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CONNECT THE WORLD
Greek Prime Minister Offers Concessions Ahead of Debt Talks; Al Jazeera Journalist Detained in Berlin Released; UN Report Condemns Both Sides In Gaza War; Can Comics Help Reshape the Middle East? Aired 11:00a- 12:00a ET
Aired June 22, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:12] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Amman, a city at the crossroads of the Middle East, a stone's throw from the Barbarity of ISIS, but a safe
haven from masses of refugees. From home to ancient civilizations to startup capital of the Arab world, this is a city on the move.
And all this week, we'll explore the challenges and the opportunities that Amman faces and meet the people who call it home.
A very good evening tonight from Amman in Jordan. It is just after 6:00 p.m. locally. Our top story, a UN commission says both Israel and
Palestinian militants have committed serious violations of international law that may amount to war crimes.
They released a report on last year's war in Gaza, calling the extent of devastation and human suffering unprecedented.
Now weeks of fighting killed 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while Israel lost six civilians and 67 soldiers.
Now this report accused Palestinian militants of, and I quote, indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel.
Many Palestinians were killed in their homes.
Investigators said, quote, "the fact that Israel did not revise its practice of airstrikes even after their dire effects on civilians became
apparent, raises questions of whether this was part of a broader policy, which was at least tacitly approved at the highest level of government,"
Well, Israel is blasting the report, calling the investigation, quote, politically motivated and morally flawed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement a short time ago.
Oren Liebermann joins us with more from Jerusalem.
What are the implications of this report? And given what we've heard, Oren, what are the prospects for peace and the peace process going forward?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, the conclusion of this report, one of the ends of this report is that the best prospect for
avoiding another round of violence, another war that leaves thousands of people dead, as you said, unprecedented violence, is to move the peace
But having spoken to leaders, Palestinian leaders and Israeli leaders, there seems to be little hope of truly pushing that forward, that as the
French foreign minister was just in town meeting with both sides to push the peace process forward, to try to create some movement to get away from
the status quo.
Now as for this report, this report is very condemning to both sides, to Israel and the actions of the Israeli military and Palestinian armed
groups in Gaza, that would include Hamas, Islamic Jihad and more.
The report says, as you mentioned, that both violated international law and very possibly committed war crimes.
When it talks about Israel, it talks about Israel perhaps intentionally using guided munitions, precision guided bombs to attack
residential buildings, therefore killing civilians and using high explosive munitions in dense urban environments that also discriminately (sic) or
disproportionately killed civilians.
Now the report did not get cooperation from the Israelis. The Israelis didn't work with the commission, so the report says that it lacks
information in this area and that's why it doesn't say definitely that's part of the reason there.
Now as for what is says, as for how this commission of inquiry condemns the actions of Palestinian armed groups within Gaza, again that
would Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it says the indiscriminate firing of rockets, mortars and the use of tunnels that sowed terror into the Israeli
countryside also was a violation of international law and may very well have amounted to war crimes.
Now, as we expected, we got responses almost immediately after this report came out. This is part of the Israeli response, this is from
Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman for the Israel ministry of foreign affairs, he says it is regrettable that the report fails to recognize the profound
difference between Israel's moral behavior during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organizations it confronted. This report was commissioned
by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.
Shortly after, we got a response from the Palestinians. Chief PLO negotiator and a member of the executive committee Saeb Erekat says, "we
urge the international community to recall that the only true path to peace lies in ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, and in ending
crime and the impunity with which it continues to be perpetrated against our people."
So, Becky, this report condemning the actions of both sides, the question is what comes next. And that's where the report says both sides,
encourages all sides here -- actually encourages the Palestinian Authority as well, to cooperate with the upcoming ICC -- or ongoing, I should say,
ICC preliminary examination.
[11:05:13] ANDERSON: All right. Well, it remains to be scene what sort of action we see on the back of this. For the time being, Oren, thank
To Europe now. It is another crunch day for Greece and the EuroZone. Ministers are meeting as we speak for an emergency EU summit in Brussels to
try and thrash out a deal. And there are some encouraging signs, I have to say, coming out of that summit.
In the last few hours, the president of the euro group said he now hopes that a deal can be reached later in the week after Greece arrived at
the talks with new proposals.
