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France Upset Over Reports U.S. Spied on President; The Virtual Silk Road in China; Clearing ISIS Bombs Left Behind in Tal Abyad; Interview with Prince Fahad al Saud; Iran Draws New Red Lines Over Nuclear Negotiations. Aired 11:00a-12:00a ET

Aired June 24, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:18] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello, and welcome to Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live from Amman as we continue our talk of

this region.

Coming up this hour, unacceptable: France expresses outrage about new claims of U.S. spying on three French presidents.

Also this hour, the bombs they left behind: a firsthand look at a former ISIS stronghold. It is a CNN exclusive.

And this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want there to be fire in a positive way. I want there to be passion. I want their people to have opinions, but that means

that they can speak their voice.


ANDERSON: We'll introduce you to a startup founder here in Jordan who is using technology to fight misconceptions in the region.

Well, it's 6:00 p.m. locally here in Amman in Jordan. A very warm welcome to the show. Our top story this hour.

Once again, the U.S. is being asked to explain itself to a close ally and old friend over allegations of spying. The U.S. ambassador to France

has been summoned to respond to claims that the NSA spied on French officials, including the President Francois Hollande and two of his


Now these allegations stem from supposedly, quote, top secret documents obtained by WikiLeaks, the details which are being reported by

French media.

Well, let's cross over to Paris now. Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is there and has more on the story -- Jim.


Yeah, in fact we're waiting for the ambassador to make that trip between the embassy and the foreign ministry, not a very long trip across

Paris, in about an hour or so. She's supposed to report to the foreign ministry where she's likely to hear the displeasure of the French at this

spying -- at the spying that's been going on.

Clearly, the WikiLeaks story has some merit, because no one in the United States has denied it. In fact, we heard very little from the United

States throughout the day today, what we have heard is a lot of expression of anger from various parts of upper French society, for the upper French

political spectrum here including from the president and through his defense council himself.

They said it's unacceptable for this kind of spying to go on.

We heard all kinds of things today in terms of some people with some of the members of the national assembly are calling for the ambassador to

be withdrawn from France, to be expelled from France. Some people are saying that, in fact, that President Obama should make a public apology.

The prime minister was in front of the national assembly today. And he said that the U.S. has to act fast to resolve this. And if he wants to

expect the relations to go back to normal between France and the United States -- Becky.

ANDERSON: What do you think the consequences of this will be, Jim?

BITTERMANN: Well, I think at the moment I don't think they're too severe. And the reason for that is that President Obama had already had a

conversation with President Hollande back in 2013 when the allegations about spying against Angela Merkel came out. And at that point, Obama

apparently said to Hollande that there would be no further spying on heads of states in Europe.

All of the WikiLeaks material that has come out so far predates that. In fact, it's up to 2012, but not after.

If by any chance there's anything that comes out that indicates that spying continued after that promise made in 2013, or if there's any

indication that this spying was related to economic spying -- or as I say, there was really the trade contracts -- did the U.S. want to know something

that would give them an advantage in international negotiations, if that comes out, then I think this is going to continue for some time.

At the moment, I think the fact this has all come out public -- sort of publicly sort of obliges the French to have a very strong reaction, but

whether it will mean anything long-term I'm not so sure unless some of these other things happen -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Jim Bittermann is in Paris for you this evening.

We will not abandon families in their greatest time of need, those words expected today from President Obama when he announces a major policy

shift on hostage crises.

Now the government in the U.S. is clearing the way for families of American hostages to pay ransoms to terrorists, no longer threatening them

with criminal prosecution.

Now the government itself will maintain its policy of not making concessions, but will now be allowed to negotiate with terror groups.

Let's get more on this from our chief U.S. security correspondent Jim Sciutto who is live in Washington.

Jim, this is a big move. What's prompted it?

[11:05:11] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you what's prompted it has been enormous frustration from the families of hostages.

And even as this announcement was coming in, we heard a statement yesterday from the family of Warren Weinstein who you'll remember was killed sadly

accidentally in a U.S. drone strike last month when the U.S. did not know that he was in a suspected al Qaeda compound.

