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Confusion Over the Fate of Downed Russian Airliner; Erdogan's Party Wins Big in Turkey. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 2, 2015 - 15:00   ET




HALA GORANI, HOST: Tonight confusion over the fate of a downed Russian airliner.


GORANI: Lots of questions but no clear answers as to what caused the deadly plane crash in Egypt Sinai. We'll have the very latest details.

Plus, the Turkish President claims a big win as the polls but not everyone is celebrating today. Also, CNN returns to Mt. Sinjar and we go to the

front lines in the fight against ISIS with Yazidis, determined to win back their territory.

And we will tell you why there is a celebration happening in space today.


GORANI: Hello everyone. I'm Hala Gorani we're live at CNN London and this is The World Right Now.


GORANI: Russia in mourning today. Investigators search for answers. Everyone wants to know why metro jet flight 9268 plummeted into Egypt Sinai

peninsula, killing all 224 onboard. An airline official says he's ruling out technical problems with the plane and human error and using some vague

language the spokesperson blamed a certain impact.


GORANI: But aviation authorities say it is too early to tell. They plan to analyze the flight data recorders. Our Matthew Chance is in St. Petersburg.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not the homecoming they were meant to have, but the bodies of the 224 victims of

Russia's worst ever plane crash are now returning to St. Petersburg and a solemn welcome by stretcher bearers.

And after two agonizing days of grief Russia's President has finally broken his silence. Appearing on the state television, meeting the country's

transport minister and addressing his nation.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: (As translated) Before we begin to discuss the issues at the crash site I would like to, again, express my

condolences to the families and relatives of the victims. This is a great tragedy and certainly we are with you in heart and soul.

CHANCE: But as investigators scour the remote crash site, the real impact of this catastrophe may be yet to emerge.

The Kremlin has refused to rule out terrorism, but any suggestion this is blowback from Russia's military intervention in Syria retribution for air

strikes there, may have political consequences at home.

For the moment, many Russians are still grieving for what has been a devastating loss of life and a national tragedy. Here at the airport in St.

Petersburg mourners are still placing flowers and children's toys as a mark of respect to the families who have been torn apart. The questions are

being asked about why so many Russians died in such appalling circumstances. Questions only investigators may be able to answer.

Already the airline which operated the crash plane is playing down technical failure as a likely cause, although they may face criminal

prosecution if it's found otherwise.

ALEXANDER SMIRNOV, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL, METRO JET: (As translated) There is no such combination of system failures that could lead to a plane

breaking up in the air. That is why the only possible explanation of a break of an aircraft could be certain impact, some mechanical or physical


CHANCE: At a morgue in St. Petersburg the grim task of identifying the remains is now under way. Grieving relatives being escorted in for this

painful formality. Identifying the cause of this tragedy may prove painful, too.


GORANI: Well CNN is covering this story from both Russia and Egypt. Our Matthew Chance is in St. Petersburg tonight. Arwa Damon is in Cairo. And

Matthew, let's start with you and what the airline official says, of course it's a translation from Russian, but just so we understand, the official

line from the airline is that this is not caused by pilot error or mechanical catastrophic failure but by a certain impact. I mean, how do you

translate that into English so that it makes sense?


CHANCE: Yes, we're discussing that at length over the course of the past several hours since the comment by the deputy director of the airline

company was made. I mean, the language is clearly deliberately vague. In order to try and, you know, alleviate as much responsibility from the

airline as possible.


CHANCE: Remember, if it is found that it's a maintenance problem, or that it's a technical area - error which the airline is responsible for, these

individuals could face some kind of criminal prosecution. And so it's in their interests to play that down as much as possible.

They're also sort of indicating that it you know wasn't technical errors. It may have been something else; eluding to the idea it could have been

terrorism, though not directly saying it. And that's something that distanced them from the position of the Russian government, for instance,

that even though it hasn't ruled out terrorism it's trying to play down that aspect as well. Because the government here, the Kremlin, does not

want, as I was mentioning in that report, this idea of you know blowback, this idea that it's intervened in Syria and this is the consequences of it.

Being kind of something that the public will have to deal with.

GORANI: And Arwa Damon in Cairo, what are Egyptian officials saying about the investigation? Are the black boxes now being analyzed? What's the

latest on that?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the black box was found fairly quickly on Saturday, the same day as the crash

took place.