Well, let's go live to the Greek capital Athens, and speak with Elinda Labropoulou.
The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced upon arrival, Elinda, that pension cuts, high power rates and excessive budget surpluses
are ruled out. So what is the offering to stem the tide of spending that these other stakeholders are demanding at this point?
ELINDA LABROPOULOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he seemed to be crossing a lot of the government's red lines that we've seen for a long time. Many
of them are to do with pensions, also raising V80 (ph). So a number of things that these creditors have been wanting to see from Greece for a long
At the same time, what he's hoping for is debt relief for Greece and some plans for growth, because by making these concessions, he will have a
very hard time just selling this to his own party and the government unless he gets something back from the Europeans.
Of course there is hope that a decision can be made if not today, at least some kind of political agreement that we may have a final decision by
the end of the week that will end these months and months of instability for the country at a time where the tourism season he begun, where a number
of businesses are just barely functioning and everybody is aware that time really is of essence ahead of this end of the month deadline when Greece
has to pay the IMF and it's a time that the Greek bailout ends as well.
ANDERSON: Elinda, stay with me, because I want to get a sense of how the markets are reacting to this. Clearly, a story that has been informing
investors on both sides of the Atlantic.
I have to say if we bring up the big board for our viewers, there is a sign of optimism out there that a deal can be reached. You've got the
numbers from Wall Street right now, clearly these move around. But the Dow as you can see hovering around, what .8 percent there or thereabouts, and
the tech heavy NASDAQ also showing gains.
The European markets, what happened in the stock market, posting massive gains. And there are big gains on other European stock markets as
What is the sense, Elinda, in Greece as things stand? Ultimately, do Greeks at this point care about whether they fall out or are exited out of
the euro? What do they think the prospects are for prosperity going forward?
LABROPOULOU: Well, for Greeks it's very important to remain in the EuroZone. There is no doubt that this is what the vast majority of people
want. At least four in five Greeks have said that Greece's place is in the EuroZone. And more than half have said that, you know, whatever it takes.
They will accept measures, though they may not find fair, they may not find even necessarily good for the country, just because they believe that
Greece's position in the long-run is in the EuroZone.
So, there is no doubt about this. And this is something that the Greek government will have to take very seriously. It does not have the
mandate to go ahead and possibly risk the country's place in the EuroZone.
So even if we see that these negotiations don't really lead anywhere, we will have to wait for political developments on what happens next,
because the Greek government just cannot take the country out of the EuroZone.
ANDERSON: Elinda Labropoulou live for you out of Athens in Greece on what is an incredibly important story.
I'm going to turn you now to the fight against ISIS. Kurdish fighters recently liberated the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad. CNN's Arwa Damon
was among the first journalists to go there after the militants were flushed out.
And this week here no CNN, we're bringing you her exclusive reports that show how the victory in that town could be a blueprint for how to
defeat ISIS overall.
[11:09:55] ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even members of the YPG, the Kurdish fighting force that we were speaking to, were
expressing just how surprised they themselves were at how quickly they were able to move through such vital terrain.
For two years, ISIS reigned with impunity over this rural landscape, a vital frontier to defend and supply its stronghold of Raqqa, now beaten
There was a coalition airstrike, Orhan (ph) was just saying, on that side of this underground tunnel that goes around the entire village.
ISIS had moved into this particular area about two years ago. This obviously dug out with heavy machinery about three feet, three inches, a
meter wide, and pretty high as well. And then you can see the metal ceiling, roof that was put into it, running throughout.
ISIS tunnel is fairly crude, but still highly effective when it comes to giving them freedom of movement throughout the entire area.
This is the road that runs parallel to the Turkish border. And berms like this one had cut it off completely. This was just one of ISIS's many
defenses that they had put into place.
What Orhan (ph) is saying is that the airstrikes that happened here were key. They took place just a few days before forces advanced into
Mabruka (ph). And they were highly effective.
In just four weeks, the airstrikes allowed the YPG to advance some 80 kilometers, 50 miles, taking over key territory, including the town of Tal
Abyad and the border crossing, cutting off one of the main ISIS supply routes.
"When the coalition against ISIS was formed, we were the only force that was committed in the fight against ISIS," commander of the Tal Abyad
front Bilal Rojava says. "The coalition saw this and coordinated with us."
