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Venezuela's Oil Subsidies to Cuba at Risk; World Oil Prices React to Iran's Sanctions Being Lifted; Hong Kong Bookseller Gui Minhai Reemerges on Chinese State TV. Aired 11:00a-12:00p ET
Aired January 18, 2016 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:11] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Sanctions are lifted, oil drops to new lows
and an historic prisoner swap goes forward. This hour, the latest on Iran's re-entry on to the global stage, and what it all means for this
Also ahead, allegations of match fixing rock the tennis world. We're going to hear the thoughts of some of the sport's biggest stars.
And a petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK. British lawmakers get ready to debate that this hour.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: A very good evening. Just after 8:00 here in the UAE. After a big weekend of announcements, Monday saw the world start to absorb
the consequences of lifting sanctions against Iran. And a new era in Tehran's ties with the west.
Now, oil prices dropped briefly to their lowest level since 2003 after Iran said it would boost production by half a million barrels a day, adding
to a global glut that has sent prices sinking.
Meanwhile, three Americans released in a prisoner swap spent their first time in a long time as free men to a U.S. military base in Germany
and will be reunited with their families soon.
Well, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN the events of the weekend could be built upon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We can build trust if we see that this program indeed is adhered to thoroughly and also if Iran will
begin to join with us to bring peace to Syria, deal with Yemen, reduce its activities in other countries. There are a number of things that we need
to work at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, for more on the fallout from this weekend's developments, and these are fascinating, CNN's emerging markets editor John
Defterios is in Davos in Switzerland for you.
And our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany.
Let's start there with you, Fred.
As we await a group of U.S. lawmakers who are expected to make a statement from inside of the facility about the prisoner swap with Iran,
what have you got on the latest from there?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the three men who were released, Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati who spent four years in
Iranian detention, and then the pastor Saeed Abedini, they are still recovering and they are receiving medical attention.
You know, one of the interesting things about all of this, Becky, is that a lot of the family members have already come here. Obviously,
politicians like the ones who are going to be holding that press conference soon have come here. They are longtime supporters of these
three men and have kept their case in the public light.
However, for instance, Jason Rezaian, his brother has not even been able to meet with Jason face to face because of the psychological trauma
that Jason went through when he was in Iranian custody. The physicians here at the Landstuhl Medical Center feel that it should be a slow process
for him to meet people because they don't want him to be overwhelmed.
Nevertheless, Jason's brother, Ali spoke to Jason Rezaian and said that he's
in good spirits. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI REZAIAN, JASON REZAIAN'S BROTHER: He seemed in good spirits. He's, you know, together. He really can't wait to get out there, see
people, meet people. But right now, he's got to focus on getting himself better and getting out there.
The first thing he asked for was some information. He feels like he's been starved of information for the last 18 months, having to live off of
Iranian State TV and getting your news from there isn't where you want to be as a reporter and he just wants to see what's going on in the world.
I think he was surprised and shocked at the amount of attention that this was getting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: And Becky, they are going to receive medical checks and of course medical treatment also if that is necessary. There was, of course,
a concern about the fact that they have been in detention for such a very long time. Did they get the medical attention in Iran that is necessary
for them? And then by and by, they're going to be reunited with their family members.
Unclear at this point when these three men are going to be able to travel back to the United States, Becky.
ANDERSON: All right. Yeah. And one assumes not just medical checks, but a debrief from authorities there at what is this medical center in
Landstuhl where the Americans are.
All right, Fred, thank you for that.
For the time being, let's move on to John who is at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland this week.
And this prison swap might never have happened without the historic nuclear deal between the west and Iran. Iran now has this, what,
unprecedented opportunity to reengage, John, with the west this week at the world economic forum in Davos. Why was the timing of this deal, do you
think, so important?
[11:05:02] JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, it's a really critical window, Becky. and in fact, as you know at the as you
know, at the World Economic Forum, the big issues take front and center in terms of the agenda here and that will be the case with Mohammad Javad
Zarif, because he is the author of the P5+1 negotiations. He's going to take to the stage midday Wednesday and he'll be preceded by Adel al-Jubeir
of Saudi Arabia, his counterpart, and the arch rival, of course, for Iran.
A big issue right now, because Iran needs to try to offer some hope to its people and it will have an impact in terms of opening up its market.
This is what the business leaders here in Davos want to hear, this last frontier market of 80 million consumers finally opening up. Airbus
securing a big contract, 114 planes.
