Return to Transcripts main page

WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

Iran, Saudi Arabia Cut Ties; Chinese Stocks Suffer Meltdown; President Obama Ready to Take Executive Action on Guns. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired January 4, 2016 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:13] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR, WORLD RIGHT NOW: Tonight, anger in the streets and a diplomatic disaster. Iran and Saudi Arabia cut ties after

the kingdom carries out controversial execution. We will hear this hour from the U.S. State Department.

Plus, Chinese stocks suffer a meltdown and the Dow is taking a major plunge. We'll tell you why in a live report.

And this hour, U.S. President, Barack Obama is getting ready to take executive action on guns. Will he succeed? We're live at the White House.

And CNN goes inside Ramadi for firsthand look at a city just liberated from ISIS terrorist.

Hello everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live at CNN London. Thanks for being with us this hour. This is the World Right Now.

Sectarian rift deeper than we've seen in almost two decades with Saudi Arabia deviation authority now stopping all flights to and from Iran, it

was the next step for the Saudi after they cut diplomatic ties with Tehran for the first time since 1988. Let's take a look at the ripple effect that

move has caused.

Bahrain and Sudan are also severing diplomatic relations with Iran. And the UAE has recalled its ambassador, all this, all of the dramatic sequence

of events that erupted over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Anger, on the streets of Tehran, thousands of the Iranian capital protest against the execution of prominent Shia Cleric, Nimr al-Nimr by

Saudi Arabia, Saturday.

Diplomatic ties between the two countries now severed for the first time in a generation. These Saudi diplomats were evacuated from Tehran arriving in

Dubai early Monday.

HOSSEIN JABER ANSARI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translation): Saudi Arabia sees not only its interest, but also its

survival in the continuation of tensions. Therefore, it has used the issue as another excuse to increase tension and conflict.

GORANI: In Iraq, protesters also took to the streets. These men rushed the police lines of the green zone in Baghdad that guards the Saudi

embassy.

In another apparent retaliation, broken glass and rabble on the floor of this Sunni mosque.

In an interview, Monday, the Saudi Foreign Minister stood by the kingdom's action calling Nimr al-Nimr the Shia cleric a terrorist and extending

sanctions against Iran.

ADEL BIN AHMED AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: We decided to cut off all diplomatic relations with Iran. We will also be cutting off all air

traffic to and from Iran. We will be cutting off all commercial relations with Iran and we will have a travel ban against people traveling to Iran.

GORANI: A firm response from the Saudi's two days after protester stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

It all started with the execution of the Shia cleric and outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia's Sunni rumors.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia's allies also cut ties with Iran, Bahrain and Sudan. The UAE has now downgraded its diplomatic team.

The breakdown of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia not only threaten stability on the streets of Tehran and Riyadh, but will only heighten Sunni

and Shia tensions across the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Let's bring in our Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He's reported many times from Iran. Let's talk a little bit

about how bad this could get. Right now, it's a diplomatic crisis.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.

GORANI: Could it get worst?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think it certainly has the potential to get worst. On a diplomatic front, it certainly does. And the interesting thing right now

that I'm seeing is a response from the Iranian. Because on the one hand, we have Iranian hardliners really aren't willing to give even an inch on

all of this and continuously criticizing the Saudis.

You have the Supreme leader who came out and called for divine revenge against the Saudi ruling family, but you do also have some who appear to be

trying to walk back from the brink at this point. You have Hassan Rouhani, the country's President who came out and said that it was wrong just from

the embassy that they've arrested 40 people.

The Governor of Tehran has also come out and heavily criticized those who were part of this. However, it certainly still seems very much as though

these countries are -- remain on that confrontation course. And it really is very difficult to see them get up.

GORANI: What -- what is going -- what is it going to take to dial it back here because it doesn't just impact Iran and Saudi as we'll see at the

moment, but other country (ph).

PLEITGEN: Well, this is the thing. It's going to take probably some sort of third country to get involved and try to talk to both of these

countries.

[15:05:03] Unclear, however, who at this point it could be?

GORANI: The U.S. is saying we're not shopping for a mediator. They have to talk to each other.

PLEITGEN: Well, the thing is -- yes. The U.S. have said they don't want to be the mediator. The Russians have said they do want to be the

mediator. But the Saudis clearly don't want that.

