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The Battle for Ramadi; African Startup: Ghanaian Laterite Bricks; British Expats To Vote Online For First Time; Interview with Recently Resigned UN Envoy to Yemen. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired April 16, 2015 - 11:00:00   ET



[11:00:12] ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're clearing a way for us to get to the cars.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: CNN on the front line in the fight against ISIS as thousands escape the Ramadi area by whatever means they can.

CNN's Arwa Damon on the ground as Iraqi officials insist his strategic city could fall to the terror group. She has a live update for you in just

a moment.

Also ahead this hour, warning of a Syria style scenario in Yemen. We talk to the former UN envoy to the country who is stepping down after four

years on the job.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're out here. We're working hard. We invest money back into the -- I'm looking to vote for the party that I believe is

going to make the economy perform the strongest.


ANDERSON: Abu Dhabi expats tell us who they think will hit it for six in the upcoming UK elections as they prepare to make their vote count.

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

ANDERSON: A very good evening. It's just after 7:00 in the evening here in the UAE. Iraqi forces battling to fend off an ISIS attack on

Ramadi are getting desparetely needed help from the skies.

An official tells CNN coalition airstrikes have cut off ISIS supply routes and stopped their advance on the capital of Anbar Province. But the

battle is far from over.

Tens of thousands of civilians fleeing the onslaught, creating huge traffic jams on the roads, others leaving on foot carrying whatever

belongings they can.

CNN's Arwa Damon met some of those families fleeing the violence. This is her report.


DAMON (voice-over): We were trying to get to Ramadi, instead we came across shell shocked families ISIS had just assaulted in the morning from

the East.

As a security measure, cars are not allowed to cross this bridge, but this is the only way to reach Baghdad. Those fleeing the violence piled

their belongings, children and elderly into metal carts.

Samida Ibrahim (ph) starts crying the moment we approach her.

"They took our homes and kicked us out," she sobs.

For weeks officials and forces in Ramadi have been warning of this, begged for reinforcements and air strikes, but to no avail. And it's not

just Ramadi where people are pleading for help. Between the bridge and Ramadi is Amiriyah (ph) Falluja.

Police Chief Major Ottis Ajenabi (ph) points out the ISIS positions.

DAMON (on camera): So, ISIS is back in that tree line about a kilometer.

(voice-over): "We need coalition support," Ajenabi states. He's been sending ISIS position coordinates to the joint command center, but there

have been no significant strikes or reinforcements. Why? He doesn't know.

ISIS attacks regularly, the hospital exterior scarred with shrapnel. Inside, Ahmed Hussien, a tribal fighter, shot by a sniper in this last

assault on Ramadi, the bullet just missed his heart.

"We didn't leave a single person, we didn't call and ask for back up," he says.

Upstairs, a woman wounded in the town two days ago.

"I was out in the garden and a rocket hit and the shrapnel sliced me," Ahmel Ahkmed (ph) says, tears falling from her eyes. "I felt something fall

out of me, and I put it back in."

A few moments later while we were in another building, ISIS attacks.

(on camera): It was just a massive explosion. We're not sure exactly what. It may have been a rocket or mortar of sorts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They think there is more.

DAMON: They think there is more?

(voice-over): The impact shattered the glass. More explosions in the distance, and then another that shakes the building.

(on camera): They're clearing a way for us to get to the cars.

(voice-over): We are lucky. We are able to leave, and we don't have to make the impossible choice of living under bombardment and ISIS terror or

suffer the indignities of life as a refugee. And if help does not arrive, many more will end up like this.


ANDERSON: Arwa Damon is joining us live now from Baghdad. She's back from the area.

Confusing as it is on the ground, Arwa, it seems there is even more confusion, for example, in Washington as to whether ISIS is on the verge of

taking over in Ramadi and what Washington might do next to try and counter their advance.

What are you hearing?

[11:05:16] DAMON: Well, Becky, the situation since we were at that bridge yesterday has deteriorated significantly. According to the deputy

head of the provincial council, upwards of 150,000 people have fled Ramadi, although many, many more do still remain trapped inside that city in the

hours of yesterday into the night.

ISIS did manage to advance towards the center of the city overnight launching an attack on the government complex that Iraqi security forces in

Ramadi were able to repel for the time being.

