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CONNECT THE WORLD
U.S. President Set to Announce Gun Control Measures; Kuwait Latest to Suspend Diplomatic Relations with Iran; Zidane Named Manager of Real Madrid. Aired 11:00a-11:39a ET
Aired January 5, 2016 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:14] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: War of words. Saudi Arabia and Iran up the
ante after the two countries break off all ties. We are live for you in Riyadh tonight as another Saudi ally downgrades ties with Tehran.
Also ahead, used as human shields by ISIS, a report from Ramadi, as civilians recall the horrors of living under the terror group.
And another managerial shakeup in European football. IS Zinedine Zidane ready for his latest challenge: coaching Real Madrid?
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: A very good evening. It's just after 8:00 here in the UAE.
First, a reminder of a live event in Washington that we will be covering for you this hour. U.S. President Barack Obama is set to speak in
around 40 minutes from here the White House. He'll be announcing the executive steps he plans to take on gun control, likely to involve
expanding background checks and strengthening federal enforcement of existing laws.
We're going to be bringing you his remarks live on CNN and full analysis from our colleagues in the U.S. after he has spoken. So, stick
with us for that.
Well, a row between rival powers Iran and Saudi Arabia is getting worse and drawing in more countries in the Middle East. In the past hour,
Saudi ally Bahrain has said it will cut air links with Iran, mirroring Riyadh's decision. And Kuwait cut diplomatic ties with Iran this Tuesday,
following similar moves by Bahrain, Sudan and the UAE.
Riyadh reacted furiously to an attack on its embassy in Tehran at the weekend.
Well, meanwhile, Iran's president was quoted in national media commenting on the execution in Saudi that sparked the initial anger in Iran
and other places.
Hassan Rouhani said, and I quote, criticism should not be responded to with beheading.
He was talking about the execution of a fierce critic of the Saudi regime, a Shiite cleric that Riyadh accused of supporting terrorism.
Well, the United Nations security council has also commented on the row, condemning the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran, but not
mentioning the execution.
Well, for more, our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is standing by for you live in Riyadh tonight. Nic, what's the latest from
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, I was talking to Saudi officials today. They really feel that they're under
pressure from Iran, not just over the border to the south in Yemen, where they believe that the Iranians are backing the Houthis rebels that they are
fighting there, but also to the north in Iraq and in Syria. They feel that they're under pressure domstically at home by what they see as Iranian
meddling inside Saudi Arabia.
So, what I'm getting from officials here is that these tensions that we're seeing escalating hour by hour, the cutting of diplomatic ties, the
cutting of economic ties, the stopping of flights, you know, Kuwait coming on board today, it
cutting the diplomatic ties. Bahrain in the last hour or so, as you say there, stopping flights between Bahrain and Iran, this really mirrors the
picture that's emerging here in Saudi Arabia, that this tension isn't about to deescalate any time soon.
Of course, a good round of diplomacy, some firm friends coming to them and saying, look, you need to straighten this out, may help. This could
change it. But at the moment, the picture that I'm getting here is no one is about to back down.
ANDERSON: Nic, we have heard earlier the message from Tehran, still furious at Saudi Arabia over this row. For its part, Riyadh insisting the
blame lies with Iran. Have a listen to this for our viewers sake as much as anything else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDULLAH AL-HOUALIMI, SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We are not natural born enemies with Iran. It is only the behavior of the Iranian
government that continues to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, particularly Arab countries, including our own, that is causing
us to take this position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The Saudi ambassador at the UN, Nic, he is eluding to one assumes, Iran's, quote, meddling -- in Yemen, in Iraq, in Lebanon and in
Syria. How does this tension between the two countries, this ratcheting up of tension, impact the wider Middle East, not least this ongoing and bloody
conflict in Syria?
ROBERTSON: You have a king here, and I think a year ago, we were asking
ourselves, would this new king, King Salman, what would he be like? We are now -- we now understand what he'll be like. He's a king that's prepared
to take a very tough line and send tough messages. And that's how this execution of this Shia cleric and of all these other ISIS and al Qaeda
terror suspects who have been rounded up over the past few years, over the weekend, 47 total, executed here around the country.
This king is taking a very tough line against the country's enemies, be they ISIS, be they Iran, sending very clear and tough messages.
So, I think this is, you know, the picture that's emerging. It's not just a king. His son is a defense minister. They're taking robust action
and have been this past year in Yemen, fighting again. The people -- the Houthis there, who they
believe are backed by Iran, they're backing rebels inside Syria to try to bring down President Bashar al-Assad, who Iran is trying to prop up.
So you have a much more robust leadership here than maybe you would have had a few years ago, albeit the situation in the region has changed,
but I think it's part of the way to understand what's happening here right now.
