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CONNECT THE WORLD
ISIS Video Purports to Show Boy Executing Hostages; Chechen President Claims Russia Infiltrated ISIS; Iran-US Nuclear Negotiations; Interests Versus Values; Parting Shots: Pen is Mightier for Syrian Cartoonist; Bilateral Trade; Investing in Iran; Technological Expansion
Aired January 15, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: A coffin covered in cartoons: France busies another victim of the Charlie Hebdo attack. This, as the investigation
finds a possible link to Spain.
Also ahead, does this walkabout hint at where nuclear talks are heading? We're live in Washington to talk U.S.-Iran relations.
Plus, well off to a flying start in more ways than one: thousands cheer the pope in Asia's most Catholic country.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: A very good evening. It is 8:00 here in the UAE.
I want to start for you tonight in Paris where four more victims of the attack there were laid to rest today.
Mourners gathered for the funeral of the cartoonist Bernard Verlhac, also known as Tignous. A private ceremony was also held for another well
known cartoonist Georges Wolinski. Also laid to rest today a columnist and a police officer killed in last week's massacre.
Well, the ceremonies come amid reports of new leads in the search for possible accomplices to last week's terror attacks.
Chief U.S. security correspondent Jim Sciutto has been tracking developments from Paris. The funerals a somber reminder of the loss of
life in this terror attack. A week on, what more do we know about what happened and those who may have been involved, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well as the rain falls here on the Charlie Hebdoe memorial, the newest lead taking investigators to Belgium
just across the border from France and to someone who they believe sold the weapons to the Kouachi brothers before that attack.
This man, a Belgian man, actually turned himself in after he saw the attack happen and well known apparently to Belgian authorities as a arms
trafficker, a possibility he did not know what those arms were going to be used for.
That is just the latest lead.
There's also indications that before this attack that Amedy Coulibaly, who took that Kosher market, traveled to Spain with his partner,
Boumeddine, Hayat Boumeddine who then went on from there to Turkey and to Syria.
So what you're seeing, Becky, the more investigators look, the more threads here that take them outside of France, not just to Europe, but also
of course back to Yemen where it's believed that the Kouachi brothers trained and on to Syria where a couple of other suspects they've been
looking for are believed to have traveled in the wake of these attacks or before these attacks.
ANDERSON: Now this isn't just U.S. investigators, of course. U.S. intelligence and others involved in really trying to piece together what
I know you've got sources within U.S. intelligence, what are they telling you?
SCIUTTO: Well, today the new question is a possibility -- looking into the possibility that the Kouachi brothers communicated with AQAP in
Yemen after their visit there in 2011 and the alarming possibility that that communication took place in such a way that it was not caught,
captured, surveyed by the NSA.
We've heard -- I've heard from intelligence officials for some time, the concern that these groups are using encryption, they're using things --
simple things like mobile wi-fi to make themselves harder to track by typical surveillance methods. It's just a possibility at this point. It
is as you know Becky early in the investigation.
But if that is confirmed, that would be a truly alarming prospect, because it would close off one of the ways that U.S. intelligence and other
foreign intelligence agencies have used to track the communication there for the planning of these terror groups.
ANDERSON: Yeah, Jim Sciutto in Paris with the very latest. Jim, thank you.
The claim of responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo massacre came in online video from al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula.
The face of that message, a top al Qaeda commander in Yemen.
Nick Paton Walsh takes a closer look at his record as the voice for the terror group.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nasr al-Ansi, age 39, before his ambitious claims today has trotted al Qaeda's warped globe.
He once fought in Bosnia, one biography says, and then bin Laden apparently took notice of his military prowess when al-Ansi attended camps in
Afghanistan at the height of the group's haven there under the Taliban in 1998.
Dispatching him to the Philippines to spread their toxic brand ahead of 9/11. But after that attack changed the world, he soon found himself
detained back in his native Yemen -- it's unclear why -- for six months only. Afterwards, he seemed to have devoted years to study at an Islamic
university there. Perhaps it was Yemen's turmoil that drew him back to jihad in 2011, fast becoming a senior figure, mostly seen addressing the
camera at length and here giving military lessons.
In the last months, he's made three striking statements, some say to recast AQAP's image in the jihadi world where rival jihadists ISIS have
risen in notoriety. He first berated the savage beheadings familiar to ISIS.