And then finally earlier today just a few hours ago those much needed and very much asked for airstrikes beginning to take place, targeting ISIS

on the outskirts of Ramadi in an effort to cut off their logistical supply routes and reinforcements that are trying to enter the city. And also

within Ramadi itself, we are hearing, according to a local official there these airstrikes at the very least at this stage serving to stop ISIS from

advancing any further.

But much more is needed. And at this stage a significant ground force is needed also to come in and help bolster those who are fighting against

ISIS on the ground. They are quite simply at this stage outmanned and outgunned, Becky.

ANDERSON: Arwa Damon in Baghdad for you. Arwa, thank you.

Either I enter Europe or I die, those words from an African migrant who risks his life at sea in a rickety boat for the chance of a better


We are hearing more accounts today of the terrifying journey many people are willing to make to escape war, poverty or other problems back


117 migrants arrived in an Italian port this week after being rescued off the Libyan coast. they were the lucky ones. They survived.

Ben Wedeman joins us now from Augusta on the Sicilian coast.

Ben we're now hearing reports of yet another tragedy at sea. What can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a story we've heard from the Italian coast guard that one ship, which -- or rather

a boat that left the Libyan coast with 45 people on board apparently went down. Only four people survived from that particular incident. It appears

at this point that the numer of people who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year is almost 1,000.

Now let me just step out of the way of the -- so you can see behind me. This is a ship from the Italian coast guard, the Datico (ph). It has

just arrived here in the port of Augusta. According to the Italian coast guard it has 592 migrants on board, most of them Sub-Saharan Africans.

The coast guard tells us that they were picked up in six separate rescue operations that have taken place off the Libyan coast since

yesterday. So, this is -- this steady stream of people coming in to the Italian ports, rescued by the most -- for the most part by ships that are

simply in the area, in this case, of course, it's the Italian coast guard involved, but definitely the authorities here are getting overwhelmed by

this sudden flood of migrants arriving at the Italian coast.

Now Becky, we also have another story for you. According to the Italian police in Palermo they have detained 15 men from the Ivory Coast,

Mali, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. They are suspected of throwing overboard 12 Christians from Ghana and Nigeria apparently on a boat coming from

Libya, a fight broke out and they were thrown overboard.

So that's under investigation as well, a sectarian issue, further complicating this humanitarian crisis -- Becky.

ANDERSON: What a mess, then.

I know that Italy is pleading for more help and demanding a clear answer, and I quoe, from the European Union about where these refugees

should be sent. Are they getting any answers at this point?

WEDEMAN: At this point, no. And the frustration is rising among Italian officials.

Now next month the EU is going to be issuing what is called the European agenda on migration. It's going to be a new policy to try to deal

with this issue. But so far it seems that the policies are not keeping up with the crisis.

As you know in October, or rather November of 2013 the Italians set up this search and rescue mission called Mari Nostrum (ph). It was funded to

the tune of about $10 million a month, but that was discontinued because of unhappiness here in Italy at the cost.

And now this responsibility has been taken over by another program called Triton, which is run by Frontex, the European immigration agency.

But that only has a budget of about $3 million a month and really is restricted to the European coast line. So there doesn't seem to be a

mechanism at the moment to rescue people who are at sea.

The Italians are doing what they can at the moment, but they are demanding some sort of unified, well-funded Euroepan approach to deal with

an issue that Italy is paying a huge cost for. For instance, last year around 280,000 people entered Europe illegally from the Mediterranean,

170,000 of them ended up in Italy. And of course Italy is basicalyl paying the cost of putting them up, feeding them, providing them with medical care

and shelter. And they're demanding, they're appealing to the European community to do more to help them in this effort -- Becky.

[11:11:25] ANDERSON: Yeah, Ben is in Sicily for you this evening. Thank you.

Well, to Russia now where President Vladimir Putin has wrapped up a wide ranging four hour long question and answer session with the Russian


Now Russians submitted nearly 2.5 million qusestions, we're told. But critics point out that the annual event is a heavily staged, managed one.

Well, our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance watched the event and joins us now from Moscow along an exhaustive session with the

Russian public with some interesting lines not least that the Russian peope have benefited from western sanctions.

How did he explain that?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the point he was making is that, look, we don't think that sanctions are going to be

lifted any time soon for the United States and the European union. And so what we have to do is to try and use them in our favor. And, you know, for

instance produce our own food to replace western food imports. And he said there were encouraging signs that that was already happening.