But what they said in a statement is something that we've heard from other families, for instance, the family of James Foley who was beheaded by

ISIS in Syria, and that is that felt somewhat abandoned by their own government, that they weren't treated well, they weren't given the help or

even the basic information that they requested. So this is something that has been endemic, something that the White House here is trying to respond


Now the fact is the changes in this really are just making public what were already things that took place in practice, for instance, yes it was

officially illegal for families to pay ransom to terrorist groups. But the fact is the government looked the other way. They did not prohibit them

from doing so. Now, the president is just saying clearly and publicly, we will not -- you know, families have that right.

But there are other steps in here as well. They're forming what they're calling a fusion cell to kind of get all the agencies that deal

with this together, to be a one-stop shop to some degree for families, because they often felt confused. They would get conflicting messages.

A lot of this really goes to their treatment and their hurt from their own government in these horrible situations?

ANDERSON: Jim, we know that ransoms have been paid in the past, and by some quite significant partners of the U.S. government. It has long

maintained that paying ransoms for terrorists is counter productive.

I want to remind our viewers what the State Department said after the beheading of the ISIS hostage James Foley.


MARIE HARF, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We believe that paying ransoms of making concessions would both put our -- all Americans overseas

at greater risk for kidnapping and in harm's way, but that ransoms would also fund and finance exactly the groups we are trying to degrade their



ANDERSON: A strong argument there against the payment of ransoms by whomever.

So, Jim, what do you think has changed?

SCIUTTO: It's interesting. It's a difficult balance to maintain here, because that is still not only the official government position about

paying ransoms to terrorist organizations or insurgent groups, but it's also a belief in the government. And I remember dealing with this when I

was in Afghanistan and Iraq that U.S. officials were greatly upset when partner governments, France, Italy, among them would with regularity pay

these groups, and not just ransom.

You saw the same thing, for instance, with pirates when ships were taken by Somali pirates. It's something that the U.S. would not pay, the

others would, and the feeling was it fuels the business. And there's evidence that it does.

So, there's no broader change to U.S. government policy on this, but what they are in effect saying is that if families want to take this

desperate step we're not going to prosecute them. We're not going to encourage them, but we're not going to prosecute them. And that's really

how they sort of threading that needle as it were. It's a tough one, though.

ANDERSON: Jim Sciutto is in Washington for you this evening, viewers. Thank you, Jim.

Shrines dating back centuries destroyed within just seconds. Syria's antiquities chief is now confirming that ISIS has blown up two mausoleums

in the historic city of Palymra.

Now the militants posted images of the destruction online. One of the tombs belonged to a descendant of the Prophet Muhammed's cousin. it is the

first known damage to Palymra since ISIS seized the ancient site last month.

Now ISIS, as you know, has got no qualms about planting bombs and booby traps inside residential areas as well. CNN saw that firsthand when

Arwa Damon and her team visited Tal Abyad shortly after Kurdish fighters recaptured the Syrian town.

Today, Arwa shows us the dangers that ISIS left behind in what is this exclusive report.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ISIS may have been driven out of Tal Abyad for now, but they still remain a military force

that is quite formidable. And during our trip to the town, we were able to see some of what they had at their disposal.

This was an ISIS bomb-making facility. Bags filled with a sticky white powder, low grade explosives, which as we are shown, is highly


The YPG, the Kurdish fighting force in control of Tal Abyad is busy clearing it out. Half the bed of a truck already filled with mortar rounds

that they collected here at the rear of a mosque named after al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

Tal Abyad is a minefield of booby traps.

Come take a look through here, see what they found in there?

It's hard to see through the grate, but stacked along the wall makeshift bombs, strands of detonation cord snaking out.

This was a park where children used to play. The local YPG commander says something did not feel right. They put a warning on the gate and a

resident told them ISIS had booby trapped it.

You see the (inaudible) thing, you see a cable coming out of it. OK, don't touch the door.

ISIS no longer controls Tal Abyad, but their terror lurks in every corner. And the town is still cloaked in fear, a certain unease emanates

from the adults, anger evident in their voices, their answers short and sharp.

Ahmed Darwi (ph) says ISIS forced him to purchase from them black clothing for his little girls. The three say they were sometimes scared.

Now they are just enjoying being outside without head scarves and they want to go back to school.

"We went for a month and then they closed it," the girls tell us. "They made it a base for the state," meaning for ISIS.

That was two years ago. Now, they say, they are happy.

In an environment like this, one can only hope it stays that way.

That particular family had fled to Tal Abyad from Aleppo before ISIS took over the town. But when the terrorist organization arrived, the

girls' father said he quite simply could not afford to move his family anywhere else.


