told me that's where the pain threshold will

be. A few months, three months, yes. If it continues at that level for a prolonged period of time, then you could start to hit at the production.

But, again, those producers are betting that if you're just talking about a matter of months that there are going to be some OPEC producing nations --

let's talk about some -- Venezuela, Iran, even those outside -- Russia -- that are not going to be able to withstand the pain that this is putting on

their economies and that something will happen.

So right now both sides dug in, in a very risky game of chicken.

ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. Right right. We're going to have more on the fallout from the OPEC meeting later in the show. For the time being,

Maggie, thank you.

I'm going to be speaking to CNN's Emerging Markets editor John Defterios who was in Vienna last week and hear about the OPEC-driven plan to target

that U.S. shale. We'll also look at the impact on Russia and indeed on the ruble.

Well, onto a story about Russia. And a difference of opinion over Syria's civil war not expected to get in the way of strong economic ties between

Russia and Turkey. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, arrived in Turkey today to meet with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and

that conversation, or meeting it certainly focused on energy and trade.

Ankara wants more Russian gas for less money, especially during the current winter season.

The meeting comes as oil prices, as we've been discussing, are plummeting, and the Russian ruble has hit a new low against the dollar.

We're covering the story from both countries. We've got Matthew Chance live from Moscow, Arwa Damon is in Istanbul.

Matthew, let's start with you. And as we've been discussing today this barreling oil price, as it were, south. What is it that Russia can do to

put the breaks on this falling price if anything? Because this is going to be a tough one when it tries to balance its budgets going forward, isn't


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually there's not a lot that Russia can do to limit the fall in the oil price. OPEC has

the ability, of course, to reduce production. Russia is much less able to do that, because of its -- the nature of its wells, it's very difficult for

them to curtail the amount of oil that they extract from them, especially in the middle of the winter like this. They are very difficult to restart

those wells again. And so they're are sort of physical limitations on how much the Russians can limit the amount of oil they extract.

In terms of them limiting their budget, it's actually not a bad thing in the short-term, because remember Russia earns its revenue from oil sales in

dollars. The ruble has plunged dramatically. We're seeing it plunge, touch levels 9 percent down against the dollar just today. And of course

when it converts those dollars into rubles it's actually up. So it's well within its means of paying for its budget commitments so far this year.

Next year, of course, is going to be a big problem.

ANDERSON: It could mean further cuts to social spending and indeed to the military.

As the Russian president arrives in Istanbul -- or in Ankara at least today to meet the Turkish president, what sort of message was he taking with him?

And what does he expect to take out from that meeting to be, do you think?

CHANCE: Well, I think the timing of the meeting is crucial. Of course, Russia is suffering under international sanctions from the United States

and from the European Union in particular. It's curb food imports from those countries as well over its actions in Ukraine. And so it's looking

to Turkey to fill those gaps and to boost its trade ties with Russia. It's already a key trading partnership, the relationship between Russia and

Turkey. Turkey is the second biggest importer of Russian gas after Germany in the world. And so that needs to continue. They want that to continue.

There's been steps taken towards a key deal signed on Russia building Turkey's first nuclear reactor. It wants to increase food imports from

there as well.

And so, yeah, there are a lot of areas of mutual interest.

There are areas of dispute as well, notably over Syria, Russia being one of the major diplomatic backers of Syria, Turkey being one of the major


But they are papering over those differences, it seems, for the sake of trade.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance is in Moscow for you.

Arwa, Ankara clearly wants more Russian gas for less money. It would also like to see there would be kingmaker, as it were, over Syria is there more

authority over the Bashar al-Assad government there?

So, what do you believe the take out from Ankara ought to be? Or do they want it to be after this meeting?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Turkey is also in a position where it can't really afford to let politics and political

differences over what it believes the fate of Bashar al-Assad should be impact its trade cooperation and economic ties with Russia, because at this

stage, simply put, Turkey cannot financial afford to isolate Russia in the way that America and the Europeans have. It cannot afford to financial

sweep off Russia. Turkey is reliant on Russia for gas. Russia is Turkey's main gas exporter, without which it does not have many viable options,

given the challenges and currently getting gas out of Iraq and other issues as well.