A very clear message being sent. Long-term issues to be tackled. We can talk about the religious sectarian nature of it. We can talk about the
meddling inside the country. But all of this down the road has to do with power in the region and, most significantly, economic influence on the
slice of the oil revenues in future years -- Becky.
[11:06:35] ANDERSON: All right, Nic, thank you for that. Nic is in Riyadh for you this evening on what is an incredibly important story.
There is a lot at stake in this row then between the two biggest economies in the Middle East. One of the first measures Riyadh took was to
cancel all flights to and from Iran.
Reuters News Agency reporting that this will affect up to 150 direct flights and thousands of travelers a month. Riyadh also said it was
cutting all commercial links with the Islamic Republic. Trade and investment ties between the two, relatively small compared to the size of
The Gulf News reporting that just 2 percent of Iran's exports go to Saudi
A story that isn't going away. We'll continue to update it and its impacts over the days and weeks to come.
Now to Iraq, another country in the Middle East where sectarian tensions
are being felt. The U.S.-led coalition says that ISIS lost 40 percent of its territory in the country over the past year. In 2014, a third of Iraq
was under the control of the terrorist group, but major counteroffensives, led by
Iraqi and Kurdish forces, have seen the recapture of major population areas, most recently, in Ramadi.
Well, CNN's Nima Elbagir was given access to Ramadi following its capture,
its recapture, and joins us now from the Iraqi capital, where she is in Baghdad.
Nima, taking back large cities like Ramadi and Tikrit haven't been easy militarily, we know that. It must be having an impact on the people
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Especially, Becky, as we understand, that hundreds, possibly 1,000 families, are still trapped
inside the territories where ISIS continues to exert some control in Ramadi.
We were shown around, as you said, by Iraq's counter terror services. They've been really not only at the forefront of the fight, but also at the
forefront of the evacuation of the civilians. And often, finding themselves at the
forefront of cleaning up the remains of those killed in the ISIS strikes.
Take a look at this, Becky.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Iraqi helicopters keep a watchful eye in the sky above. And all around what remains of Ramadi after six months of ISIS rule.
(on camera): Driving through here, you just really get hit by the desolation, the devastation that was visited on this city. What the air
strikes and the ground offensives didn't destroy, ISIS rigged to blow.
(voice-over): Ramadi fell in May last year, and since then, the Iraqi counterterrorism services have battled to reclaim it. Every inch an advance
through the unknown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody OK?
ELBAGIR (on camera): Yes, we're OK.
The only way we can safely walk is in his footsteps. Even though they've cleared this area, even though they've held it for the last few
days, there are still areas within this that are booby-trapped.
(voice-over): Ramadi was home to nearly one million people. Today, as troops continue their push, we're told possibly over 1,000 families remain,
facing death amidst the rubble.
As the battle for Ramadi has raged, it's been hard to get a sense of the toll on civilians. But in this video, filmed for CNN, you can see
soldiers race across a Sniper Alley to escort back a white flag-waving boy and his family. Those who can't walk are carried. All desperate to escape.
This man describes the horror his family faced.
"ISIS tried to take us away," he says. "Young, old, ill, they wanted to take us all."
In this clip, soldiers gather what remains of the dead. Some, like this woman, appear to have been shot, others, blown to pieces by IEDs.
Much of what was filmed is too graphic to show you, like the remains of a little boy carried to burial.
All over Ramadi, remnants of ISIS' rule still stand.
[11:10:58] (on camera): This is what would have been an ISIS suicide car bomb. You can see the keys actually still inside the ignition. They
climbed in through the top. There's a hole cut out of the roof. Around here, around the back, this is where they pack the explosives here in the
bed of the pickup truck. Cars like these are what have been coming towards the Iraqi forces every single day. This is packed full of explosives ready
(voice-over): The head of Iran's counterterror force told us the liberation of Ramadi should be celebrated around the world, that this is
just the first of the victories to come.
Here in Ramadi, night falls. More rescued families escape. This little girl can't stop crying.
ELBAGIR: For her, for now, all that matters is she's safe.
ELBAGIR: It's hard to get a sense of any solid numbers, Becky, but in just one district in just one day, soldiers tell us that they gathered at
least 50 bodies.
ANDERSON: Nima, thank you. Nima Elbagir there for you tonight in Baghdad, back from Ramadi.
Still to come, he was one of Real Madrid's greatest players. Find out what the latest challenge is for Zinedine Zidane at one of the world's
biggest football clubs.
And they say they're in it for the long haul, armed protesters in Oregon occupying federal land in Oregon are standing firm.
ANDERSON: Well, armed protesters occupying a government building in Oregon in the States have told CNN they are not going anywhere in a hurry.
They've been at wildlife refuge since Saturday, saying they are defending the rights of ranchers.
So far, authorities aren't taking action to remove them.
Paul Vercammen is close to the site of the protests and joins us from Princeton in Oregon.