DAMON: Analyzing them and the speed with which that is going to happen is largely going to depend on how much damage was done to them. We do believe,

and this is maybe obviously a good thing at this stage, there was not that much extensive damage done to them, so hopefully they will be able to

provide that critical information sooner rather than later.


DAMON: The other thing that we do know at this stage, and this is according to one of the Russian state news agencies, it was quoting one of its

sources on the ground, a Russian who is an investigator on the scene here in Egypt saying that initially the parts of the plane that they have been

testing have not tested positive for explosives. But again, we're still very much in the beginning of this investigation. And Egyptian and Russian

authorities are both saying that they do not believe that this plane was shot down.

That's not to say that they're entirely negating that it was an act of terror, they are down playing that but no evidence of that just yet. One

Egyptian military source we spoke to said that the militants to who operate in the Sinai do not possess the capabilities of shooting down an aircraft

at 30,000 feet. The capacity that they do have with their surface-to-air solder fired missiles have a range of max 15,000 to 16,000 feet. But

there's still so many questions, Hala, there is so much contradictory information that's out there that at this stage no one really knows what



GORANI: And what happens next now? Where are exactly the black boxes? What happens next with the investigation at this stage, Arwa in Cairo?

DAMON: Well, at this stage you still do have the Russian and the Egyptian teams on the ground. We also heard that Airbus is spending in teams as



GORANI: We had the Irish Aviation Authority issuing a statement, because this plane was registered to Ireland, saying that it had passed its

security checks back in May of 2015. Everyone is on the same page and saying that prior to taking off, there was nothing that was reported to be

wrong with this airplane, at least not until the point where it disappeared off the radar.

As for the black boxes, unclear exactly where they're going to be analyzed at this stage. Egypt does not necessarily possess the capabilities to try

to extract that information. Some are reporting that it might be happening in Russia or elsewhere.

So again, it's a lot of a wait and see scenario at this stage when it comes to how long it's going to take to actually receive concrete information.

That is going to not just provide answers but perhaps some closure for the families who lost their loved ones.


GORANI: Okay, Arwa Damon in Cairo. Matthew Chance is in St. Petersburg. Thanks to both of you there for the latest on this tragedy in Egypt.

Experts say we're only at the beginning of what could be a very long investigation.

Let's bring in our aviation correspondent and the host of "Quest Means Business" for more on what that means. Richard, good to have you in the


We have several possible scenarios here and at this stage all we can do is go through each scenario and measure the probability of each. Catastrophic

failure is the first one.

RICHARD QUEST, HOST QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: OK. Now, the case of catastrophic failure, you're talking about something in the air freight. Was it that

repair from a tail strike 14 years previously? There had been a couple of occasions where there have been repairs after tail strikes where the tail

has hit the runway, where they subsequently have caused complete and utter loss of the aircraft.


QUEST: And then you've got metal fatigue. Aloha Airways where's the plane ripped opened like a tin can which had a situation

GORANI: but that one didn't crash killing everyone onboard --

QUEST: No it didn't, it didn't. No but you have had other cases. You've had metal fatigue, which has been a serious problem.

GORANI: It's a young plane, though, isn't it just 18 years old?

QUEST: 18 years old. There's absolutely no reason to suggest at all that that should happen. But catastrophic failure is one of those reasons that

would fit the profile of what happened.

Remember, the plane is flying along and, like that, it loses altitude dramatically. But more importantly, the speed just goes. It's almost like

it just comes to a stop. It goes from 400 knots to something like 93 knots, 63 knots, it literally just comes down.

GORANI: And no distress call from the pilot.

QUEST: No distress call.

GORANI: What does that tell us?

QUEST: It tells us that whatever happened was instant, it was dramatic, and probably catastrophic.

GORANI: Let's talk about the second scenario. People are wondering of course, it's over the Sinai; Egypt has its problems with militants. Russia

is involved with bombing Syria. Could this be retaliation? Explosives, missile, surface-to-air, we can discount that. But any kind of bomb?

QUEST: Oh, yes. I mean we have to put that very firmly on the agenda. And I'm pleased that you know now there seems to be a general view that the

missile idea simply -- I mean, I'm not saying that --

GORANI: It just doesn't make - right -- it makes much less sense than other scenario.