He won't disclose specifics.
Here, the U.S. can say that its strategy has delivered a blow to ISIS. But the battlefield is vast and the blueprint for success hardly easy to
One of the biggest challenges the U.S. and the coalition will face in trying to replicate this strategy if that is even possible is trying to
find similarly reliable partners on the ground elsewhere in Syria and Iraq.
ANDERSON: All right.
Success in kicking out ISIS is one thing, recovering from life under the militant group is another.
And what Arwa heard about what life was like for those two years, well it can only be described as shocking. Her exclusive view inside the town
continues at this time tomorrow only here on CNN.
Well, this is Connect the World live from the Jordanian capital of Amman. A special week from you here.
Still to come this hour, the fight against ISIS, it is very personal here. After the break, I'll be joined by the Jordanian minister of state
for media affairs to discuss that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Iraq is gone. It is over. We've now reached a stage where we're convinced that our country is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Jordan's other refugees, million of people, who fled here from neighboring nations engulfed in conflict and how -- may now call this
And later, an introduction to the artist who is using comics to fight extremism.
[11:16:26] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live for you tonight from the Jordanian capital of
Amman. A very warm welcome back.
I want to step back for a moment. Almost five months ago, the world's attention was on this city for what was a terrible reason. For days, ISIS
issued various demands and deadlines for a deal to save the life of a young Jordanian pilot captured in Syria, then used as a hostage and a pawn.
Well, Jordan's response was to reaffirm its role in the anti-ISIS fight, which became more personal than ever after those dark days of
ANDERSON: One family's grief that touched millions around the world. The burning alive of a 27-year-old pilot brought ISIS's brutality home in a
way few Jordanians could have imagined and galvanized the country that just days before was divided over its role in the war against ISIS.
Nearly five months ago, I was here in Amman as the city and the country tried to come to terms with what had just occurred. On the Friday
after the video of the young pilot's murder was released, thousands of people packed this square.
From the average Jordanian to Queen Rania herself, everyone united here to urge justice and revenge.
The government was quick to act in a fight they had seen as a righteous one even before Kasasbeh's killing.
KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: This has been our war. It has been our war for a long time against these people that for lack of a better term many of
us are calling horarage (ph), these are outlaws in a way of Islam.
ANDERSON: Airstrikes against ISIS were ramped up in the days after Kasasbeh's death with dozens hitting training centers and arms depots in
King Abdullah, a trained pilot, back in fatigues for the fight.
The monarch was once labeled the most pro-American leader in the Arab world, but five months on some Jordanians are again questioning their
country's role in a U.S.-led offensive.
MARWAN SHEHADEH, RESEARCHER: Jordan made a big mistake to join the international coalition targeting an Islamic organization whatsoever called
a terror group or it is not our responsibility to protect American interests and Israeli borders.
ANDERSON: The kingdom remains committed, though, it's the only Arab nation to attack ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. And last month held training
exercises for their coalition partners, a taste of what the kingdom plans for ISIS.
ANDERSON: Well, for more on this, I'm joined by Mohammad Al-Momani who is the minister of state of media affairs and a Jordanian government
spokesman. And I thank you for joining us.
Back in February, a sense of real momentum for Jordan, the wider Arab world, and it's seen the international community to get on the front foot
in this fight against ISIS. What happened?
MOHAMMAD AL-MOMANI, JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: Great to see you, Becky, again in Amman.
Well, we're still as resilient as we were five months ago. We are still determined to fight this war and to win this war. Daesh continues to
commit atrocities and to occupy villages. We are determined more than ever, along with other allies, to continue the world with this fight.
Jordanians are accepting more the role of Jordan in this fight. They understand that preempting terrorism before it reaches our borders is
important for the security of our country.
[11:20:10] ANDERSON: With respect, sir, you're not winning, though, are you?
AL-MOMANI: We think we are. Maybe not as fast as some people would like us to see, but we said right from the beginning, Becky, that this is
going to be a long-term war when it comes to the ideological war. It's going to be shorter when it comes to the security front on this war. And
it's going to be hopefully shorter when it comes to the military front.