CNN quoting a number of experts, Paul, saying that law enforcement should just wait this out. Is there any indication they are likely to go
in at this point?
[11:15:29] PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well,, I'll tell you what, Becky, I'm in front of the Malheur Compound, as its called, that's
being blocked by the demonstrators. We saw about a does or so. They did not brandish any weapons. And as you pointed out, law enforcement seems to
be just wanting to wait this out.
If you look over here, we can see up in this tower, this is a lookout for the protesters. What do they want? They want more control for
ranchers, away from the federal government and away from omr programs that have sort of gobbled up private property in the west. They were also
supporting two ranchers from this very area who are now back in prison, serving time on federal arson charges.
The leader of this is Ammon Bundy. You may recall a few years back his father Cliven Bundy also led a standoff of sorts against the federal
Now, some people here in this town are getting weary of all this. They don't have support from those ranchers who were jailed for arson, the
Hammonds. And the sheriff basically said in so many words, Becky, it's time for you to get
out of here and go home.
ANDERSON: Paul, thank you.
So, should armed extremists who take over government land be labeled terrorists? CNN.com contributor Dean Obedala (ph) looks at the issue and
wonders how the siege would be described if the extremists were Muslims. Get his take over at CNN.com/opinion.
Well, in about 20 minutes time, President Barack Obama is expected to announce steps his administration is taking on gun control. In particular,
he wants to tighten the so-called gun show loophole, which exempts most small sellers from keeping formal sales records. Individuals who sell
firearms would be required to register as licensed dealers. The issue of gun violence has drawn intense emotion from a president who doesn't often
reveal his feelings in public.
Ahead of the announcement, you see the White House and the press core gathering. Have a watch of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world. And there
are some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to
improve the odds that they don't happen.
I've had to make statements like this too many times. Communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.
We come together filled with sorrow for the 13 Americans that we have lost with gratitude for the lives that they led and with a determination to
honor them through the work we carry on.
I have come here tonight as an American, who like all Americans, to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.
And the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice.
All of us are heartbroken by what's happened, and I offered the thoughts and prayers not only from myself and Michelle, but also the
country as a whole.
And each time I learn the news, I react not as a president, but as anybody else would as a parent.
In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as president to help.
The lives that were taken from us were unique. The memories their loved ones
carry are unique, and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone.
Any shooting is troubling. Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.
The country has to do some soul searching about this. This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent,
are terrifying to me.
The good news is, I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today indicates the
degree to which those old messages of those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.
And each time this happens, I'm going to bring this up. Each time this happens, I am going to say that we can actually do something about it,
but we're going to have to change our laws.
[11:20:20] ANDERSON: Well, President Obama will talk about gun control during an exclusive live town hall, right here on CNN. My
colleague Anderson Cooper is the host. And you can watch it 5:00 am Friday morning in Abu Dhabi or at the times -- you can work those out where you
are locally only on CNN.
This is Connect the World out of Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, another European football manager is shown the door. We'll have
the latest on the departure of Rafael Benitez and his big-name replacement. Taking a very short break. B ack after this.
ANDERSON: Well, he is considered one of the greatest football players of all
time and now Zinedine Zidane is set to make his managerial debut on what is a very big stage. The Frenchman is being named the new manager of his
former club, or one of his former clubs at least, Real Madrid. He takes over from Rafael Benitez, who was sacked only seven months after taking
For more, World Sports Alex Thomas joining from London.
And Alex, just how big of a challenge is Zidane taking on at this point?
ALEX THOMAS, WORLD SPORT: A massive one, Becky, because Real Madrid is arguably the biggest club in the world in terms of brand, in terms of
Marketing, in terms of the expectations of the fans, the original European club champions. And they've won the Champions League more times than any
And Zidane has also got to cope with that perennial debate in football, as to
whether truly great players, truly great players, can also make truly great coaches.
As a player, he was three-times world footballer of the year. He helped steer France to a World Cup and then a European Championship title
just back to back. He also won the Champions League with Real Madrid and La Liga. He won two Serie A titles with Juventus.
So he did pretty much everything, although his international career ended in controversy when he was sent off in the 2006 World Cup final for a
head butt, no less, which was very out of character. He's normally quietly spoken.
So, he's got it all to do. But he's confident in his abilities. But saying, Becky, he must be Zidane, not the next Pep Guardiola or any of the
other great managers he's worked with or under.
ANDERSON: I'm trying to think, now, just how many player, great players that I can think of who actually did make good managers. I'm
struggling to come up with anybody, actually.
So, viewers, Alex will know the answer to this, I'm sure, but viewers, tweet us if you've got some really good examples.
I can think of loads of fantastic managers who were not very good on the pitch. But I can't think of that many great players.
All right, another big name manager sacked after only losing three games. You'd be pretty worried, Alex if you were a top flight manager at
the moment, wouldn't you?
