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Bahrain Cuts off Diplomatic Ties with Iran; Anti-Government Militia Occupy Wildlife Refuge in Oregon; Mexican Mayor Assassinated Day After Inauguration; Concerns After Hong Kong Bookseller Disappears. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 4, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:15] LYNDA KINKADE, HOST: A diplomatic tie is severed as a regional feud intensifies. Saudi Arabia cuts relations with Iran and tells

diplomats to leave the kingdom. This hour, how this latest row will impact an already volatile region.

Also ahead, free of ISIS, but left in ruins. CNN gets a rare look inside Ramadi after Iraqis special forces drive the terror group out.

And disturbing questions in Hong Kong after five booksellers critical of China go missing. We'll have the latest on the investigation.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

KINKADE: Hello. I'm Lynda Kinkade. And welcome to Connect the World.

Right now, we are seeing major losses on the U.S. markets after a day of global selloffs. The Dow has already plunged more than 400 points and

there are losses on the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ, too.

Elsewhere, stocks from Tokyo to London have all been in the red. This, after weak manufacturing data from China, which is fueling fears about the

slowdown in the world's second largest economy.

We are watching the situation on the markets. And we will have more later on Connect the World.

A row between two Middle Eastern rivals is raising fears of sectarian violence across the region. There are more angry protests in Tehran over

Saudi Arabia's execution on Saturday of a leading Shiite cleric.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties protesters torched the Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran. Now, Bahrain has given Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the

country. Sudan has also severed ties with Iran. And the United Arab Emirates is downgrading the relations with the Islamic Republic.

Senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen is following this diplomatic fallout and joins us from London.

Fred, we're seeing this growing diplomatic row and it seems to be quickly escalating.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. And the pace at which the diplomatic row is escalating is certainly

something that's troubling to the U.S., troubling to many countries internationally as well. One of the things that has happened today is that

according to the Reuters News Agency, the Saudis have now gone a step further and are severing all economic ties with Iran, or stopping flights

between the two countries and also not allowing Saudi citizens to go to Iran anymore.

One of the things, however, that the Saudis have said is Hajj pilgrims from Iran will still be allowed to travel to Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, we see further escalation after this weekend that saw the ties between these two nations deteriorate very quickly starting of course

with the execution of that Shia cleric, then going to the ransacking of the Saudi embassy.

This is really something that -- where you saw an interesting reaction from the Iranians. One the one hand, you had a lot of criticism, of course, of

the execution of that Shia cleric, but you also have top level Iranian politicians, like, for instance, President Hassan Rouhani saying that

storming of the embassy was wrong and that those who were involved will be brought to justice. The Iranians announcing that they have arrested some

40 people in relation to the storming of that embassy, however, apparently that is not enough at this point in time for the Saudis who are upping the

ante and as we've seen some other predominately Sunni countries are also following suit like, for instance, Sudan and also the United Arab Emirates

who have downgraded their ties.

KINKADE: And Fred, we understand that Russia is saying it could act as mediator. What role could it play? And what history does it have with

dealing with these two countries.

PLEITGEN: Well, you know, it is unclear what role Russia could actually play. Russia did offer to play mediator between these two nations. Also,

however, in the same press release that, to them, it is absolutely clear that the host nations must see to it that embassies in their countries are


One of the things that will make it very difficult for the Russians to hold much sway, for instance, with the Saudis is the fact that in the Syria

conflict, they are bombing on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. That is not something that sits well with the Saudis who are opposed the

Assad regime.

Now of course there's also other countries who are doing their best to try and get these relations at least to come to a point where these countries

talk to each other again. The U.S. is calling on both sides to go back to the

path of the democracy. The Chinese have said that they are very concerned. They

also have major interests in the Middle East. And the European Union has done the same as well.

So, there is a great deal of concern internationally. It is unclear which country or which persons could successfully mediate in the conflict. But

certainly it seems as though at this point in time, more is pointing towards escalation rather than deescalation, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yeah, it's not looking good.

Frederik Pleitgen in London, thank you very much for staying across that for us.

Well, there are so many potentail consequences of any deepening row between these two Middle Eastern powerhouses.

Now to put this latest unrest into perspective, in just a moment we will look back at the ups and downs of their relations over the past years and

decades. We'll also examine how Saudi and defense changed changed since King Salman came to power a year ago and empowered a whole new generation

of royals.

