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CONNECT THE WORLD
German Newspaper Reports On Last Moments Of Flight 9525; Arab League Votes For Unified Arab Force; Saudi Arabia Begins Bombing Campaign In Yemen; Facts on the Ground Slippery Inside Iraq. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 29, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:11] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello, and welcome to a special edition of Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you coming to you tonight
from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea. Support here growing for a plea from Yemen's deposed president. He's asking the Arab
League to create a united military force to help defeat Houthi rebels and restore his government.
This is a sense of what he left behind in the country's capital.
A live report from Sanaa and more from the summit here in Egypt just ahead.
ANNOUNCER: This is the hour we connect the world with Becky Anderson live.
ANDERSON: A very good evening from Egypt. It is just after 6:00 in the evening. Also this hour, chilling new developments from the Germanwings
flight that crashed in the Alps last week. Now the German tabloid Bild has released what it claims is a summary of the timeline from the downed
flight. It's based on the voice data recorder recovered from the wreckage. And you can reportedly hear the captain pounding on the door, begging to be
let back in.
Also what's believed to be the sound of plane brushing against a mountaintop before crashing.
Well, it's the most detailed description of the plane's final moments that we've heard or seen so far.
Our Fred Pleitgen will bring us all of that in just a few minutes.
Back here in Sharm el-Sheikh, Arab leaders have agreed to form a regional military force to fight insurgencies in the region. Now this move comes as
Houthi health officials say that 35 people were killed overnight in airstrikes in Yemen carried out by what is a Saudi-led coalition.
Now it began its offensive against rebel targets on Wednesday. Those in charge want to rid the capital Sanaa of all Houthi control. And Riyadh
appears to be readying for a possible ground operation.
Well, as the power struggle continues inside Yemen, embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has fired the son of his predecessor and his rival Ali
Abdullah Saleh as ambassador to the UAE.
Let's get the very latest from Sanaa now. Journalist Hakim al Masmari joins me live.
How effective has this Saudi-led coalition been in degrading Houthi capability on the ground?
HAKIM AL MASMARI, JOURNALIST: The Saudi attacks were very powerful and dramatic. And they're destroying the Houthis infrastructure or ability to
defend themselves or attack or invade Saudi Arabia in the future.
But there's one point, in 2009 when Saudi also fought the Houthis in 2009, Saudi Arabia did try (inaudible) and the damage heavily the Houthi
infrastructure in Sanaa province when they invaded in 2009 and used at least 500 bombs and missiles. But that did not stop the Houthis from
entering Saudi Arabia. And they did so and entered 60 kilometers inside Saudi Arabia and took over a military base and left back out.
So, you can't win wars by using the air force. As long as Saudi Arabia is not on the ground the Houthis will not be affected. Yes, they're weakened
by the air force collapse, or near collapse, but it did not mean the Houthis are giving up any time soon.
ANDERSON: All right.
Hakim, then, what is the reaction there to the likelihood that ground troops could be deployed in this battle?
MASMARI: It's very worrying right now. If these ground troops are against the Houthis or inside Saudi Arabia, they will also be targeted, Becky, by
not only the Houthis, by others who are against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
So ground troops is very critical if it comes from a nation -- or if they come from a nation that's not neutral in Yemen. There's a new initiative
that was brought up that Algeria will send troops to control Sanaa as a neutral side. This would be accepted, because they're not taking side with
or against the Houthis. But if these troops are allied to Saudi Arabia, the Houthis will clash with them. And from my experience, they have more
experience in fighting on the ground and will easily make strides and get ground against the Saudi troops or the allies, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right.
Hakim al Masmari with the view from Sanaa for you viewers.
The crisis in Yemen and wider plans for a united military force have been the major focus of what has been an Arab League summit here in Sharm el-
Sheihk over the last, what, 48 hours or so.
Ian Lee shows us now how that plan has been developed.
[11:05:12] IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fresh air strikes rock Yemen. War planes pound weapon depots and radar installations, also
Apache Helicopters in the skies above Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt as air bleeders are determining Yemen's future, hoping to stem the Shiite Houthi
rebels' unstoppable offensive, an escalation of hostilities is now almost all but certain.
The Saudi kind calling for the wave of terrorism targeting the region's security and stability to be confronted and eradicated. Saturday night,
Saudi armor seen here heading to their border with Yemen. At least nine Arab countries offer their land, air and naval forces answering the plea of
Yemen's president for military intervention to fight the, quote, "militias and their domestic and foreign allies who want to use Yemen to destabilize
the region by invading the provinces with a bloody war."