[11:12:01] ANDERSON: Well, Arwa's reporting from Tal Abyad doesn't end there, and neither does our coverage. There is a gallery of images

from the city that you didn't see in those pieces. All that and more at That is

Well, with the deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers less than a week away, Iran's supreme leader is laying out his red

lines. Will they be a deal breaker? We're going to talk about that up next on the show.

Also ahead, we look at a minority community that is lashing out over Israeli medical help to Syrian rebels. We are taking a very short break.

After that as well post-Apocalyptic adventures. We hear from the Saudi Prince behind a new video game with seven women as the main characters.

Our setup here in Amman, our temporary home for this week. You see the team. We're taking a short break. Back after this.


[11:15:12] ANDERSON: With the deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and western powers looming at the end of this month of June, Iran's

supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out limiting sensitive nuclear work for a long period of time.

Western countries want Tehran to halt that work for 10 years. Well, Khamenei insists all western imposed sanctions be lifted as soon as a final

deal is reached. And he says international inspections of Iranian military sites are out of the question.

You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson live out of Amman for you this week. Welcome back.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius suggesting today that recent statements by Iranian leaders appear to undercut any nuclear deal. He said

France wants a deal, but wants the deal to be robust.

A voice of caution as disagreements with Iran remain and time on the clock is ticking down.

Well, for more on the status of negotiations, I'm joined by Trita Parsi who is president of the National Iranian American Council.

And I just want to take a look at what the supreme leader said.

Now before we hear -- let me put that to you. He's been active on Twitter as a deal deadline approaches. In this post, Ayatollah Khamenei

expressed support for Iran's negotiating team, tweeting, "I recognize our negotiators are trustworthy, committed, brave and faithful. They are

pursuing national interests and pride in #Irantalks."

His demands appear to undercut a framework deal announced in April. Are we looking at a dealbreaker here?

TRITA PARSI, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: I don't think it will be a dealbreaker. I think what you're seeing right now is

unfortunately quite typical. There is a lot of posturing that takes place, particularly prior to an important deadline like this. And in fact, this

is the most important deadline that has occurred in the scope of all of these talks.

We've seen this before. We've seen that prior to other major deadlines, there's been a lot of posturing not just by the Iranians, but

others as well. And that many of the things that were said ended up being reinterpreted in such a way so that the deal still could go forward.

We should remind ourselves, we've come a tremendously far distance. In spite of all of the posturing and otherwise statements that look as if

they would be dealbreakers in the past, we're still here, and that's, I think, an indication of how strong the political will for a deal is.

ANDERSON: So, Trita, is this internal messaging as much as anything else?

PARSI: I think this one in particular is actually more messaging to the other side. This follows some pretty tough meetings that were held

between the Iranians and the French in which I think the Iranians believe that the French are taking very, very strong maximalist positions, and the

Iranians play a rather simple tit-for-tat game. If one side is taking maximalist positions, they respond by doing the same.

And I think this is probably an example of that.

It is not to say that this will not be a problem. It will be a major challenge. Previous statements also proved to be challenges, but they were


What this may do, however, which is worrisome, is that it may delay the talks and they may miss the deadline and they may be forced to extend

it one more time.

ANDERSON: Well, that -- and that will be interesting, because these talks of course officially due to close out on Tuesday next week.

You elude to the French position, but western powers are united in the need for a comprehensive verification system to make sure Iran complies

with its commitments and any nuclear deal. Britain, France and the U.S. all been stressing the need for extensive checks in recent days. For our

viewers' sake, here is what the U.S. State Department said. Have a listen to this.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Any deal must provide the access that IAEA inspectors need to verify Iran's compliance with the

ultimate deal that's reached.


ANDERSON: Trita, you and I have been asking our followers on Twitter to send through questions on this. And here's one I thought pretty much

captures a key angle, "what are the economic benefits to both sides?" And how much will that drive this final stage of negotiation do you think?

PARSI: That's a great question.

Let me first just address the clip that you said. I don't think there's a disagreement, frankly, between any of the sides that there's

going to be a need for robust inspections. In fact, this entire deal is predicated on very, very robust inspections. But there are some who have

been using the terms anywhere, any time. And that goes beyond what any country would accept. But the Iranians obviously are going to have to

adopt additional protocol and provide a tremendous amount of access in order for all sides to be able to verify that they're doing what they're

committing themselves to do.