And we will be taking stock of the market reaction. Jitters over this feuding regional giants are already weighing on the global markets and oil

prices. More on that just ahead.

Now to Iraq and other countries with where the fallout between Saudi Arabia and Iran is being felt. Demonstrations in the majority Shia country was

seen in Baghdad as marchers protested the execution of Saudi Clerick Nimr al-Nimr.

The country is already torn by violence, but Iraqi forces declared victory over ISIS in the battle for Ramadi, an offensive that largely excluded Shia


And Nima Elbagir has just toured the ruins of Ramadi. She joins us now from Baghdad. And Nima, you got incredible access inside Ramadi. How much

of the city would you say is now under Iraqi control? And what's the likelihood that they will hold it?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The sense that we got speaking to those were speaking to the commanders leading to the clean up

operation, as they refer to it on the ground, is that it's some 20 percent to 25 percent of the city where there is still an ISIS presence.

But when you see the infrastructure that ISIS had tunneled under the streets of Ramadi in only six months of holding it, it really gives you

context to understand why it was so difficult to uproot them in the first place.

Take a look at this, Lynda.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ramadi, after months of ISIS rule, this is what remains. ISIS's occupation of the

city leaving its mark both above and below ground.

(on camera): These are the houses that the militants were hiding inside of. You can see what they were doing is they were digging up tunnels so that

they were able to move from house to house without being seen by the coalition planes. And so that this wasn't spotted from the air, they were

hiding the dirt that they were digging up and keeping it inside the houses themselves.

You come through here, we can show you one of the tunnels leading through. Some of these tunnels, we're told, went as far as a kilometer.

We're going to go have a look inside. They're not actually that wide, but it does give you a sense of them moving in the dark, under the ground, out

of sight.

(voice-over): The city fell to ISIS in May last year. Since then, Iraqi forces have been battling to reclaim their territorial integrity and their

ravaged morale.

The head of Iraq's counterterror force told us the liberation of Ramadi should be celebrated around the world.

LT. GEN. TALEB SHEGATI AL-KENANI, IRAQI COUNTERTERRORISM FORCE (through translation): Defeating ISIS in this victory has impacted on ISIS plans and

its very existence, including weakness and desperation. The road to Mosul is now open and clear.

ELBAGIR: Blindfolded and bound, captured ISIS fighters face the wall. They were, we're told, attempting to blend in to what remains of the local

population. A reminder ISIS fighters could be hiding in plain sight.

Even as the road to Mosul is in the Iraqi armed force's sight, a week on from the announcement of the liberation here in Ramadi, counterterror

forces battle to purge the city of the remaining militants' presence.


ELBAGIR (on camera): We're hearing some pops of gunfire there. They're a little further across the other side of the river. The fighting is ongoing.

The clean up operation is still going on and that's why the helicopter is circling overhead.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): In spite of the threat of IEDs and roadside bombs, the troops continue their painstaking push. Under every inch of reclaimed

territory, a possible death. Everyone here knows so much is at stake in this claimed liberation and not just for Iraq.

AL-KENANI (through translation): This victory is a victory for humanity because ISIS is against Iraq and against all of humanity.

ELBAGIR: It is also, finally, some palpable momentum in the battle.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Ramadi.


ELBAGIR: Even as those counterterror forces carry out that purge, Lynda, they're having to also try and rescue the hundreds of trapped families

believed to be still inside those areas where ISIS exerts control.

KINKADE: Yes, certainly a difficult task. And some great reporting there, Nima Elbagir in Baghdad. Thank you very much.

Well, this latest video purportedly from ISIS shows a masked fighter with a British accent. He hurled insults before militants execute five captives

accused of spying for Britain. And a young English-speaking voice threatens the west.

Our Nick Paton Walsh joins us now from Beirut with more on this. Nick, what can you tell us about this video? And how old do you think the boy


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's clear he is very young. He only appears for a brief fraction of the video at its very end,

a matter of seconds in which wearing an ISIS headband and very small camouflage clothes. He refers to the potential imminent death of men he

referred to as believers -- unbelievers who are trapped inside a car. That is sort of a sick trailer, so to speak, of another video they suspect, or

say will be released imminently.

