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Jordan's King Abdullah Visits Pilot's Family; Jordan Begins New Airstrikes Against ISIS In Raqqa; Moscow Reacts To U.S. Allegations

Aired February 5, 2015 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Jordan's flag at half staff, the country mourning the death of a beloved son making plans to bring his barbaric

killers to justice.

Hello and welcome to a special edition of Connect the World wit me, Becky Anderson. Tonight from Amman in Jordan.

Well, these were the scenes at Jordan's King Abdullah paid his respects to the hometown of Moaz al-Kasasbeh. It's been 48 hours now since

this nation learned it lost a captive pilot at the hands of ISIS in the most gruesome way imaginable.

And that death continues to weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of just about everyone here in the capital Amman. We can sense a real wide

range of emotions: grief, anger, resentment and sheer disbelief. But one word comes up time and time again and that is revenge.

King and country will not let ISIS go unpunished for its despicable treatment of Kasasbeh, a military hero, from a high ranking family.

And in fact just hours ago we learned Jordan has already launched fresh airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria.

Well, amid the talk of Justice and vengeance and airstrikes, there is still grief being voiced about the young pilot who was killed, of course,

by ISIS.

Mourners gathered in his hometown by the thousands.

Our Jomana Karadsheh joins us there from now.

Just describe the mood, if you will, Jomana?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, it was a very somber mood. We spent all day in the village of Aid (ph), that is

Moaz al-Kasasbeh's hometown. Of course, King Abdullah and Queen Rania were the highest profile visitors who came to offer condolences to the grieving

family, but throughout the day there was this constant stream of people. We estimated thousands who came in from all across the country and even

beyond, some who showed up from the West Bank also to pay their respects and show support for the family.

And while we were there and during the visit by the king -- King Abdullah, fighter jets flew over at a low altitude several times while the

king was sitting with the Kasasbeh family in the condolence tent. And Jordanian state television did report that these jets had just finished a


We have the chance to speak with the father of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, Safi al-Kasasbeh, for a short time while we were there. And he says he is still

calling for revenge. He said I asked for more revenge.

And we asked him what King Abdullah told him. He said that he, quote, "promised us a good promise that he will bombard ISIS's stronghold until he

is avenges Moaz's death and destroys them," he told us.

And there was -- we also, Becky, went from there -- we went to the tent where women had gathered. And we saw the mother of Moaz al-Kasasbeh

and that was a really heartbreaking scene. She was in so much pain that she could barely speak and welcome people who are coming to offer their


Also again, a stream of women from different parts of the country coming to visit, a family of a man that man that we spoke to today describe

as a hero and a martyr.

ANDERSON: Are these people who are completely united now in the Jordanian fight against ISIS?

Sounds to me as if we may have lost Jomana. Let's see if we can get her back for you. But down there in the south of the country as the

morning of the pilot continues, in the very same place where he got married in July of last year.

Let's move on. I want to get you to Ukraine today. We're going to come back to the story of ISIS and to this region. But I want to move you

now to Moscow, a very important story there today with John Kerry arriving in Kiev.

As fighting on the ground in Ukraine escalates, diplomatic efforts to stop the crisis there are n gaining momentum, it seems. On a trip to Kiev,

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived earlier today, announced a 16.4 million aid package for civilians affected by the fighting. He also called

on Russia to take three steps to end the conflict, pull back heavy weapons beyond the range of civilian populations, remove foreign troops and heavy

equipment from Ukraine and close the Ukraine-Russia border.

Have a listen.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're not seeking a conflict with Russia. No one is -- not President Poroshenko, not the United States,

not the European community. That's not what this is about.

We are very hopeful that Russia will take advantage of our broad-based uniform acceptance of the notion that there is a diplomatic solution that

is staring everybody in the face. That's what we want.


ANDERSON: John Kerry speaking.

