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CONNECT THE WORLD
Organizations Struggle To Bring Aid, Evacuate People In Yemen; Rebel Groups Fight Over Yarmouk Camp In Syria; Interview With Jordanian Prince El Hassan bin Talal; Remaking Glasgow's Clyde Waterfront; ISIS Influence Growing in Afghanistan. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 6, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:10] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: A nation with a new leader and a new determination to assert its influence on an increasingly volatile region.
Under the stewardship of King Salman, Saudi Arabia taking the lead in an Arab coalition aiming to hold a Houthi Shia uprising in neighboring Yemen.
Airstrikes have been underway for 11 days. A ground operation still very much in the offing.
As Saudi's traditional allies in the west seemingly grow closer to its old rival Iran, Riyadh reminding the world it is still a force to be reckoned
Well, I'm Becky Anderson. And this is Connect the World live throughout this week from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
ANNOUNCER: Well, we join you this week from the powerhouse of the Sunni world, never far from the headlines, a nation entering a new era with a
point, it seems, to prove.
Saudi Arabia wants stability throughout this region, most pressingly in Yemen. Throughout this week we'll be live from Riyadh as we investigate
how the country is putting its plans into action.
Well, you're looking at exclusive CNN video of what's left of the international airport in Yemen's capital.
Saudi-led forces have unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on Sanaa to root out Houthi rebel forces.
Now despite this offensive, rebels still control the capital city and are gaining ground in the south.
Our crews captured this footage during a rare four hour window there -- while those airstrikes were halted to allow the evacuation of some of the
thousands of people trying to get out of Yemen.
Our senior international correspondent Nima Elbagir was on that flight.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're on the ground. You can see the runway is unharmed, but all around it you really get a
sense of the impact of those Saudi airstrikes. You can see behind me some of the aircraft carriers, some of the military aircraft all destroyed.
All the while we've been here this Houthi military police car has been circling the plane. Time really is of the essence of this evacuation
operation. And it's ticking down. We're waiting for the passengers to be brought on, but they're still nowhere to be seen.
ANDERSON: Well, Nima joining us now live.
Nima, what you witnessed quite remarkable. You talked about the dereliction and the desperation on the ground. What more did you see?
ELBAGIR: Well, soon after finally the passengers began arriving, Becky, and they were just running towards that plane only able to take on what
they could carry. Many had been in Yemen for decades and they'd left all of that behind.
This operation that the Indians are carrying out -- the Indians, the Russians, the Chinese trying to get as many of their nationals and any
others that can come to either port or airport out of Yemen. It's really been extraordinarily complicated and so huge in scope.
I want you to take a listen to what the Indian deputy foreign minister said to us. He's here overseeing this operation. Take a listen, Becky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. VIJAY KUMAR SINGH, INDIAN MIN. OF STATE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: Our aim is to take out maximum people.
We have, if you count today's number, in excess of 2,500 we would have evacuated to Indian in a humanitarian effort, nationalities don't matter.
We look at everybody in a manner in which we can assess them.
So we have got besides Indians, who remain the first priority, who always will be first priority for the government of India, but anybody else coming
we have been evacuating them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELBAGIR: Already 2,500 people, but it really absolutely gives you a sense of how many they've managed to get out, but also how many tens of thousands
are still trapped inside of Yemen unable to get to those crucial points, the ports, the airports able to get to safety, Becky.
ANDERSON: What have you got there?
Nima Elbagir reporting for you.
Well, we are also trying to get to (inaudible) where Nic Robertson will be standing by for you. The communications not easy. That down on the
southern border of Saudi with Yemen. We'll get to Nic just as soon as we can.
Well, multiple news outlets say the Kenyan air force has bombed two al Shabaab camps in Somalia, Nairobi's first major response to last week's
The air strikes on the camps in the Jido (ph) region come just days after al Shabaab militants massacred nearly 150 people at Garissa University in
Well, meanwhile Kenyan authorities are hoping a reward for a lead to the capture of the man they believe planned the massacre.
CNN's Christian Purefoy has more on the manhunt and the lingering impact of that deadly attack.
[11:05:46] CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESOSPONDENT: Kenyan authorities have named what they say is the mastermind behind the attack that killed 147
people at Garissa University. He's a man in charge of the militia along the long porous border of Somalia and cross border attacks into Kenya.
But here's what we know so far.