NASR AL-ANSI, SENIOR AL QAEDA IN YEMEN MEMBER (via translator): The prophet commanded us to benevolence in everything, even in killing. It is
not from benevolence to record the way of killing or slaughtering and posting it for the people so the sons of the killed see it, or his
daughters or relatives. This is among the ugliest of matters.
Obama made a decision that caused things to go in a completely different way than we wanted.
LUKE SUMMERS, BEHEADED ISIS HOSTAGE: I'm Luke Summers. I'm 33 years old. I was born...
WALSH: Secondly, he scolded Barack Obama's bid to use special forces to rescue American hostage Luke Summers, saying they sought a different
outcome. And at the close of last year, in al Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine, he called lone wolf attackers like the gunman who took over a Sydney cafe,
the quote, "lions of Allah".
Today's claim a naked bid to associate the older brand of al Qaeda with the newest horror Europe is reeling from.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Beirut.
ANDERSON: And this just coming in to CNN, the French government says it will grant French citizenship to Lassana Bathily. He's the Malian
immigrant being hailed as the hero of the Kosher market siege. You see him here describing how he hid hostages in a walk-in freezer at the store while
it was under attack by a gunman.
A statement from the French interior minister. He says, "his application for citizenship filed in July is being expedited." He adds
that the minister himself will conduct the citizenship ceremony on January 20.
Well, Pope Francis has again spoken out about the terror attacks in Paris, telling reporters that no one should be killed in the name of God.
But he also touched on the debate over freedom of expression, saying it is wrong to, quote, "provoke someone by making fun of his religion."
Well, the pontiff made those comments on his way to the Philippines. And this was the scene that greeted him when he touched down there.
Hundreds of thousands of people expected to turn out to try and catch a glimpse of the pope during his trip to what is a devoutly Catholic nation.
Anna Coren following his visit in Manila.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pope Francis received a rock star reception when he arrived here in the Philippines, home to the
third largest population of Catholics in the world on his mission for mercy and compassion.
Well, just before he was about to walk off the plane, a gust of wind blew off his Zucchetto, but he laughed it off, soaking up the love and
adoration from the crowd.
There to greet the pope, Philippines President Benigno Aquino, cardinals, bishops and 1,000 school students before he got into the
Popemobile where he was cheered by tens of thousands of Filipinos who lined the street to catch a glimpse of him along the 22 kilometer route to the
While on the plane from Sri Lanka, the pope spoke to reporters about the Paris terror attacks, condemning religious violence, describing Freedom
of Religion and speech as fundamental rights.
He also said to kill in the name of god is an aberration.
The pope went on to talk about his fear for the safety of his followers at large gatherings abroad and concern for his own safety, but
said that he had, quote, a large dose of recklessness.
When asked about climate change, an issue he's expected to mention in a speech on his visit to Tacloban that was ravaged by deadly Typhoon Haiyan
in 2013, he said it can mainly be attributed to man who slaps mother nature in the face.
Well, this is the fourth visit by a pope to the Philippines, the last was in 1995 by Pope John Paul II for World Youth Day when a record 5
million people turned up.
Well, officials believe up to 6 million people are expected to come here on Sunday to see Pope Francis celebrate mass, which will no doubt fit
a papal milestone.
Anna Coren, CNN, Manila.
ANDERSON: Still to come tonight, John Kerry and Javad Zarif take a walk together in Geneva. But what direction are they taking nuclear talks?
We'll look at that in about 20 minutes' time for you.
First up, though, France wants to fight radicalism in its jails. We'll speak to a former prisoner about how best to do that.
ANDERSON: At just after 10 past 8:00 in Abu Dhabi. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Welcome back.
Well, France is investigating whether two of the three Paris attackers were radicalized while behind bars.
Following last week's terror, the government is taking action to stop radicalization in prisons. French justice minister Christiane Taubira
visited Rennes, the second largest prison in France. She announced plans to prevent jails from becoming hotbeds of extremism. Increased monitoring
and isolation of those with radical views may be part of the plan.
Well, this is not the first time French Prisons have been in the spotlight. Officials say that Mehdi Nemoush (ph), the suspect in last
year's deadly shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels may also have been radicalized while he was behind bars. He is said to have carried out the
attack after returning from Syria.