Plus, the two countries are planning on significantly expanding their trade cooperation. By 2020, they want to see that tripled to $100 billion. Plus

you have, as Matthew is mentioning there, Russia is building Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

Interestingly, the Turkish environmental ministry approving that plan, the environmental specs for that power plant, just hours before President Putin


Now when it comes to Syria, the two maybe addressing it behind closed doors, but it's unlikely to go at this stage beyond them both expressing

their very different opinions on what should be taking place. Right now, the focus is how to expand their economic cooperation. And neither country

at this stage can afford to let anything get in the way of that.

We are at this stage, awaiting a press conference between both presidents, Becky.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon is in Turkey for you, Matthew in Moscow. Thank you, guys.

Two separate attacks hit northern Nigeria today. Gun battles and explosions woke residents in Damaturu after Boko Haram stormed the city,

launching brutal attacks on civilians.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Maiduguri, a female suicide bomber set off an explosion at a market, a week after a similar attack killed at least 78

people in that city. There is no word yet on any casualties in today's attacks.

Nima Elbagir has been following this story for us. And she joins me now from London with the very latest.

What do we know at this point, Nima?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're still attempting to secure the scene in Damaturu. One commander of the civilian

task force in whose sector this attack was actually carried out in Maiduguri told us that six people at least have been killed. He said these

were the bodies that he managed to count himself and that doesn't take into consideration the 48 seriously wounded civilians that have been rushed to

the hospital.

It seems that these attacks were planned to run concurrently. As we understand that forces from Maiduguri were taken to reinforce Damaturu when

the attack began there, and that's when this suicide bomber, a female suicide bomber, detonated herself in the marketplace in Maiduguri.

It just gives you a sense, Becky, of the increasingly brazen nature of Boko Haram's attack. We had an attack on a mosque on the grand mosque in Kanu

(ph) on Friday in which over 100 people were killed, an earlier attack in Maiduguri at the beginning of last week, an attack before that. It really

seems like these attacks, not only are they increasing the time difference between them is increasing, but the brazenness of them, the ability to hit

right at the heart of these state capitals is also just showcasing Boko Haram's range and increasing firepower.

ANDERSON: Nima, thank you.

Still to come tonight, we'll tell you why access to food aid for more than a million Syrian refugees is now threatened. And on World AIDS Day, we'll

examine why much of the Middle East is scared to talk about HIV let alone tackle it.


ANDERSON: Right. You are back with CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, about a quarter past 8:00 in the UAE. And back to our

top story, oil prices trading at a five year low. Now it was at this meeting last week where OPEC members decided not to curb their production

and that continues to send shockwaves across global markets and could even threaten what is known as the U.S. shale boom.

Now we'll discuss that, because the pressure is piling on the oil producers, particularly those outside of OPEC.

John Defterios joining me now. He was in Vienna of course last week where all the action was taking place. And it's interesting to see that actually

the action was during Thanksgiving, so we're seeing quite a lot of the reaction to that market on this Monday, the first of the U.S. trading days.

At OPEC, the regional players, many of whom we recognize as members of the GCC here, could have just turned off the taps. If you do Economics 101,

you know that supply and demand equals a price. If you want to jack up the price, you turn off the taps as it were. Why didn't they do that?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: In fact it's going counter to the OPEC strategy for the last 20 years to be the swing producer, the

arbiter of higher or lower prices. They took the opposites strategy this time. They're saying we've been controlling the market during the worst of

times, including 2008 when oil dropped $100 a barrel in the second half of 2008.

Saudi Arabia's decision, with the backing of Kuwait, Qatar and here in the UAE, said we're going to actually let this market play out. And we weren't

clear at the OPEC meeting initially if they were targeting Russia or even an OPEC member like Iran, but in fact they came out afterwards through

sources that I spoke to that the real target here was the U.S. shale producers. And this is something that Saudi Arabia talked about Becky

behind closed doors.

So we wanted to give a snapshot of where we've come from in June. We haven't seen a correction like this, as I noted, since 2008. You got back

to June 15 we were just at $116 a barrel. We've now given up $45 a barrel in the last five months. And look at the acceleration. And do you see

this last little drop here? There was hope at the OPEC meeting that they would make a last minute decision, cooperate with Russia, take some oil off

the market. It never happened.