When it comes to the economic aspect of this, the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran, according to the U.S., have cost Iranians up to

around $200 billion to the Iranian economy, which clearly is a devastating infliction of pain on the Iranian economy.

But it's also interesting to see that sanctions have also been very costly to the western side. We did a study that came out last year that

showed that the cost of sanctions for the U.S., just measured in lost export revenue, has been somewhere between $135 to $175 billion in the last

15 or so years. For the French and the Germans and the Brits, its actually even more per year if you look at it in the last two or three years.

I don't think on the American side it's a major driver, but I think on the European side there are plenty of European states that have had a lot

of difficulties with these sanctions and are very eager to see them be lifted, because they need the Iranian market. The Iranian market is a huge

market. It's one of the top 20 economies in the world. It would be the biggest market that would come online since the fall of the Soviet Union.

[11:21:24] ANDERSON: Fascinating. We'll have you back. Thank you, sir.

PARSI: Thank you so much.

ANDERSON: Live from Amman, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Still ahead, I talk to the Saudi prince who is trying to shatter

stereotypes and he is doing it using video games.

And in this week's African Start-up, two women in Rwanda have made a business out of their love of fashion. That's coming up next. See you at

the bottom of the hour, your headlines follow this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Haut Baso (ph) is a social enterprise. We specialize in clothing, accessories, shoes, bags and we use fashion as a

(inaudible) for change. We try to empower women and youth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In late 2013, aspiring Rwandese fashion designer Candy Basumangira (ph) was introduced to Linda Mokangoga (ph), herself a

local designer. The two became friends on their passion for all things fashion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After a few months of talking and realizing that we have the same vision and we have the same challenges, we thought why not

start working together? And that's how Haut Baso (ph) became.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pair jump started the business by investing $2,000 of their own money to buy raw materials. Coming up with the designs

themselves, they then employed local artisans to put them together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We looked a Rwanda as a whole and to see how thinking what we enjoy doing could have a positive impact. So, by

producing locally and sourcing raw materials, we're creating more opportunities for other people while doing something we really enjoy.

UNIDENTIIFIED FEMALE: Unable to afford the rent for a store, they used social media to showcase their products.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not having a shop was a challenge, because people ask you, you know, where can we find you and there was no place

where we could receive our customers.

[11:25:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By October 2014, sales were steady. And Mokangoga and Basumangira (ph) decided they could now open a store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We basically have sales every day, which was not the case when we were working without stock. Having a shop definitely

grows the business. It's just that the next logical step, and even if it adds cost because you have to rent and you know pay the electricity and

everything, it's worth the move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of Haut Baso's (ph) sales come from local market and tourists, but they eventually want to export their range to

Europe and America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're turning a profit, which is really good for us in our first year. We started off working with five artisans and now

we're up to 52. So by working hard to keep our quality really high, we're hoping to get the attention of markets not just locally, on an

international level so that we're able to bring more jobs back home.



ANDERSON: And you've been being near the kids.


ANDERSON: And music from Jadal (ph). Shots of Amman. This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. And due make sure to tune in

tomorrow at this time for what's going to be a very special show.

CNN Cafe Amman: real people, real conversations. This is CNN. And of course the news comes first.

The top stories for you this hour.

France summoning the U.S. ambassador over new allegations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency. WikiLeaks released documents it says

shows that the NSA monitors the communications of President Francois Hollande and two of his predecessors between 2006 and 2012.

Well, chances of finding a Greek debt deal could be in serious jeopardy. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Brussels meeting his

creditors, but before he arrived, he launched what was a scathing attack on the IMF for rejecting Greek reform proposals. Finance ministers are also

meeting in Brussels to try and thrash out a compromise.

Well, more than 800 people have died from a heat wave in Pakistan, and officials say the numbers will likely rise. Thousand of people have been

treated in the hospitals across the city of Karachi since the scorching temperatures began and ten relief centers have been set up distributing

water and salt tablets.

CNN's Saima Mohsin has been to a morgue in Karachi where the majority of the bodies have been brought. And she filed this report just a short

time ago.


[11:30:10] SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 650 bodies alone have been brought to his morgue on the outskirts of Karachi. It's

not run by the government, it's run by a charity, and it's suffering with power outages and extreme temperatures.