And one of the places that is of major concern is Syria. And one of the reasons why the Saudis will not even want the Russians as the mediator is

because, of course, the Russians are bombing on the half of Bashar al-Assad there in Syria.

GORANI: You mentioned Syria. Here's the map here of Syria there in red. You have Saudi Arabia and Iran. This doesn't just impact as we mentioned

Riyadh and Tehran, but also conflicts in Syria and in Yemen.

PLEITGEN: Syria, Yemen and Iraq as well. And Syria, you had, you know, one of those big achievements of the final months of last year when the

U.S. finally managed to get Iran into the Saudi's at least sit in the same room and try and come up with some sort of solution. And that it wasn't

going anywhere quickly, but at least it was a start. And then Yemen is a conflict that really remains overlooked by many in the international

committee, but it's one that's very bloody.

And the Saudis were long time have been accusing the Iranians of meddling there of supporting at whose these were. The Iranians have blatantly been

calling, but the Saudis they are doing a genocide with their air campaign.

And then you have Iraq, of course, as the other big one where that Sunni- Shia rift is probably more prominent than any of the countries in the Middle East. In one word, that's going to have to be sorted out.

GORANI: We'll be speaking to the Iraqi ambassador to Washington in just about 15 minutes. So, we'll ask him about that as well. Fred Pleitgen,

thanks very much.

Now, the U.S. considers Saudi Arabia to be a relatively stable regional ally. In just a few minutes, I'll be speaking to the State Department

Spokesperson, John Kirby about Saudi Arabia's latest executions at human rights record and its relationship with America. My interview with John

Kirby is in just about 10 minutes. So join us for that.

Our other big story this hour, a meltdown on the stock market, it has not been a happy new year so far for global market. On 2016's first day of

trading, fear of a crash in China's economy sent world markets in a tailspin.

Look at the Dow Jones down more than 400 points. Stocks in China dropped so sharply that trading was halted for the first time ever. Here is how

the markets are looking. Remember it's less than an hour now before the Dow closes. Let's bring in my colleague, Richard Quest. He's in New York,

the host of Quest Means Business.

400 points lower for the Dow. I mean, what is -- is it just China as the origin of all these -- it's starting to look slightly panicky out there.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: I think what you're looking our here, Hala, is the overhang of fear that never really fully

went away after last summer, but was massaged by whole variety of other issues such as the FED resulting major increase rate, European settlements

and all -- whole of other things got in the way.

But eventually, January the 4th comes around and this is what we see. The truth of the matter is there really was no significant piece of

information. Yes, China's PMI numbers came out and some manufacturing data that showed it was down and the Chinese economy is contracting or at least

not growing as fast but nothing to justify the sort of red that's been seen across the global markets.

The low point of the Dow is just about 11:00 this morning, but it was off about 415 points. We are now heading into that time of the day, the last

hour of trading, book squaring traders don't want to be long going over night, and so the selling has picked up.

In Shanghai and in Asia, this is what really started it all. Down 6.8 to the Shangai composite, even more for the Shenzhen market. And trading had

to be halted because it was so severe.

But, Hala, the issue, of course, as this transmitted itself -- this is the Shenzhen of eight and a quarter percent. As this transmitted itself to

Europe where the markets were down 2 or 3 percent and then moves swiftly across the Atlantic where we're down over 203 percent, what will it take,

Hala, to change that sentiment? Because the reality is we've known China slowing down, we just don't know how bad.

GORANI: No. I mean, the question, of course, now is, is this a bit of an overreaction? In other words, our stocks now starting to be very

attractive. I mean, are they undervalued in some cases because the company fundamentals aren't all bad here?

QUEST: Then no question. I mean, whether their overvalued or it depends on the stock obviously on the day. But the reality.

GORANI: Yeah.

QUEST: .is that you don't fall out of bed like this for no particular -- you know, on any average Monday in January. The truth is what people are

looking for is that something smelly underneath with China that is not being realized and not being transparent.

And therefore, in another week, two months or whatever it becomes clear.

[15:10:00] We just don't know. For the moment, the U.S. is still growing strongly or moderate growth in the words of the FED. Europe will pick up

speed as an employment comes down. Emerging markets will be in trouble in 2016 and China remains the great unknown.

GORANI: All right. And market stayed uncertainty. They hate the unknown, Richard Quest at the top of the hour you have a lot more on what's happened

today on global markets. We'll see you then.