QUEST: One's heard no evidence to suggest that these militias have the capability. Now, a bomb, at Sharm el Sheikh airport, well that's a very

different kettle of fish. Because now you're looking at security at the airport, how they would do it, what sort of explosives. But the nature of a

bomb and the way the explosive force radiates out means that there will be much residue on the airframe, on the fragments, and forgive me for being

blunt, on the passengers --

GORANI: And none have been detected on any of those.

QUEST: Not yet. It's too soon

GORANI: Right, yes.

QUEST: It's too soon. But you know, I have to say I'm a little concerned, not maybe, but how this investigation is being organized. I'm seeing two

very strong competing forces here. The Egyptians who have the legal authority and the Russians who are the operator, and whose manly passengers

they are, basically arriving on the scene. We're not quite certain where the power lies here.

GORANI: And the U.S. has offered help? We don't know.

QUEST: Yes. And the engines -- I believe the engines. I'm not sure but I believe the engines were American.

GORANI: And Airbus presumably will be involved on some level.

QUEST: So you've got Airbus as the state of design. You've got -- or France. You've got Germany as the state of manufacturer. You have got

Ireland as the state of registry. You have got Russia as the state of -- operator. And you've got the state of occurrence, which is Egypt.

GORANI: Now, let's quickly pilot actions.

QUEST: This falls into two forms. Pilot suicide, let's put that to one side. There's absolutely no evidence of that. So we really don't want to

spend - putting that to besmirched characters.

Whether or not there was another political failure, not catastrophic but the way they flew the plane. Air France 447, we have to put this one on the

table because there are two Airbus incidents out there, 447 and Air Asia both of which are tending towards exactly, or one certainly is, pilot

flying of the aircraft. It's known as loss of control in flight.

GORANI: All right. Well, those are all possible scenarios. Of course as we were mentioning, they're a tragedy for so many Russian families in St.

Petersburg and elsewhere. Thanks very much, Richard, and Richard we will see you at the top of the hour ---

QUEST: You will indeed. Absolutely ---

GORANI: for "Quest Means Business" with all the very latest. A lot more to come this evening.

What is next for Turkey after a surprise outcome at the polls?


GORANI: A deeply divided electorate delivers a land side victory to the party of President Erdogan. Stay with us. We'll be right back.






GORANI: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calls it a mandate for stability.


GORANI: His ruling justice and development party won a surprise victory in Sunday's election. In fact it regained its parliamentary majority winning

enough seats to return to single party rule.

European monitors say the vote was marred by a media crack down, violence, and security concerns.


GORANI: Let's get the latest now from our Nick Paton Walsh, he's live in Southern Turkey with this surprising win. How will this impact things, this

win, this decisive win for Erdogan internally but also as far as the country's external interventions are concerned?

NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well let's step back about five months, Hala. Remember, you know first in June he lost his

parliamentary majority, the AKP Justice and Development Party because perhaps of a sense amongst many people that they have become slightly too



WALSH: Then we had this period of paralysis instability during which the civil conflict between the Kurdish PKK, considered terrorists by Turkey

flared up again. ISIS became more militant inside the country behind that Ankara suicide bombing that killed over a hundred. We've had a pretty

tumultuous last five months. Now they are claiming the victory back with enough of a mandate in parliament to single party rule. It puts the country

back to the road of stability. Here's what President Erdogan had to say.

PRESIDENT ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT: (As translated) The nation manifested itself on November 1st in favor of stability. After the short-term

developments the nation will decide that there is no way out other than choosing stability. They decided in favor of stability. I hoped this

outcome will be good for our people and our country.


WALSH: You hear the word stability a lot there. That is internally what many are hoping to see. Perhaps some ability to launch back into a

political process to calm the violence against the Kurds. But frankly internally and externally people are looking to the Erdogan government I

think to further its effort against ISIS.

It's going to be an inevitable choice that Ankara has to make here given the kind of violence we're seeing here in Southern Turkey.


WALSH: But to some degree the financial markets and amongst the elite too previously would disassociate themselves with the AKP Party because of

those authoritarian tendencies I mentioned, criticized by monitors. The crackdown against the media that is something which perhaps the vote for

stability was recognized on Sunday. Hala?

GORANI: And what explains this divisive victory? Because as we mentioned it was a surprise. Yet the AKP in this particular election really scored above

and beyond what the expectations were before this particular election. So what explains this performance?

WALSH: Some of the polling did suggest they would get less than the 49.5% they did certainly. And I think some analysts are say, well, they seem to

have chipped away at the Kurdish party, the HDP, that has much lesser showing in the polls.