And we are expecting a news conference with him and the Ukrainian prime minister. So do stand by for that. But I want to get you to Moscow

first and to our senior international corespondent Matthew Chance who is standing by.

Three steps, let me repeat them: pull back heavy weapons beyond the range of civilian populations, remove foreign troops and heavy equipment,

Kerry says, from Ukraine and close the Ukraine and close the Ukraine- Russian border.

Reaction from the Kremlin, Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I come to that in a second. My reaction, though, Becky is that these aren't new steps. I

mean, there's already a peace plan, a truce that's been signed and sealed. It was negotiated in September of last year. And it involves all of those

elements, the pulling back of heavy weapons by both sides, by the way, from civilian areas, the sealing of the Russian borders, the expulsion of

foreign fighters.

It was agreed in Minsk, but there hasn't been the political will to implement it on any of the sides. And so it's not clear what's changed

this time with John Kerry repeating those demands.

There has been reaction, though, from the Kremlin. The fact that John Kerry was talking about what Russia had to do, according to Vladimir

Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, it shows the unwillingness and the inability of the United States to participate in the settlements of the

Ukrainian crisis. That was Mr. Peskov speaking to us within the last hour.

He also mentioned this idea -- again there were allegations repeated by the secretary of state that Russian tanks and troops had been fighting

alongside rebels in the east of the country. The Kremlin denied that again.

As for Russian tanks allegedly crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border - - we've commentated on it before, there are no such Russian tanks or army in Ukraine, such allegations are not true.

So that was the response of the Kremlin to what were very strong words indeed by the secretary of state.

ANDERSON: Just describe how sanctions are affecting Russia, its businesses, its people on a daily basis.

CHANCE: They're definitely having an impact. The biggest impact on the economy, which has been suffering enormously over the past several

months: the currency has plunged, what, 60 percent against the dollar. That's being caused by the plunging crude oil price. You'll know about

that from where you are. Russia's economy is hugely dependent on crude oil. It's plummeted dramatically. Ad to that the international sanctions

and it's made things ever worse.

What it hasn't done, though, Becky, and this is crucial, it hasn't pushed ordinary Russians out onto the street to protest against their

government. Vladimir Putin is still strong. He's still very popular. And unless that changes, it's difficult to see that he is going to bend in the

face of more international pressure.

ANDERSON: You've been describing what you see as same-same, but different as it were. Can you see a credible cease-fire plan any time


CHANCE: Well, I mean, what we haven't spoken about yet is the new diplomatic initiative that was announced just earlier on today by Francois

Hollande, the French president, along with Angela Merkel, the two of them are traveling to Kiev right now. They're going to be meeting with the

Ukrainian leadership as well as John Kerry. They're then, crucially, going to be crossing the border and traveling to meet with Vladimir Putin

tomorrow afternoon here on Friday where they're going to be having discussions about an initiative, which in the words of President Hollande,

will take into account Ukraine's territorial integrity.

And so there is this new diplomatic push being headed up by the Europeans, by the French and the Germans. At the same time, the Americans,

the U.S. is ratcheting up the pressure, raising the discussion on whether or not they should supply the Kiev government with weaponry. So far they

give non-lethal aid. They might ratchet that up to lethal aid, missiles, to add pressure to that situation. It's not a decision that's been taken

yet. But there are all these initiatives underway, diplomatic and military, to try and bring an end to this crisis and this conflict.

ANDERSON: And Secretary of State John Kerry and the Ukrainian prime minister as I say will be holding a news conference imminently. As we get

that, we will bring it to you viewers.

Matthew, for the time being, thank you very much indeed.

I want to bring you back here and to the story that we led with this evening. And that is the morning of the last of the life of the Jordanian

pilot. Before Moaz al-Kasasbeh's killing was confirmed, Jordan's role in the coalition was widely criticized, it has to be said, here at home in

Jordan. Many felt here that it just wasn't their fight to fight, their war to fight.