ANDERSON: Now, this U.S. shale story, before we move on and talk about who, as far as the oil producers are concerned, might be suffering the

most. This U.S. shale story, just when the United States believed that they would be energy independent once again, the rest of the world's energy

providers saying, you know, it ain't going to happen.

DEFTERIOS: In fact, what's very interesting about the point you bring up here is that if Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States level peg, we're

looking at between nine...

ANDERSON: This is the first time in a very long time that's happened.

DEFTERIOS: Yeah, 9 to 10 million barrels a day. And as a result of it, some geopolitical power play here with many of the OPEC and non-OPEC

countries involved in here.

We've pulled up four of them to look at.

The one that suffers the most right now is Iran. It was -- needs a budget target of $140 per barrel, but they can only export a million a day because

of the sanctions. So they're hit hard, because that's what they need in terms of revenue. But they can't export anymore.

Another big player, Venezuela, it needs $120 a barrel. Nicholas Maduro under incredible pressure. We saw today in the bond market, which is a

very good indication, bonds are trading at 19 to 24 percent, almost on the edge of default.

ANDERSON: Doesn't something like 93 percent of Venezuela's GDP rely on its oil exports?

DEFTERIOS: Yeah, in fact they're not alone. Let's take a look, Nigeria is at 96 percent, also needs a target price of $120 a barrel.

What did we learn during this process? over the last four years of record oil of $100 a barrel, these countries weren't saving enough. And Russia

fits into that category as well, $105 is a target. And you talk about this with Matthew, the rubles under incredible pressure, 52 to the dollar right

now. It's going to spark incredible inflation, put more pressure on Vladimir Putin.

ANDERSON: Risky strategy best for those oil producers in this region. The Gulf producers of course taking a lead from Saudi at this point, and you

learned that at the Vienna meeting.

What we have seen, though, is investors bailing out of the market here. So is there a point, or have we reached a point, that investors in the equity

markets here say -- hang on a minute guys -- this may not work?

DEFTERIOS: Yeah, in fact we know that the target for the shale production through, again, sources that we spoke to at OPEC is to drive prices as low

as $60 a barrel. The view from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf producers, this will take six months. So a lot of pain over six months to get the gain --

their gain in their view is to drive the U.S. shale producers out of the business.

Very risky strategy. The Saudi Arabian market, which is going to open to foreign investors in 2015 in bear market territory, down 23 percent. Dubai

was down 4 percent yesterday down another 2.25 percent today.

So the equity markets, as you know, a nine month lead indicator, pointing to trouble for these economies as well. They have a $2.5 trillion cushion.

But it's still going to be a lot of pain to get to that six month pipeline. It is a risk strategy.

ANDERSON: Two important points, that they've got this massive cushion. And there's a lot of white noise in some of these markets. They've been

very high, haven't they, so people taking a profit towards the end of the year. But I mean you make a very, very good point, watch this space over

the next six months. Interesting times. Thank you, John, as ever.

Live from Abu Dhabi this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Coming up, Iraq's prime minister says he will punish so-called host

soldiers. And I'll tell you who they are and why they are weakening the fight against ISIS.

Up next, Dubai was once dubbed the most congested city in the Middle East. We're going to take a look next at a project that was three years in the

making to help commuters get around.



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Residents in Dubai are familiar with opulence and superlatives. The city is home to the world's

tallest building, the first seven star hotel and a man-made archipelago shaped like a palm tree lined with luxury villas. Now, it is home to the

world's longest urban rapid rail transport system.

Its first passenger was the man behind the project, the ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum inaugurated the construction of the

project in 2006. Three-and-a-half years and $$7.6 billion later, the first line opened.

UNIDNETIFIED MALE: A lot of people thought that the city does not need this metro. Now imagine when we started this project metro was carrying

around 60,000 passengers per day now it's carrying around half a million a day.

LU STOUT: Currently, the driverless trains serve 47 stations on two lines over 75 kilometers. And in keeping with the city's penchant for luxury,

trains have gold and silver classes and women only carriages, but the average commuter can still travel on the train for as little as 50 cents.