They got over the 10% threshold which pretty much meant the AKP Justice Party didn't get the supermajority they were aiming for but they lost some

of the vote. Some say that's because the climate was too dangerous for them to campaign, they have the targets of the Ankara suicide bombing. But I

think many too may have been disillusioned that generally the chaos they saw, the inability of the other opposition parties to form a coalition,

particularly the HMP Kurdish Nationalist Party that also lost out in the vote here too.


WALSH: That seems to have swung people toward Mr. Erdogan's party bringing us to this surprising conclusion. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Nick Paton Walsh is in Southern Turkey, thanks very much.


GORANI: The Peshmerga have been a resilient force in the fight against ISIS, now they're amassing on Iraqi's Mt. Sinjar, a site of one of the

worse slaughters we've seen since ISIS began terrorizing the region. Today thousands of Yazidi Peshmerga stand ready to reclaim their homeland. CNN's

Nima Elbagir has more in this exclusive report.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Yazidi Peshmerga fighters, volunteers, former soldiers, and a handful of trained officers

looking out over the ISIS front line.

He's pointing to us all along here you can see the defensive ditches that have been dug. He said they come as close as that valley, just there. They

(inaudible), they fire on us, they eventually retreat, but it's pretty never ending.

This vantage point itself was in the not too distant past ISIS held. He says you can see what they did to the Yazidis, the houses are completely

destroyed. They slaughtered all the families inside it really drives home how visceral this was.

Deputy Commander (Inaudible) is 66. He's a retired soldier, one of the few here with fighting experience. This is a fragment of skull that they found.

This whole patch of ground is mass graves. He said they found about 150 bodies from children as young as 1 years old - 1 year old all of the way up

to 80.

It is, they say, just a reminder to them of what it is they're fighting for. They're fighting for their very survival. The massacre of thousands of

Yazidi men, women, and children by ISIS last year resonated around the world. Here in the foothills of the Sinjar Mountain, thousands of Yazidi

volunteers are joining up to fight.

Sinjar City and the mountain that looms over it is at the heart of the homeland of the Yazidi minority. It falls along a crucial supply route,

linking ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

When ISIS took the city August last year their intent was to drive the Yazidis to extinction. Those who managed to escape the ensuing massacre now

shelter in tarpaulin tents on barren slopes overlooking their former homes.

These are the families of the fighters standing guard down below. This is what they're fighting for.

At the front a poem is being recited. It speaks of lost honor, slaughtered wives and sisters, empty homes. It's meant to remind the soldiers of what's

at stake. They tell us they know only too well, this is a battle for their very existence.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Mt. Sinjar.


GORANI: Coming up, a historic airport in Berlin gets a new lease on life.


GORANI: How Tempelhof is being transformed for a modern day emergency. We'll be right back.






GORANI: More than 218,000, that is the number of migrants the U.N. says crossed into Europe in just the last month. It is roughly the same number

that crossed in the whole of 2014.


GORANI: And we're just at the beginning of November. The majority of those who crossed were Syrian and traveled from Turkey across to Greece. There

you see some of the migrations taking place in this particular case in Slovenia across fields. Most refugees are trying to make it to Germany. As

Atika Shubert reports, Germans are finding unorthodox ways of housing them.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Orville Wright flew one of the first airplanes in Tempelhof in Berlin and by the 1930s it had

become the busiest airport in Europe and the aviation hub for the Nazi regime.

After the war, It became a symbol of freedom and a lifeline for West Berlin. Cut off by the Soviet Union, U.S. forces defiantly flew supplies

in. The airport had secured its place in history long before it was closed in 2008.

Tempelhof airport exists almost as a time capsule. You can still see an old U.S. troop carrier parked out there and y can cycle all up and down the

massive runways here. Now, it really does stand as a sort of monument with plenty of space. So when the need came to house hundreds, even thousands of

refugees, well, this seemed like a natural choice.

PASCAL C THIRION, TEMPLEHOF PROJECT: No, this is not a hotel or this is not an exhibition center or government center. This is a hangar. I mean, it's

an old hangar. It's a monument. Nothing is there. There was no water, no heating. Step by step, we had to bring in everything that you need to host

so many people.