(voice-over): This morning, Kenya on heightened alert. Even Easter prayers, shaken.
The security checks outside churches. Kenyan forces on guard after the terrorist group al Shabaab threatened, quote, "another bloodbath," over the
weekend. Relatives, grieving, in complete anguish as Kenyan forces remain on the lookout for the al Shabaab militant behind the Garissa University
attack that killed nearly 150 people.
The government says Mohamed Mohamud, wanted for a bounty of more than $200,000, is the mastermind. Known by other aliases, the former religious
teacher is the regional al Shabaab commander in the Juba region of Somalia. According to a ministry document given to CNN, the al Qaeda linked militant
is in charge of external operations against Kenya.
Garissa sits on one of the longest religious fault lines in the world. A largely Christian sub-Saharan Africa to the south and a mostly Muslim
population to the north.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our forefathers bled and died for this nation and we will do everything to defend our way of life.
PUREFOY: Meanwhile, Kenyan's interior ministry identifying another attacker, this man, an apparent home-grown terrorist, Kenyan Abdirahim
Abdullahi. The 20 something son of a Kenyan government chief of Somali dissent. His father says his law graduate son has been missing since 2013,
last working for a bank. The ministry says he disappeared to Somalia last year.
I think it's important that when we talk about these people and use phrases such as "mastermind," they are really just using the most basic means as
possible to kill as many people as possible.
Back to you.
ANDERSON: All right, Christian Purefoy reporting for you on Kenya.
I want to get you back to the situation in Yemen. You heard from Nima Elbagir just a few minutes ago about what she witnessed when the plane that
she traveled on from Djibouti to Sanaa landed in the Yemen capital.
Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joins me now from Jizan (ph) on the Saudi-Yemen border with the latest developments from
Nic, what can you tell us?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we've been up on the border today. And we've seen one of the new border posts up there.
It's a combined border posts between the army, the Saudi army, and the border guards.
They don't normally do this, normally it's the border guards alone, but they've reinforced the position there. It's high on the mountains. The
commanders say that if they see Houthis coming towards them they will attack them. Soldiers there say that that outpost was most recently
attacked about six days ago. But that's what we're seeing all along the border here is an increase in security, new sandbags in place, new heavy
machine guns, new sniper rifles, new high powered binoculars and thermal imaging, new roads being built into the mountains, an increased number of
security service personnel up there. And all of this is because the Saudis see the security situation in Yemen deteriorating, they believe that the
Houthis want to attack them -- the Houthis have threatened to invade Saudi Arabia.
Indeed, three Saudi servicemen have been killed so far -- they're border guards -- along the border. We went to talk with the father of one of them
just yesterday. He said he was proud of his son, but his son had had a job behind a desk, but had been rushed along, with other reinforcements, to the
front line. His father said his son wanted to be there.
The family has had huge support. The defense minister came down to meet them. The interior minister came down to meet them. The defense minister,
of course, the next but one in line to the throne here.
So a lot of official support being given to that family and the deceased border guard's 7-year-old son shown a lot of affection by these military
and political leaders here, Becky.
[11:10:15] ANDERSON: Nic, how would you describe the scope of the military effort in the region that you are in, which of course is along this
incredibly long and porous border with Yemen. And any evidence to date of incursion from Saudi into Yemen? And how significant would that be if that
indeed were to happen?
ROBERTSON: It would be significant if it did happen. We -- when we go to the border, go under escort with Saudi border guards. We're not free to go
down there ourselves as the controlled zone. So that's the way we get our access.
But from what we've seen, predominately, the Saudi army is aligned behind the border guards. Where we were today, they were together, but
Tanks, perhaps, half a mile behind those border guards who are riht on top of the border line itself. We've seen camps of army reinforcements,
hospitals, communications equipment, you know, repair equipment sort of ready to support that operation close to the border.
We've seen heavy army and tanks move towards the border.
But it seems at the moment as if the army is postured here in a defensive position.
But this is a zone where there is a real security concern. There are additional checkpoints around the cities. I hear fighter jets flying
overhead now. We hear them occasionally.
The schools in this area close to the border are closed. They remain closed.
Just this weekend, however, the government said that government offices could reopen in this area.
So there's a lot of concern. This is a changed environment. I was here two months ago, Becky, and it's different now.
ANDERSON: Nic Robertson reporting from very close to the border in the south of this country.