But going back to the original content of this released online yesterday. It begins with lengthy ISIS would call them confessions of five men who

theysay are Syrians from the city of Raqqa, the capital of their self- declared caliphate. They name each man, each man clearly talks under duress. They say that they have been recruited by Britain as spies, filmed

footage inside the city in some cases. Clearly, these are not voluntary statements, of course.

And they're followed swiftly by a British accented man threatening the United Kingdom saying it is ridiculous for them to attack ISIS with a

handful of war planes. Reminiscent of a man who initially brought much of the western gaze upon ISIS, Jihadi John who when ISIS were expanding in

territory, appeared behind many western victims soon after was executed by ISIS and hurled threats at the west as well.

This man also with a British accent, similar in his rhetoric, rhetoric that has been swiftly dismissed by the British governments David Cameron saying

how this is desperate stuff from an organization that really does the most utterly despicable and ghastly acts.

He also points out, true by some studies, that ISIS is in fact losing territory, it is losing ground. One study suggesting in fact they hold 14

percent less territory now than they did about a year ago.

But the video trying to echo the threatening tones against the west with the other British accented militant, Jihadi John, known as Mohammed Emwazi,

most likely killed, say western officials in an airstrike just late last year, a bid to echo that sense of menace and focus, perhaps, ISIS

militant's gaze towards the United Kingdom.

But still chilling nonetheless despite how this rhetoric, dismissed by the United Kingdom as propaganda comes from a group that is now on its back

foot militarily -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Certainly a chilling video. Nick Paton Walsh in Beirut, thank you very much.

Well still to come tonight, the mystery of Hong Kong's missing book sellers. Why a new disappearance is raising serious concerns about freedom

of expression.

But first, new tensions with Saudi Arabia and Iran over the execution of the Shia cleric. We will look back on the countries long and turbulent



[11:15:25] KINKADE: Hello. You are watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

A reminder of our top story, Saudi Arabia says it's cutting diplomatic ties with Iran. It comes after the country's embassy in Tehran was ransacked

and firebombed by protesters angry over the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday.

Thought the latest move may come as a surprise to some, it isn't the first time the two regional hours have had a falling out.


KINKADE: It's 1979, an Islamic revolution overthrows the pro-western Reza Shah Pahlavi and brings to power Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.

Arab states like Saudi Arabia regard the new Shia government in Tehran as a threat, focused on exploiting their version of an Islamic revolution.

A year later, Iraq's Saddam Hussein attacks Iran and is supported by Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia.

The eight-year war that followed was one of the bloodiest of the 20th Century.

In 1987, Shia protesters and Saudi forces clashed in the holy city of Mecca.

402 pilgrims were killed, more than half of them Iranians. Ties between Tehran and Riyadh were cut the following year and were not restored until


That is when Iran's reformist president Mohammad Khatami and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah spearheaded a new era in relations.

In 1997, the future king became the highest Saudi official to visit post- revolution Tehran.

But that honeymoon did not last long. In 2011, the Arab Spring saw popular protests across the region, including in Shia majority Bahrain. Saudi

forces moved quickly to suppress protests in support of the island's Sunni rulers and accused Iran of supporting the uprising.

By 2015, the two sides were at constant loggerheads. A stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage killed more than 450 Iranians, leading to vocal criticism

from Tehran and Claims of Saudi foulplay, claims the Saudis denied.

It is 2016 and the relationship is finally broken after the execution of this man, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The Saudis considers the dissident a

terrorist and Iran views as an oppressed martyr. The fate of one man capturing the historic tension and rivalry between two regional foes.


KINKADE: Now to discuss the latest fallout between Saudi Arabia and Iran, we

are joined from London by Jane Kinninmont, deputy head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House.

Thanks so much for your time today


KINKADE: Firstly, just give us your perspective on the volatile relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And what do you make of this

latest diplomatic fallout?

KINNIMENT: Well, it's very important as your film highlighted to be aware that these countries have a very longstanding rivalry. But at the same

time, relations haven't always been as bad as they are today. There could be a lot of scope for economic cooperation between these two countries, for

example. But right now, they find themselves on different sides of a host of conflicts in the region, above all in Syria where they have been backing

different sides for five years now in an extremely brutal civil war, but also in Yemen and to some extent in Iraq.