Still to come tonight, U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to take action on gun control and he intends to do it without congress.

Plus, in the midst of the Saudi-Iranian diplomatic meltdown, I will ask U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby about the complex

relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The American President Barack Obama is starting the New Year with a push to tighten gun control. Last hour, he began a meeting with his

attorney general, Loretta Lynch, at the White House. There they both are. And they are looking at the president's options to increase gun

restrictions without congressional approval. Mr. Obama is expected to take executive action to bypass lawmakers. He will also hold a town hall on the

topic. And that town hall will air with Anderson Cooper this Thursday on CNN.

Let's bring in White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski. She joins us now from Washington. So, Michelle, what is President Obama prepared to do

here? What is his strategy?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well that's part of the suspense surrounding all this. And this is something the president has

wanted to do for a very long time. He did take executive action on guns three years ago, after a particularly terrible massacre in an elementary

school. But there was criticism that those executive actions didn't really have any chief. They didn't really substantially change much. It was

mostly about information sharing which the White House sees as important. But did it make an enormous difference? I think the White House would

admittedly say no. There, you know, there is only do far that the president could go. The congress really needs to act.

But, just on the last couple of months, as the president has delivered these more and more frustrated and angry statements following mass

shootings in America, he said, he's going to go back to his team and scrub the law, as he put it. And look for any leeway that he had to enact

additional executive actions.

So the real question here is, you know, once he's already done one round and now he's looking for any other corner that he can pick to try to do

something else. How far really is this going to go? What we do know right now is that it involves background checks. And there is widespread support

in America for expanding background checks even among republicans, even among gun owners.

But the president, even though he'd like to see every gun purchase in America forced a background check on the buyer, he can't really do that

without congress's involvement.

[15:15:05] But we believe he's going to expand it at least as much as he can say for private sellers, who right now, don't need to involve the

background check system. Maybe if they sell a minimum number of guns a year that's going to have to go into effect.

So it's going to expand it up to some point. The president just delivered a brief and not very detailed statement following his meeting and he said

that this is going to be revealed over the next few days and it will be more than one initiative. So we suspect it's going to maybe reach into

some other areas like additional funding so that agencies can better enforce current laws.

Again, that might not sound like anything earth shattering but he is already getting a lot of push back from Republicans for a number of reasons

that they don't like that he is doing this without congress, first and foremost. But also many say well, you know, even if everybody did have a

background check when you look at the kinds of mass shootings that have been happening in America, many of those guns were purchased perfectly

legally with background checks and that such action that the president is going to take is again just targeting a law abiding citizen, Hala.

GORANI: And so why he is doing this now? Is this a sort of just one last action that President Obama feel like he can achieved before the end of his

second term to able to do as much as he possibly can from the White House without congress?

KOSINSKI: I think that's a great way to assess that. And the White House has said that and he himself has said that in so many words. The -- you

know he wants to do as much as he can. In fact he said that in an interview that his greatest frustration during his time as president was

not being able to do more on to make sure the guns don't fall into the wrong hands. That's the way the White House is framing this. They're

calling that this common sense measure's that won't infringe on the constitutional right to bear arms that are within the president's legal

leeway. And it will have wide spread support.

So you know that indicates that its backgrounds checks not -- that's why we've been saying that. But, you know, the White House says the president

wants to do this unfinished business that he's been wanting to do for sometime. You know, he can't go so far without congress but what ever he

can do as I put it he wants to get that done.

GORANI: All right Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thanks very much. And join CNN by the way for special look at guns in America with U.S.

President Barack Obama. Anderson Cooper host an exclusive one hour live Town Hall event. You will see in Friday at 1 a.m. in London right here on

CNN. It will reair again on Friday day time if you aren't much of a night hour and don't want to stay up that late.

Now in Hong Kong, there are protest in the street over the mysterious disappearance of book sellers linked to the publisher of books that are

critical of China. Their disappearances are smirking (ph) fears that they were all spirited away to Mainland China. Even Hong Kong's leader is

speaking out about it. CNN's Ivan Watson has details.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

outside the Chinese Central Governments Liaison Office and in this former British Colony, demanding information about at least four Hong Kong book

publishers who gone missing in just the last few months.