Egyptian security forces here protecting the conference, but they could see action in Yemen soon. Yemen's foreign minster telling CNN he expects a
ground invasion within days.
The Arab voice not entirely unanimous. Predominately Shiite countries Iraq and Lebanon reject the operation.
The Iraqi foreign minister telling me today we made it clear that we're against the military intervention and we're with any political solution
that includes all the political forces in Yemen.
For now, that solution doesn't seem to be on the table. The voices of concern drowned out by the sounds of war.
ANDERSON: Well, Ian Lee joins me now here live in Sharm el-Sheikh. 48 hours on what happens next?
LEE: Well, sitting in that convention center, listening to the various Arab leaders talk, one would get the impression that they're gassing up the
tanks and preparing for a ground invasion, although there isn't hope all lost for a diplomatic solution.
Not everyone agreed to this. The Iraqis and the Lebanese though that there should be a diplomatic effort. So does the international community,
including the United Nations and the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Well, one other thing that really wasn't discussed, if there is a ground invasion, what will happen to the potential refugees? Will there be
humanitarian aid? Where will these people go?
But for now it does look like this ground invasion could happen within the following days.
ANDERSON: All right. We're going to do more on that as we move through the show. Ian is going to be back with us a little later. Do stay with
Connect the World this hour as we bring you a lot more insight and analysis on what is a developing story.
In about five minutes, we're going to hear the Yemeni foreign minister's thoughts on what is this escalating crisis in his country. And we'll find
out why he thinks ground troops are needed to combat the rebel threat.
And more on this united Arab force that's being agreed to here in sharm el- Sheikh. I'll speak to the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry. That conversation in about 30 minutes time.
All right, we're getting chilling new details about the final moments of Germanwings flight 9525. And we are learning more about co-pilots Andreas
Lubitz who investigators believe brought the plane down in the French Alps.
A French official says that Lubitz's father collapsed when he heard that his son may have been t blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD BARTOLINI, PADS-HAUTE-BLEONE MAYOR (through translator): I was able to see the great distress of the father of the co-pilot. We get the
impression that that man is bearing the whole weight of the disaster on his shoulders. I saw him were evolved for (inaudible). He's a man in deep
distress. I get the impression that he's taken on his own shoulders the responsibility for this disaster through his son who committed this action.
And I can tell you that this is a man whose life is totally broken. He has so much emotion in him, he went on his knees many times before the monument
(inaudible). It was unbearable for him, that was my feeling. He was carrying the disaster on his shoulders and in part the responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Colon where Germanwings is based. Joining me now live with the latest.
And we are learning more about what are the final moments of that doomed flight. Fred, what do we know?
[11:09:52] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely, Becky. And this comes from the Bild newspaper here in Germany,
which is the largest newspaper in this country and also is a tabloid newspaper. And they have now made public what they say are parts of the
transcript of a cockpit voice recorder.
They don't exactly say where they got this transcript from, however, it does paint a picture of a flight that took off somewhat late that seemed to
start absolutely normal, but where there might have been telltale signs in the early stages that perhaps the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was working
towards trying to get his captain out of the cockpit.
Captain in the early stages as they were preparing the flight was telling him that he didn't manage to go to the bathroom while they were in
Barcelona and Lubitz immediately says you can go at any time, don't worry.
Then they reach cruising altitude. And Lubitz reminds him again, you can go now. And at that stage the pilot apparently according to what you hear
on this recording, puts his seat back, tells Lubitz that Lubitz now has control of the aircraft and leaves the cockpit.
Now shortly afterwards, the air traffic traffic control feels hat the plane is descending, tries to contact the plane, but there isn't any answer. And
then what you hear is the plane keeps going down. There are various attempts from the outside knocking at the door, first apparently with a
fist, then later a more metallic sounds, according to this transcript. The captain can be heard repeatedly screaming at the co-pilots to open the
door. Then at some point, the plane is very close to crashing. You can hear apparently screams from the passenger cabin on this recording. At
that point the recording ends.
So, it's a very chilling transcript that was put out there by the Bild newspaper. Again, impossible to independently verify, but certainly
something that really is very chilling when you just read that transcript, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah, very traumatic. What's the latest on the investigation as far as you understand?