We saw Daimler, the big German automaker and truck maker, is going to open up an operation in Iran.
But near-term, and the reason we hit a new 12-year low in terms of energy, is that Iran started to hit the market again with half a million
barrels a day that it's had in storage, some 35 million barrels, but by December of 2016, they hope to add 1.5 million barrels a day. And that is
a massive game changer. It will, Becky, create some tensions within OPEC, create tensions within Saudi Arabia.
But I talked to the oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, he said it is a matter of pride for us to get back to our pre-sanctions level of over four
million barrels a day. We need to prove to the Iranian people that it was worth the sacrifice, negotiations, and we have to climb back up even though
we see this crisis in oil prices. Not to flood the market, but to regain the marketshare at the same time.
ANDERSON: I want to leave it there for the time being, get back to Landstuhl, where we have some U.S. lawmakers speaking at this point about
the Americans who are being debriefed there.
Let's listen in.
(U.S. LAWMAKERS PRESS CONFERENCE LANDSTUHL, GERMANY)
[11:13:21] ANDERSON: Three U.S. lawmakers in Landstuhl today, where the Americans who have been detained in Iran are now resting up, getting
medical attention and one assumes getting debriefed.
Let's bring back Fred Pleitgen, who is reporting from that facility for you.
The big question, of course, when are they going to be going home? That's not a question, or certainly the first of these lawmakers could
answer. Though clearly they are anxious to get home.
Fred, what do we know about what will be going on so far as medical attention and debriefing is concerned within that facility?
PLEITGEN: Well, I think you're absolutely right. I think one of the things that is absolutely clear at this point in time, it really -- no one
can say when they're actually going to be able to go home, because that is so much dependent on the medical condition of these three individuals.
And again, not just the physical health, but the mental health, of course, as well after that long period of detention that they all went
through, which of course, no doubt was very tough.
If you look at the fact that they were in Evin Prison in Tehran, which is such a notorious place for people to be incarcerated. They'll be going
through medical checks, of course.
We heard from Jason Rezaian's brother Ali Rezaian that Jason is going through that at this point in time.
Evaluations, medical evaluations, to see how fit they would be not just to be able to go home,
but also to be able to meet with their loved ones once again.
And then no doubt, they will also speak to some American officials about the ordeal that they've
been through. We've already heard, for instance, that Jason Rezaian has spoken to his colleague at The
Washington Post and has told them that the hardest thing for him, for instance, was that solitary confinement, but also that he is at this point
in good spirits, Becky.
[11:15:07] ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is there in Germany. John Defterios, you heard from earlier on, on what has been this momentous
weekend, the lifting of sanctions against Iran. The release and swap of these prisoners and the impact that that has on this region and beyond.
We're going to do more of this after the break. Still to come, explosive new allegations, though, are rocking the tennis world. Why the
sport's top officials are fighting off claims of a cover-up.
Plus, the British parliament set to debate a petition to bar U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump from the country. Find out why later
in the show.
ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. It's 17 minutes past the hour. You're watching CNN.
All this week, we are focusing on the weekend that was, the lifting of sanctions against Iran. The prisoner swap and the impact of bringing
Tehran in from the cold and the growing regional rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
So, now that many international sanctions on Tehran have been lifted, the country can sell its
oil on global markets once again. And that is likely to cause even more friction between Iran and Gulf oil producers, as oil prices hit rock
More supply will almost certainly make matters worse, but political tensions have also risen in recent weeks. This attack on the Saudi embassy
in Tehran in response to the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric has seen Riyadh cut ties with Iran, and other states like the UAE here downgrade
Well, I want to discuss some of these tensions with the UAE's ambassador to Russia, Omar
Ghobash. He joins us from London. We're delighted that he's with us.
I'm going to talk about Russia in a moment. First of all, your take on the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and the lifting of
OMAR SAIF GHOBASH, SAUDI AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, I think it's very important to understand that the more interesting angle that we're
taking on this is what is Iran going to do with the extra funding that is coming to it through the lifting of sanctions? How is it going to be
behaving in the wider Arab World? The idea of compartmentalizing the nuclear issue from the rest
of Iran's activities in the region has always puzzled us. And we are really looking forward to the kind of positive engagement that Iran can
undertake in the region.
ANDERSON: And positive could mean financially beneficial to all parties, including the UAE, who has a strong economic relationship, of
course, with Iran. Figures show the UAE is Iran's largest non-oil trading partner. And the IMF, sir, says the lifting of Iran's sanctions will
benefit the Emirates by as much as $13 billion in the next couple of years.