A lot of the bodies have been waiting outside, because there simply isn't enough room inside this morgue. I want to take you in to show you

the extent of the problem.

There is a putrid, pungent smell.

This is the largest morgue in the city and bodies have been piling up here since Saturday.

It's really hard to stay inside here.

At one of Karachi's major hospital, chaos (inaudible).

This young child has just been brought in in the last few minutes since we've arrived. Patients are coming in continuously. And in fact

we've been told that since the heat wave struck over the weekend, 8,000 people have brought brought to this hospital alone. They're being put on

drips. They've been given cold compresses, cold towels, but the hospital is in a bit of a state, it's struggling to cope.

There is blood on ground. The doctors are doing their best, but they really are struggling.

There are people everywhere and the majority of them have been brought in suffering from heat stroke.

Volunteers and even the military and paramilitary forces have had to step in to support this poorly supplied, poorly equipped, government


Saima Mohsin, CNN, Karachi.


ANDERSON: Saima Mohsin for us just in to CNN.

Well, back in April, CNN reported wounded Syrian rebels being treated in Israeli hospitals. It's a practice that has angered the minority Druze

community in the Golan Heights who say Israel is helping al Qaeda-linked fighters who attacked Druze.

And that theory boiled over into recent mob attacks on Israeli army ambulances carrying wounded Syrians.

Several suspects have now been arrested and the incidents have turned the spotlight on the complex situation in what is the disputed territory.

My colleague Oren Liebermann reports.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Israeli military ambulance was the mob's first target Monday night in the Golan Heights. Police say a

Druze mob attacked the ambulance with stones, but the mob was after the people inside -- wounded Syrians brought in from the ongoing civil war, the

mob killing one of them, police say, and leaving the other in critical condition, the mob furious that Israel provides medical aid to wounded

Syrians, some of them rebels like the Free Syrian Army rebels we met at a hospital in northern Israel in April.

But Druze community leader Rafiq Halabi says it was Islamic militants Jabhat al-Nusra in that ambulance attack Monday night.

RAFIQ HALABI, MAYOR: Israel wants to take care for strategic points and issues. So I can understand Israel, really understand Israel. On the

other hand, I cannot understand Israel taking care even if it's a humanitarian, for the Nusra.

LIEBERMANN: The Druze are an ethnic and religious minority spread across the Middle East. About 130,000 Druze live in Israel where they are

members of knesset serve in the army and more.

But the biggest Druze community lives in Syria where they've come under attack from Syrian rebels in recent weeks, including Jabhat al-Nusra.

Last week, al-Nusra fired at Khadel (ph), a Druze village in a Syrian Golan. And an amateur video claimed to show Druze sheikhs (ph) killed by

al-Nusra. CNN could not independently verify the video.

The Druze have called on Israel to protect their families in Syria who face growing threats from al-Nursa and ISIS, but Israel finds itself in a

difficult situation trying to help the Druze while treating Syrian rebels, enemies of the Druze, all without being pulled into Syria's ongoing war.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): It's a state of law and we're not going to be part of the anarchy that is going

on around us. I call on the leaders of the Druze community to calm their people and to call on each Druze citizen of Israel to observe and respect

the law and the (inaudible) of soldiers, and not to take the law into their own hands.

LIEBERMANN: And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with Druze leaders to try to maintain peace in the Golan Heights as the war across the

frontier draws ever closer.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


ANDERSON: That was Oren Liebermann reporting.

Now to an effort to stamp out stereotypes here in the Middle East.

Take a look at this clip of a soon to be released video game. It's called Saudi Girls Revolution and features strong female characters driving

around a futuristic Saudi Arabia battling various villains and tyrants.

The man behind this game and others says he wants to give gamers in the Middle East characters that they can identify with and change

perceptions of Arab communities.

Saudi prince who used to work for Facebook Fahad al-Saud was a student at Stanford University in California in the years after 9/11. Well, I

caught up with him earlier in his Amman studio. I began by asking him how his American experiences have helped shape him.


[11:35:38] FAHAD AL-SAUD, FOUNDER, NA3M: I found myself being interrogated a lot. And basically grouped into three types of narratives.

I was either an Aladdin, I was either a tyrant, or I was Osama bin Laden. And that was a very educational experience because I needed to -- I didn't

know how to break that narrative.

ANDERSON: It sounds as if you struggled at times. You are a serious overachiever. How did you carry on?