The vision was to create an affordable, efficient backbone to the emirate's public transport system, a key piece of infrastructure to stem traffic

congestion and accommodate a swelling population.

But the dream is much grander than what currently exists.

By 2030, the metro should serve 197 stations, spanning 421 kilometers, more than 5.5 times its current reach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can save a lot of time. And it is luxurious also, not (inaudible) not like (inaudible) transport. No, it is a very good


LU STOUT: As the popularity of the Dubai metro increases, so do the plans for a wider transport network. A tram line now intersects with the metro

and the city's monorail and efforts are being made to connect the metro with the Etihad rail, a regionwide project aimed at linking the UAE with

passenger and freight trains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good thing about Dubai government is they say something they commit. And commitment is very important for Sheikh

Mohammed, you know. When they announce a project, they deliver the project.

LU STOUT: For now, the metro's half a million passengers a day appear to agree that the Dubai government is on the right track to transforming the

city's reputation as one of the most congested in the Middle East.



ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this hour at half past 8:00 in the UAE.

Police say a teenage Palestinian girl stabbed an Israeli man in the West Bank near a cluster of Jewish settlements. Now, the man was slightly

wounded. Israeli security forces opened fire on the girl. She is now hospitalized with serious injuries.

Two of the three African countries hardest-hit by Ebola appear to be making real progress against the outbreak. The World Health Organization reports

that Guinea and Liberia are meeting their targets in terms of treatment and the safe burial of victims. However, Sierra Leone is still lagging behind.

Oil prices have tumbled to levels not seen in five years. Right now, Brent is trading at just over $71 a barrel. Last week, OPEC members agreed not

to cut production, and the ripple effect is being felt in markets across the globe.

The World Food Program says it's been forced to suspend a food voucher program for Syrian refugees due to a lack of funds. The program helps

nearly 2 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt.

Well, the executive director of the World Food Program is making an appeal to donors. She says, and I quote, "A suspension of WFP food assistance

will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability, and insecurity in the neighboring host


Joining me now from Amman is Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Program regional emergency coordinator for the Syria crisis. Thank you for joining me, sir.

What happened?


operation. So, as a result, almost 1.8 million refugees will not have any food. Many hundreds of thousands of women and children will not have any

access to food this month. It's a tragedy.

ANDERSON: It's $64 million to support Syrian refugees in host countries, I believe, for, for example, the month of December. It is to the shame of

the countries -- the donor countries that commitments remain unfulfilled. What sort of pressure can an organization like yours put on those host

countries -- on those donor countries?

HADI: We're trying our best. First of all, let me be clear: we're grateful for all the support we get, for all the countries that supported

us. But we're still appealing. Let's be clear, the Syrian crisis is by far a political crisis. But in absence of a political solution, there's

only the humanitarian solution so support, and the world needs to stand by the Syrian people until this crisis is over.

So, we're appealing for the donor countries. We'll also appealing for the countries in the Middle East -- Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states -- to support

this operation. It's tragedy. There are hundreds of thousands of Syrians in these harsh weather conditions, living in tents, in makeshift shelter.

Already facing a lot of challenges, and with now, the interruption in the food, the suspension of the food, to them, I actually don't know how they

will survive.

For me, personally, not only as a humanitarian worker for the World Food Program, but as a parent, as a father of three children, I don't know what

a father would tell his children, or how a mother would explain to her kids, tomorrow -- or actually, today -- that we haven't received food from

the World Food Program. It's a tragedy for us.

ANDERSON: Muhannad, this is not just about food. This assistance program also pumps money into the economies of these host countries, doesn't it, as

the vouchers are used in the shops?

So, stopping this assistance effectively turns off what is an injection of cash into what are some of the regions poorest economies. And I think the

impact on the host communities of the enormity of this Syrian refugee problem is one that goes under-reported, doesn't it?

HADI: Absolutely. So far, the World Food Program injected more than $800 million in the economies of the neighboring countries. Most of it went

into the economies of Lebanon and Jordan.