Well, the investigation is obviously moving forward. And there are various sources that we're getting that seem to be painting a more clear picture of
what might have gone on inside the co-pilot's head. There's new information from the French paper Le Parisian (ph) that gives more details
as to what Lubitz might be suffering from. They speak of an anxiety disorder. And also apparently he was suffering from some heavy form of
depression in 2009. Of course, this somewhat meshes with some of the other media reporting we've been getting from the New York Times, also from the
Bilt newspaper of Germany that apparently he did have mental problems.
The New York Times is also saying that he was suffering from vision problems as well. An there is speculation that the vision problems might
have been caused by some sort of mental disorder as well.
Now, we put all of this to the companies that employed Andreas Lubitz, to both Germanwings and to Luftansa, and they said that Lubiz passed the
physical in 2014, in the summer of 2014, and at that point there was nothing wrong with his vision. They say they believe that at that point
their doctors would have found out if something was wrong with his eyes.
They also say that they never heard of any mental disorder that Lubitz might have had. And that if he was getting treated for one privately by
another doctor, it would have been his responsibility to tell the company that he was working for. Of course we know from the public prosecutor that
he did not do that, and in fact destroyed sick notes that had been given to him by a doctor that also covered the dates of that flight that he crashed
into the French Alps there -- Becky.
ANDERSON: In the meantime, Fred, let's just bring up some pictures of the latest so far as the recovery of the bodies and the debris of the plane is
concerned. How long do investigators think that this will take?
PLEITGEN: Well, it's going to take a very long time. This is something that investigators have been saying from the get go. We have to keep in
mind this is very rugged terrain. This is very difficult terrain. One of the progress steps that they've made is that they've apparently recovered
some of the remains of the co-pilot, of Andreas Lubitz. DNA testing is going on, on that as well. That, of course, is going to be a very
important step forward and the entire investigation as to what exactly happened there on that flight as well.
But the recovery effort is one that is very difficult, Becky, because the weather conditions up there, because it's rugged terrain, because
helicopters can't even land there, because even the recovery troops that can go there on the ground are having difficulty in that terrain. It's
very difficult for them. They very often slip. And at times it's just very hard to work there.
And then getting bodies out of that area is something that's very difficult as well. More than 70 bodies, however, apparently have already been
identified at this point, Becky.
ANDERSON: Frederik Pleitgen with the very latest.
We're going to have a lot more on this story as the hour goes on, including a live report near the crash site as crews continue that search for
victims, and indeed for answers.
First, though, we're going to look at the role that Yemen's former strongman is playing in the turmoil there. Ali Abdullah Saleh is now lined
with rebels that he wants fought. I ask the current Yemeni foreign minister what that means and what the implications are. We are in Egypt in
Sharm el-Sheikh, the Red Sea resort where this Arab League summit has now convened. What happens next? I won't just stay in Yemen the consequences
extremely important wherever you are watching tonight.
We're going to take a short break. Back after this.
[11:17:43] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN, and this is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Welcome back tonight to Egypt at the heart here,
the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that the heart of plans for how the Arab states deal with terrorism and extremism going forward.
The top story for you here and tonight on this show is Yemen. The battlefield is the porous state in the Middle East, the country leading the
charge is one of the region's richest. The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes on rebel targets in Yemen since Wednesday, as
you'll be well aware, killing dozens of people, according to Houthi fighters there.
And the prospect of ground troops, too, has been raised by Riyadh and by Cairo.
This video, released by Reuters news agency shows tanks in Saudi Arabia apparently heading south to the border with Yemen.
Well, earlier, the foreign minister -- Yemen's foreign minister told me things could move very fast, indeed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP))
RIAD YASSIN, YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTER: I think what we need the ground troops as soon as possible to keep things and to hold it together.
ANDERSON: You're talking days?
YASSIN: Could be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the Arab League says attacks on targets in Yemen will continue until the Houthi rebels surrender.
Those rebels, in turn, have an ally who has been somewhat in the shadows until this weekend. Yemen's long time dictator and one-time opponent of
the Houthis Ali Abdullah Saleh. He's accused of backing them to further his own agenda.
Well, the 73-year-old stood down in 2012 after three decades in power, pushed from office by a swell of Arab Spring protests.
Well, like the Houthis, Saleh is a Shiite from the Zaidi sect with a power base in northern Yemen.
Some (inaudible) in the country see his son Ahmed Ali Saleh, a former army commander, as a potential presidential candidate.
Well, earlier I sat down with Riad Yassin, Yemen's foreign minister, who was here at the Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. He told me about
how sees Mr. Saleh's role and Saudi Arabia's in his country going forward.