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

to the freedom of expression and freedom of publication that we are supposed to enjoy we have in promised by the basic 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's specializes in books that criticize the Chinese Central government. Lee's wife told local T.V, she thinks he was abducted. She

says he made a call under duress from a phone in Mainland, China. The Hong Kong police say their investigating these case 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 booksellers.

Who do you think could be behind the possible kidnapping?

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

[15:20:02] Where are most your customers from?

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

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

TANG: Yeah. They tried. They tried to like hide in the luggage or handbags 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's why the mysterious disappearance of critiques of the Chinese central

government has triggered such worry on this much freer side of the border.

Ivan Watson, CNN Hong Kong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: A lot more to come ahead, stay with us. I'll speak with the U.S. State Department spokesperson about America's relationship with Saudi

Arabia and its reaction to the diplomatic meltdown between Riyadh and Tehran.

And a CNN reporter gives us an exclusive look inside an Iraqi city traumatized and destroyed by the battle with ISIS. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back. We're keeping an eye on the Dow Jones. It was a terrible day on the global markets today after a big drop in China. The

Dow Jones closes in a few minutes, right now, it's down 2 and a 3 percent more than 400 points on the day since the start of the session, just a

hairs breadth above 17,000. You see, there are big worries about Chinese growth. There's uncertainty there and markets are always nervous about

that.

Now, to a story here in Europe, Sweden is now imposing checks on people traveling into the country from Denmark. This is a new policy. It's about

slowing the influx of migrants who numbered more than a 160,000 last year. And this is very unusual because for years and years these two countries

have had an open border. Atika Shubert has more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well this is Sweden's way of saying enough is enough at its peak last year. It had

about 10,000 refugees coming in a day. And as a result, Sweden putting a legislation for stricter controls along its border.

And as of today, Sweden will now check IDs for anyone trying to get into the country but particularly along its border with Denmark. Now what that

means, is that anybody who's commuting back and forth, for example, who may live in Sweden but work in Denmark, they will have to show either a valid

driver's license or a passport, or they will be turned back at the border.

There was a lot of concerns that this would cause traffic chaos, a backlog of refugees, unfortunately, that has not happened, it has meant longer

commuting times for some people along the Oresund Bridge connecting the two countries. But otherwise, things have gone smoothly. One of the reason's

for that is the number of refugees has actually dropped dramatically this winter.

According to Germany, which you're seeing the most refugees coming in, the federal police here say that it's now roughly on average about 3000 asylum

seekers coming in everyday. So that's quite a steep drop from the 10,000 we've seen last fall. But what effect this has had is really

diplomatically. Denmark has now said that it will, in response, also do random I.D. checks along its border with Germany.

[15:25:01] Germany, in response, has also said that with this refugee crisis is really causing a danger to the Schengen Area, the border-free

area of Europe. And that it joined E.U. policy is still needed to resolve the refugee crisis.

Atika Shubert, CNN Berlin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Let's turn now to our top story, the dramatic and troublesome collapse of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The U.S. considers

Saudi Arabia regional ally. Let's get more on the relationship between the two countries and the wake of Saudi's controversial execution of a Shia

cleric.

U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby joins me now from Washington. Thanks Mr. Kirby for being with us. One of the things you wrote in the

statement on the State Department's website was reaffirm our calls on Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights or what, exactly? What would

the U.S. do if this continues, these types of executions?

JOHN KIRBY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, look, I don't want to get in to speculating about decisions one way or the other. But we've

been very clear in communication with Saudi officials privately and of course, publicly, that we have concerns about the legal process.

GORANI: All right. Unfortunately for some odd reason we just lost John Kirby and some sort of music track came on instead. We really hope to get

John Kirby back here. We're having some technical issues. We're going to take a quick break. We'll get John Kirby back and we'll see you on the

other side. Stay with us on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back. And apologies for that technical issue we had before the break during our interview with State Department's spokesperson

John Kirby. And Mr. Kirby is able to tune us again live now from Washington. So thanks for standing by.

Let me ask you a little bit. You were talking about Saudi Arabia's execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, of the subsequent collapse

in diplomatic relations between Saudi and Iran. You said that publicly and privately the U.S. has expressed concern. What has been said to Saudi

Arabia about what happened over the last couple of days and what was their response?

KIRBY: Well, we don't get too much into the details of diplomatic conversations but I can tell you that we have long made our concerns

knowing about the legal process there in Saudi Arabia and our concern about human rights in general there. And again, you can read it on our human

rights report on our website, I mean this is all very, very clearly documented.