But the death of the pilot has seemingly solidified support for the campaign. Jordan's Middle Eastern partners in the U.S.-led coalition have

been vocal in their outrage, but questions now being asked about their appetite for any intensified campaigns.

Some, such as the UAE, it seems, have wavered in their commitment of late.

Arab support is seen as vital to the cause, of course, but what is the actual level of involvement by Arab nations in this coalition effort?

I want to get you some facts as we know them here. Here is the reality. The U.S. accounts for 81 percent, or four out of five of all

airstrikes to date in Iraq and in Syria. It's responsible for more than 1,800. The rest of the coalition just over 400 between them.

And when you look at Syria ahead of Jordan's reported action there today, and we're going to discuss that with our correspondent in Washington

shortly, the contrast is even starker. American forces can take credit for more than 90 percent of the strikes there.

So on paper at least -- or certainly from the facts that we know them in the air -- this looks like an imbalance in the tactics of the coalition

are being discussed as we speak and as we go forward.

I'm joined now by our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

And Barbara, let's just look at the facts as we know them. Let's start with what we know of the airstrikes today by Jordan over Syria, we

believe over Raqqa, the planes of which then flew low back over southern Jordan where the mourning of the pilot was being held.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's what it looks like, Becky. You know, we are waiting to hear exactly what the Jordanians who

are able to strike U.S. warplanes flying along with them in support.

I want to go back very quickly to the statistics you mentioned. There's a good military reason for all of this. Many of the countries in

the Middle East do not have this -- especially Jordan -- do not have the same advanced airborne weaponry and intelligence targeting capability that

the U.S. does, that's just a fact.

What you are looking at when you look at ISIS targets, now they are often very mobile, dispersed, not fixed targets. You're not going against

warehouses or, you know, buildings of ministries of defense. You're going against troops out in the field moving around in vehicles. This is a very

complex targeting problem that requires weapons that can go after mobile targets.

So it's an intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance problem to get to these targets. It's one of the reasons you're seeing the U.S. fly

alongside the Jordanians, offer them a hand with all of it. It's one of the reasons you are seeing the U.S. take on such a military load of these

targets. It's a military tactical problem, not to dismiss the political issues you raised, but I think those sort of fall into potentially a

different bucket -- Becky.

ANDERSON: When you talk to sources here, it is clear that the king's visit to Washington was a real appeal for more support. Here, you'll hear,

this is a fight that Arabs need to fight against what is a scourge they see as ISIS. But clearly the frustration is that as you rightly point out, the

superior munition, the superior airborne support comes from the States.

So I guess the question is now, given that the UAE's Sheikh Abdullah, the foreign minister said that the death of Kasasbeh was a defining moment,

if that is to be the case, Barbara, what is Washington proposing to do next to ratchet up the effort in support of those in the coalition in this


STARR: Well, to be candid, I have to tell you, we are being told there is no change in strategy contemplated by Washington, that the U.S.

will continue to pursue leading the coalition, leading airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, in Syria, working to train Iraqi forces, working to train

what they believe are moderate Syrian rebels. This is not an issue for U.S. ground troops.

Whether the U.S. is now willing to perhaps export some of that advanced technology to the region I think remains to be seen. That may be

a very long-term proposition whether the U.S. is going to let some of this third, fourth, fifth generation military technology go to other countries.

That becomes more of a foreign policy decision.

But right now there's no indication that Washington is planning any fundamental changes.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Barbara Starr in Washington for you.

Well, Jordan's King Abdullah has promised a strong response to the savage murder of one of its fighter pilots by ISIS. What the nation is

doing to strike out at the militant group is what we are discussing. This hour, more on that up next.


ANDERSON: Well, a very warm welcome back. From Amman in Jordan, this is a special edition of Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. And we

have learned that King Abdullah is already following through on his promise of a relentless war against the militant group of ISIS.

Hours ago, Jordanian fighter jets, it seemed, bombed ISIS targets in Syria just two days ago, of course.