THOMAS: It's very hard, isn't it? We saw it actually in the NFL on Monday, black Monday, when coaches are sacked at the end of the regular
season. And you don't get much longer -- in fact, you've a lot less in the other version of football, association football.
Rafa Benitez, despite winning two league titles with Valencia over a decade ago and taking Liverpool to the Champions League, struggling to hold
down a top job now.
And you're right, Becky, there's lots of players, men that have not been good players, like Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho didn't even have a
playing career, go on to be good coaches, much less so the other way around.
Benitez did play football. He actually started his coaching career at Real Madrid, but was never really welcomed back as a sort of prodigal son.
Remember, he replaced Carlo Ancelloti who has won lots as a player and as a manager, the Italian, and many were sorry to see him go. In fact, a lot of
the pressure of Real Madrid now on the president, Florentino Peres, in his second spell as president, the first was the Galacticos (ph) era with
Beckham, Zidane, Roberto Carlos. He's not done much better in the second spell. And maybe this Zidane appointment is his
real sort of last roll of the dice, if you like.
ANDERSON: Yeah, fabulous. All right. You can call me Anderson any day, by the way, Thomas. Alex, thank you.
Alex Thomas with us out of London.
Live from Abu Dhabi, I'm Becky Anderson.
This is Connect the World. Coming up, U.S. president Barack Obama is expected to unveil new measures aiming at curbing gun violence. We're
going to get you his announcement live in just minutes right here on CNN.
ANDERSON: Kuwait, the latest nation to follow Saudi Arabia and withdrew its ambassador from Iran.
The diplomatic diplsute started after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric. Protesrs in Iran responded by ransacking Saudi
Arabia's embassy there.
Demonstrators were again out on the streets in Tehran on Monday.
And now Iran's president is leveling some harsh new criticism at Saudi. For more, our senior international correspondent Frederick Pleitgen
joining us from London.
What has Hassan Rouhani been saying.
[11:30:14] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's interesting, Becky, because it really seems as though the Iranian
leadership is going about all this in a different way than they had in the initial stages after the execution of Nimr al-Nimr.
And of course when we saw the outbreak outside of the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran, when those people went in. What Hassan Rouhani said as
he called the execution of Nimr al-Nimr, quote, a crime. And he said that he felt that the Saudis were trying to cover that crime up, that is the
quote by -- causing all this anger about the embassy incident that happened there.
They said -- he said they were trying to detract from that. They were trying to deter from that. And -- so certainly some very strong words.
And it's interesting because we've seen various Iranian diplomats in the past 24 hours acknowledge that the storming of the embassy was wrong.
The UN ambassador of Iran came out that Iran regretted the incident, saying that Iran would protect embassies
in Tehran and consulates in other places, as well. This came after the UN security council itself issued a warning to Iran, and saying that this is
something that was unacceptable.
So the Iranians, on the one hand, are now acknowledging the storming of the embassy was
wrong, but at the same time ratcheting up their rhetoric towards Saudi Arabia over the killing of Nimr al-Nimr.
ANDERSON: What happens next?
PLEITGEN: That is a very, very good question. I don't think anybody at this point can answer that.
The big question is, are these two nations going to be able to deescalate this? Because certainly, at this point, it doesn't appear as
though anybody else in the international community, is going to be able to deescalate it.
The U.S. has said it's not going to play referee in all this. The Russians have sort of offered themselves up, but it's hard to see the
Saudis accepting the Russians as a mediator.
The Turks are actually apparently playing a constructive role in this. The Turkish government coming out and saying they would do anything it
takes to deescalate these tensions. Of course, Turkey has relations with both of these countries.
But at this point in time, it seems as though it's going to take these two nations themselves to at least tone things down. But at this point in
time, if you see the rhetoric coming out of Riyadh, the rhetoric coming out of Tehran, as well, it seems as though that is going to be very difficult.
ANDERSON: Frederik Pleitgen is out of London for you this evening. So, do let us know what you think about this growing diplomatic rift and
the impacts it could have. This now, what, we're talking about an execution on Saturday. The responses begin to come in Saturday evening,
Sunday morning. You can see now, this is just been like a snowball.
And you've seen the Gulf states perhaps reacting predictably in support of Saudi. You've seen other countries with a Shia influence, or
Iranian influence, at least -- Iraq and Lebanon, for example, reacting in defense of the Iranians.
Do send us your thoughts by going to the Facebook page, Facebook.com/CNNConnect. You know that we always love to hear what you
think and getting some tweets in, by the way, on who you think @beckyCNN.
The great footballers who have made great coaches. There aren't many of them. Johan Cryuff, Beckenbauer, Kenny Dalglish, see if you got any
Any moment now the U.S. president will officially reveal his controversial plan to take on gun violence in America. Going to get you
his announcement live in just minutes right here on CNN.
(SIMULCAST WITH CNN USA)