So, will the UAE maintain its strong economic links with Tehran, despite what seems to be its worsening political relationship?
[11:20:24] GHOBASH: Well, we're also hopeful. I mean, it's not just the UAE, it's the rest of the Gulf states. We're always hopeful that Iran
will take a different approach to the region's problems. And so, you know, whether we get an increase in trade figures going through the ports of the
Emirates to Iran or vice versa, that is of secondary importance in comparison with the real subversions that we see taking place across the
region, whether it's Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.
ANDERSON: All right.
Well, let's talk about Syria. I spoke to the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura exactly three weeks ago about the upcoming talks
on peace. Just have a listen to what he said at that point for me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAFFAN DE MISTURA, UN SPECIAL ENVOY TO SYRIA: Would you have ever have
dreamed to see Russia and America sitting on the same table and actually agreeing on many things about Syria?
Would you ever imagine Iran and Saudi Arabia sitting for seven hours in the same room and
discussing the future of Syria?
So we've got a long way. The momentum is there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, that was three weeks after. Since then, of course, we've seen a deepening divide between Iran and Shia actors on the one side
and Sunni states like UAE on the other.
Realistically then, a peace deal doesn't seem likely for Syria any time soon, does it?
GHOBASH: Well, it's true that the events of the last three weeks have perhaps complicated matters, but I think that there is a deep commitment,
both on the Gulf side to finding a solution to the Syrian crisis, because this is a crisis that really affects us every single day, as Arabs, as
Muslims, as human beings. So it's vitally important to settle that.
And it's also very interesting to see that, you know, we see the Russians playing a role as well.
So whatever differences we may have on a specific level with Iran should not -- and this is
what we really hope -- should not affect the way the Syria negotiations go forward.
ANDERSON: Let's talk about Russia. They claim that they have launched over 5,500 attacks, I think I'm right in saying that, against ISIS
in recent months.
Do you support their involvement in what is this proxy conflict, a bloody proxy conflict at that?
GHOBASH: Well, we do have a certain understanding of Russia's interests in the region. I think we may differ on that with other
countries. So we do see that the threat of Islamic extremism is a real one. And so when the Russians say that they're interested in striking ISIS
or Daesh, then we take them at their word, because there is a direct link between the extremism that is spreading in the Middle East and perhaps the
Caucasus and the various Stans. So we understand that.
We do think that the more parties involved in attacking ISIS, the better.
Where we do, of course, differ is on the issue of Bashar al Assad's future. We don't see that he has any legitimacy. The Russians will have a
slightly more nuanced position on that.
We do believe, though, with the Russians, and with the international community on the preservation of the institutions of the state, of the
ANDERSON: Let me talk about the Syria talks, because they are so important. And there was such optimism, of course, when we learned that we
could get, for example, Tehran and Riyadh around the same table, despite the burgeoning nuclear diplomacy that Saudi doesn't particularly like, P5.
and indeed the lifting of these sanctions.
The possibility is now, of course, that we won't get them around the table.
But it's always been unclear as to whether we would get the actors on the ground around the same table, ISIS, al Nusra. Is there any point to
these Syrian talks, do you think? When there are red lines in the sand for many of these Sunni states, as you've rightly pointed out when it comes to
Assad, and when those on the ground who are waging war ain't gonna be there.
GHOBASH: Well, the idea that we need ISIS at the table is a bit odd. I don't think anybody agrees to that. I think what we have here is a
situation where really we've got a clash of world views. There are a certain set who believe in a moral and religious tyranny, whether that's in
a Shia state or in a Sunni state, where we on the Gulf side stand is we really stand with a broader approach to life, a more
secular state, something that allows for the Syrian people to really flourish as a diverse community.
So I think if we begin to think in terms of the world views that are coming and clashing here, that we might begin to find a way out of this
ANDERSON: When it comes to ISIS, you have written in the past about just how difficult it is to defeat the group ideologically, because quite
frankly, they referenced their role as the historic protectors of the caliphate. How do you think the war against ISIS can be won then?
GHOBASH: Well, I think we need to really factor in the reality that's actually a battle that's going to take many, many years. And I -- looking
at my life, I've been dealing with these issues from the age of 12 until now, I'm 44.