We had made concerns prior to this mass execution. I had made specific concerns about the al-Nimr cases, not just the uncle but the nephew as

well.

[15:30:02] This is something that we've been mindful of. And again, without getting into too much detail of what was communicated, certainly

our concerns about the -- those two particular cases were made very well known.

GORANI: But Saudi Arabia executed Nimr al-Nimr anyway, despite the fact that you communicated to the country that you were concern, so clearly it

doesn't sound that Saudi Arabia cares one bit about what America is telling them.

KIRBY: I don't know that I would say that, I mean obviously we are still concern about what happened here over the weekend, no question about that.

And we're in constant communication with leaders across the region, not just in Saudi Arabia but in Iran and elsewhere. But, Saudi Arabia is a key

partner and a key friend in the region. They are a member of the coalition going after ISIL. They had been enormously helpful in a leadership role in

trying to move the political process forward in Syria. They hosted a big conference just before the holidays in Riyadh of 116 opposition groups from

Syria to try to get them unified around some common negotiating principles that we think and we hope that those participants will be able to take

forward to the Assad regime later this month.

So, look, we're not going to agree on every end but Saudi Arabia is a key partner, a key friend in the region and we're going to work at this

relationship.

GORANI: But that's a pretty big thing to disagree on, mass executions and the executions that are seen as politically motivated of important Shiite

clerics in Saudi Arabia. Many of the critics of the United States relationship with Saudi, say look -- Human Rights Watch for instance,

they're saying, "Look if you're so concern about the human rights records of Saudi Arabia, why does the U.S. continue to sell it arms, the deal is

worth more than a billion dollars, why not try to put some sort of real pressure on that country, how would you react to that criticism?"

KIRBY: Well, it's a complex relationship as most major bilateral relationships are. Again, they are a key partner in the fights against

terrorism in the region. And so, the provision of some of these equipment and material is important to help in that fight, there's no questions about

that. And we don't agree on everything, and what we don't agree we disagree, we have enough of a candid relationship with the Saudis that

we're able to state those concerns.

As they said, not just privately but also publicly, I won't get into speculating about decisions and repercussions and this isn't a time for

treats, in fact, this is exactly the time for calm and for some stability here, for tensions to be deescalated not escalated and we certainly don't

want to do anything that would contribute to escalating tensions right now. But again, I don't want to say that we're turning a blind eye to our

concerns either, we have not, and we have made those concerns very, very well know and we'll continue to do so.

GORANI: But beyond expressing concerns verbally, is there any other strategy to approach Saudi Arabia in light of what's happening now with

regards to not just the executions but to it's relationship with Iran of escalating tension, what is the narrative...

KIRBY: Well again...

GORANI: ... approach here going forward beyond just statements?

KIRBY: Well our approach right now is to work with leaders throughout the region, to try to find ways bilaterally for them, to disengage from the

violence and to decrease the tensions and to begin to focus on really key pressing issues in the region, Iraq, in Sysria, the counter-radicalization

(ph) fight, Yemen. There's a lot of things that we need to move forward on and we want to move forward diplomatically and peacefully.

So our strategy right now, understanding that there's a lot of tension, is engage at all levels, all the way up to Secretary Kerry and down, and all

level in the state department with local leaders and regional leaders there in the Middle East, to help them get to a diplomatic bilateral solutions of

their own.

GORANI: But this has to be a big problem for the U.S.'s plans on Syria. I mean the two main regional actors, without which, any peace in the region

cannot happen, are basically in full deplo meltdown right now. I mean what's plan D for the United States here?

KIRBY: The plan that we're working on is try to move forward with the issues that we know Saudi Arabia and Iran are key to. And one of them that

you rightly pointed out is the political process in Syria. Now the opposition groups are supposed to meet with the Assad regime as early as

this month, it's our hope and our expectation that that meeting will continue and we'll go forward. Certainly the tensions that are happening

right now are not helpful. But we don't want to see it boil over to a point where we can't find common ground to work on real big issues such as

Syria.

So we're going to -- that's why -- again, that's why the Secretary has been so busy over the weekend as well as other state department officials here.

We know we have to keep working at this, we know we want to get the parties together, to continue to conduct some dialogue here so that we can move

forward...