So airstrikes continue training of military, Iraqi military, and helping the Syrians and the Syrian tribes to fight and to gain back their
villages continues. Security continues -- security agencies from all over coalition members continue to try to hunt down these terrorist
organizations and stop them in addition to the ideological war, which will be long-term.
ANDERSON: Jordan the only remaining Arab ally in this international coalition. I know Syria, of course, is not the only regional conflict that
Jordan keeps a close eye on. The Israeli-Palestinian stalemate is, of course, an ongoing concern as well, King Abdullah discussing that with the
French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, just last weekend.
Sir, Jordan talks about the need for a comprehensive partnership to combat terrorism and coordination amongst others and peace, or help in
trying to forge the prospects for peace.
Do you feel let down by members of the international community? And if so, by whom?
AL-MOMANI: Well, it's not probably the right place to say or to name specific countries, but Becky, honestly we think that the whole world
should come together stronger...
ANDERSON: We've been saying that for some months now, if not years.
AL-MOMANI: The thing is what we're trying to communicate to the world over and over that terrorism is not going to stay in the Middle East. It
does not recognize national borders. It's cross national by definition. So the whole world must come together in order to look comprehensively to
the problems of the region.
Not only cracking down on terrorist organizations, which is important and imminent, but also look at the whole issue of political inclusivity,
the whole issue of Arab-Israeli conflict, which continue to be used by terrorist organizations to recruit terrorists.
So, this region must be looked at as a potential problem that can be spilled over all over the world. So, we all must come together in order to
stop this danger.
ANDERSON: Minister, let's get back to the story out of Syria, which sits right on your border. The U.S. is training so-called moderate Syrian
rebels in Jordan, prompting Damascus to accuse Jordan in the past couple of days of supporting terrorists and increasing the suffering of the Syrian
Your government -- I know, we asked for a statement -- had this to say, and I quote viewers, "Jordan is fully in support of a political
solution for solving the Syrian crisis. At the same time, Jordan does not accept any questioning for its advocacy and support of these Syrian
Now, this accusation, I have to say, are from Syrian tribes, no less, albeit not those that have asked for help from the Jordanian government.
What is your response?
AL-MOMANI: Well, quite honestly, what we said is that we are going to help the Syrian people and the Syrian tribes who have been left alone
fighting terrorist organizations. And clearly, Becky, we're not going to force anyone to accept any help from us. The logic says that the help will
be only given to those who ask for it and who are in need for it.
The whole region, geographic region, of east Syria has been left for no help from the regime or from anyone else. They've been attacked by
terrorist organizations. So we believe it's the moral duty of the coalition members to help the Syrian people and the Syrian tribes in these
areas defend their villages.
And this does not contradict at all the fact that we believe in a political solution in Syria. And we believe that the lack, or the
inability of the Syrian regime to bring all Syrians to the dialogue table has been the problem behind all the problems Syria is facing.
So, it's the right thing that we should pursue to help the Syrians and the Syrian tribes in east Syria, defend their villages from terrorist
organizations, mainly Daesh.
ANDERSON: It seems to me that things are worse, not better, in the last five months. But we're going to continue this conversation not just
tonight, viewers, but throughout this week while we're here in Amman. For the time being, minister, thank you very much indeed.
AL-MOMANI: Welcome, Becky, thank you.
ANDERSON: Always a pleasure to have you on the show.
Live from Amman, this is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Coming up, taking on ISIS with the power of the pen. I'm joined by a
Jordanian artist who is giving children here a whole new set of superheroes to look up to.
And an al-Jazeera journalist who was detained in Berlin over the weekend is now free. We're going to look at the reasons behind his arrest
and his release. That's up next.
[11:27:02] ANDERSON: Right, live from the Jordanian capital of Amman, welcome back. It is just before half past 6:00 locally here.
Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour has been released in Germany after being detained for two days.
The Berlin public prosecutor press office didn't give a reason for his release. He was arrested on Saturday at a Berlin airport and stopped from
boarding a flight to Qatar.
Now last year, an Egyptian court sentenced Mansour in absentia on charges of torturing a lawyer in Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011.
Now Mansour himself says the charges and conviction were fabricated.