Well, our next guest has seen firsthand how prisons can become breeding grounds for radical ideas.
Karim Mokhtari was jailed at 18 for armed robbery. He was approached by radical recruiters while he was inside and resisted pressure, he says,
to become a violent jihadi. He now works with young people to keep them out of jail and he's written a book about his experience called Redemption.
KARIM MOKHTARI, AUTHOR (through translator): Yes, my experience in prison, six-and-a-half years in a French prison and just speaking about the
current events, the tragic events. I was approached by radicals when I was in prison and I was able to say no when they wanted me to get involved with
them. And I understood that wasn't Islam.
So, they wanted people in Islam to channel violence and this person asking me for violence led me to refuse radicalism.
And the radicals here presumed in France are still a minority. I think 52 out of 60,000 people that I know of.
ANDERSON: How common is it that somebody would approach a vulnerable young man in a French prison and try to radicalize him do you think?
MOKHTARI (through translator): Well, what encourages this is also the conditions in prison. Too many people, people are alone, vulnerable, they
need protection. They need to feel to belong somewhere. And in prison they are very vulnerable people.
So, there are very few imams in prison. There's not much space in which to talk, to prayer in the Islamic way.
ANDERSON: You say you were approached by somebody in prison trying to radicalize you. You say you were able to deflect that in a way. Just
describe how. Why is it that you escaped that when others get so wrapped up in it in prison?
MOKHTARI (through translator): Well, I was able to say no, because I knew exactly what I was doing entering Islam. I knew what I had done when
I went into prison and I knew how to say no when I was asked to carry out more violence -- very violent things. I refused because Islam is not
violence, in fact it's love and tolerance, to become somebody better.
Other people don't know why they want to enter Islam. They want to feel valued. They want to exist, if you like.
So that's why I was able to say no and why some let themselves be taken into it.
ANDERSON: How are authorities tackling this problem, if at all?
MOKHTARI (through translator): The authorities, you know, here you've got the question of regrouping jihadis in a very special part of a prison.
It's an experiment. And for me this regrouping -- you could be very careful of the risks, because you don't know the criteria, which will
determine what person inside will be a radical. So, there is a risk in isolating people who are not entirely radicalized.
I think this will strengthen radicalization and their beliefs.
ANDERSON: What more can the French government do?
MOKHTARI (through translator): Today, they could certainly put more trained imams -- trained in Islam into prisons. There are 182 imams in
prison, that's not enough. And also, you have to give places where they can practice the Islamic religion and give places where they can talk.
And then there's reintegration. You have to give the detainees a way to prepare their future, a thing to be really done is to re-inject the
values of the republic, as the president said, into these places, because those values no longer exist in prison. And where there are no republican
values, you then get a radical void.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
And coming up Amnesty International says that these images show just a glimpse of Boko Haram's destruction in Nigeria. More on the terror group's
growing reach just ahead.
And the cost of free speech, not just in Paris. We're going to hear from a Syrian cartoonist this hour who paid a price for drawing his
thoughts. That in about 20 minutes.
ANDERSON: The leader of Boko Haram praising the attacks in Paris in the same week that his group stands accused of massacring hundreds, perhaps
thousands in Nigeria.
You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live from Abu Dhabi.
Well, Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria since 2009, growing in strength every year.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both release satellite images of one of Boko Haram's latest attacks.
Now have a look at this, the bright red patches that you see there are scars from fires, scorched vegetation and damaged buildings all recorded
near the town of Baga where residents say Boko Haram carried out a massacre.
We're going to bring you now a voice in this conflict that you probably have not heard before. He is a Nigerian soldier who was sent to
the north after the Baga attack. He's taking a risk talking to us, but if you want to understand what makes this fight so difficult it is a
perspective that needs to be heard.
Nic Robertson has this exclusive report.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're on the way to meet a soldier who's been in the front line of the battle against
Boko Haram. We've been chasing him all day and still trying to catch up with him.
(voice-over): Eventually, we meet, hidden in a tiny store. He dares only to spend a few minutes with us. He's not authorized to talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we are to evacuate the bodies, found too many bodies bombed.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Of soldiers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of soldiers.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): He's telling a side of the war we never hear, what it's like to be a soldier fighting Boko Haram.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The troop morale is actually very low, very low, because we are not issued the kits. We buy the kits yourself.