GORANI: You're talking Saudi and Iran. You think Saudi and Iran will get back together in the coming weeks to talk Syria, I know Secretary Kerry

spoke with his counterparts in Iran and Saudi, are they giving him any kind of assurances in Syria?

KIRBY: I won't get into the specifics of the conversations, but look, they have both been useful, they have both been cooperative. They have both

shown some leadership here with respect to the political process in Syria and we want to see that continue.

[15:35:08] Obviously the events over the weekend didn't do anything to help us move that forward, and that's why our message to both countries and in

fact all countries in the region is, let's look for ways to deescalate the tensions, let's have some dialogue, let's try to work our way through this

so that we don't end up with larger Sunni-Shia confrontation here regarding these executions. We have expressed our concerns about those legal

processes, we're going to continue to do that, but what we really want to do is make sure the focus doesn't get let off on these larger pressing

issues there in the region.

GORANI: So, will -- is the U.S. offering to mediate here?

KIRBY: No. Actually, we're not offering to mediate, what we're trying to do is get these nations to work with these issues out bilaterally between

themselves. I mean, it is not -- it's not about mediation, it's about facilitation and helping them continue to have dialogue, which obviously is

hard for both right now. If we want to get to a sustainable solution, if we want this tension to really get resolved over the long haul, it's going

to have to be done bilaterally between these nations.

Actually multilaterally between all of them in the region, not something that's legislated here from Washington.

GORANI: Well, it looks like they're very far from that at this stage at least. John Kirby from the State Department, thanks so much for joining

us, we really appreciate your time today...

KIRBY: Absolutely, thank you.

GORANI: ... on an important news day in the region. Speaking of the Middle East, Britain's Prime Minister says the new purported ISIS video is

a desperate propaganda tool from a group that is loosing ground, that from the Prime Minister of the U.K. The video shows a masked militant with very

clearly identifiable British accent, some are saying it's a London accent, hurling insults to David Cameron.

A group of ISIS fighters appeared behind five man accused of spying for Britain who are then executed. British media are now calling the masked

militant the new Jihadi John.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIHADI JOHN, ISIS MILITANT: How strange it is that a leader of a small island threatens us with a handful of planes? One would've thought you'd

have learned the lessons of your pathetic master in Washington.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's a desperate stuff from an organization that really does do the most utterly despicable and ghastly

act and people can see that again today. But, this is an organization that's loosing territory, it's loosing ground, it's I think increasingly

loosing anybody's sympathy, and this again shows what an appalling organization we're up against.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well one place that ISIS has been loosing ground is in Iraq. Extremist and government forces clashed in a brutal battle over the City of

Ramadi. Iraqi troops prevailed eventually and they are now combing the new newly liberated city for booby traps and bombs that ISIS left behind. Our

Nima Elbagir is there and sent us this report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ramadi, after months of ISIS rule, this is what remains. ISIS's occupation of the city leaving its mark both above

and below ground.

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.

Ramadi 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.

ENGR HAIDER TALIB SHAGATI, IRAQ COUNTERTERROR 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: 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: 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.

SHAGATI (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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: All right that was Nima Elbagir reporting, newly liberated Ramadi though there are still pockets we understand, they're not entirely cleared.

Iraq's Ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily joins me now from our bureau (ph) in Washington. Well this -- it does (ph) the situation in Ramadi and

fight against ISIS, but first, I'd like to turn a little bit to our top story at this hour, the diplomatic crisis unfolding between Iran and Saudi

Arabia. Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us.

We saw instances of violence and demonstrations in Iraq today, we saw a Sunni mosque attacked, we saw anger among Shiite in Iraq. Do you think

this is now going to spread to your country which is already so fragile in terms of the sectarian tensions right now inside of Iraq?

LUKMAN FAILY, IRAQ'S AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you for having me Hala. We have -- as a government, have been very careful in how we deal with this

issue because of the sensitivity to our people and the issues of sectarianism which is unfortunately becoming a key theme in our region.

For us, every country have to be careful and have to be level-headed in how do they deal with their internal issues but also how this is reflected on

their neighbors.

Iraq will certainly try to be careful, we're certainly, you know, near to the lowest international laws (ph), but the same time we would appreciate

our neighbors including Saudi Arabia and others to deal with this issue with the nuances and sophistication it requires. This is not a pure

domestic issues nor can it be considered as something should -- is important that people's lives and sacredness are taken into consideration

in all the actions. The region is fragile, we need to make sure that we work together in making -- in reducing the tension and reducing --

deflating it rather than inflating it.