This is Connect the World coming to you live from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. A country taking a more asserted stance in regional affairs. Coming up,
opposition from inside Yemen over the destruction caused by the Saudi-led airstrikes like this one. And I'm not talking about pro-Houthi factions
We're going to hear from an activist who doesn't want to see any outside involvement.
But let's be clear this isn't simply about Saudi Arabia wanting to quell a rebellion just across its border, we break down Riyadh's bigger aim, if you
will, when it comes to exerting influence. And the kingdom is not the only one growing its profile. My interview with Jordan's Prince El Hassan and
how his country is getting involved not only in Yemen, but also in the fight against ISIS.
All that is coming up.
First, though, we're getting some gruesome details of Iraqi government forces are finding in Tikrit. Just days after driving out ISIS militants,
they found at least eight mass graves. And it's believed the victims were Iraqi soldiers captured and executed by the group last June.
CNN's Arwa Damon was at one of the grave sites in Tikrit just a short time ago. She filed this report.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Three bodies have been recovered from this particular site so far and the teams are working on a
fourth that they just pulled out of the dirt and placed inside another of these bags.
The hands on this particular corpse were bound and we did see them on some of the others. This is very difficult work for the teams. And it's also
emotionally difficult as well.
Earlier, there was an impromptu ceremony held here to commemorate those who had been killed. Many people were in tears.
Now in this particular site they're saying so far -- and they've been working for about four or five hours now, they have found nine bodies.
This is a fairly large mound. They believe in this location they might end up finding about 20 or 30.
So far, they have pinpointed eight sites here inside the presidential compound in Tikrit scattered throughout this sprawling area.
Another two locations have been identified outside of the city on the way to camp Spiker. Now the vast majority of these casualties, and you see the
corpse, the remains being carried away there, but the vast majority of these casualties, if not all of them, are believed to have been the victims
of what is now known as the Camp Spiker massacre when ISIS fighters brutally, mercilessly murdered hundreds if not upwards of 1,500 recruits
when they first took over this area back in June. The families of the dead have desperately been waiting for answers about what happened to their
sons. Many of them had been pleading with the government to get this process quickly underway.
But even though it has begun, it is going to take a very long time to actually exhume all of these various bodies, and then DNA testing will be
underway as well.
What we are hearing from one survivor we spoke to earlier and from experts on the site is that ISIS divided them up into smaller groups and then
executed them at various different locations.
One survivor who is hear who we spoke to came back, because he said he wanted to look for his friends.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Tikrit, Iraq.
[11:15:46] ANDERSON: Well, still to come tonight, ISIS extending its reach. We show you the terror group is recruiting in Afghanistan in an
exclusive report. That is in about 20 minutes time.
But first as the sun goes down here with the call to prayer behind me, how is the Saudi-led war against Houthis in Yemen being viewed from here in
Riyadh and in the capital of Yemen, Sanaa? That's after this.
ANDERSON: Well, this is all that is left of Yemen's international airport in Sanaa after nearly two weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes. The coalition
launched those airstrikes against Houthi rebels who took control of the capital back in January.
Well, despite the Saudi offensive, rebel forces are getting closer to overtaking the last major Yemeni government stronghold, and that is the
southern port city of Aden.
You're watching CNN. And this is a special edition of Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live for you tonight and for the rest of this week
from Riyadh. Welcome back.
Now, to understand how the Saudi-led war against the Houthis and their allies is being viewed inside Yemen I'm joined now by political activist
Hisham al-Omeisy from the capital Sanaa.
Sir, can you just describe what you are witnessing in Sanaa?
HISHAM AL-OMEISY, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: There was a heavy airstrike that has been going on for the last 35 minutes. Right now we can see columns of
fire and smoke all across this city. And it's a very scary scene, because everybody is in the basement and I'm actually upstairs now doing the
interview with you while still hearing explosions all across the city.
ANDERSON: How are people responding?
OMEISY: Well, they're not responding. They're just basically coping at this moment with a lot of food disappearing from shelves, with a severe
shortage in fuel, a lot of people leaving the city. However stays in the city risks being hit by an airstrike or bombardment like one just happened
an hour ago.
So we're keeping to our basements hoping that the airstrikes will stop and some sort of a ceasefire be implemented, people go back to negotiation
table, because this cannot go on forever. We are being held hostage to the current conflict. All politics aside, there are a lot of people in the
middle between the Houthis and the Saudi airstrikes. We are suffering right now, not the Houthis. Everybody in Yemen is suffering.