ROBERTSON (on camera): You have to buy the uniform?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I bought mine myself.
ROBERTSON: That's incredible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): His base is outside this town, three hours northeast of the capital. It's where the mostly Muslim meets the mostly
Christian south. Right here, last month, a twin suicide bombing killed 12 people. There are thousands of troops stationed in this town and many more
stories like the soldier we're talking to.
(on camera): So this is what they gave you after your injury recommending for treatment?
(voice-over): Another soldier shows me his medical a papers. He, too, is not authorized to speak to us. His unit, he says, was outgunned, Boko
Haram with longer, bigger weapons, more men and more ammunition. His comrades fled leaving him behind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They not have equipment to stand for the insurgency.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Against the fight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To fight Boko Haram, yeah. Their equipment is very, very low than the Boko Haram.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Three scary days alone on the run from the terror group before reaching his base.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm feeling very bad. Even my family, they said -- they asked me to leave the job.
ROBERTSON: His morale, rock bottom. Things were bound to get worse.
(on camera): The army won't pay for drugs even though you got injury fighting Boko Haram.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not paying for drugs.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): We asked a senior government official about shortcomings. He said he would look into it.
(on camera): Why don't the generals see this problem and think about giving you better weapons to win the fight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, whatever is located for these things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corruption.
ROBERTSON: How can you go on being a soldier in that environment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a call to some.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Good will that without bigger guns and more ammunition may soon run out.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Joss (ph), Nigeria.
ANDERSON: Well, the sheer horror of these attacks in Nigeria, not to mention the scope, has many of us, and you I'm sure, asking perhaps why
some are not paying the attention to what -- attention to what happened there as in France.
Even Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was quick to condemn the attacks in Paris last week, but was much slower when it came to the
killings at home.
CNN has just learned that he has, incidentally in the past hour arrived in Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria just less than 200 kilometers
from the latest purported attack.
Well, there's more on this on our website. There you can find out why reactions may be so different. CNN.com/politics.
Well, the latest world news headlines are just ahead on CNN. Plus, insteps in Switzerland: the U.S. secretary of state and Iran's foreign
minister discussing nuclear negotiations during an unusual stroll in Geneva. We're going to try to measure how close they are in about 10
And we'll hear from a Syrian cartoonist living in exile who says his drawings of Bashar al-Assad put his life in jeopardy.
ANDERSON: All right, just before half past 8:00 in the UAE, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories for you this
hour on CNN.
Funerals were held today for four of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Two cartoonists, a columnist, and a police officer were all laid
to rest. The ceremonies were held amid reports from a French newspaper that police were searching for a new possible accomplice in the Kosher
supermarket siege last week. Here you see images from that horrible day inside that supermarket.
The FBI says it's foiled an ISIS-inspired plot to attack the US capital. A 20-year-old man was arrested in Ohio on Wednesday. He
allegedly was planning to set off pipe bombs and then open fire on lawmakers and government employees.
Pope Francis has arrived for a five-day visit to the Philippines. He was greeted by the president there in an elaborate, festive ceremony. As
many as 6 million people are expected to turn out Sunday for what will be an open-air mass in Manila.
ISIS has released a new video proving no limits to its brutality. This time, the video from the terror group claims to show a young boy
executing two men. Michael Holmes reports.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A horrific new tactic from ISIS, raising a new generation of terrorists. A
video released this week from the terror group purports to show a young boy executing two hostages accused of being Russian spies.
In the video, a young boy, about 10 years old with long hair, dressed in a black sweater and military fatigues, stands before the hostages armed
with a handgun, while a bearded ISIS fighter stands next to the boy, reciting religious verses.
CNN cannot verify the authenticity of the video, but the boy pulls the trigger and appears to shoot both men once in the head, then fires several
more times as the hostages slump to the ground.
Like previous ISIS execution videos showing the beheading of Western hostages, this one is carefully edited and choreographed with slick
production, so it is unclear if the boy did in fact kill the hostages. But the message from ISIS is clear: they are turning children into killers.
DANIEL BYMAN, SENIOR FELLOW, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Unfortunately, there is a use of children for atrocities in many conflicts.
We've seen this in Africa, and we've seen it before in Syria. The difference here is they're bragging about it. They're trying to exalt in
this, and it's disturbing.