[11:20:00] YASSIN: First of all, I have known Saleh who was ruling the country for more than 33 years. So he have a lot of things like military
camps where still his is having a lot of influence. Most of the officers are obeying him, because he's paying for them -- a lot of bribes, a lot of
money. And there are not obedient to the new president, to Hadi. So they are working with him and he let the Houthis to take over most of the
military weapons, (inaudible) everything from him.
ANDERSON: Where is the former president Saleh?
YASSIN: I think he's in Sanaa. And he's trying to escape.
ANDERSON: How do you know?
YASSIN: I have some information that he's preparing some planes. And he's now with his -- some of this close aides. They are trying to escape.
ANDERSON: Where is the former president Saleh trying to get to?
YASSIN: Yeah, he's trying to go to Eritrea.
YASSIN: Yeah, Eritrea, where he is having a lot of lands.
ANDERSON: The new Saudi King Salman in his speech at the Arab summit said that this military intervention was at the will of the people.
I think you and I would agree that not every Yemeni wants Saudi intervention, or Gulf intervention, do they?
YASSIN: I can't say 95 percent...
ANDERSON: Really, sir?
YASSIN: Yes. I can say 95 percent of the Yemeni, they want it. And I'm the one who have them -- I've been asked by the President Hadi to request
Every Yemeni knows that if we didn't requested this, we'd be in very -- going to very dark tunnel, unfortunately.
ANDERSON: The Yemen foreign minister talking to me in the wee hours of this morning.
Well, we've got a lot more in depth coverage of what is this chaotic situation in this country online, including a look at where the Houthi
movemetn came from and what they want. Check out CNN.com for more on that.
Live from Sharm el-Sheikh, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Coming up, I'm going to get you to the front lines of the fight
against ISIS where U.S. airstrikes are shifting the battlefield in a number of ways.
First up out of the break, though, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to sound the alarm over nuclear talks with Iran. What
he is saying now. And the snag affecting those talks today. That, up next.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson out of Sharm el-Sheikh for you this evening.
Nuclear talks with Iran are reaching a critical point. Negotiators are trying to reach a framework for a global deal on the country's disputed
nuclear program by Tuesday. Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning that the deal that he's forming is a dangerous one. He told his
cabinet, quote, "the dangerous accord which is being negotiated in Lausanne confirms our concerns and even worse," end quote.
Well, U.S. and western officials have indicated Iran is refusing to budge on key issues.
CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has more on the talks for you.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a lot of optimism going into these nuclear talks on Thursday when they began. Now we understand they've
hit a snag. Diplomats here telling me Iran is really playing hardball on two key sticking points. Number one, the advanced technology research and
development program that Iran wants to maintain while the deal is in effect. The international community trying to put much more tighter limits
and curbs on that program that Iran is looking for.
And also on sanctions. Iran wants to get those sanctions lifted on day one of the deal. The international community, particularly the United States,
wants to phase those sanctions out as Iran shows that it's complying with the deal.
The German and the French foreign minister arrived on Saturday, meeting with Iranian foreign minister Zarif along with Secretary of State John
Kerry. The British, the Russian and the Chinese also expected this weekend trying to make a final push for a deal ahead of the March31 deadline.
Now they could go on a little bit longer, but there's a lot of pressure in Iran to show that it has a pathway to get those sanctions lifted. And for
the Obama administration, it needs to show something to congress to prevent them from passing new sanctions against Iran, which could scuttle the deal
Now the question is has each side met its red line? The international community says Iran needs to make some tough decisions if it wants a deal.
Iran's foreign minister says it does want a deal, but it has to work for Iran.
Elise Labott, CNN, Lausanne.
[11:26:49] ANDERSON: And do stay with us. We may have more news out of Iran in the next hour. So stick with us for that. Things moving very
The latest world news headlines are just ahead. Plus, even though it has been largely peaceful, voting is being extended in Nigeria amid problems at
polling stations. Even President Goodluck Jonathan had to endure a wait.
The details in a live report on the election up next.
[11:29:56] ANDERSON: That -- just after half past 5:00 in the evening here in Egypt. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. The top
stories for you this hour.
A German tabloid has constructed a time line of Germanwings flight 9525's final moments as the plane descended towards the Alps. The captain could
be heard yelling to the co-pilot to quote, open the damn door. Well, the time line is based on cockpit reportings.