[11:20:36] ANDERSON: Yeah, and that is very clear that it is the Yemeni people who are suffering at present.
You've said leaving politics aside, you just want this to stop, but the problem is that those involved won't leave politics aside at this point,
OMEIDY: Unfortunately so. I, myself, am an anti-Houthi. I took to the streets against the Houthis, but right now even though the Houthis are
being struck hard by the Saudis, I couldn't care less about that as much as I care about the ceasing of the airstrikes.
I have my two kids with me in my house. Every time I hear something explode, I run downstairs in the basement. Now I can't even provide them
with food. I can't even have gas. So my least of worries is the Houthis. My biggest worry is the safety of my family.
ANDERSON: Thank you for joining us this evening. The line isn't brilliant, but we very much do appreciate your view from Sanaa this
I've been reporting all day on what I've been hearing out of Aden, people describing that city as a ghost town with nobody around. And somebody said
earlier on today this Monday that as the days move on it becomes increasingly clear the scope of the destruction between these warring
Let's get a perspective for you from here in Riyadh then. Zaid Belbagi closely follows Saudi politics and joining me here for some discussion.
Much talk of military action, very little talk of a political solution at the moment.
Let's start with the military action. This Saudi-led coalition, what's the strategy here?
ZAID BELBAGI, SAUDI POLITICAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think the ultimate aim is to stop Yemen going into the throes of chaos. I think it was a step too
far when the Houthi rebels advanced on Aden, which hitherto was an island of stability, one of which is a very, very unstable and difficult part of
So the ultimate objective was to just halt their advance as a matter of priority.
ANDERSON: The problem is this, I'm hearing from across the Gulf states, leaders insisting that Operation Decisive Storm isn't about sectarianism,
this is about creating stability in what is a sea of instability, this rapidly becoming a failed state, Yemen. But the problem is this, if there
is no political solution and only this military action, it is likely to become a sectarian war very, very quickly, isn't it?
BELBAGI: That's an interesting opinion. I would echo what the Gulf states are saying in that this is an essential struggle between the forces of
stability against (inaudible) to hold the region back.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are surrounded by a catalog of failed or failing states.
ANDERSON: You say those who want to hold the region back, but many experts tell me this is about regional and tribal politics in Yemen. It could
possibly become more, but at this stage it could be contained if people talked and they didn't walk. So where are we so far as a political
solution is concerned?
BELBAGI: Political and peaceful way out is of course the number one priority. It's in nobody's interest to extend this conflict further than
I think the priority right now for the Saudi military ando thers is to get military (inaudible). I've just had word that the International Red Cross
plane has arrived. We were speaking earlier about the Russian and (inaudible)..
ANDERSON: And that had been delayed, of course, hadn't it. Do we know why?
BELBAGI: I think it's just because it's not safe to land.
The priority now really is Aden. The situation in Aden is pretty desperate. Hospitals are running out of medicine. And the Saudi navy must
take control of Aden and its ports to get supplies through.
ANDERSON: I guess I refer to my question, though -- and I hear what you say. And the humanitarian situation is dire and this aid flights have been
trying to get in for some tie.
But let's take the military action off the table and talk about the prospect of a political solution. Is there the will here to pursue talks?
Because the Houthis will say, at least in principle today, that if the airstrikes stop they are prepared to talk. They don't say to whom, but
they are prepared to talk.
[11:24:54] BELBAGI: There is no doubt that these strikes have brought about in a way to leverage, to get the Houthis back onto the negotiating
table. This is not for Saudia Arabia war against Yemen to which it has brotherly familial tribal religious relations. It's definitely one to get
the Houthis on board.
The Houthis are a militia. They cannot run the government. And increasingly what we're seeing is their leader Abdul-alik al-Houthi is
unable to even control his militia. And as we've seen in Yemen and time and time again should those militia get out of the control of their leader,
they will campaign a reign of terror.
ANDERSON: Well, they certainly have been successful. Very briefly, can you see ground troops in Yemen from the Saudi-led coalition any time soon?
BELBAGI: I think the priority right now is just to get the Houthis back on to the negotiating table. Ground troops are an absolute last case
ANDERSON: Thank you.
All right, well we are live here in the Saudi capital if Riyadh. You're joining us here tonight and I hope for the rest of the week as we analyze
exactly what is going on here in the region and wide impacts wherever you are watching in the world.