SHUBERT: I've just walked inside one of the airport hangars and this is where refugees will be housed. Take a look. There are four dedicated

airport hangars here. The capacity in all will be roughly 2,200 people. This is where refugees will be sleeping. You can see they've got it set up

with bunk beds. About a dozen people in each compartment. And there are dedicated spaces for men, for women, and for families.

Now, the idea is this is a temporary home, just for a few days and weeks, until they are registered as asylum seekers and able to find the more

permanent housing.

Only a few have started to move in after their long journey across Europe.


SHUBERT: What do you think of this?


SHUBERT: It's good? It's okay?

UNITDENTIFIED MALE: All good. Good. Good.

SHUBERT: It will be used as a temporary shelter for at least the next year, even in retirement it seems Tempelhof airport has found itself yet another

place in history.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


GORANI: This is The World Right Now. Coming up, a city in mourning.


GORANI: We report from St. Petersburg as families struggle to come to terms with Saturday's plane crash.

And the International Space Station is celebrating 15 years of human habitation. We'll look back at its past successes and show you how

scientists are using it to try to move us all forward. We'll be right back.






GORANI: Welcome back. A look at our top stories; aviation authorities plan to analyze the flight data recorders of the Russian plane that crashed in



GORANI: The bodies of some of the 224 victims have returned home to Russia. Experts say it is too early to speculate on the causes.


GORANI: Also among our top stories. European observers say a climate of fear marred Turkey's parliamentary elections.


GORANI: The ruling Justice and Development Party won a big victory Sunday earning enough seats to return to single-party rule. Monitors express some

concerns about a media crack down, violence, as well as security problems in the country.


GORANI: Romania is in mourning after a deadly nightclub fire. 30 people died at a rock concert where fireworks were used inside a build that

apparently had no emergency exit.


GORANI: The Romanian Deputy Prime Minister says an investigation is ongoing.


GORANI: Right now the Arabian peninsula is enduring something virtually unprecedented, it's being lashed by a powerful tropical cyclone.


GORANI: Chapala has already slammed the island off Socotra off the coast of Yemen. Take a look at some of the amateur video there in Socutra.

More than 200 people are reported injured. And look at the waves as well. The ferociousness of them. It's expected this system to make landfall on

the mainland in the coming hours. Tom Sater is at the World Weather Center with more.


GORANI: So, it's not like, I mean, can (inaudible) it's tough enough being in Yemen right now for a variety of reasons but now this is coming their

way, Tom.

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, U.N. Officials are saying in this war torn country, Hala, I mean food supplies are cut off, water

shortages, famine could set in because of the civil war. This is what you typically would think of when you think of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and

that's true.


SATER: This is unprecedented and the fact that the people who live there have never experienced a landfall, anything stronger than a tropical

depression. This was the second strongest in the entire Arabian Sea, equivalent of what was a category 4 hurricane. Of course when we look at it

most of our activities in the Bay of Bengal when it comes to the Indian Ocean, this is only the second tropical system to move in the mouth of the

Gulf of Aden.

It's still equivalent of a category 3. We expect it to weaken somewhat but, again, they've never had a tropical storm make landfall and it's after the

midnight hour this is in darkness.


SATER: Much of the region of course extremely dry, and there are dry riverbeds. Those dry riverbeds make their way to the coast and create

oasis. And that's why we have a number of cities and communities along the coastline that are at sea level.

And when you talk about Al MuKalla here, about half a million people most of them on the coastline looking at a storm surge, may be four or five

meters and they're living at six meters. Not to mention there are some winds that will knock out what power infrastructure they have and

communication as well.

We're looking at winds even tropical storm force ends winds over towards Djibouti. 400 ships a week come in this area. But again, it's about


When we see this amount of rain it's going to be two, three years' worth of rain in a day. Some spots, where you see purple here along the coast,

that's four years' worth of rain. So you get 80 to 100 millimeters in a year and you're talking 200 to 250, some areas more than that. This is a

monster storm in the middle of the night that will cause monstrous debris flows. Dry river banks, flooding regions, flooding homes and landslides

that will cut off the main highway along the coastline.


SATER: So again, it's just trying to get word out. We're not even sure if the organizations are together to evacuate anybody or if they even know

it's coming, Hala.

GORANI: All right, just unbelievable misfortune for that country right now. Thanks very much, Tom Sater.

Let's return now to our top story. Investigators are trying to find out why Metro Jet Flight 9268 crashed in Sinai. They plan to analyze the black

boxes, of course which were recovered from the crash site.