Leaders here at the Arab summit in Egypt have agreed to a unified military force to fight regional threats, including the Houthi rebellion in Yemen.
New video appears to show a convoy of tanks in Saudi Arabia heading towards their southern border and Yemen. Yemenis foreign minister says Saudi-led
coalition troops could be in the country within days.
Efforts to map out a nuclear deal with Iran by Tuesday hitting some snags. Western officials say that Tehran is not budging on key issues.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that the deal that is taking shape is, quote, "fulfilling our deepest fears and even worst."
Well, it's the day after the general election in Nigeria, but some people are still casting ballots. Voting was extended into Sunday, because of
technical glitches at the polls amongst other problems.
Officials in districts without issues have begun counting votes.
Nigerians electing a news president, of course, and three dozen governors.
Well, CNN's correspondent Christian Purefoy is in Lagos with more. And Christian an election that has encountered problems, but perhaps not those
that we were expecting.
CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly, Becky.
But Nigerian elections are certainly no stranger to unexpected problems. As you've said, we've had some violence, sporadic violence across the
country, particularly Boko Haram in the northeast. And these technical glitches with the card readers, which means that a lot of -- there were a
lot of delays and it's been pushed back into today.
But to be totally honest, Becky, this election has not be about whether Nigeria can actually hold an election. It's proved that in the past. And
it did it yesterday. It was largely peaceful. The challenge now is whether people are going to be able to -- well, whether Nigeria can hold an
extremely close election, because what -- basically what you've got is you've an incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan against retired general
Muhammadu Bahari. And by all accounts, this is going to be extremely close.
And so really a real test of Nigeria's fragile democracy.
And there do seem to be cracks appearing in the sort of -- in that democracy. In the Niger delta, you've got the opposition now and standing
up and saying that in one of the states, river states, there was -- an election there, was untenable. And the worry here is if these cracks begin
to widen, you'll see a repeat of what happened in 2011 whenever 800 people were killed in post-electoral violence.
So, it depends -- you know, when these results -- the electoral commission said the results will be coming out in about 48 hours after polls close.
When those results begin to be made clear what is going to happen then, will the opposition accept defeat, or will the incumbent -- will the
president, the PDP who are in power now, also accept defeat, Becky?
ANDERSON: Yeah, all right. We'll be back with you in the hours to come as we begin to see those election numbers coming through. Christian, thank
you for that.
To Iraq for you now where a U.S.-led coalition says it has carried out 14 airstrikes against ISIS, including a target near Tikrit.
Now Iraqi forces have been trying to capture that city for weeks unsuccessfully, but the tide may be turning. The defense minister reported
some gains this Sunday. CNN's Arwa Damon brought out cameras up close to the front lines and she sent us this report.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are a number of federal police positions right along the shoreline. They're trying to advance.
Inside the city, hundreds of ISIS fighters fortified in buildings, underground tunnels, booby trapped roads.
That's the hospital right there. Those were all ISIS positions.
For weeks, Iraqi ground units were unable to push into the city. The government requested air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition.
By Saturday, two days after the coalition started bombing, bullet casings littered the roof. Jets swarm overhead.
24 hours ago, we would have seen ISIS still holding their positions right there on the very outskirts of Tikrit. But because of the airstrikes and
heavy artillery bombardment, the ISIS fighters have been pushed further back at this stage.
America says it had a precondition for coalition bombing, the Hashd, an umbrella group made up of Iranian-backed Shia militias and volunteers and
the main fighting force on the ground, would pull back and not be a part of the final phase to liberate the city.
But nothing is that straight forward here.
"The Hashd has not withdrawn from any of their areas of responsibility," Gerna Raed Shakir Jawdat, federal police commander on the ground says.
"The base we are at is a Hashd base."
"We hope that in the coming days, all the units that are holding the ground will enter Tikrit," one of the Hashd units second in command adds.
These are Iraqi rockets, Jawdad says.
Everyone quickly turns to see the impact.
[11:35:44] ANDERSON: The Iraqi defense ministry said joint forces killed 25 ISIS fighters in Tikrit this -- sorry, I'm just looking at my notes here
to keep you bang up to date.
Arwa is standing by now back in Baghdad with more on this. And that's about as close as our viewers are going to get without actually being on
the ground, Arwa.
As we look towards Tikrit, it reminded me to ask you just how many people are left. And what is a fairly significant city, isn't it?