And those potential now for tensions to rise in countries like Lebanon and like Afghanistan, where they haven't been at each others throats quite so

much, but they still back opposing factions.

KINKADE: And looking at those wars: in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, what do you think this diplomatic fallout will have on those wars?

KINNINMONT: It makes things go from bad to worse. We have already seen the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia announcing the end of what was

already the extremely shaky cease-fire in Yemen just in the past few days.

In Syria, one of the very, very few glimmers of hope there has been that last year Saudi Arabia and Iran did sit down together with other

international powers to discuss the country's future.

But these latest ruptures do places question marks over whether that process is going to, itself, be able to continue with any seriousness.

KINKADE: And Jane, this of course is not just about Saudi Arabia and Iran anymore, we have seen Sudan, Bahrain, the UAE all responding. What are

hardliners in the region saying? And are there moderates calling for an end to this diplomatic row?

KINNINMONT: Well, unfortunately, you are seeing the debate becoming increasingly polarized around sectarian lines. So, there will be some

Sunni activists who believe that Sheikh Nimr was unfairly treated, or who oppose the death penalty, but very few of them are daring to speak out.

It's really only Shia voices from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon that are loudly defending him.

Meanwhile, it's very useful for a lot of countries to use this as an opportunity to get into the good books of Saudi Arabia, which is, of

course, a massive source of foreign aid.

So, for a country like Sudan, traditionally, they actually had quite good ties with Iran, but now they are participating alongside Saudi Arabia in

the war on Yemen, sending ground troops there. And by cutting diplomatic ties with

Iran, they will probably be hoping that they can get some more economic support from Saudi Arabia into their very impoverished country.

KINKAADE: And looking at some of the other countries like Bahrain, it's quite interesting there where you have got a Sunni king and Shiite majority

population. They, too, are asking their Iranian diplomats to leave. Could we see internal problems within these countries?

KINNINMONT: Yes, absolutely. I mean, Bahrain has seen unrest particularly over the past five years since they had an uprising as part of the Arab

Spring. That was largely driven by domestic demands for political reform. But the authorities sought to discredit that movement by saying that the

protesters were essentially agents of Iran.

There's a lot of fear among Sunnis in the region because they have seen the empowerment of the Shia government in Iraq after Saddam Hussein, which

essentially took revenge on a lot of Sunnis that they blamed as associated with Saddam's regime.

So, when Bahrain, a Sunni minority became very frightened, that even moderate democratic reforms would -- wouldn't lead to build democracy, that

they've bring about even bloodshed, revenge killings and so forth. Tensions there have been heightened yet again by the spillover form this

case of Sheikh Nimr.

KINKADE: Jane Kinninmont, we appreciate your perspective on all of this. Thanks very much for joining us.

And you can stay up to date with the latest analysis on the Middle East by heading to our web site at, including this video explaining the

differences with Sunni and Shia Islam. It is a must watch to help you understand the recent developments in the region.

Well, we will have much more on this story just ahead, including changes in Saudi Arabia's foreign policy under King Salman during his first year in

charge. Washington's ambassador to Riyadh will join us for his take.

Plus, prominent book sellers go missing in Hong Kong. Why some people believe they were abducted by China.


KINKADE: You are watching Connect the World live from the CNN Center. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

U.S. President Barack Obama is beginning the year with a new push towards tighter gun control. In just under three hours, he will meet with U.S.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss the latest on gun control.

Our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins me now for more on this.

Michelle, this has been a real heartache for the president. Time and time again, we have seen him having to speak after mass shootings. How

important is this to him and his legacy as president?

[11:25:07] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's clearly very important. And he used the word heartache. I mean, he used the word

heartbreaking himself. When we've seen him over the last year deliver more and more public statements after mass shootings in the U.S. becoming more

emotional, seemingly, with each one, expressing anger and frustration. In fact, in one interview in the last couple of months, he said that the

biggest frustration of his time as president has been not being able to do more with gun control.

It's interesting, too, when you look at the evolution of this, three years ago after one particular massacre in Sandyhook it was in an elementary

school with a lot of children killed, the president urged congress to act on gun control. There was a bipartisan effort to do so. But that bill to

expand background checks on gun purchases died in the senate.

Then the president said, OK, well I'm going to enact dozens of executive actions, but they didn't really change the law much. They didn't really

expand things very broadly. And critics said that the executive action that he took didn't have any teeth.