Well, Atika Shubert following this story in Berlin, it's been very unclear over the past 24 hours or so what was going on. So what happened,
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there's been a lot of confusion. It happened as he was boarding this flight, as you point
out. He -- and he'd been here for some time. He actually entered in mid- June and there had been no problems with it. But then apparently he was arrested on the basis of what was described as an international arrest
Now Interpol did have a red notice on Ahmed Mansour, but that was actually withdrawn in late 2014. And so it then appeared that it was in
fact an Egyptian arrest warrant that had been put to the German prosecutors and that was the basis of the arrest.
But there was still quite a bit of confusion. And the public prosecutor even today with his release wouldn't say exactly why he was
arrested, but it's clear he's now free to go. And even earlier on, the German government made clear that they would not be considering any
extradition for him, especially if he faced the death penalty, for example.
But it's still quite a bit of a muddle as to why he was arrested in the first place.
ANDERSON: Atika Shubert live for you on the story in Berlin this evening.
We've got the latest world news headlines as you would expect at the bottom of the hour.
Plus, a huge explosion felt in the Afghan parliament. I'm going to get you the very latest of what seems to be a Taliban attack in Kabul.
[11:31:52] ANDERSON: Well, you're watching Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. We're in Amman all this week. And that was music from the
Jordanian rock band Jadal (ph) who will join us on this show this coming Thursday at the CNN cafe.
This is CNN, of course, where the news comes first.
The top stories for you this hour.
A UN report says both Israel and Palestinian militants may have committed war crimes during the Gaza conflict last year. It calls the
extent of the human suffering unprecedented. Israel blasting the report as, and I quote, politically motivated. Hamas welcomed condemnation of
Israel while ignoring criticism of its own actions.
European ministers are meeting in Brussels about Greece. There is optimism that a bailout deal can be reached after Greece arrived at the
talks with a new set of reform proposals. Now, the EuroGroup president said the proposals will be examined with the aim of reaching a deal later
The European Union sanctions against Russia will be in place for at least another six months. EU ministers voted Monday to extend them over
the Ukraine conflict. The Kremlin calls the sanctions unfounded and illegal.
Pakistani authorities say as many as 140 people were killed over the weekend in a recordbreaking heat wave. Temperatures in Karachi reached
nearly 45 degrees Celsius, or 112 degrees Fahrenheit, that is the highest in 15 years.
U.S. investigators believe they are hot on the trail of those two convicted killers who broke out of a New York prison more than two weeks
ago. A source tells CNN that DNA from the two escapees was found inside a burglarized cabin in upstate New York. A person who went to check on the
cabin says he saw a man running out the back.
Well, the Taliban have launched a daring attack near the Afghan parliament in Kabul as lawmakers were about to vote on a new defense
minister. A woman and a child were killed, and dozens of people there were injured. Six attackers tried to storm parliament, but were shot dead by
security forces. My colleague Nic Robertson has the very latest for you.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, the timing of this attack does seem to be intended by the Taliban to send a message to
the Parliamentarians in Kabul. That is, you may have a vote of confidence in the defense minister, but we're on the streets outside. We can attack
when we want at a place of our choosing.
We know now that two people were killed, civilians outside the parliament building, a woman and a child killed, 28 others injured, nine of
those injured were women and children as well. What happened in this Taliban claimed attack. And you can see just how close they got to the
parliamentarians when the explosion goes off that's a vehicle packed full of explosives detonating. When that explosion goes off, the lawmakers,
showered in dust, you can see the camera on the building shaking, none of the lawmakers injured.
There are six other Taliban attackers who then try to use the space created by that car suicide bomber to get into the building. That's not
possible. The security at the parliament stops the Taliban fighters getting in. They hole up in a building. There's a shoot-out involving
RPGs, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s. And the six Taliban attackers are killed.
The Taliban in Kabul, we often see them targeting softer targets. They kill more people, injure more people, but this does seem to be a
message to the lawmakers in Afghanistan that the Taliban are still out there and can pick their targets, high profile targets, when they want.
On this occasion, however, defeated by Afghan security.
Obviously, a huge amount of training and effort has gone in to standing up Afghanistan security forces. The Taliban, though, still on the
streets of Kabul, but some of that training perhaps paying off there by pushing back this Taliban attack and stopping them actually getting inside
the parliament -- Becky.
[11:36:08] ANDERSON: Nic Robertson reporting for you.