There were some sort of pretty critical questions, vetting questions, but critical nevertheless, of that point of view from the audience. One

dairy farmer was given the microphone. And he said, well, look I just don't believe those statistics, that's not our experience literally out in

the field. We're facing bankruptcy on a daily basis. And so Vladimir Putin then had to, you know, kind of seek to reassure not just that farmer, but

ordinary Russians who are feeling the economic pressure as well. And so this was an opportunity for him to do that.

It wasn't just about the economy, though, other issues broached as well. The relationship with the west, the issue of Russia's decision to

lift the ban on delivery of sophisticated missiles to Iran was also tackled as well, S300s is what they are. They are anti-aircraft missiles. There's

a lot of concern in the United States, and particularly in Israel about this delivery, but Vladimir Putin saying it is justified. Take a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): As far as Iran is concerned, Iran is quite a different (inaudible). It is not a

threat to Israel at all, it is a defense weapon. Moreover, we consider that the conditions in particular concerning what's going on in Yemen means

that this is a restraining factor.


CHANCE: So, this event, it may be choreographed and highly orchestrated, but it is an opportunity, I think, not so much for the

Russian people to grill their president, but for the Russian president to reassure the Russian people and to perhaps give some indications of what

his policies might be in the future, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Matt.

Still to come tonight, two months after the suspension of NBC's top anchor over exaggerated reporting, the American network under fire once

again for accounts of a kidnapping ordeal in Syria. We're going to bring you the details on that.

And the fighting intensifies in Yemen as the UN's special envoy to the country calls it quits. We'll have the latest and hopefully we'll be

speaking to Jamal Benomar up next.


[11:16:59] ANDERSON: Well, it's three weeks since Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations launched airstrikes in Yemen targeting Houthi rebels


While that air campaign continues, armed militia loyal to the exiled president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi are fighting Houthi rebels on the ground.

These are scenes from the port city of Aden where the death toll continues to mount and more Yemenis are fleeing the violence.

Well, there is speculation that Saudi Arabia might be weighing a possible ground invasion to attack the Houthis. Speaking in Riyadh today,

Yemen's newly installed vice president told reporters he's not in favor of such a move.


KHALED BAHAH, YEMENI VICE PRESIDENT: We are still hoping that there is no ground campaign will be along with the air campaign. This is what we

are hoping. And we are hoping that our people in Yemen will understand, and the casualties that happen over here now that will not be, it will be

more if it happened on the ground.

So, I will let that one for the operation or the military operations to make that decision, but as I said, we are still hoping that nothing will

happen. And we are not expanding the war, but we are trying to stop the war, and that's what we are looking for.


ANDERSON: Well, a UN security council, of course, voted on Tuesday this week in favor of an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels. And this comes

as the UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar steps down from his post. And he joins me now live from New York.

Sir, why did you quit?

JAMAL BENOMAR, FRM. UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO YEMEN: Well, look, the conflict has changed. First, I've been the envoy for four long years. And

I was probably the longest serving envoy (inaudilbe).

...was in the context of the Arab Spring in 2011. And what motivated me at that time was my strong desire to support the youth in who are

protesting throughout the country, realize their dream for chnage, for a emocratic state, but realize this process of change peacefully. And this

is why, you know, I pushed for the parties to negotiate -- negotiate transition. And we succeeded in that in 2011. Yemen had the -- was the

only country in the context of the Arab Spring that had a roadmap for change. There was a national dialogue process where women, youth

participated. It concluded with the blueprint for new democratic governance.

So, it was all going well, you know, until spoilers, you know, who are hard at work trying to impede this transicitio, you know, managed to turn

it upside down. And, you know, the problems emerged really after January 2014.

So the context is now different. The country is in a civil war with (inaudible) invovelements.

ANDERSON: Yeah, you've been accused by some in the Gulf, in this region, of appeasing the rebels and their allies. Now, I know you must be

terribly dissipointed. And you're talking about spoilers, and we'll talk about who you believe are those spoilers, but what's your response to that


[11:20:13] BENOMAR: Well, look, over these four years you nkow I have been criticized by everybody. Al Qaeda thought that I was a facade for the

Americans. The Houthis thought that I was from al Qaeda. And Abdel al- Saleh thought that I am supporting the revolutionary youth. Isla (ph) thought something else.