We saw that horrific video released of the Jordanian pilot being burned alive by members of ISIS.

Now King Abdullah has paid a visit to the fighter pilot's hometown today to grieve alongside his family, pay his condolences to not just the

family, but to those from the same tribe that the young lad came from. The pilot's father says the king made a promise to him to avenge his son's

death by bombarding the ISIS self-declared capital Raqqa.

Well, joining me now to talk about Jordan's options for military operations against ISIS is Atika Shubert, our correspondent.

Bombing against ISIS targets in Raqqa, it does seem -- although we can't get this confirmed -- that Jordan may be the only country flying

sorties over Syria, the only Arab ally in the coalition.

The sense is it can do more, but it needs support.

SHUBERT: It does need support. And this is a message that King Abdullah brought home to Washington saying, look, I need you to speed up

delivery of the things we need, whether it's munitions or night vision equipment, whatever it is that we need to strike hard at ISIS. And he got

those preliminary promises that yes this will be looked into. But the question is, is that going to have an immediate affect?

Clearly, Jordan wants to fly more of these missions. And they're asking to hit harder at ISIS, but the problem is getting those targets --

and it goes up through a coalition command structure -- and we're not sure exactly when we're going to see a real impact from Jordanian fighter jets

on ISIS.

ANDERSON: And that is the problem, of course, because it's a question of timing at this point. The longer this goes on, the more ground that

ISIS can gain. Talking to people here in Jordan today. They say this has to be fought by the tribes on the ground both in Iraq and Syria, or this is

a war that won't be won.

You've been on the beat of sort of anti-Islamic or anti-radical Islam, as it were. I'm going to just hold on for one second.

Let's go to Ukraine where John Kerry is speaking with the prime minister. We're going to come back to this conversation. Hold on.


ANDERSON: All right, you've been listening to a press conference being held by John Kerry in Kiev with the Ukrainian prime minister. We

just saw sound from that, they are taking questions. But let me just give you a sense of what John Kerry said.

He talked about loan guarantees from the US to the tune of a billion plus a potential for another billion. It has to be said that there is a

funding gap in Ukraine of something like $15 billion at the moment, so to a certain extent, that is a drop in the ocean.

He also talked to the scale of military activity coming across the border from Russia, and he said a number of things, not least that the US

is deeply concerned that the violence is escalating there, that Russia is seizing more territory.

This is not an accusation, Kerry said, without foundation. There has been much talk as to whether they really have evidence that the Russians

are crossing the border. He said we live in a modern world, and we've been tracking what has been transported: goods, people, weapons, and machinery,

he said.

And then he went on to say that a "large Russian propaganda machine continues to spew lies," Kerry's words. "We are steadfast in standing with

Ukraine. There have been a number of off-ramps," he said, "that Ukraine" - - sorry -- "that Russia could have taken, but they have been left in the rear view mirror," is how he described that, alluding to these off-ramps.

And he said that Russia -- or sorry -- the US is not trying to choose a military outcome here, but he said "you cannot have a one-sided peace."

So, you've been listening to the words of John Kerry, who is once again in Ukraine, meeting with the prime minister as activity continues

there, and escalates -- violence, it seems, escalates.

We're going to take a very short break at this point. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. We'll be back after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson, out of Amman in Jordan today. But I want to take you back to Moscow,

because we've just heard the words of John Kerry speaking in Kiev and Ukraine, and the prime minister there speaking to the escalation in

violence, the what they call military build-up on the borders and across the borders from Russia.

And John Kerry talking about having offered -- the international community having offered Russia a number of "off-ramps" in the past year or

so. Those, he said, though, "have been left in the rear view mirror" by the Kremlin.

Getting you to our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in Moscow. Matthew, you've been listening to the words of that press

conference. Your thoughts?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very interesting. Much fuller than the remarks that John Kerry made earlier.

Again, though, he basically laid the blame for this conflict in eastern Ukraine squarely at the feet of the Russians.