DAMON: Well, according to an official that is part of the intelligence unit for the federal police and some other senior Iraqi commanders that he
had been speaking to, they're only estimating that there are around perhaps 100 families left inside the city. But it's very difficult to determine
that at this stage. And that is part of the reason why the Iraqi government and top commanders have repeatedly been saying they want to be
quite careful when they're moving forward. They say that is part of the reason why they were asking for those coalition air strikes, because of the
precision that they do bring with them. And trying make sure that they are pinpointing those ISIS targets and not inadvertently causing collateral
damage or even more damage to the city's infrastructure.
Now in the last 24 hours since we were on the rooftop, the Iraqi security forces backed by the Hashd, those predominately Iranian-backed militias hat
make up that unit, they have managed to advance a few hundred meters into the city.
The fighting was described overnight as being pretty intense. The Iraqis are saying, according to reports on state television that they advanced
using grenades, that they were firing off flares to create light to be able to see where they were going. And that they did kill around two dozen,
they are saying, ISIS militants who were trying to flee the city from the western part.
But this still promises to be a fairly lengthy and painstaking operation at this stage.
ANDERSON: And Arwa there has been some controversy in some quarters about the presence of Shia militia as it were backed, some will say, by Tehran on
the ground. How important are the Hashd as you describe them on the ground there/ How important are they to the fight against ISIS?
DAMON: They are very important. Up until now they've been central to it. And some would argue that without them the Iraqi security forces have even
been able to advance this far.
And at this critical juncture, when we look at the battle against ISIS overall, it's not just the significance of the Hashd military capabilities
on the ground, it's also the need to ensure that they do feel as if they are continuously a part of the battle and that they are not alienated by,
for example, these coalition airstrikes or any fallout that may exist.
Here's the reality on the ground in Iraq. Despite what the U.S. may say and how uncomfortable America might be with the fact that these Shia
militias are such a significant fighting force, they are necessary. And as their own commanders will say, they are currently operating as a branch of
the Iraqi security forces. They are part of the command structure.
That base that we were at is a Hashd base. And there you have the Hashd commanders. You have the Iraqi federal police commanders.
So they are very much a central portion of this complex mosaic that is making up the fighting force that is advancing into Tikrit.
So they are needed as a military force. And they are also needed, because at this stage alienating such a significant force with the firepower and
manpower that has would potentially be very devastating for the country moving forward.
But of course there are concerns, because Tikrit is a predominately Sunni city, this is a predominately Shia force that's moving through. It is a
force that some would say wants revenge, is blood thirsty because of the massacres that have taken place at the hands of ISIS in Tikrit, 700 plus by
some estimates killed there when ISIS first took over the city. So there are so many potential friction points, tension points, that could cause
even more violence than we've already seen that they do have to be kept part of a solution and actions cannot be taken that would potentially turn
them into something of a potential problem, Becky.
[11:40:00] ANDERSON: Arwa Damon reporting for you from both Baghdad and her report out of Tikrit. Arwa, thank you.
One of the most controversial aspects, then, of that advance on Tikrit is the involvement of Shiite militia to retake what is, as Arwa describes, a
mainly Sunni town. The fight has united soldiers from all sides and sects, at least so far as the makeup is concerned. And their suffering when it
comes is a shared experience.
Jomana Karadsheh has this report on Iraq's wounded warriors.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Umm Kasadeh (ph) doesn't want to leave her son's side. Last week, she almost lost him, her
20-year-old Katadeh (ph) was wounded while fighting ISIS in his home town near the city of Tikrit.
"I encouraged him to fight to defend Iraq. I'm very proud of him. Every mother worries about her son," she says. "My heart is always with him.
And I know he will win."
His friend Abdul Salam saved him. He shot and killed the ISIS militant who injured Katadeh (ph).
Unlike most of the fighters on Tikrit's front lines who are Shia, they are from a Sunni tribe.
"We're all one hand. No Sunni or Shia. We're all brothers. We have one enemy that wanted to tear Iraq apart. God willing," he tells us, "we will
be united to liberate Mosul and every inch of Iraq.
Iraqi forces, volunteers, militiamen and security forces have made advances in the battle for Tikrit, but that has come with a heavy price.
This is one of a number of hospitals in Baghdad dealing with the war wounded. Doctors here tell us half of its 14 floors are dedicated to
treating members of the security forces and volunteer fighters.
There are no official casualty figures, but staff here say they've treated thousands of wounded fighters since the war on ISIS began last year.
Today is a quiet day, but that can change at any moment.
Doctors here tell us the hospitals have been in a state of emergency for months.