So, as a UN envoy, as a mediator, you know, we 'er always subject to this kind of criticism.

But the bottom line is this: as the United Nations, we believe in the peaceful resolution of conflict. This is what the charter of the United

Nations is all about. That's one. And it is in this context, you know, that we try to bring all sides, you know to negotiate a peaceful way out.

And we believe that the Houthis should be -- are part of the problem and they should be part of the solution, meaning that they cannot monpolize

power, they cannot achieve their objectives by force, but they need to sit down with other Yemenis to work out a power sharing arrangement for ending

this transition according to the initiative and implementation mechanism.

And this means got to working...


BENOMAR: ..including Houthis and others.

ANDERSON: Right, OK. You've talked about spoilers. Who are you talking about?

BENOMAR: Look, the spoilers have been clearly determined in security council resolutions. There's a sanction regime. And in the sanctions

regime, you know, there are elements of the previous regime that Ali Abdul Saleh and his son and also the Houthis. You know, three names have been

listed so far.

But the one thing that were raised repeatedly during the last four years, you know, in security council deliberations and often behind closed

door, you know, is the issue of the spoilers. Finally, finally after three years the security council adopted the resolution that addressed this, but

it was too little, too late.

ANDERSON: You've been promoting reconciliation and dialogue since 2011. The problem with that is that it never included all stakeholders,

nor did it -- were those that you were talking to ever truly representing all of Yemen, Yemenis, the two-thirds of the citizens who don't live in the

urban centers.

So what happens next, sir? We're hearing all the right noises here. We just heard from the newly installed vice president who said he's not

looking for a ground war. He wants this to be resolved with dialogue.

But quite frankly, what happens next as far as you are concerned?

BENOMAR: Well, look, the -- with all its ups and downs, the Yemeni transition was moving forward, you know, with difficulties, but still, you

know, they achieved important milestone by 2014, by January 2014 with the successful completion of the national dialogue.

You know, the problems emerged after the national dialogue with the lack of implementation and with the spoilers' activity, and especially

those who have decided to achieve their objectives by aggression and violence.

But at the end of the day, you know, I do believe that Yemeni problems can only be solved by Yemenis, through a Yemeni-led process, Yemenis should

be -- you know, left to freely decide their future. And for them to put a transition back on track, they need to...

ANDERSON: Is that going to happen, sir?

BENOMAR: They will need to negotiate again.

And one thing that is not known to the international public is that before this war started, there were negotiations and I chaired these

negotiations for two months. And during these two months, you know, what they were trying to hammer out is an agreement, which is a power sharing

agreement, an agreement that will lock the Houthis, the GPC, the ex-ruling party, the Islah (ph) Muslim Brotherhood, socialist party and many other

sides in a power sharing arrangement for them to complete what was decided in the transition agreement.

The initiative and implementation mechanism.

But the -- with the escalation and violence that process stopped. Sooner or later, Yemenis will have to go back, you know, to discussing

these same issues. They can be there no other way. You know, they'll have to find a peaceful way for bringing back this transitional track.

ANDERSON: Well, we hope so. And as you are standing down and moving on, we wish you the very best, sir. It's been a pleasure having you on

Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Thank you.

Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. Coming up in tonight's Parting Shots, we're going to take a look at how B ritish expats

are getting invested in the UK general election.

First up, though tonight, the Ghanaian company says it has the building blocks for success. Find out what those are in African Startup up




[11:27:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cape Coast, the southern part of Ghana has a hot and humid climate. Building is usually done using stone

blocks or clay bricks, but in 2013 Benjamin Bessy (ph) opened a laterite brick factory. He says laterite is cheaper and better at keeping houses


BENJAMIN BESSY (ph): I (inaudilbe) brick factory goes to help my people to have better and at the same time affordable houses to live in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Growing up in a brick home, Bessy (ph) dreamed of one day making bricks. The first brick kiln her built was for his


BESSY (ph): The difference is that with brick made of laterite it's cheaper than the brick made from clay, because brick made out of laterite

is air dried, but with clay you have to fire to get the desired quality. And to get that you either have to use firewood, which is not acceptable at

the moment in this country, because of depletion of the forest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bessy (ph) says he worked as a shipping agent for 28 years and started his business after retiring.

He brought machines and now contracts people to bring him the laterite soil from the hills.