Meanwhile in St. Petersburg where the plane was due to land, families are mourning.

Earlier Russian President, Vladimir Putin had this to say.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: (As translated) This is a great tragedy and certainly we are with you in heart and soul. I want to thank St. Petersburg for such a

reaction which the whole country sees. All the people of Russia for their words of sympathy and empathy. During such tragedies, and this time it is

certainly very important to feel the shoulder of loved ones, empathy from across the whole country over this terrible disaster.


GORANI: Well 224 people died when flight 9268 crashed. Among the dead, 25 children. The youngest was just 10 months old. A makeshift memorial has

been set up in St. Petersburg to remember the victims. Nic Robertson, is there.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russia is in shock. So many tears, so many victims, so many of them children.

The youngest, 10-month-old, (inaudible) she was on holiday with her parents, (Tatiana and Alexi). 25 children died. At this makeshift memorial

parents count their blessings. A day to hold their children closer.

Vladimir hugs his son Alexander as he tells us it's a horror, it's a tragedy to lose so many children. We understand but we can never feel the

pain of their families. 7-year-old (Olga) came to pay her respects.

Luckily we didn't lose anyone, she tells us. I just wanted those children to be remembered. Her favorite toy adding to the deep carpet of cuddly

childhood treasures.

Overnight, at a rally for victims, hundreds spelt out the word mum, in recognition of the children and parents loss of the many orphans left

behind. Russia's soul is being laid bare. Few pause without weeping. (Oxana) stopped by on her way to work.

I'm a Russian and we need to say what has happened, she tells us, and we need to explain it to our kids.

Today Russians came looking for answers, found only pain.

Nic Robertson, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.


GORANI: Nic Robertson reporting there. Well, U.S. intelligence community, The U.S. Intelligence community has been looking at the crash of course as

well. And officials there say that at this point there's no indication that a missile brought down the plane. Nothing can be ruled out, of course.

Earlier the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke about the possibility of specifically ISIS involvement. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does ISIS have the ability to shoot down an airliner?

JAMES CLAPPER, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It's unlikely, but I wouldn't rule it out. We don't have any direct evidence of any terrorist

involvement yet. ISIL in a tweet claims responsibility for it. And there is a very aggressive ISIL chapter in the Sinai. But we really don't know.



GORANI: James clapper there. Let's bring in CNN Counter Terrorism Analyst Philip Mudd, he joins me now from Washington.

Philip Mudd, first, let me ask you about, in your mind, as you -- when we're gathering now pieces of information, it's early days, of course, but

what do you think the possibility is that the militants in this Sinai are able to take down a plane? Do you think there's any possibility of that?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTER TERRORISM ANALYST: I think that's pretty low. Look even taking out a plane at half this altitude, this was flying at 30,000

plus feet would be a difficult proposition for a terror group.


MUDD: Remember when we saw that plane taken down in Europe last year that was taken down by a missile battery with Russia equipment and occupied by

people who had a lot of training.


MUDD: This is a very difficult proposition at 30,000 plus feet. I've seen nothing, zero, that would suggest to me that a group in Sinai would have

that technical capability. I don't think it's them.

GORANI: And you were talking of course about MH-17 in Eastern Ukraine, there where the results of several investigations pointed at potentially

Separatist involvement in the downing of that plane. But in this case, it is possible, I mean, of course, everything is possible and this is only

speculation. But if it's not a missile bringing the plane down, it could be some other type of attack, some other type of explosive here.

MUDD: I mean I look at this in terms of three propositions we might have for what happened here. One is an external event. That is a missile.


MUDD: Two, is an internal event on the plane that was purposeful. That is someone got on in the cockpit or elsewhere and decided to take the plane

down. Third, obviously is mechanical failure.

If you're in my old life at the CIA, there's a couple things you can do quickly to start determining which of those is more or less likely. The

first I mentioned, the proposition of having a terror group use a device, a missile that could take this down very low. You're going to look through

flight manifests to start to say is there a terrorist on the plane. Balance them against databases. I think the black boxes will provide most the clues

we need. Right now you've got the say something mechanical happened to that and we just don't know yet.

GORANI: All right. In terms of the investigation, I mean, we have the country where it happened, Egypt. We have the country where most passengers

came from, the operator as well, Russia, and Airbus. I mean this is going to be a very difficult investigation to streamline, isn't it?