Far from the front lines, chief resident Dr. Ibrahim al-Obeidi feels he is part of the fight.
DR. IBRAHIM AL-OBEIDI, GHAZI AL-HARIRI SURGICAL SPECIALTY HOSPITAL: We are supporting the fighters. We are with them. We are happy to do this
for them. We are proud to support them, to feel that we are a part of this operation.
KARADSHEH: Responding to the call by the Shia religious authority, 27 year old Mohammed (ph) joined the fight five months ago taking part in different
battles. He was shot by a sniper on the outskirts of Tikrit.
"We want to liberate our land from the terrorist," Mohammed says, "we will not go home until there.
The men here know this war will be a long and brutal one. they say they're driven by their faith and doing it for their country.
It might be months before Mohammed (Ph) is back on his feet, but when he is like others here he vows to continue the fight for Iraq.
Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Baghdad.
ANDERSON: We're live from the Sharm el-Sheikh where we've been at the Arab League summit. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you.
Coming up, high winds, treacherous terrain, these are just some of those challenges workers are facing at that Germanwings crash site. We give you
the very latest on their efforts.
And we'll hear from the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry about the (inaudible) of a united Arab military force at what is a particularly
volatile time for this region.
[11:45:43] ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Let's get you more now on one of our
main stories: the crash of Germanwings flight 9525. We're getting a better idea of what may have happened in the cockpit as investigators believe the
co-pilot intentionally flew the plane into the Alps.
According to the German newspaper Bild, recordings show that the captain pleaded with the co-pilot to get back at one point shouting open the damn
door. CNN cannot verify this account as of yet.
Well, crews now constructing a road to gain easier access to the crash site in the French Alps.
Karl Penhaul is near the area and he joins us now. Karl, what are you learning?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we saw that back hoe, that digger, going to action this morning. It was carted in on
the area on a low loader. And its job will be to cut a track through the mountain to get quicker to that crash site, because it's inaccessible until
now, it's only accessible by helicopter.
Now not only is that to help the recovery teams, but it is also going to be a key access there for families to get as close as possible to the crash
site to the point where their loved ones lost their lives.
It's the local village mayor, Francois Baleague (ph) talking to family members. He said that he realized that this track was needed, that is why
he sent that digger into action as soon as possible. And he hopes this road will be completed within a week, because he said that he has the
impression that every meter counts for the families. They want to get so close to that crash site to get firsthand details.
Remember that right now the closest that families can get is about three or four kilometers away. there's a marble memorial plaque that has been set
up. And that really is the scene of some harrowing scenes today.
We met Masheed Islami (ph). She lost her brother, an Iranian sports journalist, on that flight. He and his friend, Hussein Javidi (ph), had
been in Barcelona to cover that crunch soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid on Sunday night.
Milad Islami (ph),t he journalist, well, he was an avid Barcelona fan. And you'll remember that Barcelona won that match 2-1. This is what his sister
Masheed (ph) had to say about her brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: The last night before the crash happened, the (inaudible) and we had also a video call and we saw him. He says some
jokes. I told him that you have -- you was the luck of the Barcelona. You were there and they win, because of you, because you love them too much.
And we -- we had some good conversation. He told us that he wants to get back soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PENHAUL: Now her family, like all the other families now only have those old memories to cherish, Becky.
ANDERSON: Karl Penhaul there at the crash site.
Well, the team at Connect the World wants to hear your thoughts on what is this terrible, terrible tragedy. has it made you think twice about air
travel? Do you believe that airlines can do more to help prevent crashes like this in the future? We've got a conversation going for you. Join in,
Facebook.com/CNNconnect. You can have your say there. You can always tweet me @BeckyCNN. That is @BeckyCNN.
All right, live from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, this is Connect the World. Coming up, snap shots of solidarity. Powerful images from Tunisia as world
leaders join the masses for a march against terrorism.
First, though, I'm going to sit down with Egypt's foreign minister to ask him how far his country is willing to go in facing what is Yemen's
spiraling crisis. Do stay tuned for that. We're going to take a very short break. B ack after this.
[11:51:38] ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Welcome back.
As the death toll now from airstrikes in Yemen, the possibility of a ground battle looms even larger. Arab leaders are considering what the best way
might be to tackle insurgencies across this region.
At this weekend's summit here in Sharm el-Shaikh, the Arab League has agreed on the formation o a united military force intended to protect
established governments from Mauritanian to Muscat.