AL-SAUD: I saw the possibilities. And I saw the need from the American side to want to connect to us. So what I wanted to do was build

that bridge. And doing it alone is very difficult, so I -- that's why I wanted to come back to the region and build a platform that allows us to

kind of meet them halfway.

I want to introduce you to the NA3M team. We have our artists over here and our programmers over there.

We have the resources, we have the knowledge. We're educated where infrastructure exists. What I think needs to change is the perception

about what it means to be an entrepreneur.

You know, we are very traditional. We want that traditional paycheck. We need to kind of you know we get married young. We want to sustain our


ANDERSON: You say we in the region.

AL-SAUD: Yes, we, the region.

And you get those challenges.

But I think for us it's been flourishing.

ANDERSON: What does NA3M mean?

AL-SAUD: So many things. So many things. Literally, naem (ph) means yes. It also stands for New Arab Media. Nam is an incubator and an

academy and a safe haven for all creatives to come and express themselves freely, because we need that. We need -- I truly believe the revolution

that's happening in the region is not a political one, I truly believe it's an artistic renaissance that we're going through. And art is a mirror to

society and showcases all the different realities. So that's what NA3M is hopefully about.

ANDERSON: How difficult has it been to set up as a young tech entrepreneur in this region?

AL-SAUD: Well, the interesting thing is that in the region is actually more advanced when it comes to tech. We jumped on the startup

wagon before Europe. Berlin right now is just starting.

We have 35 percent of entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa are women, versus 10 percent globally.

So, there's a lot of initiatives from the government. Let's -- if you look at Jordan, it has a gaming fund that is focused on creating

opportunities for people to come and do animation and do creative work.

ANDERSON: Let's drill down here. How does a company like yours with the content that you develop help counter the message of a scourge like


AL-SAUD: Well, just I have a beard and I'm brown and I don't have bombs strapped to me. So I think that immediately kind of counteracts


We just wanted to just be a face, a face of the diversity within our region and how it counters it is that it -- it allows us to have a positive

narrative about ourselves to show us as people that are hard working, as creatives, as individuals that are from different backgrounds and religious

backgrounds and ethnic backgrounds coming together for a shared passion to bring positive impact to the region.

Progress is happening, but we need to understand and we need to provide different channels for that progress to actually grow. And I don't

know. I don't know what's going to happen in the region. I want -- I want there to be fire in a positive way. I want there to be passion. I want

their people to have opinions, but that means that they can speak their voice, and that's what's important.


ANDERSON: Well, that was Prince Fahad al-Saud speaking to me earlier.

I'm joined now by Lina Ejeilat. She is the co-founder and editor-in- chief of the Citizen Media platform, an online magazine Hber (ph).

Thank you for joining me tonight.

Jordan clearly has great potential for being an innovation hub and a space for tech startups to flourish. And NA3M, of course, I think is good

example of this.

But you have reservations about just how healthy the future will be. Why?

LINA EJEILAT, JOURNALIST: Well, I just think because, you know, yes Jordan has this great potential, but you cannot really fulfill this

potential without having, you know, freedom of expression and internet freedom and in 2012 Jordan amended its press and publication law to extend

its kind of authority on online media And a lot of international companies, tech companies, have expressed concerns over what this means for

online content producers, because this requires websites in Jordan to get a government license to be able to operate.

ANDERSON: On the matter of freedom of expression, one case that made international headlines of course this year was the jailing of the Islamist

politician for a Facebook post criticizing the United Arab Emirates. Jordan's information minister defended the 18 month prison term. Viewers,

he was quoted as saying "our laws clearly say you cannot insult a country that we have a good relationship with."

One of our viewers, Lina, tweeted this question for you, "what are the challenges that new technology faces -- or present to press freedom?" Is

it all good? Or are there disadvantages?

EJEILAT: I don't think there are disadvantages to be honest, I just think that it poses a challenge more to the authorities to kind of old

governments that still cannot really understands what it means, you know, this space that allows people to publish and express whatever they want.

So, this high profile case was maybe was covered by media, but there are so many cases in Jordan since last year of people put on trial at the

same security court, which is a military court, for things they write on Facebook.

And in Jordan, harming relations with a foreign country. It's now an offense under the anti-terrorism law, which I think is very alarming for

you know for freedom of expression in general.