GORANI: And Ambassador when you heard that Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, among them the Saudi Shiite Cleric Nimr al-Nimr. What was your

reaction when you heard that news?

FAILY: This issue has not been new to us, we have, you know, aware of this and we have made Saudi Arabia and other countries aware that such actions

will have a ramification or ripple effect across. This region as I said is becoming more focused on sectarianism and unfortunately we as government

have responsibility to work with each other to reduce tension. What we felt, I and other Iraqis have felt that there was no need for such an

action specifically at such an important time.

We all need to focus on the fight against ISIS, to do that we need to make sure that we reduce the issues and the differences rather than increase

that.

GORANI: But Saudi Arabia is saying, well, he was a terrorist, he was plotting to overthrow the government. Do you see this as a -- the

execution of a man who was an activist simply because he was an opponent of the ruling government in Saudi?

FAILY: Hala, I prefer don't get into the specific of this case, but what I will say as a theme, we and Iraq have had issues with sectarianism, Saudi

Arabia, other countries have had that. We need to -- have a bigger issue to focus on which is the fight against terrorism, which is, making sure

that we collaborate with each other. This issue is transnational, the threat is transnational and we need to increase the focus and cooperation

and we should reduce the tension, social action...

GORANI: Yes. And now, let's talk about Ramadi. We had our reporter there in Ramadi. What -- is this now a template going forward for the rest of

the country? How confident is the government that with Ramadi now cleared, you know, the rest is going to happen his year, namely Mosul?

FAILY: When we say the template, we know that we have tried to start with this process with strategy or approach and to -- when we liberated Salahal-

din and Diala before that, we have learned a lot, we keep learning from this.

[15:45:18] The enemy, Daash is in selves are fluid and they are able to adopt to the new terrain so we have to learn fast as well. We have made

sure that collateral casualties are as minimum as possible that's why it has taken us a while. It, more or less would be very careful in relation

to civilians, human shields and others which Daash ISIS have tried to best utilize.

To that effect, yes, we are learning from this, we have also had better cooperation and support from our coalition partners including United

States, thank you very much for that. And we have seek support from other countries in relation to infrastructure and development of the damaged

areas. As you have seen in your report, Anbar specifically, Ramadi have had substantial amount of damage, we need to reconstruct that, we need I.D.

piece (ph) to go back to their homes as soon as possible, and we also need to focus on the next phase of this operation which is the liberation of

Ninawa (ph).

This is not a quick operation...

GORANI: All right.

FAILY: ... nor it will be covered soon.

GORANI: Great. Certainly not, thanks very much. A lot of work ahead Ambassador Lukman Faily, the Iraqi ambassador to Washington joining us from

the U.S. capital, thanks very much.

We'll be right back.

FAILY: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

An unusual anti-government protest is taking place at federal wildlife refuge in the U.S. State of Oregon. A group upset over the punishment of

two local ranchers and what they see government land grab has taken over buildings at the refuge, they're armed. The group says they'll defend

themselves if officials use force to remove them.

The occupation is triggering controversy on social media, for instance this Twitter post targeting back to police shootings in Missouri and Maryland,

one man wrote, "Did I miss the call for the National Guard in Oregon? I recall them in Ferguson and Baltimore."

The protesters demand -- their demand I should say if any are still unclear but they say they will occupy the refuge building for weeks in necessary.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Burns, Oregon as events there unfold. And Paul, I guess the question I had hearing this when, isn't it illegal for armed

people to occupy federal buildings? Why aren't authorities dislodging them?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities have not said why they are not dislodging them, but this was an unoccupied building and I think that

the idea would be to not rile up the situation that is extremely calm right now, this is no standoff. I don't see a single federal, local or county

officer here, and we got a brief tour, if you look up just over my shoulder in fact, Hala, you can see there's a first sort of a century look out for

these occupiers.

[15:50:11] This is a refuge, all has been very tranquil. I haven't seen any of the occupiers by the way, and if does, and we're not exactly sure

brandish a weapon. You know what they have said, this came impart of a protest for those ranchers that they will be here until their demands are

met. One of their big, big objections that they say the federal government in the United States owns way too much property, has been trying to grab

property from ranchers and states and counties and they want to see that land go back to more ranchers.