Well, I sat down with the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry to hear about his expectations from this united force. I started by asking him,
though, for his thoughts on the growing crisis in Yemen.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think one of the difficulties in Yemen has been the degree of external intervention, which has
exasperated the issue and maybe has contributed primarily to the situation we are now facing.
So, it's not a matter of what will be the outcome, it is rather that what is being undertaken now is an effort to stabilize the situation in Yemen,
to preserve the legitimacy of the Yemeni government and to find at the appropriate time the necessary formula for a political solution to the
internal issue that have escalated into violence and to creating a much wider space for terrorist activity.
ANDERSON: How realistic is a new Arab defense force?
SHOUKRY: I believe that there is a consensus related to the various challenges that we currently face in the region, whether that of terrorism,
whether the implosion of states, the situation of Iraq, the situation of Syria, Libya, all necessitate that the Arab World is in a position to deal
with all of these challenges, utilizing its own capabilities and facilities. And they are not meager, by any means, they are quite
substantial. And I think in the unity in itself, they form quite a substantial deterrent.
ANDERSON: I'm wondering what the mandate of a new Arab defense force would be? Take the internationally recognized government of Libya in Tabrouk.
If they asked for intervention, would they get it?
SHOUKRY: I believe they would get it in support of the fight against terrorism nd the pressures that the terrorist organizations continually put
on the government, the barbaric actions that they perpetrate, the last which was the killing of the 21 Egyptians.
So they would -- because in the resolution it is stipulated that one of the main objectives is to combat and to eradicate terrorism.
ANDERSON: Describe the emerging Sunni Arab security or defense doctrine under this new Saudi leadership?
SHOUKRY: There's an Arab world. And that Arab world is composed of Arab Sunnis and Arab Shiites. And this is a qualifications that has never been
at the forefront of the minds of the Arab people.
We need to move away from any form of sectarianism, because it is only a destructive to our the commonality of how the Arab community works.
[05:55:03] ANDERSON: I'm not sure that Saudi would agree with you, certainly when you see their attitude towards Iran.
SHOUKRY: Again, I think it's a mistake to put that within sectarian dimension. Ther are policies advocated by states and we should focus on
those policies irrespective of whatever sectarian denomination they might hold.
ANDERSON: What's your one message for the international community and indeed Washington from this Arab League summit?
SHOUKRY: It is of the Arab world is -- has a desire to show solidarity and its ability to undertake its responsibilities and meet the challenges of
the region through Arab solutions.
ANDERSON: Let's get you some analysis on all of this. CNN's Egypt correspondent Ian Lee is still here with me in Sharm el-Sheikh.
I was asking the foreign minister how realistic he thought this Arab military force would be? he is confident that this has been something in
the works for years, hasn't it?
LEE: That's right, Decades, really. This is unprecedented. We've never seen this sort of unitity among the Arab leaders. And that's, frankly,
because Arab leaders are not known for their unity. They have had divisions in the past. You can look back at their wars against Israel.
Even though they had a common enemy there, they were divided as well.
So this is really some of the most united Arab force, Arab voice taht we have seen probably dating back to the Ottomans.
But when you look at this -- this initiative going forward, one thing that stood out to me was they were were talking about defending legitimate
governments. And the question is who is a legitimate government. We have seen governments change multiple times in this region. So who is seen as
legitimate. Who isn't seen as legitimate. That's going to be a big question going forward with this as well.
ANDERSON: How important has it been for Egypt to host this conference, given its own security issues these days?
LEE: Well, Egypt -- this is very important for their image -- they are trying to rebuild it as a very strong regional power, a power that can be
relied upon. And they lost that during the Mubarak years, of sorts. And really they're trying to regain the Nasser, when Egypt was leading the way
with Arab nationalism and trying to be the predominate force in this region. And they're really doing that with this military option.
ANDERSON: Very briefly, Egyptian boots on the ground, would that be difficult?
LEE: Well, that would be very difficult. Looking back to the 1960s, there was the civil war in Yemen. Egypt sent troops there, up to 40,000.
Well, between 5,000 to 10,000 were killing in that conflict alone.
This is a conventional armies in this region fighting unconventional warfare. It is going to be very difficult for them to send troops in there
and not sustain heavy casualties.
ANDERSON: They are offering them, of course, so we'll see what happens. We are being told that there could be troops on the ground within days.
Whose troops those will be is yet to be defined.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World for you from Sharm el- Sheikh. From my colleague here, it is a very good evening.