HOLMES: This video appears to be the first time ISIS has portrayed a child carrying out an execution, but the terror group has exploited
children in previous videos. They call them the "cubs of the caliphate." They're often shown training to fight, learning in ISIS-run schools, and
training with automatic weapons.
(MAN AND CHILD SPEAKING ARABIC)
HOLMES: This particular boy has appeared in earlier ISIS videos. He says his name is Abdullah, that's he's from Kazakhstan, and that he wants
to grow up to kill infidels.
This isn't the first time ISIS has used shocking images of children online. A young Australian boy holds a severed head in a photo posted last
August by the child's father, an extremist who took his children to Syria to join the fight with ISIS.
Another fanatical group is also using children to further their evil agenda. Nigeria's Boko Haram behind a deadly attack this week, strapping a
bomb go a young girl and setting it off in a busy marketplace, killing at least 16 people, including, of course, the girl.
Just this week, a Chicago teen pleaded not guilty to charges he planned to join ISIS fighters in Syria. His mother issuing an emotional
plea to the terror group.
ZARINE KHAN, MOTHER OF ALLEGED ISIS RECRUIT: We have a message for ISIS, Mr. Baghdadi and his fellow social media recruiters: leave our
HOLMES: Children used as pawns in a propaganda war in a global jihad, exploited, their innocence lost. What happens to these children as they
grow up? What kind of adults will these terrorists send into the world?
Michael Holmes, CNN.
ANDERSON: Russia has not commented on reports that the men in the video were Russian agents, but in a recent interview with the Russian news
agency Interfax, the Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov says he believes Russia has infiltrated ISIS.
He says, and I quote, "Within the ranks of hoards of terrorists, we have a good intelligence network. This allows us to track the movement of
those who are of interest to us." Again, no official comment from Moscow, but a story that we will be following for you over the coming weeks and
months, as you would expect.
The US secretary of state and the Iranian foreign minister met this week to discuss Tehran's nuclear program. In a move we haven't seen
before, John Kerry and Mohammad Jawad Zarif took a stroll in Geneva, catching a bit of fresh air during marathon talks that lasted six hours.
They are trying to revive negotiations over Iran's controversial nuclear program, hoping to reach a comprehensive deal. Two deadlines have
already passed, and I'm sure you're well aware, without an agreement.
So, what happens next? Well, the two may meet again in Paris. Tomorrow, official negotiations between Iran and world powers of the P5+1
are set to begin there on Sunday.
For more, let's bring in a regular contributor to the show, Reza Marashi. He's the research director at the National Iranian American
Council, joining us tonight from Washington. Sir, good to have you with us.
I want to go back to what are those extraordinary images, the likes of which would have been almost inconceivable -- well, certainly inconceivable
-- just a year ago. What you might describe as US and Iranian foreign ministers in lockstep on a stroll in Switzerland. Now, do you think that
that aptly describes where the latest talks are, or at least are headed?
REZA MARASHI, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: I couldn't have said it better. What was once impossible is now routine.
We're seeing these kinds of images and videos on an increasing basis. And what that goes to show is that, yes, these negotiations are very tough.
And yes, there's no guarantee that they will succeed.
But we are, in fact, closer today to a final nuclear deal than we ever have been before, and that's a great cause of hope. And that should
motivate both sides, and I think it does motivate both sides to really home in on the tough compromises and tough choices that need to be made in order
to turn this process into a success.
ANDERSON: You say it'll motivate those who want this deal done. But of course, there are naysayers, Reza, on both sides. Those in the US who
want to slap further sanctions on Tehran at this time, and on the flip side, perhaps, news that a "Washington Post" reporter in Iran, detained for
almost six months now, is now going to face trail. Somebody, I believe, you know yourself. What do these kind of periphery messages tell us?
MARASHI: I'm really glad you asked that question, Becky. It's a very good one. You're absolutely right to point out that there are spoilers in
Tehran and in Washington that are doing very egregious things to try and disrupt the diplomatic process of which there is no cost. Diplomacy is
cost-free, because if it fails, you end up right where you were before the diplomatic process started.
But there are entities, there are interest groups in both capitals that thrive in isolation, and that made careers out of proving how nasty
they can be to the other side. And it's going to be the responsibility of political leaders in Washington and in Tehran to take risks for peace, and
try and make sure that no new sanctions get passed in Congress while the negotiations are ongoing.