BESSY (ph): We use this and then we add fire to this. We add cement. The cement we use is very minimum, between 6 and 9 percent. Then we add

water and then (inaudible).

UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: Bessy (ph) says the Ghanaians are willing to use bricks, but there are still obstacles to overcome.

BESSY (ph): It has not been easy at all, because to get funding from bankers is highly impossible. The demands are so many. Even after you

have satisfied the interest, which is killing, even to acquire land it is a headache.

This is one of the buildings being put up with our bricks in Cape Coast.

The companies have a good future and I myself will want to put up a factory in at least eight regions within the next five years to encourage

more people to use the brick.



[11:31:54] ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. These are the top stories this hour.

Tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing an ISIS assault on the Iraqi city of Ramadi. An iraqi offical tells CNN new coalition airstrikes

have stalled the militants' advance for now, but security forces are reportedly still outmanned and outgunned and need reinforcements.

South Korea is marking one year since the Sewol Ferry disaster. 304 people, most of them students, were killed. The country's president has

promised the sunken wreckage will be brought to the surface, but grieving relatives expressed anger over what they called the governemnt's slow

response to this disaster.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spent four hours today answering questions from the public in his live annual Q&A session. He insists that

the battered Russian economy would rebound and defended his decision to end a ban on missile sales to Iran. Mr. Putin also said Russia will build its

own space station by the year 2023.

I want to get you to a journalist's story of survival in Syria that made headlines when it happened, but may not have been everything that it

seems. You may remember these images of a tired, but visibly relieved NBC news team arriving back in Turkey after harrowing kidnapping ordeal in

2012. Among the group was the network's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.

The day after their release he recounted the moment they learned their five days of captivity were over.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: At the end of this, we were being moved to yet another location in the late -- around

11:00 last night local time. And as we were moving along the road, the kidnappers came across a rebel checkpoint, something they hadn't expected.

And so we were in the back of like what you would think of as a minivan. And as we were driving along the road, the kidnappers saw this checkpoint,

started a gunfight with it. Two of the kidnappers were killed and we climbed out of the vehicle and the rebels took us. We spend the night wiht

them. We didnt' get much sleep.


ANDERSON: Well, in Engel's version of events the kidnappers were Shia militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the rescuers moderate

Sunni rebels.

But following an investigation by the New York Times, Engel is now revising his story. In a statement on NBC's website, he says the

following, "the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia. The group that kidnapped us, put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite

militiamen. And the group that freed us also had ties to the kidnappers."

Well, Engel also admits he cannot be sure that his kidnappers were actually killed.

The revisions to his account, which has been repeated several times since, come just two months after a controversy surrounding NBC's best

known anchor Brian Williams was suspended after falsifying claims about his experience covering the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Well, CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is on the story and joining me live. There is clearly pressure on NBC to explain what

happened here. Did he ignore inconvenient information or inconvenient facts at the time, do you think? Can you give us some context for this?

[11:35:20] BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think that's exactly the key question, Becky, and the one that NBC has not fully

answered. The New York Times was investigating this for weeks and weeks and weeks. I have been hearing murmurs about this story being in the works

and NBC trying to tamp down on this story, because they knew it could be quite embarrassing.

But, you know, questions about what happened in this kidnapping, a pretty frigthening kidnapping to be sure, actualy first came up just within

days of Engel and his crew being freed and being able to leave Syria, back in December of 2012.

Questions were brought up right away about whether it was actually Assad forces, or forces loyal to Assad that were actually behind this.

Those questions mostly stayed you know quiet, though, they did not get very loud. Engel went on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno talking about his

experience. He wrote a story for Vanity Fair about it.

So essentially the narrative was set and was never really challenged by people at NBC.

What the New York Times is revealing now is that NBC executives were informed of the possibility of this criminal gang's involvement, a criminal

gang with ties to the rebels. The question, then, becomes whether NBC just decided to sidestep that information and just go with the story Engel was


Frankly, I think is more about what the executives did and less about what Engel believed happened.

ANDERSON: Yeah, let's get our viewers a little bit of context here. Let's look at what was happening in Syria at the time of the NBC team's


20 months after the uprising started, of course, pressure had been mounting on President Assad since August 2012 the UN general assembly

resolution demanding his forces disarm. And the U.S. president warned of intervention if Damascus was found to have used chemical weapons now.