And let's listen to them about what they said about their commitment to staying in this sort of cluster of one-story buildings of this refuge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMMON BUNDY, ACTIVIST: We're going to stay here until we have secured the land and the resources back to the people in the Oregon Country and where

they can get back to ranching, get back to logging, get back to using these lands without feeling fear and intimidation and that's our goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: But they do not have widespread support here in rural Oregon. In fact, the Hammonds, the indicted rancher, the ones who were indicted for

arson on their property, they say they have nothing to do with this, and when you talk to the townspeople they are frustrated, they said they wish

they have been given a heads up, these guys split off or splintered off from another protest. And one of the side effects on all of these is

schools are now closed in Burns, and so you do have a tremendous flow of frustration among many of the townspeople here. Hala.

GORANI: All right, thank you very much. Paul Vercammen in Oregon. Coming up, as the U.S. presidential campaign are counting down the Iowa caucuses,

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is taking aim at Hillary Clinton and also Hillary Clinton's husband. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

It's an important day today in the United States, it's not less than a month until the Iowa caucuses, and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is

taking his pitch to television. He's released a new add, his fist T.V. add and he's reiterating some of his campaign pledges, for instance to ban

Muslims from entering the United States, to build a wall with Mexico and have Mexico pay for it. Trump is also in the attack against Hillary

Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know many of the people in the Clinton campaign, the last person they want to run against is Donald

Trump, believe me.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But what does that have to do with you bringing Bill Clinton's sex life up?

TRUMP: Well it's very simple, they during the course of the debate and many other times she was talking about, she sued the word sexist. I'm

sexist. And she was using very sort of derogatory terms.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GORANI: All right, for more on the campaign, let's go Washington and our Senior Political Reporter Stephen Collinson. First of all, Donald Trump is

what? Is pledging to talk about Bill Clinton's sex life, is that correct?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, it's a flashback to the 1990s, Hala, if you like. I think what Donald Trump was

trying to do is to show Republicans, many of whom feel like they're confounded over and over again for decades by the Clintons, but he's tough

enough to take on the Clinton family, he is the potential nominee who could do the most damage to the Clintons.

[15:55:06] But Hala, whether that would be a good strategy in a general election if he were to face Hillary Clinton, given the fact that Bill

Clinton remains a very popular personality in American politics is another question I think Hala.

GORANI: And Stephen, let me ask you, about four weeks to the Iowa caucuses, months ago, well I don't think anybody really, or very few people

predicted that Donald Trump will get this far and still be leading in the polls. Is this starting to look like Donald Trump will be the Republican

nominee?

COLLINSON: You're right. No one thought we would be in this point with Donald Trump leading. He doesn't lead in Iowa, the first contest, so it

would be very interesting to see what would happen if Ted Cruz who's currently leading the polls there beats Donald Trump there, but Trump does

lead in the next contest, New Hampshire and then he does well in a lot of other states in the polls. So, but the question now is, it's down to

voters and that polls Hala, and I think that is going to be the different between last year which was a reality show-based campaign when Donald Trump

confounded everybody that people thought and what's going to happen this year when the real election takes place.

GORANI: And Bill Clinton appeared solo at a campaign rally for his wife Hillary, what's the strategy there?

COLLINSON: That's right. Bill Clinton as I said remains very popular especially among Democrats. What we saw today was a very disciplined Bill

Clinton, a very modulator Bill Clinton. You might remember back in 2008 he was actually a hindrance in many ways to Hillary Clinton's campaign. He

got very angry at attacks from the campaign of Barack Obama against her and some Republicans against her.

But in 2012 he was actually an asset to President Barack Obama when he was campaigning for reelection, he become known as the Explainer-in-Chief, he

was able to explain Obama's campaign, promises better, in fact, the President himself in many occasion. So, I think it's -- the Clinton

campaign sees Bill Clinton as a great asset, he's still respected in the United States, still a great campaigner, and I think we're going to see a

much more sort of sober Bill Clinton in this campaign than we saw back in 2012.

GORANI: Well it's starting to get very interesting, just about a month away from the Iowa caucuses, thanks very much Stephen Collinson in

Washington.

COLLINSON: Thanks Hala.

GORANI: And this has been "The World Right Now," thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. "Quest Means Business" is next.

END