And those are economies that are already having their own challenges, and with the added burden of the refugees, they are facing much more

challenges. So, when you have this amount of cash to inject directly into the economies, it's definitely supporting the host communities and the


ANDERSON: As you speak, Muhannad, we are looking at pictures of Syrian refugees who, quite frankly, if this assistance program doesn't go on, you

are telling us tonight may starve over December, correct?

HADI: That is true. It's really a very simple story. There are 1.8 million refugees who are totally dependent on the World Food Program to

feed them. If we don't feed them, they basically have no other option. They will simply go to the negative coping mechanism.

Some of them may take their children out of school to get jobs, putting them -- exposing them to exploitation. We will see early marriages. We

will see that those who access to some money through ad hoc jobs, will probably buy food that is not nutritious, that will affect the growth of

their children. Some of them may survive on one meal a day if they have access to one meal a day.

It's really -- I said it, and I repeat it -- it's a tragedy for the World Food Program to see the Syrian people reach to this stage. We really feel

for them. It's unfortunate that there is nothing that we can do now. But we're extremely hopeful that we will get the money immediately.

And the beauty of the program that we provide is if we actually receive money tonight, by tomorrow morning, we can program this money so that

Syrian refugees can benefit from it. It's a beautiful program for the refugees, they appreciate it --


ANDERSON: Muhannad, very briefly --

HADI: -- it gives them the food.

ANDERSON: Sure. Sorry, very briefly --


ANDERSON: -- you described the downside, things like taking their kids out of school and putting them in work. Things like, I don't know, human

trafficking, the sort of stories that we hear time and time again.

There are some catastrophic downsides to families who simply can't feed their children. Are you seeing evidence of that already in these camps?

And further, still not every refugee, of course, is in a camp.

HADI: Well, we've -- there are already stories about this that we're hearing that have been happening for some time, like early marriages and

negative coping mechanisms. But definitely, with the interruption of the support, of the food aid that they are getting, it seems like most probably

they will resort to those sort of coping mechanisms, unfortunately.

ANDERSON: With that, we're going to leave it. Sir, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Iraq's prime minister has vowed to crack down on countries' so-called "Ghost" soldiers. Haider al-Abadi says at least 50,000 members of the

Iraqi army never show up for work. The soldiers receive a salary but pay off their commanders so that they don't have to report for duty. Jomana

Karadsheh has the details.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was scenes that shocked the world: a few hundred ISIS militants rolling into

Mosul and swiftly taking control of Iraq's second-largest city with little or no resistance.

But it now appears the collapse of Iraq's military in the face of ISIS was not just about capabilities. An initial investigation by Iraq's new prime

minister has so far revealed that almost a quarter of Iraq's military only exist on paper. He calls them "Ghost" soldiers, discovered in November.

"In record time, without even sending inspection teams into the field, only by checking paperwork, I was able to eliminate 50,000 Ghost soldiers in

four army divisions," al-Abadi says. "What's worse," he says, "was that this was allowed to go on for a long time, and it didn't take much effort

to discover."

"I feel sad that all this time we were paying salaries and we don't have the money, while other soldiers are fighting and getting killed, some are

getting paid without attending," the seemingly frustrated prime minister told Parliament on Sunday.

The least of this is just the tip of the iceberg, expecting, quote, "wonders" to be revealed after field inspections. Iraq is known as one of

the world's most corrupt countries, even permeating the ranks of those supposed to uphold the law.

Less than three months in office, and Abadi has promised an overhaul. Last month, he fired 26 military commanders and pushed 10 others into retirement

signaling the start of an overdue shakeup of Iraq's security forces, plagued by corruption and political affiliations. He's now promising a

harsh crackdown.

"We will not let the people responsible get away with this, and the people responsible for wasting public funds will be held accountable," he warns.

Reforming and restructuring Iraq's military will take time. And time is not something Iraq can afford in the face of a brutal and organized enemy.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN.


ANDERSON: Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up, we've been talking this hour about the mass movements

of people here in the Middle East, and that makes the spread of disease hard to control.

But when it comes to HIV, there are other factors at play. On World AIDS day, we'll tell you why the stigma the virus carries in this region could

in itself be a killer.



HRH PRINCE HARRY OF BRITAIN: On today, World AIDS Day, my secret is, believe it or not, I get incredibly nervous before public speaking, no

matter how big the crowd or the audience. And despite the fact that I laugh and joke all the time, I get incredibly nervous, if not anxious,

actually, before going into rooms full of people when I'm wearing a suit.