ANDERSON: Get back to the issue that we started with just out of the break, and that is the project that is NA3M. A company that has a social

message and Fahad was really specific about that. I mean, that's what he set up. And he wants to effectively look to sort of challenge some of the

stereotypes in this region, in the region and for those outside of the region. Just how important is it that you have companies like that based

here doing the sort of work that NA3M is doing?

EJEILAT: I think it's very important. And it's -- I mean, it needs to be done on so many levels. You know, stereotypes, gender stereotypes,

exist in school curricula, on popular culture and there's a strong need to challenge that.

I just think, you know, we need to be aware that in this part of the world you know oppression against women -- you cannot take oppression

against women out of context of a general lack of freedoms, you know, of general lack of -- you know, violations of human rights. So, this is

problematic sometimes.

ANDERSON: Let's have a look at some of NA3M's work. Because I want to talk about what sort of progress you believe is being made. There's

been a lot of attention paid to the female drivers, for example, in the Saudi girls revolution game. Since women can't get licenses to drive in

Saudi Arabia, but the game also tackles other big social issues, many of which are to taboo in the Middle East.

One of the female characters is gay, for example, others fight against religious sectarianism, the characters drive around in futuristic Saudi

Arabian battling tyrannical leaders.

There -- these are weighty issues for games to tackle. Are we making progress? Do gains like this change anything?

EJEILAT: I mean, I'm sure that games like this are important because this is not a change that's going to happen overnight. So you need

incremental change, and you need to kind of change the images that people see, but I think also it's important not to -- I mean, it's -- we have to

realize that more needs to be done on so many levels. So sometimes the problem is, you know, things like that make it look like we're making

progress -- oh, we can talk about these issues.

ANDERSON: Evolution, not revolution, though, perhaps?

EJEILAT: I mean, that's a good thing, but as long as we're actually moving in a certain direction, I feel unfortunately that in the past few

years, especially in the last two years after the kind of change of the tide of the Arab Spring, we see -- we've been moving backwards in terms of

civil freedoms, personal freedoms you know on all levels.

So, yes, evolution, as long as we have a track.

ANDERSON: There is view for revolution going forward.

Pleasure having you on. Thank you very much.

EJEILAT: Thank you so much. Thank you.

ANDERSON: For joining us.

This is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. We're live in Amman for you this week. Coming up, adapting to the modern times. We look at

how ecommerce is reshaping the ancient Silk route. Taking a very short break. Back after this.


[11:46:55] ANDERSON: Well, just before we went to the break, we were talking about how a wave of internet start-up companies are changing

business dynamics here in Amman. Of course, Jordan isn't unique in this matter. China, for example is one of the fastest growing online shopping

platforms in the world, even precious commodities are sold on the internet.

In the second episode of our brand new CNN show Silk Road, Sumnima Udas now shows us how even the ancient Silk Road is going virtual.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRSEPONDENT: On the ancient Silk Road, China's most precious commodity, was sold in markets. Today, the new

Silk Road is largely virtual. Chinese merchant (inaudible) sells 80 percent of all her scarves and clothing online.

"Fewer and fewer Chinese consumers are shopping in brick and mortar stores these days. More and more Chinese people are buying things on the

internet," she says.

Yang is one of a growing number of Chinese business owners moving their stock almost entirely online. China is one of the fastest growing

ecommerce markets in the world. Merchants say, like elsewhere, the ease of buying from home is a main factor driving online sales.

And the market here is massive. The country has around 650 million internet users.

In the past decade, one website is synonymous with selling online in China, Alibaba, one of the world's largest ecommerce platforms, which

launched here in Hangzhou in 1999.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: This is an online ecommerce platform where we bring the Chinese manufacturers to reach the global buyers. We've seen

more and more buyers in the centers on the platform and the trade volume has gone up significantly.

It is exactly the same spirit as the Silk Road back in the days.

UDAS: But the virtual Silk Road doesn't deal directly with goods. Alibaba is simply a website connecting buyers and sellers and it's big. In

2013, the Alibaba group had 230 million users placing over 11 billion orders, the value of all merchandise sold that year, nearly $250 billion.

Ecommerce in China is soaring. You can see it just in the number of packages going in and out across China.

We're in one of the biggest shipping centers in Hangzhou. It's midnight and it's teeming. In this distribution center alone, volume has

been growing at a rate of 200 percent per year for the past eight years.