To make sure that Jason Rezaian, the "Washington Post" correspondent, is freed as soon as possible. He should have -- he never should have been
in prison in the first place. These are the kinds of obstacles that need to be overcome sooner rather than later.
ANDERSON: Why are you so convinced that that, indeed, is what will happen?
MARASHI: Well, I'm cautiously optimistic. And the reason why I am cautiously optimistic is because we don't have to look very far back into
our recent past to see just how dangerous and destructive the failure of the diplomatic process will be.
Because before President Rouhani got elected, before Obama's outreach, and before diplomacy began for real, we were at the precipice of a military
conflict, of a war, that both sides would independently seek to avoid.
If the diplomatic process falls apart, it won't take very long to get back to that precipice of war, and I think that sharpens the focus of both
sides and motivates them to seriously consider whether or not they want to take the risks for piece that are necessary.
ANDERSON: All right. Well, your cautious optimism is marked. We'll have you back, of course, as the months continue. July 1 the focus at this
Reza, you are a former State Department analyst. With that hat on for a moment, I just want to bring up one of your tweets on what is another
story that we've been covering and will continue to cover on this show going forward.
The Saudi blogger, who has been sentenced to public flogging and ten years in jail. That's 50 lashes last Friday, 50 lashes every Friday until
his sentence is completed, that of 1,000 lashes. Now, you say, referring to the US response to this, "Realists with our friends, moralists with our
enemies." What do you mean by that?
MARASHI: Well, I think the reality of the situation is that the United States government has interests and it has values. Any government
in the world, America included, would like to have its cake and eat it, too. But in the real world, you're oftentimes forced to choose.
And I think that we, in the United States, have an unfortunate propensity to prioritize our interests over our values. And the reason why
I say that that's unfortunate is because I think we can do better.
I think we can go to our allies, our friends, like the Saudis and, frankly, other governments in the Middle East as well, that have,
unfortunate and not very good human rights track records, and encourage them to be better.
We have leverage that we can use that we don't because we fear that they'll turn to other countries, the Russias, the Chinas of the world. But
frankly, I don't think that's a very real concern in the short-to-medium term.
And over the long run, it could pay very good dividends to hold their feet to the fire a little bit more so that innocent people can have their
political, economic, and social aspirations met.
ANDERSON: I'm going to have back, because I want to talk more about this in the coming weeks. But for the time being -- unless, of course, his
sentence is commuted, but at this stage, it doesn't look as if it will be - - and he will be lashed once again. This is a man by the name of Badawi, on Friday in front of crowds, we believe. Thank you, Reza.
Millions of people all over the world have expressed their solidarity with the cartoonists who were attacked in Paris. But in tonight's Parting
Shots, we hear from one man who can really sympathize: Ali Ferzat. He is a Syrian political cartoonist who was made to suffer because of his
drawings of President Bashar al-Assad. Here is his story in his own words.
ALI FERZAT, SYRIAN POLITICAL CARTOONIST (through translator): On the day of August 25, 2011, a security police car with tinted windows was
following me, with four men inside carrying batons. And then, they cornered me in one of the most important squares in Damascus. And four men
jumped out of the car and started attacking me.
And after about half an hour of driving, through which I was still being beaten on my eyes, on my head, with their batons, then they grabbed
my fingers and they started breaking them one by one, so to teach me a lesson for insulting the president.
And they told me that "This is so you learn not to insult the president, and that the president's shoes is over your head and over the
head of anyone who is talking about freedom."
It is true they broke me up. But what I did was, to break out of the fear that was dominating Syria for the past 50 years.
FERZAT (through translator): I was not surprised about what happened, and I was pained for those cartoonists. Those artists did not carry a gun
or a weapon. They only carried a pen, just like I did. It appears that the pen is mightier than any weapon, as we have seen when the terrorists
attacked and killed those cartoonists.