ANDERSON: Britain's Prince Harry among the high-profile figures raising awareness of the HIV on the 27th annual World AIDS Day. The 30-year-old

royal has joined a campaign aimed at combating any stigma surrounding the virus by sharing personal secrets.

Now, a reluctance to open up about HIV is certainly a factor in its spread, according to the UN AIDS global report. There are more than 35 million

people living with the virus around the world, 260,000 of them live here in the Middle East and North Africa region.

And while infection rates are dropping globally, they grew by more than 50 percent in this part of the world between 2001 and 2012. And at a time

when AIDS in the West is no longer considered a death sentence, the picture here, let me tell you, is bleaker. The report says AIDS-related deaths

more than doubled in this region in just over a decade, while worldwide, deaths fell, thankfully, by 16 percent.

Well, much of this can be explained by the absence of antiretroviral treatment across much of the Middle East and North Africa, but it can also

be explained by the fact that HIV is not just the subject of stigma here. In many places, it's totally taboo.

Let's investigate this further with Nadia Badram, who is the program coordinator for SIDC, which is an HIV/AIDS program based in Beirut in

Lebanon. She's joined by her colleague Rita Wahab, who works with women affected by HIV throughout the Middle East and is herself HIV-positive.

Ladies, thank you for joining us. Rita, what has been your experience of living with HIV in this region?

RITA WAHAB, REGIONAL COORDINATOR, MENA-ROSA: We noticed through the regional meetings that we have that the women here in the region don't have

a niche to express themselves underneath and talk about sexual education and very intimate topics that they would bring out.

So, we created this group of women living with HIV and affected by HIV. I mean that women of IDUs, of women who are the partners of sex workers.

Because in this region, we have polygamy, we also have temporary marriages, and we have a lot of concentrated epidemic of IDUs.

So, this is the place, now or never, to have this group of women. We are working in 14 countries in the region. Among them, Iran, the Gulf, Mashriq

and Maghreb regions.

ANDERSON: OK, all right.

WAHAB: In each country --


ANDERSON: Excellent. The Middle East and North Africa is a region -- sorry, my love -- is a region in conflict. Nadia, no doubt the fact that

people are moving around a lot goes some way to explaining why the epidemic is harder to control.

But then you come to the stigmatization of the illness and, indeed, as we said right at the beginning, and I'm sure that would Rita would attest to,

the fact that this is an illness which is totally taboo, not just in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa, but also in Southeast Asia, just

a short flight away from this region.

NADIA BADRAM, PROGRAM COORDINATOR, SIDC: Yes. Stigma an discrimination existing all over the world. But when we talk about the Middle East and

North Africa, we know that the culture is different to some other regions in the world.

This is why stigma is high. And the stigma, we are noticing the stigma at many levels. At workplace, at university, at home as well. This is why

the people are not very well ready to talk or disclose themselves in front of others.

And this is one of the issues, this is why the number of infected people are not very well known. This is why the incidents are much bigger than

other countries as well.


BADRAM: And as you already said, the problem of migration and refugees, now, with all what is happening in the region, the conflicts that hare

happening are also a big issue for us today.

ANDERSON: To both of you, just have a listen to this. I hope you can hear it. Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about the reluctance of

people to speak about HIV and AIDS is that when with early treatment, it can often, of course, be managed.

This time last year, I spoke to a doctor in London who encourages people to get regular checks. Have a listen to this.


CHLOE ORKIN, HIV CONSULTANT, BARTS HEALTH TRUST: With an early diagnosis, you get the opportunity of putting someone on treatment and keeping them a

live to a near normal life expectancy. Whereas when people are diagnosed late, they can succumb to really awful and very serious illnesses, and

sometimes die. And it's an entirely preventable problem.


ANDERSON: Why would, Rita, do you think, a responsible government not want to implement an HIV tracking program when ignoring the problem clearly

makes it worse?

WAHAB: Definitely it does. Because we're not considered as a priority, and accordingly, if we don't also empower the people living with HIV to

know about the treatments, the comprehensive package of treatments and acts of civility, we are going to continue having new infections.