Well, conflict in many parts of the Middle East here in the Middle East has left Jordan shouldering what is a heavy load when it comes to
refugees. Most of them have crossed the border from Syria and Iraq. They hope to return one day. But the deepening crisis back home means their say
here is indefinite.
As Jomana Karadsheh now shows us, many have begun new lives and even started businesses.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Abu Hathem (ph) has not seen home in a decade. And at the age of 70, he doesn't think
he'll ever see Iraq again.
"Iraq is gone. It's over. We've now reached a stage where we're convinced that our country is finished," he says.
Abu Hathem (ph) fled Iraq in 2005, opening his popular Baghdad restaurant here in Amman, serving (inaudible), traditional Iraqi fish.
The restaurant has been a success catering mostly for Iraqis missing home like Mehdi Zobari (ph) who has been in Jordan since 2004. Eight years
ago, he married a Jordanian.
"I'm used to life in Jordan now, but that doesn't mean I don't think of my country and long for it. Every time I hear an Iraqi song, I cry," he
Over the past 10 years, Jordan has become home to half a million Iraqis, the majority from their country's upper and middle class. And
they've settled in cities like Amman.
Decades before the Iraqi exodus of 2003, Jordan took in Palestinians in 1948 and 1967. They were granted Jordanian citizenship. Now, more than
half of the country's population is of Palestinian origin.
And just over the past four years, this country of little resources opened its doors to 1.4 million Syrians displaced by yet another war on its
borders, more burden on an already strained economy.
Only 20 percent of them are living in refugee camps like this one. The vast majority are urban refugees in Jordanian cities.
On this one commercial street in the capital, there's no shortage of Syrian cafes and restaurants like one owned by Abu Abdullah (ph). He left
Damascus with his family three years ago, determined to survive. Within months of arriving, he opened a restaurant.
"It's very difficult restarting your life from scratch," he says. "It's like moving to a different planet, especially when you have children.
It's a neighboring country and it's like our own people, but it's still difficult.
Abu Abdullah says it's too painful to watch what's going on at home, but he holds on to the hope that some day soon they will go back.
But soon appears unlikely with no end in site to the violence in this neighborhood of turmoil.
And Jomana joining me now here tonight.
How do Jordanians feel about these urban refugees?
KARADSHEH: As with everything, Becky, you get different opinions from people. Some understand that their country has to open its doors, it has
to host Syrians here because of the conflict next door, but you hear a lot of complaints about the impact its having on this society.
ANDERSON: Well, let's talk about that. What is the impact on society and the economy?
KARADSHEH: The one thing, the top thing that you hear the most from Jordanians is the economic impact. They talk about the rise in prices, the
cost of living going up, even rent in certain cities where we saw an influx of Syrian urban refugees really doubled in some areas, for example.
And then you hear the issue of unemployment, which is already a major problem for Jordan, a country with 33 percent youth unemployment, you see
the Syrians coming in and many Jordanians would hire them as cheaper labor in this case.
So, there is a lot of animosity in certain areas if you go outside Amman. In Amman, there's a lot of concern, and sometimes you feel tensions
when it comes to this issue. But others would tell you that they have to host Syrians here, you know.
[11:40:11] ANDERSON: And call them their guests?
ANDERSON: Thank you, Jomana, always a pleasure having you on.
Live from Amman, this is Connect the World. Coming up, also I'll chat with one on one with an artist who says the pen must become a mightier
weapon if ISIS is to be defeated.
ANDERSON: You join us in Amman, Jordan this week. And just an update, the Syrian army advancing closer to Palmyra as activists report
what is a troubling development in that historic town. They say ISIS militants have planted landmines among the ancient ruins. Activists say
it's unclear whether ISIS plans to destroy the site, or is trying to prevent government forces from retaking it.
Now you may remember that ISIS overran Palmyra last month. Here's what Jordan's King Abdullah said at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDULLAH: To me, it just makes no sense whatsoever how these people think. I think they have no concept of humanity, of religion, of life.
And I think it's just a wakeup call for all of us what this threat is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, I don't have to remind you that ISIS has dominated headlines from this region over the last 12 months. It has a powerful
online presence with many members and supporters regularly using social media to boast and boost recruitment.
One Jordanian artist has dedicated himself to countering that message with comic books. Jomana Karadsheh introduces us to him.