ANDERSON: The team at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you. Your reaction to any of the stories that we are covering tonight. Tweet me
@BeckyCNN, or the team @CNNconnect. Or get in touch via Facebook, facebook.com/CNNconnect. We always enjoy hearing from you, and we do read
everything that is posted.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. From the team here in the UAE, it is a very good evening.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: On this week's program: from sanctions to social media, we'll look at how Iran's economic woes are impacting people
and places beyond its borders. And how back at home, they're creating windows of innovative opportunity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SASSAN BEHZADI, CO-FOUNDER, ANAR SOCIAL MEDIA APP: You have to be crazy to do something like that in Iran, but there's an opportunity there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEFTERIOS: Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this week from Dubai. The world, of course, is anticipating the conclusion of the P5+1 talks with
Iran, nowhere more so, perhaps, than here in the UAE.
There's less than 100 kilometers that separate the two countries, and despite the sanctions, we see bilateral trade of $10 billion on an
annualized basis. But right now, not everyone is benefiting, including the small traders on the water. Amir Daftari has their story.
AMIR DAFTARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A walk around Dubai's old creek is like taking a step back in time. Despite the
heat from the midday sun, all the labor here is done by hand.
Workers load cargo onto traditional dhows. Everything from TVs and textiles to refrigerators and rugs, ready to be shipped 150 kilometers
across the gulf to Iran.
Dubai has always been a major trading partner with the Islamic Republic, and these old boats play an important role in that relationship.
We were invited for a rare look onboard.
This dhow has been shipping goods back and forth for 20 years. This six-man crew all eat, live, sleep, and even wash here. The vessel and the
cargo it carries is their entire world and a thousand miles away from negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program.
So, when I asked Pouraya, the youngest crew member, how international sanctions on Iran are impacting his livelihood, his answer is simple.
"Things have become harder," he says. "It's harder to get hold of goods. There are fewer buyers. And Iran's currency doesn't have the value it once
But what if a nuclear deal is done and sanctions are finally lifted, I asked? "Until now, things have only been getting harder," he insists.
"Things may improve. All we can do is wait and see what happens."
But no matter how hard the situation gets, for Pouraya and everybody else onboard, work doesn't stop. Because for the merchants of Dubai's
creek, the everyday reality is far removed from diplomatic discussions in five-star hotels. Here, they're down to just the basic necessities of
life. And still, the crew insists we join them at the captain's table for something to eat.
But the talk here is not of nuclear ambitions or uranium enrichment. On this old dhow, they tell me they just want stability amid the choppy
waters of international politics.
DEFTERIOS: A falling currency and tighter sanctions, not the best climate in which to launch an investment fund in Iran, but that's what
Turquoise Partners has been faced with. It has $200 million invested in Iranian companies. I had a chance to talk to the CEO and asked him what
would actually happen to this frontier market if the sanctions were lifted.
RAMIN RABII, CEO, TURQUOISE PARTNERS: I would say the opening up of Iranian market is the largest opening up of any market in recent history,
after Russia, probably, in 1990s.
If you put together the consumer potential of Turkey, the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, the national gas reserves of Russia, and the mineral
reserves of Australia, we all have it in one country. And the country has been closed to foreign investment for over 30 years. So, the potential is
Iranian population is a very young population, very well-educated population, tech-savvy population. So, there's a lot of potential for
growth and investment when Iran opens up.
DEFTERIOS: How much good will does President Hassan Rouhani have within the business community? I know expectations were very high linked
to the P5+1 negotiations.
RABII: Talking to the Iranian business community, they all thought the deal is done, and they're just negotiating the details. So, I would
say that November extension came as a surprise, and it was disappointing to some people in the business community to see extended negotiations.
But the mood in Iran following the election of Rouhani and the Geneva agreement, in the business community, the mood is much, much better. Our
economy grew by 4.6 percent the following quarter, and it was because of the deal.
Because the three main sectors that grew were oil sector, auto sector, and tourism, which was the result of the Geneva agreement. And it just
shows the potential of growth of Iranian economy if sanctions were to be lifted.
DEFTERIOS: Let's see if we can break down two sectors and give the international community a sense of what is there in Iran. Let's take autos
and cement and what could happen if you'd lifted the sanctions permanently.
RABII: A very interesting pick. Auto sector, Iran at its peak produced 1.6 million vehicles a year, which put it ahead of a lot of the
developed countries in that matter. In the cement sector, this year Iran surpassed US as the third-largest producer of cement in the world, and it's
actually the number one exporter of cement because of the development programs that are going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.