MUDD: I think one of the - one of the questions you have, you mentioned the country where this took place, Egypt, is the amount of territory they've

got to look at to determine what happened to the plane and gather pieces is substantial. That's a difficult proposition when a plane breaks apart at

that altitude.

I think right now already though not only Russia and Egypt, you're having countries like the United States, my old friends at the agency, the bureau,

trying to get something like the flight manifest to say, we've got huge databases of terrorists.


MUDD: If we want to ensure, prove the negative that there wasn't on someone -- someone on the plane with terrorist links, please give us that manifest

so we can bounce it against our databases. That ought to be happening right now.

GORANI: All right, and of course, but when it comes to the actual investigation on any mechanical or catastrophic failure that takes a lot of

time. And the reason we're discussing the possibility of terrorism here is of course because of the very complicated situation in Syria where Russia

is now very much firmly involved in a bombing campaign and might become the target of retaliatory attacks from ISIS terrorist or other groups.

MYDD: That's right. I think if I were the Russians what I would be concerned about is not an event down in the Sinai, I'd be concerned that in

Syria or Iraq, somebody who was formally affiliated with the Syrian military, somebody in ISIS for example, somebody in Al Qaeda, takes over a

military unit and acquires equipment. For example, surface-to-air missiles that can then threaten Russian aircraft.


MUDD: It wouldn't be that somebody bought this kind of thing on the black- market. This is a big ticket item. It's that somebody in a military unit defects to the Islamist opposition and brings this equipment with them and

then threatens Russian aircraft.

GORANI: All right, Philip Mudd, thanks very much, from Washington, we really appreciate your analysis and your time.

A lot more ahead. Virtually no one saw it coming. A big, big election victory.


GORANI: So decisive turkey's ruling party no longer needs a coalition to govern. It's on its own.

We'll have expert analysis on what that means for the country's future.






GORANI: Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is urging the country to unite after some deeply polarizing elections.


GORANI: His ruling party won nearly 50% of the vote in parliamentary elections on Sunday, which means that he has enough seats to regain the

majority that he lost in June in parliament. Critics say the party's stunning comeback could in fact boost President Erdogan's own pursuit of


Let's bring in Soner Cagaptay, for some perspective. He's author of "The Rise of Turkey" and is Director of the Turkish Research Program at the

Washington Institute. Thanks for joining us.


GORANI: So, first of all, did you see this coming Soner, this stunning victory?

SONER CAGAPTAY, AUTHOR "THE RISE OF TURKEY": Almost nobody did and none of the polls that were out before the elections just before the elections,

predicted an AKP victory.


CAGAPTAY: And I think what really helped Erdogan AKP gain victory is the five-month of political and economic hell that Turkey went through after

the June elections which produced a hung parliament.

Those elections follow 13 years of economic growth and single party government. So the Turks were shocked by the hung parliament which also

followed a period of the Lira tumbling, economy slowing, fighting with the Outlaw Kurdistan Workers, Party, PKK and finally dramatic attacks against

Turkey carried out by the so-called Islamic state, where ISIS bombed the middle of Ankara, Turkish capital, killing over 100 people.

So so much instability. The Turkish equivalent of political and economic hell and the Turks went to Erdogan's message of strong men who can protect

you, and he won.

GORANI: All right. Well, it seems certainly that his strategy worked. One of the things you tweeted was that essentially this win killed the Kurdish

HDP's rise to national prominence. What did you mean by that? Why do you think that was the impact, the effect now?

CAGAPTAY: The Kurdish party which was running on a platform of becoming a party of all Kurds but also of all turkey before the elections had a real

chance at becoming a party that was larger than the Kurdish nationalist movement in Turkey. And it had more than doubled its vote in the last

election from 6% to 13% in June. And the party had a chance to grow further.

But I think because violence with the PKK started again, the language of Kurdish politics in Turkey became violence again and that killed the

message of the Kurdish party which is a democratic and peaceful message and voice for the Kurdish issue.

And I think it's going to be a tough time for that party to recover that image because it seems to me that the PKK has also won in the last five

months just as Erdogan has won politically -


CAGAPTAY: -- the PKK has won in the sense that it has positioned itself as the main interlocutor for Turkey when Turkey launches a peace process again

with the Kurds. This time the PKK will be talking to Ankara and not the HDP, not the Kurdish party.

GORANI: I see. And what about regarding Turkey's external involvement? I'm talking about the fight against ISIS, the involvement in Syria. What

difference will this make, do you think, this decisive victory for Erdogan?