[11:55:03] KARADSHEH: Meet Element Zero, a special forces operative fighting extremists. He's one of the superheroes created by Jordanian
artist Suleiman Bakhit.
SULEIMAN BAKHIT, COMIC BOOK ARTIST: You see the kids in the west, they grow up on Spider-Man, Batman, Frozen. In large parts in the Middle
East kids grow up on jihad ideology. That's incredibly dangerous.
UNIDENITFIED MALE: I know by Allah that this is the land of jihad.
BAKHIT: The biggest threat we face in the Middle East is terrorism disguised as heroism. I want to provide the youth with an alternative hero
journey, show them that, you know, a sense of purpose, a sense of identity and adventure in life can be achieved by service to others.
KARADSHEH: Some of his comics are about contemporary military heroes who are easy to embrace, he says, others also aim to change stereotypes
this one about an all female counterterrorism unit.
And with a tech savvy terror group like ISIS, Bakhit believes the need to counter the narrative now is more pressing than ever.
BAKHIT: Even if tomorrow we kill every single terrorist with a press of a button, their ideology still thrives, their narratives and mythology
is still spreading faster than ever.
ANDERSON: Well, an excerpt there from what was a recent report from Jomana on Suleiman Bakhit. Five months on, I'm very happy to be joined by
Suleiman for our first show out of Amman.
Sir, these comic heroes have been a fantastic hit, but are they working?
BAKHIT: Yes, I believe so. The biggest threat we face in the Middle East is terrorism disguised as heroism. This is what they're promising the
youth, the ultimate message of ISIS and al Qaeda is this: come be a hero.
Our message, unfortunately, has been don't be a terrorist. So obviously it's a lot more attractive.
In a recent film done by Norwegian filmmaker Dia Khan (ph) that was recently published, there's an interview with former terrorist fighter.
And he explains in it that the reason he joins us because it offered him a heroic journey, a journey that provides him with a sense of purpose, sense
of identity an a sense of belonging.
So we need to counteract that. We need to show the youth this is not real heroism. Heroism is based on connection to others, service to others
on positive narratives such as hope and resilience, not narratives of hate on violence.
ANDERSON: Suleiman that you belong to what are a new generation of Arabs that includes the likes of Bassem Yousseff, for example, the Egyptian
I spoke to him on this show this time last week and asked him why he believed that satire, as far as he is concerned, is a powerful tool, a
powerful weapon. This viewers and Suleiman, is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASSEM YOUSSEFF, COMEDIAN: And I think satire is an incredible weapon, because basically it takes down this kind of fear from the hearts
of people. And when you take away the fear through laughter they are not scary anymore. So satire is a very, very great weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That's Bassem talking to me. And I know you agree with what he says.
But Suleiman, Jordanian youngsters are still slipping across the border to join the fight against Bashar al-Assad. Granted, many are
horrified by what they find with these extremist groups and are coming home. But the reality here is that more still clearly needs to be done.
So what happens next?
BAKHIT: Sure. A lot more needs to be done. In Jordan, government polls show that 7 percent of Jordanians above 18 years old identify that
ISIS and al Qaeda and other groups actually represents their views, that's approximately...
ANDERSON: 7 percent?
BAKHIT: Yeah, that's approximately 225,000 people.
Now the good news is there's approximately -- the official numbers are 1,300 to 1,500 people who actually end up going. So, the numbers are still
small, but it is still one too many in my opinion.
So obviously a lot needs to be done. It's a lot cheaper to actually do preventative work. And this is the problem, we need to focus from a
hard security lens into a soft security approach.
We need to address the counter narrative. It's not enough just to tell the kids don't do this, don't join ISIS. What are we for? And this
is where we fail big time. We've got to be for something much more attractive. What are we offering these youth? And that's where we fall
Governments overall actually fall heavily short.
Now the important thing is governments alone can't do this job. I believe the role should be to enable civil society and private sector to
really engage. We can operate in real-time. We can connect to the youth on a level that the governments can't. And any counter narrative that
comes from a government unfortunately it gets discredited right away.
We need to engage the youth, too. This is incredibly important.