Coming up, find out how new life is being breathed into Scotland's shipping past. We're moving away from the news -- from the region just a moment for
you. You'll get confirmations (ph) after this short break. Stay with us.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Glasgow, a city that built its fortune on the banks of the River Clyde. Known as the workshop
of the world, this was where some of the greatest ships set sail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The past history of this area is one of glory and pride. The Queen Elizabeth II was built here, a huge amount of ships that
sailed across the world. Whenever the keel was laid and moreso whenever a ship was launched, it was a celebration for the communities on each side of
this great river.
LU STOUT: What with the industrial decline of the 1960s and 70s, the shipyards were shut down and abandoned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Clyde really sank into a kind of decay of torpor, because having been the site of our great success I think we couldn't bear
to turn to it.
LU STOUT: Today, however, Scotland's largest city is enjoying a renaissance, a multi-billion dollar investment from the private and public
sector has rejuvenated this derelict land and brought new life to the riverside.
FORBES BARRON, GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL: Quite a waterfront project that extends the 13 miles of waterfront extending to Clyde Gateway up in the
east down as far as Clyde Bank.
LU STOUT: New residences, a financial district, and cultural attractions now line these shores. The SS E Hydro (ph), touted as the world's second
busiest entertainment venue is here as is the Scottish exhibition and conference center, also known as the Armadillo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really was to enliven the Clyde, making a place to live, work and play, and a great center for visitors, tourists and most of
LU STOUT: Redevelopment began in 2003, reaching the key stage of completion just in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Lawrence Fitzgerald (ph) is the manager of the Riverside Museum of Transport, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, it reflects Glasgow's rich,
[11:30:13] LAWRENCE FITZGERALD, MANAGER, RIVERSIDE MUSEUM OF TRANSPORT: It fantastically symbolizes what the area was used for. This zigzagged
roof reflects the ship building sheds. And also it reflects the cityscape and waves as well.
LU STOUT: Last year, the museum received 1 million visits, a sign that the River Clyde once again holds the key to the city's fortunes.
FITZGERALD: The city has slowly been moving back to the river's edge, which has been it turned it back on the river. It was just seen as an
industrial space for a long time, and the museum is part of that regeneration to reinvigorate the river and make it come back to life.
ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of Connect the World with me Becky Anderson coming to you live from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The top
stories for you this hour here on CNN.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is worsening as the Red Cross says a plane it chartered to deliver medical supplies to the capital have been grounded
in Djibouti. In the port city of Aden, meanwhile, more than 50 people were killed in fresh clashes between Houthi rebels and government loyalists,
that is according to Agence France Presse.
Iraq officials have discovered several mass graves in Tikrit. It's feared hundreds of bodies may now be found. Last June, ISIS claimed to have
killed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers captured outside a military base near that city, just north of Baghdad. Well, joint Iraqi forces pushed ISIS out of
the city a few days ago.
These are images of the destruction of Garissa Univeristy in Kenya where al Shabaab militants massacred nearly 150 people last week. Reports say
Kenya's air force hit two al Shabaab camps in Somalia as part of ongoing operations to stop cross border attacks.
And two Australian drug traffickers on death row in Indonesia have had their appeal rejected. A court has ruled that it cannot challenge the
Indonesian's president's decision to execute the two members of the so- called Bali Nine cartel.
Well, in Syria the terror group ISIS is said to control almost all of the devastated Yarmouk camp near the country's capital. Kush Bushar (ph) has
the details for you.
[11:35:13] KUSH BUSHAR (ph), CNN CORRESPONDENT: A war is being waged in a Palestinian refugee camp in the suburbs of Damascus. Residents have had
little access to food, water and aid.
The few times it has been allowed in during the war, residents have swarmed. Most still going without.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As you see, brother, houses are ruined and destroyed. We are afraid to sleep in the upper floors. We, as
Palestinian refugees, are asking the PLO to find a solution for this situation here. We are tired of hunger and thirst. We do not have food or
BUSHAR (ph): Tens of thousands of refugees are trapped as militants battle for control of this neighborhood in the Syrian capital.
ISIS and other rebel groups now control almost all of the Yarmouk camp. Amateur video released by media outlets associated with ISIS purport to
show fighters in the nearly emptied out camp shooting guns and cheering in the streets Sunday.