And from that point on, when you would hear the president speak on this issue, which was clearly still important to him. He would say things like,

well, there is only so much I can do as president. It's really up to congress to act. And he would criticize congress more and more.

But just within the last few months, you started to him say, again, OK, let's look at the law and see where there is some leeway to take additional

executive action. And that is where we are right now. We know that change is coming. It is imminent. It is going to be in the area of background

checks. But it remains to be seen how much they are expanded.

It is going to be things like possibly including people now who are more private gun sellers who don't sell a huge volume of guns, who don't have to

have background checks done on the buyers, but that could change. He could

expand the way the federal government tracks lost and stolen guns.

So there are a lot of question marks there to see how far the president will go, but something is coming within the next couple of days.

Of course, there are plenty of arguments on the other side. One of the biggest ones being when you look at mass shootings recently in the U.S., so

many of those guns were bought absolutely legally with background checks, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yeah, that is a very good point.

Michelle Kosinski, thank you for joining us from the White House.

And of course you can join CNN for a special look at guns in America with U.S. President Barack Obama. Anderson Cooper hosts an exclusive one hour

live townhall event. You can see it Friday at 9:00 a.m. Hong Kong time. That's at 1:00 a.m. in London right here on CNN.

The latest world headlines just ahead, plus the first trading day of 2016 opens with a dive. What's causing the turbulence and how it is effecting

oil prices.



[11:31:44] KINKADE: Investors are also watching the price of oil since the diplomatic row erupted between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Tensions are

actually boosting the commodities, which had plunged in recent months.

CNN's John Defterios is following the developments from Abu Dhabi and joins us now.

John, we've gone from an oil market awash with crude to one that is suddenly gripped by fear and tension. What impact is the Saudi-Iran split


DEFTERIOS: It is amazing, Lynda, how things can change very quickly, here. The best way to describe the oil market of the last 18 months has been the

word glut, because of a glut of supplies.

Now back into a risk on environment, particularly with attentions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

What could happen? What could be the spillover for the Middle East?

Let's take look at prices today. We had a spike of 1.5 percent in Asian trading. Then we went straight up from there. In the last 30 minutes of

trading, we have come off the highs, but still Brent Crude up nearly 1.72 percent, knocking on the door of $38 a barrel. And NYMEX crude up about

.70 percent.

We were also above $39 a barrel about 90 minutes into trading.

Though, the big concern is we have gone from a region that is focused on proxy wars bewteen Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen, in Syria and Iraq, now moving to much greater tensions with the Saudi Arabian partners breaking

diplomatic ties as well with Iran: Bahrain, Sudan and even the UAE downgrading those ties.

So, what does it mean? Spill over to the regional stock markets. Losses today of 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent depending on the market. But also

concerns what happens to the Straits of Hormuz, what happens to exports.

Now, this is a market awash with crude, some 3 billion barrels of oversupply in 2015. But again, the Strait of Hormuz comes back into play

again. And we can't downplay the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the oil market itself. King Salman, of course, looking after Saudi

Arabia, number one proven reserves in the world, with 265 billion barrels. And Iran, the number two proven reserves ni the region, over 150 billion


So, when you have tensions at this level with two major players in the region, of course it brings tension back on to the market. And the focus

drifts away from the oversupply that we've had over the last 18 months.

KINKADE: And this, of course, can't make life any easier in the Middle East and for the OPEC cartel with two of their biggest players having this

diplomatic fallout. What are the implications long term?

DEFTERIOS: Well, quite grand implications, Lynda. I would suggest that OPEC is in the worst disarray it's been in the better part of two decades.

They just came out of a meeting in December. Many thought they would plan for future, if you will, and try to accommodate Iran back into the fold if

sanctions are lifted. Iran is hoping that still will take place in the first quarter of 2016.

The Iranian oil minister told me he wants to add 1.5 million barrels a day to the market by the end of this year. OPEC did not make any an

accommodation for Iran. The potential new production coming from Libya.

And what we have within OPEC today is the Sunni-Shia divide again. We have have Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait on one side, Iran and Iraq on

the other. And then the producers who want higher prices: Nigeria, Angola, Venezuela saying, look, are we ever going to come together to see higher


So, very high tensions within OPEC, and what would hasten that another element here.