I expect this to be a battle of my life and my children's lives as well. But it basically boils down to the idea of what it is that we
envision for our own society. Many of these young jihadis will go to Syria on the basis that they are defending justice and looking to establish a
moral state. The reality is that they are supporting -- whether wittingly or unwittingly -- they are the establishment of a moral tyranny, a
There is a different approach that is just as Islamic and just as expressive of the values of Islam, which actually raises our approach on
the integrity and the dignity of the individual Muslim.
And so if we start off from the integrity of the individual Muslim, it is from that basis that we might be able to develop a more interesting
political system that will allow for flourishing, that will allow for an end to the violence that we keep committing against ourselves.
Analysis that we must continue at another point. For the time being, it's been a pleasure having you on the show. The UAE's ambassador to
Russia, Omar Ghobash for you tonight out of London. Thank you, sir.
GHOBASH: Thank you.
ANDERSON: The latest world news headlines are just ahead, plus the British parliament set to debate or start to debate in just minutes on a
petition to ban U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from the United Kingdom. We're going to cross back to London for you after the
break for the very latest on that.
Taking a short break. Back after this.
[11:31:09] ANDERSON: A missing Hong Kong bookseller has suddenly reemerged on Chinese state television. Gui Minhai was shown confessing to
a fatal hit and run that happened 13 years ago. His supporters expect the confession was made under duress.
Now, there is growing concern about four other missing booksellers.
Our Will Ripley reports.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Growing suspicion across Chinese cyberspace that things are not as they seem in the bizarre televised
confession of Gui Minhai. The owner of Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong is known for working on publications that are critical of the Chinese
He was apparently working on a book accusing Chinese President Xi Jinping of having love
affairs when he disappeared in October from Thailand where he has an apartment.
Gui's disappearance triggered international speculation that Chinese agents kidnapped him. He reappeared Sunday on China's main state run
channel CCTV confessing to a 2003 deadly hit-and-run.
Gui said he chose to come to China to see his aging mother and own up to his crime. He was born in China, but left and became a Swedish citizen.
The Swedish government is now investigating, summoning both the Chinese and Thai ambassadors, but in his televised confession, Gui told
them to back off.
GUI MINHAI, BOOKSELLER: Going back to my country and turning myself in was voluntary and this was not related to others. I don't want any
individual organizations, including the Swedish government, to get involved or intervene in this matter.
Though I hold a Swedish passport, I still feel I'm a Chinese and my roots are still in China. I hope my choice can be respected by the Swedish
government. I hope that my right to make a choice and my privacy can both be respected.
RIPLEY: Many Chinese internet users suspect Gui was pressured to make that confession. They question the logic of him voluntarily returning to
China to atone for a crime more than a decade old without telling anyone he was leaving.
And Gui is one of five Hong Kong booksellers who have disappeared in recent months, leading to a lot of speculation about what to them and
something that the European Union has called extremely worrying.
We know that China has arrested a whole array of human rights lawyers and activists in recent months. They even detained a Swedish activist
just last week, all of this part of President Xi Jinping's effort to tighten his grip on political dissent.
And many of those suspects have made similar videotaped confessions that critics suspect were made under duress.
Will Ripley, CNN, Beijing.
ANDERSON: All right, well at this hour, the British parliament debating a petition calling for U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald
Trump to be banned from entering the United Kingdom. The petition to bar the business tycoon is in response to Trump's calls for a travel ban on
Muslims entering the United States launched last month by a Scottish journalist and activist. It passed the 100,000 signature threshold after
which any petition is considered for debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...criminal acts. A fourth one was a Muslim writer and public speaker from India. He was excluded from the United Kingdom
because he had made anti-Jewish statements, and thus fostering hatred among others.
And those are entirely typical of the kind of people who were excluded.
Now, I think we should say that the situation with mr. Donald Trump doesn't apply in those cases. These are far more serious and presented an
immediate threat of violence. The petitioners claim that there has been violent attacks taking place in America, in Boston and elsewhere, with
people who quoted Donald Trump, when one of them attacked a Hispanic person, another
one attacked a Mexican, it's alleged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right.
Our London correspondent Max Foster following the debate and joining me now out of London.
Whatever we heard tonight, Max, as far as I understand it this won't lead to Trump being banned, as this debate isn't legally binding.
So I guess the question is what's the point?
[11:35:14] MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's a lot of frustration that Donald Trump has been saying things about
Muslims, which a lot of people in parliament object to, but also some comments about London, that police are afraid of going to certain areas
because they've been so radicalized and they wanted to have some sort of response to that.