Palestinian residents have called the refugee camp home since they first fled the Arab-Israeli war. At the start of the Syrian civil war, more than
150,000 refugees lived here. But relief workers say those numbers dwindled as an already vulnerable population camp under siege.
PIERRE KRAHENBUHL, UN RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY: It has never been as grave and desperate as it is now in Yarmouk Camp. It is a place that has been
besieged for two years where about 18,000 people have been surviving on very minimal assistance for a long time.
BUSHAR (ph): Yarmouk has been a battleground since 2011, the start of the civil war. First, between Syrian troops and rebel groups, now there are
reports of kidnappings, beheadings and mass killings in the camp, says the Palestinian Liberation Organization. And amidst this, the humanitarian
crisis in the refugee camp grows.
Fighting has intensified in recent days. Video surfaces of smoke rising from the Yarmouk neighborhood after purported shelling by regime forces on
ISIS positions in the camp.
More than 2,000 people have fled in recent days, but thousands still remain trapped in the violence.
Kush Bushar (ph), CNN.
ANDERSON: Well, ISIS is strongest in Syria and in Iraq, but the terror group is trying to expand. They've recently been active in Afghanistan
looking to pull from the ranks there of the Taliban.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look closely at these men, itching for a fight in the valley south of Kabul, and you can just
make out a new seismic tremor in the war here.
The masks, the webbing, even the breathless clumsiness at altitude Afghanistan has seen before, but not this, the flag of the Islamic State,
These men are Afghans and wanted to show our cameraman their allegiance to ISIS, an act that could get them killed by ISIS rivals, the Taliban, the
big guns here.
"We established contacts," he says, "with ISIS through a friend who is in Helmand. He called us saying ISIS had come to Afghanistan. Let's join
them. We joined and pledged allegiance."
Our cameraman wasn't allowed to film the sat phones they say they used to talk to Iraq and Syria. They say they're religious students who watch back
catalog propaganda and at night go into villages to recruit.
"We don't recruit ordinary people," he says, "we only recruit people with a military background either in the government or in the Taliban. At the
moment, we have no leader, but talks are going on to choose one for us in Afghanistan."
ISIS are only just beginning here, but their timing is good. The Taliban are fractured, either fighting hard or thinking about talking peace, and
the young and the angry who have only known war here might fight ISIS's nihilism appealing. Even Washington has heard the threat that ISIS or
DAESH may pose in the vacuum ahead, slowing the U.S. troop withdrawal.
ASHRAF GHANI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: It is critical that the world understand the terrible threat that the DAESH and its allied forces pose. From the
west, the DAESH is already sending advance guards to southern/western Afghanistan to test our vulnerabilities.
WALSH: Yet, whatever their strength in the swirling chaos of post-America Afghanistan, even these homemade flags betray a purpose and brutality ripe
[11:40:10] ANDERSON: Well, Nick Paton Walsh joining us now from Beirut.
Nick, you're back from Kabul. And as I was listening to your report, I was thinking about how we are considering here in this region that the
emergence of ISIS in Yemen and just how substantive that might be, if at all.
What do you think the scope of their footprint is in Afghanistan? How well supported would they be?
WALSH: It's a messy picture at this stage. And the Afghan government spent months, really, trying to pretend it wasn't a problem. Now U.S.
officials you speak to say, yes, they are concerned.
One military officer I spoke to there, American, said well at this stage they don't believe ISIS have a military capability. They're more into
recruitment and they're watching carefully what level of resourcing they going to be trying to push into the country.
But we've spoken to a number of Afghan MPs today who report around the country consistently in many different districts that are all foreigners
coming in who are well resourced, the typical black flags there as well.
And more troublingly as well, there have been some issues in the past month or so involving attacks on civilian buses around the capital, or far from
the capital on the sort of outskirt, outlying districts.
Three incidents, the first in which 30 has Arashiya (ph) people were abducted, yet to be returned. And the most recent in which 13 civilians
were killed, including women and children.
Now the Taliban said they weren't responsible for those leading to the possibility that maybe it was ISIS who are said to be possibly in those
It's the early stages, Becky, but as we know historically Afghanistan has such an issue with being a fertile ground for extremism. It's where al
Qaeda found sanctuary from the Taliban a similar draw down in security is occurring here. The Taliban potentially resurgent as well. Many have
their eyes on those black flags now appearing increasingly, it seems, around Afghanistan, Becky.
ANDERSON: And Nick, are we talking about foreign imported jihadists here? And what is the government doing to try to clamp down on this? Is there
any sort of security or intelligence from the new Afghan government?