Saudi Arabia has never been happy with the P5+1 deal that the United States has worked on to get the sanctions lifted on Iran. Perhaps this is

Riyadh's last stand to push against that deal going forward and why we see the tensions

ratcheted up in the region.

This was a high growth region and right now with oil prices hovering around $35 to $40 a barrel, a lot of political pain, a lot of economic pain and

now you can add some security concerns to that mix as well -- Lynda.

[11:35:27] KINKADE: Yeah, absolutely. Some great analysis there. John Defterios in Abu Dhabi, thank you very much.

And staying with that story, the row between longtime rival Saudi Arabia and

Iran and the fallout that is rippling through the region and beyond. Following Riyadh's lead, several states have either cut or downgraded their

ties to the Islamic Republic after the Saudi embassy was ransacked in Tehran.

That attack was sparked by the execution of a leading critic of the Saudi regime, Shiite Cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

This of course a tense, and to King Salman's first year in power, the anniversary of his taking of the throne is later this month.

For more on what's changed in Saudi foreign policy since then, I want to bring in Robert Jordan. He was the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia in the

years after the 9/11 attacks.

Thanks for being with us, Robert.


KINKADE: Firstly, in your opinion, did Saudi Arabia make a mistake by executing this prominent Shiite cleric?

JORDAN: Well, it remains to be seen. Let's make one thing clear, Nimr al- Nimr was not exactly the Martin Luther King of Saudi Arabia. He was someone inclined to incite violent acts. when he was arrested, he was

helping another militant escape from the Saudi police.

So the Saudis have a view that anyone who incites or promotes radical Islam or violent acts against the state is just as guilty as those who perform

the acts and so this is the basis on which I think he was executed.

Of the 47 individuals executed on this date, only three of them were Shiite. And so most of them were al Qaeda militants who were active in

attacks. For example, even on the U.S. consulate in 2004 which killed the person who had actually been my driver when I was ambassador there.

So, these were hardcore militant violent extremists by and large.

It still, though, may turn out to be a mistake. And here's why. It creates, I think, an image that the Saudis are not interested in peace,

that they are not interested in any kind of an accommodation with Iran. There's only one answer to the conflict and that is total victory by the


That is something to be concerned about. We have the Syrian peace talks going on now which very much need both the Saudi and Iranian cooperation.

I think we're not likely to see that progress for a while.

This could turn out to be something that further inflames the region.

KINKADE: So ultimately what do you think Saudi Arabia really gains from this move? And do you think we could we see a more -- this spread to

becoming a military conflict?

JORDAN: Well, I think they gain something domestically. We have a new king who has been king less than a year. His 30-year-old son is the deputy

crown prince. I think he is trying to make a statement that he is a tough guy, that he is in charge of the kingdom. And that even peaceable dissent

will not be tolerated.

So, that's a domestic message.

I think he is also sending a message to the Sunni Arab world that he is going to finally stand up where they have been somewhat passive in the past

and relied more on the United States. They now no longer feel they can rely as much on the United States and so they are striking out in their own

directions and some of it will is not be pretty and some of it is not going to be well calibrated.

But I think that's what we are going to see now as a regime feeling it's way along.

They are mired in this quagmire in Yemen. They seem to have no political objective or way out. They have a declining price of oil. Their budget

deficits are extraordinary. And they are going to have to start reducing subsidies to their people, which will really lead to more dissent.

So, I think we're in for a period of instability with the Saudis. And they are trying to grab hold of it and show that they have a divisive way


KINKADE: And now the United States is Saudi Arabia's biggest backer in the west. But the U.S. also has improved relations with Iran since the nuclear


So, does the U.S. have to tread carefully here with its response?

JORDAN: Well, we've improved relations with Iran in the sense of having come to a nuclear deal. We don't know how well it is going to be complied

with and we also don't know how strongly the U.S. and the other united countries are going to enforce it.

But no one, Is think, believes this is a kumbaya moment with Iran. They are a revolutionary state geared to foment instability and violence

throughout the Middle East. And I think this is something that America is still mindful of.

Now, they are not our next ally on the frontier. And I think this is something that we probably would need to emphasize to the Saudis a little


[11:40:14] KINKADE: We already have seen the proxy war going on in Syria between Saudi Arabia and Iran and their forces. Do you think this could

all be a step back in the fight against ISIS?