And this is their opportunity, they're protected by parliamentary privilege, and word is that some of them are going to use this opportunity
to trash Donald Trump's reputation.
So it's a chance for them to vent their anger about what Donald Trump has been saying. And it does -- it is getting a huge amount of publicity
here. All the UK media are following it. U.S. media obviously are following it as well. And if it does raise tensions to a certain level,
then perhaps the home secretary will consider banning Donald Trump, but I think that's quite unlikely. She's not considering it at the moment, as we
understand it, although she hasn't ruled it out. Both the prime minister and leader of the opposition both think it's not a good idea.
Paul Flynn, who's leading the debate there, you were just seeing, he is a big objector to what Donald Trump says, but he also doesn't think a
ban is a good idea. It will just make a victim of Donald Trump, which may actually help him in the U.S. election.
ANDERSON: And for those viewers who follow these things, you will not recognize necessarily the room that these lawmakers are in. This is not
the main chamber, which we usually see when the Commons debates, of course, this is parliament's Westminster Hall.
I think I'm being told that Donald Trump is actually at a live event himself in I think Virginia.
Let's bring some pictures of that up, coincidentally, as we discuss the fact that his claim on the campaign trail, that parts of the UK are no
go areas. And his call for Muslims not to be allowed into the U.S. as you rightly pointing out, very much sparking this petitition.
How quickly did this come together, Max?
FOSTER: Well, it happened very quickly. It really snowballed.
So there's a Scottish campaigning journalist in Aberdeen where there's a nearby golf course
owned by Donald Trump, very divisive figure up there. She started it. And very quickly, it got more
than half a million signatures, which is why parliament are considering it right now.
You're talking there about the response here. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, actually wants to bring Donald Trump over to show him
Muslim areas, to show that they're not no-go zones. And even David Cameron was talking about how bringing Donald Trump over would actually unite
parliament. It's pretty disunited at the moment.
So that idea that he wouldn't come over isn't actually something that senior politicians are considering. These are back bench members of
parliament in a back bench committee room, effectively. So it's not very high level. But it's getting a lot of publicity. And it will last three
And I don't know about you, Becky, I can't remember the last time a whole debate was dedicated to whether or not to ban one person. It's just
been raised as questions in the main chamber in the past.
ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely.
All right, Max, thank you for that.
Well, as the UK debates a petition to ban the Republican frontrunner from the country, then I want to turn to the United States. I'm joined by
CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston.
Mark, is the UK debate resonating in the States and could this put a dent in Trump's poll numbers, do you think?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: Well, Becky, you know I think Max was correct in saying that in very much ways that this is kind of a bit of
a political sideshow over in the UK, it's not being taken seriously here in the United States.
Now, much of what Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail, that some of these UK politicians object to is what is helping boost his
candidacy here. There is a big frustration within the United States over the issue of illegal immigration. They're still upset that the economy
hasn't caught up to them right now and what Donald Trump is saying is that he is going to make America great again. He doesn't talk often about
specific policy issues, but he talks about making America great again.
So in many ways, it's not really being focused on here in the U.S., but the irony behind all
this, Becky, is that Donald Trump's mother, you know, was from Scotland.
ANDERSON: Yeah, right. Well, let's jump to the other side of the political aisle, if you don't mind.
The U.S. Democratic presidential candidates faced off in their last debate before the Iowa caucuses. They were asked if the U.S. should
reopen the U.S. embassy in Iran in light of warming relations between the two countries and what has been a sort of momentous weekend.
Have a listen to what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: I think what we have got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran
understanding that Iran's behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with.
[11:40:02] HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was responsible for getting those sanctions imposed, which put the pressure on
Iran that brought them to the negotiating table, which resulted in this agreement. And so they have been so far following their requirements under
But I think we still have to carefully watch them. We've had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more
rapidly toward any kind of normalization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right.
Mark, these diplomatic wins claimed by the Obama administration on Iran, do they help the Democratic candidates as well, do you think?
PESTON: Well, it certainly shows the divide between what the Democrats are saying right now and what we're hearing from the Republicans
who are very upset at how the administration has dealt with Iran, as well as having dealt with all the Middle East policy up to this point.
What's interesting about those two different exchanges that you just played is that Bernie Sanders went probably two or three steps further than
Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton saying let's be cautious, one good day doesn't mean we'll have many good days ahead of us.