CAGAPTAY: Well in some ways one could say that Turkey will be back to its factory settings in terms of foreign policy. And what I mean by that, in

the last five months when you had a hung parliament and not a majority government in Ankara, most foreign policy decisions were kicked down the

road because the government did not have support to push them through.


CAGAPTAY: Now once again you have a strong majority government, so it looks like Turkey, the past year before the June elections, when Turkey, for

example, would cooperate strongly with the United States and I think we will see stronger Turkish action against ISIS in the coming days.

And probably after a period of fighting with the PKK sometime in the next year, the government will go back to peace talks with the PJJ.


GORANI: But this is also increasing big divisions within the country. I mean this is not a unifying result for turkey. Even though markets

celebrated the win. Overall nationally it will deepen divisions, won't it with the opposition?


CAGAPTAY: I think it's at least that option in Turkey because it didn't produce a hung parliament which we saw produced instability. It also

did not produce such a close victory that would have sparked massive rallies by the opposition. It produced a clear victory for the governing

party. So perhaps it's the least bet option. And the markets are showing their confidence in Turkey. I think the Lira will recover and Turkish

markets will perform well in the coming years. But there's a problem there.

GORANI: But you have ---

CAGAPTAY: . in the long term/

GORANI: But Soner, sorry to jump in, you have those issues with the crackdown on press freedom .

CAGAPTAY: Absolutely.

GORANI: You have these issues with the climate of fear, some critics are saying, with the authoritarian sort of tinge of the President Erdogan whose

has been in power a long time. All of those are problems that are very much angering the opposition.

CAGAPTAY: Absolutely. I think look, it's clear that Erdogan's AKP won a victory but it's also very clear that only half of Turkey voted for him and

the other half did not. And I think further cracking down on rights and liberties will only anger those people further.

So what I think lies ahead for Turkey in coming years is that while the governing party now dominates Turkish politics, opposition to it will

increasingly come from civil society. Turkey is a vibrant, dynamic middle class, which is a creation of Erdogan's success but its economically

powerful middle class which wants liberties and their rights to be respected.

So if you remember the 2013 (inaudible) park rallies which were led by liberals and wide spread all over the country, it's not a question of if

but when similar rallies will be sparked by the governments authoritarian and liberal ways. I think Turkish democracy is strong but also Turkey's

civil society is the new check and balance against the AKP government.

GORANI: We'll see if that comes to pass. Thanks very much, Soner Cagaptay, of the Washington Institute.

CAGAPTAY: Thank you for having me.

GORANI: Thank you. We'll be right back.




GORANI: 15 years ago three people boarded the International Space Station and began working in the world's only microgravity laboratory. George

Howell has more on a big anniversary in space.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Orbiting the earth some 250 miles above, the International Space Station marked the 15-year anniversary

of its mission in space with a live conference call with the six astronauts who currently call it home.

SCOTT KELLY, ASTRONAUT: The important experiment is the -- you know, the space station as a, you know, an orbiting vehicle that keeps humans alive

in space for long period of times.

HOWELL: It takes international cooperation, with no more than six astronauts onboard at all times, representing countries from the United

States, Russia, Canada Japan, and European countries.


HOWELL: Completed in 2011 this floating laboratory has been a work in progress since 1998. The first crew arrived in November of 2002 and, since

then, the ISS has been inhabited by an international team. The spacecraft is about the size of a football field with another pressurized living and

working space as a six-bedroom home.

KJELL N. LINDGREN, ASTRONAUT: This is an international laboratory. It's a place where we're conducting science and experiments. And a lot of those

are critical again to our understanding of how human physiology adapts to this microgravity environment. And the things that we need to do to protect

human health for a long trip to Mars.

HOWELL: From spacewalks to studying weightlessness, there have been many experiments conducted in this lab, like this where you see NASA Scott Kelly

and his colleagues taking the first bites of food grown entirely in space, harvested from their own space garden onboard the ISS. At a cost of more

than $100 billion.

KELLY: I think we're very lucky to have this space station and this program. And to be able to learn the things we are learning from it.

HOWELL: The ISS is a testing ground for a much bigger goal, a mission one day to reach mars and possibly live there.

George Howell, CNN, Atlanta.


GORANI: This has been "The World Right Now." I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you same time, same place tomorrow. "Quest Means Business" is next.