WALSH: Well, at this stage, there seem to be a mixed picture. Most of the ISIS members people talk about seem to suggest they are, in fact,
disgruntled Taliban Afghans, so to speak. There are reports of foreigners being in the mix as well. And we know there are a lot of Afghans went to
Syria to fight some number of years ago now as well. So there is the potential for traffic between those two front lines, so to speak.
The Afghan government, as I said earlier, were for awhile I think trying to pretend this wasn't a key issue, but you saw Ashraf Ghani there in that
report telling congress that ISIS is, quote, a terrible threat.
I think they're clear that's something they have to keep their minds on. I think it helps, too, potentially if you are in Kabul trying to get
continued U.S. military security assistance and funding certainly in the years ago to mention you have an ISIS issue, too.
But it's clearly something now that it's both on the American and Afghan radar and now cropping up with increased evidence around that country at a
time when frankly Afghan security forces are not looking great and NATO is pulling out pretty quickly -- Becky.
ANDERSON: Nick Paton Walsh in Beirut for you this evening. Now back from Kabul in Afghanistan.
Well, we just saw ISIS has been trying to aggressively expand globally. Already the terror group has seeded itself in about a dozen countries.
Our national security analyst Peter Bergen writes about this expansion and what it means when other groups, for example Boko Haram, pledge allegiance
to the militants. You can read about that and much more on the website at CNN.com is where you'll find that. I'm sure if you are a regular viewer
you will know that.
Live from Riyadh, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
Coming up, coalition airstrikes continue to hit Houthi targets in Yemen. I sat down recently with Jordan's Prince El Hassan bin Al-Talal on his
country's role in that conflict. That up next.
[11:46:32] ANDERSON: You're with CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live in Riyadh for you this evening. And for the rest of
We just mentioned Jordan's participation in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. Talking about that just before the break.
Well, I sat down with Prince El Hassan bin Talal recently to talk about the complexities of this war. I began by asking him about Oman's role in the
conflict after it decided not to join what is a mostly Gulf state coalition. Have a listen.
PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN TALAL, JORDAN: Well, I think Oman played a very important role in mediating between Iran and the United States. The
minister was in Tehran. And of course it goes back to the will of both parties. But as you know Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut and Sanaa are now
regarded as cities in which Iran has influence.
But I think it is tragic that everyone goes on talking about the Houthis in Yemen forgetting that the Zaidis are the closest Muslims to Sunni Islam
anywhere in the world. So I think it's a question of Arab identity plus Muslim identity recognizing that there is no such thing as (inaudible)
version Arab. There is no such thing as Sunni/Shia.
So I think Jordan would be eminently acceptable, particularly as a Hashemite country, to contribute. But I'm not volunteering anyone for
obviously reasons, because you know I think that the time is one of confrontation, it seems to me, people want to prove themselves, new leaders
want to establish themselves and so forth.
ANDERSON: Jordan is such a victim of what is going on now. The refugees within its borders are such a big pressure on its infrastructure. Isn't it
time somebody sorted this out? And isn't the short-term threat at this point ISIS as an existential one, but the deeper, long-term threat this
TALAL: Jordan has the equivalent proportion to population of Canada moving into the United States. So this is why we are obliged to play a pivotal
role. I don't think we can continue to play a receptive role to all of this without calling, which is all right, I believe, for an area
I mean, if Benelux can talk about water without frontiers, air, light without frontiers, why can't we link our electricity grid with Saudi
Arabia, for example? Where is the oil that should be flowing through the region to make life tolerable? Where is the energy and water commission,
which would be equivalent to a Danube commission in the Great Rift Valley, which is the Jordan Rift Valley, which would be above politics, above
sticky fingers, above corruption and focused on producing human dignity.
ANDERSON: Your Highness, you've observed developments in the region for years. If you were to reflect on where we are now, how bad are things?
TALAL: I have never seen it so full of opportunity and hope in terms of, you know, all the masks falling, all the bare bone realities of people who
are deserving of better -- a better quality of mental life, physical well- being, economic and social well-being out there waiting to be empowered and enabled.
But at the same time I've never seen it so desperately divided in terms of the opportunists who, like all politicians, the militant opportunist,
taking the opportunity to say, well, the whole system is wrong.
[11:50:25] ANDERSON: Prince Hassan speaking to me recently.