But she was very forceful in noting that it was her who brought Iran to the negotiating table. So in many ways, she tried to have it both ways.
This is going to be an issue that is going to be of utmost importance in the U.S. election over the next couple months, not only in this primary,
but specifically when we get to the general election.
ANDERSON: Yeah, and Republicans, as you rightly point out, also speaking out about these latest developments with Iran, including the
prisoner swap. And they are slamming the Obama administration for dealing with Iran. I want our viewers to have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: Well, we celebrate their return. This deal serves as a piece of propaganda for both Iran and the Obama
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: You know why they were being captured and held hostage in the first place? Because they know that if you take an
American hostage, Barack Obama will cut a deal with you. And it's created an enormous incentive for people and countries and movements around the
world to do this against us.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We give them $150 billion. We give them essentially 22 people, 21, 22 people, but these
are people that really did have problems. And we're getting back four people that didn't do anything wrong. That's the way we negotiate. That's
the way we negotiate. It's so sad. It's so sad. And this has been going on forever.
I've been hitting them hard. And I think I might have had something to do with it. You want to know the truth, whose using it's a part of my
staple thing. I mean I go crazy when I hear about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: These are genuine contenders, Mark. The Republicans critical of the prisoner swap. What would happen, do you think to the
world powers' nuclear deal with Iran if a Republican was elected to the White House?
PRESTON: Well, you should take a step back and you just look at Donald Trump who is now taking credit for getting these prisoners back,
which is pretty ludicrous on its face. You know, what would happen? It all depends on who gets elected. Because we've heard some of these
candidates talk about ripping up the deal on day one. I don't know if they legally could do that. Others who have said we will try to work with that
deal and change it.
But what we are seeing is things would certainly be a lot different in a Republican administration about how they deal with Iran moving forward
than what we've been seeing with the Obama administration.
Now, John Kerry on CNN this morning was very, you know, boisterous about saying listen, we wouldn't have gotten these prisoners back had we
not started diplomatic relations before. We wouldn't even know who to call. Now we are trying to open up doors.
So right now, there is a push and a pull right now between the two political parties, Becky, about how to move forward with Iran as well as
moving forward in the Middle East.
ANDERSON: Good stuff. All right. Thank you. Great analysis there from Washington for you.
Live from Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson. Coming up, the tennis world has falling under a cloud of suspicion. The
accusations that it is facing are just ahead.
[11:47:19] ANDERSON: You're back with Connect theWorld live from Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson for you. The top governing bodies in tennis are
denying claims they covered up evidence of match fixing at the highest levels of the game.
The BBC and Buzzfeed News report they acquired files implicating 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade.
They say those players were repeatedly flagged over suspicions they had thrown matches. But they were all allowed to continue competing. The
reports didn't name names. Top officials in the world of tennis deny there was any cover-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS KERMODE, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, ATP: The tennis integrity unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of
match fixing has been suppressed for any reason, or isn't being thoroughly investigated. And while the BCC and Buzzfeed reports may refer to events
from about ten years ago, we will investigate any new information and we always do.
All of us here in tennis are absolutely committed to stamp out any form of corrupt conduct in our sport. There is a zero tolerance policy on
this. We are not complacent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, a pretty robust response from Chris Kermode. These allegations surfacing just as the first grand slam of the year, the
Australian Open, gets under way.
CNN's World Sports Don Ridell joining me now from CNN Center.
Don, why are we hearing about this now, nearly a decade on?
DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the timing of the publication from BBC and Buzzfeed is no coincidence, happening on the
eve of the first grand slam, the first major of the year.
But essentially, it's whistleblowers within the tennis community who got hold of these secret files and passed them on to the media, because
they were incredibly frustrated at what they regard as the lack of action on behalf of the governing bodies within tennis.
ANDERSON: What are players saying? Have we heard any reaction from the world of tennis and its players?
RIDDELL: Yeah. I mean, you won't be surprised to hear that this is very much the talk of the town in Melbourne on day one of the Australian
Open. And Novak Djokovic, the world number one, was asked about it. This was his quote. He said of course there is no room for any match fixing or
corruption in our sport. We're trying to keep it as clean as possible. We have, I think, a sport that has evolved and upgraded our programs and
authorities to deal with these particular cases.
Now, he was asked have you ever been approached by match fixers? And he said that he had been earlier in his career in about 2007. His support
team was approached with a suggestion that he would throw a match for up to $200,000. He said they dismissed it out of hand.