By December, the U.S. had joined western and Arab allies in recognizing the opposition as the, and I quote, legitimate representative

of the Syrian people. That coalition was aligned with the Free Syrian Army, remember, now implicated in the Engel kidnapping.

Back in March ,the U.S. and UK had pledged non-military aid to the same supposed moderate rebels. And that was withdrawn later when it was

found to be reaching extremists.

So, some food for thought there.

I wonder whether you think this story would ever have made the news were it not for Brian Williams' suspension?

STELTER: I have a feeling it would not have. I think that is exactly why this has been rekindled now because the New York Times wanted to pursue

whether there was more story here, maybe an exaggeration of some sort.

It's obvious, and no one is denying or doubting that Engel went through a traumatic experience. He crew experienced what they called

psychological torture when they were kidnapped.

The questions really are who actually held them, why, and whether NBC did enough to look into what happened here. And critics are going to the

context that you just brought up. We saw Glenn Greenwald today come out with a pretty scathing blog post saying basically NBC was trying to

disseminate, quote, a dubious storyline, which at the time was very much in line with the story official Washington was selling, the story that you're

describing there about the rebels and support for those rebels.

Glenn Greenwald also went on to say the NBC story was quite likely to fuel the simmering war cries in the west to attack, or at least

aggressively intervene against Assad.

You know, that'st the important sort of context here and what critics are pointing out, which is that this story was part of a narrative at the

time about the rebels and about the Assad regime. It was another example of the atrocities, or the -- you know, the behavior being committed by the

Assad regime.

As we now know, it appears to be a group of working with the rebels, allied with the rebels, that actually took Engel and his crew. And that

actually affects other journalists as well, because other journalist were being assisted by the rebels to enter parts of Syria back then. And of

course that is something that perhaps other journalists should have been aware of if in fact it was this rogue group of rebels that took Engel

hostage that maybe other journalists needed to know that information.

That's just one of the, you know, questions now coming up that didn't come up at the time.

ANDERSON: Yeah, fascinating. Brian, always a pleasure. Thank you.

In just three weeks, UK voters go to the polls for the general election doesn't just end at the British borders, of course. There are

many British people who are living abroad and still keeping tabs, including 100,000 here in the UAE.

And for the first time they will be able to log their votes online.

So, for tonight's Parting Shots, I stop by a popular British expat life in Abu Dhabi, a cricket match, to get some thoughts on this upcoming



[11:40:14] ANDERSON: Nothing says England more than a game of cricket, but this is no quintessential village green. This is Abu Dhabi.

This is one of the ways that expats retain a link with home. And with the British elections looming, we thought we'd canvas some opinion from

those living away from Blighty (ph).

Well, they are just breaking for lunch. Archie is the captain and wicket keeper.

You'll be looking for an impressive performance.

ARCHIE BERENS, BRITISH EXPAT: I think we'll settle for 234, Becky. I think we've got a decent batting lineup. We're feeling pretty good about


ANDERSON: Good luck, guys.

It's the first time British expats around the world can go online and vote in the general election back home. Archie, one of the 100,000 British

expats here in the UAE, is keen to exercise his democratic right.

BERENS: We're out here. We're working hard. We invest money back into the economy.

I'm looking to vote for the party that I believe is going to make the economy perform the strongest.

ANDERSON: I'm sorry about that.


BERENS: It means I can have a beer.

ANDERSON: The old adage it's the economy stupid as relevant to determining for whom expats vote as it is for those back home. But it's

not the only concern.

HENRY FIREBRACE, BRITISH EXPAT: Secuirty, defense, particularly in this day and age with ISIS and, you know, the other al Qaeda-type threats


Arguably, you could say there's more of a kind of terrorist threat potentially there for your average Joe Public than there is out here in Abu


ANDERSON: Well, in the end, Archie didn't trouble the score. It wasn't his day with the bat.

So far as his politics are concerned, it's no secret he's hoping for a second inning for David Cameron's Conservatives, but today he's much more

focused on his English expat teammate staying at the crease long enough to win those coveted ashes.


ANDERSON: Unfortunately, they didn't. But they gave it a good go.

Are you following the UK general election at home or abroad? We are very interested in your take on the race. To get in touch with us You can tweet me @BeckyCNN, that is @BeckyCNN.

It is our weekend coming up. So from the team here, we bid you a good weekend, a day early for some of you. CNN continues of course. Thank you

for watching.