Just a glimpse of the battle that's raging for the key port city of Aden for you now in Yemen. This footage taken by forces loyal to Yemen's
president who has now taken refuge here in Saudi Arabia.
For nearly two weeks now, Saudi-led forces have unleashed an air campaign targeting Houthi rebel positions trying to degrade them.
Well, Saudi may be leading this coalition, but a number of other nations are taking part, including Jordan as we just heard. Egypt playing a major
role with their naval support. Several other countries you see here also contributing to this air campaign.
Well, I want to bring back Zaid Belbagi now. And I want to focus on the regional -- wider regional story here and really who is support who.
Let's get to this Saudi rivalry with Iran that everybody is so concerned could really spill over into sort of all-out war.
The Saudis today actually welcomed the interim agreement with Iran and world powers on the nuclear deal. Is this for real?
BELBAGI: Peace is in the interests of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Iran is a Muslim country, 80 million neighbors, and it's in our interest to
be in peace.
ANDERSON: So why the concern about the expansionism from Tehran?
BELBAGI: I think it's fair to say that with armed forces numbering 645,000, another 1.8 million in reserve, Iran is sitting on the other side
of the Gulf has to make peaceful noises, otherwise it puts people out of shape.
And I think it's important that the Gulf states welcome initiatives that are geared towards peace. They just need the peace to be lasting and for
interference in Arab states to stop.
ANDERSON: This will only be lip service, though, won't it? Lest Tehran and Riyadh get together and talk -- we were talking to Prince Hassan about
the role that Jordan could play on a mediation basis. Is that going to happen?
BELBAGI: The role of Jordan and Oman in this way is very interesting, though the Saudis themselves opening to making peace. The Iranian foreign
minister who we've seen in Lausanne in the last few weeks has been invited to Riyadh on three occasions. He has yet to take up the offer.
So it's in the interests of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to reach some sort of agreement with Iran.
ANDERSON: The wider story here is clearly one of international security. I put this to you just how big a concern should the world have of the ISIS
and al Qaeda elements in Yemen? Some will say this is to a certain extent being over egged in order to get the support for this wider coalition.
BELBAGI: I'm glad that you groups ISIS and the Houthis, et cetera, because this is about non-state actors. The non-state actors have a huge potential
to destablize the region. And Saudi Arabia and the Saudi-led coalition is actually doing the world an the international community a service in trying
to stabilize what is a very crucial part of the region, the Houthis and agents stand on the opening of the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Mendip (ph)
and this is crucial to international security.
ANDERSON: Zaid, you're very close to the Saudi government, I know that, it's been a pleasure to have you on again for your analysis tonight. And I
do hope during this week that you'll join us once again.
Our coverage from Riyadh. This is Connect the World. Coming up, these are the types of celebrations you might see after a World Cup victory, but Iran
expressing pride over a very different type of competition, one as you can imagine with much higher stakes. Details are just ahead in tonight's
[11:55:43] ANDERSON: Well, we have covered a range of stories on regional tensions here this evening in the show, which has been live from the Saudi
capital. For tonight's parting shots, I want to get a look at an historic event that few here in Riyadh perhaps would have been celebrating, but in
Tehran, one photojournalist captured a night of jubilation following last week's interim nuclear deal. Have a look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is (inaudible. I work for an NGO in Prague. I'm Austrian.
Two nights after the deal, thousands of people came out to celebrate. It was stop and go in Tehran -- Tehran's main street in the north for hours.
The photos show people's joy about the deal, people waving Iranian flags, making lots of noise, celebrating in the street and in their cars.
There were quite a few American flags as well. And (inaudible), people waving white paper towels wearing funny hats, children carrying balloons
with Iranian flags on them.
The atmosphere on the street was ecstatic. Northern Tehran was in collective euphoria for two nights. It was actually a lot like they had
won the World Cup. Police probably wouldn't have let this happen here on any other day before.
At the same time, there's also a sense on the street that life -- life in Iran will be a little less restrictive from now on. It's obvious people
really want the sanctions to end. People want their economy to get better. They want more jobs. And they hope their country's relationship with the
rest of the world will be friendlier from now on.
ANDERSON: Well, your parting shots from Tehran this evening.
I'm Becky Anderson, that was Connect the World live from Riyadh. We'll be back with you from the Saudi capital at the same time tomorrow. From the
team here and those working for us around the world, thank you for watching.