And he says he's never encountered anything like it since.
Serena Williams, the world number one, was also asked about it. And this was her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERENA WILLIAMS, WOMEN'S WORLD NUMBER ONE: Not that I'm aware of. When I'm playing, I play -- I can only answer for me. I play very hard and
every player that I play seems to play hard. And I think that, you know, as an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but,
you know, historic. And if that's going on, I don't know about it. You nkow, I'm kind of sometimes in a
little bit of a bubble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIDDELL: Nothing to see here from Serena Williams.
And I guess, Becky, we shouldn't really be surprised about that. Serena Williams is the world number one. It's not these kind of players
that fixers are going to be able to entice to throw matches for $50,000 or $100,000.
But when you look at the way the tennis community is set up, if you're not in, say, the top 20 of the world rankings, you're really not going to
make that much money. There's really not that many eyeballs on you.
Tennis would be the easiest sport in which you could fix and throw a match. That certainly is the response from the former ATP vice president
who said if you're going to design a sport in which you would throw matches, you would call it tennis. He said the sport is tailor made for
These players are very, very vulnerable. They travel all around the world, self-finance. A lot of them lose money rather than make it. And if
you're able to approach them and persuade them, dangle enough money in front of their noses to throw a match, it is very, very
tempting for them.
ANDERSON: Don Riddell on the story out of CNN Center.
Thank you, Don.
Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson.
Coming up as the world focuses on Iranian oil, we look south to one major Latin American city
from the political clout their supplies by them. That's up next. Stay with us.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Cuban economy runs on Venezuelan oil. How much oil does Venezuela send it's closest
ally? Well, it's a secret. But many analysts believe that Cuba receives over 100,000 barrels of crude each day at highly preferential rates. In
return, Cuba sends to Venezuela thousands of doctors, sports trainers and military advisers.
But it's widely believed that Cuba is getting the much better deal.
So how important is Venezuela to Cuba? Well, we have to go back to 1991when Cuba's then largest trading partner, the Soviet Union, collapsed
and virtually overnight the Communist run Caribbean island found itself on the ropes.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Soviet Union itself is no more.
OPPMANN: The U.S. trade embargo complicated commerce with much of the rest of the world as did Cuba's state-run and inefficient economic model.
So the Cuban government was forced to enact wartime rationing. Fuel became scarce, bicycles more common than cars.
Then Venezuelan fire brand Hugo Chavez was elected that country's president. He began to share some of his country's vast reserves of oil
with other leftist governments.
Then Cuban president Fidel Castro became Chavez's mentor, his most trusted political adviser. Thanks to the billions of dollars in Venezuelan
oil, Cuba's economy slowly began to rebound.
But in 2013, the Venezuelan lifeline to Cuba was threatened when Chavez died and his hand-picked successor has seen his popularity in
Venezuela plummet as oil prices fall, shortages become widespread, and crime there spirals out of control.
In January, for the first time in 17 years, Venezuelan opposition parties took control of that country's national assembly, threatening to
oust Maduro and cut off the oil subsidies to Cuba.
It's possible this clash could turn violent, and that would have impacts across the region. Cuban President Raul Castro has warned the
Cuban people that political turmoil in Venezuela could spell trouble for the Cuban economy, but that his government will continue to support Maduro.
It appears that neither the leaders of Venezuela nor Cuba are willing to end the strategic alliance, at least not without a fight.
ANDERSON: (inaudible) Patrick's piece there, oil a hot topic around the world at the moment and nowhere more so this week than a small Swiss
Much of this year's World Economic Forum at Davos will be dominated by the subject of black gold. And you can find a lot more about that at CNN's
money site, that's Moneycnn.com.
Ttonight's Parting Shots for you then before we go: a flower in space. Yes, you heard me right. U.S. Astronaut Scott Kelly says there are other
life forms aboard the International Space Station. He is referring to this, a zinnia flower grown from seed entirely in microgravity.
It's not the first flower on the ISS, although it is the first one not to look weird. This space sunflower was grown in 2012 in a zip lock bag,
didn't turn out so well.
The latest blooms nurtured in a plant-growing system called Veggie, which was installed on the International Space Station back in 2014.
Veggie has also been used to grow red lettuce, I'm told, which astronauts actually ate last year. They said it tasted awesome.
I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World from the team here. It's a very good evening. CNN, of course, continues after this short