JORDAN: It may well create further vacuums. It may well create greater difficulty in finding any kind of moderate forces to train and assist in

the process of fighting ISIS both in Syria and in Iraq.

So, I think we have got a real risk here that it could destabilize efforts in that regard.

KINKADE: OK. We will have to leave it there.

Former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, thanks so much for joining us.

JORDAN: thank you.

KINKADE: The ramifications of the story are huge. The reaction is coming in from all parts of the world.

We want to know what you think about it. And you can let us know your thoughts by going to our Facebook page. That's at

You can also watch all our reports there and some exclusive digital content and of course you can tweet me @lyndakinkade.

Live from the CNN Center, this is Connect the world. Coming up, a mayor who promised to combat violence and corruption has now become a victim of

it. Who police believe targeted her just a day after she took office.

Also a hotel that has become a temporary sanctuary for the vulnerable. The accommodation one charity is offering refugees.


KINKADE: You with watching CNN and this Connect the World with me Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

A small town south of Mexico City is mourning the death of its newly elected mayor. She was shot and killed in front of her family just a day

after taking office. Her murder is now putting renewed attention on drug and gang violence on the region. Our senior Latin affairs -- American

Affairs Rafael Romo has been been following this story and joins us now.

Rafael, corruption, as we know, is rife in Mexico. And this newly elected mayor had vowed to fight it. How is the public reacting to her death?

[11:45:12] RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the entire country is shaken, as you can imagine, Lynda. Just a couple of hours ago, a top

Mexican official tweeted that those responsible for the mayor's murder are a drug gang known as Los Rojos, or the Red Ones in English, that the

investigation into this horrific murder is only beginning.


ROMO: One day she was being sworn in as mayor, the next day, she was gunned

down at her home.

It happened in Temixco, a city about 60 miles south of Mexico City in the state of Morelos. Gisela Mota was 33 years old.

She won the mayoral election promising to get rid of corruption and organized crime in Texmixco.

Police say she had not been in office one full day Saturday morning when a group of heavily armed men enter her home and kill her in her doorway.

"How cowardly nine hit men for one person, an unarmed woman, "this local official said, demanding a full investigation into the mayor's murder.

After the shooting, police gave chase and exchanged gunfire with the armed men, killing two of them according to authorities, three more detained.

The motive for the shooting remains unknown, but drug gangs have plagued the region in recent years.

DEBORAH BONELLO, JOURNALIST: The gang accused of the killing has been involved in a bloody territorial war in the neighboring state of Guerrero

which is, as may or may not know, is the most violent state in the country.

So, it could be some spillover violence, something to do with the proximity of the two states.

ROMO: Graco Ramirez (ph), the Morelos state governor seen here standing by Mota's flagged-draped coffin, declared three days of mourning and flags

around the state to fly at half staff.

Mota, the first woman elected as mayor in the city of Temixco, was laid to rest on Sunday.


ROMO: And Morelos state government announced most municipalities are under the protection of state police, especially local mayors who tend to be

vulnerable in the threat to organized crime. Back to you.

KINKADE: And Rafael, there have been a number of arrests. What can you tell us about them? the number of arrests?

ROMO: They all appear to be linked to an organized group called Los Rojas, or the Red Ones as I mentioned at the beginning.

And listen to this, Lynda, one of those were detained. We are talking about three people, was a minor, a teenager believed to have participated

in the killing of the mayor.

One of the reasons why many people in Mexico are shocked by what happened there in Texmixco, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yeah, just a teenager.

Rafael Romo, thanks so much for staying across that for us. We'll talk to you soon.

Well, live from in the CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, demanding answers, protests over the disappearance of book sellers in Hong

Kong all with one common link.

And to 1 million migrants and refugees arrived in Europe in 2015, next we take you to a hotel in Greece that's offering some of them free



KINKADE: You are watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Lynda Kinkade. Welcome back.

China's foreign ministry says it has no information about the disappearance of several Hong Kong book publishers who are linked to books critical of


But there is growing anger in Hong Kong where people are looking to the mainland for answers.

CNN's Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Law makers in Hong Kong exercise of freedom denied in the rest of China. They demonstrate outside

the Chinese central government's liaison office in this former British colony,

demanding information about at least four Hong Kong book publishers who have gone missing in just the last two months.