This why MENA-Rosa is fighting the struggle now to have capacity buildings for these women to empower them being adherent to their treatments and

stopping the virus to follow other people.

BADRAM: And also, there is another issue about VCT, voluntary counseling and testing, that it starts to be present in our region. In Lebanon, for

example, the National AIDS Program minister says they are doing a lot of -- they are opening the city centers. And this is also a way to catch -- or

to catch, yes, the people to know better about themselves at an early stage.

Because when they know at an early stage about their status, they can access medication as earlier stage. And this is -- it's about prevention

as well. It's not only treatment. Because now -- and this is the slogan of this year -- treatment equals prevention.

ANDERSON: All right, ladies, we're going to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

And CNN investigates just how close scientists are to developing a potential vaccine for HIV. Remember, this is the 27th anniversary of World

AIDS Day. You saw at the beginning of this part of the show Prince Harry talking about things he fears most, in support of HIV and AIDS. He was

only three on the first of these days. And this has been around way too long.

You can read all about that on our website. Head to for a closer look at the progress of clinical trials around the world. See how

experts are having to rethink their entire approach to tackling the virus.

The term "AIDS" today should be relegated to history, shouldn't it? In every region in the world. So, let's hope that comes true at some point.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up, they call it the strongest village in India. We'll tell you why

these young farmers are giving up plowing to pump iron.


ANDERSON: This is CNN, CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back. Tonight's Parting Shots for you, we take you to a village on the

outskirts of New Delhi, where there is a generation of men who are embracing what is an old tradition so that they can excel at a very modern

job. CNN's Sumnima Udas visited what is this very special training ground.



SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could call this the strongest village in India: 1,000 push-ups? No problem. Some

claim they can even do 2500. Lifting a 300-kilogram motorcycle like a box of books.

Men of all ages, sizes and levels of strength train together in the outskirts of New Delhi, two hours in the morning and two in the evening.

UDAS (on camera): So, this is what you call a traditional Indian gym. You've got a mud pit, some bricks, a rope, and just a whole lot of peer


UDAS (voice-over): For generations, men clad in loincloths wrestling in mud pits have transfixed spectators in rural India. "Traditionally, we're

a farming community, but we always had a passion for wrestling. When there was no television or night clubs, wrestling was the only source of

entertainment," he says.

Vijay Tanwar wanted to win an Olympic medal, but when that didn't work out, he found opportunity at home. "Fifteen years ago, there was an influx

night clubs, and there was a huge demand for bouncers, so I thought, why not?" he says.

Tanwar also trained hundreds of other young boys from the village. Their sole motivation: bouncery, as they call it here in New Delhi's night


UDAS (on camera): Where is this craze coming from?

UDAS (voice-over): "We have a healthy lifestyle, we earn good money. What else does one need in life?" he asks.

They're strict vegetarians. They also don't drink or smoke. But how do they reconcile traditional village customs by day and modern city

lifestyles by night? "We adjust," he says. "When there's a need, people figure it out." For a bunch of brawny men, they're a pragmatic and happy


UDAS (on camera): So, we've managed to request them to stop working out for a few seconds to take this picture.


UDAS (voice-over): Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


ANDERSON: Well, for those of you watching in the region, I know we have plenty of Indian-born viewers here in the UAE and around the world, we'd

like to know what you made of that story and everything else on today's show. Log onto Have your say. You can tweet me

@BeckyCNN. We're on Instagram, that is Becky and CNN.

Now, just before we leave you this hour, I just want to return to one of our top stories. Russian president Vladimir Putin in Turkey to meet with

the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, the two leaders have been talking about energy and trade. Ankara wants more Russian gas for

less money, especially during the current winter season.

Well, we're expecting a news conference from the two men at any time. The meeting comes as oil prices are plummeting and the Russian ruble has hit a

new low. These are live pictures coming to CNN from Ankara, so expect the two to be holding this press conference, and CNN will be on that. Of

course, we'll be listening in for any news coming out of that, and we'll bring you that straightaway.

President Putin in Ankara, is where you can find the very, very latest news from CNN. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE

WORLD. From the team here, it is a very good evening.