But Alibaba's rise hasn't been without challenge. Today, there are new alternatives, especially in a growing mobile market. Around 80 percent

of China's internet users are on mobile or tablets.

[11:50:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got rising competition from big players like and more niche players like Jumei (ph). It's not going

to be easy for Alibaba to maintain that type of dominance.

UDAS: No matter who hosts the market, Yang says online is the future.

Her sales have gone up around 35 percent year on year since she started selling online. And Yang says traffic on the virtual Silk Road is

only going up.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, Hangzhou, China.


ANDERSON: New Silk Road there for you.

Live from Amman, this is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. Coming up, Ramadan far from home. Refugees in Baghdad celebrates Ramadan

away from their families. We're taking a short break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: Well, you're back with us in Amman this evening. The holy month of Ramadan is a time of course to be with the family, but with so

many displaced in war torn Iraq this is not easy.

In Baghdad, it's the first time in more than a decade that the city has celebrated Ramadan without a curfew. Ben Wedeman went to see some of

the traditions that have been celebrated there.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Moments before sunset, volunteers pass out food for the evening meal in a refugee camp in eastern

Baghdad. A simple meal of rice and a stew of lamb and beans.

"In the name of god," says Shehali Naimi (ph) as he and his family break the fast.

Ramadan is a month of fasting and prayer, but also of socializing with family and friends. This year, war has driven family and friends far and


"We feel the pain of separation," says Shehali (ph) from Ramadi. "We've lost touch with some who can't leave because of ISIS. Others have

moved to northern Iraq, Turkey and Europe."

Iman Rasheed (ph) from Fallujah says leaving her home was like dying.

"During Ramadan," she recalls, "I always try to make everything nice for our friends and neighbors who would come back in the evening and sit

with us in the garden."

Ramadan and Baghdad is steeped in tradition. The discomfort of refraining from food, water and other early delights during the day is

followed by songs and games at night.

On the banks of the Tigris, men and boys from two old Baghdad neighborhoods, Maraba and El-Kasra (ph), face off in a game of Muhabis

(ph), an age old Ramadan pastime.

It starts with a man draped in a bedsheet going from player to player, slipping one a ring. The opposing team's leader, who goes by the title

Captain Ismail, goes down the line trying to guess who is hiding the ring.

This is the first Ramadan since 2003 when people have been able to get together like this in the middle of the night. In fact, it's 10 minutes

until midnight.

There was a curfew in place in Baghdad since 2003. It was lifted earlier this year.

I ask Captain Ismail, what are the clues to who has the ring?

"I look at the face," he says. "The nose, any strange movements when they're sitting. Sometimes their ears go red, sometimes yellow."

A few hours later, men known as Musaharti (ph) walk through the darkened streets beating drums to remind people to eat and drink before


The daily fast here begins with a bang and lots of them.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Baghdad.


[11:56:08] ANDERSON: Well, we are nearly done for this evening. But before we go, in tonight's Parting Shots, I want to bring you the story of

some of the brave Jordanian women who helped make Jordan a mine free country. Photographer Lindsey Leisure (ph) tells us about her project and

the women who managed to remove these final mines?


LINDSEY LEISURE, PHOTOGRAPHER: 2011, I did a project photographing an all-women's team of land mine removers on the Jordanian border with Syria.

While I was photographing this story, I thought it was an interesting way to think about the role of women in the aftermath of conflict. They were

working with an organization called Norwegian people's aid. And the goal was to clear the last remaining landmines in Jordan.

There were about 90,000 mines left.

The women's families reacted in different ways when they took the job. They faced a little resistance from their family at first, but then they

eventually came around and saw that they were doing good work.

They saw it as a way to help their community, because some of the new family members are friends who had been injured because of the mines or

they had land that they couldn't farm for agriculture because it still had mines in it.

When I first came to the Middle East I didn't know what to expect, because images of women from this region are often passive, but here I was

seeing women taking an active role in protecting their communities and cleaning up and making things safer.

As of last year, they officially cleared that area.

Jordan is now officially.


ANDERSON: And this time tomorrow, we will bring you the show from the CNN Cafe in Amman. A lively conversation on politics, society, art and

culture. The issues people here care about and what lies in the future for this bustling city.

CNN Cafe tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Don't be late. That's Amman time, 4:00 p.m. in London. See you then.