ALAN LEONG, LEADER, HONG KONG CIVIC PARTY: What we are worried about is not only the personal safety of our citizens, but also such acts could be

threats to the freedom of expression and freedom of publication that we are supposed to enjoy and promised by law.

WATSON: This is the entrance to the Causeway Bay book shop: closed after one of its owners, 65-year-old Lee Bo, disappeared last week. The shop

specializes in books that criticize the Chinese central government.

Lee's wife told local TV she thinks he was abducted. She says he made a call under duress from a phone in Mainland China.

The police they're are investigating the cases as well as the disappearance of three executives of the Mighty Current Publishing House who went missing

last November.

The city's top official denied speculation that police from Mainland China may have arrested the book sellers.

Who do you think could be behind the possible kidnapping?

CY LEUNG, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Only law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong have the legal authority to enforce laws and to take necessary actions

in Hong Kong.

WATSON: He also pledged to defend freedoms of speech and expression enjoyed in Hong Kong.

At the people's book store in Hong Kong, the shop's owner tells me half of the books he sells are banned in Mainland China.

Where are most of your customers from?

PAUL TANG, OWNER, PEOPLE'S BOOKSTORE: I can say 80 percent to 90 percent now from Mainland, Mainland visitor.

WATSON: So, what happens? They come to Hong Kong and buy your books and then take them back illegally?

TANG: Yeah. They try. They try to like hide in the luggage or handbags or whatever and then they -- smuggling and then take it back to China.

WATSON: This is the dividing line between Hong Kong and the rest of China, officially one country with two very different systems.

The authorities on that side of the border don't have jurisdiction here in Hong Kong. And that is why the mysterious disappearance of critics of the

Chinese central government has triggered such worry on this much freer side of the


Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


KINKADE: Since freedom of speech is just one of the reasons why Hong Kong is

unique in China and why stories such as this are so disturb to the people of Hong Kong.

Although technically ruled by the Communist Party, the territory is a special

administrative region with its only languages, currency, legal system, lawmakers and culture.

And as Ivan mentioned in his report, that freedom is called one country, two systems.

It began in 1997 when rule of Hong Kong was handed back to China from the UK

Since then, there's growing concern China is trying to change things. In 2014, Hong Kongers occupied several major streets calling for the right to

vote for their next leader without interference from Beijing.

In tonight's Parting Shots, we take you to the Greek island of Lesbos. Thousands of migrants and refugees have landed on its shores desperate to

begin a new life in Europe. One hotel there is trying to help by offering

temporary accommodation for free.


TONIA PATRIKIADOU, FIELD MANAGER, CARITAS HELLAS: Caritas Hellas is (inaudible) this project of offering temporary accommodation to vulnerable

refugees. They can stay here for one to three days.

We provide them all the facilities of a hotel for free. They can have two hot meals, breakfast and dinner.

Here is, as you see, the outside part of the hotel, one part of the hotel. It is the playing ground.

They feel very calm and really happy. You see them like any child. This makes them more strong and for a brief moment, away their fears and their


When they arrive here, actually, they are really, really exhausted. The only thing that they really ask at this moment is just a warm place to


Here we are in the bungalow, one of the rooms where a family of five people will stay for three days. And they are from Syria. They have everything.

They have the heating is really important. It is something they have lost while they're traveling.

Our goal is to make them feel comfortable in a friendly environment.

I wish to help them find the way to integrate into European society.


KINKADE: And if you want to make a difference in helping the migrant crisis, all you need to do is head to where you can find

ways of getting involved.

Our team has identified a number of leading charities that you can donate to and highlight ways you can also volunteer your time.

All that and much more can be found at

And before we go, we want to update you on today's losses on the global markets. The Dow Jones is down around 420 points right now, falling below

the 17,000 mark for the first time since October.

Poor U.S. manufacturing data is behind some losses, but it was news from China that really shocked investors. Trading was halted after weak

manufacturing data there led to massive losses.

The Shanghai Composite dropped almost 7 percent while the Shenzhen shed more than 8 percent.

We will have more on the iDesk with Robyn Kurnow coming up next on CNN.

Well, I'm Lynda Kinkade and that was Connect the World. Thanks so much for joining us.