DEFTERIOS: As you know, many international banks were burned by violating sanctions and paid heavy fines. Isn't this going to be a huge
hurdle, to have them engage, come back -- UK banks, Swiss banks, French banks -- into the market?
RABII: I would imagine that if Iran were to open up tomorrow, we would -- the first people who would come to Iran for investment would be
frontier market investors and emerging market investors. And then, following that, larger financial institutions.
Larger financial institutions, they're like big tankers. For them, it's very difficult to change their compliance policies. So, I would say
it will take a few months, maybe a few years for larger financial institutions to come to Iran.
DEFTERIOS: If Iran were to open up, wouldn't it need to have or adopt the fiscal discipline of removing subsidies, which got as high as $50
RABII: Everyone in Iran understands and knows that eventually that has to change and subsidies need to be either lifted or be very targeted
for the poor and needy. And they have various -- they've tried various methods to try to target the subsidies.
Having said that, with oil prices going down and crashing, in next year's budget for Iran, the total amount of subsidies will be much less
than before. Most of the subsidies are energy subsidies, and because of the drop in prices, they're -- going to be much smaller.
Just to give you an example, the price of a liter of gasoline in Iran used to be 65 percent lower than that of the US. Right now, it's around
only 25 to 30 percent less.
DEFTERIOS: Ramin Rabii of Turquoise Partners on some of the challenges and opportunities of this developing market.
Up next on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, high-tech Tehran. How the Islamic Republic could be the next regional hub for innovation. That's after the
DEFTERIOS: Welcome back to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this week from the heart of Dubai. We know that Iran is faced with some of the most
difficult sanctions of any country in the world, and it's hitting the economy badly. For example, youth unemployment remains above 20 percent.
But despite the difficulties, we're starting to see the initial sparks of innovation. It may not be Silicon Valley, but there's a high-tech
sector starting to brew.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a touch of his finger, Sassan Behzadi uses the new smartphone app Anar to
send his favorite pictures to his friends. Moments later, his friends respond with comments and their own photos.
Sounds like your typical photo-sharing social networking service. But what's different about Anar is that it's made here in the Islamic Republic
of Iran. And in less than six months, more than a half a million people are using it.
BEHZADI: It doesn't take long to sort of say there's an opportunity there.
SAYAH: Behzadi and Jafar Barzegar co-founded the new Farsi language app, one of several projects that have made them pioneering entrepreneurs
in an Iranian high-tech sector most investors used to avoid. Here in Iran, the conservative leadership restricts Internet speed and access. Sites
like Facebook are blocked.
SAYAH (on camera): Western sanctions have also cut off the country from international banking, making online payments often impossible. Even
so, computer and smartphone use here is at an all-time high, and entrepreneurs are moving in.
SAYAH (voice-over): Today, e-commerce site Digikolo is Iran's version of Amazon, doing millions of dollars of weekly online sales. Iran's Center
for E-Commerce has more than 20,000 smaller Internet stores, and social apps are online.
BEHZADI: This country needs it, because it's been cut off from the world.
SAYAH: Behzadi and Barzegar saw such an opportunity, the two came back to Iran after years in Europe and the US.
BEHZADI: I think you have to be crazy to do something like that in Iran, but when you look at the market, you look at a country of 70 million
people, mostly young, fairly educated, well-off, desperate need to be connected to the world. There's an opportunity there.
SAYAH: Seven years ago, their employees numbered four. Today, they have 32, mostly young programmers and engineers who put off dreams of
moving overseas and instead stayed in Iran to help launch Farsi language online games that have more than 1.5 million users, and the social app
Anar, that caters to Iran's growing number of young consumers and local businesses and advertisers who want to go after them.
JAFAR BARZEGAR, CO-FOUNDER, ANAR SOCIAL MEDIA APP: This is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And our audience is basically -- the market
is coming after us. We're not going after the market.
BEHZADI: The best feature is being native, native meaning we give people the kinds of things they want.
SAYAH: A winning business formula that has the high-tech sector in Iran thriving despite an economy that remains cut off from much of the
DEFTERIOS: Online commerce, not something that pops to mind when you think of Iran.
If you'd like to reach out and find out what we're doing online, check out our website, cnn.com/mme. Or you can send us a message on our Facebook
page as well.
And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this week from Dubai. I'm John Defterios, thanks for watching. We'll see you