ANDERSON: Not just on counter messaging, of course, but to provide some opportunities across the region where clearly we understand, we report
it on a regular basis, that youth unemployment it -- and poverty -- is at the heart of so much of what is going on across this region. That is
something we are going to continue talking about this week. We 're talking about young tech entrepreneurs. Come to Jordan, you find some of the most
exciting young businesses.
Recent reports across this region telling us that the number one concern for youngsters is terror, that the number three concern is getting
a job and working towards a private sector and an income for their families.
For the time being, thank you very much.
[11:50:10] BAKHIT: Thank very much, appreciate it. Thank you.
ANDERSON: ...for joining us. I hope you'll join us later on in the week.
BAKHIT: Thank you. Yep. Thank you very much.
ANDERSON: Live from Amman, this is Connect the World. Coming up, the Volvo Ocean Race comes to an end. We speak to the only Arab on the winning
team. He's a friend of ours. That's up next.
ANDERSON: And you're with CNN and Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.
Some sights of Amman there and music from the rock band Jadal (ph) who will be on this show later in the week. Do stick with us this time through
Now, it was a grueling nine months, but it all came to an end today after the winning team, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crossed the finish line of
the Volvo Ocean Race in Gothenburg in Sweden. Adil Khalid is the first Arab sailor to complete the race. We spoke to the Emerati about six months
ago. Clearly, as you know, we broadcast regularly from Abu Dhabi, so it being a little bit partisan here. But let's hear from him now on how it
feels to be on the winning team.
Adil, one simple question. How are you? How do you feel?
ADIL KHALID, ABU DHABI RACING TEAM: It's such a great honor to win the Volvo Ocean Race and it's a great feeling. It's a proud moment for me.
It's a proud moment for Abu Dhabi. It's a proud moment for all over the fans who follow the Volvo Ocean Race around the world.
ANDERSON: Tell me, this is one of the most grueling races in the sailing world, probably what most -- one of the most grueling sporting
events that you can take part in. What was the most challenging time, was there ever a point at which you thought I'm giving up?
KHALID: Actually, I did the race twice. And the first time it was really tough. And this is the second time. And the aim and the goal for
me and for my team it was to win the Volvo Ocean Race and we had the great people behind us, the great sponsors and this is finishing line in
Gothenburg, this is result to win the Volvo Ocean Race trophy.
ANDERSON: What are you doing next? Sleeping, I assume?
KHALID: There is a lot of things to do next. Of course, to build up the youth sailing in UAE. And to promote sailing around the Gulf or around
the world, in the Arab world, and to promote sailing to get it around the world like I did it today in the Volvo Ocean Race -- to get the trophy.
And hopefully it's going to be a big celebration. I'm going to be back in Abu Dhabi and it's going to be in the history book of UAE and Abu Dhabi for
a long time for sure.
ANDERSON: Fantastic. And I look forward -- I look forward Adil, to seeing you there from the team at CTW, as you know, it's our home in Abu
Dhabi as well, the very best, and the very best to your crew members as well. Thank you for joining us. Look forward to seeing you again soon.
Well, we've looked at how comic books can help combat extremist influence on young minds during this show. And tonight's parting shots --
and I just want to get back to that sort of thought, we're going to see how a young Jordanian illustrator is using them to fight sexist stereotypes.
Ahmad Qatato tells us about his project.
AHMAD QATATO, COMIC BOOK ARTIST: Majida presents the everyday Arab girl that's very intelligent, very smart, very ambitious, but her
frustration is that she doesn't want to be held back from achieving herself and her life goals because of the restrictions that society constructs
around women through the guardianship of the male counterpart.
At the beginning, there was of course a little bit of some let me say defiance from the male counterpart, because they're not really accustomed
to a girl speaking openly, especially coming from a guy making the comic. And many girls also found it very surprising that a guy can openly discuss
women issues like that.
With time, people came to realize the idea of Majida. Like slowly she progressed to become an icon to many girls.
Equality is not always getting everyone the same exact opportunity, but it's realizing our differences and giving everyone the opportunity they
deserve and they need.
I also believe that including women in all aspects of life will raise productivity by increasing the workforce. And it will also give us the
satisfaction of equal opportunity to achieve social justice without gender discrimination.
I'm Ahmad Qatato, and this was my Amman.
ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. Join us back in Amman 6:00 p.m. local time tomorrow.
From us here it is a very good evening. CNN continues.