He said it was the Russians and the separatists who they support that are seizing more territory, they're killing more people, they're refusing

Ukraine to allow access to its own borders. And Russia is refusing to negotiate a proper peace deal at the negotiating table.

So, going in very hard, there, accusing Russia, laying the blame at the Kremlin's feet for this crisis. And obviously, there's been a reaction

already from the Kremlin to the remarks that have been made so far by John Kerry since he arrived in the Ukrainian capital.

Dmitry Peskov essentially saying that this shows the unwillingness and inability of the United States to participate in the settlement of the

Ukraine crisis.

Mr. Peskov also referred to that allegation, again restated and referred to again in his press conference by John Kerry about the presence

of Ukrainian military personnel and equipment on the ground engaging in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. "There are no Russian tanks or army in

Ukraine. Such allegations are not true."

I was interested to hear how John Kerry was saying, look, we live in a technological world, a world where you're got these high-tech ability --

and I'm paraphrasing him here -- to observe what's going on. High-altitude photography, satellites.

But if such evidence exists -- and the Kremlin say this all the time - - if such evidence exists, they should present it. And for some reason, whether it's they want to hide their intelligence-gathering techniques or

whatever, a convincing -- there's lots of evidence that there are Russian troops on the ground, don't get me wrong.

But that convincing, high-tech evidence that the US says it has not been put out there. Otherwise, we wouldn't be having this debate.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Matthew, thank you. Matthew Chance is in Moscow for you this evening.

And I am in Amman in Jordan. This is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. A country here trying to come to terms with the loss of a soldier's

life in what was such a gruesome way. Right now, Moaz al-Kasasbeh's murder, it seems has only served to galvanize people here, with many

supporting the government's promise of a harsh response to ISIS activity. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has this.



JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A prayer for Jordan, a service dedicated to a fallen hero. Jordanian

Christians gather to mourn and grieve the brutal death of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the country's first-known victim of ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At a time like this, as a Christian or as a Muslim, I feel as Jordanian. For me, I don't feel any difference that I'm

a Christian. For us, it's the pain and the sorrow is for every Jordanian.

KARADSHEH: Many in this Amman church say they've seen the horrific video of his apparent killing, and they're haunted by it. Lilian Taltakian

(ph) and her young boys have seen the video. "They hear about Daesh or ISIS all the time," she says, "so they have to see what ISIS is."

Nine-year-old Serg (ph) says the video scared him, and he doesn't want to see it again. Like most here, did not know Moaz al-Kasasbeh, but she

says she had to be here on this day to pray for a man she describes as a hero and a martyr.

In this small desert kingdom, one of the most stable in a turbulent region, the death of this one man is personal and felt by many. Describing

what al-Kasasbeh means to Jordanians, Akdah Musajazeen (ph) is overcome by emotion.


KARADSHEH: Hundreds gathered for noon prayers and to build farewell to al-Kasasbeh. Not everyone in Jordan believes the country should be part

of the US-led coalition against ISIS, but it now seems most stand united against a threat to their country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think now we have to pronounce that we have war. Not only we have -- we are fighting the al-Erhaab, the terrorists,

no. We have war, now, and we have to clean the world from these monsters.

KARADSHEH: Jordanians know their enemy is brutal and determined, but for now, they hope and pray that this will be the last time ISIS gives

their nation a reason to mourn.


KARADSHEH: Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Amman.


ANDERSON: And to the south of Amman, King Abdullah with his wife, now having left the hometown of al-Kasasbeh, having paid his respects and

condolences to the young fighter pilot's family and tribe in the area.

As Jomana says, the -- not everybody here in Amman was supportive of Jordan's position in the allied fight against ISIS, but certainly now it

feels that the story has hit home. And once Jordan feels threatened itself, that people are here standing united.

I'm Becky Anderson with CONNECT THE WORLD from Amman in Jordan for you this evening. It was a very good evening from the team here.